Maulana Wahiduddin Khan

The story of Adam has been narrated in the Quran as follows:

When We said to the angels, ‘Bow down before Adam,’ they all bowed except for Iblis (Satan). He refused and acted proudly and became an unbeliever. We said, ‘O Adam! Live with your wife in Paradise and eat freely from anywhere you may wish. Yet do not approach this tree lest you become wrongdoers.’ But Satan caused them both to slip through this and thus brought about the loss of their former state. We said, ‘Go down from here as enemies to each other; and on earth you shall have your abode and your livelihood for a while!’ (THE QURAN 2:34-36)

WHAT was the reason for Satan disobeying God’s command and refusing to bow down before Adam? This was because of his feelings of superiority over Adam. He said 'I am better than Adam' (THE QURAN 38:76). The angels on the other hand were free from such self-pride. They acknowledged that all greatness belongs to God alone and therefore they immediately submitted to God's command and bowed before a lesser creature. In this manner in the beginning of creation, God clearly demonstrated two different characters as examples for mankind. One, a satanic character and the other, an angelic character. All of Satan's efforts are towards this goal of making man follow him, but man must resist all temptations and strive to acquire the character of the angels.

When another person attains a greater share of wealth, fame, or power, man becomes jealous because he does not want to see others becoming greater than him. He refuses to accept the truth proclaimed by others; because doing so amounts to acknowledging another's superior ideology. He is enraged by criticism, because he feels that the critique challenges his superiority.

Consider why very few people are willing to support quiet, constructive work. But a movement to depose a ruler from office will gather large crowds in its support. The reason for this also is the same. In such politics, these people find gratification in refusing to acknowledge the ruler's authority. The principal weakness of man is his refusal to accept another's superiority. On the other hand the real virtue in God's eyes is that man should eliminate the feelings of personal greatness and immediately submit to God's command even though it may amount to acknowledging someone lesser than him.

Those who stand up against a 'tyrant' ruler will find a large crowd in their support. Seeing the throngs of supporters these people are deluded into believing that the one who is in the seat of power is the only oppressor in the country. All others are examples of peace and justice. If this tyrant is removed from his seat of power then the floodgates of justice will open and winds of peace will blow from all corners. But this is a grave fallacy. The mob that assembles to support the movement challenging the powers of a 'tyrant' does not do so because of nationalist sentiments. Rather, these are always the result of anti-national sentiments which are a common feature amongst most communities.

Man should eliminate the feelings of personal greatness and immediately submit to God's command even though it may amount to acknowledging someone lesser than him.

To challenge the power of another is extremely appealing to such sentiments. When any leader takes up such a negative issue, these sentiments help in drawing the crowds towards his support. Because of these very same reasons the ease with which the unity that develops in the name of fighting against ‘oppression’ disappears as easily at the time of establishing 'justice'. In reality, rising with the sole purpose of bringing another down is due to anti-national feelings. Starting such movements only serves to create conflict instead of justice and reformation. Merely because such actions are resorted to in the name of religion, they cannot be called religious activities.

Satan does not have any power or authority over human beings. His method is one of false adornment of deeds (THE QURAN 15:39). That is, adorning bad deeds so that they appear good. Satan uses this very method constantly to make man follow his path. Whenever justice calls for a person to 'bow down' to another; when truth demands one to accept the other’s contention, Satan appears and begins instigating and influencing the person to follow his method instead of the angelic method. So that instead of 'bowing down' he spurns and rejects the other. All the evils of human society, within the family or outside of it, begin with a grievance. A person gets angered over a matter that displeases him. In every such situation, there is a choice between pure truth on the one hand and the demands of egotism and injustice on the other. Man however chooses to ignore the call of truth and becomes an enemy to his brother.

Man refuses to accept the truth proclaimed by others because doing so amounts to acknowledging another's superior ideology.

This is the real trial of human beings in this world. All such occasions will determine who has adopted the path of angels and who has chosen the path of Satan; who has qualified for eternal paradise and who is deserving of eternal punishment. Whenever such occasions arise one attitude is in conformance with the truth. The other attitude is one that arises from feelings such as stubbornness, hatred, egotism, selfishness and revenge. In the life of a human being, this is a repetition of the same historical case that occurred at the time of the creation of Adam. In such situations God sends His guidance through the Prophet's words as 'O believers submit to the truth'. On the other hand Satan instigates him, desiring that man follows the same egotistic method that he had adopted at the time of Adam's creation.

The entirety of human history is the story of this two-sided clash. Everyone — man or woman, rich or poor, ignorant or learned, leader or follower — is standing between these calls from both sides. To some, this struggle arises in the day-to-day issues of life and to some it may occur in the major aspects of life. Some face this trial either with their relative, neighbour, tenant, or a business partner and some may be tested against other communities or nations.

Each time there is a conflict between two persons on any issue the situation of this test arises. In such times, that person who adopts the method of submitting to the truth will be the companion of the angels and that person who adopts the method of pride and egotism joins the brotherhood of Satan. For one there is eternal paradise and for the other there is eternal punishment.

QURANIC VERSES2:34-3638:7615:39
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