Devil

The Devil is a title given to the supernatural entity, who, in mainstream Christianity, Islam, and other religions, is a powerful, evil entity and the tempter of humankind.

In mainstream Christianity, God and the Devil are usually portrayed as fighting over the souls of humans, with the Devil seeking to lure people away from God and into hell. The Devil commands a force of lesser evil spirits, commonly known as demons.

The name "Devil" translates as "The Deceiver", in Christianity the Devil is refered to as The Deceiver many times such as John 8:44, 55. The Devil is commonly associated with heretics, infidels, and other unbelievers. The Hebrew Bible (or Old Testament) does not assign this level of personification to a devil, but rather identifies all good and evil as originating in the will of God.

This entity is commonly referred to by a variety of names, including Angra Mainyu, Satan, Asmodai, Beelzebub, Lucifer, Belial, or Iblis. Many other religions have a trickster or tempter figure that is similar to the Devil. Modern conceptions of the Devil include the concept that it symbolizes humans' own lower nature or sinfulness.


The Devil in world religions


Zoroastrianism

In the Gathas, the oldest texts of the Zoroastrian Avesta, believed to have been composed by Zoroaster himself, the poet does not mention a manifest adversary. Ahura Mazda's Creation is "truth", asha. The "lie" (druj) is manifest only as decay or chaos, not an entity.

Later, in Zurvanism (Zurvanite Zoroastrianism), Ahura Mazda and the principle of evil, Angra Mainyu, are the "twin" offspring of Zurvan, 'Time'. No trace of Zurvanism exists after the 10th century.

Today, the Parsis of India largely accept the 19th century interpretation that Angra Mainyu is the 'Destructive Emanation' of Ahura Mazda. Instead of struggling against Mazda himself, Angra Mainyu battles Spenta Mainyu, Mazda's 'Creative Emanation.'

Judaism

In Judaism there is no concept of a devil like in mainstream Christianity or Islam. In Hebrew, the biblical word ha-satan means the adversary or the obstacle, or even "the prosecutor" (recognizing that God is viewed as the ultimate Judge).

In the book of Job (Iyov), ha-satan is the title, not the proper name, of an angel submitted to God; he is the divine court's chief prosecutor. In Judaism ha-satan does not make evil, rather points out to God the evil inclinations and actions of humankind. In essence ha-satan has no power unless humans do evil things. After God points out Job's piety, ha-satan asks for permission to test the faith of Job. The righteous man is afflicted with loss of family, property, and later, health, but he still stays faithful to God. At the conclusion of this book God appears as a whirlwind, explaining to all that divine justice is inscrutable. In the epilogue Job's possessions are restored and he has a second family to "replace" the one that died.

There is no evidence in Torah, or in the books of the Prophets and other writings, to suggest that God created one being as the source of evil. The Hebrew word used for evil is usually translated as 'calamity', 'disaster' or 'chaos'. In fact, the Book of Isaiah, Job, Ecclesiastes, and Deuteronomy all have passages in which God is credited for creating both the good and the evil of this world.

Christianity
In mainstream Christianity the Devil is also known as Satan and sometimes as Lucifer, although most scholars recognize the reference in Isaiah 14:12 to Lucifer, or the Morning Star, to be a reference to the Babylonian king (see, for example, the entries in Nave's Topical Bible, the Holman Bible Dictionary and the Adam Clarke Commentary). Some consider the Devil to be an angel who rebelled against God, and has been condemned to the Lake of Fire, while other Christians (for example, Christadelphians) consider the devil in the Bible to refer figuratively to human sin and temptation and to any human system in opposition to God. In the Bible, the devil is identified with the serpent in the Garden of Eden, the Accuser of Job, the tempter of the Gospels, and the dragon in the Book of Revelation. He is described as hating all humanity, or more accurately creation, spreading lies and deceit around the world

Islam
In Islam the Devil is referred to as Iblis (Arabic: Shaitan) (a word referring to evil devil-like beings). According to the Qur'an, God (called Allah in Arabic) created the Satan out of "smokeless fire", while He created man out of clay. The primary characteristic of the Devil, besides hubris, is that he has no power other than the power to cast evil suggestions into the heart of women and men.

According to the verses of the Qur’an, the Devil's mission until the Qiyamah or Resurrection Day (yaum-ul-qiyama) is to deceive Adam's children (mankind). After that, he will be put into the fires of Hell along with those whom he has deceived. The Devil is also referred to as one of the jinns, as they are all created from the smokeless fires. The Qur'an does not depict Shaitan (English: Satan) as the enemy of God, for God is supreme over all his creations and Iblis is just one of his creations. All good is from God Himself and only He can save humanity from the evils of his universe and his creations. All bad deeds are done by our choice. Satan's single enemy is humanity. He intends to discourage humans from obeying God. Thus, humankind is warned to struggle (jihad) against the mischiefs of the Satan and temptations he puts them in. The ones who succeed in this are rewarded with Paradise ("jannath ul firdaus"), attainable only by righteous conduct.

According to Muslim theology, He was expelled from the grace of God when he disobeyed God by choosing not to pay homage to Adam, the father of all mankind. He claimed to be superior to Adam, on the grounds that man was created of earth unlike himself. As for the angels, they prostrated before Adam to show their homage and obedience to God. However, Iblis, adamant in his view that man is inferior, and unlike angels was given the ability to choose, made a choice of not obeying God. This caused him to be expelled by God, a fact that Iblis blamed on humanity. Initially, the Devil was successful in deceiving Adam, but once his intentions became clear, Adam and Eve repented to God and were freed from their misdeeds and forgiven. God gave them a strong warning about Iblis and the fires of Hell and asked them and their children (humankind) to stay away from the deceptions of their senses caused by the Devil.

Bahá'í Faith
In the Bahá'í Writings, "devil" or "satanic" can have a number of meanings. Sometimes it is used to refer to the Bahá'í interpretation of Satan. Other times it refers to people who are ruled by their own lower nature. In this sense, certain evil people are considered to be devils incarnate, not in the sense of being ruled by an external evil force, but by their own selfish desires. The Báb referred to His persecutors as "the followers of the devil". Demonic possession mentioned in the Bible is considered to be another example of individuals who are ruled by their own lower natures. Shoghi Effendi wrote:

"Regarding your question relative to the condition of those people who are described in the Gospel as being possessed of devils; this should be interpreted figuratively; devil or Satan is symbolic of evil and dark forces yielding to temptation."

In the context of the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness, the devil is interpreted as the human nature of Jesus. His human nature showed Him what He could attain with His great powers, if He were to follow the ways of the world. However, the Holy Spirit within Christ refused to submit to the lower nature, choosing to do the Will of God instead.

The Bahá'í Faith teaches that Satan is also a metaphor for the "insistent self" or "lower self" which is a self-serving inclination within each individual. This tendency is often referred to in the Bahá'í Writings as "the Evil One". Bahá'u'lláh wrote:

"Watch over yourselves, for the Evil One is lying in wait, ready to entrap you. Gird yourselves against his wicked devices, and, led by the light of the name of the All-Seeing God, make your escape from the darkness that surroundeth you."

"This lower nature in man is symbolized as Satan - the evil ego within us, not an evil personality outside."

Syncreto-Paganism
In Neopagan religions that have assimilated aspects of Abrahamic religions into their own pantheons, Satan, Lucifer, and Beelzebub are often seen as distinct and separate beings who perform necessary cosmic functions.[citation needed] In Stregheria, the Lucifer/Satan connection is upheld just as in mainstream Christianity. The Streghe see Lucifer (the name "Satan" is never used in Stregheria) as a kind and philanthropic deity who chose to disobey the God of the Christians by appearing in the form of the serpent to offer knowledge of good and evil to humans (presumably via the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, as this is an allusion to the book of Genesis) in order to expose the Abrahamic God for the evil being he truly was. Stregheria's classical influence is apparent here, as in Greek mythology the serpent was seen as a symbol of wisdom.[

Neopaganism
Christian tradition has frequently identified pagan religions and witchcraft with the influence of Satan. In the Middle Ages, the Church accused alleged witches of consorting and conspiring with Satan. Several modern conservative Christian writers, such as Jack Chick and James Dobson, have depicted today's neopagan and witchcraft religions as explicitly Satanic.

In fact few neopagan traditions recognize Satan or the Devil per se. However, many neopagan groups worship some sort of Horned God, for example as a consort of the Great Goddess in Wicca. These gods usually reflect mythological figures such as Cernunnos or Pan, and any similarity they may have to the Christian Devil seems to date back only to the 19th century, when a Christian reaction to Pan's growing importance in literature and art resulted in his image being translated to that of the Devil

New Age movement
Participants in the New Age movement have widely varied views about Satan, the Devil, and so forth. In some forms of Esoteric Christianity Satan remains as a being of evil, or at least a metaphor for sin and materialism, but the most widespread tendency is to deny his existence altogether. Lucifer, on the other hand, in the original Roman sense of "light-bringer", occasionally appears in the literature of certain groups as a metaphorical figure quite distinct from Satan, and without any implications of evil. For example, Theosophy founder Madame Blavatsky named her journal Lucifer since she intended it to be a "bringer of light". Many New Age schools of thought follow a nondualistic philosophy that does not recognise a primal force for evil. Even when a dualistic model is followed, this is more often akin to the Chinese system of yin and yang, in which good and evil are explicitly not a complementary duality. Schools of thought that do stress a spiritual war between good and evil or light and darkness include the philosophy of Rudolf Steiner, Agni Yoga, and the Church Universal and Triumphant.

Devil in world folklore
In the Western Christian tradition, the Devil has entered popular folklore, particularly in his role as a trickster figure. As such, he is found as a character in a wide number of traditional folktales and legends from Ireland, Newfoundland, Italy and the United Kingdom, where he often attempts to trick or outwit other characters. In some of these tales, the Devil is portrayed as more of a folk villain than as the personification of evil. The Devil also features prominently in a number of hagiographical tales, or tales of the saints such as the popular tale of St. Dunstan, many of which may fall outside the authorized religious canon. The Devil is also a recurring feature in tales explaining the etymology of geographical names, lending his name to natural formations such as The Devil's Chimney.

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