Is Satan God’s Enemy, or is he ours?
Let’s get a bit philosophical here. Philosophy, being defined as a discipline comprising as its core logic, aesthetics, ethics, metaphysics, epistemology, pursuit of wisdom, a search for a general understanding of values and reality by chiefly speculative rather than observational means, an analysis of the grounds of and concepts expressing fundamental beliefs. (Merriam Webster, retrieved on 08/19/2016).
I believe that if we want to know more about Satan, we would have to start at the very beginning and go back to the pilot episode of this whole drama when the first human being was created. The Bible, both Old and New Testaments relate the story of the beginning of Man’s journey mostly from the time Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and were cast down from heaven (Paradise) to Earth to toil and travail until Judgement Day. The Qur’an goes back to the very beginning of man’s creation when God first shaped Adam out of clay.
In the Qur’an God says that He shaped and fashioned Adam out of clay and asked all the angels to bow to Him. He says that all the angels did without hesitation, but not Satan, who was from the Jinn (demons family). When God asked Satan why he did not bow to Adam as commanded, Satan replied “I will not bow to one you created out of dirt, when I am of a much higher status since you created me from fire.” God then told Satan “To fire you shall return as a result of your arrogance and disobedience.” Satan then asked for a chance to prove to God that Man is not deserving of God’s favor. God granted Satan his request and told him that those who listen and follow his lead will be sent to hell with him on Judgement Day. God also told him that he has no power over those who call on God for protection.
In my opinion this points to the fact that Satan is primarily our enemy in this battle here on earth. If Adam wasn’t created, Satan would have continued his merry existence in Paradise unchallenged. But it was the advent of man that shook his existence to the core and caused him to be cast to the underworld. It seems to me that Satan has justifiable ground for enmity against mankind. And it gives more sense to the story.
Every author deserving of that title knows that to every well-crafted story, certain elements have to be present, especially the plot. Author Aaron Sheppard states “Plot is most often about a conflict or struggle that the main character goes through. The conflict can be with another character, or with the way things are, or with something inside the character, like needs or feelings. The main character should win or lose at least partly on their own, and not just be rescued by someone or something else. Most often, the character learns or grows as they try to solve their problem. What the character learns is the theme. The conflict should get more and more tense or exciting. The tension should reach a high point or “climax” near the end of the story, then ease off. The basic steps of a plot are: conflict begins, things go right, things go WRONG, final victory (or defeat), and wrap-up. The right-wrong steps can repeat A novel can have several conflicts, but a short story should have only one.” http://www.aaronshep.com/youngauthor/elements.html
The above description of a well crafted story seems to fit perfectly the description our own story. Our Conflict is not with God, At the end of this essay I will give my argument for that. I firmly believe that our war, struggle, and conflict is with Satan.
The way things are, has to do with the fact that to every action there is a reaction. For example, if you eat something poisonous you will feel the pain as what you ate makes its way through your body if it does not kill you instantaneously. In our case we ate the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, therefore the reaction would be that we will know what is Good and what it is Evil. This knowledge cannot be acquired except through the senses. We have to know, experience, taste, and feel what Good is and what Evil is, just as one has to eat an apple to truly know what an apple really is; description of it alone, regardless of how elaborate, will not suffice. That’s just the way things are.
Now, what is inside us that contributed and continues to contribute to our struggle?
Would we struggle if God had made us to behave exactly as He wished us to behave? In other words, like robots? I believe the unanimous answer to be a definite “NO.” But, did not create robots. He created humans and endowed them with the ability to think, reason, and make decisions for themselves. God gave us ‘Free Will’ the ability to make choices. And that, my friends, is what’s inside us, the cause of our struggles.
I believe that by sending us down here God is not punishing us. He is simply allowing us to carry on the task we created for ourselves, to learn the difference between Good and Evil while, like any loving parent, providing us guidance through His Books and His messengers. I believe that He has made Earth more livable for human beings by providing the ingredients necessary to our existence, such as rain to produce sustenance, edible flora and fauna, and by providing us protection from all the things seen and unseen that can eradicate us such as, viruses, bacteria, comets, asteroids, etc.
I do not believe that the earth and we on it have continued in existence for this long considering all that can go wrong in the earth and up in the heavens through sheer coincidence. Now with the major leaps in science and technology we should be even more convinced of that. The sheer number of moving objects in the cosmos and their proximity to earth should paralyze us with fear. But we take it for granted that nothing will happen because such accidents have been so few and far between. We ignore the fact that if it happened one or twice, it may happen again. And that maybe those few times were just warnings. We are currently struggling to protect ourselves from mosquitoes and from viruses we can’t even see with the naked eye. Should that not be a lesson to us in humbleness? One day God’s protection will be lifted from us and existence as we know know it will end sooner or later.
Just as any parent would expect their child to make the right decision after they would have provided all the nurturing, instruction, and the guidance necessary for the child to become a healthy, sane, productive, decent, conscientious and loving member of the family, so does God expect us to be. When the child turns out to be arrogant, disrespectful, rude, cruel, or not willing to do what is right, then the parents will have to protect the rest of the family from the harm caused by that child however they can.
Many parents have kicked their child out or even disowned him/her if the child chose to not abide by the parent’s rules and the moral code to live in peace with the members of his/her family, or if he/she is constantly creating chaos, disturbances, and hardships for the family. So it is with God. It seems inconceivable to me that God to allow us to dwell in Paradise and continue to behave as we currently do, (cheat each other, abuse each other, enslave each other, steal from each other, plot against each other, murder each other, etc.) I believe Heaven to be the dwelling of those who have overcome their selfishness and have learned to love others.
“Love one another.” Said Jesus. To be able to live in harmony and peace with one another we would have to truly love one another. Jesus also said “Love the Lord your God with all you heart, mind, and soul.” Only when we truly love God with all our heart, might, mind, and soul can we be really aware of the things that are pleasing to Him, and the things that are displeasing to him and act accordingly by honoring and respecting His likes and dislikes. Do you not do that for the person in your life that you love the most? By not honoring God’s commandments we are proclaiming, unconsciously, that we do not love Him. Thus we are per default making that ultimate choice and decision of where we want to spend Eternity. God is not going to make us love Him through coercion or force.
So, just how does Satan proceed to show God that we are not deserving of His love and favor?
Well, judging by my own experiences I can name a few.
- Ingratitude: the minute a misfortune befalls us we forget all the good, happy, and nice things and moments we may have had in our life. We blame God and ask why did He let it happen. We become bitter. And depending on the magnitude of the misfortune, we might even reject God altogether. We get thoughts that pop into our heads such as “God does not care about you, you don’t matter, He prefers others to you, why should you even care or give a dam about doing the right thing at this point? Etc.” Those automatic thoughts are not from God. I don’t believe they are ours either; for why would we chose to think thoughts that make us sad, angry, and disgruntled. I believe these thoughts to be from Satan. He is the who would benefit if we follow through with that line of thinking.
- Selfishness: is evident in our drive for competition and comparison. We want to be better than others, to have more than others. We want our country, our town, our team, our neighborhood, our children to win, thus, want others to lose. We constantly compare ourselves to others, measure the differences and attempts to tip the balance in our favor, sometimes by every mean possible, even unethical, unfair, or unjust ones.
- Arrogance: When we achieve a desired outcome, passing an exam, landing a job, achieving status, fame, or fortune, we let it go to our head, and act so haughtily and with arrogance. We attribute it all to ourselves, to our intelligence, our capability, our perseverance, etc. We forget to humble ourselves and give thanks to God and praise Him. We forget that all of that is also from God. He gave us that intelligence, that capability, and the trait of perseverance, etc.
I believe that we all get these automatic thoughts in our head. I personally became aware that if I stop, take a deep breath, and say “I seek refuge with God from the mischief of Satan.” I am able to see the situation more clearly from a different vantage point. I become better equipped to see what I have done that contributed to the outcome. Then, I am able to make adjustments to salvage, redress, or do whatever is necessary to achieve the desired outcome. I am able to do that only by applying God’s guidance, advice, and commandments, which are: not jumping to conclusions, empathy, forgiveness, trusting God that whatever happens either good or bad is allowed by Him for an ultimate good.
By applying the gift that God gave all of us namely, the ability to reason, and by applying His advice to strive to gain knowledge by way of reasoning and deduction, I firmly believe that Satan is, primarily, our enemy in this part of the novel, and I believe the theme of our story to be “Only by loving each other, joining our forces, and assisting each other along the journey back home, can we triumph over Satan, and be ultimately saved.”
The other fact that makes me question the way we have viewed our story up to now, is my personal experience of Who and What God really is. I have felt His Mercy, His Patience, His Kindness, His Compassion, and His love despite my many shortcomings when I turned to Him in repentance at my weakest and most humble state, to suspect the inconsistency of the way we have viewed our story up to now. How can I believe that God who made it incumbent upon us and asked us at every turn in history to forgive and love one another, punish and kick us out of heaven at the very first mistake we made?
Some would say:
“Well, Adam and Eve also disobeyed God’s command. They ate of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Satan was cast out of heaven, and so where they. They are all being punished for their disobedience.”
Yes! That is true. Adam and Eve did disobey, but in the Qur’an Chapter 7:23 Adam and Eve repented and asked God to forgive them “Our Lord! We have wronged ourselves. If you forgive us not and bestow not upon us Your Mercy, we shall certainly be of the losers.”
And In Chapter 2 verses 37, 38, and 39 God says that He forgave them that sin..
37 ” Then Adam received (certain) words from his lord. and he turned towards him (mercifully). truly he is oft-pardoning, the most merciful.” 38″ We said: ‘ get you down from it, all together; until there shall come to you a guidance from me, for whoever follows my guidance, no fear shall be upon them, nor shall they grieve ‘.” 39 ” But those who reject faith and deny our signs, they are the inhabitants of the fire, dwelling therein forever.”
To me, this is proof that our existence on earth is not as a punishment, but the natural consequence of the very first choice we made.