Angels are creatures that are unseen by us who worship Allah. They do not have any of the traits of divinity or lordship. Allah created them from pure light and gave them the inflexible and innate inclination to always obey Him. They have great powers to execute whatever they are commanded.
Allah the Most Exalted said:
And those who are near Him (i.e. the angels) are not too proud to worship Him nor do they grow weary (of His worship). They glorify His praises night and day (and) they never slacken (to do so). [Surah al-Anbiyaa’ (21):19-20]
They are so numerous that only Allah can count their numbers. This is confirmed from the hadeeth narrated by Anas ibn Malik as reported by al-Bukhari and Muslim of the Prophet’s () ascension to the highest heaven may the peace and blessing of Allah be upon him wherein he saw al-Bait al-Ma’moor 1 (the House that is always inhabited). In this House each and every day seventy thousand angels pray and after leaving the House they never return to it.
Faith and belief in the angels comprises four factors:
- To believe in their existence.
- To believe in those whose names are known to us like Jibreel as well as those whose names we do not know.
- To believe in all that we know about their traits and attributes like the fact that the angel Jibreel whom the Prophet Muhammad () saw in his original form in which he was created has six hundred wings and is so immense that he covered the entire horizon.
The angels can change their shapes and transform themselves by the order and will of Allah. They may take the shape of men like when Allah sent the Jibreel to Maryam (Mary mother of ‘Eesaa ()) or when He sent Jibreel to Prophet Muhammad () in the shape of a man wearing very white clothes with very dark hair while he was with his companions and whom none of the companions knew and who had no evidence apparent on him that he was a traveler. He sat in front of the Prophet () such that his knees touched the knees of the Prophet () and put his hands on his thighs. He then asked the Prophet () about Islam Īman (faith and belief) Ihsaan (excellence in the religion) and the Last Hour and its signs. The Prophet answered all his questions and when Jibreel left the Prophet () said to his companions
This was Jibreel who came to teach you your religion. (Recorded by Muslim)
Similarly the angels that Allah sent to Abraham and Lot were also in the form of humans.
- To believe in what we know about the deeds and tasks they perform in obedience to the commandments of Allah like the fact that they worship glorify and praise Allah day and night without becoming bored slacken or tire.
Some angels are commissioned with specialized tasks.
Jibreel (Gabriel): he is the angel commissioned and entrusted to convey Allah’s revelations to the prophets and messengers.
Mikaa‘eel (Michael): he is the angel commissioned and entrusted to distribute sustenance like the rainfall and vegetation.
Israfeel: he is the angel commissioned and entrusted to blow the Trumpet on the Appointed Hour of the Day of Resurrection.
Malak-ul-Mawt (The angel of Death): he is the angel commissioned to take the souls from the bodies at the time of death.
Maalik: he is commissioned to guard the hellfire.
Then there are angels that are commissioned to the embryos while in the wombs of their mothers: Allah sends these angels after the embryos complete four months in the womb and orders them to write the decree of the person’s provision life term deeds and whether he will be of the wretched or the blessed.
Also there are angels commissioned to guard people and record all the deeds of the children of Adam: there is an angel on the right [writing good deeds] and another of the left [writing the evil ones].
Some angels are commissioned to examine the dead with specific questions once they are buried: two angels2 come and ask the dead person in his grave about his Lord his Religion and his Prophet.
The great benefits of believing in the angels include the following:
- Recognition of Allah’s Greatness Magnificent Power and Authority because the Greatness of Allah’s creation is only due to the Greatness of Allah the Creator.
- Giving praise and thanks to Allah for His care and concern to mankind since He has appointed the angels to protect them record their deeds and do other beneficial acts for them.
- Love of the angels for the fact that they are sincere worshippers to Allah.
Some deviant people have denied that the angels have physical forms and bodies claiming that they represent instead the inherent power of the unseen good in creation. This position is a direct denial of the Book of Allah most Exalted the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah () and the consensus (ijma’) of Muslims.
Allah the Most Exalted said:
All praise is due for Allah the Originator of the heavens and the earth Who made the angels messengers with wings two three and four. [Surah Faatir (35):1]
And He said:
And if you could see when the angels take away the souls of those who disbelieve: they smite their faces and their backs. [Surah al-Anfaal (8):50]
And He said:
And if you could but see when the unjust (people) are in the agonies of death while the angels are stretching forth their hands (saying): “Deliver your souls.” [Surah al-An’aam (6):93]
And He said:
Until when fear is banished from their hearts they (the angels) say: “What is that which your Lord has said?” They say: “The Truth. And He is the Most High the Most Great.” [Surah Saba’ (34):23]
And He said about the people of Paradise:
And angels shall enter unto them from every gate (saying): “Peace be upon you for your persevered patience! Excellent indeed is the final Home.” [Surah ar-Ra’d (13):23-24]
Al-Bukhari reports that Abu Hurairah narrated that the Messenger of Allah said:
When Allah likes a slave He calls on Jibreel saying: “Allah loves such and such (a person) therefore love him.” Then Jibreel loves him. So then Jibreel calls on the inhabitants of heaven saying: “Allah loves so and so therefore love him.” So the people of heaven love him. Then the acceptance will be granted for him on the earth.
Al-Bukhari also recorded from him that the Messenger of Allah said:
When the day of Friday comes angels stand at each of the doors of the masjid to record the first and then the next (person that comes to the masjid). When the Imam sits (on the pulpit) they close the scrolls and come to listen to the words of reminder.
The above texts clearly demonstrate that the angels have physical forms and are not just spiritual forces as the misguided claim. The entire community of Muslims understands that these texts (and their like) mean that the angels exist in a real physical form and body.
By the Late Eminent Scholar Sheikh Muhammad ibn Salih Al-Uthaymeen Translation by Abu Salman Diya ud-Deen Eberle