Can Angels Disobey?

The discussion continues...

As I was surfing the net, specifically Muslim forums, I ran into a certain Muslim poster named Oben who claimed to have sent in a response to the following articles: [1], [2]

Oben writes (*) that:

On some mischeivous anti-islam/quran websites there is the article written by a certain S. Shamoun from answering-islam regarding the question "Can angels disobey?"

In the article the prime argument is against Iblis (who is presumed to be an angel) disobeying God's command to prostrate once Adam was created. The Quran in its verses says that Iblis was of the Jinn and therefore this argument is answered.

The author Shamoun being defeated on this matter, then points out the angels Harut and Marut mentioned in Quran 2:102 being disobedient of God's command. However a closer examination shows this not to be the case at all and the only disobedience it turns out is Mr. Shamoun's failure to read carefully and use his intelligence.

Muslims just can’t help themselves from ad hominems! The gentleman must not have bothered reading the rest of the rebuttals where I demonstrated that Satan being a Jinn doesn’t resolve the dilemma for Muslims: http://answering-islam.org/Quran/Contra/qi010a2.html

I discuss the problem more fully in the following articles:

http://answering-islam.org/Quran/Contra/iblis.html
http://answering-islam.org/Shamoun/allah_deceiver.htm
http://answering-islam.org/Shamoun/allah_adam_angels.htm

Here, we will summarize the problems with asserting that Satan is a jinn. In the first place, this assertion presupposes that jinn are a different genus, a distinct group of species, from angels. The problem with this position is that the Quran does not claim (at least not explicitly) that jinn are a different category of being from angels. In fact, some Muslims, such as the late Quranic translator Muhammad Asad, have taken the position that jinn are a class of angelic creatures. In Q. 18:50, Asad renders the phrase "he was one of the jinn" as "he [too] was one of those invisible beings," and then adds the footnote:

53 Denoting, in this instance, the angels (see Appendix III). (Source)

Asad then goes into the etymology of the word in order to prove that jinn are angels:

IN ORDER to grasp the purport of the term jinn as used in the Qur’an, we must dissociate our minds from the meaning given to it in Arabian folklore, where it early came to denote all the manner of "demons" in the most popular sense of the word. This folkloristic image has somewhat obscured the original connotation of the term and its highly significant – almost self-explanatory – verbal derivation. The root-verb janna, "he [or "it"] concealed" or "covered with darkness": cf. 6:76, which speaks of Abraham "when the night overshadowed him with its darkness (janna ‘alayhi)". Since this verb is also used in the intransitive sense ("he [or "it"] was [or "became"] concealed," resp. "covered with darkness"), all classical philologists point out that al-jinn signifies "intense [or "confusing"] darkness" and, in a more general sense, "that which is concealed from [man’s] senses", i.e., things, beings or forces which cannot normally be perceived by man but have, nevertheless, an objective reality, whether concrete or abstract, of their own.

In the usage of the Qur’an, which is certainly different from the usage of primitive folklore, the term jinn has several distinct meanings. The most commonly encountered is that of the spiritual forces or beings which, precisely because they have no corporeal existence, are beyond the perceptions of our corporeal senses: a connotation which includes "satans" and "satanic forces" (shayatin – see note 16 on 15 : 17) as well as "angels" and "angelic forces", since all of them are "concealed from our senses" (Jawhari, Raghib). In order to make it quite evident that these invisible manifestations are not of a corporeal nature, the Qur’an states parabolically that the jinn were created out of "the fire of scorching winds" (nar as-samum, in 15 : 27) or out of "a confusing flame of fire" (marij min nar, in 55 : 15) or simply "out of fire" (7 : 12 and 38 : 76, in these last two instances referring to the Fallen Angel, Iblis). Parallel with this, we have authentic ahadith to the effect that the Prophet spoke of the angels as having been "created out of light" (khuliqat min nur: Muslim, on the authority of ‘A’ishah) – light and fire being akin, and likely to manifest themselves within and through one another (cf. note 7 on verse 8 of surah 27). (The Message of the Quran translated and explained by Muhammad Asad [The Book Foundation, England 2003], Appendix III: On the Term and Concept of Jinn, p. 1135)

In order to substantiate his case, Oben must demonstrate from the Quran that jinn are not angels.

The second problem with assuming this view is that Allah blames Satan for not obeying a directive given to angels:

And (remember) when your Lord said TO THE ANGELS: "I am going to create a man (Adam) from sounding clay of altered black smooth mud. So, when I have fashioned him completely and breathed into him (Adam) the soul which I created for him, then fall (you) down prostrating yourselves unto him." So, the angels prostrated themselves, ALL OF THEM TOGETHER. Except Iblis (Satan), - he refused to be among the prostrators. S. 15:28-31 Hilali-Khan

Behold, thy Lord said TO THE ANGELS: "I am about to create man from clay: When I have fashioned him (in due proportion) and breathed into him of My spirit, fall ye down in obeisance unto him." So the angels prostrated themselves, ALL OF THEM TOGETHER: Not so Iblis: he was haughty, and became one of those who reject Faith. S. 38:71-74 Y. Ali

Hence, if jinn are not angels then Allah condemned Satan for failing to observe a command that didn’t include him!

Certain Muslims have come up with some expedient explanations in order to show that Allah’s order did apply to Satan, even though it was directed to angels, the refutation to which is given in the above links.

Oben continues:

I posted this rebuttal to answering-islam's site but they have not published it for one reason or another. Hopefully you can be a judge of whether I have succeeded in rebutting the false claims of Shamoun.

It is amusing to find Oben hoping that his audience will draw their own conclusions and judge whether he has refuted me when he has clearly made up their minds for them by poisoning the well, i.e. “false claims of Shamoun.” By using such language Oben has already decided the case for his readers, he has already told them that my claims are false which is simply an attempt to prevent the audience from seeing for themselves whether there is any substance to my arguments. This is clearly not the language of someone who truly wants the reader to make his/her own judgment.

Be that as it may after quoting Q. 2:102 and mentioning Israel acting perversely and following the desires created by devils, he attempts to address the problem with Harut and Marut being two angels who sinned:

In the verse it also mentions two angels called Harut and Marut. Evil ones (devils) had been teaching men magic and what was revealed to Harut and Marut. It is not explicitly mentioned what it is that was revealed to Harut and Marut but we can infer that it was something 'magical' in nature.

Now the angels are said to be teaching what was revealed to them to people. BUT it explicitly mentions that they WARN that the teachings are a temptation to distract people from the guidance of Allah.

They are not being disobedient of Allah here at all. They are obediently conveying what Allah has revealed to them so that it may be taught to the people they are amongst in Babel.

As an IMPORTANT part of this they are explicitly warning these people of the TEST and the dangerous nature of the teachings. The verse then makes it clear that harm will come to no one but with God's permission so that the magic will not affect those who God spares. It then says that the practisers of such things are selling their souls to evil and have no share of the Hereafter.

I do not see how what Harut and Marut were doing is in any sense a disobedience of God's Will. As a comparison, the angels sent to Lot had the role of saving Lot and his daughters and also acted to perform God's Will. The angels Harut and Marut are sent to the people with revealed teachings which are a trial and temptation for the people. Harut and Marut act out God's Will and are not in disobedience of it at all. Angels appearing as messengers or instruments of God's Will amongst men is not unique then to the situation of Harut and Marut.

In trying to make sense out of the Quran Oben has only introduced more problems. Here is the text once again to see the problems that Oben has raised by his response:

and they follow what the Satans recited over Solomon's kingdom. Solomon disbelieved not, but the Satans disbelieved, teaching the people sorcery, and that which was sent down upon Babylon's two angels, Harut and Marut; they taught not any man, without they said, 'We are but a temptation; do not disbelieve.' From them they learned how they might divide a man and his wife, yet they did not hurt any man thereby, save by the leave of God, and they learned what hurt them, and did not profit them, knowing well that whoso buys it shall have no share in the world to come; evil then was that they sold themselves for, if they had but known. Arberry

The obvious question that Oben should have asked is why in the world are the angels revealing something harmful to humans in the first place? Why are they being sent to introduce destructive teachings which will destroy lives and marriages? Or, assuming with Oben that they are doing so in obedience to the will of Allah, why did Allah command them to teach people what is destructive and harmful to them?

Second, Satan himself (according to the Quran) is merely doing what Allah permitted, and actually commanded, and even warns man of his schemes:

He said: O Iblis! what excuse have you that you are not with those who make obeisance? He said: I am not such that I should make obeisance to a mortal whom Thou hast created of the essence of black mud fashioned in shape. He said: Then get out of it, for surely you are driven away: And surely on you is curse until the day of judgment. He said: My Lord! then respite me till the time when they are raised. He said: So surely you are of the respited ones Till the period of the time made known. He said: My Lord! because Thou hast made life evil to me, I will certainly make (evil) fair-seeming to them on earth, and I will certainly cause them all to deviate except Thy servants from among them, the devoted ones. He said: This is a right way with Me: Surely, as regards My servants, you have no authority over them except those who follow you of the deviators. And surely Hell is the promised place of them all: It has seven gates; for every gate there shall be a separate party of them. S. 15:32-44 Shakir

Note that Allah likes and accepts Satan’s plan and grants him the authority to carry it out, which implies that Satan is Allah’s agent sent to accomplish his will.

Third, the Quran says that it is Allah who sends devils to tempt both the believers and unbelievers:

Likewise did We make for every Apostle an enemy, - evil ones among men and jinns, inspiring each other with flowery discourses by way of deception. If thy Lord had so planned, they would not have done it: so leave them and their inventions alone. S. 6:112 Y. Ali

Seest thou not that We have set the devils on the disbelievers to confound them with confusion? S. 19:83 Pickthall

If we were to follow Oben’s logic this means that neither Satan nor the devils are sinning since they are only carrying out the orders of Allah to mislead and deceive mankind, much like Harut and Marut!

Fourth, this specific text says that satans learned magic from the angels:

… Sulaiman did not disbelieve, but the Shayatin (devils) disbelieved, teaching men magic and such things that came down at Babylon TO THE TWO ANGELS, Harut and Marut, … Hilali-Khan

The renowned Sunni exegete Ibn Kathir stated that:

<They followed what the Shayatin (devils) gave out (falsely of the magic) in the lifetime of Sulayman> means, "During the time of Prophet Solomon." Beforehand, the devils used to ascend to heaven and eavesdrop on the conversations of the angels about what will occur on the earth regarding death, other incidents or unseen matters. They would convey this news to the soothsayers, and the soothsayers would in turn convey the news to the people. The people would believe what the soothsayers told them as being true. When the soothsayers trusted the devils, the devils started to lie to them and added other words to the true news that they heard, to the extent of adding seventy false words to each true word. The people recorded these words in some books. Soon after, the Children of Israel said that the Jinns know matters of the Unseen. When Solomon was sent as a Prophet, he collected these books in a box and buried it under his throne; any devil that dared get near the box was burned. Solomon said, "I will not hear of anyone who says that the devils know the Unseen, but I will cut off his head." When Solomon died and the scholars who knew the truth about Solomon perished, there came another generation. To them, the devil materialized in the shape of a human and said to some of the Children of Israel, "Should I lead you to a treasure that you will never be able to use up?" They said, "Yes." He said, "Dig under this throne," and he went with them and showed them Solomon's throne. They said to him, "Come closer." He said, "No. I will wait for you here, and if you do not find the treasure then kill me." They dug and found the buried books, and Satan said to them, "Solomon only controlled the humans, devils and birds with this magic." Thereafter, the news that Solomon was a sorcerer spread among the people, and the Children of Israel adopted these books. When Muhammad came, they disputed with him relying on these books. Hence Allah's statement…

<Sulayman did not disbelieve, but the Shayatin (devils) disbelieved>. (Source)

Another commentary says:

And they follow (wa'ttaba'u is a supplement to nabadha, '[it] cast away') what the devils used to relate, during the time of, Solomon's kingdom, in the way of sorcery: it is said that they [the devils] buried these [books of sorcery] underneath his throne when his kingdom was taken from him; it is also said that they used to listen stealthily and add fabrications to what they heard, and then pass it on to the priests, who would compile it in books; this would be disseminated and rumours spread that the jinn had knowledge of the Unseen. Solomon gathered these books and buried them. When he died, the devils showed people where these books were, and the latter brought them out and found that they contained sorcery, and said, 'Your kingdom was only thanks to what is in here'; they then took to learning them and rejected the Scriptures of their prophets. In order to demonstrate Solomon's innocence and in repudiation of the Jews when they said, 'Look at this Muhammad, he mentions Solomon as one of the prophets, when he was only a sorcerer', God, exalted, says: Solomon disbelieved not, that is, he did not work magic because he disbelieved, but the devils disbelieved, teaching the people sorcery (this sentence is a circumstantial qualifier referring to the person governing the verb kafaru); and, teaching them, that which was revealed to the two angels, that is, the sorcery that they were inspired to [perform] (al-malakayn, 'the two angels': a variant reading has al-malikayn, 'the two kings') who were, in Babylon - a town in lower Iraq - Harut and Marut (here the names are standing in for 'the two angels', or an explication of the latter). Ibn 'Abbas said, 'They were two sorcerers who used to teach [people] magic'; it is also said that they were two angels that had been sent to teach [sorcery] to people as a trial from God. They taught not any man, without them saying, by way of counsel, 'We are but a temptation, a trial from God for people, so that He may test them when they are taught it: whoever learns it is a disbeliever, but whoever renounces it, he is a believer; do not disbelieve', by learning it; if this person refused and insisted on learning it, they would teach him. (Tafsir al-Jalalayn; source; bold emphasis ours)

In another text, Pharaoh’s magicians during the time of Moses ask Allah to forgive them for the magic they were forced to perform:

Moses said to him: "Woe to you! Forge not ye a lie against God, lest He destroy you (at once) utterly by chastisement: the forger must suffer frustration!" So they disputed, one with another, over their affair, but they kept their talk secret. They said: "These two are certainly (expert) magicians: their object is to drive you out from your land with their magic, and to do away with your most cherished institutions. Therefore concert your plan, and then assemble in (serried) ranks: He wins (all along) today who gains the upper hand." They said: "O Moses! whether wilt thou that thou throw (first) or that we be the first to throw?" He said, "Nay, throw ye first!" Then behold their ropes and their rods - so it seemed to him on account of their magic - began to be in lively motion! So Moses conceived in his mind a (sort of) fear. We said: "Fear not! for thou hast indeed the upper hand: Throw that which is in thy right hand: Quickly will it swallow up that which they have faked what they have faked is but a magician's trick: and the magician thrives not, (no matter) where he goes." So the magicians were thrown down to prostration: they said, "We believe in the Lord of Aaron and Moses". (Pharaoh) said: "Believe ye in Him before I give you permission? Surely this must be your leader, who has taught you magic! be sure I will cut off your hands and feet on opposite sides, and I will have you crucified on trunks of palm-trees: so shall ye know for certain, which of us can give the more severe and the more lasting punishment!" They said: "Never shall we regard thee as more than the Clear Signs that have come to us, or than Him Who created us! so decree whatever thou desirest to decree: for thou canst only decree (touching) the life of this world. For us, we have believed in our Lord: may He forgive us our faults, and the magic to which thou didst compel us: for God is Best and Most Abiding." S. 20:61-73 Y. Ali

This clearly presupposes that magic is evil, and implies that Harut and Marut are devils since they introduced both satans and men to evil practices! If they are not devils then why were they instructing others in something evil? But if they are devils then this means that angels can rebel and disobey Allah, contradicting those texts which say that angels always obey their Lord:

And to Allah prostate all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth, of the live moving creatures and the angels, and they are not proud [i.e. they worship their Lord (Allah) with humility]. They fear their Lord above them, and they do what they are commanded. S. 16:49-50 Hilali-Khan

O you who believe! Ward off from yourselves and your families a Fire (Hell) whose fuel is men and stones, over which are (appointed) angels stern (and) severe, who disobey not, (from executing) the Commands they receive from Allah, but do that which they are commanded. S. 66:6 Hilali-Khan

Hence, if Oben is correct that these angels were simply carrying out the orders of Allah then he faces two problems:

Some Muslims were so troubled by this that they tried to deny that Allah sent Harut and Marut to teach magic:

The Story of Harut and Marut, and the Explanation that They were Angels

Allah said…

<And such things that came down at Babylon to the two angels, Harut and Marut, but neither of these two (angels) taught anyone (such things) till they had said, "We are for trial, so disbelieve not (by learning this magic from us)." And from these (angels) people learn that by which they cause separation between man and his wife>.

There is a difference of opinion regarding this story. It was said that this Ayah denies that anything was sent down to the two angels, as Al-Qurtubi stated and then referred to the Ayah

<Sulayman did not disbelieve> saying, "The negation applies in both cases. Allah then said…

<But the Shayatin (devils) disbelieved, teaching men magic and such things that came down at Babylon to the two angels>.

The Jews claimed that Gabriel and Michael brought magic down to the two angels, but Allah refuted this false claim."

Also, Ibn Jarir reported, that Al-`Awfi said that Ibn `Abbas said about Allah's statement…

<And such things that came down at Babylon to the two angels>

"Allah did not send magic down."

Also, Ibn Jarir narrated that Ar-Rabi` bin Anas said about…

<And such things that came down to the two angels>, "Allah did not send magic down to them." Ibn Jarir commented, "This is the correct explanation for this Ayah

<They followed what the Shayatin (devils) gave out (falsely) in the lifetime of Sulayman.> meaning, magic. However, neither did Solomon disbelieve nor did Allah send magic with the two angels. The devils, on the other hand, disbelieved and taught magic to the people of the Babylon of Harut and Marut."

Ibn Jarir continued; "If someone asks about explaining this Ayah in this manner, we say that…

<They followed what the Shayatin (devils) gave out (falsely) in the lifetime of Sulayman.> means, magic. Solomon neither disbelieved nor did Allah send magic with the two angels. However, the devils disbelieved and taught magic to the people in the Babylon of Harut and Marut, meaning Gabriel and Michael, for Jewish sorcerers claimed that Allah sent magic by the words of Gabriel and Michael to Solomon, son of David. Allah denied this false claim and stated to His Prophet Muhammad that Gabriel and Michael were not sent with magic. Allah also exonerated Solomon from practicing magic, which the devils taught to the people of Babylon by the hands of two men, Harut and Marut. Hence, Harut and Marut were two ordinary men (not angels or Gabriel or Michael)." These were the words of At-Tabari, and this explanation is NOT plausible.

Many among the Salaf, said that Harut and Marut were angels who came down from heaven to earth and did what they did as the Ayah stated. To conform this opinion with the fact that the angels are immune from error, we say that Allah had eternal knowledge what these angels would do, just as He had eternal knowledge that Iblis would do as he did, while Allah referred to him being among the angels…

<And (remember) when We said to the angels: "Prostrate yourselves before Adam." And they prostrated except Iblis (Satan), he refused> (20:116) and so forth. However, what Harut and Marut did WAS LESS EVIL than what Iblis, may Allah curse him, did. Al-Qurtubi reported this opinion from `Ali, Ibn Mas`ud, Ibn `Abbas, Ibn `Umar, Ka`b Al-Ahbar, As-Suddi and Al-Kalbi. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir; source; capital and underline emphasis ours)

It is obvious that Muslims had a trouble admitting that Allah inspired two angels to mislead mankind by teaching them wicked practices such as magic and divorce, even though Ibn Kathir readily acknowledges that this is the natural reading of the text and the one accepted by Muhammad’s companions and their followers. Yet he, too, is aware of the dilemma with this view since this means that angels are not immune from committing sins!

Thus, Oben’s response doesn’t address the fact that the Quran mentions two specific angels who sinned against Allah by introducing mankind to destructive teachings such as sorcery!

Oben couldn’t help himself from attacking my character:

After presenting the distorted information on Harut and Marut, Mr Shamoun contends that:

"In light of the preceding evidence, we ask the following questions. Does God really put lust into his creation in order that they might be tempted?"

This question here is really mischievous as it has nothing to do with the question of whether Harut and Marut disobeyed their Lord. I think I have made it clear that they were obedient.

The answer to the question of whether God really puts lust into his creation in order that they might be tempted is quite clear in the fact that mankind is God's creation; and we certainly have the ability to be tempted through our lusts as Satan showed with Adam.

The temptation or trial that Harut and Marut were for the people of Babel is not dissimilar to other trials humans have faced. God is able to do all things and all things are from Him. All things exist and are able to exist only through His Mercy.

Note how Oben resorts to ad hominem and avoids answering the question directly. He says the answer is clear but doesn’t expressly say whether Allah directly places lust into a creature’s heart. He merely asserts that humans have the ability to be tempted through their lusts, which doesn’t address the point I was making. I do not deny that Allah created humans with the capacity or potential to be tempted or to have evil desires. My question was asked in light of the following quotes from the True Guidance and from Muslim scholar Mahmoud M. Ayoub:

Islamic commentators claim that demons wrote sorcery as they heard it from Asif's tongue (claiming that Asif b. Barkhia taught King Solomon). The demons wrote it and buried it underneath his chair. That was when Allah stripped him of his monarchy, yet he could not feel it. Others claim that the Israelites made their living by teaching sorcery when its time was ripe, yet Solomon prevented them from doing that. Apparently he took their books and hid them underneath his bed. When he died, demons brought them out and said to the Jews: "Solomon reigned over you by the power of this. So you have to learn it." The Jews then denied Solomon's prophethood. They claimed that Solomon seized his reign by force. Jinn and humankind were subjugated to him by virtue of sorcery. To this the Quran replied: "Never did Solomon disbelieve." Ibn `Abbas relates that in the days of Idris, when angels saw the malicious works done by the sons of Adam ascending to heaven, they reproached them and said: "These are the ones you created in the earth. They disobey you!" Allah challenged: "If I were to let you live down there on earth and had given you the same advantages, you would have followed the same course." They answered: "God forbid! It is not for us to disobey you." Allah said: "Select the best two angels you ever had, because I am going to send them down to earth." They selected Harut and Marut who were the most righteous angels. Allah inspired them with lust, made them descend to earth, commanded them to judge justly among people, and forbade them to be idolaters or to kill unjustly or to commit adultery or drink wine. (The True Guidance [Light of Life, PO Box 13, A-9503 Villach, Austria], part 5, pp. 24-25; see also Rev. W. St Clair-Tisdall, The Sources of Islam [T. & T. Clark, 38 George Street, Edinburgh, Scotland], pp. 30-36; online edition)

And:

Most early commentators have agreed, however, that Harut and Marut were two angels. Their story appears very early in the history of tafsir on the authority of the first masters of science among the Companions and their Successors. The story, as related by Tabari on the authority of Ibn Mas'ud and Ibn 'Abbas, is as follows: "When the children of Adam had increased in the earth and committed acts of disobedience, the angels, heavens, earth and mountains invoked God against them, saying, ‘Our Lord, would You not destroy them?’ God revealed to the angels, ‘WERE I TO PUT LUST IN YOUR HEARTS and give Satan authority over you, and were you to descend to earth, you would do the same.’ The angels thought in their hearts that if they were sent down, they would not sin. God, then revealed to them, ‘Choose two of the best angels among you,’ and they chose Harut and Marut. They were thus sent down to earth, and Venus was sent down as a beautiful Persian woman. They fell into sin [by lusting after her]. They were therefore given the choice between the punishment of this world or that of the world to come, but they chose the punishment of this world' (Tabari, II, pp. 428). (Mahmoud M. Ayoub, The Qur'an and its Interpreters [State University of New York Press (SUNY), Albany 1984], p. 131)

Interestingly, earlier in his rebuttal Oben attributed Israel’s evil desires to the devils:

This verse follows others describing the Children of Israel acting perversely and breaking their covenant with God on numerous occasions. It relates an episode in the reign of the prophet Solomon in which the Children of Israel followed desires created in them by devils against Solomon.

By claiming that Israel’s desires were produced or created by the devils Oben has indirectly answered my question: he does not believe that Allah creates lust in the hearts of his creatures.

When we try to take all of what Oben has written then it seems that he is arguing that such wicked desires are not the direct creation of God, but arise either from temptations or are created by the devils. The Quran does support the view that devils, specifically Satan, produce false desires within individuals:

(The Pagans), leaving Him, call but upon female deities: They call but upon satan the persistent rebel! God did curse him, but he said: "I will take of Thy servants a portion Marked off; I will mislead them, and I will create in them false desires; I will order them to slit the ears of cattle, and to deface the (fair) nature created by God." Whoever, forsaking God, takes satan for a friend, hath of a surety suffered a loss that is manifest. Satan makes them promises, and creates in them false desires; but satan's promises are nothing but deception. S. 4:117-120 Y. Ali

If this is what Oben is arguing for then he must address the statements we provided where Allah is said to have created these desires in Harut and Marut. So we ask again, does Allah really put lust into his creation in order that they might be tempted?

Since Oben failed to answer the question directly, we will assist him by providing the answer for him:

By a Soul and Him who balanced it, And BREATHED INTO IT ITS WICKEDNESS and its piety, S. 91:7-8 Rodwell

Here is how Muhammad interpreted this verse:

Abu al-Aswad reported that 'Imran b Husain asked him: What is your view, what the people do today in the world, and strive for, is it something decreed for them or preordained for them or will their fate in the Hereafter be determined by the fact that their Prophets brought them teaching which they did not act upon? I said: Of course, IT IS SOMETHING WHICH IS PREDETERMINED FOR THEM AND PREORDAINED FOR THEM. He (further) said: Then, would it not be an injustice (to punish them)? I felt greatly disturbed because of that, and said: Everything is created by Allah and lies in His Power. He would not be questioned as to what He does, but they would be questioned; thereupon he said to me: May Allah have mercy upon you, I did not mean to ask you but for testing your intelligence. Two men of the tribe of Muzaina came to Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) and said: Allah's Messenger, what is your opinion that the people do in the world and strive for, is something decreed for them; something preodained for them and will their fate in the Hereafter be determined by the fact that their Prophets brought them teachings which they did not act upon, and thus they became deserving of punishment? Thereupon, he said: Of course, it happens AS IT IS DECREED BY DESTINY AND PREORDAINED FOR THEM, and this view is confirmed by this verse of the Book of Allah, the Exalted and Glorious: "Consider the soul and Him Who made it perfect, THEN BREATHED INTO ITS SIN and its piety" (xci. 8). (Sahih Muslim, Book 033, Number 6406)

Other narrations go even farther and claim that Allah determined beforehand the adultery that persons must necessarily commit:

Narrated Ibn 'Abbas:
I did not see anything so resembling minor sins as what Abu Huraira said from the Prophet, who said, "Allah has written for the son of Adam his inevitable share of adultery whether he is aware of it or not: The adultery of the eye is the looking (at something which is sinful to look at), and the adultery of the tongue is to utter (what it is unlawful to utter), and the innerself wishes and longs for (adultery) and the private parts turn that into reality or refrain from submitting to the temptation." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 77, Number 609)

Verily Allah has fixed the very portion of adultery which a man will indulge in, and which he OF NECESSITY MUST COMMIT (or there would be no escape from it). (Sahih Muslim, Book 033, Number 6421; see also Number 6422)

As one can see, Allah doesn’t simply create beings with the potentiality of being tempted or of having sinful desires; he actually places lust and wickedness in the hearts of his creatures!

So in answer to our question, Allah does place evil and sin within his creatures and even foreordained that they would/will commit gross, heinous crimes such as adultery.

But this places Oben in another dilemma since Allah is performing the same function of Satan in that he, much like the devil, is creating evil lusts and desires in people!

Sam Shamoun


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