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The universe is not confined to what presents itself to human senses and its boundaries extent way beyond the corporeal world. The Quran divides the world into that of shahadah (seen) and ghayb (unseen) (Ra`d 13: 9). The Holy Book accords such importance to the belief in the world of ghayb that it views it on a par with the performance of daily ritual prayers (sing. salat) and faith in the revelation and the hereafter, as the attributes of the pious (Baqarah 2: 3 – 4). Clearly, failure to believe in ghayb would be tantamount to denying religion and plunging into heresy. Ghayb, as the counterpoint to shahadah, includes that which is beyond the access of senses, e.g. God and revelation. The knowledge of ghayb and the keys to its treasures are confined to God (An`am 6: 59). The knowledge of the time of Judgment Day is one such issue about which even the Holy Prophet (PBUH) confessed ignorance (A`raf 7: 187 – 188). 

According to the Islamic worldview, there exist creatures in the world called angels (sing. malik). The Quran, throughout, speaks of angels. However, it only refers in name to Jebri’il (Gabriel) and Mika’il (Michael). About others it suffices by their descriptions. Such as the Angel of Death (Malak al-Mawt) (Sajdah 32: 11), the noble writers (kiraman katibin) (Infitar 82: 11), and the noble scribes (safaratin kiram) (`Abas 80: 15 – 16). These are noble creatures which act as mediators between God and the world of shahadah. All events, major and minor, are effected through their actions, which are the results of God’s decrees (Tahrim 66: 6). Angels are the noble servants of God, who at no time disobey His commands (Anbiya’ 21: 26 – 27). They have two, three, or four wings (Fatir 35: 1), with which to travel from heaven to earth and back, and from one place to another. According to some traditions the angels are made of light. Other traditions speak of their great numbers and complex creation. 

The angels’ great multitude is organized in a hierarchical order, where some are subordinate to others (Saffat 27: 164; Takwir 81: 19 – 21). They are tasked with various responsibilities. For instance, there are angels who observe and record man’s words and deeds (Qaf 50: 17 – 18). There are others who on the Day of Judgment intercede on men’s behalf (Anbiya’ 21: 28). Some are powerful and stern, whose role on the Judgment Day is to mete out punishment to the wrongdoers and the ungrateful (Tahrim 66: 6). Some exegetes are of the opinion that angels are created out of the same ephemeral and corruptible matter. They interpret hadiths which depict angels in material forms as figurations in which they appeared to the Holy Prophet (PBUH). 

Jinns are also among the creatures who are hidden from the senses. The etymology of the term jinn implies the same notion. In the Quran jinns are said to have been made of fire (Hajar 15: 27; al-Rahman 55: 15). The Quran makes frequent mention of jinns and their extraordinary feats such as their great speed (Naml 27: 39). Jinns resemble men: they are possessed of sensation and will and have males and females (Jinn 72: 1, 6); are religiously obligated, thus include those who believe and are righteous as well as those who disbelieve and commit sins (Jinn 72: 11, 14); and suffer death and will be resurrected and judged in the hereafter (Jinn 72: 15 – 16). 

Shayatin (sing. shaytan: devil) are a particular class of jinns. The term shaytan is a common noun applied to any arrogant or rebellious jinn, human or animal, especially any incorporeal being and source of evil. As a proper noun Shaytan (Satan) or Iblis is an angel, who is among jinns and has his children and clan (Kahf 18: 50). Shaytan was once an angel who refused to bow to Adam, since he considered his creation out of fire to be superior to Adam’s earthly substance (Baqarah 2: 34; Sad 38: 75 – 76). As a result, Shaytan was stripped of his status as an angel and was given the title of rajim (the accursed). He, however, requested to be given a reprieve until the Day of Judgment. Upon the granting of his request he swore to God’s glory that he would lead His servants astray (Sad 38: 77 – 83). Thus, Satan became the sworn enemy of man, and caused Adam and Eve to be ejected from heaven (Baqarah 2: 36). None the less, Satan is incapable of forcing man into committing sinful acts and his role is only confined to coaxing man into wrongdoing. In the end, man himself will be held accountable for his actions (Ibrahim 14: 22). As regards the creation of the heaven and earth, the Quran indicates that they were not created out of nothing (ex nihilo). The earth is said to have been brought into being from an accumulated or condensed primal substance which was given form over a period of two days, or in two stages. The heaven was made from smoke which was also expanded in two stages and transformed into the seven heavens. One of the seven is the starry sky of our universe. The Quran provides no details about the other six. It may be gathered from the Quran that the heaven is the abode of angels with gates that are closed to the unbelievers and that the phenomena and the sustenance of creatures are descended from there.

* source: Gorji , Abolghasem "Islam Entry" The Great Islamic Encyclopedia. Ed. Kazem Musavi Bojnourdi.Tehran: The Center of Great Islamic Encyclopaedia , 1989-, V.8 ,pp.404 - 405

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