Who is Satan?
A person in the Abrahamic religions called the Devil or Lucifer is called Satan, and he or she tries to get people to do bad things or make up things that aren’t true. According to Judaism, Satan is a person who works for God. Satan is usually thought of as a metaphor for the yetzer hara, or “evil inclination.” Christianity and Islam usually think of him as a fallen angel who has turned against God, but God still gives him some power over the fallen world and a lot of demons for a short time. In the Quran, Shaitan, also known as Iblis, is a person made of fire who was banished from Heaven because he didn’t bow down to the newly-created Adam. He makes people want to do bad things by infecting their minds with waswas (bad thoughts).
Satan, also popularly known as the Devil, is sometimes known as Lucifer in Christianity. Satan is an entity that exists in Abrahamic religions and is popularly known for seducing humankind toward the idea of sin and falsehood. In Judaism, Satan is comprehended as a subservient agent to Yahweh. The subservience towards Yahweh is conventionally understood as a metaphor for an individual’s evil inclination. In Christianity and Islam, the idea of Satan is typically understood as a fallen angel or a jinn who did the evil deed of rebellion against God.
Even though God allowed him temporary power to rule over the fallen world and be a host of demons, this power was nothing compared to his own. The Quran understands Shaitan as an entity of fire that was cast out of heaven because of his continued refusal to bow down before the newly created Adam. Shaitan is known for inciting human beings to sin by infecting their minds with evil suggestions.
The figure of Satan first appeared in the Hebrew Bible as a heavenly entity who was a prosecutor and a subordinate to God. He prosecuted the nation of Judah in the heavenly court and was known for testing the loyalty of God’s followers. During the intertestamental period, Satan came to be recognized as a malevolent entity with evil qualities that were in close dualistic opposition to God’s attributes. This recognition was possibly a result of the influence of the Zoroastrian figure of Angra Mainyu.
According to the theory in the apocryphal Book of Jubilees, God granted Satan control over the group of fallen angels. This control was granted in an attempt to tempt humans towards the idea of sin and then punish them for it. The Book of Genesis does not mention Satan at all, but he is often identified as the Serpent in the garden of Eden. Satan was known for tempting Jesus in the desert in the Synoptic Gospels. He was known as a cause of illness and temptation.
Additionally, Satan appears as a Great Red Dragon in the Book of Revelation. This dragon was defeated by Michael the Archangel and was then cast down from heaven. After his defeat, he was bound for 1000 years and was briefly set free before being defeated forever and cast into the Lake of fire.
Satan plays a minimal role in the Christian theology of the Middle Ages. He was commonly utilized as comic relief in many Mystery plays. By the Middle Ages, Satan’s influence and significance increased exponentially, such as in beliefs of demonic possessions and witchcraft. During the Age of Enlightenment, the belief in Satan’s existence was roughly criticized by many thinkers and philosophers, including Voltaire.
Even though Satan is popularly viewed as evil, some groups of people have very distinct beliefs. Notably, in Theistic Satanism, Satan is described as an entity that is either revered or worshiped. Other than this, in LaVeyan, Satanism is understood as a symbol of virtuous characteristics and liberty. Although Satan’s appearance was never described in the bible, ever since the ninth century, the character has been imagined in Christian Art with horns, cloven hooves, unusually hairy legs, and a tail, often naked and holding a pitchfork. These traits have been put together from an amalgamation of sources from various pagan deities, such as Pan, Bes, and Poseidon.
In literature, Satan frequently appears in Dante Alighieri’s Inferno, John Milton’s Paradise Lost and Paradise regained, and in the poems of William Blake. He has also appeared in various films, television, and music ever since.
Satan in Judaism
Philosophers and Traditionalists of Medieval Judaism acknowledged and adhered to the notion of rational theology. This notion rejected any belief in fallen Angels or rebellion of any kind. It assumed evil as an abstract idea. The rabbis generally interpreted the term Satan as strictly referring to human adversaries. Regardless, the word Satan has been usually utilized in the context of evil influences, such as the Jewish exegesis of the wrong information.
While Satan’s identification with the abstract idea of yetzer hara remains the same throughout the sages' teachings, he is usually recognized as an entity with a supernatural or divine agency. Satan’s current status as a ‘physical’ entity is strengthened by several rabbinical anecdotes, such as — one story describes events where Satan appeared as a woman to seduce Rabbi Meir and Rabbi Akiva into sin. Another one describes Satan as taking the form of an ill-mannered, diseased beggar so that he can tempt the sage Peleimu into breaking his mitzvah of hospitality.
Satan in Christianity
In Medieval Christian theology, Satan frequently appeared as a comic stock character in Mystery Plays. In these plays, he portrayed the comic relief figure who frolicked, fell, and farted in the background, in these plays. Jeffrey Burton Russell, an American historian and religious studies scholar, described the medieval conception of him as more pathetic than terrifying. Here, he was seen as a little more than a nuisance to God’s overarching plan. However, by the Early Modern Period, Christians regarded Satan as a powerful entity.
The fear of Satan’s power became increasingly accurate and thus came to be known as a dominant aspect of the Christian worldview all across Europe. During Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther, a German priest, theologian, author and hymn writer, postulated that Christians should avoid temptation altogether by seeking pleasant company. He suggested that this can be done by indulging in music to safeguard against temptation since the devil cannot endure gaiety. John Calvin, a French theologian, pastor, and reformer agreed to a maxim from Saint Augustine that, “Man is like a horse, with either God or the devil as the rider.”
Satan in Islam
There have been contradictory stipulations across the understanding of Satan in Islam. There have been discourses about whether Satan is a fallen angel or a Jinn. This, combined with the fact that Satan himself has described himself as being originated from fire, has posed a significant problem for the scholars of the Quran. According to a hadith from Ibn Abbas, Iblis was an angel who God created out of the fire. Ibn Abbas states that the word jinn can be applied to earthly jinn and fiery angels like Satan.
An eminent Muslim theologian of the seventh century AD, Hasan of Basra, quoted, " Iblis was not an angel even for an eye wink. He was the origin of Jinns, much like Adam is the origin of Mankind." Additionally, Abu Al-Zamakhshari, a medieval Persian scholar, postulated that the words angels and jinn are synonyms. Another Persian scholar, Al-Baydawi, argued that Satan hoped to be an angel but that his actions made him a jinn.