Angels in Islam and Their Roles and Duties: The second article of faith that a Muslim must embrace is the belief in the Angels. The Angels are part of the unseen world which we cannot comprehend and cannot prove scientifically. One cannot see the Angels unless God allows for and enables their vision. Muslims believe in Angels because they are mentioned numerous times throughout the Holy Quran, and in the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him; a body of work which Muslims call Hadith.
“The Messenger has believed in what was revealed to him from his Lord, and [so have] the believers. All of them have believed in Allah and His Angels and His Books and His Messengers…” (Quran 2:285)
God describes the appearance, attributes, characteristics, and responsibilities of Angels in His Holy Book, The Quran. We do not know of precisely when Angels were created, but they pre-date the creation of human beings. The Angels are created from pure shining light (Noor in Arabic). They are light-giving entities. The Angels are generally more powerful than humans and travel the speed of light. The Angels have certain specialties and capacities that humans do not possess. God refers to the Angels as honored servants.
“…Rather, they are [but] honored servants” (Quran 21:26)
In Arabic, Angels are called ‘Mala’ika’, which means ‘to assist and help.’ Angels are Holy and exist in a constant state of worship and praise to God all day and all night and do not disobey Him. They worship Allah constantly, without growing bored or tried.
“They exalt [Him] night and day [and] do not slacken” (Quran 21:20)
The sole purpose of the Angels (Mala’ika) is to execute the commandments of Allah. The Angel has no needs or desires for material goods. The Angels do not eat, drink, sleep, marry, or procreate. The Angels do not die. The Same Angels that existed when Prophet Adam peace be upon him was created still exist today and will continue to live until the trumpet is blown for the Day of Judgement. A countless number of Angels exist, a number so high we can’t comprehend its scope in our finite minds. Only God knows. We learn from a narration of Prophet Muhammad that there is a sacred heavenly House in the 7th Heaven called Al-Bayat Al-Mahmoor (The Much-Frequented House). This House is directly above the Kaaba, the Scared Black Cube in Najd (known as Saudi Arabia today). Every day a new group of 70,000 Angels circle this house, leaves, and never returns; being followed by the next group of 70,000 Angels. God states in the Quran:
“…And none knows the soldiers of your Lord except Him…” (Quran 74:31)
The Angels (Mala’ika) have no gender; they are not female nor male. Angels are physically very beautiful, expect the Angel for the guardian of the hellfire, who wears a stern expression and never laughs. The Greatest of Angels are magnificent in size, far beyond our imagination. The largest and most significant of all Angels is the Angel Gabriel (Jibril in Arabic), who is the Angel that descended from Heavens to instruct the Prophets how to teach and preach their religion. All Angels have wings; some possess 2, 3, or 4 pairs of wings or more. Angel Gabriel has 600-wings and is of a size so great it fills the space between Heaven and Earth, blocking the entire horizon.
The Angels (Mala’ika) that carry Allah’s Throne possess such a substantial capacity that the distance between the Angel’s ear-lobes to their shoulders is equivalent to a 700-year journey. Most Angels reside in the Sky, and we learn that there is not a single space in the Sky of four fingers long, except where an Angel is occupying that space, worshipping and praising their Lord. Angels can take on different forms, including a human form like the Angels that visited Prophet Abraham and the Virgin Mary peace be upon them.
Angels (Mala’ika) have different status, rank, and categories. Some Angels are of a higher level than others. Islam does not teach the concept of fallen or evil angels. Nor does Islam teach the idea that humans transform into angels after death. Islam also does not teach Angels are the children of the Almighty.
The Angels (Mala’ika) are servants and messengers of God, who serve His kingdom in full obedience and complete submission. Some angels are assigned the duty of executing God’s law in the physical world. Angels surround humanity at all times, but mankind does not see them. There is a group of Angels that continuously record mankind’s deeds; known as the ‘honorable scribes.’ Each person is assigned to two Angels, which record every single good and evil deed by that individual; not a single word or deed is left unrecorded.
There is a group of Angels that make supplication for those that give charitably, or who teach and spread the word of Islam. Angels love the believers and supplicate to and beseech God to forgive the believer’s sins. Amongst them exists Angels that protect the believer throughout his life, whether he is at home, traveling, or asleep. Angels have been assigned different tasks and duties in the unseen and physical worlds. A group of Angels is recorded by name in the Holy Quran and Sunnah (Hadith), which include:
Angel Gabriel (Jibreel): Responsible for communicating Allah’s Revelation to His Prophets
Angel Mikael (Mekaeel): Responsible for directing rain, food, crops, and sustenance with the Will of God.
Angel Raphael (Israfeel): Responsible for blowing the trumpet to mark the Day of Judgment
Angel Maalik: Leader of the Guardians/Gatekeepers of the Hellfire
Angel Munkar & Angel Nakir: Responsible for questioning people in the grave after death
Angel Harut and Angel Marut: Who were sent to the people of Babylon to test their faith
Angel Ridwan: Guardian of Heaven
Angel of Death: (Malak Al-Maut): Responsible for taking possession of souls from bodies after death by the Will of God
Other Angels (Mala’ika) are mentioned in Islamic text, but not specifically by name. The Angels are not to be worshipped, prayed to, or supplicated to, or to be taken as objects of praise or veneration as they are not divine or semi-divine. Nor do Angels deliver prayers to God. The Angels (Mala’ika) are merely in submission to God and carry out His commands. A Muslim recognizes that Angels are but a creation of God. Indeed, God is in no need of the Angels’ assistance and does not need to be worshipped or revered by the Angels or humans, as he is a free and independent Deity who gains nothing from the worship of others.
“To Allah belongs whatever is in the heavens and earth. Indeed, Allah is the Free of need, the Praiseworthy” (Quran 31:26)
It’s imperative that one learns about the Angels (Mala’ika) so that one can ponder, reflect and reaffirm over the Greatness of his/her Creator. The experience of having knowledge and belief in the Angels (Mala’ika) adds to the awe that one feels towards God, in that He can create this great being; and indeed, can create whatever He Pleases and Wills. The awe and magnificence of the Almighty’s creation reveals and indicates the Magnificence, Glory, and Majesty of the Almighty Himself. This should humble the human being and increase one’s God consciousness and love and fear of the Almighty. Knowing of the Angels (Mala’ika) would also remind one that his actions are continuously being recorded by Angels which hopefully decrease one’s sins and increase good deeds.
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