The second article of faith that a Muslim must embrace is the belief in the Angels. The Angels are part of the unseen world which we cannot comprehend and cannot prove scientifically. One is not able to see the Angels unless God allows for and enables the vision. Muslims believe in Angels because they are mentioned numerous times throughout the Holy Quran, as well as in the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad; a body of work which Muslims call Hadith.
God describes the appearance, attributes, characteristics, and responsibilities of Angels in His Holy Book, The Quran. We do not have knowledge of precisely when Angels were created, but they pre-date the creation of human beings. The Angels are created from pure shining light (Noor in Arabic). They are light-giving entities. The Angels are generally more powerful than humans and travel the speed of light. The Angels have certain specialties and talents that humans do not possess. God refers to the Angels as honored servants.
"...Rather, they are [but] honored servants" (Quran 21:26)
In Arabic, Angels are called Mala'ika, which means ‘to assist and help.’ Angels are very Holy and exist in a constant state of worship and praise to God all day and all night, and do not have the capacity to disobey Him. They worship Allah constantly, without growing bored or tried.
"They exalt [Him] night and day [and] do not slacken" (Quran 21:20)
The sole purpose of the Angels is to execute the commandments of Allah. The Angel has no needs or desires for material goods. The Angels do not eat, drink, sleep, marry, or procreate. The Angels do not die. The Same Angels that existed when Prophet Adam was created still exist today and will continue to live until the trumpet is blown for the arrival of Judgment Day. A countless number of Angels exist, a number so great that we can’t comprehend its scope in our finite minds. Only God knows. We learn from a narration of Prophet Muhammad that there exists a sacred heavenly House in the 7th Heaven called Al-Bayat Al-Mahmoor (The Much-Frequented House). This House is directly above the Kaaba, the Scared Black Cube in Najd (what is known as Saudi Arabia today). Every day a new group of 70,000 Angels circle this house, leaves, and never returns; being followed by the next group of 70,000 Angels. God states in the Quran:
"…And none knows the soldiers of your Lord except Him…" (Quran 74:31)
The Angels have no gender, they are not female nor male. Angels are physically very beautiful, expect the Angel for the guardian of the hellfire, who wears a stern expression and never laughs. The Greatest of Angels are magnificent in size, far beyond our imagination. The largest and greatest of all Angels is the Angel Gabriel (Jibreel in Arabic), who is the Angel that descended from Heaven to instruct the Prophets as to how to teach and preach their religion. All Angels have wings, some possess 2, 3, or 4 pairs of wings or more. Angel Gabriel has 600-wings and is of a size so great that it fills the space between heaven and earth, blocking the entire horizon. The Angels that carry Allah’s Throne possess such a substantial size that the distance between the Angel’s ear-lobes to their shoulders is equivalent to a 700-year journey. Most Angels reside in the sky, and we learn that there exists not a single space in the Sky of four fingers long, except where an Angel is occupying that space, worshipping and praising their Lord. Angels can take on different forms, including a human form like the Angels that visited Prophet Abraham and the Virgin Mary. Angels have different status, rank, and categories. Some Angels are of a higher level than others. Islam does not teach the concept of fallen or evil angels. Nor does Islam teach the concept that humans transform into angels after death. Islam also does not teach Angels are the children of the Almighty.
The Angels are servants and messengers of God, who serve His kingdom in full obedience and complete submission. Some angels are assigned the duty of executing God’s law in the physical world. Angels surround mankind at all times, but mankind does not see them. There is a group of Angels that constantly record mankind’s deeds; known as the ‘honorable scribes.’ Each person is assigned to two Angels, which record every single good and bad deed done by that individual; not a single word or deed is left unrecorded. There exists a group of Angels that make supplication for those that give in a charitable fashion, or who teach and spread the word of Islam. Angels love the believers, and actually supplicate to and beseech God to forgive the believer’s sins. Amongst them exists Angels that protect the believer throughout his life, whether he is at home, traveling, or asleep. Angels have been assigned different tasks and duties in the unseen and physical worlds. A group of Angels is recorded by name in the Quran and Sunnah, which include:
Angel Gabriel (Jibreel): Responsible for communicating Allah’s Revelation to His Prophets
Angel Mikael (Me’ka’eel): Responsible for directing rain, food, crops, and sustenance with the Will of God.
Angel Raphael (Israafeel): Responsible for blowing the trumpet to mark the Day of Judgment
Angel Malik: Leader of the Guardians/Gatekeepers of the Hellfire
Angel Munkar & Angel Nakeer: Responsible for questioning people in the grave after death
Angel Haroot and Angel Maroot: Who were sent to the people of Babylon to test their faith
Angel Ridwan: Guardian of Heaven
Angel of Death: (Malak Al-Maut): Responsible for taking possession of souls from bodies after death by the Will of God
Other Angels are mentioned in Islamic text, but not specifically by name. The Angels are not to be worshipped, prayed to, or supplicated to, or to be taken as objects of praise or veneration as they are not divine or semi-divine. Nor do Angels deliver prayers to God. The Angels are simply in submission to God and carry out His commands. A Muslim recognizes that Angels are but a creation of God. Indeed, God is in no need of the Angels’ assistance and does not need to be worshipped or venerated by the Angels or humans, as he is a free and independent Deity who gains nothing from the worship of others.
It’s imperative that one learns about the angels so that one can ponder, reflect and reaffirm over the Greatness of his/her Creator. The experience of having knowledge and belief in the Angels adds to the awe that one feels towards God, in that He is able to create this magnificent being; and indeed, can create whatever he pleases and wills. The awe and magnificence of the Almighty’s creation reveals and indicates the magnificence of the Almighty Himself. This should humble the human being and increase ones’ God consciousness and love and fear of the Almighty. Having knowledge of the Angels would also remind one that his actions are constantly being recorded by Angels which should decrease one’s sins and increase good deeds.