In Islam, the Devil is known as ʾIblīs (Arabic: إبليس‎) or Šayṭān (Arabic: شيطان‎) (plural: شياطين Šayāṭīn). According to the Qurʾān, God created Iblis out of "smokeless fire" (along with all of the other jinn) and created man out of clay. The primary characteristic of the Devil, besides hubris, is that he has no power other than the power to cast evil suggestions into the heart of men, women, and jinn, although the Qurʾān does mention appointing jinn to assist those who are far from God in a general context. "We made the Shayatin (devils) ʾAwliyāʾ (protectors and helpers) for those who believe not." (سورة الأعراف al-ʾAʿraf, Chapter #7, Verse #27)

Namings and etymologyEdit

Muslims traditionally derived the name from the Arabic verbal root balasa بَلَسَ, meaning "he despaired"; therefore, the meaning of ʾIblīs would be "he/it that causes despair".[1]

"Shayṭān" "Satan" (Arabic: شيطان‎, from the root š-ṭ-n ش-ط-ن) is both a noun and an adjective. As a noun it means "mischief" and as an adjective it means "adversarial," "opposing," or "evil." In popular Islamic culture, Shaitan is often simply translated as "The Devil," but can refer to any of the beings who rebelled against God. Shaytan has a similar meaning and origin to the English word Satan.

The Devil in Islamic theologyEdit

According to The Oxford Dictionary of Islam, shaytan is used in the Qurʾān "in both the singular and the plural, often interchangeably with Iblis" who is "considered to be a particular shaytan".[2]

According to basic Islamic teachings, God created at least three intelligent races: angels, jinns, and humans, of which the latter two have been granted free will to choose between good and evil.[3][4]

Iblis was a jinn and a devoted servant of God, according to the Qur’an.[5][6][7] However, according to other non-Qurʾānic sources he was a "disobedient angel".[2][8]

The angels do not have free will and simply do not sin because they were not granted the freedom by God to disobey. When God created Adam (see Islamic view of Adam), He commanded all the angels and Iblis (whose rank allowed him to be considered equal to that of an angel) to prostrate to Adam as was termed "the Best of Creation". All the angels did so. The jinni Iblis refused to obey, and was brought in to a state of rebellion against Allah. For this Allah cast him out of the Garden, and intended to punish him. Iblis begged Allah to delay the punishment until the Last Day (the Day of Judgment): this Allah granted, as He is Most Merciful (ar-Raḥīm).

It is We Who created you and gave you shape; then We bade the angels prostrate to Adam, and they prostrate; not so Iblis; He refused to be of those who prostrate.
(Allah) said: "What prevented thee from prostrating when I commanded thee?" He said: "I am better than he: Thou didst create me from fire, and him from clay."
—Qurʾān (Yusuf Ali's translation), sura 7 (Al-A'raf), ayat 11-12[9]

Iblis was proud and arrogant and considered himself superior to Adam, since Adam was made from clay and Iblis was created from smokeless fire. For this act of disobedience, God cursed him to Hell for eternity, but gave him respite until the Day of Judgment (Qiyāmah), after Iblis requested it. Iblis obtained permission from God and vowed that he would use this time to lead all human men and women astray to Hell as a way of revenge against them. By refusing to obey God’s order he was thrown out of Paradise and thereafter he was called "Shaitan".

He said: "Give me respite till the day they are raised up."
(Allah) said: "Be thou among those who have respite."
He said: "Because thou hast thrown me out of the way, lo! I will lie in wait for them on thy straight way:
"Then will I assault them from before them and behind them, from their right and their left: Nor wilt thou find, in most of them, gratitude (for thy mercies)."
(Allah) said: "Get out from this, disgraced and expelled. If any of them follow thee,- Hell will I fill with you all.
—Qurʾān (Yusuf Ali's translation), sura 7 (Al-A'raf), ayat[10]

Although God grants the request, He also warns the Shayṭān that he would have no authority over His sincere ‘ubūd "devoted servants".

"As for My servants, no authority shalt thou have over them:" Enough is thy Lord for a Disposer of affairs.
—Qurʾān (Yusuf Ali's translation), sura 17 (Al-Isra), ayah 65[11]

Shaytan as a "Whisperer"Edit

In Islamic theology, the Shaytan and his minions are "whisperers", who whisper into the hearts of men and women, urging them to commit sin. This is where the desire to sin comes from, according to Islam.

The Qurʾān provides a supplication for mankind, aimed at fighting the tempting of ash-Shaytan and his minions:
Say: I seek refuge with the Lord and Cherisher of Mankind,
The King (or Ruler) of Mankind,
The God (or judge) of Mankind,-
From the mischief of the Whisperer (of Evil), who withdraws (after his whisper),-
(The same) who whispers into the hearts of Mankind,-
Among Jinns and among men.
—Qurʾān (Yusuf Ali's translation), sura 114 (Al-Nas), ayat 1-6[12]


  1. Iblis
  2. 2.0 2.1 Esposito, Oxford Dictionary of Islam, 2003, p.279
  3. Qur'an 10:44
  4. Qur'an 7:12
  5. Qur'an 18:50
  6. Qur'an 15:27
  7. Qur'an 38:76
  8. Glasse, Cyril, The New Encyclopedia of Islam, Altamira, 2001, p.189
  9. Qur'an 7:11–12
  10. Qur'an 7:14–18
  11. Qur'an 17:65
  12. Qur'an 114:1–6

ar:الشيطان في الإسلام

bs:Iblis bg:Шейтан de:Iblis eo:Ibliso fa:ابلیس fr:Iblis id:Iblis it:Iblīs kk:Ібіліс hu:Iblísz ms:Iblis pt:Iblis ru:Шайтан sr:Шејтан sv:Iblis tr:İblis uk:Ібліс ur:ابلیس