by Silas





            Satan (Shaitan) occupies an important place in Islam and Christianity, and there are many parallels between their concepts.  On the other hand, Muhammad said many things about Satan and the "Jinn", (beings similar to demons, they can have physical or spiritual bodies, and can be evil or good), that have no equivalent in Christianity.   Muhammad's superstitions played a role in his statements and they are reflected in Islamic theology.  Additionaly, Muhammad borrowed stories about Satan from other religions, and repeated those as his teachings.




            Because of length constraints, this paper cannot be an exhaustive study on the topic of Satan and the Jinn in Islam. There is just too much data for one article. The scope of this paper is to present many of the irrational and queer things Muhammad said about Satan.



NOTE #1:       Of the many topics I've studied on Islam, this one is the most intriguing because it showcases Muhammad's synthesis of pagan, Jewish, and Christian folklore, with his own odd ideas.






            The Shorter Ency. of Islam, (H.A.R. Gibb, pub. by E.J. Brill), provides some necessary background information concerning Islam's Satan and the Jinn (Dijon).  Under "Shaitan", it says:


            "As applied to spirits Shaitan has two distinct meanings with separate histories.  The sense of devil goes back to Jewish sources and that of superhuman being has its roots in Arab paganism, though the two meanings interact.  In the stories about Solomon, a Shaitan is nothing more than a Dijon superior in knowledge and power to other Dijon.....There is some evidence that the pagan gods of Arabia were afterwards reduced to the rank of demons.  Tabari says (Tafsir) that the Shaitan are those whom the infidels obeyed while disobeying God.  The bow of Kuzah was afterwards called the bow of Shaitan and the two horns of Shaitan is a name for a phenomenon accompanying sunrise.  Similarly old superstitions are preserved in the belief that a Shaitan eats excrement and all manner of filth and frequents the borderline between shade and sunlight.....


            .....Satan is tacitly identified with Iblis who is obviously borrowed from Judaism.  Thus al-Shaitan is the chief of the evil spirits and Shaitan is a spirit, though not necessarily evil."  [1]



            In Arthur Jeffery's "Foreign Vocabulary of the Qur'an", pages 187 - 190, Jeffery lists some background material on the name "Shaitan".  He ends by saying, "..... we may take it as certain that the word (Shaitan) was in use long before Muhammad's day, and he in his use of it was undoubtedly influenced by Christian, probably Abyssinian Christian, usage."  [2]



            All in all, there are a great many Islamic traditions that comment on Satan and the Jinn.  Taken as a whole, the entire Islamic theology is confused.  I will refer to the Quran, Bukhari's and Muslim's Hadith, and Ibn Ishaq's Sirat as Islamic source material.  I will also quote a few other authors for special comments.








Satan tempts people:  Gen. 3, 1 Chronicles 21:1, Matt. 4:1

Satan brings physical destruction:  Job,

Satan physically afflicts people:  Luke 13:16, 2 Cor. 12:7

Satan possesses people:  Luke 22:3, 2 Cor. 12:7

Satan masquerades as an angel of light:  2 Cor. 11:14,

Satan fights against the work of God:  1 Thess. 2:18, 1 Peter 5:8

Satan spiritually dominates geographical areas:  Rev. 2,

Satan is cunning:  Eph. 6:11,

Satan holds the power of death:  Hebrews 2:14

Satan is a murderer and a liar:  John 8:44,

Satan will deceive the nations to rebel against God:  Rev. 20,





2:36, 268, 7:200 Satan tempts people and causes people to sin.

2:168, Satan is the enemy to the people.

2:275, Satan drives people to madness.

3:155, 175 Satan caused Muslims to be cowardly or afraid

4:76, Satan's cunning is weak.

4:120, Satan is a liar.

6:68, 18:63 Satan causes people to forget.

15:27, Satan, (and/or the Jinn) are created from smokeless fire.

22:52, Satan interjects thoughts or words into people's hearts.

28:15, Satan causes Moses to sin and kill an Egyptian.

37:9, The Jinn (and arguably Satan) are pelted by comets and meteors.

38:41, Satan afflicts Job





            Thus far we have a great deal of similar material.  Satan is the enemy of the people, he is a liar and murderer, and tries to lead people away from God.  He physically afflicts people, and entices them to sin.


            There are some noticeable differences however.  In Islam, Satan causes Muslims to forget and Satan interjects thoughts or words into peoples minds / mouth.  This is the basis of the "Satanic Verses".  Satan is created from some type of "smokeless fire", and God uses comets or meteors to strike at the Jinn and possibly Satan as well.


            All in all, I see more similarities than differences thus far, but the differences are notable.







            This is where the contrast becomes quite noticable and the strangeness in Islamic theology begins to show. As the saying goes: "the devil is in the details", and this is apparent when the details are examined.




QUOTES FROM BUKHARI  [3]  {all quotes are from Sahih al-Bukhari unless otherwise noted.}



4.510:  Narrated 'Aisha:


On the day (of the battle) of Uhud when the pagans were defeated, Satan shouted, "O slaves of Allah! Beware of the forces at your back," and on that the Muslims of the front files fought with the Muslims of the back files (thinking they were pagans). Hudhaifa looked back to see his father "Al-Yaman," (being attacked by the Muslims). He shouted, "O Allah's Slaves! My father! My father!" By Allah, they did not stop till they killed him. Hudhaifa said, "May Allah forgive you."   'Urwa said that Hudhaifa continued to do good (invoking Allah to forgive the killer of his father till he met Allah (i.e. died).



            Compare this with the Quran, 4:76 -  "Satan's cunning is weak.".  Obviously the Muslims wisdom was weaker.  Uhud was a terrible defeat for the Muslims; many of them died and their people were demoralized afterwards.  Additionally, Muhammad was severely wounded in the face; an arrow went through his jaw, he lost some teeth, and he was scared for life.  This again illustrates Muhammad's bizarre  statements found in the Quran and Hadith.






1.582:  Narrated Abu Huraira:


Allah's Apostle said, "When the Adhan is pronounced Satan takes to his heels and passes wind with noise during his flight in order not to hear the Adhan. When the Adhan is completed he comes back and again takes to his heels when the Iqama is pronounced and after its completion he returns again till he whispers into the heart of the person (to divert his attention from his prayer) and makes him remember things which he does not recall to his mind before the prayer and that causes him to forget how much he has prayed."






Abu Sufyan reported it on the authority of Jabir that he had heard the apostle of Allah say:  "When Satan hears the call to prayer, he runs away to a distance like that of Rauha".  Sulaiman said:  "I asked him about Rauha."  He replied, "It is at a distance of 36 miles from Medina."




BUKHARI 4.495:  (cf. 3.505B and 6.530)

Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri:


The Prophet said, "If while you are praying, somebody intends to pass in front of you, prevent him; and should he insist, prevent him again; and if he insists again, fight with him (i.e. prevent him violently e.g. pushing him violently), because such a person is (like) a devil."


Narrated Muhammad bin Sirin: Abu Huraira said, "Allah's Apostle put me in charge of the Zakat of Ramadan (i.e. Zakat-ul-Fitr). Someone came to me and started scooping some of the foodstuff of (Zakat) with both hands. I caught him and told him that I would take him to Allah's Apostle." Then Abu Huraira told the whole narration and added "He (i.e. the thief) said, 'Whenever you go to your bed, recite the Verse of "Al-Kursi" (2.255) for then a guardian from Allah will be guarding you, and Satan will not approach you till dawn.' " On that the Prophet said, "He told you the truth, though he is a liar, and he (the thief) himself was the Satan."



BUKHARI 2.301:

Narrated Abu Huraira:


The Prophet once offered the prayer and said, "Satan came in front of me and tried to interrupt my prayer, but Allah gave me an upper hand on him and I choked him. No doubt, I thought of tying him to one of the pillars of the mosque till you get up in the morning and see him. Then I remembered the statement of Prophet Solomon, 'My Lord ! Bestow on me a kingdom such as shall not belong to any other after me.' Then Allah made him (Satan) return with his head down (humiliated)."



FROM SAHIH MUSLIM, vol. 3, # 5008:


Ibn Umar reported Allah's messenger as saying, "When anyone of you intends to eat (meal), he should eat with his right hand, and when he (intends) to drink he should drink with his right hand, for the Satan eats with his left hand and drinks with his left hand."




            These are very bizarre statements.  Satan runs, about 36 miles, and farts to prevent himself from hearing the Adhan?  In order to have flatulence, you must ingest something.  Earlier, the Shorter Ency. stated that there are Hadith that say that Satan eats dung and filth.  I've read that Jinn eat bones and perhaps carrion.  Here Muhammad's superstitions or pagan concepts present Satan as some type of desperate scavenger.  And, if he is running 36 miles a day, he must be in great shape!  I bet he could win the Boston Marathon!


            The second Hadith shows Satan stealing food.  A reference Hadith says that Abu Huraira caught Satan three times stealing food.  Here is the mighty Satan, unable to break out of Abu Huraira's grip!  And here is Satan, the one whom Allah has to pelt with comets and meteors, having to sneak around and steal food.  Note that after he is caught, Satan tells Abu a mystical way to prevent Abu from being harmed from Satan during the night.  Now if Satan was an "absolute liar" (cf. 3.505B and 6.530), why would he tell the truth to Abu?  Why not make up another lie and deceive Abu?  Isn't that like telling your enemy your military weaknesses?  It would have been just as easy for Satan to tell Abu to repeat another verse from the Quran.


            The third Hadith is similar to the second, but here Muhammad grabbed Satan, overpowered him, choked him, and thought about tying him up.  Again, here is Satan unable to break out of Muhammad's grip.  Too bad Muhammad didn't tie him up, that way, people could have seen Satan for themselves, and would have kept him from antagonizing the entire world!


            The fourth Hadith illustrates more of Muhammad's superstitions.  Satan eats and drinks with his left hand?!  Does Satan pitch with his left hand?  Does he write with his left hand?  Is Muhammad saying that lefties are following in the ways of Satan?  Would Muhammad consider the great southpaws of baseball to be emmissaries of Satan?  According to Muhammad, are ambidextrious people cursed, or part evil, part good, or ???

            Muhammad's foolishness has probably caused people who are naturally left handed a great deal of grief.  Imagine having to live in a culture that considers being left handed a taboo or weakness.






2.243:  Narrated Abu Huraira


Allah's Apostle said, "Satan puts three knots at the back of the head of any of you if he is asleep. On every knot he reads and exhales the following words, 'The night is long, so stay asleep.' When one wakes up and remembers Allah, one knot is undone; and when one performs ablution, the second knot is undone, and when one prays the third knot is undone and one gets up energetic with a good heart in the morning; otherwise one gets up lazy and with a mischievous heart."



            The knots represent witchcraft that Satan, warlocks or witches tie, and use against others.  There is a reference to this in the Quran, 114:4.  A similar incident that happened to Muhammad is also found in Bukhari:  a Jewish warlock cast a spell upon Muhammad and tied a number of knots in the hair found on Muhammad's comb. Muhammad was so bewitched that he went as long as a year thinking he was having sexual relations with his wife while he actually wasn't. 


Additional details on this event are provided in Ibn Sa'd's "Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir" (Book of the Major Classes), vol.2, pages 244 to 248, [4].  Here is the relevant quote.


            "The apostle of Allah fell ill.  He was bewitched about women and food. ...There were eleven knots [in the hair from the comb].  The two Surahs no. 113, and 114 were revealed to him.  No sooner did the apostle of Allah recited a verse than a knot loosened.  When all of them were loosened, he regained his urge for food and women."


            So then, if a Muslim fails to perform his religious rituals in the morning, he wakes up with a lazy and mischievous heart.  I've known many Muslims who slept late but were hard working people and were not mischievous at heart.  This Hadith appears to be another reflection of Muhammad ceremonial superstitions.






2.245:  Narrated 'Abdullah :


A person was mentioned before the Prophet and he was told that he had kept on sleeping till morning and had not got up for the prayer. The Prophet said, "Satan urinated in his ears."



4.492:  Narrated 'Abdullah:


It was mentioned before the Prophet that there was a man who slept the night till morning (after sunrise). The Prophet said, "He is a man in whose ears (or ear) Satan had urinated."



3.254: (cf. 3.251)         Narrated 'Ali bin Al-Husain (from Safiya, the Prophet's wife):


The wives of the Prophet were with him in the mosque (while he was in Itikaf) and then they departed and the Prophet said to Safiya bint Huyai, "Don't hurry up, for I shall accompany you," (and her dwelling was in the house of Usama). The Prophet went out and in the meantime two Ansari men met him and they looked at the Prophet and passed by. The Prophet said to them, "Come here. She is (my wife) Safiya bint Huyai." They replied, "Subhan Allah, (How dare we think of evil) O Allah's Apostle! (we never expect anything bad from you)." The Prophet replied, "Satan circulates in the human being as blood circulates in the body, and I was afraid lest Satan might insert an evil thought in your minds."



4.509:  Narrated Abu Huraira:


The Prophet said, "Yawning is from Satan and if anyone of you yawns, he should check his yawning as much as possible, for if anyone of you (during the act of yawning) should say: 'Ha', Satan will laugh at him."






Narrated Abu Sa'id al-Khudri:


Allah's Apostle said:  When one of you yawns, he should try to restrain it with the help of his hand since it is the Satan that enters therein.





8.242:  Narrated Abu Huraira:


The Prophet said, "Allah likes sneezing and dislikes yawning, so if someone sneezes and then praises Allah, then it is obligatory on every Muslim who heard him, to say: May Allah be merciful to you (Yar-hamuka-l-lah). But as regards yawning, it is from Satan, so one must try one's best to stop it, if one says 'Ha' when yawning, Satan will laugh at him."



4.516:  Narrated Abu Huraira:


The Prophet said, "If anyone of you rouses from sleep and performs the ablution, he should wash his nose by putting water in it and then blowing it out thrice, because Satan has stayed in the upper part of his nose all the night."




            We can combine these Hadith and come up with an interesting composite.  Satan urinates in people's ears, Satan stays in people's noses during the night (now that's what I call a bugger!), Satan circulates in people's bodies, Satan laughs at people who make a sound when they yawn.  Note that Muhammad said that Allah likes sneezing and dislikes yawning!  Why?  Germs are spread via sneezing, while the body gets more oxygen when it yawns.  Yawning is indeed beneficial to the human body, so why would Allah not like it?  And if Satan enters through a yawn, couldn't he enter through a nose at any time?


            These Hadith show that Muhammad's concept of Satan was likened to the "boogie man".  Superstitions played in Muhammad's mind and he spoke any strange thing that his imagination conjured up.


            Some Muslims have tried to prove that these statements are analogies or metaphors, but when the entire context is taken, there is no indication of any metaphor being used.  If Satan didn't stay in your nose, why wash it out?  If it were just buggers, then why did Muhammad say Satan stayed in the nose?  The same can be said of the other Hadiths.







4.506:  Narrated Abu Huraira:


The Prophet said, "When any human being is born. Satan touches him at both sides of the body with his two fingers, except Jesus, the son of Mary, whom Satan tried to touch but failed, for he touched the placenta-cover instead."



4.641:  Narrated Said bin Al-Musaiyab:


Abu Huraira said, "I heard Allah's Apostle saying, 'There is none born among the off-spring of Adam, but Satan touches it. A child therefore, cries loudly at the time of birth because of the touch of Satan, except Mary and her child." Then Abu Huraira recited:  "And I seek refuge with You for her and for her offspring from the outcast Satan" (3.36)



4.522:  Narrated Abu Huraira:


The Prophet said, "When you hear the crowing of cocks, ask for Allah's Blessings for (their crowing indicates that) they have seen an angel. And when you hear the braying of donkeys, seek Refuge with Allah from Satan for (their braying indicates) that they have seen a Satan."



9.124:  Narrated Abu Qatada:


The Prophet said, "A good dream is from Allah, and a bad dream is from Satan. So whoever has seen (in a dream) something he dislike, then he should spit without saliva, thrice on his left and seek refuge with Allah from Satan, for it will not harm him, and Satan cannot appear in my shape."






Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger as saying:  "The bell is the musical instrument of Satan."




            So, Satan touched everyone except Jesus Christ.  And newborns cry because Satan touched them!  That'll be a new one for medical science!  I also have to ask, if Muslims say the magic words before they conceive, then how does Satan touching the newborn affect the child?


            Why is it that donkeys see Satan and bray?  Do other animals see Satans?  Why can't we see the Satans?  I would guess that human and donkey eyes see the same wavelengths, more or less, so why can't we see them?  Even if the sight wavelengths are different, we should be able to see the Satans using IR or UV detection equipment.  But I know of no one who has ever said they've seen a Satan using this type of technology!


            The third Hadith again illustrates Muhammad's superstitions.  Bad dreams are from Satan, and if you have one, blow three times on your left, and seek refuge with Allah. 


            The fourth Hadith shows Muhammad's personal dislikes entering into his theology.  "The bell is Satan's musical instrument"? Do chimes count? What about the xylophone? Is it the frequency of the bell that bothered Muhammad? The pitch perhaps? Personally, I think if Satan had a musical instrument, it would be the fiddle. I mean, after all, didn't the Charlie Daniels band say the devil played a golden fiddle?






4.523:  Narrated Jabir bin Abdullah:


Allah's Apostle said, "When night falls (or it is evening), keep your children close to you for the devils spread out at that time. But when an hour of the night elapses, you can let them free. Close the doors and mention the Name of Allah, for Satan does not open a closed door."



4.533:  Narrated Jabir bin 'Abdullah:


The Prophet said, "Cover your utensils and tie your water skins, and close your doors and keep your children close to you at night, as the Jinns spread out at such time and snatch things away. When you go to bed, put out your lights, for the mischief-doer (i.e. the rat) may drag away the wick of the candle and burn the dwellers of the house." Ata said, "The devils." (instead of the Jinns).




            So, devils can steal physical objects, and even snatch children, but they cannot open closed doors?  Why?  If their intentions are to harm, and they are capable of thought, and physical movement, surely they can open doors.  Again, more of the "boogie man" superstition nonsense.







            "Jabir reported: "I heard Allah's messenger as saying: "The throne of Iblis (Satan's name) is upon the ocean and he sends detachments in order to put people to trial and the most important figure in his eyes is the one who is most notorious in sowing the seed of dissension.""




No comment, just thought it was interesting that Satan's throne is upon the ocean. 




FROM IBN ISHAQ'S "SIRAT RASULALLAH", translated as, "THE LIFE OF MUHAMMAD" by A. Guillaume, page 165 - 167.  [6]


NOTE:  The following passage is material concerned with the topic known as "The Satanic Verses".  The entire passage is long and not it is not necessary to quote it in full, but I will provide the relevant quotes to show how Satan influenced Muhammad.  This story is also found in Ibn Sa'd's "Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir", (Book of the Major Classes), which is also biographical material on Muhammad.


            "(Tabari). Now the apostle was anxious for the welfare of his people, wishing to attract them as far as he could.  It has been mentioned that he longed for a way to attract them, .......When the apostle saw what his people turned their backs on him and he was pained by their estrangement from what he brought them from God he longed that there should come to him from God a message that would reconcile his people to him.  Because of his love for his people and his anxiety over them it would delight him if the obstacle that made his task so difficult could be removed; so that he meditated on the project and longed for it and it was dear to him.  Then God sent down "by the star when it sets your comrade errs not and is not deceived, he speaks not from his own desire," and when he reached His words "Have you thought of al-Lat and al-Uzza and Manat the third, the other:, Satan, when he was mediating upon it, and desiring to bring it (sc. reconciliation) to his people, put upon his tongue "these are the exalted Gharaniq whose intercession is approved."


            The news reached the prophet's companions who were in Abyssinia, it being reported that Quraysh had accepted Islam, so some men started to return while others remained behind.  Then Gabriel came to the apostle and said, "What have you done Muhammad?  You have read to these people something I did not bring you form God and you have said what He did not say to you."   The apostle was bitterly grieved and was greatly in fear of God.  So God sent down (a revelation), for He was merciful to him, comforting him and making light of the affair and telling him that every prophet and apostle before him desired as he desired and wanted what he wanted and Satan interjected something into his desires as he had on his tongue.  So God annulled what Satan had suggested and God established His verses i.e. you are just like the prophets and apostles.  The God sent down:  "We have not sent a prophet or apostle before you but when he longed Satan cast suggestions into his longing.  But God will annul what Satan has suggested.




            This is one of the most controversial topics in Islam.  Satan caused Muhammad to recite false words from God.   In the OT, if someone caused others to worship other gods he was put to death - refer to Deut. 13.  Yet this is exactly what Muhammad did - he advocated the worship of pagan deities.  Afterwards, Muhammad says that Allah made light of the event!


            Further, which of the OT prophets ever spoke the words of Satan?  The OT prophets loved their people, but they persisted in speaking the truth to them, not compromising the word of God to them to gain peace and converts.




FROM IBN ISHAQ'S "SIRAT RASULALLAH", translated as, "THE LIFE OF MUHAMMAD" by A. Guillaume, page 243.



            "I have heard that it was of him that the apostle said, "Whoever wants to see Satan let him take a look at Nabtal b. al-Harith!"  He was a sturdy black man with long flowing hair, inflamed eyes, and dark ruddy cheeks.  He used to come and talk to the apostle and listen to him and then carry what he had said to the hypocrites.  It was he who said:  "Muhammad is all ears:  if anyone tells him anything he believes it."  God sent down concerning him:  "And of them are those who annoy the prophet and say he is all ears, Say:  Good ears for you.  He believes in God and trusts the believers and is a mercy for those of you who believe; and those who annoy the apostle of God for them there is a painful punishment."  (Sura 9:61)





            Muhammad knew many people who were against him, some of them were tough, proven warriors.  But of all the people, Muhammad picked out a peculiar looking black man and said that Satan looked like him!  Muhammad said that Satan looks like a Negro!  Certainly there were unusual looking Arab men in the area, but Muhammad picked out a black man as the image of Satan.  Why?






Why would God allow Satan to put his words in Muhammad's mouth, and then make light of it?  Shouldn't someone speaking the word of God be held accountable?


1)         How is yawning from Satan?


2)         How can Satan be everywhere touching new-born infants?


3)         If Satan can be physical or spiritual, why did he allow Abu Huraira and Muhammad to capture him?


4)         Why did Muhammad say Satan looks like a black man?







            The Hadith clearly portrays the workings of Muhammad's mind.  He accepted superstitions, myths, and made bizarre declarations whenever he had to say something about an event, or something he didn't understand.


            Muhammad said that Satan's cunning was weak, but Satan tricked Muhammad into teaching and performing idol worship, and Satan was partly responsible for the harsh Muslim defeat at Uhud.  These contradictions delineate Muhammad's ever changing ideas.  Muhammad was a very superstitious man.  These statements prove that Muhammad was not listening to God, but to the machinations of his mind.  Islam is partly built upon the Hadith; Islam is part superstition.






1)         Shorter Encyclopaedia of Islam, by H.A.R. Gibb and J.H. Kramers, published by E.J. Brill.

2)         Foreign Vocabulary of the Qur'an, by Arthur Jeffery, published by the Oriental Institute of Baroda.

3)         Sahih al-Bukhari, translated by Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan, published by Kitab Bhavan, New Delhi, India.

4)         Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir volume 2, pages 244 to 248, (Book of the Major Classes), by Ibn Sa'd, translated by Moinul Haq. 

5)         Sahih Muslim, translated by Abdul Hammid Siddiqi, published by International Islamic Publishing House, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

6)         Sirat Rasulallah", translated as, "The Life of Muhammad, by A. Guillaume, published by Oxford University Press.



Rev. A: 10-4-98, Rev. B: 2-13-99

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