Since ancient times, there has been a widespread belief in the angels even though many of such beliefs are erroneous and incorrect. The Arabs of ancient times, for instance, belief that angels are the daughters of Allaah. Some philosophers also think that the angels are the stars we see in space. In the modern world, there is a resurgence of interest in angels and they feature prominently in movies and other forms of popular western culture. Stories featuring angels circulate on the internet and there are various kinds of gift packs bearing supposed images of angels.
All of these myths have no place in the belief system of Muslims. Belief in the angels is one of the basic principles of aqeedah and faith is not complete without this belief. How should we believe in the angels? Imaam Bayhaqee said that belief in the angels involves three significant things:
I) Belief that they exist.
2) Giving each one of them the rightful status, and believing that they are the slaves of Allaah created by him, like mankind and the Jinn. They are commanded to do things and they are accountable.
3) Acknowledging that among them are messengers whom Allaah sends to whoever He wills among mankind.
Physical characteristics of the angels
The wings of the angels: The angels have wings, as Allah informs us. Some of them have two wings, some have three or four, and some have more than that. A1laah says: "All the praises and thanks be to Allah, the (only) Originator [or the (only) Creator} of the heavens and the earth, Who made theangels messengers with wings, - two or three or four. He increases in creation what He wills. Verily Allah is Able to do all things." (Q35:[Faatir)1)
They cannot be described as being male or female One .of the reasons why the children of Adam go astray when speaking about the world of the unseen is because they subject that world to human criteria. Someone may express his amazement that Jibreel would come to the Messenger of Allaah a few seconds after a question had been put to him that needed a reply form Allaah. How could he come at such an extraordinary speed when light needs millions of light-years in order to reach nearby heavenly bodies? Such a person that entertain this surprise is like a mosquito trying to measure the speed of an airplane using its own standards.
If he had thought about the matter, he would have realized that the world of the angels has its own standards which are completely different from our human standards. The same applies to the mushrik Arabs in their claim that the angels were female. They do not eat or drink We indicated above that the angels cannot be described as being male or female. Similarly,they do not eat or drink the type of food we (humans) eat and drink.
Allah has told us that the angels came to Ibraaheem in human form, and he offered them food, but they did not stretch out their hands towards it. He felt afraid of them, but when they told him of their true identity, his fear left him. (Quran 51:24-28) They do not get bored or tired The angels worship and obey Allah, and carry out His commands without getting tired or bored. They do not feel what humans feel of tiredness and boredom. Allah says, describing His angels: "They (i.e. the angels) glorify His Praises night and day, (and) they never slacken (to do so).- (Q 21[Ambiyaa]:20)
The numbers of the angels
The angels are many; no one knows how many they are except the One who created them: "And none can know the hosts Of your Lord but He."(Q74[Muddaththir]:31) Nevertheless, there are indications of their great multitude in the texts. Jibreel (alayhi salaam) said concerning Al-Bayt al-Mamoor (the Much-Frequented House), when the Messenger asked him about it, when he reached it on the night of the Israa; "This is Al-Bayt al-Mamoor; every day seventy thousand angels pray in it, and they never come back to it." (Muslim)
The names of the angels
The angels have names, but we only know a few of those names. Below are the verses in which some of the names of angles have been mentioned:
Jibreel and Mikaael Allah says: "Whoever is an enemy to Allah, His Angels, His Messengers, Jibreel and Mikael, then verily Allaah is an enemy to the disbelievers . "(Q2[Baqarah]: 98)
Israafeel: There is also Israafeel who will blow the Trumpet.
Jibreel, Meekaa'eela and Israafeel are the angels who were mentioned by the Messenger in the duaa with which he opened his prayer at night: Allaahumma Rabba Jibreel wa Mikaaeel wa Israafeel, Faatir assamaawaati wal-ard, 'Aalim al-ghayb; wal-shahaadah, anta tahkumu bayna ibaadika fima kaanu fihi rahktalifoon, ihdinee lima ukhtulifa fihi minal-haqq bi idhnika, innaka tahdi man tashaita siraatim Mustaqeem (O Allaah, Lord of Jibreel, Mikaaeel and lsraafeel. Creator of the heavens and the earth. Knower of the unseen and the seen, You judge among Your slaves concerning that in which they differ: Guide me by Your Leave with regard to that in which they differ concerning the truth, for You guide whomsoever You will to a straight path).
Maalik: "And among the angels is Maalik, the keeper of Hell" (Quran 43:77)
Munkar and Nakeer: Among the angels whose names were mentioned by the Messenger are Munkar and Nakeer. They are mentioned in the ahaadeeth which talk about the questioning in the grave. Haaroot and Maaivot: And among the angels are two whom Allah called Haaroot and Maaroot in Quran 2: 102.
Raqeeb and 'Ateed: Some scholars mentioned that among the angels are two called Raqeeb and Ateed. based on the aayah: 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 on the left (to note hisor her actions). "Not a word does he (or she) utter, but there is a watcher by him ready (to record it." (Q50:[Qaf]:17-18).
What they mentioned is not correct. The wordsraqeeb (watcher) and ateed (ready) here are adjectives describing the two angels who are always present and witnessing, who are never away from a person. It does not mean that these are the names of the angels. The death of angels The angels die just as humans and jinn die. This is stated clearly in the aayah: "And the Trumpet will be blown, and all who are in the heavens and all who are on the earth will swoon away except him whom Allah will. Then it will be blown a second time and behold, they will be standing. looking on (waiting)." (Q39[Zumar]:68).
The angels are included in this aayah. because they are in the heavens. Ibn Katheer also mentioned this in his tafseer of this verse. The angels and the believers Angels play various roles for the believers and the following are just a summary of their role around us: They love the believers The Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) said: "When Allah loves a person, He calls to Jibreel and tells him, Allah loves so and so, so love him.Then Jibreel loves him and calls out to the inhabitants of the heavens, Allah loves so and so, so love him.So the inhabitants of the heavens love him, and he will find acceptance on earth." (Bukhaari and Muslim)
They send blessings on the believers Allaah tells us that the angels send blessings on the believers: "He it is Who sends 5alaah [His Blessings] on you, and His angels too [ask Allah to bless and forgive you], that He may bring you out from darkness [of disbelief and polytheism] into light [of Belief and Islamic Monotheism]. And He is Ever Most Merciful to the believers." (Q33[Ahzab]:43) Salaah (blessings) from Allaah means that He praises His slave before His angels. This is narrated by Bukhaari from Abul-Aaliyah.
Someone else said: Salaah (blessings) from Allah means mercy. It may be said that there is no contradiction between the two views. Salaah (blessings) from the angels means that they pray for people and seek forgiveness for them.
The following are examples of deeds for which the angels send blessings upon a person:
Teaching people good things
The Messenger (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) said: "Allaah and His angels, and the inhabitants of the heavens and the earth, even the ant in its hole, and even the fish. Send blessings upon the one who teaches the people good things. "(Tirmidhi)
Those who wait for prayer in congregation
The Messenger of Allaah (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) said: The angels send blessings on anyone of you so long as he stays where he is sitting. They say. O Allaah, forgive him, O Allaah, have mercy on him so long as he does not break his wudoo" (Muslim).
Those who pray in the first row
The Messenger of Allah (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) said: "Allah and His angels send blessings on the first rows." (Abu Dawood)
Those who fill the gaps in the rows
The Messenger of Allah (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) said: "Allah and His angels send blessings on those who complete the rows, and whoever fills a gap (in a row), Allah will raise his status because of it." (Ibn Maajah).
Those who eat suhoor
The Messenger of Allah (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) said: "Allaah and His angels send blessings upon those who eat suhoor." (Saheeh Ibn Hibbaan)
Those who send blessings upon the Prophet
The Messenger of Allah (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) said: "There is no person who sends blessings on me, but the angels send blessings on him so long as he sends blessings on me. So let a person do a little of that or a lot." (Ahmad - hasan) .
Those who visit the sick
That the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) said: "There is no man who visits a sick person in the evening, but seventy thousand angels go out with him, and pray for forgiveness for him until the morning, and he will have provision in Paradise. And whoever goes to him in the morning. seventy thousand angels go with him, and they pray for forgiveness for him until the evening, and he will have provision in Paradise." (Abu Dawud)
Saying "Ameen" to the du'aa of the believers
The Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) said: "The du aa of a person for his Muslim brother in his absence will be answered. At his head there is an angel, and every time he prays for him for something good, the angel who has been appointed to be with him says, Ameen, and may you have likewise." (Muslim) Because a believers prayer against himself is very likely (O be answered, the believer should not pray against himself. The Messenger of Allaah (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) said: Do not pray for anything but good for yourselves, for the angels say "ameen" to whatever you say." (Muslim).
They come down when a believer recites the Quran
Among the angels are those who come down from heaven when the Quran is being read. It is narrated from Abu Saeed al-Khudri (RA) that whilst Usayd ibn Hudayr (RA) was reading Quran one night in his mirbad (place for drying dates), his horse startled. Then he read some more and his horse startled again. He read some more and his horse startled again. Usayd said: "I was afraid that it would step on Yahyaa, so I got up and went to it, and saw something like a shadow above its head, in which there were things like lights.
It ascended into the sky until it disappeared. " The following morning, he went and related the story to the Messenger of Allaah and he said: Those were the angels who were listening to you: If you had continued to read. they would have become visible to the people in the morning and they would not have hidden from them." (Bukhari)
The angels attend the funerals of the righteous
The Messenger (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) said concerning Sad ibn Muaadh, "This is the one at whose death the Throne has shaken and for whom the gates of heaven are opened. Seventy thousand angels attended his funeral. and he was squeezed (in his grave) once. Then he was released." (An-Nasaai)
Other types of Angels
The Guardian Angels
Another type of angel are those entrusted with guarding each person both at home and while travelling, in his sleep and when awake, and in all his states. They are those who take over from one another. Allaah Almighty says: "It makes no difference whether you keep secret what you say or voice it out loud, whether you hide in the night or go out in the day. Each has a succession of angels in front and behind, keeping him safe by Allahs command." (Q13[Rad]:10-11)
The Almighty also says:"He is the Absolute Master over His slaves. He sends angels to watch over you." (Q6[Anaam]:61). Ibn Abbas said about the first ayat, "Each has a succession of angels in front and behind, keeping him safe by Allahs command" that the succession of angels from Allaah refer to the angels who protect him in front and behind. When Allaahs decree comes, they leave him.
Mujahid said, "There is no one who does not have an angel who is entrusted with protecting him both when asleep and when awake, from jinn and men and reptiles. None of them comesto him without finding an angel blocking its way except for something which Allah has given permission to reach him." Angels entrusted with the sperm in the womb There are also the angel sentrusted with dealing with the sperm in the womb.
The Messenger of Allaah (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) said: "The way that each of you is created is that you are gathered in your mothers womb for forty days as a sperm-drop and then for a similar length of time as a blood-clot and then for a similar length of time as a lump of flesh. Then an angel is sent and he breathes the spirit into you and is charged with four commands: to write down your provision. Your life-span. your actions, and whether you will be wretched or happy." (Bukhari and Muslim)
This article was culled from the publications of Deen Communication Limited