Invite (all) to the way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious: for thy Lord knoweth, best who have strayed from His Path, and who receive guidance. (Qur'an 16:125)
Question The Qur'an in several places says that Iblis was an angel, but in Surah Kahf it says that Iblis was a Jinn. Isn't this a contradiction in the Qur'an?
Answer1. Incidence of Iblis and Angels mentioned in the Qur'anThe story of Adam and Iblis is mentioned in the Qur'an in various places in which Allah (swt) says, "We said to the angels bow down to Adam: and they bowed down: not so Iblis".
This is mentioned in:
Surah Al Baqarah chapter 2 verse 43
Surah Al Araf chapter 7 verse 17
Surah Al Hijr chapter 15 verses 28-31
Surah Al Isra chapter 17 verse 61
Surah Ta Ha chapter 20 verse 116
Surah Sad chapter 38 verses 71-74
But in Surah Al Kahf chapter 18 verse 50 the Qur'an says:
"Behold! We said to the angels, "Bow down to Adam." they bowed down except Iblis He was one of the Jinns."
2. Arabic Rule Of Tagleeb
The English translation of the first part of the verse - We said to the angels bow down to Adam: they bowed down exceptIblis, gives us the impression that Iblis was an angel. The Qur'an was revealed in Arabic. In Arabic grammar there is a rule known as Tagleeb, according to which, if the majority is addressed, even the minority is included. If for example, I address a class containing 100 students of whom 99 are boys and one is a girl, and if I say in Arabic that the boys should stand up, it includes the girl as well. I need not mention her seperately.
Similarly in the Qur'an, when Allah addressed the angels, even Iblis was present, but it is not required that he be mentioned separately. Therefore according to that sentence Iblis may be an angel or may not be an angel, but we come to know from Surah Al Kahf chapter 18 verse 50 that Iblis was a Jinn. No where does the Qur'an say Iblis was an angel. Therefore there is no contradiction in the Qur'an.
3. Jinns have free will and can disobey Allah
Secondly, Jinns have a free will and may or may not obey Allah, but angels have no free will and always obey Allah. Therefore the question of an angel disobeying Allah does not arise. This further supplements that Iblis was a Jinn and not an angel.