Rebuttal to Sam Shamoun's Article, "Qur'an Contradiction: Whom Does Satan Intend to Tempt?"


Bassam Zawadi

Sam Shamoun's article can be located here. We recommend reading Shamouns' article first before reading this rebuttal.

Shamoun puts forth four arguments.

The first argument he laid out is:

  1. In Q. 7 Satan swears to come against those who are on the straight path, meaning the believers.
  2. In both Q. 15 and 38 Satan says that he will not cause Allah's servants to deviate or live evil lives.

Shamoun also says:

In the first version, Satan says he will come up against those on the straight way, meaning the servants of Allah. Yet in the other versions Satan says he will not cause Allah's servants to deviate or to live immorally!

In conclusion, Shamoun's argument is:

Does Satan try to mislead those on the straight path or does he not?

This is not complicated at all. Surah 7 shows that Satan states that he will attempt to divert the believers from the straight path, but in Surah 15 and 38, he makes an exception to the rule, and that is that the devoted believers (he didn't say all believers) will not follow him.

Muslims do believe that there could be those who are on the proper path and then abandon it (i.e., apostates).  So these are the believers that Satan took out from the straight path, but as for those Muslims who do remain Muslim and die Muslim, they are the true devoted followers of Allah whom Satan said he can't harm.

I don't see the contradiction.

Shamoun's second argument is:

  1. In all three of these reports Satan informs Allah of his plan to attack mankind after the latter has already been rebuked and received respite.
  2. Q. 17, however, contradicts this by claiming that Satan informed Allah of his evil intentions even before getting rebuked for not worshiping Adam, and before being given a grace period!

 Shamoun also says:

More importantly, this account contradicts the previous three since in the latter reports Satan informs Allah of his plans only after he has been rebuked and granted respite. Yet in the above Sura he has already revealed his dastardly plan even before Allah has a chance of punishing him for refusing to worship Adam! Talk about confusion!

In conclusion, Shamoun's argument is:

Does he inform Allah of his plans before or after he is given respite?

Shamoun needs to analyze the verses more closely before reaching this false conclusion. All three references show that Allah rebuked Iblis twice in each situation; each time, Iblis told Allah in the middle what he planned to do. In Surah 7:11-18, Allah rebuked Iblis for the act of disobedience, and then Iblis said what he planned to do. Allah then rebuked the plan. The same goes for 15:32-44 and for 38:75-85, but in 17:61-65, Allah only reported the partial story, including the rebuke for the plan. Therefore, we should not mix the two. Allah rebuked Iblis twice, once for not making prostration and once for his wicked plan, but in Surah 17, Allah reported Iblis' plan and the rebuke for the plan; how can this be the same when the first rebuke in the Surahs quoted is for the act of not making prostration when the second rebuke is for the plan to misguide mankind?

Also, the first three references show that Allah told Iblis that He would give him respite until the Day of Judgment before the second rebuke. As for Surah 17, we do not see Allah saying this statement after the second rebuke, just as Shamoun claimed. So, I don't know what Shamoun is talking about.

Shamoun goes on to his third argument:

Here Satan explicitly says to Allah that if he grants him respite then he will seek to possess all of Adam's progeny with the exception of a few. Instead of refusing him this grace period, Allah acquiesces to his demands which means that Allah wanted the enemy to gain control over the vast majority of Adam's seed. In fact, it is Allah who tells Satan how to go about destroying mankind, offering him a variety of options which he can use to accomplish his aim!

He also said:

The second issue is this: Satan announces that he will attack and cause to deviate all people except the servants of Allah. His statement sounds like he will not even try to attack Allah's servants, but in his response Allah implicitly encourages Satan to at least try, because there will be some of his servants whom he can trick into following him! So, just as in Q. 17:61-65, Allah seems to do all he can to get more people on the wrong path by encouraging Satan to tempt and mislead even more people whom he originally had not intend to attack!

It is extraordinary to see this argument coming from Shamoun. Doesn't he realize how easily this argument could be turned against him? Is Shamoun trying to tell us that his God did not know that Satan would attempt to deceive many people before He created him? If not, then Shamoun's God is not omniscient, and that makes his concept of God rationally objectionable. If yes, then why the double standards? Read more here.

God created Satan as a test for us, and Christians believe the same thing. These kinds of arguments shouldn't be expected from Christians like Shamoun.

Shamoun said that Allah encouraged Satan to do this, yet nowhere in any of the verses that Shamoun has cited do we see this. Allah giving Satan the free will to do so does not imply Allah encouraging him to do so as if it is a good thing. If we want to use that logic, then it is like saying that God encourages fornication because He allows it to occur. That is nonsense, of course. Allah is only telling Satan to fulfill his purpose (being a trial for us) since He knew that this is what he was going to do anyway. That doesn't mean that Allah was fond of Satan's choice.

Shamoun then moves on to his last argument, where he states:

Finally, the formulation, "surely, as regards My servants, ... those who follow you (Satan)", leaves us with the inescapable conclusion that some of those who are explicitly called servants of Allah are actually followers of Satan.

As if this couldn't get any worse, note carefully what Q. 15:42 says:

Certainly, you shall have no authority over My slaves, except those who follow you of the Ghawin (Mushrikun and those who go astray, criminals, polytheists, and evil-doers, etc.). Hilali-Khan

Allah says that Satan will have authority over the idolators and those who stray from his path, a claim which Satan ends up denying!

And they all shall appear before Allah (on the Day of Resurrection) then the weak will say to those who were arrogant (chiefs): "Verily, we were following you; can you avail us anything from Allah's Torment?" They will say: "Had Allah guided us, we would have guided you. It makes no difference to us (now) whether we rage, or bear (these torments) with patience, there is no place of refuge for us." And Shaitan (Satan) will say when the matter has been decided: "Verily, Allah promised you a promise of truth. And I too promised you, but I betrayed you. I HAD NO AUTHORITY OVER YOU except that I called you, so you responded to me. So blame me not, but blame yourselves. I cannot help you, nor can you help me. I deny your former act in associating me (Satan) as a partner with Allah (by obeying me in the life of the world). Verily, there is a painful torment for the Zalimun (polytheists and wrong-doers, etc.)." S. 14:21-22 Hilali-Khan

Satan will tell the unbelievers that he did not have authority over them and that he simply called them, presumably to follow him, and denies any responsibility in their obeying him!

Satan seems to have forgotten what he told in Allah in Q. 4:117-120:

In stead of Him, they pray not except to female beings; they pray not except to a rebel Satan accursed by God. He said, 'Assuredly I will take unto myself a portion appointed of Thy servants, and I will lead them astray, and fill them with fancies and I will command them and they will cut off the cattle's ears; I will command them and they will alter God's creation.' Whoso takes Satan to him for a friend, instead of God, has surely suffered a manifest loss. He promises them and fills them with fancies, but there is nothing Satan promises them except delusion. Arberry

Here Satan boasts that he will create false desires in the hearts of men so as to mislead them.

So now which Sura and verse should a Muslim believe? The ones saying that Allah gave Satan authority over the associators, the strayers etc., and that he misleads and creates false desires in them? Or the one where he denies that he had authority to influence them or that he was responsible for their sins?

This must be the weakest out of all of Shamoun's arguments. This can be very easily reconciled.

Surah 4:117-120 shows that Satan states that he will mislead people from the straight path, but Surah 14:21-22 clarifies that Satan does not do this by forcing people to obey him. Instead, people follow Satan and commit evil based on their free will (7:30, 18:29, 25:57, 73:19, 80:11-12, 45:22). So Satan has no authority over the person, for all he can do is whisper and attempt to entice him or her. That is all.

Again, where is the contradiction?

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