The jinn we know as Satan was created from fire. Before his obedience and sincerity were tested through Adam, he had been in the company of angels, acting and worshipping as they did. Unlike angels, however, who cannot rebel against God (66:6), Satan (called Iblis prior to his test) was free to choose his own path of conduct. When God tested him and angels by commanding them to prostrate before Adam, the seeds of his self-conceit and disobedience blossomed and swallowed him. He replied in his vanity: “I am better than him. You created me from fire, whilst him you did create of clay” (38:76).
Satan was created for important purposes. If Satan, who continually tries to seduce us, did not exist, our creation would be meaningless and futile. God has innumerable servants who, like angels, cannot rebel and thus do whatever they are told. In fact, the existence of an absolute Divine Being Who has many beautiful Names and Attributes requires, not because of some external necessity but because of the essential nature of his Names, that His Names be manifest. He manifests all of these Names through humanity.
Since He has free will, He also gave us free will so that we could know good from evil. In addition, God gave us great potentials. It is our development of these potentials and the struggle to choose between good an evil that cause us to experience a constant battle in both our inner and outer worlds. Just as God sends hawks upon sparrows so that the latter will develop their potential to escape, He created Satan and allowed him to tempt us so that our resistance of temptation will raise us spiritually and strengthen our willpower. Just as hunger stimulates human beings and animals to further exertion and discovery of new ways to be satisfied, and fear inspires new defenses, so Satan’s temptations cause us to develop our potentials and guard against sin.
Angels do not rise to the higher spiritual ranks, because Satan cannot tempt them and cause them to deviate. Animals also have fixed stations, and so cannot attain a higher or a lower station. Only human beings can change their station by rising to the highest rank or falling to the lowest rank.
This article has been adapted from Risale- i Nur Collection.