Satan was set to lose where he thought was strongest. Additionally, but most painfully, he omitted the ground or lower, as well as the above or upper sides of man, where, though, man’s strengths and Satan’s weaknesses are furthermost.
Satan did not mention the lower or ground side of man due to his arrogance and contemptible view of man, but that exactly is the spot and dimension of prostration as a sign of one’s ultimate submission to the Will and Word of God, and of a person’s spiritual growth and accomplishments.
It also signifies a platform from where one rises to and conquers other dimensions of life. Moreover, Satan could not — rather than did not — mention the above or upper side of man because he was not allowed to do so. To rise above especially believing men and women, both conceptually and realistically, is just a wish and fantasy of Satan, never a real thing.
The above vertical direction is left to man to freely and unhindered rise, transcending all the inhibiting levels and dimensions of existence, if he only so wills. If he so decides, the sky is the limit. Nothing stands between him and his trajectory towards the spiritual fulfillment.
If all this shows one thing then it is the indisputable truth that Satan was so wrong in his assessments, strategies and predictions, insofar as genuine servants of God and their fates were concerned.
He wanted the notion of time, but little did he know that believers, though trapped inside its powerful sway and constraints, operate only for the interests of the world of the transcendental as well as eternal meanings and realities, patiently and ardently looking forward to joining it, and using the former merely as a means for achieving the latter.
It is in this sense that believers are allegorically said to be existing at another level. It is Satan, not them, who is entrapped in the finity of the terrestrial concept of time.
As a small digression, in the Quranic chapter Al-‘Asr (Time), the idea of time is closely linked to the idea man and his potential existential loss:
…except for those who have believed and done righteous deeds and advised each other to truth and advised each other to patience.” (103: 3)
It stands to reason that based on the chapter in question, he who allows time to absolutely control and restrain him, is a loser. But he who manages to “control” time and sets himself “free” from its bounds – such as what believers normally do — is only saved.
There are many other verses in the Quran which tend to demystify the notion of time and present it as something relative rather than absolute, as an accident rather than a substance. The same applies to the concept of space as well.
Furthermore, Satan wanted the notion of space, but chose its dimensions where believing men and women are least vulnerable. He left out man’s lower and upper sides not knowing that it is exactly those sides where believers enter and vertically rise through the degrees and stations of the spiritual kingdom, attaining in the process ultimate felicity and spiritual excellence.
The spiritual life therefore is in a state of constant ascent primarily via regular prostrations in prayers. The Prophet is thus reported to have said that the prayer (salah) is the ascension (mi’raj) of a believer.
It is likewise unsurprising that the prayer is the main pillar of the whole body of the religion of Islam, as well as that the culmination of each and every prayer is prostration (sajdah) on the ground.
It was reported, accordingly and most fittingly, that when a man reads in the Quran a prostration verse and then prostrates to God, Satan isolates himself and in despair weeps and exclaims:
“A son of Adam was ordered to prostrate and he did so; I too was ordered to prostrate but refused to do so. Consequently, for the son of Adam is the reward of Paradise and for me the punishment of Hell.”
Without a doubt, just as Satan’s greed, arrogance and flawed judgments were behind his mischievous and rebellious tendencies, his outright ignorance and one-dimensionality, mainly, were behind his faulty and ineffective existential strategies meant for believers. They were no match for the latter’s intellectual and spiritual multidimensional competence.