In Islam, Shayṭān (شيطان) is an entity analogous to Satan.


"Shayṭān" "Satan" (شيطان, from the root šṭn شطن) is both a noun and an adjective. As a noun it means "adversary" or "enemy" or "opponent," and as an adjective it means "adversarial," "opposing," or "evil." In popular Islamic culture, Shaitan is often simply translated as "The Devil."

Shayṭān in Islamic theology

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

Iblis was of a jinn and was a devoted servant of God. He attained a very high status and was brought close with the angels. God knew Iblis harboured ill intentions, however, and this was the reason for his name, Iblis "Desperate".

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, He commanded all the angels and jinn to prostrate to him as was termed "the Best of Creation". All the angels and jinn did so except Iblis, who refused to obey.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, 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”.Although God grants the request, He also warns the Shayṭān that he would have no authority over His sincere ‘ubūd "devoted servants".

Shaytan as a "Whisperer"

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

The Qur'an provides a supplication for mankind, aimed at fighting the tempting of ash-Shaytan and his minions:

Shaytan in the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden

In the Qur'an's version of the story of Adam and Eve, Shaytan tempted Adam in the Garden of Eden, to eat of the forbidden tree - thereby exposing to them their nakedness and awakening man's modesty, shyness and sexuality. As they became suddenly aware of these things, they attempted to cover their modesty with leaves.

God, furious at Adam falling for temptation cast them both out of the garden and placed them on Earth to continue to live out their lives and spawn the continuing family tree which eventually lead to the Human race as it is today. For Shaitan, this was a major victory. But he too now living on earth has, with God's permission, been granted eternal life until day of judgment and continues to misguide man, as per Islamic theology.

In current affairs

The Iranian leadership, since 1979, called the USA as Shaitan-e-bozurg for perceived mischievous foreign policy in West Asia. The phrase means the more distinguished among the devilish rather than the more abrupt great satan.


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