Could you please give information on the nature of Angels, their types and about the importance of belief in them? Why cannot we see them?

Details of the Question
Could you please give information on the nature of Angels, their types and about the importance of belief in them? Why cannot we see them?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The Nature of Angels:

Angels are creatures who have subtlety and capability of transforming into various forms. They were created only to do good deeds. (Tajrid Trns., IX, 19;  Baydawi, I,  134)

Angels are obedient slaves of Allah (SWT). They do whatever they are ordered to do. They never rebel or do anything without order. (al-Anbiya, 26-27) They are free from any sin. Apart from pure worship, they do nothing; they can intervene in nothing unless commanded, and cannot intercede even, without permission. (The Fruits of Belief)

Since they have no anger, nafs (evil commanding soul) and feelings of lust, they have no spiritual advancement or decline as a result of struggling with their nafs. Satan does not bother them. They each have a static position, an unchanging rank and a definite duty.

Angels do not eat or drink, sleep, marry and reproduce like us. They have no gender. They are present in the sky, on the ground and everywhere. They can travel the farthest places in a short time and are capable of appearing in any form and shape as they wish. Allah (SWT) gave them this ability.

As Angels have no duty of choosing between the good and evil and only have capability of doing good deeds, they are not rewarded for the deeds they do like humans. May be they get peculiar pleasure for the deeds and worships they perform according to their levels. (The Words, 327) That is, their rewards are in their service. Man feeds on water, air and light; similarly, angels feeds on the noor (light) of dhikr, tasbih, praising, worship, knowledge and love. (The Words, 327; Tajrid Trns., IX, 19) since they were created from light, as nourishment, light is enough for them. Even good scents which are similar to light are a sort of their nourishment. Good and clean sprits definitely love good scents. (The Words, 327) Since Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) were sent revelations and He frequently met angels, he did not eat food that have stinking smell like onion and garlic and that are not liked by angels. In his words, wearing nice scents were among the three things he liked best in the world.)

The worshipping of Angels is like fard (obligatory) they have no voluntary worships (supererogatory). However, supererogatory worship is a great honor for humans. As a matter of fact, a Hadith al Qudsi explains this as follows; “My servants would gain my love by performing supererogatory worships”. (Husayn Jisri, RisalaI al-Hamidiyya; 577)

Angels also cannot get the thawab (reward) by avoiding things forbidden by Allah (SWT) because they have no inclination for performing bad deeds and harams.

Why cannot we see Angels?

Since Angels were created from noor (light), their true natures and actual images are not visible to human eye. Our seeing abilities were not created with a capability of perceiving angels. However, as Allah (SWT) created prophets with a capability of seeing angels, they could see them with their true natures.

Our inability of seeing and perceiving angles with our five senses does not mean that they do not exist. There are many things that sense organs cannot perceive in the material world. Our ears do not hear very low and high pitched sounds. If we saw all light waves, particularly x-rays and ultraviolet rays with our eyes, we would know the world much more different than we know at the moment. Since we do not know the realities of occurrences in our world, how can we deny endless events that take place in numberless realms of Allah (SWT). Thus, human reason approves the existence of angels.

It is clear that if something is not seen through eyes, it does not mean that it does not exist. There are too many things that we cannot see; however, we approve their existence with our reasoning, knowledge, experience and experiments. At this point, though angels are not visible to human eye, they are among things that we approve their existence.

Primarily Islam and all other divine religions informed about the existence of angels; prophets saw them with their true identities and received revelations from them. Primarily the Qur’an and all divine books also mentioned sufficiently about the existence of angels. All of these things are clear evidences for the existence of angels like seeing them.

It is a great ignorance and denial when someone denies by saying “I cannot see them with my eyes” whereas the existence of angels are approved by all divine religions and prophets. For a person who believes in Allah (SWT), not believing in angels is not in question.

What is the importance of belief in Angles?

Belief in Angels has an important place among the fundamentals of belief because angels are a kind of envoys who take divine message from Allah (SWT) and reveal them to the prophets. So, believing in revelations and prophets requires the belief in the existence of angels who reveals them the revelations and prophethood first.Not believing in angels will bring about not believing in prophets.

That is why belief in Angels is uttered immediately after belief in Allah (SWT).

What are the parts of Angles and how many kinds of angels are there?

Angels are divided into mainly 3 groups:

1. Angels that worship; they are called Illiyyun - Muqarrabun,

2. Angels related to nature; they are called mudabbirat,

3. Angels related to human beings...

* Angels that worship: Muqarrabun:

They are always engaged in mentioning the names of God Almighty, glorifying Him by saying that He is free from all imperfection and blessing Him with all of His perfect attributes. They are overwhelmed by the knowledge, love and worshipping of Allah.

* Angels related to nature: Mudabbirat:

They are angles in charge of managing the universe, applying the divine laws that maintain the order in nature. They supervise and observe the manifestations of the will and power of Allah in nature.(Baydawi, al-Baqara. 30. For the kinds of mudabbirat angels mentioned in the Quran, see:as-Saffat, 1-3; adh-Dhariyat, 4;al-Mursalat, 3-5.)

* Angels related to human beings:

The most important one of them is Gabriel (pbuh). His duty is to convey the divine revelation to prophets. Therefore, he is also called the angel of revelation.

He was also given the names Ruh al-Qudus and Ruh al-Amin. 

Another duty of the angels related to people is to give strength to the prophets of Allah and righteous people, to console them when they are grievous and sad, to elevate their moral strength and to help them actually. The Quran informs us that angels actually helped believers in battles like Badr and Uhud that took place during the Era of Bliss. (al-Anfal, 12; Aal-i Imran, 123-126) 

Another duty of the angels related to man is to suggest good and useful things to people, enabling them to be on the right path and elevating them spiritually. 

The following hadith reported from the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) regarding the issue is significant: 

Every Muslim is secured by 160 appointed angels. They keep away the things that people cannot cope with. There are 7 appointed angels only for the eye. Those angels chase the Satans that attack the eye just like the flies that attack the honey on a hot day.

If you could see them, you would see how they waited on the mountains and in the plains readily and that they were in a position of attacking. 

If man were left alone for a moment, Satans would snatch him. (Ihya, III, 89; Ibn Abid-Dunya, Makaid ash-Shaytan; Tabarani, Mu’jam al-Kabir.) 

Some angels of this category have certain special duties. 

Recording Angels:

There are two recording angels with each person. They write down and record all kinds of acts, words and behavior of each person, whether they are good or bad. They are called Kiraman Katibin: Honorable Recorders in the Quran.  (See Qaf 50/17-18; al-Infitar 82/10-12; az-Zukhruf 43/86)

Munkar - Nakir Angels:

They are the angels that question man after he dies in the grave and asks questions like, “Who is your Lord? What is your religion, Who is your prophet?

Azrael (pbuh):

He is in charge of removing souls from people’s bodies. He is also called the Angel of Death. (as-Sajda 32/11)

Mikail (pbuh):

He is the angel in charge of delivering the sustenance to their owners and arranging natural events like wind and rain in accordance with Allah’s will.

Israfel (pbuh):

He is the angel in charge of blowing Soor (the trumpet) and announcing the time of the Doomsday. After the Doomsday strikes and all living beings die, Israfel will blow the trumpet again and people will come out of their graves and go to the Gathering Place.

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