My schedule for late November of this year in Australia is beginning to firm up. I’ll have more details eventually, but here are some solid dates:
If you’re intending to be in Melbourne or Sydney on one or more of the dates above, I would be happy to meet you.
At several locations throughout its pages, the Qur’an tells a (to Christians and Jews) somewhat unfamiliar story of the fall of Satan, who is referred to as Iblis (pronounced roughly as ih-BLEESE), a name that is plainly derived from the Greek diabolos (from which English has taken not only the adjective diabolical but, in a still more modified form, the noun devil).
In the Qur’an, Satan is not an angel — let alone a pre-existent sibling of humanity, as in the Latter-day Saint view of Lucifer (and of angels more generally) — but one of the jinn. (The singular of the collective noun jinn is jinni, or, in its more familiar English spelling, genie.) The jinn are beings ranked between humans, who are made of dust or mud or clay, and the realm of the divine that includes angels. Unlike angels, who seem simply to be almost impersonal agents of God, the jinn have volition, and some of them are obedient to God while some of them are rebellious.
Here is one of the Qur’an’s passages on the fall of Satan:
“We established you [people] on the earth and provided you with a means of livelihood there—small thanks you give! We created you, We gave you shape, and then We said to the angels, ‘Bow down before Adam,’ and they did. But not Iblis: he was not one of those who bowed down. God said, ‘What prevented you from bowing down as I commanded you?’ and he said, ‘I am better than him: You created me from fire and him from clay.’ God said, ‘Get down from here! This is no place for your arrogance. Get out! You are contemptible!’ but Iblis said, ‘Give me respite until the Day people are raised from the dead,’ and God replied, ‘You have respite.’ And then Iblis said, ‘Because You have put me in the wrong, I will lie in wait for them all on Your straight path: I will come at them—from their front and their back, from their right and their left—and You will find that most of them are ungrateful. God said, ‘Get out! You are disgraced and banished! I swear I shall fill Hell with you and all who follow you!’” (7:10-18)
As in the more familiar story, arrogance or pride plays a central role in Lucifer’s fall.
What does the story of Lucifer’s fall have to do with my visit Down Under, to Australia? Not a whole lot. For some of my weirder critics, though, who like to believe that I’m in a perpetual state of incandescent rage, this passage, from Revelation 12:12, may seem apropos:
“Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.”
I’m always trying to be helpful, so I offer it to them at no charge.