Within the Islamic faith, angels are considered to be a grandiose creation of God, beings made of pure light, transcending the perceptible world of phenomena we live in. They form a vital part of the unseen world, known as ‘Alam al-Ghayb,’ existing beyond the reach of our physical perception.
Unlike human beings, they do not possess free will and are bound to obey Allah’s command without fail. The existence of angels is a big part of our faith, intertwined with the very fabric of Islamic belief, and acknowledging them is among the pillars of faith.
For many, the mention of angels conjures images of guardians with wings, but in Islam, they’re so much more. They are Allah’s messengers, tasked with various duties, and some hold a known position for their extra special tasks and the blessings of Allah that they bestow.
These angels interact with the world of humans and are part of the grandiose creation of God, affirming the magnificence of His creation.
Let’s get into the roles of the four main angels in Islam—esteemed beings who are a testament to the boundless power and the orderly system established by the Originator of the heavens and the earth.
Table of Contents
- Angel Jibreel (Gabriel): The Messenger of Revelation
- Angel Mika’il (Michael): The Provider of Sustenance (via Allah)
- Angel Israfil: The Herald of the Day of Judgment
- Angel Azrael: The Angel of Death
- Angels in Islam
Angel Jibreel (Gabriel): The Messenger of Revelation
Jibreel (Angel Gabriel), known as the Holy Spirit in some Islamic traditions, is among the greatest angels and holds the esteemed role of the angel of revelation. He is famously recognized for bringing Allah’s words to the messenger of Allah Prophet Muhammad, playing a pivotal role as the conveyor of the final home of divine guidance, the Qur’an, to mankind. This noble angel is mentioned in various Hadith, such as those compiled by Sahih al-Bukhari and by scholars like Ibn Katheer in his ‘Tafsir ibn Kathir.’
Angel Jibreel’s significance is not merely for his appearance in human form to the prophets of God but for his unwavering dedication to delivering the command of Allah. It was Jibreel who accompanied the Prophet Muhammad during the significant event of Isra and Mi’raj, and who supported him during the battle of Badr. He is described as having 600 wings and being of such immense size that he could cover the horizon. Jibreel’s presence has been felt in gatherings of dhikr (remembrance of God), emphasizing his role in encouraging and safeguarding the spiritual welfare of righteous Muslims.
Angel Mika’il (Michael): The Provider of Sustenance (via Allah)
Next, we have Mika’il, or Michael, who is entrusted with the provision of sustenance to all creatures by Allah’s command. He is responsible for directing the forces of nature that bring about life-sustaining resources like rain and fertile soil. Angel Mika’il’s duty is to distribute the blessings of God, aka rizq, ensuring that the Earth is a nurturing, fruitful place for humanity. His role symbolizes the mercy and the beneficence of Allah towards His creation.
In Islamic tradition, the actions of Mika’il reflect the direct blessings of Allah upon us, reminding human beings of the importance of respecting the natural world, which is a testament to the nurturing aspect of Allah’s mercy. The remembrance of Mika’il’s duties inspires Muslims to be grateful for the nourishment and sustenance that they receive daily, recognizing it as part of the countless blessings of Allah.
Angel Israfil: The Herald of the Day of Judgment
The angel Israfil is charged with a role that is yet to unfold—the herald of the Last Day. Assigned with blowing the trumpet to signal the end of the world, Israfil stands ready, waiting for the command of Allah to bring forth the Day of Judgment. His dedication and concentration are such that his gaze does not waver from the Throne of God, his lips poised at the trumpet, ready for the moment he is commanded to herald the Day of Resurrection.
His existence serves as a constant reminder to Muslims of the transient nature of life on Earth and the inevitable reality of the afterlife. The belief in Israfil and the Last Day encourages believers to live righteous lives, aware that the tally of their good deeds and bad deeds will ultimately be weighed.
Angel Azrael: The Angel of Death
Lastly, we come to Azrael, the Angel of Death, a figure often misunderstood and wrongly feared. Azrael’s task is to gently extract the souls of people at the time of death, following the orders of Allah.
His presence signifies the completion of a person’s life journey and the beginning of their hereafter. In Islamic tradition, it is described that for the righteous, Azrael appears with a comforting presence, making the transition from the physical world a serene experience. However, for those who commit evil deeds, the experience can be distressing, a reflection of the immediate punishment for a life led astray.
Azrael is always at work, assisted by a group of angels who aid him in his duties. He is known to show great respect for the human condition, understanding the agonies of death. It is said that he possesses a ledger, the ‘Book of Deeds,’ in which the names of mortals are inscribed, and he diligently follows Allah’s command in determining the exact time of death for every living soul. Azrael’s existence reminds Muslims of the certainty of death and the importance of living a life in accordance with Allah’s will, doing good things, and avoiding bad deeds to ensure a peaceful transition to the afterlife.
In the vast and intricate belief system of Islam, these four angels—Jibreel, Mika’il, Israfil, and Azrael—hold a special place.
Their different tasks and great powers highlight the comprehensive nature of Allah’s command over every aspect of existence, from the revelation of His words to the provisions for His creatures, from the heralding of the final hour to the transition of souls from the mortal world.
Each angel, in their original form or sometimes taking a human form to fulfill Allah’s orders, underscores a different facet of life and spirituality, reminding the faithful of the different forms of Allah’s mercy, justice, sustenance, and wisdom.
They are not just guardian angels; they are messengers, sustainers, heralds, and honorable recorders. They are among the most revered and very special angels, carrying out their duties without error.
The Islamic tradition, through the Qur’an and Hadith, such as those narrated by Abu Hurayrah and collected by scholars like Ali ibn Abi Talib, has endowed the Muslim community with rich narratives of these angelic beings, their roles, and the significance of their actions in both the perceptible and unseen worlds.
Understanding these angelic duties brings Muslims closer to comprehending the completeness of Allah’s sovereignty, the blessings of Allah, and the grand tapestry of existence that encompasses both the physical world and the realm of the unseen.
Whether it’s through the powerful interpretations of the meaning by scholars like Ibn Katheer or the prophetic traditions cited in collections like Sahih al-Bukhari, the tales and teachings of these angels are interwoven with the daily lives and spiritual consciousness of Muslims. They are reminders of the omnipresence of Allah’s command, the significance of angels in fulfilling His will, and the continuous need of these creatures to maintain the balance and order of Allah’s grand creation.
As we go about our lives, amidst the struggles and joys, the remembrance of these main angels and their roles should serve as a source of comfort, inspiration, and reverence. Their presence is a testament to the presence of your Lord, His intricate orders, and His all-encompassing knowledge and power—truly a reflection of the magnificence of His creation and the blessings of God that manifest in every corner of our existence.
Angels in Islam
Certainly, the four main angels—Jibreel, Mika’il, Israfil, and Azrael—play pivotal roles within Islamic cosmology, but they are part of a much larger and majestic tapestry of the unseen. Islamic texts tell us that there are countless angels, each with their specific duties and responsibilities.
From the Honorable Recorders on our shoulders, chronicling our good deeds on the right and bad deeds on the left, to the Guardians of Heaven and the keepers of hellfire, each angel operates under Allah’s command with precision and unwavering dedication.
The exact number of these celestial beings remains unknown to mankind, a reflection of the vastness of Allah’s creation. While we are acquainted with some names and roles through Islamic tradition and scripture, many more remain beyond our knowledge, continuously engaging in the worship of Allah and the tasks they have been assigned.
They are, like so many aspects of our faith, part of the magnificent and infinite universe Allah has originated—a universe that contains wonders far beyond human comprehension.
In the grand scheme of things, angels are a reminder of the omnipotence and mercy of Allah. They serve without lapse, each playing their part in the divine narrative, their very existence a sign of Allah’s perfection and the depth of His dominion over all worlds.
As Muslims, the belief in angels enriches our understanding of Tawheed (the Oneness of Allah) and the interconnectedness of the physical and spiritual realms. It also subtly weaves humility into the human heart, knowing that within this grandiose creation of God, there are beings of pure light, serenely submitting to the will of the Almighty, a constant inspiration for us to strive for piety and righteousness in our own lives.