And behold, We said to the angels: “Bow down to Adam” and they bowed down. Not so Iblis (Satan): he refused and was haughty; he was of those who reject Faith. (Al-Baqarah: 34)

Behold! We said to the angels: “Bow down unto Adam” : they bowed down except Iblis: he said, “Shall I bow down to one whom You did create from clay?”

He (Iblis) said: “See You? This is the one whom You have honoured above me! If You will but respite me to the Day of Judgement, I will surely bring this descendants under my sway–all but a few!”

(God) said: “Go your way; if any of them follow you, verily Hell will be the recompense of you (all)–an ample recompense.” (Al-Israa’: 61-63)

I still remember during my days in the kindergarten, one of the stories that have been told by my ustazah (female teacher) was the story of Adam and Eve being tempted by Iblis. The story that had been described briefly in The Holy Qur’an was also mentioned in the Old Testament, in the Book of Genesis.

According to the Qur’an, after the creation of Adam, God commanded all angels to bow down unto Adam as a sign of respect to him; a newly created human who will be sent to earth as the caliph (leader). The angels obeyed God’s command and bowed down before Adam but there was one who refused; Iblis.

Questioned by God on his act, Iblis boastly argued and criticized God’s command. He said to God that it is unusual for him to bow before Adam as he is much nobler than him (Adam) in the aspect of creation. He was created with element of Fire while Adam was formed by God using Clay. Iblis’ refusal angered God. The Almighty then rejected Iblis and commanded him to leave Paradise. He (Iblis) was labeled as kafir (one who rejects Faith) and was cursed by God for his arrogance.

When I was a kid, I used to look at this story as the beginning of feud between Mankind and Satan (Iblis). Iblis, who is so arrogant with his nature of creation was cursed by God and ousted from Paradise. And until now, Iblis’ jealousies on Adam’s offsprings remain with his pledge to lead mankind astray till the Day of Judgment.

Recently, in a discussion with a friend, I started to understand the actual context of this story. Iblis was actually the first racist since he is so obsessed with his ‘Fire’ identity. He assumed that others were incomparable to him and that leads him into not to bow before Adam who was formed by God using clay. Thus, from my observation, it is not wrong for me to conclude that Iblis was actually the Father of Racism throughout history.

In relating this story from the Qur’an in the context of what has been happening in Malaysia, it is clear that Iblis was admired and idolized by a lot of those who were so obsessed with their race and tribe. These racists claimed that they were bestowed special privileges and became dominant in dictating others who were not from their race. Are we becoming one of them? And do we want to follow footsteps of Iblis who have been cursed and rejected by God due to his (Iblis) racist sentiment?

Did Islam teach us to be a racist, arrogant and obsessed with our race? If Iblis was cursed and ousted from Paradise because of his racist manner, thus, is it proper for us who follows Iblis’ footsteps to speak about Islam and its dignity?

If you want to be a racist and a fanatic to your race, be prepared because Iblis was rejected from Paradise and will be thrown into Hell due to his arrogance and obsession on his race and nature.

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