[Sûrah al-Isrâ’: 62]
When Allah created Adam and breathed into him his spirit, He commanded the angels to prostrate themselves before him. Satan, who was not an angel but from the Jinn, was in their company, had been worshipping Allah along with them.
Allah addresses Satan as well as the angels with His command because Satan was in the company of the angels and was behaving like them. However, when they were all commanded to prostrate before Adam, Satan refused and was cursed.
Allah says: “And remember when we said to the angels: ‘Prostrate before Adam’ and they all prostrated except for Satan. He refused and was haughty and was one of the unbelievers.” [Sûrah al-Baqarah: 34]
Allah also says: “And remember when we said to the angels: ‘Prostrate before Adam’ and they all prostrated except for Satan. He was one of the Jinn and disobeyed the command of his Lord.” [Sûrah al-Kahf: 50]
The reason he refused to bow before Adam was because of his pride, envy, and rancor. His punishment was to be cursed and banished from Allah’s mercy. However, this filthy creature grew in his hatred of Adam and Adam’s progeny and requested from Allah to grant him respite until the Day of Resurrection. This Allah granted him.
What Satan said next is related in the Qurân: “He said: ‘Because You have thrown me out of the way, I will lie in wait for them on Your straight way. Then will I assault them from before them and behind them, from their right and their left. You will find most of them to be ungrateful.’” [Sûrah al-A`râf: 16-17]
That is how Satan swore he would lead Allah’s servants from the progeny of Adam astray. He would take them off the path of truth and salvation. He would cause them to abandon the worship of Allah or bring them to polytheism. He would lead them to any path that would cut them off from all that is good and enamor them of all that is evil.
Allah also relates to us the following words of Satan:
“(Satan) said: ‘O my Lord! Because You have put me in the wrong, I will make wrong fair-seeming to them on the Earth, and I will put them all in the wrong except Your servants among them, sincere and purified.’ ” [Sûrah al-Hijr: 39-40]
“(Satan) said: ‘See You this one whom You have honored above me? If You will but grant me respite to the Day of Judgment, I will surely bring his descendants under my sway – all but a few!’ ” [Sûrah al-Isrâ’: 62]
Satan, with his deceptions and whisperings, is still relentlessly pursuing Adam’s descendants. He caused Adam to fall from Paradise. He first caused Adam’s son to kill his brother. This was not enough for him. As the ages went by and the descendants of Adam became more distanced in time from their father and prophet, Satan made idolatry fair seeming to them. He deceived them and achieved his aim.
This first happened to the people of Noah who were idol worshippers. They worshipped Widd, Siwâ`, Yaghûth, Ya`ûq, and Nasr. These names originally belonged to righteous people among their forefathers. When they had died, Satan inspired the people to erect statues in their honor. They did this but refrained from worshiping them. When that generation passed away and knowledge dwindled, Satan got their descendants to worship those statues. [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (6/73) as related from Ibn `Abbâs]
Ibn Jarîr al-Tabarî, in his commentary of the Qur’ân, relates the following from Muhammad b. Qays [Tafsîr al-Tabarî (23/639)]:
They were righteous people from the progeny of Adam (peace be upon him). They had followers who emulated them. When they died, their followers said: “If we make likenesses of them, it will be a reminder to us and make us more earnest in our worship.” So they made statues commemorating them.
Then, when that generation had died, Satan came to those who came after them and informed them that their forefathers used to worship those statues and through them the rains were brought forth. So people began worshipping the statues.
This is how idolatry got started. Satan beguiled the people into worshipping idols.
However, Allah in his knowledge, wisdom, and mercy, did not leave his servants to be Satan’s victims. He sent Messengers to clarify to them the true faith and to warn them against idolatry. Allah did this as a mercy to His servants and in order to establish the proof against them “so that he who would perish might perish by clear proof, and he who would live might live by clear proof.” [Sûrah al-Anfâl: 42]
Allah describes his Messengers as: “bringers of glad tidings and warnings, in order that humanity might have no argument against Allah after the Messengers. Allah was ever Mighty, Wise.” [Sûrah al-Nisâ’: 165]
Allah also says: “We send not the Messengers save as bearers of good news and of warnings. Whoever believes and does right, they shall have no fear upon them nor shall they grieve. But as for those who deny Our revelations, torment will afflict them for that they used to disobey.” [Sûrah al-An`âm: 48-49]
Ibn Mas`ûd relates that Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said: “No one is more jealous than Allah. This is why he forbids all licentious acts, both visible and hidden. And no one loves extolment more than Allah and that is why Allah extols Himself. This is why he revealed His book and sent His Messengers.”[Sahîh Muslim (4/2114 and 4/2114)]
Sa`d b. `Ubâdah relates that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “No one is more fond of accepting an excuse than Allah. This is why He sent the Messengers as givers of glad tidings and as warners.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (8/174) and Sahîh Muslim (2/1136)]
So Allah sent His Messengers to establish the proof to all of His Creation and to give the opportunity for excuses. The Message that He sent with them is one of His great blessings to humanity. Our need for this Message is truly our most dire need. It is greater than our need for food, drink, and medicine. Death is the worst thing that can befall us if we are deprived of our worldly sustenance. The Message, on the other hand, is what we need to rectify both our worldly lives and our eternal lives in the Hereafter.
There can be no good for us in the Hereafter except by following Allah’s Message, and likewise nothing in our worldly lives can be deemed good unless we do so.