Qur'an Contradiction:

Can Angels Disobey? Part II

Response to Saifullah

In our Quran Contradictions section, we stated:

About the angels: For NONE are arrogant (before their Lord). They ALL fear their Lord, high above them, and they do ALL they are commanded. -- Sura 16:49-50

And behold, we said to the ANGELS: "Bow down to Adam". And THEY bowed down, EXCEPT Iblis. He refused and was haughty. -- Sura 2:34

The command of Allah is given to the angels. Since Iblis is accused of not being obedient, he has to be one of the angels.

Contradicting 16:50, he refused = is disobedient, and is haughty = arrogant (before his Lord).

See also 7:11, 15:28-31, 17:61, 18:50, 20:116, 38:71-74.

Upon reading our rebuttal to his earlier response, Saifullah realized that it was not satisfactory and responds to the above in his Sept. 25, 1999 revision as follows:


In the verse

And behold, We said to the angels: "Bow down to Adam" and they bowed down. Not so Iblis: he refused and was haughty: He was of those who reject Faith. [Qur'ān 2:34]

the nature of Iblīs is not mentioned, i.e., whether he was an angel or someone else. But the verse

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. Will ye then take him and his progeny as protectors rather than Me? And they are enemies to you! Evil would be the exchange for the wrong-doers! [Qur'ān 18:50]

clarifies who Iblīs is. He was one of Jinn not angels as wrongly claimed by the Christian missionaries. We have used the traditional method of Qur'ānic exegesis involving Context & Internal Relationships, i.e., al-Qur'ān yufassiru bacduhu bacdan (different parts of the Qur'ān explain each other). What is given in a general way in one place is discussed in detail in some other place in the Qur'ān. What is dealt with briefly at one place is expanded in some other place.

As a small note, we are tempted to add that: In Islamic literature Shaytān (Eng. Satan, devil) is a name given to disbelieving Jinns. They are created from fire according to Allāh's statement in the Qur'ān; "The Jinns were created from the fire of a scorching wind." (al-Hijr 15:27). They are not fallen angels....[1]


This does not solve the problem. As we have already demonstrated, the Quran documents an instance where two angels, Harut and Marut, fell from favor and committed transgressions. Furthermore, if Iblis was a jinn why did God blame him for not obeying a command directed to angels? Is there any reference in the Quran indicating that God's command to prostrate before Adam included more than just the angels?

Finally, the early commentators such as al-Tabari actually believed that Iblis belonged to a class of angels called jinn. Tabari documents that the reason why these angels were called jinn is because they were the protectors of Paradise (jannah). The following information is taken from The History of al-Tabari: General Introduction and From the Creation to the Flood, volume 1, trans. by Franz Rosenthal (State University of New York Press, Albany, 1989):

According to al-Qasim b. al-Hasan- al-Husayn b. Dawud- Hajjaj- Ibn Jurayj- Ibn `Abbas: Iblis was one of the most noblest angels and belonged to the most honored tribe among them. He was a keeper of Paradise. He had authority to rule over the lower heaven as well as earth.

According to al-Qasim- al-Husayn- Hajjaj- Ibn Jurayj- Salih, the mawla of al-Taw'amah and Sharik b. Abir Namir, either one or both of them- Ibn `Abbas: There was an angelic tribe of jinn, and Iblis belonged to it. He governed all in between the heaven and the earth.

According to Musa b. Harun al-Hamdani- `Amr b. Hammad- Asbat- al-Suddi- Abu Malik and Abu Salih- Ibn `Abbas. Also (al-Suddi)- Murrah al-Hamdani- Ibn Mas'ud and some (other) companions of the Prophet: Iblis was ruler over the lower heaven. He belonged to a tribe of angels called jinn. They were called jinn because they were keepers of Paradise (al-jannah). In addition to being ruler, Iblis was a keeper (of Paradise).

According to `Abdan al-Marwazi- al-Husayn b. al-Faraj- Dahhak b. Muzahim, commenting on God's word: "They prostrated themselves, except Iblis. He was one of the jinn": Ibn `Abbas used to say: Iblis was one of the noblest angels and belonged to their most honored tribe. He was a keeper of Paradise, and his was the rule over the lower heaven as well as the earth.

According to Ibn Humayd- Salamah- Abu al-Azhar al-Mubarak b. Mujahid- Sharik b. `Abdallah b. Abi Namir- Salih, the mawla of al-Taw'amah- Ibn `Abbas: There is an angelic tribe called jinn. Iblis belonged to them. He used to rule all in between heaven and earth. Then he became disobedient, and God therefore transformed him into a stoned Satan.

According to al-Qasim- al-Husayn- Hajjaj- Ibn Jurayj, commenting on: "And whoever among them says: I am a god besides Him": Whichever angel says: "I am a god besides Him" calls to worship of himself, and only Iblis said that. Thus, this verse was revealed with reference to Iblis. (Ibid., pp. 250-251)

One of the events that took place during the rule of the enemy of God while he was (still) obedient to God is what was mentioned to us on the authority of Ibn `Abbas in a report told us by Abu Kurayb- `Uthman b. Sa'id- Bishr b. `Umarah- Abu Rawq- al-Dahhak- Ibn `Abbas: Iblis belonged to a tribal group of angels called jinn. Among the angels it was they who were created from the fire of simoom. He continued. His name was al-Harith. He continued. He was one of the keepers of Paradise. He continued. All the angels except this tribal group were created from light. He continued. The jinn mentioned in the Qur'an were created "from a bright flame (marij) of fire"- (marij being) a tongue of fire blazing on its side(s and top). He continued. And He created man from clay. The first to dwell on earth were the jinn. They caused corruption on it and shed blood and killed each other. He continued. God sent Iblis to them with an army of angels. They were that tribal group called jinn. Iblis and those with him caused a bloodbath among them and eventually banished them to the islands in the oceans and the mountainsides. His success went to his head, and he said: I have done something nobody has ever done before. He continued. God was aware of how Iblis felt, but the angels who were with him were not. (Ibid., pp. 252-253)

Ibn Humayd gave us about the same account again, reporting from Salamah- Ibn Ishaq- Khallad b. `Ata'- Tawus or Abu sl-Hajjaj Mujahid- Ibn `Abbas, and others. However, he said: (Iblis) was an angel named Azazil. He was one of the dwellers and cultivators on earth. The dwellers on earth from among the angel used to be called jinn." (Ibid., p. 254)

According to all these traditions the jinn are actually a class of angels. The fact that there are good and bad jinn proves that angels can either choose to follow God or reject his commands. This being the case, this proves that the Quran contradicts itself since in one place it claims that all the angels obey God. Yet, in the case of Harut, Marut, Iblis and the jinn angels have and continue to disobey God. This also means that the citation from Bilal Philip's where he claims that jinn are not angels is simply wrong since the comments from the companions of Muhammad disagree with him completely. Hence, the contradiction remains.

Sam Shamoun

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