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My friend from Turkey said the following:

...even attributing evil to satan is heresy... both good and evil comes from god in islamic faith...

While she's not a Muslim, she is quite knowledgeable about Islam, so I expect what she writes will likely have some basis in Islam. However, in this case I'm unsure what she means.

Question: Is attributing evil to Satan heresy?

  • There's truth in what he says and there's falsehood too. – Medi1Saif Feb 7 '17 at 13:40
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    This question seems closely related to the free will and qadr juxtaposition; it boils down to: who is considered the "author" of an act, and does being content with an act - where you are neither the creator of the act, nor of your content with it - make you the author. I'm not aware of a satisfying resolution of this, but doctrinally, while Allah creates and sustains both suffering and creatures' inclinations and ability to cause suffering, the creatures' content with causing suffering (although Allah creates both the causes and the content) moves the responsibility to the creatures. – G. Bach Feb 7 '17 at 15:37
  • About my answer I had a dicsussion with infatuated on this subject which can be found here. It wasn't a perfect discusioon but still worthy of reading once. – Honey Feb 10 '17 at 13:26
  • FYI I just updated my answer a bit.. – Honey Mar 12 '17 at 3:45
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This is a VERY tricky subject. I may not be able to convey it correctly so do comment so I update to the best of my ability.

Your friend is partially wrong if not entirely. :D

There are 2 realms. The realm of تکوین (creation). In this world everything is Allah's doing. Allah has created the Sun, day, night, humans, animals. The realm of actions of the free-creatures. In this realm Allah only commands us to do good and refrain from evil. Our actions are from this world. We choose to lie—while Allah has told us not to.

Does the evil happen in a zone where Allah doesn't have power? No! God can overturn it. Yet (usually) he doesn't. Why? Free will. Will he do something about it? Yes. What? He will punish them to only what is just. When? Well...here or in the hereafter or both.

Is God happy with the evil? No not even for a single bit.

A: So what is God doing about the evil? He has instructed us to do good and stay away from evil. He has given us wisdom and guided us with prophets.

عَنْ أَبِي الْحَسَنِ الرّضَا ع قَالَ سَأَلْتُهُ فَقُلْتُ اللّهُ فَوّضَ الْأَمْرَ إِلَى الْعِبَادِ قَالَ اللّهُ أَعَزّ مِنْ ذَلِكَ قُلْتُ فَجَبَرَهُمْ عَلَى الْمَعَاصِي قَالَ اللّهُ أَعْدَلُ وَ أَحْكَمُ مِنْ ذَلِكَ قَالَ ثُمّ قَالَ قَالَ اللّهُ يَا ابْنَ آدَمَ أَنَا أَوْلَى بِحَسَنَاتِكَ مِنْكَ وَ أَنْتَ أَوْلَى بِسَيّئَاتِكَ مِنّي عَمِلْتَ الْمَعَاصِيَ بِقُوّتِيَ الّتِي جَعَلْتُهَا فِيكَ‏ Al-kafi, Vol.1 Pg. 157

I asked Imam Reza (AS) : Did Allah delegate things to his servants?
- Allah is greater ( beyond, more able) than that.
I said: " so did he force them into sinning?"
he said: "Allah is wiser and juster than that. Allah says: oh son of Adam, I am more deserving than you to your good deeds and you are more deserving of your bad deeds than I am, you have done sins with the power I have gave to you"

B: While we are in complete free-will, God is giving us the power.

A very incorrect conclusion from the above narration would be:

Allah has 1% share in the evil and the murderer shares 99%. No that's incorrect! God only sets the possibility of 0 to 100% by empowering us. I mean a rock can't kill it doesn't even have 0.00001% of killing. Yet humans have 0-100% ability. If a husband murders his wife, they don't ever go and criticize the company who made knives. God is just like the company who made knives who also happens to send in all the safety instructions with it.


A + B God gives us power, so we have free will. Instructs us to do good. Since we have free will we can disobey him. Yet it doesn't happen in a realm that he's powerless. Our power comes to us second after second, at every moment we have power for that moment. We don't have power for the very next second—until it's given.

So where does Satan come into play? can it be attributed to him?

He can/does entice us. Can it be attributed to him? Sure! What is the devil doing then?!* At the same time it happens, we are using our our free-will. So more than anything it's attributed to us (Also see here. Does it happen in a realm that Allah didn't give power? Such a realm doesn't exist. Does Allah like it to happen? Again no. He has sent prophets one after another to keep us intact.

Conclusion:

So if your friend meant that God wants the evil to happen, or orders to it, or does nothing about it, she is all wrong. Think of the narration and example I gave. ( my examples aren't perfect but I hope you get the idea)

If she meant the evil happens in the realm of Allah, she is right.
Attributing to Satan (though Satan can never be attributed singlehanded, he always needs someone to follow) isn't heresy, because that's the very definition of who he is. Attributing it to Allah as he wants it to happen or does nothing about it is heresy.


*[Iblees] said, "By your might, I will surely mislead them all.Sad 82

  • "He can/does entice us. Can it be attributed to him? Sure! What is the devil doing then?!*" - Allah creates every inclination, every act, every sensation, every thought a human has, every bit of environment that influences him. If evil can be attributed to Satan, who does none of this, then it certainly has to be attributed to Allah. This whole business of "we have free will, but Allah is still in control" needs clarification, as it's written it reads like one huge contradiction to me. – G. Bach Feb 7 '17 at 16:33
  • @G.Bach Did you read the example of the factory who also sends instructions? Allah surely did instruct Satan. And again this is a MUST for a free-will world. Attribution is different than allowing it to happen – Honey Feb 7 '17 at 16:35
  • Of course I read that, but it's not a reasonable analogy. The knife manufacturer doesn't put the knife in the killer's hand, doesn't raise him, doesn't create his inclinations, doesn't create every last bit of environment that every influenced the killer, doesn't create his thought processes, doesn't create the movement of the killer's hand, doesn't create the killer's lack of care for the non-compelling safety instructions, etc. If the knife manufacturer did all that too - as Islam holds with regard to Allah - then absolutely, the knife manufacturer would be solely responsible. – G. Bach Feb 7 '17 at 16:38
  • @G.Bach Akhi, as Islam holds with regard to Allah I think that's where we hav very different understandings. My understanding is Attribution is different than allowing it to happen. But just to be clear, you mean all the evil doings are something that Allah has done? I don't get you. Is there some ISE answer on this by you or something you approve? – Honey Feb 7 '17 at 17:43
  • Which part of my comment, other than the conclusion that Allah creating everything means he is responsible for everything, do you disagree with? I've never seen any of this stated coherently, so if you can, that'd be interesting. – G. Bach Feb 7 '17 at 18:20
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Your friend is merely referring to verse 4:78:

If good comes to them, they say, "This is from Allah"; and if evil befalls them, they say, "This is from you." Say, "All [things] are from Allah ." So what is [the matter] with those people that they can hardly understand any statement?

Allah (ﷻ) made this statement in refutation of those who tried to say that their good fortunes (eg, high crop yield, healthy offspring, etc) were from God and that their bad fortunes (eg, death, disease, etc) were from other than Allah, in that particular case blaming Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ). -- This is similar to Christians who say good is controlled by God and evil is controlled by Satan. Wrong! Both good and evil is controlled by God. These things were decreed and written in the Book of Decrees long before the universe was even formed!

So in that sense, to say evil is from/controlled by Satan is a heresy.


Evil is part of the creation of Allah (ﷻ). Even giving mankind the 'ability' to do evil is from God. Satan (Iblis) himself was created, and had no say in what he could himself do.. let alone what mankind could or could not do. That was decided by God, who Willed to give mankind freedom of choice. And no one shares in His decision.

That brings us to the other heresy in which people some people conclude that since evil is part of God's creation, then He is to be blamed for people doing evil. Also incorrect.

I think it was Islamweb which gave the analogy of the elevator to represent God's creation of good/evil. The engineer designed the elevator to go up and down and you can use it to do either.. but you wouldn't blame the engineer/maker of the elevator for you taking it where you took it. That decision was your own!

Likewise, you are to blame for the evil that you do; although Satan can be blamed in terms of influencing you towards evil.. he doesn't control you. You ultimately made the decision to accept his invitation to evil.

  • "This is similar to Christians who say good is controlled by God and evil is controlled by Satan." Which Christians say this? While it is a common trope in entertainment, I'm not aware of any denomination that says anything like that. – G. Bach Feb 10 '17 at 11:21
  • I've spoken to many Christians who say Satan is responsible for evil/suffering. Not necessarily a "sect" thing.. but here is one example from a JW website (first entry): jw.org/en/publications/magazines/g201501/human-suffering - Uses evidence from the Bible. – Muslimah يا رب العالمين Feb 10 '17 at 16:36

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