Who is Satan?
Satan is a creature from the world of the Jinn. The Jinn are a creation of God made from fire. They are separate and different from both the Angels and mankind; however, like mankind, they possess the power of reason and can choose between good and evil. The Jinn existed before the creation of Adam and Satan was the most righteous among them, so much so that he was elevated to a high position amongst the Angels.
“The Angels prostrated themselves all of them together. Except Satan, he refused to be among the prostrators. God said: ‘O Satan! What is your reason for not being among the prostrators? ‘Satan said: ‘I am not the one to prostrate myself to a human being, whom You created from sounding clay of altered black smooth mud.’ God said: ‘Then get out from Here for verily you are an outcast or cursed one. Verily the curse shall be upon you till the Day of Resurrection.’” (Quran 15:30-35)
The Role of Satan
Satan was there in the Paradise of Adam and Eve and his vow was to misguide and deceive them and their descendents. Satan said: “…surely I will sit in wait against them (human beings) on Your Straight Path. Then I will come to them from before them and behind them, from their right and from their left…” (Quran 7:16-17)
Satan did not say to Adam and Eve “go eat from that tree” nor did he out rightly tell them to disobey God. He whispered into their hearts and planted disquieting thoughts and desires. Satan said to Adam and Eve, “...Your Lord did not forbid you this tree save that you should become Angels or become of the immortals.” (Quran 7:20)
Their minds became filled with thoughts of the tree, and one day they decided to eat from it. Adam and Eve behaved as all human beings do; they became preoccupied with their own thoughts and the whisperings of Satan and they forgot the warning from God.
It is at this point that the Jewish and Christian traditions differ greatly from Islam. At no point do the words of God – the Quran, or the traditions and sayings of Prophet Muhammad - indicate that Satan came to Adam and Eve in the form of a snake or serpent.
Islam in no way indicates that Eve was the weaker of the two, or that she tempted Adam to disobey God. Eating the fruit of the tree was a mistake committed by both Adam and Eve. They bear equal responsibility. and they asked God for forgiveness.