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The Holy Quran describes Satan (otherwise known as Iblis or Eblis) as an evil creature (or Jinn) that was expelled from heaven after he refused to obey Adam. His main features are his extreme pride and the belief that he is superior to Adam and those who were created after him. Moreover, Iblis continuously challenges the judgment of God as well as his commands for Iblis to obey his will. The primary activity of Satan in the Quran is to entice others to commit evil and immoral deeds. In Christianity, Satan is a fallen angel who rebelled against God and therefore was also expelled from heaven, which is similar to the idea found in the Quran (Wellman). Thus even though Christianity and Islam are considered “rival” religions that do not have many parallels between them, the figure of Satan is very similar in his characteristics in both scriptures, pointing to the idea that evil manifests itself as a unity regardless of which religion describes it.
Examples from the Bible and the Quran
Within the tradition of the Bible, Satan is considered a figure who was appointed by God to test the faith of humanity through temptation. To compare the nature of Satan in the Quran and the Bible, the Christian scripture presents him as a fallen angel, while in the Muslim tradition, he is a Jinn and thus was closer to humans in his nature. While angels are perfect creatures who never sinned, Jinns are much more prone to wrongdoing. To establish parallels between Satan in the Bible and the Quran, it is important to analyze verses from the two holy books. The first example comes from the Quran: “Behold! We said to the Angels, ‘Bow down to Adam’: they bowed down except Iblis. He was one of the Jinns, and he broke the Command of his Lord” (McAuliffe 18:50).
This excerpt shows the first wrongdoing of Iblis; not agreeing to prostrate himself before Adam led to his being expelled from Heaven, as shown in the following example. “Get out from this, disgraceful and expelled. If any of them follow thee – Hell will I find with you all (McAuliffe 11:18). The first mention of Satan in the Bible is “Satan arose against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel” (The Bible, 1 Chronicle 21:1-2). This passage shows that from the beginning, Satan is presented as an antagonist to God and wanted to commit wrongdoing through inciting others to do so, which points to his nature as a demon and tempter. An example that proves that Satan was initially an angel who was considered higher in rank than the Jinns of the Quran, is the following: “One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them” (The Bible, Job 1:6-20). Examples from the Bible and the Quran show that Satan in both scriptures is presented as a once-righteous being created by God, but who became evil because of a lack of will to follow the rule of the Lord (Deffinbaugh). Significantly, the characteristic of a tempter who encourages human beings to commit wrongful actions is what also connects Satan in the Bible and Iblis in the Quran.
Satan Versus God and Allah
When discussing similarities and differences between Satan in the Bible and Iblis in the Quran, it is important to contrast them with the figures of the Christian God and Muslim Allah. In the Quran, Iblis (Satan) is in opposition to humankind rather than to Allah. Moreover, Iblis is considered subordinate to God, who has no rivals as He is “the Lord of the Creation” (McAuliffe 1:2). Another essential characteristic of Allah is that in Islam, God forgives all sins, which means that sin does not restrict mercy within the Islamic religion. On the other hand, the Bible suggests that Satan is the rival of God and not humanity. In some passages of scripture, Satan is described as having the ability to tempt Jesus and therefore challenge his power: “then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil” (The Bible, Matthew 4:1). In this example, Satan is capable of demonstrating that his power is comparable to God’s. While in Islam, God forgives all sins, in Christianity, sin significantly restricts God’s mercy. In these ways, drawing simple parallels between Satan in Christianity and Iblis in Islam shows that some differences cannot be ignored (Ahmad).
As seen from the quoted passages, Satan is the key rival to God and can show his authority through spreading blasphemy and tempting Jesus and humanity to choose power over submission to God (Ahmad). Therefore the power of the Christian God is significantly restricted by that of Satan. On the other hand, the Quran suggests that Iblis cannot be equal in power to Allah but is in opposition to humankind. Also, the Muslim God forgives all sins that humans commit when tempted by Satan. Another important difference between Iblis and Satan is that Allah has power over Iblis, but the Christian God cannot control the deeds of Satan (Ahmad).
Lastly, the discussion about Satan in Christianity and Islam may benefit from an analysis of the purpose of including the antagonist in each religious teaching. Satan is both the Quran and the Bible aims to make humankind succumb to the temptation of committing wrongdoing for personal gain. When tempting victims, Satan uses every strategy to make sin attractive to lure people into choosing the wrong path and thus deviating from the word of God. Interestingly, how Satan talks to his victims depends on their interests; for instance, ignorance is used to tempt the ignorant while scholarly disciplines are used to tempt scholars (“The Story of Satan”). In either case, Satan is considered a source of evil who is cunning and smart when it comes to luring his victims.
The purpose of introducing the figure of Satan into both the Islamic and the Christian faith is associated with teaching people that life will be filled with various temptations that they will have to withstand if they want to stay righteous. It is essential to understand that despite being opposed to one another, both Christianity and Islam teach believers to oppose evil and choose to do the right thing. The continuous rivalry between good and evil is a component of almost any religion, and a comparison of Satan in the Quran and the Bible shows that there are important similarities and differences between the two that make each religion unique in its way.
Ahmad, Ijaz. “A Quick Comparison of Satan in Christianity and Islam.” Callingchristians. 2015, Web.
Deffinbaugh, Bob. “Satan’s Part in God’s Perfect Plan.” Bible, 2004, Web.
McAuliffe, Jane. The Qur’an. W.W. Norton & Company, 2017.
The Bible. The New Oxford Annotated Version, 3rd ed., Oxford UP, 2001.
Wellman, Jack. “Was Lucifer a Fallen Angel? A Bible Study.” Patheos. 2017, Web.