In Islam, angels (Arabic: ملك malak; plural: ملاًئِكة malā'ikah) are celestial beings, created from a luminious origin by God to perform certain tasks he has given them. The angels from the angelic realm are subordinates in a hierarchy headed by one of the archangels in the highest heavens. Belief in angels is one of the six articles of faith in Islam.
Islam acknowledges the concept of angels both as anthropomorphic and abstract. It does not mean Islamic scholars depict them as either personified creatures or abstract forces: Some scholars distinguished between the angels, charged with carrying the laws of nature dwelling on earth as being abstract, and the angels in heaven prostrating before God and spiritual creatures of the supreme world, such as the archangels, as personified.
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. They are created from a luminous substance with no bodily desires, never get tired, do not eat or drink and have no anger. Al-Kindi and Ibn Sina both define angels as simple substances endowed with life, reason, and immortality. In contrast to humans, who are substances endowed with life and reason but are mortal, who is, in turn, distinguished by unreasonable but also mortal animals.
However, many scholars have argued that angels can be created from other substances. According to the famous exegete al-Tabari, God may have created angels from fire and other things, as well as from light. Some angels are thought to be composed of elements such as water or fire, especially those who carry the Throne of God. According to the Isra and Mi'raj-narrations, Muhammad met an angel composed of fire and ice and both pass into one another without cooling down the fire, nor melting the ice, demonstrating God's power over the usual laws of nature.
Later Islamic scholars evaluated — in the view of the prevailing Jewish opinion at the time that angels were created by God from fire — whether angels were created from fire or not and how they are distinguished from those created from light. Al-Suyuti stated that angels are composed either of fire or light. Abd al-Ghani al-Maqdisi divided the angels into two groups: The angels of mercy created from light, and angels of Punishment created from the fire. Qazwini and Ibishi assert that all supernatural creatures, due to their invisibility, are composed of a subtle matter that is equivalent to fire but which differs in intensity and are distinguished by the part of fire they originated from. Accordingly, the angels are created from the light of a fire, the jinn from the tongue of fire and the demons from its smoke. Furthermore, scholars such as al-Tabari stated that light and fire do not appeal to different elements, but to a luminous origin of angels which should not be taken literally.
Angels as abstract concepts belong to Al-Ghaib (the unseen). Angels here are used as expressions of natural laws. They carry the Divine command into execution. References to specific angels, like Jabra'il or Azrail, are respective leaders, with a multitude of subordinative angels, who perform for a specific function.
Qazwini portrays the 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 proven by reason and the things these angels affect.
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.
The modern astrophysicist Nidhal Guessoum has pointed to modern Islamic scholars such as Muhammad Asad and Ghulam Ahmed Parwez in his book "Islam's Quantum Question" who have suggested a metaphorical reinterpretation of the concept of angels.
A question in Islamic theology deals with the impeccability of the angels. The majority of Islamic scholars prefer the opinion that angels are sinless. Advocates of angels' infallibility commonly cite certain verses from the Quran, which support their claim such as 16:49: "To Allah prostrates whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth, including animals and angels, and they are not arrogant". However, these verses cannot prove the impeccability for all angels at any time and in any situation. The motif of erring angels is also known to Islam. This is supported by verses describing angels with personal traits and being tested. Al-Baydawi argued, angels are only impeccable until they fall. Others speak of Islamic angels as continuously obedient and also refer to Ijma (scholary consensus). One of the first scholars who asserted the doctrine of impeccable angels was Hasan of Basra. He not only advocated the impeccability of angels by quoting certain Quranic verses, but also reinterpreted verses, which speak against the impeccability of angels.
With the discussion whether angels are able to err or not, a dispute arises concerning whether humans, prophets or angels are the superior. Hasa of Basra also advocated that angels are better than both humans and prophets because of their purity, a position that was opposed by Sunnis and Shias. On the other hand, the prostration of angels before Adam is often seen as evidence for humans' supremacy over angels. Because it is harder for humans to worship God since they are hassled with bodily temptations, in contrast to angels, the angels rank lower than humans. Other scholars argue that the messengers of archangels rank higher than the messengers of humans, but the messengers of humans rank higher than ordinary angels and the ordinary humans again lower than the ordinary angels. The Mu'tazilites and some Asharites held the superiority of angels, because they are free from any material deficits including anger and lust. Another thought holds that an undeveloped human soul ranks lower than angels, but an Al-Insān al-Kāmil higher than angels, and therefore the angels were commanded to prostrate themselves before Adam, who represented the perfect human. According to some Sufi views, angels rank lower than humans, because as already flawless and desireless beings, they are not capable of loving God like humans do. When humans die, they return to the heavenly spheres with all deeds, experiences, and thoughts accomplished in the earthly plane. According to Maturidism, both angels and prophets are more obedient, because of their virtues and insights of God's actions. Here, the angels are also exemplary for humans as they discontinued to judge over the belief of others, based on Surah 2:31-32.
If fallible angels are assumed, as long they carrying out the laws of nature, they are considered infallible. However, as personified angels, they may indeed sin. Their obedience and worship consist of their awareness of God, rather than lack of free will. They are endowed with human reason neither are they subject to temptation but beings who may err; also explaining the implications of a well-known hadith concerning an argument that took place between the angels of Mercy and the angels of Punishment. Ibn Arabi stated that some angels may err in opposing Adam as a vice-regent and fixing on their way of worshipping God to the exclusion of other creatures.
Muhammad's encounter with several significant angels on his journey through the celestial spheres, play a major role in Ibn Abbas version. Many scholars such as Al-Tha`labi drew their exegesis upon this narrative, however it never led to an established angelology as known in Christianity.
|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|
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.
Traditionally, angels are described as corporeal beings, able to appear in human form. Unlike the jinn and demons, angels always take on beautiful forms, except the angels of death, if they approach sinners. Besides their human form, the angels also have a celestrial form in the heavens and according to some Sufi-traditions, it is possible to see an angel during dreams in Malakut. Angels interceding with other creatures than human, may take on a different shape, like the Bearers of the Throne each take the form of a specific animal. Some philosophical approaches, made by scholars like Ibn Sina, refused that angels have bodies. The idea, that angels may take on human form is rooted in the principle writings of Islam. According to Qur'an Jibra'il appeared in a human-like form to announce to Mary the future birth of Jesus. Muhammad accordingly saw Jibra'il in both human and his original angelic shape. Some folklore traditions maintain that it is still possible to meet Khidr in human shape. If a Sufi can not find Shaikh as a teacher, he would may teach the Sufi.
Closely connected to the angels are another category of invisible creatures called jinn. While the exact correlation between angels, jinn and demons remains vague, the jinn are generally a category of beings apart from the angels. The jinn differ from the angels in regard of their position; while the angels dwell in heaven, the jinn lie on earth along with humans or in an intermediary realm. Further the jinn have, unlike the angels, desires, have an extended measure of free decisions, thus able to choose between good and evil. Based on this fact, many scholars argued, that Iblis was not actually an angel, but one of the jinn. However, those scholars who assume Iblis is a fallen angel, consider the jinn be more free, with Iblis having only a limited possibility of choice. The jinn on the other hand are free to roam on earth, can even raise families and build up societies, however are mortal thus sharing many characteristics with humans. Additionally, the final abode of demons, Iblis and the angels, is predestined, while the extended measure of free-will of the jinn, makes it possible to enter hell or heaven depending on how they lived their lives.
Otherwise, jinn are thought of as a sub-category of angels, who guarded the heavens, and distinguished from the other angels, by their creation out of fire and their ability to disobey and procreate their kind.
An archangel is an angel of high rank. The word "archangel" itself is usually associated with the Abrahamic religions, but beings that are very similar to archangels are found in a number of religious traditions.
The English word archangel is derived from the Greek ἀρχάγγελος (arch- + angel, literally "chief angel" or "angel of origin"). It appears only twice in the New Testament in the phrase "with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God" (1 Thessalonians 4:16) and in relation to 'the archangel Michael' (Jude 9). The corresponding but different Hebrew word in the Hebrew Scripture (Old Testament) is found in two places as in "Michael, one of the chief princes" (Dan 10:13) and in "Michael, the great prince" (Dan 12:1).Artiya'il
Artiya'il is an angel in Islamic lore, believed to remove the grief of humans. He is mentioned in the hadith collection of Jalal Al-Din Al-Suyuti, then Abu Muslim al-Khawlani was awaiting news from Byzantium, the angel came down in the shape of a bird and introduced himself as the
angel Artiya'il, the angel who removes the memories of anxiety.Bearers of the Throne
Bearers of the Throne or ḥamlat al-arsh are a group of angels in Islam. The Quran mentiones them in Quran 40:7 and Quran 69:17. In Islamic traditions, they are often portrayed in zoomorphic forms. They are described as resembling different creatures: An eagle, a bull, a lion and a human. They would intercede with the creature that corresponds to their form. Other hadiths describes them with six wings and four faces. The portrayal of these angels is comparable to the Seraphim in the Book of Revelation. These four angels are also held to be created from different elements: One from light, one from fire, one from water and one from mercy.Cassiel
Cassiel (Hebrew: קפציאל; Arabic: كسفيائيل, Kasfa'il), (also known as Cafziel, Cafzyel, Caphziel, Casiel, Cassael, Casziel, Kafziel, Kasiel, Qafsiel, Qaphsiel, Qaspiel, Qephetzial, or Quaphsiel), meaning "Speed of God" or "God is my anger" is an angel appearing in extracanonical Jewish, Christian, and Islamic mystical and magical works, often as one of the Seven Archangels, the angel of Saturn, and in other roles.Cherub
A cherub (; plural cherubim; Hebrew: כְּרוּב kərūv, pl. כְּרוּבִים kərūvîm) is one of the unearthly beings who directly attend to God according to Abrahamic religions. The numerous depictions of cherubim assign to them many different roles; such as protecting the entrance of the Garden of Eden.In Jewish angelic hierarchy, cherubim have the ninth (second-lowest) rank in Maimonides' Mishneh Torah (12th century), and the third rank in Kabbalistic works such as Berit Menuchah (14th century).
De Coelesti Hierarchia places them in the highest rank alongside Seraphim and Thrones.In the Book of Ezekiel and (at least some) Christian icons, the cherub is depicted as having two pairs of wings, and four faces: that of a lion (representative of all wild animals), an ox (domestic animals), a human (humanity), and an eagle (birds). Their legs were straight, the soles of their feet like the hooves of a bull, gleaming like polished brass.
Later tradition ascribes to them a variety of physical appearances. Some early midrashic literature conceives of them as non-corporeal. In Western Christian tradition, cherubim have become associated with the putto (derived from classical Cupid/Eros), resulting in depictions of cherubim as small, plump, winged boys.In Islam, the cherubim are the angels closest to God. Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall noted Rūḥ as one of the most noble among the cherubim. Others are the Bearers of the Throne or the archangels. In Ismailism, there are seven cherubim, comparable to the Seven Archangels.Darda'il
In Islamic tradition, Darda'il (Arabic: دردائيل "Journeyers of God") are angels that travel in the earth searching out assemblies where people remember God’s name. An angel named Darda'il is also invoked in Exorcism.Dumah (angel)
Dumah (Heb. דּוּמָה "silence") is an angel mentioned in Rabbinical and Islamic literature as an angel who has authority over the wicked dead. Dumah is a popular figure in Yiddish folklore. I. B. Singer's Short Friday (1964), a collection of stories, mentions Dumah as a "thousand-eyed angel of death, armed with a fiery rod or flaming sword". Dumah is the Aramaic word for silence.Haniel
Haniel (Hebrew: הניאל, "Joy of God" or Hebrew: חַנִּיאֵל, "Grace of God,"; Coptic: ⲁⲛⲁⲛⲓⲏⲗ; Arabic: عنيائيل, 'Anya'il), also known as Anael, Hanael or Aniel, is an angel in Jewish lore and angelology, and is often included in lists as being one of the seven archangels. Haniel is generally associated with the planet Venus, and he is the archangel of the sephirah Netzach. The name Haniel probably derives from Hebrew hana'ah, "joy," "pleasure" (qualities associated with Venus) + the suffix -el, "God." Haniel is one of the archangels encrypted in the Sigillum Dei Aemeth of Dr. John Dee and Edward Kelly.Harut and Marut
Harut and Marut (Arabic: هَـارُوت وَمَـارُوت, Hārūṫ wa-Mārūṫ) are the two angels mentioned in ayah (verse) 102 of the second surah of the Quran, who were present during the reign of Sulaymân (Arabic: سُـلَـيْـمَـان, Solomon), and were located at Bābil (Arabic: بَـابِـل, Babylon). According to some narratives, those two angels were in the time of Idrîs (Arabic: إِدْرِيْـس). The Quran indicates that they were a trial for the people and through them the people were tested with sorcery. The names are probably etymologically related to Haurvatat and Ameretat, two Zoroastrian archangels.Ishim (angel)
The Ishim or Eshim are a class of angels said to be the closest to the affairs of mortals. The Ishim are also comparable with the Erelim or the Bene Elim/Bene Elohim, both of whom are a part of the order of Thrones or Angels.Kalqa'il
Kalqa'il (Arabic: كلقائيل) is an angel in Islam, who guards the entrance of the fifth heaven and governs the Houris. He is also invoked in exorcist rites.Kiraman Katibin
In Islamic tradition the two kiraman katibin (Arabic: كراماً كاتبين "honourable scribes"), are two angels called Raqib and Atid, believed by Muslims to record a person's actions. Whether a person is sent to Jannah (paradise) or Jahannam (hell/purgatory) is not, however, dependent on whether good deeds outweigh bad deeds; but is ultimately up to God's mercy upon a believer. The Quran refers to them in two places, in 50:16-18 and by name as 'Noble Recorders' in 82:10-12.The work of the kiraman katibin is to write down and record every action of a person each day. One angel figuratively sits on the right shoulder and records all good deeds, while the other sits on the left shoulder and records all bad deeds.
The book in which the angels are writing is the cumulative record of a given person's deeds. After that person's death, it is said that on the Day of Judgement each person will be confronted with this record, and the two angels will be present to tell God of what the person did.Metatron
Metatron (Hebrew: מֶטָטְרוֹן Meṭāṭrōn) or Mattatron is an entity mentioned in a few brief passages in the Aggadah and in mystical Kabbalistic texts within the Rabbinic literature. The name Metatron is not mentioned in the Torah and how the name originated is a matter of debate. In Islamic tradition, he is known as Mīṭaṭrūsh, the angel of the veil. In folkloristic tradition, he is the highest of the angels and serves as the celestial scribe or "recording angel".In early kabbalah, Metatron is the name that Enoch received after his transformation into an angel. In Jewish apocrypha, Genesis 5:24 is often cited as evidence of Enoch's bodily ascension into heaven: "And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him."Mu'aqqibat
The Arabic term al-mu'aqqibat (commonly encountered in the definite plural, Arabic معقبات "those who follow one upon another") is a term occurring in the Quran (Q.13:11) which some Islamic commentators consider to refer to a class of guardian angel. Therefore, these Angels are also called al hafathah (الحفظة) which means the guarding angels. They protect human from the harm of evil jinn (جن) and shayateen (شياطين).
In Islamic tradition a guardian angel or lit. Watcher angel (raqib "watcher") is an angel which maintains every being in life, sleep, death or resurrection. The Arabic singular for mu'aqqibat would be a mu'aqqib "a person which follows." These angels are included in the hafazhah ("the guards") and the concept of the guardian angel in Islam is similar to the concept of the guardian angel in some Jewish and Christian traditions. Each person is assigned four Hafaza angels, two of which keep watch during the day and two during the night.Muhammad is reported to have said that every man has ten guardian angels. Ali ben-Ka'b/Ka'b bin 'Ujrah, and Ibn 'Abbas read these as angels.Munkar and Nakir
Munkar and Nakir (Arabic: منكر ونكير) (English translation: "The Denied and The Denier") in Islamic eschatology, are angels who test the faith of the dead in their graves.Nāzi'āt and Nāshiṭāt
Nāzi'āt (Arabic: نازعات, pluckers) and Nāshiṭāt (Arabic: ناشطات, drawers) are two classes of death angels subordinate to Azra'il in Islamic belief, responsible for taking the souls of the deceased. While Nazi'ats are commissioned to take the lives of unbelievers forcefully, the Nāshiṭāts take them gently.Riḍwan
Riḍwan (or Riswan) is an angel in Islam, who guards the gates of heaven. He namely appears in Mi'raj narration. Ridwan also plays an important role as the guardian of heaven in the Qisas Al-Anbiya, here he must prevent Iblis from entering the keep of Adam, but was tricked by a serpent, who consealed Iblis in his mouth, carrying him past the guardian. His name probably developed from the Quranic term riḍwan. However, in the Quranic usage, it does not refer to an angel.Sandalphon
Sandalphon (Hebrew: סָנְדַלְפוֹן; Greek: Σανδαλφών) is an archangel in Jewish and Christian writings and an angel in Islam. Sandalphon figures prominently in the mystical literary traditions of Rabbinic Judaism and early Christianity, notably in the Midrash, Talmud, and Kabbalah.Seraph
A seraph (, "the burning one"/"serpent"; or seraphim , in the King James Version also seraphims (plural); Hebrew: שָׂרָף śārāf, plural שְׂרָפִים śərāfîm; Latin: seraphim and seraphin (plural), also seraphus (-i, m.); Greek: σεραφείμ serapheím Arabic: مشرفين Musharifin) is a type of celestial or heavenly being originating in Ancient Judaism. The term plays a role in subsequent Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The singular "seraph" is a back-formation from the Hebrew plural-form "seraphim", whereas in Hebrew the singular is "saraph".Tradition places seraphim in the highest rank in Christian angelology and in the fifth rank of ten in the Jewish angelic hierarchy. A seminal passage in the Book of Isaiah (Isaiah 6:1-8) used the term to describe six-winged beings that fly around the Throne of God crying "holy, holy, holy". This throne scene, with its triple invocation of holiness (a formula that came to be known as the Trisagion), profoundly influenced subsequent theology, literature and art. Its influence is frequently seen in works depicting angels, heaven and apotheosis. Seraphim are mentioned as celestial beings in an influential Hellenistic work, the Book of Enoch, and the Book of Revelation.
People and things in the Quran
Note: The names are sorted alphabetically. Standard form: Islamic name / Biblical name (title or relationship)