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Originally, Iblis was taken from Jewish lore as a fire-created angel, who refused to prostrate himself before mankind. However early Muslim exegetes felt upset, that angels are not merely trustful beings, so they decided to count him as a jinn only. This idea was also better suited to the Arabian idea that the jinn are evil creatures that threaten the people. Some exegetes even altered the Quran to suit the idea of impeccable angels, afterwards claiming their own version always existed. Persian exegetes otherwise tended to regard Iblis as an angel. However, with the spread of the Arabian Islam interpretation to the Western world, most Western converts agree with the Arabian interpretation that Iblis is a jinn, and regard any other interpretation as blasphemous. They claim to rely on the Sahaba (the first Muslims), despite the fact that they actually believed the opposite (that Iblis was an angel).
Along with his jinn brethren, Iblis was created by the Big Man himself more than 25,000 years ago by the hot wind of the desert. As simple as his creation may seem, Iblis' story on the other hand is a bit confusing. He helped out God like all the other jinns until 25,000 years ago, when his buddies went rogue and disobeyed the Almighty, who then unleashed the wrath of the angels on them. Iblis, however, "was recognized from amongst the jinn by God as 'a worthy pupil'" and got to hang with the angels. Later on, all the angels were commanded by God to bow down before Adam, but Iblis refused, reckoning that being made from fire made him higher up the food chain than Adam, who was made from mud. Refusing God is a big no-no, and Iblis subsequently got his ass kicked out of heaven for it.
As punishment, God condemned the poor bastard to the fiery pits of Hell, but, in one of his typical, pointless, makes-you-wonder-what-goes-through-the-guy's-mind kind of moves, God postponed it until Judgement Day so Iblis could go about tempting people and causing all sorts of mischief.
One such act of mischief that makes Iblis unusual among the devils of the world's religions is his tempting of Muhammad's nephew Ali who he almost convinced not to "[perform] the ritual washing of the Prophet's dead body." Although other devils, such as the Christian Satan, have been often blamed for bad things since their conception, there is no real widespread and established story about a devil being the cause of some terrible thing that happened after the stories of their respective holy books.[note 1]
In the end, though, it's really the same old, same old. Those who don't know their place, those who refuse to bow down to the religious hierarchy, are, de facto, the epitome of evil.[note 2]
- For example, although some people in the 1300s may have thought that Satan caused the Black Death, his causing it isn't a widespread, established belief. Iblis, however, is unusual in his widely-believed post-Biblical times appearance with Ali. Well played, Iblis. Well played.
- Keep in mind, however, that Iblis is not considered the Lord of Evil or a fallen angel — he hasn't passed his training courses for either level yet. Muhammad Zafrulla Khan (translator), The Koran (New York: Praeger, 1970), 270.
- Omar Hamdan Studien Zur Kanonisierung des Korantextes: al-Ḥasan al-Baṣrīs Beiträge Zur Geschichte des Korans Otto Harrassowitz Verlag 2006 ISBN 978-3-447-05349-5 page 292 (German)
- Richard Gauvain Salafi Ritual Purity: In the Presence of God Routledge 2013 ISBN 9780710313560 page 69
- University of Victoria: Spirits & Prophets of Islam
- Encyclopedia Britannica: Iblis