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In the Qu'ran, Shaytan is mentioned as Ibles and Shaytan. Why does he have more than one name, and what do they mean?

  • Neither Iblis nor Shaytan are not the forenames of what we call Sahaytan, the jinn. His name s indeed Hareth and he was called so until he was fired out of Heavens, it is since then that he has several reputations: Shaytan, Iblis, Rajeem and maybe some others. – owari Dec 25 '12 at 12:29
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Although the question doesn't have a specific answer (I'll mention the reason below), I will try to make this one clear enough.

First to know is generally (not specific to Quran) that:

  • Ibles is the Grand Shaytan, he is a Jinn, and the first one of all Shaytans. He is the one who disobeyed Allah's order to him to prostrate (يسجد) to Adam (PBUH), while
  • Shaytan is every unbeliever Jinn (i.e, Kafer كافر of Jinn), and so Ibles is one of them.

Now it's argued whether Ibles is the Father of Jinn (just like Adam is the father of Humans), or he is the father of only Shaytans and not the whole Jinn, or he is the father of neither, I will not discuss this here (and I don't have enough proofs to any viewpoint).

Now that's for generally speaking, BUT FOR Quran there is a specification. In fact in Quran, that rule doesn't apply, as the word "Shaytan" is mentioned sometimes with the meaning of Ibles, and some other times in the meaning of all Shaytans (i.e, Shaytan Kind).

For example, in this Aya, the word الشيطان (Shaytan) means the whole Shaytan Kind, as Ibrahim (PBUH) tells his father not to worship Shaytans (written Satan in the translation):

يَا أَبَتِ لَا تَعْبُدِ الشَّيْطَانَ ۖ إِنَّ الشَّيْطَانَ كَانَ لِلرَّحْمَٰنِ عَصِيًّا

Sahih International

O my father, do not worship Satan. Indeed Satan has ever been, to the Most Merciful, disobedient.

Surat Maryam - 44.


Whereas in this aya, the word الشيطان (Shaytan) means Ibles himself, because he was mentioned before two Ayat (in this aya), so the word in the following Aya refers to Ibles himself (in fact this has an Arabic Language side, as well):

فَأَزَلَّهُمَا الشَّيْطَانُ عَنْهَا فَأَخْرَجَهُمَا مِمَّا كَانَا فِيهِ ۖ وَقُلْنَا اهْبِطُوا بَعْضُكُمْ لِبَعْضٍ عَدُوٌّ ۖ وَلَكُمْ فِي الْأَرْضِ مُسْتَقَرٌّ وَمَتَاعٌ إِلَىٰ حِينٍ

Sahih International

But Satan caused them to slip out of it and removed them from that [condition] in which they had been. And We said, "Go down, [all of you], as enemies to one another, and you will have upon the earth a place of settlement and provision for a time."

Surat Al-Baqarah - 36

So, we conclude that:

  • Shaytan is a word that refers to any unbeliever Jinn, i.e, to a kind of the Jinn.
  • Ibles is a name of the first Shaytan (who disobeyed Allah's order to him to prostrate to Adam), he himself has only one (known) name, it's Ibles.
  • In Quran, the word Shaytan sometimes refers to all Shaytans, and some other times it refers to Ibles himself, it depends on the context. (and that's why the question doesn't have a specific answer, you should specify an Aya in order to give an answer specific to that Aya).

Hope that's clear enough.

This answer depends on this fatwa and many other ones.

  • This is very interesting. All the translations I have read have phrased it as though there is only one shaytan, and any who follow in his footsteps is shaytani. Are the translations I've read poorly worded? How do I know when the phrase refers to all shaytan? – Pureferret Jul 24 '12 at 6:53
  • @Pureferret: "Are the translations I've read poorly worded?" I don't know what translations you've read, but most of the translations are, yes sadly, poorly worded. That's because they're translated by English people, not Arabic. However, I remember that the a high Islamic council (I don't remember which one) is on the way of adopting (or writing) a trusted translation (I don't know what they've reached know). – Tamer Shlash Jul 24 '12 at 11:51
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    @pureferret: "How do I know", it depends on the context as I said, in fact I don't know if it's possible to know if you are not reading the original Arabic Aya (as it does depend on the Arabic Language meanings), I've not tried to read-to-understand Quran in English before (I'm Arabic, thank Allah), but surely any translation, no matter how careful it is, will lose some of the meanings of Quran. – Tamer Shlash Jul 24 '12 at 11:55
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Iblees is the Arabic word for the devil iblees is in the Quran so Arabs would understand who the devil was. Shaytan has appeared in the books that Allah sent down even before the Quran, so shaytan is the original name for the devil and iblees is the Arabic interpertation.

Iblees comes from the arabic word balasa بَلَسَ which means despair and iblees would literally mean one who causes despair. Shaytan would be equivilant to satan which means one who obstructs, or opposes.

In the Quran when Allah says iblees its definitely the devil, when Allah says shaytan it may refer to the devil, an evil creature, whether it be human or jinn, or the shaytans minions.

sources: Wikipedia - satan & Wikipedia - devil (Islam)

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According to this page,

Iblis literally means, "who with no hope of hayr, who abandon hope from Allah's rahmat (mercy)." It is given as a name to who didn't bow before Adam and being expelled from Allah's rahmat. That page also mentions it's name was originally Azazil, but fails to mention reference for this claim.

Shaytan literally means "who is away from Hakk." and as a concept it is general name for anything which is away from correct way.

As a conclusion, Iblis is shaytan, but not every shaytan is Iblis. Iblis is a proper name, while shaytan is a general concept.

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    This is not correct for Quran, in Quran it's context-specific (check my answer). And there is difference between the literal meaning and the Islamic idiom, what we care about is the idiom, not the Arabic Language literal meaning. – Tamer Shlash Jul 24 '12 at 1:54
  • @TamerShlash you mean Quranic words don't mean the word that's used there? – Nabeel Khan Aug 30 '18 at 2:20
  • What I'm saying is, you have to take into consideration the idiomatic meaning of the word, as well as the context in which it is used, in order to understand what it means. The literal meaning is not always the correct one. That's the case not only in Arabic but also in other languages (including English), and in Quran it happens to be the case for the word Shaytan. – Tamer Shlash Aug 30 '18 at 7:22
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Bi'Issmillahir Rahmanir Rahim, In easy & simple way, "IBBLISS" is the one senior among jinh who disobey the command from ALLAH & the Shaitan are those who follow the path shown by IBBLISS either they are from INSAAN or from JINNAT. ----Ehhdina Assirattal Musstakim, Siraat Al Lajjina An Aammta Aalaihim.----

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    A better transliteration is: siraat-a l-Ladhina an-'amta – Medi1Saif Jun 6 '16 at 7:04

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