The Belief in Angels
by Abu Al-Hassan in Al Jumuah 8/2
Angels are beings created from light.
A’isha (ra) narrated that the Prophet (saws) said:
“Angels were created from light, Jinn were created from smokeless fire, and Adam was created from that which has been described to you (in the Qur’an and Sunnah)…”
The belief in Angels (al-Mala’kah) is the second article of faith in Islam. Allah says:
“The Messenger believes in what has been revealed to him from his Lord, and so do the believers. All believe in Allah, His Angels and His Messengers.”
It is obligatory, and infact an essential part of faith to respect all of the Angels. Therefore, it is unthinkable for Muslims to have any animosity towards any of the Angels, let alone cursing them. Any such action is considered an act of Kaffir (disbelief).
Some Jews once came to the Prophet (saws) and told him that they had five questions for him. If He could answer the questions satisfactorily, they would be his followers.
The Prophet (saws) answered the first four to their satisfaction, and then they asked him the final question; “There is not any Prophet, except that he has an angel assigned to him as a companion, who brings him news from Allah. So tell us who is your companion ?” The Prophet (saws) replied, “Jibreel, (as).” They said, “That is the one who brings down war, fighting and punishment – our enemy. If only you had said Mika’el, who brings down mercy, rain and vegetation, it would have been that we follow you!” Then Allah revealed the reply:
“Say: Who is an enemy to Jibreel? For, it is he who brought it (this Qur’an) down to your hearts, by Allah’s permission, confirming that which was before it, and as a guidance and a mercy to the believers. Whoever is an enemy to Allah, and to His Angels, and to His Messengers, and (in particular to) Jibreel and Mika’el, then let him know that Allah is an enemy to the disbeliever.”
(Qur’an :Al Baqarah 2:97-98)
Related by Ahmad, Al-Timidhi and Al-Nasa’i
The Nature of Angels
Angels are beings created from light.
A’shah (ra) narrated that the Prophet (saws) said:
“Angels were created from light, jinn were created from smokeless fire, and Adam was created from that which has been described to you (in the Qur’an and Sunnah).”
They do not have desires of their own, neither do they eat or drink. They are honoured servants of Allah, and never disobey Him.
They are perpetually in service, in prostration, in a standing posture, or through various other forms of worship.
“Those who are before him are not scornful of worshipping Him, nor do they tire or get bored. They glorify Him night and Day: they do not halt.”
“They are honoured servants, who do not precede Him in speech, and they act according to His command. He knows what is ahead of them, and they do not intercede, except for those whom He approves.”
Angels are also described as having wings:
“Praise be to Allah, the Originator of the Heavens and the Earth, the creator of angels having wings – two, three and four.”
However, we should not try to guess the nature or form of these wings. Certainly, there is no basis in Islam, for the corrupt notion, prevalent in the west, that angels are like beautiful little girls with a pair of wings on their backs. We should also be careful that our children are not exposed to those books which contain such misleading pictures, so that they don’t grow up with an incorrect concept of angels.
The angels do not have a gender. They do not procreate, Allah has denounced those who regard them as female. Indeed to do so is the way of the disbelievers.
“Those who do not believe in the Hereafter, surely name the angels with female names.”
The pagan Arabs, for example, called the angels; daughters of Allah, despite the fact that they themselves were disdainful of female offspring, and were so ashamed of them that they were inclined to bury their daughters alive. Allah (swt) thus condemns these ignorant beliefs and practices:
“Or has He (Allah) taken, out of that which He created, daughters, and honoured you with sons ? And, when one of them receives tidings of that which He sets up as a likeness to Allah Most Gracious (i.e. of a girl) his face becomes dark and gloomy and fill of grief….And they consider the angels, who are worshippers of Allah, to be females. Did they witness their creation ? Their testimony shall be recorded, and they will be asked.”
Can Angels be Seen??
Prophets can see angels in their natural form. Al-Bukhari recorded that A’ishah (ra) narrated that the Prophet (saws) saw the Angel Jibreel (as) twice in his natural form. However, ordinary people (i.e. non-Prophets) cannot see them unless they (angels) take on a visible form. Angels can indeed take a material form, such as that of handsome man.
An example of this is found in the Qur’an where Allah sent angels to give Prophet Ibrahim (as) glad tidings of a son, and then to assist the Prophet Lut (as). Lut’s (as) people, being homosexuals, lusted after these angels, but Allah destroyed the depraved sinners.
“And verily, there came our Messengers to Ibrahim with glad tidings. They said ‘salaam’ (i.e. greetings of peace). He answered, “salaam…”
Qur’an: Hud 11:69-83
Also, in the Qur’an, there is the incident in which the angel Jibreel (as) came to Maryam the mother of Isa (as) to inform her that she would miraculously give birth to Isa (as).
“Then we sent to her our Spirit (angel Jibreel) and he appeared before her in the form of a man in all respects…”
Lastly there is the famous “Hadith Jibreel” related by Muslim, in which angel Jibreel came to the Prophet (saws) in the form of a man, and asked him about Islam, Iman and Ihsan. This was done in public view, and its purpose was to teach the people about their religion.
The Duties of Angels
Angels have various duties, with each having a well defined role.
The Qur’an says:
“And there is not any among us, except that has a known position. And we are indeed the ones who glorify Allah.”
Angels thus teach us the benefits of specialization. So, in the Islamic society, some members must specialize in the Qur’an and its sciences, others in medicine, still others in agriculture and so on and so forth, so that the Muslim community becomes efficient and well balanced. Similarly, in the home, the responsibilities are divided. While the man is responsible primarily for supporting the family financially, the woman has an important role in the upbringing of the children, although she is by no means confined to only this task.
Only Allah knows all the details and roles of all the angels:
“…And none know the hosts of your Lord except He…”
Nevertheless, He has told us about some of these angels through the Qur’an and the Sunnah.
The Names and Roles of Some Angels
Only a few angels are mentioned in the Qur’an and the Sunnah, Others are mentioned either by specific names or by role or their general nature of serving and worshipping Allah.
Among those mentioned are:
** Jibreel – This is the most distinguished of the angels, and is entrusted with carrying revelation to the Prophets. This includes bringing the Qur’an to Prophet Muhammed (saws), which is referred to in the following:
“And it is surely the revelation of the Lord of the worlds. The trusted Spirit has brought it down to your heart, in order that you might be one of the warners, in clear Arabic speech.”
Angel Jibreel (as) is also called ‘the Holy Spirit’, as mentioned in the Qur’an:
“And we gave Isa, son of Maryam, clear proofs, and supported him with Ruh-al-Qudus (holy spirit ie. Jibreel).”
** Mika’el – The one entrusted with the sustenance of creatures, and is also one of the most prominent angels.
** The Recorders – These are two angels who accompany every human being and record his deeds. One of them stays on the right side and he records only good deeds. The other stays on the left side and records only bad deeds.
The one on the right (the generous one – He records good deeds and is so named because each good deed is rewarded ten times over or even more.
“And indeed, there are over you scribes, generous and recording. They know what you do.”
These angels record our deeds, words, and thoughts. Allah says regarding mankind:
“He utters not any word except that there is with him an observer, ready.”
The system of recording of deeds is detailed in Hadith Qudsi. Narrated by Abdullah ibn Abbas in which he narrates from his Lord:
“Indeed, Allah has defined the good and the evil deeds, and then explained them. So, whoever had the thought to do a good deed, but did not do it, Allah writes it for him as a complete good deed, while if he actually did it. Allah writes it for him as ten good deeds, or up to seven hundred fold, or even many times more. And, if he had a thought to do an evil deed, but dispelled the thought and did not do it. Allah writes it for him as a complete good deed, while if he entertained the thought and acted on it, Allah writes it as a single evil deed.”
(Bukhari and Muslim)
The one on the left – The recorder of evil deeds: He is simply called the recorder, because each evil deed counts as only one act.
** The Gaurdians – They are angels who protect us from whatever evil Allah wills to save us from.
“For each (person) there are angels in succession in front of him and behind him, who guard him by Allah’s command.”
The succession of angels referred to is clarified in a Hadith narrated by Al-Bukhari and Muslim, which tells us that the angels of the day and the angels of the night succeed one another, meaning that they perform their duties in shifts. At the time of Fajr (dawn) and Asr prayers, both the angels of the night and the angels of the day are present. Then, the angels of the night ascend, and their Lord asks them, although he is the All-Knowing. “How did you leave my servants ?” They say, “We came to them while they were praying, and when we left while they were praying,.” The Fajr prayer, then, is of special blessing, and we should take great care to perform it on time, and to recite long portions of the Qur’an for:
“Indeed, the recitation of Fajr is witnessed”
ie. The angels of the night and day witness it.
The protecting angels only leave us when we have the call of nature and when we are have sexual relations with our spouses, and so we should recite the appropriate supplications from the Sunnah prior to performing these acts.
Also, it must be noted that angels do not enter a house in which there is a dog or pictures (of animals and Humans). Related by Bukhari and Muslim.
** The Angel of Death – He is entrusted with taking the souls of all creatures in the universe.
“Say: The Angel of Death, who is set over you, will take your souls, then you shall be brought to your lord.”
There are angels with him who torture the wrongdoers at the time of death:
“If only you could see, when the angels take the souls of those who disbelieve, the angels are beating their faces and their backs.”
(Qur’an l 8:50)
** Munkar and Nakeer – They are the two angels in charge of questioning people in their graves about their faith.
** Ridwan and Malik – They watch over Heaven and Hell. The custodian of Heaven is called Ridwan, while that of Hell is named Malik. Hell has nineteen angels who watch over it.
“Over it (Hell) are nineteen (angels)”
There are angels who welcome the believers into heaven, greeting them with peace:
“And angels shall enter unto them from every gate saying: “salaam alaykum” (peace be upon you for that you persevered in patience! Excellent indeed is the final home.”
Eight angels will carry the Arsh, which is Allah’s greatest creation, on the Day of Judgment:
“And the angels will be on its sides, and eight angels will that Day, bear the throne of your Lord above them.”