And when We said to the angels, “Prostrate yourselves to Adam; so they prostrated themselves, except Iblīs, who refused and disdained; and so he became one of the disbelievers.”
The prostration was not a form of worship (ʿibāda) to [Adam], in and of himself, but rather a way of conforming (muwāfaqa) to [God's] (سبحانه) command. It was as if their prostration to Adam was worship of God because it was by His command. It was a way of showing respect to Adam because He commanded them to, in order to honor his affair. So it is as if that was a kind of submission (khuḌūʿ) to [Adam], but one that should not be called worship because the true meaning of worship is the utmost submission (nihāyat al-khuḌūʿ) and that is not appropriate toward anything but [God] (سبحانه).
It is said that He explained that His (سبحانه) sanctity is through His own majesty (bi-jalālihi), not through their acts (lā bi-af ʿālihi), even though the adoption of the beautifying [acts] of their sanctification and glorification is credited to them. He who is exalted (yajillu) is the One who has exalted Himself (ajallahu) by His own exaltation (ijlālihi), not by their acts (lā bi-af ʿālihi), and the One who is mighty (yaʿizzu) is the One whose power has been made mighty (aʿazzahu) by His own might (iʿzāzihi). His power is exalted beyond the exaltation of created beings (jalla ʿan ijlāl al-khalq qudruhu) and His mention is magnified beyond the magnification of cre- ated beings (ʿazza ʿan iʿzāz al-khalq dhikruhu).
His words, So they prostrated themselves, except Iblīs [means Iblīs] refused in his heart (qalb) and disdained to prostrate with his self (nafs). He was among [those who] disbelieved in [God's] prior determination (ḥukm) and knowledge (ʿilm). In the time period in which Iblīs was emboldened by his obedience, he used to strut about in the vest of his conformity [to God's command and decree]. [The angels] acknowledged his superior rank and believed in the worthiness of his distinction. His affair became, as [the poet] said:
The lamp of communion was shining between us.
A wind of separation blew on it and it was extinguished.
[Iblīs] used to consider himself deserving of the claim to superiority (istījāb al-khayriyya) and worthy of nearness and special status (istiḥqāq al-takhṣīṣ wa-l-khuṣūṣiyya).
He passed the night well and the world was peaceful.
He woke up one day
and times had changed.
No prior obedience benefited him, no previous reply freed him, no intercession of any intercessor reached him, and no prior solicitude held him fast. When fate prevails over someone, toil does not benefit (wa-man ghalabahu al-qaḌāÌ lā yanfaʿahu al-ʿanāÌ). What originated from Adam was a human error (hafwatun bashariyya) so he experienced a singular mercy (raḥmatun aḥadiyya). But Iblīs experienced eternal misery (shaqwatun azaliyya) and succumbed to fate and destiny (qismatun wa-qaḌiyya). His hope was lost and his toil was in vain (khāba rajāÌuhu wa-Ḍalla ʿanāÌuhu).