We all know about the story of creation (of Adam Alayhissalam), or at least the gist of it, in many cases. Allah (SWT) creates Adam (AS), commands the angels to prostrate (and Iblees, not an angel). All except Iblees prostrate, and we all know what happened thereafter. Question is, why did he refuse to? After all the hard work and effort to be raised to the ranks of the angels, why go and shoot your own foot?
Well, it goes way before that.
So, most of the backstory that the Islamic scholars have got on Iblees are from Israelite narrations that don’t contradict with the teachings of Islam. I.e., stuff we can use, but with a pinch of salt to go.
A long time ago….
Anyways, there were creations of Allah (SWT) way before Adam & Co (i.e, humans). There were the Jinn (and certain mufassireen comment there were other creations as well). Allah knows best. The Jinn were mischief makers, in general, and caused much bloodshed and corruption on earth (now we know where the Angels got the idea that humans would repeat the cycle). Straying into Israelite narrations: So much so, that Allah sent down an army of angels to deal with them. There was this Jinn fellow, however, whom some say was called Azazeel. Back then, this chap was a pious bro. So pious, that the angelic army sent to deal with the mayhem causing Jinn took notice of this solitary Jinn, worshiping Allah as He out to be.
Long story short, he (a Jinn) got to be among the ranks of Angels, while no space in the seven heavens were left except Azazeel had worshiped almighty Allah there. Being in the presence of Allah is no small feat. So take note of this bro’s piety. Imagine his Imaan levels! To be in the presence of ALLAH and His Angels!
Now that the rebellious Jinn were dealt with, Azazeel felt like going back to earth and set up shop and call other Jinn to the faith and feel all good about himself, etc… And he hoped that being the only creation with free will with such high rank and status, he’d be the most qualified, experienced and natural candidate for the post of Khalifah.
Getting back to the Quran and Sunnah, when Allah SWT announced to the angels that He’s going to make a Khalifah on earth, old azazeel (a.k.a. Iblees) felt so happy, but fell from his horse when he learnt that Allah was going to literally make one! In comes Adam (AS) and boom! rivalry and jealousy! & Mankind get sent to Earth.
Being passed over
We all can relate to this phenomenon of what Iblees experienced about being passed over for ‘promotion’. When you feel you’re next in line and out of the blue walks in this new guy and takes the place ‘meant’ for you! A good lesson to be learnt here about questioning the decree of Allah.
Bear in mind, however, the magnitude of the situation. This is no ordinary corporate office or school or some organization. This is no ordinary boss/leader you’re dealing with. This is Allah SWT. THE All Knowing, Creator of time, and The Most Wise. If Allah says Adam is fit for the job, then end of story. But Iblees, oh Iblees. Pride got the better of him. And from pride crept out jealousy, entitlement, resentment, hatred, and vengeful-ness. If you feel you know better than Allah, then watch out son. And that’s what Ibless got. He became Shaitan the most distanced from mercy (ar rajeem).
The Ultimate Revenge
Now, I hope, dear reader, you can understand the why of Shaitan’s animosity for Adam & Co. Animosity of such degree that he fails to see, after so many millennia, the error of his own logic. The disgrace and humiliation he experienced is still strong to this day. And he made it his life’s mission to make us humans experience what he did, and send each and every one of Adam’s (AS) children to Hellfire. It’s his way of proving Allah wrong, nauzubillah.
We see the signs of his vengeance even today. The trend of where we throw away our own dignity and morality; the prevalence of shamelessness and immorality; the widespread nature of war and insignificance of life on earth. We’re doing his job for him, and so gaily.
This is a reminder to me first and foremost, if we are to not play into his vision for humanity, then we must be aware of his traps and steer clear of them. And that’s a lesson for another time.
Assalamu alaykkum, warahmatullahi, wabarakathuhu