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Takfeer of Iblees

Have you ever thoroughly thought about why and when did Iblees become a Kaafir?* First we have to establish from the Qur'aan that he indeed is a Kaafir. Allaah describes him as such in Surah al-Baqarah:

وَإِذْ قُلْنَا لِلْمَلاَئِكَةِ اسْجُدُواْ لآدَمَ فَسَجَدُواْ إِلاَّ إِبْلِيسَ أَبَى وَاسْتَكْبَرَ وَكَانَ مِنَ الْكَافِرِينَ


"And (remember) when We said to the angels: "Prostrate yourselves before Adam.". And they prostrated except Iblîs, he refused and was proud and was one of the disbelievers."**

Now let us think about the reason of his disbelief. If we say that he is a disbeliever just because he disobeyed Allaah, then every single human being will also be a disbeliever. If it is because he did not repent, we say that even major sins (excpet for Shirk) do not make one a disbeliever and that is our 'Aqeedah. It is the Khawaarij who said (and the neo-s may still say) that major sins make one a disbeliever but this is is not our 'Aqeedah.

Some may say he became a Kaafir because he thought himself superior to Aadam. Superficially, this answer is also insufficient because I think that everybody may feel superior to somebody else even if it be once in their life. The reason indeed may lie in his feeling of superiority to Aadam not due to the feeling itself but what it implied at that moment.

Allaah had commanded the angels ('alayhym as salaam) and Iblees to bow down to Aadam. When Iblees refused to do so, his justification was that he was superior to Aadam. But what did this really imply? It implied that Iblees was basically saying to Allaah that He made a mistake in asking Iblees to prostrate to somebody whom Iblees thought was lower than himself, ta'aalaa Allaahu 'an thalika. When he [i.e. Iblees] attributed a mistake to Allaah and placed his wisdom and thinking higher, that, I believe, was the turning point of his disbelief. He then made it worse by not repenting and also putting forth a challenge that he will misguide every human being on earth except that he won't be able to sway the believers.

This is an important issue of 'Aqeedah that many people are not aware of today. This same principle applies to every ruling that is made by Allaah. If somebody doesn't pray, then their reason determines whether they have indeed apostated or not. If they are not praying because they are lazy but still admit that praying is obligatory, then we cannot say that they have become disbelievers; rather we say that they are committing a major sin and they have no guarantee with Allaah. If, however, and this seems to be more common in my city, they do not pray because they believe that praying is not necessary although they know it has been commanded by Allaah, then they are indeed doing the same thing that Iblees did.

And Allaah knows best.

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* This was mainly inspired by one of the lectures of Dr. Bilaal Philips.

** Surah al-Baqarah, verse 34

*** Picture by Patrick Doheny (license)