وَإِذْ قُلْنَا لِلْمَلَـئِكَةِ اسْجُدُواْ لاًّدَمَ فَسَجَدُواْ إِلاَّ إِبْلِيسَ أَبَى وَاسْتَكْبَرَ وَكَانَ مِنَ الْكَـفِرِينَ
“And (remember) when We said to the angels: ‘Prostrate yourselves before Adam.’ And they prostrated except Iblees (Shaytan), he refused and was proud and was one of the disbelievers (disobedient to Allah).”
This Ayah mentions the great honor that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala granted Adam alaiyhi as salam, and Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala reminded Adam’s offspring of this fact. When Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala commanded the angels to prostrate before Adam alaiyhi as salam, Iblees was included in this command. Although Iblees was not an angel, he was trying – and pretending – to imitate the angels’ behavior and deeds, and this is why he was also included in the command to the angels to prostrate before Adam alaiyhi as salam. Shaytan was criticized for defying that command, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala said:
“Except Iblees (Shaytan). He was one of the Jinns; he disobeyed the command of his Lord.” (18:50)
Similarly, Muhammad bin Ishaq reported that, “Before he undertook the path of sin, Iblees was with the angels and was called `Azazil.’ He was among the residents of the earth and was one of the most active worshippers and knowledgeable persons among the angels. This fact caused him to be arrogant. Iblees was from a genus called Jinn.”
“The obedience was for Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and the prostration was before Adam. Allah honored Adam and commanded the angels to prostrate before him.”
Some people said that this prostration was just a prostration of greeting, peace and honor. The practice of prostrating was allowed for previous nations, but was repealed for ours.
Iblees (Shaytan), he refused and was proud and was one of the disbelievers (disobedient to Allah). Iblees, the enemy of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, envied Adam alaiyhi as salam because Allah honored Adam. He said, “I was created from fire, and he was created from clay.” Therefore, the first error ever committed was arrogance, for the enemy of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala was too arrogant to prostrate before Adam.
Iblees had disbelief, arrogance, and rebellion, all of which caused him to be expelled from the presence of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, and His mercy.
This is important because in all parts of life, religious or non-religious – Iblees will try to make us follow his example of disobeying Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala out of arrogance against others. And this is what destroys the best of people.
So we have to admit we are weak slaves of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, who are always dependent upon Him, and there is no strength or power except from Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.