The Devil (Greek: διάβολος or diávolos = 'slanderer' or 'accuser') is believed in
certain religions and cultures to be a powerful, supernatural entity that is the
personification of evil and the enemy of God and humankind. The Devil is commonly associated with heretics, infidels, and other unbelievers. The Abrahamic religions have variously regarded the Devil
as a rebellious fallen
angel or demon that tempts humans to
sin or commit evil deeds. Others regard the Devil as an allegory that represents a crisis of faith, individualism, free will, wisdom and enlightenment.
In mainstream Christianity, God and the Devil are usually portrayed as
fighting over the souls of humans, with the
Devil seeking to lure people away from God and
into Hell. The Devil commands a force of
evil angels, commonly known as demons.
The Hebrew Bible (or Old
Testament) describes the Adversary (Ha-satan) as an angel who instigates tests upon
humankind. Many other religions have a trickster or tempter figure that is similar to the
Devil. Modern conceptions of the Devil include the concept that it symbolizes
humans' own lower nature or sinfulness.
In mainstream Christianity the Devil is known as Satan and sometimes as Lucifer, although it has been noted that the reference
in Isaiah 14:12 to Lucifer, or the Son of the Morning, is a reference to the
Babylonian king. Many modern
Christians consider the Devil to be an angel who, along with one-third of the angelic host (the
demons) rebelled against God and has
consequently been condemned to the Lake of Fire. He is described as hating all
humanity, or more accurately creation, opposing God, spreading lies and wreaking
havoc on the souls of mankind. Other Christians consider the devil in the Bible
to refer figuratively to human sin and temptation and to any human system in
opposition to God.
Satan is often identified as the serpent who convinced Eve to eat the forbidden fruit;
thus, Satan has often been depicted as a serpent. Though this identification is
not present in the Adam and
Eve narrative, this interpretation goes back at least as far as the time of
the writing of the book of Revelation, which specifically
identifies Satan as being the serpent (Rev. 20:2).
In the Bible, the devil is identified
with "The dragon" and "the old serpent" in the Book of Revelation 12:9, 20:2 have also been
identified with Satan, as have "the prince of this world" in the Book of
John 12:31, 14:30; "the prince of the power of the air" also called Meririm,
and "the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience" in the Book
of Ephesians 2:2; and "the god of this world" in 2 Corinthians 4:4.
He is also
identified as the dragon in the Book of Revelation, and the tempter
of the Gospels
Beelzebub is originally the
name of a Philistine god (more specifically a certain type of
Baal, from Ba‘al
Zebûb, lit. "Lord of Flies") but is also used in the New Testament as a
synonym for Satan. A corrupted version, "Belzeboub," appears in The
In other, non-mainstream, Christian beliefs (e.g. the beliefs of the Christadelphians) the
word "satan" in the Bible is not regarded as referring to a supernatural,
personal being but to any 'adversary' and figuratively refers to human sin and
In Islam the Devil is referred to as Iblis (Arabic: Shaitan, a word referring to evil devil-like
beings). According to the Qur'an,
God created Iblis out of "smokeless fire" (along with all of the other jinn) and created man out of
clay. The primary characteristic of the Devil, besides hubris, is that he has no power other than the power to
cast evil suggestions into the heart of men and women.
According to Muslim theology, Iblis was expelled from the
grace of God when he disobeyed God by choosing not to pay homage to Adam, the
father of all mankind. He claimed to be superior to Adam, on the grounds that
man was created of earth unlike himself. As for the angels, they prostrated
before Adam to show their homage and obedience to God. However, Iblis, adamant
in his view that man is inferior, and unlike angels was given the ability to
choose, made a choice of not obeying God. This caused him to be expelled by God,
a fact that Iblis blamed on humanity. Initially, the Devil was successful in
deceiving Adam, but once his intentions became clear, Adam and Eve repented to God and were freed from
their misdeeds and forgiven. God gave them a strong warning about Iblis and the
fires of Hell and asked them and their children (humankind) to stay away from
the deceptions of their senses caused by the Devil.
According to the verses of the Qur’an, the Devil's mission until the Qiyamah or Resurrection
Day (yaum-ul-qiyama) is to deceive Adam's children (mankind). After that,
he will be put into the fires of Hell along with those whom he has deceived. The
Devil is also referred to as one of the jinns, as they are all created from the smokeless fire.
The Qur'an does not depict Iblis as the enemy of God, as God is supreme over all
his creations and Iblis is just one of his creations. Iblis's single enemy is
humanity. He intends to discourage humans from obeying God. Thus, humankind is
warned to struggle (jihad) against
the mischiefs of the Satan and temptations he puts them in. The ones who succeed
in this are rewarded with Paradise (jannath ul firdaus), attainable only
by righteous conduct.
- 2020. All rights reserved.