Introduction: An overview about the duties of servitude of angels and spiritual beings and their kinds.

Introduction

It may be said that the existence of the angels and spirit beings is as definite as that of human beings and animals. Indeed, as is explained in the First Step of the Fifteenth Word, reality undoubtedly requires and wisdom certainly demands that like the earth the heavens have inhabitants, and that its inhabitants are intelligent, and suitable for the heavens. In the tongue of the Shari‘a, those inhabitants, of which there are numerous kinds, are called angels and spirit beings.

Reality requires it to be thus. For despite the earth’s smallness and insignificance in relation to the heavens, its being filled with intelligent beings and from time to time being emptied and then refilled with new ones suggests -indeed, states clearly- that the heavens too, with their majestic constellations like adorned palaces, are filled with animate creatures, the light of the light of existence, and conscious and intelligent creatures, the light of animate creatures. Like man and the jinn, those creatures are spectators of the palace of the world, and ponderers over the book of the universe, and heralds of this realm of dominicality. With their universal and comprehensive worship, they represent the glorification of the large and universal beings in the universe.

The nature of the universe surely points to their existence. For since it is embellished and decked out with uncountable numbers of finely adorned works of art and meaningful decorations and wise embroideries, it self-evidently requires the gazes of thoughtful admirers and wondering, appreciative lovers; it demands their existence. Yes, just as beauty requires a lover, so is food is given to the hungry. Thus, the sustenance of spirits and nourishment of hearts in this boundless beauty of art looks to the angels and spirit beings; it points to them. For while this infinite adornment requires an infinite duty of contemplation and worship, man and the jinn can perform only a millionth of that infinite duty, that wise supervision, that extensive worship. This means that boundless varieties of angels and spirit beings are necessary to perform those duties, and to fill and inhabit the mighty mosque of the world with their ranks.

Indeed, a species of the spirit beings and angels is present in every aspect, in every sphere, of the universe, each charged with a duty of worship. It may be said according to both the narrations of Hadiths and the wisdom in the order of the world that from lifeless planets and stars to raindrops, all are ships or vehicles for a kind of angel. The angels mount these vehicles with Divine permission and travel observing the Manifest World; they represent their praise and glorification.

It also may be said that certain sorts of living bodies act as aeroplanes for different kinds of spirits. From the birds of Paradise, called the Green Birds in a Hadith which says: “The spirits of the people of Paradise enter into Green Birds in the Intermediate Realm and travel around Paradise in them,”1 to flies, each is a vehicle for a sort of spirit. The spirits enter into them at a Divine command, and through the faculties and senses of those living bodies like the eyes and ears, observe the miracles of creation in the corporeal world. They perform the particular glorification of each.

Just as reality necessitates it to be thus, so does wisdom. For, with an intense activity, the All-Wise Maker continuously creates subtle life and luminous intelligent beings from dense earth, which has little connection with spirit, and from turbid water, which has small relation with the light of life. He surely then creates certain sorts of intelligent beings from the seas of light and even from the oceans of darkness, from the air, electricity, and other subtle matter suitable for spirit and appropriate for life. And surely these creatures are exceedingly numerous.

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1. Muslim, Imara, 121; Tirmidhi, Tafsir Sura Al-i ‘Imran, 19; Fada’il al-Jihad, 13; Ibn Maja, Jana’iz, 4; Darimi, Jihad, 18; Musnad, i, 266; vi, 386.

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First Aim: about angels.

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