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Last Updated: 2011/04/20
Summary of question
Please explain what a human Shaytan is.
Please explain what a human Shaytan is.
Concise answer

“Shaytan” is a general term that refers to any deviating, misguiding and disobedient creature, whether it is human or not. In the Quran, this term has not been used for a specific creature, in fact it has even been used for humans that are deviating and wrongdoing.

Therefore, what is meant by “The Shaytan of humans” are the very humans that have not only gone astray themselves by disobeying divine commands, but make efforts to misguide others as well.

Detailed Answer

The word “Shaytan”, which is derived from the root of “شطن”, means being distanced. Since Satan has been distant from good deeds and has been distanced from Allah’s mercy, he is called by this name.[1]

“Shaytan” is a general word and “Iblis” is a specific one. In other words, “Shaytan” refers to any deviating, misguiding and disobedient creature, whether it is human or not, while “Iblis” is the name of the Shaytan that tricked Adam and is still lies in ambush of humanity at this moment along with his army.[2]

The book Sihah al-Lughah says: “Any stubborn being that turns away from truth is a Shaytan, whether it is human, animal or Jin.”[3]

It is also understood from how this term is used in the Quran that it refers to any harmful creature, a creature that has gone astray and plans to bother and annoy others, as the Quran says: “انما یرید الشیطان ان یوقع بینکم العداوة و البغضاء[4] (Indeed Shaytan seeks to cast enmity and hatred among you...)

In the Quran, the word Shaytan does not refer to a specific creature, instead it has even been used for wrongdoing and deviating humans. “و کذالک جعلنا لکل نبی عدواً شیاطین الانس و الجن[5] (That is how for every prophet We appointed as enemy the devils from among humans and jinn)

The reason why Iblis is also referred to as a Shaytan is because of his corruption and mischief.[6]

The word “Shaytan” has even been used for microbes: “لاتبیتوا القمامة فی بیوتکم... فانها مقعد الشیطان”.[7] (Do not keep trash in your house during the night, because trash is the place of Shaytans.) Since the trash is a place for harmful animals and flies, the term Shaytan has been used in the hadith.

In addition to above, Allah has considered the act of adhering to one’s ego, envy, anger, pride and the hypocrites as Shaytan in many Quranic verses.[8]

Therefore, it seems that Shaytan has many different meanings and Iblis and his army are one of its most prominent examples. Corrupted and deviating humans are also an example of Shaytan and it can also have the meaning of microbes as mentioned above.[9]

In other words, the true meaning of “Shaytan” is a descriptive one, meaning the mischievous and wicked and has been used for this meaning in the Quran. However, sometimes this word has been used for Iblis in particular and other times for any corrupted creature that corruption is part of his character. Therefore, Shaytan can be from among humans or Jins, though there is a Shaytan from among the Jins named Iblis that is renowned for causing great corruption.[10]

However, there is a dispute about whether Iblis is an angel or Jin:

It is understood from the apparent meaning of Quranic verses that Iblis is from among the Jins. “و اذ قلنا للملائکة اسجدوا لآدم...[11] (And when We said to the angels," Prostrate before Adam...).

It is mentioned in another verse that: “...فسجدوا الاّ ابلیس کان من الجن ففسق عن امر ربه...”[12] (They prostrated, but not Iblis. He was one of the jinn, so he transgressed against his Lord's command...) Therefore Iblis is a Jin, but due to his many years of worshipping Allah he accompanied the angels and that is why he was also addressed by this command that was originally for angels.[13]


The term “Shaytan” refers to any stubborn and disobedient creature that is also misguiding and deviant. A Shaytan can be a human, Jin, animal or any other creature. Finally, what is meant by “The Shaytan of Humans” are humans that have such a character.

For more information, you can refer to the following topics:

Satan and Death, Question 398 (website: 849); The weeping of Satan, Question 762 (website: 805); The wisdom behind Satan’s creation, Question 233 (website: 1752); The aims and plots of Satan, Question 234.

[1] Majama’ al-Bahrain, under the root شطن.

[2] Shari’atmadari, Jafar, Sharh va Tafsire Loghaate Quran, vol. 2, pg. 490; Bistuni, Muhammad, Sheytan Shenasi az Didgahe Quran, pg. 12.

[3] Sihah al-Lughah, the root of شطن, vol. 5, pg. 2144.

[4] Ma’idah:91.

[5] An’am:112.

[6] Bistuni, Muhammad, Sheytan Shenasi az Didgahe Qurane Karim, pp. 13-14.

[7] ReyShahri, Muhammad, Mizan al-Hikmah, vol. 13, pg. 6340.

[8] Musavi Gharavi, Muhammad Javad, Aadam az Nazare Quran, vol. 2, chapter 9, ‘etlaqate Sheytan’, pp. 327-398.

[9] Bistun,i Muhammad, Sheytan Shenasi az Didgahe Qurane Karim, pp. 13-14.

[10] Misbah Yazdi, Mohammad Taqi, Ma’arefe Quran, vols. 1-3, pp. 297-298.

[11] Baqarah:34.

[12] Kahf:50.

[13] For further information, refer to: Misbah Yazdi, Mohammad Taqi, Ma’arefe Quran, vols. 1-3, pp. 298-299; Motahhari, Morteza, Ashnayi ba Quran, vol. 9, pg. 185.

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