God vs The Devil
Another question that comes into play when you discuss the belief in a living God, is the role of the ‘devil’. The idea constantly being portrayed is that of God taking the good souls and the devil taking the bad souls. This battle of good versus evil takes on many various forms. In Islam, we refer to the devil as ‘Satan’ and evil as ‘satanic forces’, but how much power do they have? Is the devil as powerful as God? Why has God created evil? And so on and so forth.
Evil is really another name for the absence of good. God did not create evil, God created everything good, but the misuse of anything can result in evil! The best way to understand this is to look at light and darkness. Darkness is the absence of light. In itself, it cannot come into being; it can only come about when there is no light. When light is there, there cannot be darkness, but when light is obstructed, it creates a shadow. The shadow hasn’t been created by the light; it is only the name for the absence of light. Likewise, evil is the absence of good. Evil itself cannot control us, it can only control us when we allow it to take over us. For instance, if we have an evil thought, in itself, it cannot possess us, unless we allow that thought to grow and be led by that thought.
God has informed us how to live a good life. If we follow that way, then we will become righteous. But if we choose not to follow that way, then we take a path away from God. We all have a conscience, and if we look inward, that conscience will lead us to the right path, but there are many things which try to influence us to follow a different path. By accepting those suggestions we allow ourselves to commit evil. The more we tread the path away from God, the more evil takes hold of us, until we are guided by the evil suggestions instead of the godly suggestions. In this way, evil can possess us, but it is wrong to think that evil itself has the power to possess us against our will. The Holy Prophet Muhammad, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him , stated that “His Satan was chained” (Bukhari) meaning that Satan or evil influence had no effect on him.
The thought that Satan is as powerful as or more powerful than God has to be dismissed. Some people may feel that evil is predominating over good in the world, but the truth of the matter is that it is the other way round. For instance, there are far more truthful utterances than lies. Likewise, the number of wicked people in the world is much smaller than that of good and virtuous people. The fact that wickedness attracts such wide notice shows that human nature is innately good and hates even the slight touch of evil. So it shows that evil will never take a full hold over man.
Again if we understand that suffering is a means to help us reform ourselves, then we can understand also that there has to be good and bad. For us to recognise, appreciate and understand what is good, we need to experience bad. In this way, whenever a Prophet was sent from God, there was always someone who opposed him; thus mankind was given two choices, to accept the Prophet and thereby accepting God, or oppose the Prophet and thereby accepting a path away from God. For instance Adam, may peace be upon him , had Iblis and Satan; Moses, may peace be upon him , had Pharaoh; Jesus, may peace be upon him , had the Jewish leaders; the Holy Prophet Muhammad, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him , had the Quraish, etc. There was always someone who opposed the Prophets when they came and thus mankind had a choice which way they wished to go. But God always protects His Prophets from the mischief of man so that mankind can hear God’s message.