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Belief in the Angels

Verily, all praise is due to Allah (swt) "The Exalted", we praise Him and we seek His aid, and forgiveness, and protection from the wicked-ness of ourselves and the evils of our deeds. Whomsoever Allah (swt) guides, there is none can misguide him, and whom Allah (swt) sends astray, none can guide him. And I testify that none is worthy of worship except Allah (swt), Alone, without partners, and I testify that Muhammad (saas) is His Slave and His Messenger.

Allah (swt ), says:

" It is not righteousness that you turn your faces towards the east or the west, but it is righteousness to believe in the Last Day and the angels and the Book and the Prophets(Qur’an 2:177)
When the angel Jibreel (as) came to the Messenger of Allah (saas), he asked him: Tell me about Eemaan1." The Messenger of Allah (saas) replied: Eemaan is: to believe in Allah (swt) (to affirm His Oneness in worship, in His Names and Attributes and in His Lordship), His angels (created from light, to carry out the Commands of Allah (swt), with unquestioning obedience), His Books (The Toraah, the Injeel, the Zaboor and the Qur’an, which is the greatest of them), His Messengers (saas) [the first of whom was Nooh (as) and the last of whom was Muhammad (saas)], and to believe in the Last Day (the Day of Resurrection, when all will be held accountable for their deeds) and Qadr, both good and bad (Divine Predestination: taking whatever action is necessary to achieve one’s objectives, but with the knowledge that nothing happens except what Allah (swt) has written for us).(Narrated by Muslim)

Here, the Prophet (saas) has defined faith as consisting of six pillars: Belief in Allah (swt), His angels, His Books, His Messengers, the Last Day and Qadr, both good and bad; and so faith cannot be built except upon these six pillars, just as a building cannot be constructed except upon these firm foundations. The meaning of faith in Allah’s angels is to believe in their existence and the works they do in Allah’s Name. The angels were created by Allah (swt) from light in order that they worship Him, obey Him and carry out His Commands. They are part of the unseen from amongst His creation-we do not see them, but we are obliged to believe in them with full conviction and without any doubt, because Allah (swt), Most High has informed us about them in a clear way which leaves no room for doubt or conjecture, as has His Messenger (saas). None knows their number, nor their precise nature, nor the exact manner of their creation but Allah (swt). Amongst their attributes are:

That they are the armies of Allah (swt), the Almighty, the All-powerful says:

" To Allah belong the armies of the heavens and the earth."(Qur’an 48:4)

And concerning the Guardians of Hell, He, (swt) says:

" Over it are nineteen [Guardians]."(Qur’an 74:30)
Then Allah (swt) says:
" And We have set none but angels as Guardians of the Fire; and We have fixed their number only as a trial for those who disbelieved." (Qur’an 74:31)

It was said that a number of the disbelievers said jokingly, that even if they were thrown into the Hell-fire, they would fight the Guardians of Hell and overpower them, then escape from the Fire- to which Allah (swt) replied that he had not placed as Guardians over the Hell-fire except angels, so let anyone try, be he strong enough to over-power nineteen men, his strength would avail him nothing for the Guardians of Hell are angels, not men and he will never be able to overpower them. Allah (swt) continues:

" And We have fixed their number (19) only as a trial for those who disbelieved-in order that the People of the Book may arrive at certainty and the Believers may increase their faith - and that no doubts may be left for the People of the Book and the Believers." (Qur’an 74:31)
Then Allah continues:
" And that those in whose hearts is a disease and the unbelievers may say: What does Allah intend by this example?" (Qur’an 74:31)
The disbelievers speculate and argue vainly concerning the number of Guardians, saying: How can it be that this Fire which contains countless numbers of mankind has only nineteen guardians over it? Allah (swt) says:
" And We have fixed their number 19 only as a trial for those who disbelieved." (Qur’an 74:31)

But they do not understand the might and power which Allah (swt) has bestowed upon the angels,and the armies of Allah (swt). Knowledge of this is only with Allah (swt). According to At-Tabari, it was Abu Jahl, an uncle of the Prophet (saas) and an inveterate enemy of Islaam who made the foolish boast that they, the disbelievers would overpower the Guardians of Hell and escape.

Also amongst the angels’ attributes is that they are the winged Messengers of Allah (swt) to mankind; Allah (swt) says:

" All praise be to Allah, Who created the heavens and the earth, Who made the angels Messengers with wings, two, three or four." (Qur’an 35:1)
That is, some of them have two wings, while others have three and others four, while others still have more; it is related by Bukhari that the Messenger of Allah (saas) saw Jibreel (as) and he had six hundred wings, each of them filling the horizon. Allah (swt) says about him:
" He was taught by one mighty in power." (Qur’an 53:5)
At-Tabari says: He (Muhammad (saas)) was taught the Qur’an by Jibreel (as). The angels possess great strength by Allah’s Will, and the proof of this is that when Allah (swt) sends forth an angel, he gives just one shout and a part of creation is destroyed, as it happened to the people of Thamood:
" Verily, We sent but one shout and they became like dry twigs of the builder of the cattle fold." (Qur’an 54:31)

Thus, the people of Thamood, who rejoiced in their great strength and arrogance became like dry sticks after the shout from the angel took them. Likewise the people of Loot (as) who lived in three or four townships, but the angel Jibreel (as) raised them up, people, buildings and all, until the other angels could hear the dogs barking and the cocks crowing, then he inverted their towns upon them and Allah (swt) caused the earth to collapse upon them and then stones of baked clay were rained upon them, according to At-Tabari, who narrated the story in his commentary on verse 82 of Soorah Hood.

It is Israafeel (angel) (as) who will blow the trumpet on the Last Day; the first trump will cause the death of every living creature in the heavens and the earth and the destruction of all created things:

" Then when the trumpet will be blown with one blowing [the first], and the earth and the mountains shall be removed from their places, and crushed with a single crushing, then on that Day shall the Great Event befall, and the heaven will split asunder, for that Day it [the heaven] will be frail [weak] and torn up, and the angels will be on its sides, and eight angels will, on that Day, bear the Throne of your Lord above them." (Qur’an 69:13-17)
Then comes the second trump, which is the Calling Forth:
" Then behold! They will be standing, looking on [waiting]." (Qur’an 39:68)
This is just one of the duties of Israafeel (as) which Allah (swt) has ordered him to perform. The angels are sent by Allah (swt) at times to help the Muslims, when they are in need of assistance against the unbelievers:
" [Remember] when you [oh, Muhammad] said to the believers: Is it not enough for you that your Lord should help you with three thousand angels, sent down?" (Qur’an 3:124)
And on the Day of Resurrection, the angels will be sent down to the earth in hosts:
" And [remember] the Day when the heaven shall be rent asunder with clouds, and the angels will be sent down, with a grand descending." (Qur’an 25:25)
They ask forgiveness for those on earth:
" Nearly the heavens might rent asunder from above [by His Majesty], and the angels glorify the praises of their Lord and ask forgiveness for those on earth, verily, Allah is the Oft-forgiving." (Qur’an 42:5)
And they take out the souls from the dead:
" By those [angels] who pull out [the souls of the disbelievers and the wicked] with great violence; by those (angels) who gently take out [the souls of the Believers]." (Qur’an 79:1-2)
Then there are those who watch over us:
" But verily, over you [are appointed angels in charge of mankind] to watch you, honourable [in Allah’s sight] writing down [your deeds] they know all that you do." (Qur’an 82:10-12)
Some of the angels have been appointed as bearers of the Divine Revelation; Allah (swt) says:
" He sends down the angels with inspiration of His Command to whom of His slaves He pleases, [saying]:Warn mankind that none has the right to be worshipped but I, so fear Me.(Qur’an 16:2)
Of these Messengers, Jibreel (as) is the greatest, the best and the most noble, for it is he who delivered the Qur’an to Muhammad (saas). Allah (swt) says:
" The Trustworthy Spirit [Jibreel] has brought it [the Quran] down upon your heart [oh, Muhammad] that you may be [one] of the warners, in the plain Arabic language." (Qur’an 26:193-195)
Allah (swt)has described Jibreel (as) as possessing many fine attributes, such as:
" Verily, it [the Quran] is the Word [brought by] a most honourable Messenger [Jibreel] owner of power and high rank with [Allah], the Lord of the Throne, obeyed [by the angels], trustworthy there [in the heavens]." (Qur’an 81:19-21)

So Allah (swt) has described Jibreel (as) as powerful and possessing high rank, and enjoying the unquestioning obedience of the other angels when he orders them to carry out Allah’s Commands; and also described him as trustworthy, that is, in delivering the Divine Revelation-he adds nothing to it, nor does he omit from it even one letter, but delivers it exactly as it is given to him by Allah (swt). The Prophet (saas) saw Jibreel (as) on two occasions in his original form: The first time was in Makkah, when he raised his head and saw him in the highest part of the sky, he had six hundred wings, each of them filling the horizon. The second occasion is described by Allah (swt), in His (swt) Words:

" And indeed he [Muhammad] saw him [Jibreel] at a second descent [i.e. at another time] at Sidrut Al-Muntahaa2." (Qur’an53:13,14)
" It is reported on the authority of Maalik Ibn Sa’sa’a, that the Prophet said on the night of his ascension to the heavens (Al-Mi’raaj) that, he travelled to the heavens in the company of Jibreel (as)." (Narrated by Bukhari)

Then there is Meekaal (as) who brings down the rain from the heavens above, as and when he is commanded to do so by Allah (swt), Most High. These are the most important of the angels, who carry out the most important of tasks.

Other tasks entrusted to the angels include those whose responsibility is the unborn child in the womb. It is reported on the authority of Ibn Mas’ud that the Messenger of Allah (saas) said:

" Verily, each of you is created in the form of a drop of sperm in his mother’s womb for forty days, then he is a clot for a similar period, then he is a lump of flesh (the size of a morsel) for a similar (period), then the angel is sent to breathe (human) spirit into him, then (the angel) is ordered to write down his share of livelihood, his appointed term (i.e. how long he will live), his actions and whether he will be miserable or happy." (Narrated by Bukhari and Muslim)
Every human being has two angels accompanying him at atimes: One on his right, who records the good deeds, and one on his left, who records the bad deeds. Allah (swt) says:
" [Remember that] the two Receivers [recording angels] receive [each human being after he or she has attained the age of puberty], one sitting on the right and one sitting on the left [to note his or her actions]. Not a word does he [or she] but there is a watcher by him ready [to record it]." (Qur’an 50:17:18)
Abu Hurairah reports that the Messenger of Allah (saas) said:
" Angels ascend to and descend from the heaven continuously, in turn, some by night and some by day; and all of them assemble together at the time of fajr and ‘asr prayers. Then those who have stayed with you overnight ascend unto Allah (swt), Who asks them (and He knows the answer better than they): How have you left My slaves? They reply: We left them while they were praying and we came to them while they were praying. The narrator added: If any of you says: Aameen (during the prayer, at the end of the recitation of Surah Al-Faatihah), and the angels in heaven say the same, and the two sayings coincide, all his past sins will be forgiven." (Narrated by Bukhari)

In addition, there are those of the angels who protect mankind from harm; Allah (swt) has appointed them to preserve us from danger in this life, which He has written for us. In this world are many dangerous things: Predators (both human and animal) snakes, scorpions, tyrannical rulers, unjust people etc. But Allah (swt), in His infinite Mercy, has appointed for us protectors from amongst the angels. Allah (swt), the Almighty, the All-powerful:

" For each [person] there are angels in succession, before and behind him, they guard him by the Command of Allah." (Qur’an 13:11)

Allah (swt) does not improve the situation of any people until they improve themselves. So long as Allah (swt) has written it, none can harm us, for these angels protect us from all evils. And if Allah (swt) decrees destruction for a community, then none can save them and the angels withdraw from each person, one from in front and one from behind.

There are angels whose responsibilities are the seas of the earth, while others are responsible for the rivers, and others the wind. There are still other angels whose functions and duties none knows but Allah (swt). All events in creation take place by the Order of Allah (swt), and the angels undertake the tasks allotted to them by Him.

As stated earlier, it is an article of faith for the Muslim to believe in the angels; Allah (swt) has informed us of the names of some of them, such as: Jibreel, Meekaal, Israafeel and Maalik (the Guardian of the Hell-fire), while the identity of others is unknown to us. But we believe in all the works which they undertake by the Order of Allah (swt).

In the heavens are angels who worship Allah (swt), bowing and prostrating to Him. There is not the space of a finger joint in the heavens, which is not filled by an angel, bowing and prostrating to Allah (swt). We love the angels, for they are the best advisors to mankind, recommending us to do good and abstain from evil, and they ask Allah’s forgiveness for us. Allah (swt) says:

" Those [angels] who bear the Throne [of Allah] and those around it glorify the praises of their Lord, and believe in Him, and ask forgiveness for those who believe [in the Oneness of Allah]." (Qur’an 40:7)