Dr. Zakir Naik
How Long Could be a Day?
Iblis - Angel or Jinn?
Question: A particular verse of the Quran says that one day in the sight of Allah is equal to 1000 years. In another verse of the Quran, it says that one day is equal to 50,000 years. Isn't the Quran contradicting itself?
1. Time of Allah is incomparable to earthly time
The Quran says in two verses, (22:47 and 32:5), that the measure of one day in the sight of Allah is equal to 1,000 years of our reckoning. In another verse (70:4) it says that the measure of one day in the sight of Allah is equal to 50,000 years of our reckoning.
These verses generally mean that the time of Allah (swt) is incomparable to the earthly time. The examples given are of one thousand years and fifty thousand years of the earthly time. In other words thousands of years or a very, long time of the earth a day in the sight of Allah is equal to:
2. Yaum also means Period
The Arabic word used in all these three verses is yaum, which, besides meaning a day also means a long period, or an epoch. If you translate the word yaum correctly as ‘period’ there will be no confusion.
a) The verse from Surah Hajj reads as:
“Yet they ask thee to hasten on the Punishment! but Allah will not fail in His promise. Verily a Day in the sight of thy Lord is like a thousand years of your reckoning”. [Al-Quran 22:47]
When the unbelievers asked to hasten the punishment the Quran says Allah will not fail in His promise. Verily a period in the sight of Allah is like a thousand years of your reckoning.
b) The verse from Surah Al-Sajdah says:
“He rules (all) affairs from the heavens to the earth: in the end will (all affairs) go up? To Him, on a Day, the space whereof will be (as) a thousand years of your reckoning”. [Al-Quran 32:5]
This verse indicates that a period required for all the affairs to go up to Allah (swt), is a thousand years of our reckoning.
c) A verse from Surah Al-Maarij says:
“The angels and the spirit ascend unto Him in a Day the measure whereof is (as) fifty thousand years”. [Al-Quran 70:4]
This verse means that the period required for angels and the spirits to ascend unto Allah (swt) is fifty thousand years.
d) The period for two different acts need not be the same. For example the period required for me to travel to destination ‘A’ say Vashi is one hour and the period required for me to travel to destination ‘B’ i.e. Kashmir is 50 hours. This does not indicate that I am making two contradictory statements.
Thus the verses of the Quran not only do not contradict each other, they are also in perfect harmony with established modern scientific facts.
Question: The Quran in several places says that Iblis was an angel, but in Surah Kahf it says that Iblis was a Jinn. Isn't this a contradiction in the Quran?
1. Incidence of Iblis and Angels mentioned in the Quran
The story of Adam and Iblis is mentioned in the Quran in various places in which Allah (swt) says, “We said to the angels bow down to Adam: and they bowed down: not so Iblis”.
This is mentioned in:
Surah Al Baqarah Chapter 2 verse 43
Surah Al ‘Araf Chapter 7 verse 17
Surah Al Hijr Chapter 15 verses 28-31
Surah Al Isra Chapter 17 verse 61
Surah Ta Ha Chapter 20 verse 116
Surah Sad Chapter 38 verses 71-74
But in Surah Al Kahf chapter 18 verse 50 the Quran says:
“Behold! We said to the angels, “Bow down to Adam.” they bowed down except Iblis He was one of the Jinns.” [Al-Quran 18:50]
2. Arabic Rule Of Tagleeb
The English translation of the first part of the verse ‘We said to the angels bow down to Adam: they bowed down except Iblis’, gives us the impression that Iblis was an angel. The Quran was revealed in Arabic. In Arabic grammar there is a rule known as Tagleeb, according to which, if the majority is addressed, even the minority is included. If for example, I address a class containing 100 students of whom 99 are boys and one is a girl, and if I say in Arabic that the boys should stand up, it includes the girl as well. I need not mention her seperately.
Similarly in the Quran, when Allah addressed the angels, even Iblis was present, but it is not required that he be mentioned separately. Therefore according to that sentence Iblis may be an angel or may not be an angel, but we come to know from Surah Al Kahf chapter 18 verse 50 that Iblis was a Jinn. No where does the Quran say Iblis was an angel. Therefore there is no contradiction in the Quran.
3. Jinns have free will and can disobey Allah
Secondly, Jinns have a free will and may or may not obey Allah, but angels have no free will and always obey Allah. Therefore the question of an angel disobeying Allah does not arise. This further supplements that Iblis was a Jinn and not an angel.
The author is the President of Islamic Research Foundation, Mumbai,
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