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The Meaning of ‘Iblees’

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The following excerpt is taken from “Exposition of the Holy Quran” by G.A. Pervez:


               Ab-Lasa means to feel dejected (Ibn-e-Faris). It also means to get dazed and disillusioned because of frustration or bafflement (Taj/Moheet). In ancient Semitic dictionaries, its meanings are given as “crushed to death” or that which is run over (Gharibul Quran by Mirza Abul Fazal). Some scholars think that the word Iblees is tajen from ab-lasa and means totally disappointed from Allah’s rahmat, but other copiliers of dictionaries think that this is not an Arabic word but has been taken into Arabic (Taj/Moheet). The Holy Quran has presented Iblees as an embodiment of rebellion, disobedience, insubordination and revolt. He refused to obey Allah, took up a rebellious path and became among those who disobey (2:24), as apposed to malaika, whose nature is total obedience without doubt to Allah’s command (38:73)

               In this universe man is the only creature who is bestowed with the freedom of choice and discretion. He may or may not obey the laws of Allah; the choice is his. This discretion is denied to any other creature. Man decides to disobey Allah’s laws when his own inner feelings and emotions overpower him. These emptions instigate him for personal gain against universal good. He bypasser the laws of Allah and starts following his own emotions to achieve these objectives. The Holy Quran names such emotions and excuses to achieve these objectives as Iblees. Because of his rebellious nature, it was said that he was born out of fire (7:12) and since feelings of human beings remain hidden Iblees or Satan was called a jinn (18:50). Jinn means one who is hidden. At the time of his birth, along with emotions, man is given the power of discretion by virtue of which he is capable of obedience or disobedience, doing right or wrong and this accompanies him throughout his life span (15:36)

               A person, who follows the path of disobedience, is deprived of the resultant benefits, which would have accrued by virtue of following the laws of Allah: that is why Iblees is termed as the disappointed, dejected or devoid one. About those who follow Allah’s laws, the Quran says that they will not suffer any fear or sorrow (2:38) and Iblees will not have any control over them (15:42).

               The Quran has termed Iblees and Satan (Shaitan) as the two faces of the same coin. In the story of Adam, the refusal to bow, the rebellion, disobedience , and finally the challenge to mislead mankind, all are characteristic features of Iblees. The Story of Adam’s fall is linked to Satan (2:36, 7:11-20, 20116-120). This shows that Iblees is the name used for a specific personality trait  and the way this trait operates  is called Satan.

               Iblees and Satan, or disappointment and rebellion are, in fact, those obstacles, which hinder the progress of the human self. If the self of a person overcomes these obstacles, it shows growth in his evolutionary process, but if he fails then his self is stuck or drops to the lower level of (animal) life. Human life is, in fact, the story of this crisis. That is why, there cannot be a clash, and without clash, there is no stability in one’s self. In other words, there is no other test to check the growth and stability of one’s self. In other words, there is no other test to check the growth and stability of one’s self, except at the time of clash with evil.

               Research in the field of modern psychology also propound the above point of view: namely, that frustration and other stresses often lead to anger and aggression. Psychologists use the term frustration as a label for:

  1. An emotional state that appears whenever an obstacle interferes with the satisfaction of a desire, need, goal, expectation or action; and
  2. The obstacle itself. A person who is frustrated may be one who has simply blocked in all his attempts to solve a problem, or he may be one who has responded to his failure by anger worry and anxiety. Here we differentiate between two means of coping with frustration. If an individual directs his frustration against his own self, he resorts to anger, aggression, helplessness, anxiety, regression, fixation, escape or withdrawl. Similarly, if the mechanisms come to the foreground, which are, projection, repression, fantasy, denial of reality, rationalization, intellectualization and reaction formation. All these defense mechanisms have their underlying roots in disappointment closely followed by a feeling of rebellion or aggression. Clearly, there is a direct and deep-rooted connection between the feeling of rebellion and disappointment  experienced by a person, which is also manifest in the relationship if Iblees and Satan.

The Holy Quran also supports the above version that frustration leads to aggressiveness. When a person feels that he cannot achieve what he desires, he gets angry. If he gives vent to this anger against his own self, this results in worry, tension or depression; the last stage of which is suicide. When he uses this anger against anyone else who, in his opinion, is responsible for his circumstances, it is called revenge. In case he is incapable of taking revenge from the person concerned, then at times he gives vent to his feelings against things which may be totally unconcerned, which is madness. One can see the direct and deep contact between disappointment and rebellion ad this is the relationship of Iblees and Satan. Infact, these are psychological feelings of a human being. The Holy Quran wants to establish such a social order, where chances of disappointments do not occur (39:53), as His resources of nourishment are boundless for everything and abundant throughout the universe (7:156). So in the Quranic social order, Iblees cannot overcome anyone; particularly those who follow His laws (15:43)

See also:

The World of Jinn and Devils – Islamic Web Library


Pervez, Ahmad (2010). Exposition of the Quran. (p. 1159-1160).

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