Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Belief in the Angels

Description: Believing in angel is the Second of the Six Pillars of Belief in Islam. In the Islamic doctrine, they are real created beings, but are generally hidden from our senses. They all submit to God and carry out His commands.

By Banu Salleh.

The Reality of Angels

In the Islamic doctrine, the Angels are real created beings that will eventually suffer death, but are generally hidden from our senses. They are not divine or semi-divine, and they are not God’s associates running different districts of the universe. Also, they are not objects to be worshipped or prayed to, as they do not deliver our prayers to God. They all submit to God and carry out His commands. In the Islamic worldview, there are no fallen angels: they are not divided into ‘good’ and ‘evil’ angels. Human beings do not become angels after death. Satan is not a fallen angel, but is one of the jinn, a creation of God parallel to human beings and angels.

The angels have been present throughout all the stages of our creation, performing some duty entrusted to them but Allah SWT. When we were in our mothers' wombs, an angel was there, breathing a soul into us. They are there everyday reporting to Allah of our deeds. They are there every second recording what we whisper and speak. When the time of our death comes, they are ready to take our souls. When the Day of Judgement commences, an angel will blow the Horn that will mark the commencement of the Day of Judgement. Every Muslim must believe in angels. It is the Second of the Six Pillars of the Belief of Islam. The Quran says:

"…Whoever disbelieves in Allah, His angels, His books, His messengers, and the Last Day has certainly gone far astray." [Surah An-Nisa: 4:136].

Angel Jibril came to the Prophet SAW and enquired him regarding Iman [belief], and Ihsan [sincere and true faith in Allah], the Messenger of Allah SAW said: "Iman is to believe in Allah, His angels, His books, His messengers, the Last Day, and to believe in the Divine decree, [both] the good and the bad thereof." [Muslim]

Created From Light.

Angels were created from light before the creation of human beings, and thus their graphic or symbolic representation in Islamic art is rare. Nevertheless, they are generally beautiful beings with wings as described in Muslim scripture.

The Prophet SAW said: "The angels were created from Nur [light], the jinn were created from fire and man was created from what has been described to you."

Angels are honorable servants of Allah; they obey Him and execute His commands. Allah describes them as: "They do not disobey Allah in what He commands them but do what they are commanded." [Surah At-Tahrim, 66:6]

Angels form different cosmic hierarchies and orders in the sense that they are of different size, status, and merit.

The Number of Angels

How many angels there are? Only God knows. The Much-Frequented House is a sacred heavenly sanctuary above the Ka’abah, the black cube in the city of Makkah. Every day seventy thousand angels visit it and leave, never returning to it again, followed by another group. [Sahih Al-Bukhari ]

The angels are a grandiose creation of God, varying in numbers, roles, and abilities. God is in no need of these creatures, but having knowledge and belief in them adds to the awe that one feels towards God, in that He is able to create as He wishes, for indeed the magnificence of His creation is a proof of the magnificence of the Creator.

They do not eat or drink; they are characterised by neither feminine nor masculine attributes, and they never tire. Some spend their entire existence in Ruku’ [bowing] and others in Sujud [prostration]. “They do not celebrate His praises night and day, nor do they ever slacken.” [Surah Al-Anbiya’, 21:20].

When Judgement will be called, they will raise their heads and say: 'Glory is to You, our Lord! We did not worship You in a way befitting Your Majesty.' They are a creation of Allah, a creation that took place before the creation of our father Adam.

Names and Tasks

Muslims believe in specific angels mentioned in the Islamic sources like Jibril [Gabriel], Mikail [Michael], Israfil, Malik, the guard over Hell, and others. Of these, only Gabriel and Michael are mentioned in the Bible. Allah created them to worship Him, and only Allah knows how many of them. Among them are:

1. Jibril [Gabriel], the greatest of them all, who is charged with delivering Divine revelations to the Prophets and Messengers of Allah, may Allah praise them. Prophet Muhammad SAW actually saw him in his original form.

2. The attendants of God’s Throne are among the greatest angels. They love the believers and beseech God to forgive them their sins. They carry the Throne of God, about whom the Prophet Muhammad SAW said: “I have been given permission to speak about one of the angels of God who carry the Throne. The distance between his ear-lobes and his shoulders is equivalent to a seven-hundred-year journey.” [Abu Dawud]

3. Michael is responsible for rain, directing it wherever God wishes. He has helpers who assist him by the command of his Lord; they direct the winds and clouds, as God wills.

4. The angel of death, who is charged with extracting human souls, “Say: the Angel of Death, put in charge of you, will [duly] take your souls, then shall you be brought back to your Lord.” [ Surah As-Sajada, 32:11]

5. The keepers of Paradise and the nineteen ‘guards’ of Hell whose leader is named ‘Malik.’

6. Israfil is responsible for blowing the Horn, which will be blown at the onset of the Day of Judgment.

7. Then there are guardian angels responsible for protecting the believer throughout his life, at home or traveling, asleep or awake.

8. Others are responsible for recording the deeds of mans and utterances, good and bad. These are known as the “honorable scribes.”

9. Munkar and Nakier are responsible for testing people in the grave.

10. There are also angels responsible for breathing the soul into the fetus and writing down its provisions, life-span, actions, and whether it will be wretched or happy.

11. Some angels are roamers, traveling around the world in search of gatherings where God is remembered.

12. There are also angels constituting God’s heavenly army, standing in rows, they never get tired or sit down, and others who bow or prostrate, and never raise their heads, always worshipping God.

Attributes And Abilities Of Angels

The angels possess great powers given to them by God. They can take on different forms. Angels have the ability to take human forms in some circumstances involving common people. The Muslim scripture describes how at the moment of Jesus’ conception, God sent Gabriel to Mary in the form of a man: “…Then We sent to her Our angel, and he appeared before her as a man in all respects.” [ Surah Maryam, 19:17]

Angels also visited Abraham in human form. Similarly, angels came to Lot to deliver him from danger in the form of handsome, young men. Gabriel used to visit Prophet Muhammad in different forms. Sometimes, he would appear in the form of one of his handsome disciples, and sometimes in the form of a desert Bedouin. Gabriel is God’s heavenly messenger to mankind. He would convey the revelation from God to His human messengers. God says: “Say: whoever is an enemy to Gabriel - for he brings down the [revelation] to your heart by God’s will...?” [Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:97]

The Messenger of Allah SAW told us about their characteristics and duties. Amongst these characteristics are the following:

Firstly: They are huge in size. The Prophet SAW said: "I saw Jibril in the fashion that he was originally created in. He had six-hundred wings, with each wing filling the entire horizon, as far as the eye can see." This event was mentioned in the Qur’an where Allah says what means: "And he [Muhammad] has already seen him [Jibril] in the clear horizon [to the east]." [Surah At-Takwir, 81-23]

Secondly: They have the ability to change their shape, as we know in the story of Mariam, [may Allah praise upon her], and in this Hadith of Jibril when all the Companions saw him wearing an intensely white garment and having intensely black hair.

Thirdly: They live in the heavens; from there they descend to carry out their appointed duties. Allah the Exalted says: The heavens are almost rent asunder from above them [by His Glory]: and the angels celebrate the Praises of their Lord, and pray for forgiveness for all beings on earth: behold! Verily Allah is He, the Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. [Surah Ash-Shura, 42:5]

They Are Honorable And Obedient To Allah

Almighty Allah has described the angels as being honorable and obedient:

"[The Quran being Carried] by the hands of messengers [angels] noble and dutiful." [Surah Abasa, 80:15-16] Meaning, the Quran is in the hands of scribes, i.e., the angels, because they are the emissaries of Allah to His Messengers and Prophets, May Allah Praise them. Allah has described these angels as being "honorable and obedient"; He has created them honorable, good and noble. Their actions are obedient, pure and perfect. Hence the one who learns the Quran by heart should be one whose actions and words are proper and correct.

The Messenger of Allah SAW said:

"The one, who reads the Quran and recites it perfectly will be with the honorable scribes [angels] and the one who reads the Quran and tries his best, and it is hard for him, will have his reward doubled." [Al-Bukhari]

They Are Modest

Among the attributes of the angels mentioned by the Messenger SAW is their modesty.

'Aishah said that the Messenger of Allah SAW was lying down in his house with his thigh or his shin uncovered. Abu Bakar As-Siddiq asked for permission to come in, and he let him in and spoke with him whilst he was in that state. Then ‘Umar Al-Khattab asked for permission to come in, and he let him in and spoke with him whilst he was in that state.

Then 'Uthman bin ‘Affan asked for permission to come in, and the Messenger sat up and rearranged his garment, then he let him come in and spoke with him.

When he left, ‘'Aishah asked [the Prophet]: "Abu Bakar came in, and you did not stir or pay too much attention. Then 'Umar came in, and you did not stir or pay too much attention. Then `Uthman came in, and you sat up and fixed your garment? “He said: "How could I not feel shy of a man of whom the angels feel shy?" [Muslim]

The phrase "you did not stir" means you did not welcome him warmly.

Khadijah said to the Prophet SAW: "… O! cousin, can you inform me the next time your companion [ Jibril] comes to you?" He said: "Indeed". She said: "Tell me if he comes." Later, when the Prophet SAW was with her once, Jibril came to him. Seeing him, the Prophet SAW said to Khadijah: "O Khadijah, here comes Jibril." She said: "Do you see him now?" He answered in the affirmative. She said: "Come and sit on my right side." The Prophet SAW came and sat on her right side. Then she said: "Do you see him now?" the Prophet SAW said: "Yes". Then she asked the Prophet SAW to sit in her lap. When he did, she asked him: "Do you still see him?" He again said: "Yes." Then she uncovered her head while the Prophet SAW was still sitting in her lap and said: "Do you still see him?" He said: "No" She said: "He is not a devil; he is nothing but an angel …" [Al-Baihaqi]

That fact that Jibril disappeared when Khadijah uncovered her head shows that angels are modest and reserved.

They Are Able To Take On Different Forms

Almighty Allah has given the angels the ability to take on forms different from their own. Allah sent Jibril l [Gabriel] to Maryam [Mary] in human form, as stated in Quran:

"And mention, [O Muhammad], in the Book [the story of] Maryam [Mary], when she withdrew from her family to a place toward the east. And she took, in seclusion from them, a screen. Then we sent to her Our Angel [i.e. Jibril], and he represented himself to her as a well-proportioned man. She said, “Indeed, I seek refuge in the Most Merciful from you, [so leave me], if you should be fearing of Allah.” He said, “I am only the messenger of your Lord to give you [news of] a pure boy [i.e. Son].'" [Surah Maryam, 19:16-19]

The angels came to Ibrahim [Abraham] in human form, and he did not know that they were angels until they told him who they really were, as stated in the verses:

"And certainly did Our messengers [angels] come to Prophet Ibrahim [Abraham] with glad tidings; they said, “Peace.” He said, “Peace,” and did not delay in bringing [them] a roasted calf. But when he saw their hands not reaching for it, he distrusted them and felt from them apprehension. They said: “Fear not. We have been sent to the people of Lot.” [Surah Hud, 11:70]

The angels came to the Prophet Lot in the form of young men with handsome faces and he was grieved on account of them and feared that they may be harmed by his people, for they were an evil people who committed evil actions, and they used to commit sodomy. Almighty Allah Says:

"And when our messengers, [the angels], came to Lot, he was anguished for them and felt for them great discomfort and said, “this is a trying day.'" [Surah Hud, 11:77]

Ibn Kathir said: "The angels appeared to him [Prophet Lot] in the form of handsome young men as a test and a trial, so that proof might be established against the people of Lot, and Allah might seize them with a mighty punishment." [Al-Bidayah-wan-Nihayah, 1/43]

Jibril used to come to the Messenger in different forms. Sometimes he came in the form of Duhyah Ibn Khalifah Al-Kalbi [a companion who was of handsome appearance], and sometimes in the form of a Bedouin. Many of the Prophet's companions saw him when he came in that form.

The Angels And Human Beings.

1. The Angels And Adam.

When Allah, the Most Exalted, wanted to create Adam He informed His angels of that. They asked Him the reason behind that, because they knew that the sons of Adam would cause corruption and shed blood, and they would disobey Allah and disbelieve in Him. He told them that there were reasons for the creation of Adam which they did not know. Allah Says : "And [say, O Muhammad], when your Lord said to the angels, “Indeed, I will make upon the earth a successive authority.” They said, “Will You place upon it one that causes corruption therein and sheds blood, while we declare Your praise and sanctify You?” He [Allah] said, “Indeed, I know that which you do not know.” [Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:30]

a. The Angels Prostrated To Adam When He Was Created.

Allah commanded His angels to prostrate to Adam when He had completed his creation and breathed His soul into him, saying: "[So mention] when your Lord said to the angels: “Indeed, I am going to create a human being from clay. So when I have proportioned him and breathed into him of My [created] soul, then fall down to him in prostration.” [Surah Sad, 38:71-72]

They responded to the command, except for the Satan, as stated in the Quran: "So the angels prostrated — all of them entirely. Except Satan; he was arrogant and became among the disbelievers." [Surah Sad, 38:73-74]

b. The Angels Taught Adam.

It is narrated that Abu Hurairah said: The Messenger of Allah SAW said: "Allah created Adam in his image (i.e. without progressing through the stages of a normal human, starting from a sperm until the completion of his human formation), and he (Adam) was sixty cubits tall. When Allah had created him, Allah said: 'Go and greet them - a group of angels who were sitting - and listen to how they respond, for that would be your greeting and the greeting of your descendents.' So he said, 'As-Salamu 'Alaikum,' and they said, 'As-Salamu 'Alaika wa rahmat-Allahi’. So they added the words wa rahmat-Allah." [Al-Bukhari]

c. The Angels Washed Adam When He Died.

When Adam AS died, his children did not know what they should do with his body, so the angels taught them. Ubai Ibn Ka’ab narrated that the Prophet SAW said: "When Adam, died, the angels washed his body with water an odd number of times, then they buried him in a grave with a niche [slot], and said: This is the way of the sons of Adam." [Al-Hakim and At-Tabrani]

It is narrated in an authentic narration that the angels washed Hanthalah Ibn Abu ‘Amir who was martyred in the battle of Uhud. The Messenger SAW said to his companions after Hanthalah was killed: "The angels are washing your companion" – meaning Hanthalah. The companions asked his wife, and she said that he had gone out when he heard the call to Jihad, and he was in a state of ritual impurity following marital relations. The Messenger of Allah SAW said: "That is why the angels washed his body." [Al-Hakim and Al-Baihaqi]

2. The Angels And The Sons Of Adam.

The relationship between the angels and the descendents of Adam is very strong. They are there when a person is created; they guard him or her after they emerged into this world. They bring the revelation from Allah and they watch over people's actions and behaviour. They bring a person's soul forth from his body when his appointed time (of death) comes.

a. Their Role In The Creation Of Man.

Abu Dhar said: "I heard the Messenger of Allah SAW said: ‘When forty-two nights are passed, Allah sends an angel to the nutfah [embryo] and he gives it shape, forming its hearing and sight, its skin, flesh and bones. Then he says: ‘O Lord, male or female?' Then your Lord decrees whatever He wills and the angel write it down.'" [Muslim]

It is narrated that Ibn Mas’ud said: "The Messenger of Allah SAW who is the most truthful one, told us:

"Each one of you comes together in mother's womb for forty days, and then becomes an 'Alaqah [clot] for a similar period of time. Then he becomes a Mudhghah [chewed lump of flesh] for a similar length of time. Then Allah sends an angel to him, who is commanded with four things. It is said to him: Write down his deeds, his provision, and whether he is doomed [destined for Hell] or blessed [destined for Paradise]. Then the soul is breathed into him.'" [Al-Bukhari]

The Prophet SAW also said: "Allah has appointed an angel over the womb, and he [the angel] says, 'O Lord, a Nutfah [embryo from the mixed discharge of male and female]; O Lord, an 'Alaqah [clot]; O Lord, a Mudhghah [chewed lump of flesh].' And when Allah wants to decree his creation, he says: 'O Lord, male or female? Doomed or blessed? What is his provision? What is his lifespan?' All of that is written when he is in his mother's womb." [Al-Bukhari]

b. The Angels Guard the Sons Of Adam

Almighty Allah Says:" It is the same [to Him] concerning you whether one conceals [his] speech or one publicizes it and whether one is hidden by night or conspicuous [among others] by day. For him [ each one] are successive [angels] before and behind him who protect him by the decree of Allah. Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves. And when Allah intends for a people ill, there is no repelling it. And there is not for them besides Him any patron." [Surah Ar-Rad, 13:10-11] Ibn 'Abbas has explained that what are meant by "successive angels" are the angels whom Allah appoints to guard a person from before and from behind. Then when the decree of Allah comes, which Allah wills should befall him, they withdraw from him.

Mujahid said: "There is no person who does not have an angel appointed to protect him when he is asleep and when he is awake, from the jinn, other men and savage beasts. None of these come to him, but the angel tells it, 'Keep away!' except for that which Allah has given permission to befall him."

A man said to 'Ali Ibn Abu Talib: "A group from [the tribe of] Murad want to kill you." He ['Ali] said: "With every man there are angels guarding him from whatever has not been decreed for him. When the decree comes, they move away from him and let it reach him. Your, fixed lifespan [decreed by Allah] is a protection for you." [Al-Bidayah Wan-Nihayah]

These guardians are sent by Allah to protect His slaves until the decreed time of death comes to them.

3. The Emissaries Of Allah To His Messengers And Prophets.

Allah has told us that Jibril [Gabriel] is the only one who carries out this mission, which Allah says: through the verse: " Say [O Muhammad]: 'Whatever is an enemy to Jibril [Gabriel]-it is [none but] he who has brought it [the Quran] down upon your heart, by permission of Allah, confirming that which was before it and as guidance and good tidings for the believers.'" [Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:97]

Revelation may be brought by angels other than Jibril, but this happens rarely, as stated in the narration that was narrated by Ibn 'Abbas who said: "Whilst Jibril was sitting with the Prophet SAW he heard a creaking sound above him, and he raised his head. He said: 'This is a door in the heaven which has been opened today, and it has never been opened before today, and an angel has come down through it. This is an angel who has come down to the earth, and he never came down before today. He [that angel] gave the greeting of Salam and said: 'Rejoice, for you have been granted two lights which have not been given to any Prophet before you: the Opening [chapter] of the Book [Surah Al-Fatihah] and the closing verses of chapter Al-Baqarah. You will not read even one letter of them but you will be granted reward."' [Muslim]

According to Hudzaifah the Messenger of Allah SAW said: "An angel came to me and greeted me with salam – he came down from the heavens and he had never come down before – and he gave me the glad tidings that Al-Hasan and Al-Husain would be the leaders of the youth of Paradise, and that Fatimah would be the leader of the women of Paradise."" [Ibn 'Asakir]

a. Not everyone to whom an angel comes is a Messenger or a Prophet.

Not everyone to whom an angel comes can be counted as a Messenger or a Prophet. Allah sent Jibril to Maryam [Mary], as He sent him to Hagar, the mother of Isma'il [Ishmael] when she ran out of food and drink. [And it is known that neither of them were Prophets].

The companions saw Jibril in the form of a Bedouin. And Allah sent an angel to that man who visited a brother of his for the sake of Allah, to tell him that Allah loved him because he loved his brother. This happened a lot, and the reason was to make a point.

b. How did the revelation come to the Messenger?

Al-Harith Ibn Hisham asked the Messenger SAW: "O Messenger of Allah, how does the revelation come to you?"

The Messenger SAW said: "Sometimes it comes to me like the ringing of a bell, and that is the hardest for me. Then it departs from me, and I understand what has been said. Sometimes the angel comes to me in the form of a man who speaks to me, and I understand what he says." [Al-Bukhari]

Jibril used to come to the Messenger in his angelic form. This was difficult for the Messenger. At other times Jibril would change from his angelic form and take on human form, and this was easier for the Messenger.

The Messenger Saw Jibril Twice In The Form In Which Allah Created Him.

1. The Beginning Of The Prophetic Mission.

The Messenger of Allah SAW said: "Whilst I was walking, I heard a voice from the heavens. I raised my head and saw the angel who had come to me in [the cave of] Hira', sitting on a throne between the heavens and the earth. I was scared of him, and I went back [home] and said [to his wife], 'Cover me! Cover Me!.'" [Al-Bukhari]

2. When He Was Taken Up Into The Heavens [The Ascension]

This occasion was mentioned in chapter An-Najm, where Allah Says: "[The Quran was] Taught to him [Muhammad] by one intense in strength [Jibril] — One of soundness. And he rose to [his] true form. While he was in the higher [part of the] horizon. Then he approached and descended. And was at a distance of two bow lengths or nearer. And he revealed to His Servant what he revealed [conveyed]. The heart did not lie [about] what it saw. So will you dispute with him over what he saw? And he certainly saw him in another descent. At the Lote Tree of the Utmost Boundary — near it is the Garden of Refuge [Paradise] — when there covered the Lote Tree that which covered [it]. The sight [of the Prophet] did not swerve, nor did it transgress [its limit]." [Surah An-Najm, 53:5-17]

a. The Mission Of Jibril.

The mission of Jibril is not restricted only to conveying the Revelation from Almighty Allah. He used to come to the Prophet SAW every year in Ramadhan, on every night of that month, to teach him the Quran.According to Ibn 'Abbas bin Abdul Muttalib: "The Messenger of Allah SAW was the most generous of people, and he was at his most in generosity during Ramadhan, when he used to meet Jibril, and he used to meet him every night during Ramadhan, to study the Quran with him. The Messenger of Allah SAW was more generous in doing good than the strong wind when it blows." [Al-Bukhari]

b. Leading The Messenger In Prayer.

Jibril led the Messenger Muhammad SAW in prayer, so that he could learn the prayer as Allah wanted it to be performed. According to Ibn Mas'ud the Messenger said: "Jibril came down and led me in prayer, so I prayed with him, then I prayed with him, then I prayed with him, then I prayed with him, then I prayed with him" — and he counted them off on his fingers five times." [Al-Bukhari]

The Messenger said: "Jibril led me in prayer at the Ka'abah twice. He led me in praying Dzuhur [noon prayer] when the sun had passed its zenith by the length of a sandal-thong, and he led me in praying ‘Asar [afternoon prayer] when the shadow of every object was the same length as the object itself. He led me — praying Maghrib [sunset prayer] — at the time when the fasting person breaks his fast. He led me in praying 'Isya' [night prayer] when the twilight had ended. And he led me in praying Fajr [dawn prayer] at the time when food and drink become Haram [forbidden] for the one who is fasting.

On the following day, he led me in praying Dzuhur when the shadow of an object was the same length as the object itself. He led me in praying 'Asar when the shadow of an object was twice as long as the object itself. He led me in praying Maghrib at the time when the fasting person breaks his fast. He led me in praying 'Isya' when a third of the night had passed. And he led me in praying Fajr when there was a fair amount of light. Then he turned to me and said: ' O Muhammad, these are the times [observed by] the Prophets before you, and the time [for each prayer] is anywhere between these two times [mentioned in each case]. "' [Abu Dawud]

Physical Characteristics Of Angels.

1.The Great Size Of The Bearers Of The Throne

Prophet Muhammad said: "I have been granted permission to speak about one of the angels of Allah, one of the bearers of the Throne. The distance from his earlobes to his shoulders is the distance of a seven - hundred year journey." [Abu Dawud]

Anas Ibn Malik narrated that the Prophet said: "I have been granted permission to speak to an angel, one of the bearers of the Throne. His feet are in the lowest earth and the Throne is resting on his horn. The distance from his earlobe to his shoulder is like that of a bird flying for seven hundred years. That angel says, 'Glory be to You, wherever You are. '" [At-Tabrani]

2.The Wings Of The Angels.

The angels have wings, as Allah Almighty has informed us. Some of them have two wings, some have three or four, and some have more than that.

Allah, the Most Exalted, Says in Quran: "[All] praise is [due] to Allah, Creator of the heavens and the earth, [Who] made the angels messengers having wings, two or three or four. He increases in creation what He wills. Indeed, Allah is over all things competent." [ Surah Fatir, 35:1]

Moreover, We have already mentioned [in part one] the narration in which the Messenger SAW stated that Jibril [angel Gabriel] has six hundred wings.

3. The Beauty Of The Angels.

Allah has created them in a noble and beautiful form, as Allah Says of Jibril: "… [The Quran was] Taught to him by one intense in strength [i.e. Jibril] —One of soundness. And he rose to [his] true form." [Surah An-Najam, 53:5-6]

Ibn 'Abbas said: "[one of soundness] means one whose appearance is beautiful." Qatadah said regard the same verse: "One whose form is tall and beautiful." There is no contradiction between the two views, for he (Jibril) is both strong and of a beautiful appearance.

The idea that angels are beautiful is well-established in people's minds, just as the idea that devils are ugly is also well-established. Hence, we often hear people liken beautiful human beings to angels. Look at what the women said when they saw Prophet Yusuf [Joseph] in the Quran: "And when they saw him, they greatly admired him and cut their hands and said, “Perfect is Allah! This is not a man; this is none but a noble angel!' [Surah Yusuf, 12:31]

4. Similarity In Appearance And Form Between Angels And Humans.

The Messenger of Allah SAW said: "The Prophets were shown to me [during his ascension], and I saw Musa [Prophet Moses], a man of average build, looking like one of the men of [the tribe of] Shanu'ah. And I saw 'Isa Ibn Mariam [Prophet Jesus, son of Mary], and the person I have seen who most resembles him is 'Urwah Ibn Mas'ud. And I saw Ibrahim [Prophet Abraham], and the one who most resembles him is your Companion [meaning himself]. And I saw Jibril; the person I have seen who most resembles him is Dihyah." [Muslim and At-Tirmidzi]

Is this a similarity between Jibril's true form, and the form which Jibril took when he appeared in human form? Certainly, it is the latter, because as we shall see, Jibreel often used to appear in the form of Dihyah Ibn Khalifah. This is proven by the narrations in which the Prophet SAW described Jibril in his real shape having six hundred wings.

5. Variations In Their Physical Shape And Status.

The angels are not all the same in their physical shape and status. Some of them have two wings, some have three, and Jibril has six hundred wings. They vary in their status before their Lord, Most High. Allah Says: "[The angels say], 'There is not among us any except that he has a known position'". [SurahAs-Saffat, 37:164]

As concerning Jibril, Allah Says: "[That] indeed, it [i.e. the Quran] is a word [conveyed by] a noble messenger [Jibreel]. [Who is] possessed of power and with the Owner of the Throne, secure [in position]" [Surah At-Takwir, 81.19-20]

6. This means that he [Jibril] has a high status and important rank before Allah.

The best of the angels are those who were present at the Battle of Badar. Rafa'ah Ibn Raffia’ narrated that Jibril came to the Prophet SAW and said: "What do you think of the people of Badar among you [ who were present at Badar]?" He said, "They are the best of the Muslims" or similar words. Jibril said: "The same is true with the angels who were present at Badar." [Al-Bukhari]


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