Belief in the invisible world created by Allah is an essential element of faith in Islam. Among the necessary items of faith is faith in Allah, His prophets, His revealed books, angels, afterlife and destiny / divine decree. Among the creatures of the invisible world are angels, which are clearly mentioned in the Quran as loyal servants of Allah. Therefore, every truly pious Muslim belief in angels.
The nature of angels in Islam
In Islam, it is believed that angels were created from light,before the creation of humans from clay/earth. Angels are naturally obedient beings, worshiping Allah and fulfilling His commandments. They are genderless and do not require sleep, food or drink; they have no free choice, so they simply are not in their nature not to obey. The Quran says:
They did not disobey the commandments of Allah, which they receive; they do exactly what they are commanded ”(Quran 66: 6).
The role of angels
In Arabic, they are called Mala’ika, which means “to assist and help.” The Quran says that angels were created to worship Allah and obey His commandments:
Everything in heaven and every creature on earth prostrate to Allah, just like the angels. They are not puffed up with pride. They fear their Lord over them and do everything they are commanded to do. (Quran 16: 49-50).
They are involved in the performance of duties both in the invisible and in the physical world.
Angels mentioned by name
Several angels are mentioned by name in the Quran with a description of their duties:
- Jibril (Gabriel): The angel responsible for transmitting the words of Allah to His prophets.
- Malak Am Maut (angel of death): This character is responsible of taking souls after death.
- Malik: He is the keeper of hell.
- Ridwan: Who serves as the guardian of the heaven.
- Israfel (Raphael): He is responsible for the blowing of the trumpet to mark the Day of Judgment.
- Michael (Michael): This one is responsible for rain and sustenance.
- Munkar and Naker: After death, these two angels will question the souls in the grave about their faith and deeds.
Other are mentioned, but not specifically by name. There are angels who carry the throne of Allah, they some who act as guardians and protectors of believers, and angels who record the good and bad actions of a person, among other tasks.
Angels in human form?
As invisible creatures created from light, they do not have a special bodily form, but can take various forms. The Quran mentions that angels have wings (Quran 35: 1), but Muslims do not reflect on how they look. Muslims find it sacrilegious, for example, to make images of angels like cherubs sitting in clouds.
It is believed that they can take the form of people when they need to communicate with the human world. For instance, the Angel Jibreel appeared to Mary in the human form, the mother of Jesus, and the Prophet Muhammad, when he asked him about his faith and message.
In Islam, there is no concept of “fallen” angels, because in the nature of angels there are loyal servants of Allah. They have no free choice, and therefore no ability to disobey God. However, Islam truly believes in invisible beings who have free choice; often confused with “fallen” angels, they are called jinn (spirits). The most famous of the jinn is Iblis, who is also known as Shaytan (Satan). Muslims believe that Satan is a naughty jinn, not an “fallen” angel.
Jinns are mortal — they are born, they eat, they drink, they multiply and they die. Unlike the angels who inhabit the heavenly regions, they say that the jinn coexist with humans, although they usually remain invisible.
Angels in Islamic Mysticism
In Sufism, the inward, mystical tradition of Islam-angels is considered to be divine messengers between Allah and humanity, and not just the servants of Allah. Since Sufism believes that Allah and humanity can be more closely united in this life, and not wait for such a reunion in Paradise, angels are considered as figures that can help in communicating with Allah. Some Sufists also believe that they are primordial soul- souls that have not yet reached earthly form, as humans have done.