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Shayṭān (Arabic: شيطان, plural: شياطين shayāṭīn) is a malevolent creature in Islamic theology and mythology. They are usually assigned to the category of jinn (spiritual entities). Apart from its generic designation, used with the definite article Al-, Shaitan refers to the head of shayateen, known as Iblis.
The term Shaytan (Arabic: شَيْطَان) originates from the Hebrew שָׂטָן (Sātān), source of the English Satan. However Arabic etymology relates Shaytan to the root sh-t-n (distant or one who goes astray). As an adjective, it can apply to any other being. The term "Shaytan" referring to this specific creature, may either be translated as "demon" or as "devil". In Pre Islamic Arabia this term was used to designate an evil jinni. With the emergence of Islam the meaning of 'Shayatin' moved closer to the Christian concept of demons.
Although Islam puts shayateen and jinn together when it comes to the issue of invisibility, it generally distinguishes between those two as different beings. Both are said to be created from fire. Zakariya al-Qazwini asserts, the shayateen are created from the smoke of fire and the jinn from its blaze.
While the latter are thought to resemble humans in various ways, like the need of eating, drinking, sleeping, procreating, and although their lifespan accordingly exceeds those of humans over centuries, they finally die, while the former do not die before the Day of Resurrection. The jinn are also either male or female, while the shayatin are generally hermaphrodite, unable to marry, and reproduce by laying eggs. Furthermore, the jinn and shayateen have different origins in Islamic mythology. Jinn are Pre-Adamites, which dwelled on earth before mankind, while the shayateen are the descendants of Iblis or fallen angels. Unlike the jinn, shayateen lack free-will; they can not choose between good and evil. A hadith emphasizes the impossibility for shayateen to access salvation in heaven: "One kind of beings will dwell in Paradise, and they are the angels; one kind will dwell in Hell, and they are the shayateen, and another kind will dwell some in Paradise and some in Hell, and those are the jinn and the humans."
Additionally, while jinn possession is a common belief in Middle Eastern folklore, the shayateen do not take control of human bodies, instead taking advantage of humans emotions and inclinations towards sin, whispering to their heart and minds. According to common belief, if someone feels approached by a shaitan, he is recommended to recite a certain Du'a, Audhubasmala, Al-Nas Sura or Al-Falaq Sura therefore, the shaitan vanishes. According to a hadith from Sahih al-Bukhari and Jami` at-Tirmidhi, during Ramadan, the shayateen and rebellious jinn are chained in Jahannam.
Shaitan as adjective
Based on Surah 6:112 there are shayateen among "al-ins" (something in shape) and "al-jinns" (something unseen), 'shayateen' is also an adjective for both evil human and evil jinn. al-Jahiz used "shaitan" only as a moral connotation for rebellious jinn.
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