The Nature of Angels in Islamic Theology

Originally posted 2017-09-13 00:52:27.


Being created from light, angels have no specific physical shape but can rather take a variety of shapes.

Being created from light, angels have no specific physical shape but can rather take a variety of shapes.

According to the Islamic theology the fundamental are articles of faith in Islam to believe in Allah, His Prophets, His Revealed Books, the angels, the afterlife and the destiny/divine decree. Faith in the unseen world created by Allah is thus an integral element of faith in Islam. Among the creatures of the unseen are angels, who are mentioned in the Glorious Qur’an as faithful servants of Allah.

The Nature of Angels

In Islam, it is believed that angels have been created from light, before the creation of humans from clay.  They are naturally obedient creatures, worshipping Allah and carrying out His Commands. Angels have no free choice like humans, so it is simply not in their nature to disobey. The Qur’an says:

                     They do not disobey Allah’s commands that they receive; they do precisely what they are commanded. (At-Tahrim 66:6).

Angels are genderless and do not require sleep, food or drink.

Roles of Angels

The Glorious Qur’an describes that angels have been created to worship Allah and carry out His Commands:

            Everything in the heavens and every creature on the earth prostrates to Allah, as do the angels. They are not puffed up with pride.

            They fear their   Lord   above them and do everything they are ordered to do. (An-Nahl 16:49-50).

Angels are involved in carrying out duties in both the unseen and seen worlds.

Angels Mentioned by Name

Several angels are referred to with their names in the Qur’an, with a description of their responsibilities:

  • Jibreel (Gabriel) who is in charge of conveying Allah’s Revelation to His Prophets.
  • Israfeel (Raphael) who is in charge of blowing the trumpet to mark the Day of Judgment.
  • Mika’il (Michael) who is in charge of rainfall and sustenance.
  • Munkar and Nakeer who will question everyone in the grave about their faith and deeds.
  • Malak Al-Mawt (Angel of Death) whose job is taking possession of souls after death.
  • Malik, the guardian of hell.
  • Ridwan, the guardian of heaven.

Other angels are mentioned, but not specifically by name. There are angels who act as guardians and protectors of believers, and angels who record a person’s good and bad deeds.

Angels in Human Form

Being created from light, angels have no specific physical shape but can rather take a variety of shapes. The Qur’an mentions that angels have wings (Fatir 35:1), but Muslims don’t speculate on what exactly they look like. Muslims find it blasphemous, for example, to engage in making images of angels as cherubs sitting in clouds. However, angels can take the form of human beings when required. For example, the Angel Jibreel appeared in a human form to Mary, the mother of Jesus, and to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) when questioning him about the faith and message.

“Fallen” Angels

In Islam, there is no concept of “fallen angels”, as it is in the nature of angels to be faithful servants of Allah. They have no free choice to disobey. Unseen beings who do have free choice, and who are often confused with “fallen angels”, are called jinn (demons). The most famous of the jinn is Iblis, who is also known as Shaytan (Satan). Muslims believe that Satan is a disobedient jinn, not a “fallen angel”.



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