Explaining The Fundamentals Of Faith

Author: Imaam Muhammad Ibn Saalih al-Uthaymeen

Source: Dr. Saalih as-Saalih
Translator: Sharh Usool al-Eemaan

Published: Saturday 29th October, 2005

The Belief In The Angels

The angels are a creation from the World of Al-Ghayb [1] who worship Allaah and possess nothing from the Divine Qualities of Ruboobiyyah and Uloohiyyah. Allaah created them from Light and granted them the complete submission to His Command and the ability to execute it.

Allaah (Ta’aalaa) said:

“And those who are near Him (i.e. the angels) are not too proud to worship Him, nor are they weary (of His worship).” [Qur’aan 21:19-20]

They are great in number; none can enumerate them except Allaah (Ta’aalaa). It is confirmed from the Hadeeth of Anas (radhi-Allaahu ‘anhu) in his narration of the story of Al-Mi’raaj [2] that the Prophet (sal-Allaahu ‘alayhe wa-sallam) said:

“...I was shown Al-Bait Al-Ma’moor. [3] I asked Jibreel about it and he said: ‘This is Al-Bait Al-Ma’moor where seventy thousand angels perform Salaat daily. When they leave, they never return to it (but always a fresh batch comes into it daily).” [4]

The Belief In The Angels Comprises Four Matters:

  • First: The belief in their existence.

  • Second: To believe in those whose Names are known to us, like Jibreel, and to generally believe in those whose Names we don’t know.

  • Third: The belief in what we know from their Attributes, like that of Jibreel whom the Prophet (sal-Allaahu ‘alayhe wa-sallam) saw in his genuine shape in which he was created, having six hundred wings, and covering the whole horizon. [5]

    The angel may, by Allaah’s Command, take the form of a man as happened to Jibreel when Allaah sent Him to Maryam where he appeared to her in the form of a man in all respects. [6] Also when he came to the Prophet (sal-Allaahu ‘alayhe wa-sallam) while he was sitting in the company of his Sahaabah. He (Jibreel) appeared in the form of man dressed in extremely white clothes, his hair exceedingly black; no signs of journeying were to be seen on him, and none of the Sahaabah knew him. He sat down by the Prophet (sal-Allaahu ‘alayhe wa-sallam) resting his knees against his and placing the palms of his hands upon his thighs. He then asked the Prophet (sal-Allaahu ‘alayhe wa-sallam) about Islaam, Eemaan, Ihsaan [7], the Hour (i.e. Day of Resurrection) and its Signs. The Prophet (sal-Allaahu ‘alayhe wa-sallam) answered his questions after which he left. Then the Prophet (sal-Allaahu ‘alayhe wa-sallam) said:

    “That was Jibreel, who came to teach you your Deen.”

    Similarly, the angels whom Allaah sent to Ibraaheem (alayhis-salaam) and Loot (alayhis-salaam) appeared in the form of men.

  • Fourth: To believe in what we know of their deeds which they perform in compliance with the Command of Allaah (Ta’aalaa), like their Tasbeeh and worship of Allaah [8] day and night without boredom or slackness.

Some Angels May Have Specialized Tasks:

For example:

  • Jibreel: the Al-‘Ameen (the entrusted) on Allaah’s Revelation. He (Ta’aalaa) sends him to the Prophets and Messengers.

  • Mikaa’eel: In charge of Al-Qatr i.e. rainfall and plants. [9]

  • Israafeel: Responsible for the blowing of the Trumpet on the Day when the Hour will be established and creation will be resurrected. [10]

  • Malakul Mawt (The Angel of Death): Assigned to pull out the souls at the time of death. [11]

  • The angels appointed to the womb: When the embryo completes four months in the mother’s womb, Allaah send to him an angel and orders him to record his provision, his life term, his deeds, and whether he will be of the wretched or the blessed (in the Hereafter).

  • The angels appointed to watch and keep records of the deeds of the children of Adam (mankind): one sitting on the right and one on the left of each person. [12]

  • The angels assigned to question the dead once they are buried. Two angels come and ask him about his Rabb (Allaah), his religion, and his Prophet. [13]

The Belief In The Angels Yields Great Benefits, Amongst Them:

  • First: Being aware of Allaah’s Greatness, Power, and Authority. Certainly the greatness of creation (in this case the angels) is due to the Greatness of the Creator.

  • Second: To give thanks to Allaah for His concern for the children of Adam whereby He assigned some of these angels to protect them and record their deed as well as other interests.

  • Third: To love the angels for what they have done from worship to Allaah (Ta’aalaa).

Some of those who deviated (from the Straight Path) denied that the angels are genuine forms. They said that they represent the power of potential good in creation. This position belies the Book of Allaah, the Sunnah of His Messenger and the general consensus of Muslims.

Allaah (Ta’aalaa) said:

“All praise is due to Allaah, the (only) Originator (or Creator) of the heavens and the earth Who made the angels messengers with wings - two, three, and four.” [Qur’aan 35:1]

“And if you could see when the angels pull away the souls of the Kufaar (at death), they smite their faces and their backs.” [Qur’aan 8:50]

“And if you could but see when the Thaalimeen (polytheists, wrong-doers, etc.) are in the agonies of death, while the angels stretching forth their hands (saying): ‘Deliver your souls’.” [Qur’aan 6:93]

“Until when fear is banished from their (angels’) hearts, they (angels) say: ‘What is that your Rabb has said?’ They say: ‘The truth. And He is the Most High, the Great.’ ” [Qur’aan 34:23]

Allaah also said about the people of Al-Jannah that:

“And the angels shall enter unto them from every gate (saying): ‘Salaam be upon you for that you persevered in patience. Excellent indeed is the final home.’ ” [Qur’aan 13:23-24]

The Prophet (sal-Allaahu ‘alayhe wa-sallam) said in the Hadeeth reported by Abu Hurairah (radhi-Allaahu ‘anhu) and collected in Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree:

“If Allaah loves a person, He Calls Jibreel that: ‘Allaah loves so-and-so. O Jibreel! Love him.’ Jibreel would love him and make an announcement amongst the inhabitants of the heaven: ‘Allaah loves so-and-so, therefore you should love him also.’ The inhabitants of the heavens would love him, and then he is granted the pleasures of the people on the earth.” [14]

In the same book (Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree), the Prophet (sal-Allaahu ‘alayhe wa-sallam) said:

“On every Friday the angels take the stand at every gate of the mosque recording the names of the people one after the other (according to the time of their arrival for the Friday prayer), and when the Imaam sits (on the pulpit) they fold up their scrolls and get ready to listen to the Thikr (Khutba: the Friday speech).” [15]

The above texts clearly state that the angels are genuine forms (of creation) and not moral forces as those who deviated (from the Straight Path) say. The general consensus of the Muslims is in accordance with the above texts.


[1] Al-Ghayb: Realities and domains beyond human perception. [TN]

[2] Which describes the ascent of the Prophet (sal-Allaahu ‘alayhe wa-sallam) to the Heavens. See for example Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree, V.1, Hadeeth # 345, and V.5 Hadeeth no. 227. [TN]

[3] Al-Bait (The House) Al-Ma’moor (Inhabited): in the seventh heaven parable to the Ka’bah in Makkah, continuously visited by the angels. Ibn Katheer said: “It is the Ka’bah for the inhabitants of the seventh heaven.” See Tafseer Ibn Katheer (Qur’aan 52:4) and As-Silsalah As-Saheehah by Shaykh Naasir-ud-Deen Al-Albaanee, V.1, no. 477. [TN]

[4] Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree, V.4, Hadeeth no. 429.

[5] See Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree, V.4, Hadeeth nos. 455-457.

[6] See Qur’aan 19:17.

[7] When Jibreel (alayhis-salaam) asked the Prophet (sal-Allaahu ‘alayhe wa-sallam) about Ihsaan, he (sal-Allaahu ‘alayhe wa-sallam) replied:

“Ihsaan is to worship Allaah as though you are seeing Him, and while you see Him not yet truly He sees you.”

For full account of this Hadeeth, see Saheeh Muslim, V.1, Hadeeth no. 47. [TN]

[8] Magnifying the Perfection of Allaah, Most High. [TN]

[9] See Al-Bidaayah wan-Nihaayah by Ibn Katheer, V.1, p.50. [TN]

[10] See Fathul Baaree by Ibn Hajr Al-Asqalaanee, V.11, p.368. [TN]

[11] [TN] Allaah (Ta’aalaa) said :

“Say: ‘The angel of death, who is set over you, will take your souls, then you shall be brought to your Rabb.’ ” [Qur’aan 32:11]

[12] Allaah, the Exalted, said:

“But verily, over you (are appointed angels in charge of mankind) to watch you. (They) are honourable in Allaah’s Sight, writing down (your deeds). They know all that you do.” [Qur’aan 82:10-12]

“(Remember!) that the two Receivers (recording angels) receive, one sitting on the right and one on the left (to note his or her actions). Not a word does he (or she) utter. but there is a watcher by him (or her) (to record it).” [Qur’aan 50:17-18]

[13] When a dead person is buried, two black (looking) angels having blue eyes, one called Munkar and the other Nakeer, will come to him. They will ask about Allaah, the Prophet (sal-Allaahu ‘alayhe wa-sallam) and his religion. A Hadeeth related by At-Tirmidhee and Shaykh Al-Albaanee said it is hasan. See At-Tahaawiyyah, FN. no. 528, p.399, As-Saheehah, Hadeeth no. 1391, and At-Tabreezee’s Mushkaatul Massaabeeh, V.1, Hadeeth no. 130. [TN]

[14] Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree, V.4, Hadeeth no. 431.

[15] Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree, V.4, Hadeeth no. 433.


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