Did Satan see that he was created from fire? Does he know it?

The Details of the Question

- The following is stated in the verse 18:51: “I called them not to witness the creation of the heavens and the earth, nor (even) their own creation: nor is it for helpers such as Me to take as lead (men) astray.”
- However, Iblis states the following in verse 7:12: “I am better than he: Thou didst create me from fire, and him from clay.”
- If Satan does not know what he was created from, why does he say that he was created from fire in the latter verse?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

There are several interpretations regarding the identity of those who are not shown the creation of the heavens and the earth, or even their own creation:

a) The pronoun “them” in the statement “I called them not to witness” refers to the idols that the polytheists regard as gods. That is the view of the vast majority of the scholars.  

Accordingly, Allah states the following: “When I created the universe, I called the idols not to witness the creation of the heavens and the earth; I did not show the creation of the people/polytheists to one another either; neither polytheists nor their gods were ready to witness those events, (even) their own creation. I created them all by myself; I did not have a partner/helper.”

b) The pronoun “them” in the statement refers to the deniers who said to the Prophet (pbuh), “We will not believe in you unless you expel the poor people next to you from your assembly.”

Accordingly, Allah states the following: “Those who made that wrong and false offer speak as if they were partners in the creation and management of the universe. However, none of them witnessed the creation; nor did they witness the creation of one another. It is an ugly and spoiled deed for them to attempt to interfere with the order and will of beings as created beings.”

c) The pronoun “them” in the statement refers to deniers in general, including Satan. With that statement, Allah Almighty virtually states the following:

“O deniers! You are really ignorant. You cannot know who is superior and who is inferior, who is valuable, who is worthless, who is virtuous and who is disgraced in Allah’s eternal knowledge. However, you see yourselves as superior. Nevertheless, sometimes a mighty person of the world becomes a disgraced person of the hereafter, and a disgraced person of the world becomes a mighty person of the hereafter. Your habit of regarding others as small and yourselves as big is a result of ancient ignorance. (cf Razi, Ibn Kathir, an-Nisaburi/Gharaibul-Quran, the interpretation of the verse in question)

d) The pronoun “them” in the statement refers to Iblis and his offspring.

Accordingly, God Almighty virtually states the following: It is not at all appropriate for you to regard Iblis, who has been your enemy since your ancestors, as a friend. For, the heavens and the earth were created before Satan and his descendants were created out of nothing. It is impossible for them to witness those events, that is, to be present there. Likewise, they were not present in the creation of one another. Therefore, it is a very ignorant mistake to regard them as gods, to worship them instead of Allah and to do what they say. The polytheists of Hejaz believed in the existence of Allah and that He created everything but they regarded idols as Allah’s partners, friends and helpers and believed that they would intercede. However, being a partner means doing something together. Since they were all created later, they could not be creators in anything. Thus, they cannot be gods. (cf. Ibn Ashur, ibid)

To sum up, there is no contradiction between the statements above and the statement of Iblis, “I am better than he: Thou didst create me from fire, and him from clay.(al-Araf, 7/12)

For, the information in 18/51 is related to the situation at the time of creation. It is a well-known fact that neither Iblis nor any being witnessed the creation of themselves or anyone else. Our attention is drawn to the mistake of obeying them as if regarding someone else as a deity besides Allah.

In verse 7/12, the situation after the creation and after this information became widespread is described. Consequent information is based on hearing, not seeing. Therefore, there is no contradiction between the two verses.

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