In Islam, angels (Arabic: ملاك٬ ملك, romanized: malāk; plural: ملائِكة, malāʾik/malāʾikah) are believed to be heavenly beings, created from a luminous origin by God (Allah). Although Muslim authors disagree on the exact nature of angels, they agree that they are autonomous entities with subtle bodies.: 508 Yet, both concepts of angels as anthropomorphic creatures with wings and as abstract forces are acknowledged.
The Quran is the principal source for the Islamic concept of angels, but more extensive features of angels appear in hadith literature, Mi'raj literature, Islamic exegesis, theology, philosophy, and mysticism. Belief in angels is one of the main articles of faith in Islam. The angels differ from other spiritual creatures in their attitude as creatures of virtue, in contrast to evil devils and ambiguous jinn.
Angels are more prominent in Islam compared to Judeo-Christian tradition. Angels play an important role in Muslim everyday life by protecting the believers from evil influences and recording the deeds of humans. They have different duties, including their praise of God, interacting with humans in ordinary life, defending against devils (shayāṭīn) and carrying on natural phenomena. Angelic qualities, just as devilish ones, are assumed to be part of human's nature, the angelic one related to the spirit (ruh) and reason ('aql), while the devilish one to egoism. Angels might accompany aspiring saints or advise pious humans. Angels are believed to be attracted to clean and sacred places.
Islamic Modernist scholars such as Muhammad Asad and Ghulam Ahmed Parwez have suggested a metaphorical reinterpretation of the concept of angels. Adherents to the Salafi methdology stick to a literal belief in the existence of angels, but nonetheless, have a less vivid imagination of angels, their individuality, and their interactions with the human world in general compared to traditional Islamic thought.
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The Quranic word for angel (Arabic: ملك, romanized: malak) derives either from Malaka, meaning "he controlled", due to their power to govern different affairs assigned to them, or from the triliteral root '-l-k, l-'-k or m-l-k with the broad meaning of a "messenger", just as its counterpart in Hebrew (malʾákh). Unlike the Hebrew word, however, the term is used exclusively for heavenly spirits of the divine world, as opposed to human messengers. The Quran refers to both angelic and human messengers as rasul instead.
In Islam, angels are heavenly creatures created by God. They are considered older than humans and jinn. Contrary to popular belief, angels are never described as agents of revelation in the Quran, although exegesis credits Gabriel with that.
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 characterized by their purity and obedience to God. In Islamic traditions, they are described as being created from incorporeal light (Nūr) or fire (Nar).[a] A narrative transmitted from Abu Dharr al-Ghifari, audited and commented by two hadith commentary experts in the modern era, Shuaib Al Arna'ut and Muḥammad 'Abd ar-Raḥmān al-Mubarakpuri, has spoken a hadith that Muhammad said the number of angels were countless, to the point that there is no space in the sky as wide as four fingers, unless there is an angel resting his forehead, prostrating to God.
Muslim scholars have debated whether human or angels rank higher. Angels usually symbolize virtuous behavior, while humans have the ability to sin, but also to repent. The prostration of angels before Adam is often seen as evidence for humans' supremacy over angels. Others 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 and prophets 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. 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.
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 some scholars, such as ibn Taimiyya, but still accepted by others, such as ibn Hanbal. It seems that humans' quality of obedience and temptations mirrors that of angels: In the Quran, Adam fell from God's favor for his wish to be like the angels, while a pair of angel is said to have fallen for their desire for human lust. In a comment of Tafsir al-Baydawi it is said that the angels' "obedience is their nature while their disobedience is a burden, while human beings' obedience is a burden and their hankering after lust is their nature.: 546
Andalusian scholar ibn Arabi argues that a human generally ranks below angels, but developed to Al-Insān al-Kāmil, ranks above them. This reflects the 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 and messengers among humans. Ibn Arabi elaborates his ranking in al-Futuhat based on a report by Tirmidhi. Accordingly, Muhammad intercedes for the angels first, then for (other) prophets, saints, believers, animals, plants and inanimate objects last, this explaining the hierarchy of beings in general Muslim thought.
Groups of modern scholars from Imam Mohammad Ibn Saud Islamic University in Yemen and Mauritania issued fatwa that the angels should be invoked with blessing Islamic honorifics (ʿalayhi as-salāmu), which is applied to human prophets and messengers. This fatwas were based on the ruling from Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya.
Main article: Ismah
The possibility and degree of erring angels is debated in Islam. Hasan of Basra (d. 728) is often considered one of the first who asserted the doctrine of angelic infallibility. Others accepted the possibility of fallible angels, such as Abu Hanifa (d. 767), who ranked angels based on their examples in the Quran.
The Quran describes angels in al-Tahrim (66:6) "not disobeying" and in al-Anbiya "not acting arrogant", which served as a base for the doctrine of angelic impeccability. Others argue that, if angels couldn't sin, it wouldn't be necessary to compliment them for their obedience.: 546 Similarly al-Anbiya (21:29) stresses out that if an angel were to claim divinity for himself, he would be sentenced to hell, implying that angels might commit such a sin. This verse is generally associated with Iblis (Satan), those nature (angel, jinn, or devil) is likewise up to debate. The presense of two fallen angels referred to as Harut and Marut, further hindered their complete absolution from potentially sinning.: 548 
To defend the doctrine of angelic impeccability, al-Basri already reinterpreted these verses and argued that Harut and Marut were human kings but not angels. Likewise, he was a strong advocate for rejecting Iblis' angelic origin. His approach is by no means universally accepted among Muslim scholars. Al-Maturidi (853–944 CE) pointed at verses of the Quran, according to which angels are tested by God and concludes angels have free-will, but, due to their insights to God's nature, choose to obey. Some angels nevertheless lack this insight and fail. Al-Baydawi asserts that "certain angels are not infallible even if infallibility is prevalent among them — just as certain human beings are infallible but fallibility is prevalent among them.": 545 Al-Taftazani (1322 AD –1390 AD) agrees with al-Basri that angels wouldn't become unbelievers, such as Iblis did, but accepted they might slip into error and become disobedient, like Harut and Marut. Most scholars of Salafism reject accounts on erring angels entirely and do not investigate this matter further.
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.: 323 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 themselves. 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,: 325 and the Guardian angel,: 327 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 nearby are separated from the person from the stench the lie emanates.: 328 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.: 328
Some scholars assert that such circumstances might interfere with an angels' work and thus impede their duty. For example, dogs, unclean places, or something confusing them might prevent them from entering a home.
The al-Sahifa al-Sajjadiyya, a book of prayers attributed to Ali ibn Husayn Zayn al-Abidin, contains a chapter praying for blessings for the angels.
Inspired by Neoplatonism, the medieval Muslim philosopher Al-Farabi developed a cosmological hierarchy, governed by several Intellects. For al-Farabi, human nature is composed of both material and spiritual qualities. The spiritual part of a human exchanges information with the angelic entities, who are defined by their nature as knowledge absorbed by the Godhead. A similar function is attested in the cosmology of the Muslim philosopher Ibn Sina, who, however, never uses the term angels throughout his works. For Ibn Sina, the Intellects have probably been a necessity without any religious connotation.
Muslim theologians, such as al-Suyuti, rejected the philosophical depiction on angels, based on hadiths stating that the angels have been created through the light of God (nūr). Thus angels would have substance and could not merely be an intellectual entity as claimed by philosophers.
The chain of being, according to Muslim thinkers, includes minerals, plants, animals, human and angels. Muslim philosophers usually define angels as substances endowed with reason and immortality. Humans and animals are mortal, but only men have reason. Devils are unreasonable like animals, but immortal like angels.
Unlike kalām (theology), Sufi cosmology usually makes no distinction between angels and jinn, understanding the term jinn as "everything hidden from the human senses". Ibn Arabi states: "[when I refer to] jinn in the absolute sense of the term, [I include] those which are made of light and those which are made of fire." While most earlier Sufis (like Hasan al-Basri) advised their disciples to imitate the angels, Ibn-Arabi advised them to surpass the angels. The angels being merely a reflection of the Divine Names in accordance within the spiritual realm, humans experience the Names of God manifested both in the spiritual and in the material world.
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 Arabi's Sufi 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".
The Sufi Muslim and philosopher Al Ghazali (c. 1058–19 December 1111) divides human nature into four domains, each representing another type of creature: animals, beasts, devils and angels. Traits human share with bodily creatures are the animal, which exists to regulate ingestion and procreation and the beasts, used for predatory actions like hunting. The other traits humans share with the jinn[b] and root in the realm of the unseen.
In later Sufism, angels are not merely models for the mystic but also their companions. Humans, in a state between earth and heaven, seek angels as guidance to reach the upper realms. 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 a sheikh to teach him, he will be taught by the angel Khidr. The presence of an angel depends on human's obedience to divine law. Dirt, depraved morality and desecration may ward off an angel.
Ahmad al-Tijani, founder of the Tijaniyyah order, narrates that angels are created through the words of humans. Through good words an angel of mercy is created, but through evil words an angel of punishment is created. By God's degree, if someone repents from evil words, the angel of punishment may turn into an angel of mercy.
According to al-Ghazali, humans consist of animalistic and spiritual traits. From the spiritual realm (malakut), the plane in which symbols take on form, angels and devils advise the human hearth (qalb). However, the angels also inhabit the realm beyond considered the realm from which reason ('aql) derives from and devils have no place.
While the angels endow the human mind with reason, advices virtues and leads to worshipping God, the devil perverts the mind and tempts to abusing the spiritual nature by committing sins, such as lying, betrayal, and deceit. The angelic natures advices how to use the animalistic body properly, while the devil perverts it. In this regard, the plane of a human is, unlike whose of the jinn and animals, not pre-determined. Humans are potentially both angels and devils, depending on whether the sensual soul or the rational soul develop.
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.
Islam has no standard hierarchical organization that parallels the division into different "choirs" or spheres hypothesized and drafted by early medieval Christian theologians, but generally distinguishes between the angels in heaven (karubiyin) fully absorbed in the ma'rifa (knowledge) of God and the messengers (rasūl) who carry out divine decrees between heaven and earth. Others add a third group of angels, and categorize angels into İlliyyûn Mukarrebûn (those around God's throne), Mudabbirât (carrying the laws of nature), and Rasūl (messengers). Since angels are not equal in status and are consequently delegated to different tasks to perform, some authors of tafsir (mufassirūn) divided angels into different categories.
Al-Baydawi records that Muslim scholars divide angels in at least two groups: those who are self-immersed in knowledge of "the Truth" (al-Haqq), based on "they laud night and day, they never wane" (21:29), they are the "highmost" and "angels brought near" and those who are the executors of commands, based on "they do not disobey Allah in what He commanded them but they do what they are commanded" (66:6), who are the administers of the command of heaven to earth.: 509
Fakhr al-Din al-Razi (d. 1209) divided the angels into eight groups, which shows some resemblance to Christian angelology:
Angels in Islamic art often appear in illustrated manuscripts of Muhammad's life. Other common depictions of angels in Islamic art include angels with Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, angels discerning the saved from the damned on the Day of Judgement, and angels as a repeating motif in borders or textiles. Islamic depictions of angels resemble winged Christian angels, although Islamic angels are typically shown with multicolored wings. Angels, such as the archangel Gabriel, are typically depicted as masculine, which is consistent with God's rejection of feminine depictions of angels in several verses of Quran. Nevertheless, later depictions of angels in Islamic art are more feminine and androgynous.
The 13th century book Ajā'ib al-makhlūqāt wa gharā'ib al-mawjūdāt (The Wonders of Creation) by Zakariya al-Qazwini describes Islamic angelology, and is often illustrated with many images of angels. The angels are typically depicted with bright, vivid colors, giving them unusual liveliness and other-worldly translucence. While some angels are referred to as "Guardians of the Kingdom of God," others are associated with hell. An undated manuscript of The Wonders of Creation from the Bavarian State Library in Munich includes depictions of angels both alone and alongside humans and animals. Angels are also illustrated in Timurid and Ottoman manuscripts, such as The Timurid Book of the Prophet Muhammad’s Ascension (Mir‘ajnama) and the Siyer-i Nebi.
There are four special angels (karubiyin) considered to rank above the other angels in Islam. They have proper names, and central tasks are associated with them:
According to hadith transmitted by Ibn Abbas, Muhammad encountered several significant angels on his journey through the celestial spheres. Many scholars such as Al-Tha'labi drew their exegesis upon this narrative, but it never led to an established angelology as known in Christianity. The principal angels of the heavens are called Malkuk, instead of Malak.
The rooster angel, in Miraj Literature, was held to be "enormous" and "white", and the comb on the top of his head "graze[d] the foot of Allah's celestial throne, its feet reach[ed] the earth", and its wings were thought to be large enough to "envelop both heaven and earth" and were covered with emeralds and pearls. It is also thought to wake up mankind every morning through means like making "cocks below on Earth...crow" when it opens its mouth.
|First heaven||Second heaven||Third heaven||Fourth heaven||Fifth heaven||Sixth heaven||Seventh heaven|
|Habib||Angel of Death||Maalik||Salsa'il||Kalqa'il||Mikha'il (Archangel)||Israfil|
|Rooster angel||Angels of death||Angel with seventy heads||Angels of the sun||-||Cherubim||Bearers of the Throne|
|Ismail (or Riḍwan)||Mika'il||Arina'il||-||-||Shamka'il||Afra'il|
(HR. Ahmad 21516, Turmudzi 2312, Abdurrazaq in Mushanaf 17934. This hadith is rated as hasan lighairihi by Shuaib Al-Arnauth).
Interpretation of tirmidhi Hadith: إِنِّي أَرَى مَا لَا تَرَوْنَ، وَأَسْمَعُ مَا لَا تَسْمَعُونَ أَطَّتِ السَّمَاءُ، وَحُقَّ لَهَا أَنْ تَئِطَّ مَا فِيهَا مَوْضِعُ أَرْبَعِ أَصَابِعَ إِلَّا وَمَلَكٌ وَاضِعٌ جَبْهَتَهُ سَاجِدًا لِلَّهِ، وَاللَّهِ لَوْ تَعْلَمُونَ مَا أَعْلَمُ لَضَحِكْتُمْ قَلِيلًا وَلَبَكَيْتُمْ كَثِيرًا
Al-Habaa-ik fii Akhbaaril Malaa'ik
Al Khoroithi, Makarimil Akhlaq, Hadith Ali ibn Abi Talib; Ibn Taymiyyah, Majm al-Fatawa; al-Suyuti; Tafsir Jalalayn, Hasyiyah ash Shawi 1/31
257 Armad, al-Tirmidhc, al-Nasa'c, Ibn al-Mundhir, Ibn Abc latim, Abe 'l-Shaykh in al-'AVama, Ibn Mardawayh, Abe Nu'aym, in al-DalA'il, and al-kiya'in al-MukhtAra (Ibn 'Abbas)
Quoting Amir al-Sha'bi