What is the purpose or benefit of Satan in wanting to deviate man until the day of judgement?

The Details of the Question

We know that Satan did not obey Allah’s order to prostrate before Hz. Adam and revolted against Allah and that he wanted respite until the Day of Judgment to deviate sons of Adam. Satan wants respite and permission until the Day of Judgment to deviate sons of Adam (in my opinion, Satan is a clever being but is overcome by his deceit). What will he get with this respite and permission? He must get or expect something since he spends all of his energy to do it for thousands of years. What does the belief of Ahl as-Sunnah say about Satan spending all of his energy for the sake of his obstinacy and rejecting the opportunity to repent? In addition, Satan’s descendants and other devils/jinn must get something or must think that they will get something since they spend their energy doing it. May Allah be pleased with you!

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

- The existence of Satan is a part of the test human beings have to take. It is indispensable. For, man needs the power of angels that will help his mind, which is an important guide for man to follow the positive or negative way in the test; similarly, he needs the existence of devils that will help the desires of his soul that tends to deviate him from the right path.

Therefore, one side of the heart is home for angels and the other for devils. When man distinguishes between the good and the bad, and the right and the wrong, and he uses his free will, he is exposed to the advice of the angels and the suggestions of Satan. If he is lucky, he listens to the orders of revelation, suggestions of good sense and the advice of the angel; and, he makes his preference accordingly. However, if he is unlucky – God forbid - , he is affected by the desires of his soul and delusions of Satan; and he makes the preference that is against him.

- This is the real duty of Satan but he makes use of any opportunity since he is the enemy of man. Since his job is suggestions, he does not have to make an extra effort and spend extra energy. It is a fact that is seen clearly that even some people in the world take pains and work very hard to harm their enemies.

“Then did Satan make them slip from the (garden), and get them out of the state (of felicity) in which they had been. We said: "Get ye down, all (ye people), with enmity between yourselves. On earth will be your dwelling-place and your means of livelihood - for a time." Then learnt Adam from his Lord words of inspiration, and his Lord Turned towards him; for He is Oft-Returning, Most Merciful.” It is indicated in the verse above (al-Baqara, 2/36-37) that human beings and devils will remain in the world until the Day of Judgment and that their enmity will continue.

It means devils will live until the Day of Judgment just like human beings.

- The reason why Iblis (the ancestor of devils/satans) will live until the Day of Judgment unlike Hz. Adam is explained as follows: in the Quran:

“(Allah) said: ‘What prevented thee from prostrating when I commanded thee?’ He said: ‘I am better than he: Thou didst create me from fire, and him from clay.’ (Allah) said: ‘Get thee down from this: it is not for thee to be arrogant here: get out, for thou art of the meanest (of creatures).’ He said: ‘Give me respite till the day they are raised up.’ (Allah) said: ‘Be thou among those who have respite.’ He said: ‘Because thou hast thrown me out of the way, lo! I will lie in wait for them on thy straight way: Then will I assault them from before them and behind them, from their right and their left: Nor wilt thou find, in most of them, gratitude (for thy mercies).’” (al-Araf, 7/12-17) According to what is understood from the verses above, the reason why Satan is so hostile to man is that he was dismissed from divine presence due to those creatures, whom he despised. He thinks that he was damned in the world and was led to the rebellion that condemned him to Hell because of human beings; therefore, he decided to make – so to speak- a lot of sacrifices for this enmity.

- It seems that the continuation of Satan and his species, which Allah regarded as part of the test and the desire of Satan to undertake this duty willingly for the sake of enmity corresponded. Allah gives a test in accordance with His wisdom. Satan tries to make man fail in this test.

- According to the view of Islamic scholars, the conceit, obstinacy and enmity settled in Satan’s thought is so big that he has no time to find the truth or to work in order to return to it.

- However, as it is mentioned in the verse above, the wisdom behind Allah’s saying, “Be thou among those who have respite” not “I gave you respite” when Satan asked for respite is as follows:

If Allah had said, “I gave you respite”, it would have meant a positive response to Satan’s wish. It is not in question for Allah to give a positive response, which means valuing him, to Satan, whom He dismissed from His presence. With the expression “Be thou among those who have respite”that is preferredand Satan being among those who have respite (like the four archangels and the carriers of the Throne) it is indicated that Satan is one of those who were given respite with the pre-eternal decree, before he committed that crime and that he was not given respite due to his wish. (Ibn Ashur, the interpretation of verse 15 of al-Araf)

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