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Belief in the Angels

In the Name of Allâh, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful

By Dr. Ja`far Sheikh Idris

These are beings of a different nature from man. While man is created from soil they are created from light. [Sahih Muslim, Kitab az-Zuhd, 1227] And thus human beings-except Prophets--cannot see them in their original nature, but may see them if they take a physical form. Our knowledge of them is therefore almost entirely based on What Cod and His Prophets tell us about them. But why should we bother to know about them? Because they play a very big role in conducting our affair. To know about them could Perhaps be said to be useful to us in the same manner as knowledge of the working of natural causes and other people's behaviour is useful.

We are told that these almost innumerable beings who are extremely powerful are created in such a way that they always obey and never go against Divine commands, and continuously server and never tire of serving the Lord. [Anbiya', XXI, 19-20; Tahrim, LXVI:6].

But in spite of this they are--as a species--in a lower degree than the human species, and this is symbolized in the fact that when Adam was created they were ordered to prostrate themselves before him as a sign of greeting and respect.[This verse - Isra, XVII:70] has been given (by some) as evidence or the fact that the human species is better than the species of angels. Ibn Kathir in his tafsir of al-Qur'an al-`Azim].

Here are some of their activities in connection with human beings.

Their main task, the one from which their name is derived is that of conveying God's messages to His chosen prophets. This great honor is assigned mainly to their leader Gabriel (or Jibril as the name is pronounced in Arabic).

"A noble messenger having power, with the Lord of the Throne, secure, obeyed there (in heaven) and trusty." [Takwir, LXXXI: 19-21]

A message carried by beings of such a nature is sure to reach its destination intact.

They attend to and watch over us. They keep a record of our good and bad deeds, and never a word we mention passes without being registered by them either for or against us. [Qaf, L: 17-18]

They play a role in the causation and happening of seemingly purely natural phenomena, like wind and rain and death. [Nazi'at, LXXIX: 1-5]

And to them is assigned the role of helping the believers to the extent of fighting on their side in times of war. ['Al 'lmran, 11: 124], and of protecting them [Ra'd, XIII: 11], and praying for them [Ghafir, XL: 7].

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