Angels are a matter of the unseen. They are created by Allāh ﷻ and they worship Him. They have no attributes that qualify them to be gods or lords. Allāh created them from light, and He bestowed on them the bounty of obeying Him at all times. He gave them the power to carry and implement His orders,
وَلَهُ مَن فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۚ وَمَنْ عِندَهُ لَا يَسْتَكْبِرُونَ عَنْ عِبَادَتِهِ وَلَا يَسْتَحْسِرُونَ يُسَبِّحُونَ اللَّيْلَ وَالنَّهَارَ لَا يَفْتُرُونَ ۞
“And those who are near Him [the angels] are not too proud to worship Him, nor are they weary [of His worship]. They glorify His praises night and day, [and] they never slacken [to do so].”
They are so numerous that only Allāh can count their numbers. Anas said, while narrating the story of the Prophet’s ﷺ ascension to heaven, that al-Bayt Al-Maʿmūr (the house in heaven that is always inhabited. It is, for the inhabitants of heaven, like the Kaʿbah for the people of earth) was raised for the Prophet ﷺ in heaven so he can see it. Each day, seventy thousand Angels pray in this House, and when they exit from it, they will never get back into it (this shows how numerous the angels are). [al-Būkhārī and Muslim]
Belief in the Angels
Belief in the Angels has three parts;
1. Belief in their existence. Belief in what we were told of their names, such as Jibrīl, and also belief in other angels whose names we were not informed of.
2. Belief in what we were told of their attributes. The example to this is the description of Jibrīl. The Prophet ﷺ told us that he saw Jibrīl in the shape that Allāh created him, having six hundred wings and larger than the horizon. The angels may change their shapes, by the order of Allāh. They may take the shape of men. Allāh sent Jibrīl to Maryam (Mary) and he came to her in the shape of a man. He was also sent to Prophet Muḥammad ﷺ, while he was sitting down with his companions, in the shape of a man, wearing very white clothes with very dark hair, a stranger to the companions, yet no evidence of traveling was apparent on him. He sat next to the Prophet ﷺ and laid his knees next to the Prophet’s knees and put his hands on the Prophet’s thighs. He asked the Prophet about Islam, Imān, Iḥsān (excellence in the religion) and the last hour and its signs. The Prophet answered him. Then, Jibrīl left. The Prophet ﷺ said to his companions, “This was Jibrīl, he came to you to teach you your religion.” [Muslim] Also, Allāh ﷻ sent the angels to Ibrāhīm (Abraham) and Lūṭ in the shape of men.
3. Belief in the tasks that they perform, by the Order of Allāh. They praise Allāh ﷻ and worship Him at all times without the slightest boredom or fatigue. Some angels may have special tasks to fulfil, a few have been mentioned below; Jibrīl is the honourable angel, whom Allāh sends down with revelation to the Prophets and Messengers ﷺ. Mīkāʾīl is the angel who is controlling rain and vegetation by the order of Allāh. Isrāfīl is the angel who must blow in the Horn when the Hour (Last Day) has started and when it is time to resurrect the dead. An angel is the keeper and supervisor of Hell. The Angel of death captures the souls at death. There are angels who supervise fetuses in the wombs. When a fetus is four months old, Allāh sends down an angel and orders him to record the fetus’s sustenance, maximum age, deeds and if miserable (destined to Hell) or happy (destined to Paradise). There are angels who record the deeds of mankind. They have a record of everyones deeds. There are two angels for each person, one to the right and the other to the left. There are other angels who question the dead when they are in their graves. Two angels come to all dead persons and ask each one of them about the Lord he worshipped, the religion he followed and the Messenger he obeyed.
Benefits of Believing in the Angels
1. Knowing Allāh’s ﷻ Might, Strength and Power. All the strength of creation is a sign of the Strength of the Creator.
2. Thanking Allāh because He takes care of mankind. He appointed angels to protect them, record their deeds and other beneficial tasks.
3. Loving the angels because they are true worshippers of Allāh.
Some misguided people reject that the angels exist in a physical form. They claim that the angels are the potential for good that creation possesses. This is a direct rejection of the Book of Allāh ﷻ, the sunnah of His Messenger and the ijmāʿ (consensus) of Muslims. Allāh said, what translates as means;
لْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ فَاطِرِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ جَاعِلِ الْمَلَائِكَةِ رُسُلًا أُولِي أَجْنِحَةٍ مَّثْنَىٰ وَثُلَاثَ وَرُبَاعَ ۚ يَزِيدُ فِي الْخَلْقِ مَا يَشَاءُ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ
۞ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ
“All the praises and thanks be to Allāh, the (Only) Originator of the heavens and the earth, Who made the Angels messengers with wings, two or three or four).” (Q 35:1)
۞ وَلَوْ تَرَىٰ إِذْ يَتَوَفَّى الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا ۙ الْمَلَائِكَةُ يَضْرِبُونَ وُجُوهَهُمْ وَأَدْبَارَهُمْ وَذُوقُوا عَذَابَ الْحَرِيقِ
“And if you could see when the angels take away the souls of those who disbelieve (at death), they smite their faces and their backs.” (Q 8:50),
Allah ﷻ said;
۞ وَلَوْ تَرَىٰ إِذِ الظَّالِمُونَ فِي غَمَرَاتِ الْمَوْتِ وَالْمَلَائِكَةُ بَاسِطُو أَيْدِيهِمْ أَخْرِجُوا أَنفُسَكُمُ
“And if you could but see when the unjust (disbelievers) are in the agonies of death, while the angels are stretching forth their hands (saying): “Deliver your souls.” (Q 6:93),
۞ ثُمَّ لَمْ تَكُن فِتْنَتُهُمْ إِلَّا أَن قَالُوا وَاللَّهِ رَبِّنَا مَا كُنَّا مُشْرِكِينَ
“Until when fear is banished from their (the angels’) hearts, they (the angels) say: “What is that your Lord has said?” They say: “The Truth. “And He is the Most High, the Most Great” (Q 34:23)
And He ﷻ said;
۞وَالْمَلَائِكَةُ يَدْخُلُونَ عَلَيْهِم مِّن كُلِّ بَابٍ سَلَامٌ ۞ عَلَيْكُم بِمَا صَبَرْتُمْ ۚ فَنِعْمَ عُقْبَى الدَّارِ
“And angels shall enter unto them from every gate (saying): ‘Peace be upon you for that you preserved in patience! Excellent indeed is the final Home (Paradise).” (Q 13:23-24).
The Messenger of Allāh ﷺ said, “When Allāh likes a slave, He calls on Jibrīl, saying: ‘Allāh loves so and so (person), therefore, love him.’ Then, Jibrīl loves him. Afterwards, Jibrīl calls on the inhabitants of heaven, saying: ‘Allāh loves so and so (person), therefore, love him.’ Then, the people of heaven love him. Afterwards acceptance (among the community of believers) will be granted for him in earth.” and, “When the day of Friday comes, there stand angels at each of the masjid’s doors. They record the first then the next (one to come to the masjid). When the imām sits down (waiting for the call to prayer to end so he can start the speech), they close the books and they come to listen to the dhikr (the remembrance of Allāh contained in the Friday speech).” (al-Būkhārī)
The above texts are clear in their meaning that the angels have physical forms and are not a state of the mind, as the misguided claim. The true meaning of these texts, which states that the angels exist in a physical form, is accepted by the entire Islamic community.