Satan: The First Unbeliever

This article is based on the work of Sam Gerrans which you can read for free at

First things first: What does the Qur’an mean by an unbeliever?

The Qur’an uses two phrases, al-ladhina-kafaru and al-kafirun for the unbelievers – the damned. Sadly, Muslims have not understood the critical difference between these two enemies of God and the believers. In this article we will focus on the second group, the al-kafirun as they are the most dangerous of the two groups of unbelievers.

What does God mean by al-ladhina-kafaru?

Firstly, the group called al-ladhina-kafaru are those who ignore warning i.e. they do not care whether a Day of Judgment is coming or not, they are happy and busy in this temporary life. In modern parlance, we call these people atheists and their motto is “Live your life”. Their condition and the reason for their condition are both highlighted in the Qur’an as:

Those who ignore warning, it is the same to them whether thou hast warned them or thou hast not warned them; they do not believe:

God has sealed their hearts, and over their hearing and over their sight is a covering; and they have a great punishment.

The Qur’an: A Complete Revelation (2:6-7)

So, it is a straight-forward matter to identify these people and be cautious of them since it is never a good strategy to associate with the damned.

What does God mean by the al-kafirun?

Moving on to the second group, the al-kafirun, we can come up with a Qur’anic definition of them as: the false claimers of guidance i.e. those who claim to be on the right path when, in reality, they are the workers of corruption. The identification of the al-kafirun is not as easy since this group of people talk, walk and dress as men of faith when in reality they are an enemy to God and the believers. Thus we would expect them to be hiding within believing communities and faking their true intentions. God tells us of their characteristics:

And of men are some who say: “We believe in God and the Last Day,” but they are not believers.

They would deceive God and those who heed warning, but they deceive only themselves; and they perceive not.

In their hearts is disease, so God has increased their disease; and for them is a painful punishment because they have lied.

And when it is said to them: “Work not corruption in the land,” they say: “We are but those who do right.”

In truth, it is they who are the workers of corruption; but they perceive not.

And when it is said to them: “Believe as mankind has believed,” they say: “Shall we believe as the foolish have believed?” In truth, it is they who are the foolish; but they know not.

And when they meet those who heed warning, they say: “We believe.” But when they are alone with their satans, they say: “We are with you; we were only mocking!”

God mocks them, and increases them in wandering blindly in their inordinacy.

Those are they who bought error at the price of guidance, so their transaction profited not; and they were not guided.

Their likeness is as the likeness of one who kindled a fire: — when it had illuminated what was round about him, God took away their light and left them in darkness; they do not see.

Deaf, dumb, blind; so they will not return.

Or like a thundercloud from the sky wherein is darkness, and thunder, and lightning: they put their fingers in their ears against the thunderbolts in fear of death; but God encompasses the al-kafirun.

The lightning nigh snatches away their sight; whenever it gives them light, they walk therein; and when it darkens over them, they stand still. And had God willed, He would have taken away their hearing and their sight; God is over all things powerful.

The Qur’an: A Complete Revelation (2:8-20)

So, these al-kafirun hide their true aim: working corruption in the land. However, they are unable to hide their true faces from God and the believers. The believers see through their deceptions and actively warn them to not commit corruption in the land. But, they reply in the usual double-speak that, on the contrary, they are doing right! They also have contempt for the faith of the generality of mankind i.e. to believe in God and the Last Day and to do good works. This simple faith, which they consider to be foolish, is difficult for them to accept since – according to them – they are beyond such naive concepts of good and evil. i.e. they do not have any morality. As the famous freemason saying goes: Do what thou wilt. Now, I want you to cast your eyes around you and look for these al-kafirun, those who dress in the garb of religion and call themselves believers but are actively destroying mankind by waging holy wars, misguiding men and supporting the tyranny of today. These are our enemies.

Satan: A model for the al-kafirun

An interesting thing that cropped up in my study of the Qur’an was that God called Iblees (a being made of fire) an al-kafirun.

And when We said to the angels: “Submit to Adam,” then they submitted. Not so Iblīs; he refused, and had waxed proud, and was of the al-kafirun.

The Qur’an: A Complete Revelation (2:34)

This creature Iblees who is known as Satan was not always the accursed being of today. We know, from the Qur’an, that he once enjoyed the privileged position of being in the exalted assembly of God. But, he was arrogant and proud, and this brought about his downfall. Even though he hid his arrogance, God knew that he was of al-kafirun and exposed his true nature to Adam.

Arrogance and Pride

In the episode which we shall discuss, we will notice the two characteristics of Satan which led to his expulsion from the heavenly assembly. These two characteristics, which are all too obvious in the al-kafirun of today, are arrogance and pride; his arrogance to obey the command of God and his pride in his constitution of a higher substance. Since, he was made from fire and Adam from clay. Thus, it is not that the al-kafirun do not believe in a God, as is commonly understood. They do believe in a God and know that He has sent down guidance, but due to their pride, they simply refuse to obey God’s commands like their model Satan. It is simply impossible to claim otherwise. How could Satan disbelieve in the existence of God when he was right in the presence of God and God was commanding him to submit to Adam? It does not make any sense. Therefore, the al-kafirun believe in the existence of God, but actively refuse to submit to the guidance that He has sent down. This is due to their arrogance (thinking that they know better) and because of their pride (refusing to accept that God chose to communicate with mankind through common men). Let us look at the episode of Satan’s downfall in more detail.

And when thy Lord said to the angels: “I am placing in the earth a successor,” they said: “Wilt Thou place therein one who will do harm therein, and shed blood, while we give glory with Thy praise and hallow Thee?” He said: “I know what you know not.”

And He taught Adam the names, all of them; then He presented them to the angels and said: “Inform Me of the names of these, if you be truthful.”

They said: “Glory be to Thee! We have no knowledge save what Thou hast taught us; Thou art the Knowing, the Wise.”

He said: “O Adam: inform thou them of their names.” And when he had informed them of their names, He said: “Said I not to you that I know the unseen of the heavens and the earth? And I know what you reveal, and what you have concealed.”

And when We said to the angels: “Submit to Adam,” then they submitted. Not so Iblīs; he refused, and had waxed proud, and was of the false claimers of guidance.

And We said: “O Adam: dwell thou and thy wife in the garden, and eat thereof freely wheresoever you will; but approach not this tree lest you be of the wrongdoers.”

But the satan caused them to fall therefrom, and turned them out of what they were in; and We said: “Get you all down, an enemy to one another; and for you in the earth are a dwelling-place and provision for a time.”

Then received Adam words from his Lord, and He turned towards him; He is the Accepting of Repentance, the Merciful.

We said: “Get you down from it all together. And if there comes to you guidance from Me, whoso follows My guidance: no fear will be upon them, nor will they grieve.

“But those who ignore warning and deny Our proofs: those are the companions of the Fire; therein they abide eternally.”

The Qur’an: A Complete Revelation (2:30-39)

God, by naming Adam as a successor, was implying that the dominion of the earth was being transferred from angels to man. Hence the reason for their protest. They questioned God as to why create a being which will spill blood and cause corruption when they glorified God and were pure. However, they did not know that their was an al-kafirun in their midst, Iblees. This is why God replied to them: “I know what you know not.” i.e. things were not what they seemed: He knew there was a creature in their midst who was working corruption and was arrogant and proud.

And when We said to the angels: “Submit to Adam,” then they submitted. Not so Iblīs; he refused, and had waxed proud, and was of the al-kafirun

The Qur’an: A Complete Revelation (2:34)

God in His infinite Wisdom and Knowledge brought out the true nature of Iblees in front of Adam when He commanded the angels to submit to Adam. Iblees being proud and arrogant refused to submit himself because he was of the al-kafirun. Similarly, the al-kafirun among men refuse to submit to God’s command and are arrogant and proud. But, all their wealth and glory will avail them nothing and they will enter the fire like the first of the unbelievers, Satan.

We said: “Get you down from it all together. And if there comes to you guidance from Me, whoso follows My guidance: no fear will be upon them, nor will they grieve.

“But those who ignore warning and deny Our proofs: those are the companions of the Fire; therein they abide eternally.”

The Qur’an: A Complete Revelation (2:38-39)

And they will emerge before God all together; and the weak will say to those who had waxed proud: “We were your followers; can you avail us something against the punishment of God?” They will say: “Had God guided us, we would have guided you; it is the same for us whether we be distressed or patient: we have no place of refuge.”

And the satan will say when the matter is concluded: “God promised you the promise of truth; and I promised you, but I betrayed you. And I had not over you any authority except to call you — and you responded to me; so blame not me, but blame yourselves. I cannot aid you, and you cannot aid me. I deny your ascribing to me a partnership before; the wrongdoers: for them is a painful punishment.”

The Qur’an: A Complete Revelation (14:21-22)

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