The Muslim Belief in Angels
Muslim belief in angels Believe in the unseen (Al-Ghaib) is one of the essential principles of Islam. It is also one of the most important indicators of the integrity of doctrine (Aqeeda) and the strength of faith in Islam. Believing in the unseen means to strongly believe in all those things that we never see but Allah (SWT) and His Messenger (PBUH) have told us about either in the Quran or in Hadith. This strong faith in the unseen includes belief in Allah (SWT), belief in Paradise and Hellfire and belief in angels.
“Who believe in the Unseen, are steadfast in prayer, and spend out of what We have provided for them;”
(Al-Baqara, Chapter #2, Verse #3)
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.
“And they make into females angels who themselves serve Allah. Did they witness their creation? Their evidence will be recorded, and they will be called to account!”
Az-Zukhruf, Chapter #43, Verse #19) )
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.
“To Him belong all (creatures) in the heavens and on earth: Even those who are in His (very) Presence are not too proud to serve Him, nor are they (ever) weary (of His service). (20) They celebrate His praises night and day, nor do they ever flag or intermit.”
(Al-Anbiyaa, Chapter #21, Verse #20)
Angels in the Quran and Hadith (Prophetic tradition)
Angels in the Quran are described as having wings; some of them have two wings, others have three or four.
“Praise be to Allah, Who created (out of nothing) the heavens and the earth, Who made the angels, messengers with wings,- two, or three, or four (pairs): He adds to Creation as He pleases: for Allah has power over all things.”
(Faatir, Chapter #35, Verse #1)
We are informed in the 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 the 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 as surpassing beauty. We all know the story of Joseph (Yusuf) in the Quran and how he was described as having the beauty and glory of a blessed angel.
“When she heard of their malicious talk, she sent for them and prepared a banquet for them: she gave each of them a knife: and she said (to Joseph), “Come out before them.” When they saw him, they did extol him, and (in their amazement) cut their hands: they said, “Allah preserve us! no mortal is this! this is none other than a noble angel!” (Yusuf, Chapter #12, Verse #31)
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 honourable, pious and just
- being permanent obedient to Allah (SWT)
- having modesty (hayyaa)
- being merciful for the believers and stern and severe for the disbelievers.
“O ye who believe! save yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is Men and Stones, over which are (appointed) angels stern (and) severe, who flinch not (from executing) the Commands they receive from Allah, but do (precisely) what they are commanded.”
( At-Tahrim, Chapter #66, Verse #6)
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 the 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 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 an 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!
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 do right or wrong like humans or Jinn; they were created mainly to worship Allah (SWT) continuously and comply with His commands with no feelings of tiresome or boredom.