Bayyinah TV Story Night: Whisper. By Nouman Ali Khan
This story is difficult to understand because it has many parts and some we need to understand indirectly.
As a start, please remember that there 4 stories that are the most important: the story of Prophet Adam, Ibrahim, Musa & Muhammad. And you need to learn it in this order. If you know these four, then you understand islam. Yes there are other prophets but all other prophets’ stories are connected to them. For example, the story of Noah is a continuation to the story of Adam, and Prophet Isa’s story is a continuation of Musa.
Even the stories of Adam, Ibrahim and Musa, the jews believed in. It’s in the bible as well. But the Qur’an tells the stories differently. That’s what we are looking at here. And the stories of Adam are the most confusing. Because it is hard to differentiate with what other people believed. We already have a set of understanding of the story of Adam, that we need to unlearn to understand the story from Qur’an better.
Adam stories are told in detail twice in the Qur’an. They are all told 7 times in the Qur’an but it is more detailed in Baqarah and A’raf. Basically, it’s the same story but looked from a different angle. In Surah Baqarah, it is told from the point of view of the angels. Whereas in Surah A’raf it is told from the point of view of the devil. So today we are looking mostly at Surah A’raf. In a way, we are now learning the origin of the Devil.
The scene: it’s the world where humans were not in existence yet. There’s only the angels and jinns. As we know, the Jinns were made from fire. They also have the choice to do the right and wrong things, just like the humans. This is unlike the angels who only obey Allah without choice. But please know that the angels are not robots. They also think, fear, love, analyse, and ask questions. The only difference is that if there are any choices to be made, they will do what Allah is happy with.
One amongst the jinns was so obedient to Allah, never disobey Allah even though he wasn’t an angel. He constantly obeyed Allah throughout his life. And his status was raised by Allah. This is normal for Allah to elevate those who obey him. This particular jinn keeps on rising because he keeps on obeying Allah for years and years. His rank was so high that he was included in the company of the angels in heaven. He’s allowed to be in meetings with angels. So there’s this meeting between Allah and the angels, where we humans have not been created yet. But the subject of the meeting was us.
Who is that particular jinn? He has two names which are familiar to us: Iblees and Syaitan (Satan). Iblees is originally from the word ‘diabolos’ (Greek) and later included into Hebrew, and we might be familiar with the word: ‘diablo’ (Spanish). ‘Diabolos’ means someone who has no hope. And it also means someone who accuses and slanders.
Another name for him is Satan. It means enemy, or someone who has a lot of hatred. In Arabic it means someone who is consumed with anger.
So he’s in the meeting where Allah said He’s going to create humans with skin shown (Hijr:28). وَإِذۡ قَالَ رَبُّكَ لِلۡمَلَـٰٓٮِٕكَةِ إِنِّى خَـٰلِقُۢ بَشَرً۬ا مِّن صَلۡصَـٰلٍ۬ مِّنۡ حَمَإٍ۬ مَّسۡنُونٍ۬ (And (remember) when your Lord said to the angels: “I am going to create a man (Adam) from dried (sounding) clay of altered mud.) As we know, humans were created from mud. By this time, Allah has already created many creatures from mud. Such as birds, whales, squirrels etc. All were made from mud. But this time, Allah is going to create something unique from mud. It’s from the same material, but unique nonetheless.
But human’s creation did not stop there. Later Allah will balance him out (Hijr:29) فَإِذَا سَوَّيۡتُهُ (So, when I have balanced him completely). There are many opinions regarding what ‘balanced’ means. Some mufassirs said: we humans can balance on our two feet. Unlike most animals who walk on four legs. Yes, some animals can stand on two legs but they have to lean over. But humans are perfectly balanced, able to stand upright.
Other meaning: We can balance our anger with our patience; we can balance long term goals and short term; we can choose between something we want to say and be silent. Meaning that not the time we are going to say what’s on our mind; we can balance influences that come to us. Animals can’t do this because animals are impulsive and they just do it and can’t stop; apart from that, we also have a sense of justice. That’s why if we say justice in the world, the image is scale. We humans have a sense of fairness.
And then Allah said He will blow into him His own roh (Hijr:29) وَنَفَخۡتُ فِيهِ مِن رُّوحِى (and breathed into him (Adam) the soul which I created for him). The word ‘ruh’ has to do with something comforting, bringing ease, peace, tranquillity (it is one of Allah’s names). So it means that Allah gives special calmness inside humans. Other creatures do not have this.
And then Allah said: when He’s done, the angels will have to sujud to him فَقَعُواْ لَهُ ۥ سَـٰجِدِينَ (then fall (you) down prostrating yourselves unto him). Why? Because he is amazing. Because usually, when Allah does something amazing, people have to do sajdah. Like the stories of the magicians with Musa, and you can see how muslims in sports when they win a match, they do sujood. So the idea is, when Allah does something amazing and we witness it, we fall into sajdah. So Allah has already told the angels what they should do. And at that time, Adam had not even been created yet.
In other verse (7:11), Allah adds وَلَقَدۡ خَلَقۡنَـٰڪُمۡ ثُمَّ صَوَّرۡنَـٰكُمۡ (And surely, We created you (your father Adam) and then gave you shape). It means that Allah said He moulded and crafted us. And thus we are a thing of beauty.
So we humans are the highest of creatures. Each one of us is worthy of the sajdah of the angels. Because we have been created from mud, balanced and received the roh from Allah and being beautified. We are not worthless. So we need to understand what self-worth is. Some people have this problem when we bring other people down. But when we study the Qur’an, we find out that we are in the highest rank. Even the angels are in awe of us.
So far, it’s just an announcement. Iblees heard this but he said nothing. But the angels were not quiet. They questioned Allah, right? Because Allah said that we are bound to be Khalifah on earth (Baqarah:30) وَإِذۡ قَالَ رَبُّكَ لِلۡمَلَـٰٓٮِٕكَةِ إِنِّى جَاعِلٌ۬ فِى ٱلۡأَرۡضِ خَلِيفَةً۬ۖ (And (remember) when your Lord said to the angels: (Verily, I am going to place (mankind) as khalifah on earth.)
From the word خلف which means ‘behind’. What does it mean? Here’s an analogy to understand what it means: When we leave our kids behind for 30 mins, we actually make them ‘khalif’. But if we leave them for 9 months, we actually make them ‘khalifah’. Because it’s for a long time and with a big responsibility. We leave them in charge of their own affairs. Yes we gave them instructions, but they are the ones that are making the decisions day in and day out. Nobody is watching over them. And this is what Allah decided for us.
But angels were confused because jinns were given that responsibility before and look what happened? This is what happened when creatures were made and left them on their own, chaos would ensue. Let’s say the police are not around, what would happen to humans in the city? They would not observe the law anymore, right?
So the angels were in shock. They already knew (from experience) that there would be all kinds of trouble. Baqarah:30 قَالُوٓاْ أَتَجۡعَلُ فِيہَا مَن يُفۡسِدُ فِيہَا وَيَسۡفِكُ ٱلدِّمَآ (They said: “Will You place therein those who will make mischief therein and shed blood.) And say that they will do tasbeeh and will always obey Him نَحۡنُ نُسَبِّحُ بِحَمۡدِكَ وَنُقَدِّسُ لَكَۖ (while we glorify You with praises and thanks and sanctify You.) In a way, they are saying: Human beings seem like a bad choice and the angels are presenting a better choice (which is they, the angels). So why You need to create another creature, since we’re available?
Who was listening at the time? Iblees was listening but he did not say anything. Sure he was feeling something, but he did not say anything. He just kept it in his mind. And something was brewing inside of him.
So we are learning about the devil now. Anything that he feels, he wants us to feel and do as well. And the first thing we are learning here: he felt something inside him, but instead of talking about it to Allah and clarifying it, he kept it to himself. The angels on the other hand, said what they felt right away. And this is important.
We humans would have problems when we keep our feelings inside. Say for example we met someone and he did not respond to what we say … .we said hi, but he did not respond. Immediately we would think about many things in our mind. We didn’t say anything, but we just assumed. We created another reality in our heads because we didn’t say anything and clarify it. Once clarified, usually it’s something else entirely. Probably he didn’t hear us because he’s busy. It does not necessarily mean he’s mad at us. But he imagined that’s the case, right?
Iblees obeyed Allah all his life and when Allah said He’s creating a new creation, of course he felt something. But he did not say anything. But he’s thinking about it, right? So this is what Iblees had done and when we also do this, we are actually copying him. And eventually the infection in our mind would get worse. So this is the first problem.
The second problem: he was thinking: “how come You did not pick me? Why him and not me?” Iblees was given a high rank, right? Yes. And by giving Adam a responsibility on earth, does Allah take anything from him? No…. he still has a high rank. That means he loses nothing. But he feels that what he has is not worth much when he sees someone else is having something. Do you get these familiar feelings? He feels that he should get everything his way and if someone else gets that acknowledgement, he feels bad.
Iblees wants you to feel this way as well. Let’s say someone didn’t thank us, we feel bad, right? Other people are being recognized, but not us… so we feel bad because we are not acknowledged. When mom hugged someone else, our eyes burned. When one child is being shown love and the other doesn’t, something inside will take place. But in fact, it’s not that parents don’t love their child. It’s just that sometimes a child deserves more than another because he has done something good. But the devils would take this opportunity to stir something inside that kid’s feelings. This is what happened to the siblings of Yusuf a.s.
Now back to the scene at hand. Allah created us and we were all created at the same time. We didn’t spend time in the spiritual ICU, we were actually awake (in the form of ruh). We used to have direct conversation with Allah. Our body is our shell, a temporary home on earth. But we were all actually already created when Allah made the announcement with the angels. Just that it’s without our bodies yet.
At that time, we were bunched together in alam arwah. That’s why sometimes we feel attached to someone else. Because we were put near each other in that realm. We already have a bond with that person. And it’s not necessarily that we were together with our families. This explains why sometimes we feel a deep connection with another person and not with others. We don’t know why we are close to this guy. The answer is that: you were near him in the realm of ruh.
When the angels questioned Allah, Allah said that He knows what angels did not know قَالَ إِنِّىٓ أَعۡلَمُ مَا لَا تَعۡلَمُونَ (He (Allah) said: “I know that which you do not know.”). The angels just speculated but Allah knew what He was doing. Later Allah will show why humans are special.
So when all the bodies and ruh were ready , Allah chose Adam and put inside a body. That’s what it means when Allah says He chose Adam. It was from all the roh that was already available. Choosing means there were already choices. It’s not that only the ruh of Adam was created, get it?
Then he was shown all his children. Allah says in Baqarah:31 وَعَلَّمَ ءَادَمَ ٱلۡأَسۡمَآءَ كُلَّهَا (And He taught Adam all the names (of everything)). Every single one of us was shown to Adam. And then Allah taught Adam every one of our names and also our qualities. Because ‘ism’ means name and qualities. This is what people don’t understand.
Adam saw all the potential good in us (and also the bad ones). Then we are shown to the angels. ثُمَّ عَرَضَہُمۡ عَلَى ٱلۡمَلَـٰٓٮِٕكَةِ فَقَالَ أَنۢبِـُٔونِى بِأَسۡمَآءِ هَـٰٓؤُلَآءِ (then He showed them to the angels and said, “Tell Me the names of these). They saw our ruh and Allah asked them to describe us. قَالُواْ سُبۡحَـٰنَكَ لَا عِلۡمَ لَنَآ إِلَّا مَا عَلَّمۡتَنَآۖ (They (angels) said: “Glory be to You, we have no knowledge except what you have taught us.) They didn’t know anything about us, so Allah told Adam to describe us to them قَالَ يَـٰٓـَٔادَمُ أَنۢبِئۡهُم بِأَسۡمَآٮِٕہِمۡۖ (He said: “O Adam! Inform them of their names,”). And at that time, we were introduced to the Angels, one by one. So the angels already knew you and me and our qualities.
And Iblees was looking at the whole process. Always remember this to understand what had happened to him. At the time, we have light because we are in the form of ruh. Even Pharoah has light because all ruh is made of light. So Adam told the angels about our goodness to the angels. And in the end they praised Allah. Now the angels understood why they had to do sujood to humans. Still iblees did not say anything. But can you understand his envy now?
Now’s the time to do sajdah. All angels sujood except Iblees. وَإِذۡ قُلۡنَا لِلۡمَلَـٰٓٮِٕكَةِ ٱسۡجُدُواْ لِأَدَمَ فَسَجَدُوٓاْ إِلَّآ إِبۡلِيسَ (And (remember) when We said to the angels: “Prostrate yourselves before Adam.”. And they prostrated except Iblîs (Satan)). Who’s watching that time? We are! We were there, remember? We have been created and we’ve been introduced to Adam, remember? It’s in the same occasion.
And we were there when all the angels prostrate to Adam. But Iblees is in defiance without saying anything. Allah had to ask him what prevented him? A’raf:12 قَالَ مَا مَنَعَكَ أَلَّا تَسۡجُدَ إِذۡ أَمَرۡتُكَۖ ((Allâh) said: “What prevented you (O Iblîs) that you did not prostrate yourself, when I commanded you?”). Remember that Allah has told them that they will have to sujood even before He created Adam. So this is not new order, but it has already been issued before.
Remember that angels raised their concern about humans? When they raised it, then Allah addressed their concerns until they were satisfied. Allah showed them our light and our qualities to them. But iblees didn’t say anything, right? So Allah did not address his concerns. He took his feeling and turned it into a fact. This is what happens when you don’t verbalise your feelings. It starts to turn into a fact and you believe in your mind that it’s true, a fact. And that fact is not living on evidence, but it exists inside your head, and people cannot break it.
Parents do this a lot. Their children said something or did something and they made their own conclusions that we don’t love them anymore. Unfortunately, when that happens, you can’t reason with them. You can’t win with them!
This is what happened to Iblees. He already made up his mind. And nothing will ever change that to this day, until the end of time.
But why did Allah go out of His way to show to the angels the magnificence of the human? They would have obeyed anyway, right? The reason is so that Iblees can see. Because he was the one who needed to make a choice since angels don’t have a choice. Iblees had time to think about this, so it was not something impulsive. He already had time to think about it. When angels did sajdah, it was because they recognized what an amazing creation Allah had done. So when Iblees did not perform sajdah, it was not only because he thought that he was better, but it also showed he was not impressed with what Allah did. He was already blinded to that fact.
When asked, Iblees answered: قَالَ أَنَا۟ خَيۡرٌ۬ مِّنۡهُ (Iblîs said: “I am better than him (Adam)). And he added: خَلَقۡتَنِى مِن نَّارٍ۬ وَخَلَقۡتَهُ ۥ مِن طِينٍ۬ (You created me from fire, and him You created from clay). He reasoned: Because humans were made from mud. And this is true, because Allah said this as well. But that’s only stage one, remember? Humans are not only creatures of mud, like animals. Allah has perfected us and even put His ruh to humans.
And Iblees knew that Adam is not only an animal because he saw that. But when he answered, he did not acknowledge all that. He only just mentioned ‘mud’. So he was saying that we are no better than animals. This is like the philosophy that says that we are no more than organic matter. They disregard the ruh of the humans. They only see the superficiality of humans.
And if Iblees can convince humans that they are no more than animals, then they can act like animals. Animals only live once. Animals are of lesser worth and iblees want us to think this way. That human can be sacrificed, easier to spill blood of each other. And humans should be able to do anything they want, without impunity (no issue of halal and haram).
Fire is usually for hot temper and impulsiveness. He’s also saying that it’s Allah that made him this way and it’s not his fault. But not all jinns like that, right? He just wants to blame Allah for his problem. So this is the problem with some people who say that it’s not their fault that they are doing what they did because Allah was the one that made them like that. They blame Allah. It’s not my fault that I’m like this, they say.
So humans are made from mud while jinn are made from fire. But when you put mud to fire, it will only harden the mud into clay and can become something useful. It’s not going to damage the mud because the mud cannot be turned into fire. So when Iblees attack humans, it will only make them stronger. It’s remarkable imagery for us to think about, subhanallah!
So this is what Iblees wants us to feel and do. It’s to compare between us and saying you’re better because of this and this. And thus we see a lot of these: I’ve studied here, my son’s wedding here, his masjid just like that and that, why he is the first speaker, why their organisation is more successful, and on and on. This happened in life, in masjid and even in islamic organisation as well. Devils come in every corner of our life. So here we learn that the devils wants us to:
- Think less about ourselves
- We are no more than mud
- To live in a life of comparison
Everything he feels he wants us to feel. That’s why we keep competing with our siblings and all other people to feel our worth. We are replicating the devil who cannot see his own value on his own. He’s already successful, right? But he had to compare to Adam. And that’s why he’s not happy and miserable.
And yes, he wants us to be miserable all the time, like him. So if you’re miserable, then you know that Satan has a hand in it. Misery comes from a lot of places but one of the reasons is the devil.