The Muslim Belief in Angels
“Who believe in the Unseen, are steadfast in prayer, and spend out of what We have provided for them;”
Angels in Islam:
The world of angels is that miraculous world all mankind, Muslims and non-Muslims, receive with a deep feeling of dazzle and wonder. It is that amazing world that induces our imagination and inspires poets and writers over the ages. Muslims’ thoughts about angels should be committed to what Allah (SWT) and His Messenger (PBUH) informed us about the world of angels. In Islam, it is wrongful to attribute false features to angels such as describing them of being females or children.
Angels in Islam are luminous servants of Allah (SWT) that are highly purified and impeccable. According to Islamic knowledge, angels were created from light. No one knows their huge number except the Creator (SWT), and they are not classified as masculine or feminine. They do not eat, drink or reproduced like mankind and Jinn. Angels have no lower desires and they have no free will to choose between right or wrong deeds such as humans or Jinn; they were created mainly to worship Allah (SWT) continuously and comply with His commands with no feelings of tiresome or boredom.
Angels in Quran and Hadith (Prophetic tradition)
Angels in Quran are described of having wings; some of them have two wings, others have three or four.
We are informed in Quran and Hadith literature (Prophet Muhammad’s tradition) that angels can take the shape of humans. Quran tells us that angels visited Prophet Ibrahim and Prophet Lot in shape of humans, and Prophet Ibrahim served food to them, but when he noticed that they didn’t eat, he felt worried. Then they revealed themselves to him and gave him glad tidings of giving birth to his son Ismail.
There are also indicators in Quran that angels are described of surpassing beauty. We all know the story of Joseph (Yusuf) in Quran and how he was described of having the beauty and glory of a blessed angel.
Characteristics of Angels in Islam
Angels in Islam are of purified servants of Allah, and since they were created out of light, their characteristics are of luminous nature. According to Qur’an and Hadith literature, they are described of:
– being honorable, pious and just
– being permanent obedient to Allah (SWT)
– having modesty (hayyaa)
– being merciful for the believers and stern and severe for the disbelievers.
What do angels do?
Since they are luminous and purified creatures, created from light, the angels are the most qualified to carry out all divine tasks. Angels in Islam are not of equal rank; some are considered as archangels who have special tasks, and there are other groups of angels who have different tasks related to divine issues and dealing with mankind.
Here are some examples of the kind of work Angels do:
– There are angels who are carrying the Throne of Allah (SWT). Others are devoted to worshipping the Creator and celebrating His praise continuously.
– Mountains, thunder, rain, winds, seas and embryos in uteruses have responsible angels.
– There are angels for guarding human beings and for distributing sustenance on earth.
– All believers on earth have angels who pray for their forgiveness and mercy.
– Five thousand angels were ordered by Allah to fight alongside with the believers in the battle of Badr. Others could destroy the village of Prophet Lot when people there rejected faith and committed unprecedented sin.
– It was angels who talked to Mariam (Mary) and gave her glad tiding of conceiving Jesus.
– Each human being has a pair of angels who are recording all deeds and sayings.
-There are angels who will receive and welcome the dwellers of Paradise, and other stern and severe angels for punishing those of Hellfire.
List of Angels’ names mentioned in Quran and Hadith
– Angel Jibril (Gabriel) is the most famous angel in Islam. He is the archangel responsible for revealing the words of Allah to all Messengers and Prophets. He revealed Quran to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), blew into Mary to conceive Jesus and carried Salam from Allah to Khadija.
– Mikail is the angel who provides nourishments for all creatures on earth.
– Israfil (Rafael) is the angel who will blow the horn to announce the coming of Qiyamah (Judgment Day).
– Ridwan is the keeper of the Paradise.
– Maalik is the head of the angels who govern the Hellfire.
Although angels are luminous creatures, created out of light, they couldn’t say (the names of all things) when Allah (SWT) asked them, while Adam could! Why? Because Allah taught Adam what He (SWT) did not teach angels. Allah (SWT) gave Adam intellectual ability to learn and gain knowledge and made him distinguished by this intellect. While angels can only do good deeds and do not have the choice to disobey, Adam had free will to choose between good and evil. So Adam is an intellectual and moral creature whom Allah (SWT) blew into him from His Spirit, and maybe that is why Allah (swt) asked angels to prostrate themselves to Adam!