'Angel Blowing a Woodwind', ink and opaque watercolor painting from Iran, c. 1500, Honolulu Academy of Arts
In Islam, angels (Arabic: ملكmalak; plural: ملاًئِكة malā'ikah) are believed to be heavenly beings, created from a luminous origin by Allah. They have different roles, including their praise of Allah, interacting with humans ordinary life, and carrying laws of nature. Islam acknowledges the concept of angels both as anthropomorphic (to a degree) and abstract. Belief in angels is one of the main articles of faith in Islam. The Quran is the principal source for the Islamic concept of angels, but more extensive features of angels appear in hadiths, Mi'raj literature, Islamic theology and Islamic philosophy. The angels differ from other spiritual creatures in their attitude as creatures of virtue in contrast to impure demons and morally ambivalent jinn.
Angels are another kind of creature created by God, known to mankind, commonly dwelling in the heavenly spheres. Although the Quran does not mention the time when angels were created, they are generally considered as the first creation of God. According to Tabari, the angels had been created on Wednesday, while other creatures on the following days. Although not mentioned in the Quran, angels are believed to be created from a luminous substance, repeatedly described as a form of light. What is probably the most famous hadith regarding their origin is reported in Sahih Muslim: "The Angels were created out of light and the Jann was created out of a mixture of fire and Adam was created out of what characterizes you."Nur, the term used for the light from which the angels are created from, usually corresponds to the cold light of night or the light of the moon, contrasted to nar, which corresponds to fire or the diurnal and solar light from which the angels of punishment are said to be created of. Dividing angels into two groups created from different types of light is also attested by Tabari,Abd al-Ghani al-Maqdisi,Al-Jili and Al-Suyuti. Suyuti distinguishes in his work Al-Hay’a as-samya fi l-hay’a as-sunmya angels as created from "fire that eats, but does not drink" in opposition to devils created from "fire that drinks, but does not eat" which is also identified with the fire of the sun. Scholars also argued that there is no distinction between nur and nar at all. Although not his conclusion, Tabari argued that both can be seen as the same substance, since both pass into each other but refer to the same thing on different degrees. Asserting that both fire and light are actually the same but on different degrees can also be found by Qazwini and Ibishi. The lack of distinction between fire and light might be explained by the fact that both are closely related morphologically and phonetically.Al-Baydawi argued that light serves only as a proverb, but fire and light refers actually to the same substance. Apart from light, other traditions also mention exceptions about angels created from fire, ice or water.
One of the Islamic major characteristic is their lack of bodily desires; they never get tired, do not eat or drink and have no anger. As with other monotheistic religions, angels are characteristics of their purity and obedience to God. However, their constant loyalty, towards God, emphasized by some Quranic verses such as 16:49, does not necessarily imply impeccability, and the motif of erring angels is also known to Islam. Some scholars on the other hand, among Hasan of Basra as one of the first, extend their loyalty towards God to assume general impeccability. Those who accept the possibility of erring angels, advocate that actually only the messengers among the angels are infallible, since the Quran also describes angels as being tested.Al-Baydawi argued, that angels only remain impeccable if they do not fall. Ibn Arabi stated that angels may err in opposing Adam as a vice-regent and fixing on their way of worshipping God to the exclusion of other creatures.
Angels are usually described in anthropomorphic forms combined with supernatural images, such as wings, being of great size, wearing heavenly clothes and great beauty. Some angels are identified with specific colors, often with white, but some special angels have a distinct color, such as Gabriel being associated with the color green.
The Quran says that the angels were considered to be daughters of God and worshipped in Pre-Islamic Arabia, while newborn girls were often killed, which is condemned in Islam. This is also mentioned concerning Al-Lat, Al-Uzza, and Manāt. The notion that God created the angels as females and fathered daughters is rejected in the Quran.
Scholars debated whether human or angels rank higher. The prostration of angels before Adam is often seen as evidence for humans' supremacy over angels. Nevertheless, other hold angels to be superior, as being free from material deficits, such as anger and lust, Angels are free from such inferior urges and therefore superior, a position especially found among Mu'tazilites and some Asharites. A similar opinion was asserted by Hasan of Basri, who argued that angels are superior to humans due to their infallibility, originally opposed by both Sunnis and Shias. This view is based on the assumption of superiority of pure spirit against body and flesh. Contrarily argued, humans rank above angels, since for a human it is harder to be obedient and to worship God, hassling with bodily temptations, in contrast to angels, whose life is much easier and therefore their obedience is rather insignificant. Islam acknowledges a famous story about competing angels and humans in the tale of Harut and Marut, who were tested to determine, whether or not, angels would do better than humans under the same circumstances, a tradition opposed by later scholars, such as ibn Taimiyya, but still accepted by earlier scholars, such as ibn Hanbal. Some Sufi traditions argue that a human generally ranks below angels, but developed to Al-Insān al-Kāmil, he ranks above angels. Comparable to another major opinion, that prophets and messengers among humans rank above angels, but the ordinary human below an angel, while the messengers among angels rank higher than prophets.Maturidism generally holds that angels' and prophets' superiority and obedience derive from their virtues and insights to God's action, but not as their original purity.
Angels believed to be engaged in human affairs are closely related to Islamic purity and modesty rituals. Many hadiths, including Muwatta Imam Malik from one of the Kutub al-Sittah, talk about angels being repelled by humans' state of impurity. Such angels keep a distance from humans, who polluted themselves by certain actions (such as sexual intercourse). However, angels might return to an individual as soon as the person (ritually) purified himself or herself. The absence of angels may cause several problems for the person. If driven away by ritual impurity, the Kiraman Katibin, who record people's actions, and the Guardian angel, will not perform their tasks assigned to the individual. Another hadith specifies, during the state of impurity, bad actions are still written down, but good actions are not. When a person tells a lie, angels nearly are separated from the person from the stench it emanates. Angels also depart from humans when they are naked or are having a bath out of decency, but also curse people who are nude in public.
In Islamic philosophy, angels appear frequently as incorporeal creatures. Al-Kindi and Ibn Sina both define angels as simple substances, which means, they belong to the Celestial spheres comparable to Ptolemaic astronomy, endowed with life, reason, and immortality, in contrast to sublunary entities such as humans and animals, who are endowed with life, and the former also with reason, but are mortal. Similarly Qazwini assigns the angels to heavenly spheres, distinguishing them from among the animals, although both are said to possess the attribute of life. Significantly, Al-Damiri includes in his zoological works, animals, humans, jinn and even demons, but not angels. Such cosmological thought, maintained by scholars such as Al-Farabi and Ibn Sina, has strong resemblance with the Neo-Platonisticemanation cosmology, identifying the different angels in Islam with intellects, dividing the cosmos into different spheres. However, Islamic scholars repeatedly insist that all heavenly spheres as a whole form a single body and are moved by God, in contrast to Aristotelian cosmology in which God only moves the outer sphere. According to ibn Sina, but differing from Al-Farabi, God is not part of the scheme of emanation. God emanated things in accordance with his will. In his Theologia Aristotelis he shows that through the manifestation of God, the intellects are aware of God and their role in the universe. Further Ibn Sina seems to distinguishes between two types of angels: One completely unrelated to matter, and another one, which exists in form of a superior kind of matter. The latter ones can carry messages between the heavenly spheres and the sublunary world, appearing in visions. Therefore, the higher angels dwell in higher spheres, while their subordinate angels appear in an intermediary realm. Ibn Sina's explanation might imply an attempt to consider revelation as part of the natural world. Also Qazwini lists a lower type of angels; earthly angels as indwelling forces of nature, who keep the world in order and never deviate from their duty. Qazwini believed that the existence of these angels could be proved by reason and effects of these angels on their assigned object.
Islamic philosophy stressed that humans own angelic and demonic qualities and that the human soul is seen as a potential angel or potential demon. Depending on whether the sensual soul or the rational soul develop, the human soul becomes an angel or a demon. Angels may also give inspirations opposite to the evil suggestions, called waswās, from Satan.
In Ibn Abbas Mi'raj narrative
Muhammad requests Maalik to show him Hell during his heavenly journey. Miniature from The David Collection.
Islam has no standard hierarchical organization that parallels the division into different "choirs" or spheres hypothesized and drafted by early medieval Christian theologians, but does distinguish between archangels and angels. Angels are not equal in status and consequently, they are delegated different tasks to perform.
Jibrā'īl/Jibrīl/Jabrīl (English: Gabriel), the angel of revelation. Jibra'il is the archangel responsible for revealing the Quran to Muhammad, verse by verse. Jibra'il is the angel who communicates with all of the prophets and also descends with the blessings of God during the night of Laylat al-Qadr ("The Night of Divine Destiny (Fate)"). Jibra'il is also acknowledged as a magnificent warrior in Islamic tradition, who led an army of angels into the Battle of Badr and fought against Iblis as he tempted Jesus (Isa).
Mīkāl/Mīkāʾīl/Mīkhā'īl (English: Michael), the archangel of mercy, is often depicted as providing nourishment for bodies and souls while also being responsible for bringing rain and thunder to Earth. Some scholars pointed out that Mikail is in charge of angels who carry the laws of nature. According to legend, he was so shocked at the sight of hell when it was created that he never laughed again.
Isrāfīl (frequently associated with the Jewish and Christian angel Raphael), is the archangel who blows into the trumpet in the end time, therefore also associated with music in some traditions. Israfil is responsible for signaling the coming of Qiyamah (Judgment Day) by blowing a horn. On his association with Raphael, the historian Ali Olomi writes, "In esoteric circles, Israfil is the angel of the West, the Sun, and sometimes Thursday. Other times the angel of Jupiter Sarfayail is assigned to Thursday. The astrological overlap may hint at a parallel with the Jewish angel Seraphiel or Raphael."
Kiraman Katibin (Honourable Recorders), two of whom are charged to every human being; one writes down good deeds and another one writes down evil deeds. They are both described as 'Raqeebun 'Ateed' in the Qur'an.
Mu'aqqibat (The Protectors) who keep people from death until its decreed time and who bring down blessings.
Ar-Ra'd, said to be the Angel of Thunder; mentioned in Quran (13:13). According to Tafsir al-Qurtubi: "It is said that he is the angel in charge of clouds and he drives them as ordered by Allah, and he glorifies His Praises".
The Angel of life gives the soul to every human being
Khidr, sometimes regarded as an angel which took human form and thus able to reveal hidden knowledge exceeding those of the prophets to guide and help people or prophets.
Azazil, in many early reports a former archangel, who was among whose who were commanded to bow before Adam, but he refused to and was banished to hell.
Angels play an important role in Sufism. Just as in non-Sufi-related traditions, angels are thought of as created of light. Al-Jili specifies that the angels are created from the Light of Muhammad and in his attribute of guidance, light and beauty. Influenced by Ibn ArabisSufi metaphysics, Haydar Amuli identifies angels as created to represent different names/attributes of God's beauty, while the devils are created in accordance with God's attributes of Majesty, such as "The Haugthy" or "The Domineering".Sufi cosmology divides the world into several realms. The realm of Malakut is the plane in which symbols take on form. It is also the sphere in which humans may encounter angels, during their dreams. Some authors have suggested that some individual angels in the microcosmos represent specific human faculties on a macrocosmic level. According to a common belief, if a Sufi can not find Shaikh to teach him, he will be taught by the angel Khidr.
Contemporary Salafism continues to regard the belief in angels as a pillar of Islam and regards the rejection of the literal belief in angels as unbelief and an innovation brought by secularism and Positivism. Modern reinterpretations, as for example suggested by Nasr Abu Zayd, are strongly disregarded. Simultaneously, many traditional materials regarding angels are rejected on the ground, they would not be authentic. The Muslim Brotherhood scholars Sayyid Qutb and Umar Sulaiman Al-Ashqar reject much established material concerning angels, such as the story of Harut and Marut or naming the Angel of Death Azrail. Sulayman Ashqar not only rejects the traditional material itself, he furthermore disapproves of scholars who use them.
^Burge, Stephen (2015). Angels in Islam: Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti's al-Haba'ik fi akhbar al-mala'ik. Routledge. p. 99. ISBN978-1-136-50473-0.
^Burge, Stephen (2015). Angels in Islam: Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti's al-Haba'ik fi akhbar al-mala'ik. Routledge. p. 113. ISBN978-1-136-50473-0.
^Der Koran, ed., transl. and commented by Adel Theodor Khoury, Gütersloh 2004, p. 611, 43:16-20 (the same argument of the polytheists also appears at 6:148), see also p. 174, 4:117.
^Der Koran, ed., transl. and commented by Khoury, p. 366, 16:57-59.
^Der Koran, ed., transl. and commented by Khoury, p. 660-661, 53:19-28.
^Der Koran, ed., transl. and commented by Khoury, p. 568-569, 37:149-157.
^Omar Hamdan Studien Zur Kanonisierung des Korantextes: al-Ḥasan al-Baṣrīs Beiträge Zur Geschichte des Korans Otto Harrassowitz Verlag 2006 ISBN978-3-447-05349-5 page 293 (German)
^Patricia Crone. The Book of Watchers in the Qurån, page 11
^Reynolds, Gabriel Said, “Angels”, in: Encyclopaedia of Islam, THREE, Edited by: Kate Fleet, Gudrun Krämer, Denis Matringe, John Nawas, Everett Rowson. Consulted online on 16 October 2019 doi:10.1163/1573-3912_ei3_COM_23204 Erste Online-Erscheinung: 2009 Erste Druckedition: 9789004181304, 2009, 2009-3
^Mohamed Haj Yousef The Single Monad Model of the Cosmos: Ibn Arabi's Concept of Time and Creation ibnalarabi 2014 ISBN978-1-499-77984-4 page 292
^Ulrich Rudolph Al-Māturīdī und Die Sunnitische Theologie in Samarkand BRILL, 1997 ISBN9789004100237 pp. 54-56
^Burge, S. R. “Impurity / Danger!” Islamic Law and Society, vol. 17, no. 3-4, 2010, pp. 320–349. JSTOR, [www.jstor.org]. 323
^Burge, S. R. “Impurity / Danger!” Islamic Law and Society, vol. 17, no. 3-4, 2010, pp. 320–349. JSTOR, [www.jstor.org]. 325
^Burge, S. R. “Impurity / Danger!” Islamic Law and Society, vol. 17, no. 3-4, 2010, pp. 320–349. JSTOR, [www.jstor.org]. 327
^Burge, S. R. “Impurity / Danger!” Islamic Law and Society, vol. 17, no. 3-4, 2010, pp. 320–349. JSTOR, [www.jstor.org]
^ abSeyyed Hossein Nasr An Introduction to Islamic Cosmological Doctrines SUNY Press, 1 January 1993 ISBN9780791415153 p. 236
^Syrinx von Hees Enzyklopädie als Spiegel des Weltbildes: Qazwīnīs Wunder der Schöpfung: eine Naturkunde des 13. Jahrhunderts Otto Harrassowitz Verlag 2002 ISBN978-3-447-04511-7 page 268 (German)
^Houtsma, M. Th. (1993). E.J. Brill's First Encyclopaedia of Islam, 1913–1936, Band 5. BRILL. p. 191. ISBN978-9-004-09791-9 p. 192
^Abd Al-Jabbar, Ibn Sina and Al-Ghazali God and Humans in Islamic Thought Routledge 2006 ISBN9780203965375 p. 97
^Syrinx von Hees Enzyklopädie als Spiegel des Weltbildes: Qazwīnīs Wunder der Schöpfung: eine Naturkunde des 13. Jahrhunderts Otto Harrassowitz Verlag 2002 ISBN978-3-447-04511-7 page 263
^Amira El-Zein Islam, Arabs, and Intelligent World of the Jinn Syracuse University Press 2009 ISBN978-0-815-65070-6 page 43
^Khaled El-Rouayheb, Sabine Schmidtke The Oxford Handbook of Islamic Philosophy Oxford University Press 2016 ISBN978-0-199-91739-6 page 186
^Hajjah Amina Adil (2012). "Ezra". Muhammad the Messenger of Islam: His life & prophecy. BookBaby. ISBN978-1-618-42913-1.
^name="State University of New York Press">Colby, Frederick S (2008). Narrating Muhammad's Night Journey: Tracing the Development of the Ibn 'Abbas Ascension Discourse. State University of New York Press. ISBN978-0-7914-7518-8.
^Josef von Hammer-Purgstall Die Geisterlehre der Moslimen Staatsdruckerei, 1852 digit. 22. Juli 2010 p. 8 (German)
^Stephen Burge Angels in Islam: Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti's al-Haba'ik fi Akhbar al-malik Routledge 2015 ISBN978-1-136-50473-0 chapter 3
^Hussein Abdul-Raof Theological Approaches to Qur'anic Exegesis: A Practical Comparative-Contrastive Analysis Routledge 2012 ISBN978-1-136-45991-7 page 155
^The Noble Quran, trans. Muhsin Khan; Taqi-ud-Din Hilali. See footnote to verse 13:13
^Surah Al-Anfaal Ayah #09
Where ALLAH said,
(Remember) when you asked help of your Lord, and he answered you, indeed, I will reinforce you with a thousand from the Angels, following one another.
This Ayah affirms the statement of Ar-Rabi bin Anas in Tafsir ibn e kathir while explaining the Tafsir of Ayah no 12 of surah Al-Anfal where he said in the Aftermath of badr, the people used to recognize whomever the Angels killed from those whom they killed, by the wound over their necks, fingers, and toes because those parts had Mark as if they were branded by fire.
^Kelas 07 SMP Pendidikan Agama Islam dan Budi Pekerti Siswa 2017 (Islamic and Character Education for Junior High School Grade 7 2017). Jakarta: Curriculum and Bookkeeping Center, Ministry of Education of Indonesia. 2017. p. 98. ISBN978-602-282-912-6.