This discourse requires a few introductions and reminders before proceeding to the subject matter.
A] In this existence God has ordained two fundamental laws related to His divine decrees:
1) Divine decrees that can never be overturned
2) Divine decrees that can be overruled (with prayer and supplication)
Some examples of general decrees that can never be overturned in this existence, are death, day of judgment and the like. More specifically, the decrees related to Iblis and his fight to turn humanity away from God, can be summarized as: his damnation to the end of days; man’s continuous struggle against him; the fact that he has no power over the believers; and Iblis’s control over the ones that obey and follow his power of suggestion.
B] We’ve established in previous posts that Adam’s destiny was to live on Earth, and not remain in the Garden. His destiny was to see and understand his reality (the Names) and struggle on Earth while striving for Human Perfection. This struggle and test is not the goal in itself as some believe, but the means to his goal. He has to share this world with the ones that reject this divine system, and hence we can safely assume that this world is temporal and finite. Man will struggle in it through a series of tests and trials, with a final judgment awaiting him to separate the good from the evil, the moral from the immoral, the principled from the non-principled.
The Covenant (Meethaq)
Every being and creation (by its essence and constituting elements, not by the whole) on this Earth must have a pre-historic eternal existence. This is a complex yet very interesting subject, but I need to allude to it here in order to support the argument for the Covenant (Meethaq). One has to understand that the advent of Islam is not rooted in a single historical event when God revealed His message to His Prophets and Messengers – instead all the key events from the creation of Adam, take place outside history, in pre-eternity in a different hierarchy of existence. After which a "descent" to this world takes place where these timeless events pass into the realm of cause, effect, and chronological, linear time.**
وَإِنْ مِنْ شَيْءٍ إِلَّا عِنْدَنَا خَزَائِنُهُ وَمَا نُنَزِّلُهُ إِلَّا بِقَدَرٍ مَعْلُومٍ
And there is not a thing but with Us are the stores thereof. And we send it not down save in appointed measure. [Qur’an 15:21]
A general rule exists in the Holy Qur’an that deals with the metaphysical nature and capacity with which Man is created. This rule states that within Man lies a great capacity for knowledge, that neither the heavens nor earth, and probably not even the Angels could comprehend or bear the weight of. And this capacity, and its external manifestation (exemplified by the concept of Tawheed or Oneness of God), has to be in line with the covenant that Man testified to in his pre-historic existence.
وَلَقَدْ عَهِدْنَا إِلَى آدَمَ مِن قَبْلُ فَنَسِيَ وَلَمْ نَجِدْ لَهُ عَزْمًا
And verily We made a covenant of old with Adam, but he forgot, and We found no constancy in him. [Qur’an 20:115]
وَإِذْ أَخَذَ رَبُّكَ مِن بَنِي آدَمَ مِن ظُهُورِهِمْ ذُرِّيَّتَهُمْ وَأَشْهَدَهُمْ عَلَى أَنفُسِهِمْ أَلَسْتَ بِرَبِّكُمْ قَالُواْ بَلَى شَهِدْنَا أَن تَقُولُواْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ إِنَّا كُنَّا عَنْ هَذَا غَافِلِينَ
And (remember) when thy Lord brought forth from the Children of Adam, from their reins, their seed, and made them testify of themselves, (saying): Am I not your Lord? They said: Yea, verily. We testify. (That was) lest ye should say at the Day of Resurrection: Lo! of this we were unaware; [Qur’an 7:172]
The above verse implies that, Man in essence of his soul is able to see the reflection of his total servitude and complete submission to his One Lord, and is bearing witness and testifying to this reality. A good example given by Martyr Murtadha Mutahari (may Allah be pleased with his soul), who puts a nice twist to the famous phrase: ‘The one who knows himself, knows his Lord’. The example he gives is one of a mirror, which if nothing is placed in front of it, there will be no reflection of anything. But once an object is placed in front of it, that object is seen within itself, in the form of a reflection. Therefore, the reality of this mirror is that in its essence it is nothing, and ‘owns’ nothing, but is only able to reflect something else’s reality within itself. And in the realm of cause and effect, it is incumbent the cause remains with the effect, just as the actor remains in presence of the action. Therefore, it is inconceivable that the Creator of the universe be absent from his most precious creation and viceregent on Earth. It is us who distance ourselves from Him through distractions of this world and forgetfulness, and hence should look deep within ourselves for that existential knowledge of Divine Unity. And it is with this knowledge and innate human nature that we are able to differentiate between good and evil, truth and falsehood, reality and imagination. We need to awaken this bond that exists between us and God, and tap into the potentials that lie dormant while we’re busy collecting wealth and fame; potentials that give us the honourable title of God’s representatives on Earth.
Finally, it becomes evident that the fundamental purpose of all Prophets is to REMIND us of this reality. The Qur’an also refers to itself as "a reminder", as a call towards an awakened, aware consciousness. The Qur’an constantly urges mankind to "remember" – to become aware of their true nature through this remembrance, and to awaken that nature. A reminder only applies to something already inherent in our selves (in arabic it’s called fitrah, or innate disposition). A person in constant remembrance of this covenant, while applying the practical teachings of the prophets, is living the true paradise in this world. And the opposite is true; one forgetful and too self-involved, is experiencing real hell. This is where the true purpose of Iblis becomes clear, which is not to prevent us from reaching paradise of the afterlife, but to take us out of the present bliss and heaven. The more we attach ourselves to this world and its temporal affairs, the further we drift from the hereafter and closeness to Allah (swt), since it is impossible to combine the two in one heart.
** This is the ‘World of Particles’, as it is known in Islamic Metaphysics, and is not preceding this world we live in in the historic sense, but one should think of it in the realm of cause and effect, with it being a precedence as a cause, as opposed to a point in time, since the cause does not seize to exist once the effect has come in to place.