Understanding Islam: Belief in Angels

Islam, Christianity, and Judaism share many teachings as these three great religions share a linear historical timeline. Muslims believe in the same creator, Allah, that is believed in by the Christians and the Jews. Muslims believe in the same prophets and books that were sent by Allah so knowing that the Muslims believe in the angels too is not really surprising. However, despite the similarities in teaching, there are subtle differences in how Muslims view the angels as Muslims more or less have more detailed information from our religious sources.

Angels are from the unseen parts of the creation of Allah, therefore, our knowledge about them is very limited except for what Allah allowed us to know. The angels being from the unseen and unknown makes it disallowed for any of us to make his own opinions about their nature, actions, and other attributes.

THE NATURE OF THE ANGELS

Prophet Muhammad said, “The angels are created from light, just as the jinn are created from smokeless fire and mankind is created from what you have been told about (from clay).” Narrated by Imam Muslim.

The angels have been created by Allah long before He created mankind. Allah said in the Quran, “Behold, your Lord said to the angels: ‘I will create a vicegerent on earth.’” Quran 2:30. We could see here that Allah was talking to the angels when He mentioned his intention to create mankind which means that the angels have preceded humans. Angels are neither male nor female and they do not reproduce. It is also narrated from authentic religious sources that angels may die especially before Judgement Day is established when the trumpet is finally blown and every living thing dies except what Allah wishes to stay alive.

Angels unlike humans and the Jinn have no free will. They only act and think according to Allah’s orders. Allah said in the Quran, “O you who believe! Save yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is men and stones, over which are (appointed) angels stern and severe, who flinch not from executing the commands they receive from Allah, but do precisely what they are commanded.” Quran 66:6

Angels only do exactly what they are told by Allah, therefore, we could take this as proof that there is no such thing as a fallen angel just like in the movies and novels where an angel may sin and it will be banished to the Earth and may even fall in love with a human being. Angels do not disobey Allah. Also, because of this, it is another proof that Satan or Lucifer is not a fallen angel because it is impossible for angels to disobey Allah. Satan is actually among the jinn or spirits as most people know them. Jinn have the same free will as humans, therefore, you will find good and evil jinn just like there are good and evil humans.

But are angels good? Yes. They only do what is good relative to Allah’s decrees. They may become instrumental in executing Allah’s decrees that are harmful to humans such as the angels that were sent by Allah to Sodom and Gomorrah or the Angel of Death himself but these actions are not the result of any psychopathy or penchant for destruction because the angels literally do not decide on their own.

The angels have a leader and their leader is Archangel Gabriel. This is different from the belief of the Christians where the Archangel is Michael instead of Gabriel because this is a belief that they inherited from the Jews who treated Gabriel as an enemy. It is angel Gabriel who gets sent to the prophets to bring revelations. In Islam, he is also referred to as the Holy Spirit. Allah said in the Quran, “Say, O Muhammad the Rooh ul Qudus has brought the Qur’an down from your Lord with truth, that it may make firm and strengthen the Faith of those who believe, and as a guidance and glad tidings to those who have submitted to Allah as Muslims.” Quran 16: 102. There are many other narrations saying that it was angel Gabriel who brought the revelations to Prophet Muhammad therefore, the Holy Spirit mentioned here and angel Gabriel is one and the same.

Angels have their own form and only Allah knows it. However, angels particularly the Archangel Gabriel has appeared in human form to Abraham, Prophet Muhammad, and others. Ordinary humans who are not prophets have seen them too like Mary and others.

Angels are created by Allah to perform different tasks. Some angels are given the task of taking care of the developing human inside the womb as a fetus. Prophet Muhammad said, “Allah appoints an angel in the womb…When Allah decrees that it is to be created, the angel says, ‘O Lord, male or female? Doomed or blessed? What is his provision? What is his lifespan?’ And that is written in his mother’s womb.” Narrated by Imam Al Bukhari and Imam Muslim.

Angels also protect humans if Allah decrees it from the evil spirits and other calamities. Allah said in the Quran, For each person, there are angels in succession, before and behind him. They guard him by the command of Allah.” Quran 13:11. However, if Allah decrees any evil to the person that they are guarding, they withdraw from protecting him and let the decree of Allah happen.

Angels write the good deeds and bad deeds of each individual human whether they are Muslims or Non-Muslims. Some angels are assigned to the mountains, seas and every other task that only Allah knows fully. As mentioned earlier, the guardians of Hell are angels themselves and Satan is a mere prisoner in it and not the king of Hell as some people believed him to be.

The angels are wonderful creations of Allah and we do not worship them despite their power because their power only lies in the power of Allah.