I am talking right now to a former student who says the Bible is little more than an ultimatum to follow God or be sent to Hell.  To him, the threat of punishment is a major theme all throughout the Bible.

Man, he needs to read the Qur’an!  The Bible hardly touches on Hell and punishment compared to what you find in Islam’s sacred text.  As we read through the Qur’an this year, it seems we can’t go more than a page or two without another reminder that Hell (or the Fire) is a very real place and the chances of being sent there are very real as well.  I don’t mean disrespect — I am just reading and reporting as I find it — but “turn or burn” seems like a term more appropriate for the Qur’an than for the Bible.


Speaking of Hell, ayahs 26-50 in this surah are a sustained description of the jinn and Iblis.

Before Allah created humans from dirt, clay, or mud (depending on the passage) He created the jinn from smokeless fire (interestingly, angels were created from light).  Jinn were not inherently evil; they could obey God if they chose to.  If they did not, jinnis (plural form, from which we get the English term genie) became “satans” or “demons.” 

God’s intention from the beginning was for the jinn to “bow down” and serve the humans, and the jinn (or angels) did.  That is, all of them except Iblis who could not stomach the thought.  In response God banished Iblis from Paradise.  As a result, Iblis has promised to “lure” humans away from God and towards “the wrong.”  Only God’s “devoted servants” will be able to resist Iblis’ charms, though this passage makes it clear that Iblis does not possess the power to force humans to follow him; they choose to go astray by their own choice.  In Islamic thought Iblis only has what power he does because God allows him to have it; God is the supreme power in control of all things.  In the end Iblis and those who have chosen to follow his ways will be banished to Hell, a painful place of torment.

We will hear more about Iblis and the jinn later.