Short Answer: Yes, belief in angels is an article of faith in Islam. One cannot claim to be Muslim if one rejects one of the six articles of faith as laid out by Prophet Muhammad in an authentic hadith he relayed to Angel Gabriel while sitting with his companions. Angels interact with humans in a number of ways, but only prophets can see angels in this life.
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By aqidah, we mean the creed we must hold firmly in our hearts without any sort of wavering.
The actual word in the Quran representing aqidah is iman (faith).
There is a hadith which narrates how the Angel Jibreel (Gabriel) appeared before the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him-PBUH) in the form of a man who needed to know about Islam.
He asked the Prophet, “Inform me about faith.”
He (the Prophet) replied:
That you affirm your faith in Allah, in His angels, in His Books, in His Apostles, in the Day of Judgment, and you affirm your faith in the Divine Decree about good and evil. (Muslim)
As can be seen from the above hadith, belief in angels is part of our faith.
The Six Articles of Faith
Generally, faith is described to consist of six major elements. They are:
- Belief in Allah: That is the belief that God Almighty is One, Unique, very much unlike His Creation, Perfect in every way.
- Belief in angels: That is the belief that they are beings who obey Allah’s orders perfectly. They are made of light. They never make mistakes and are never disobedient.
- Belief in the books of Allah: That Allah has sent His books to His chosen Prophets. And they include the Torah sent to Moses, the Zabur (Psalms) sent to David, the Injeel (Gospel) sent to Jesus, and the Quran sent to Muhammad (peace be upon all of them).
- Belief in the prophets or messengers: That Allah has chosen from among humans, His messengers, to guide us along the right path at different stages in the history of humanity. They include among others: Adam, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, David, Solomon, Jesus, and Muhammad (peace be upon them all).
- Belief in the Hereafter: That there will be a Day of Judgment on which all people – believers and disbelievers – will be resurrected and brought before Allah to be judged on the basis of their beliefs and deeds while they were on earth. Those who lived a life of obedience to Allah will be sent to Paradise. And those who failed to do so will be led to suffer in Hell.
- Belief in Divine destiny: That Allah has complete control of all that happens, both good and evil and He has full knowledge of it all.
Belief in Angels
Angels are unseen beings of a spiritual substance that carry out God’s orders in the world. Belief in their existence is an essential part of faith itself.
The Quran says:
The Messenger believes in what was sent down to him from his Lord, and the believers: Each one believes in God, His angels, His Books, and His Messengers. (Quran 2:285)
The Angels are invisible to humans, as they belong to the Unseen world. Allah Almighty says in the Quran:
They (angels) precede Him not in speech and act as He commands. (Quran 21:27)
That is to say, the angels are obedient servants of Allah and they have no choice except to act as Allah Himself commands them to act.
We Cannot See Angels…Yet
There were indeed several occasions in the life of the Prophet (PBUH) when the chief of the angels, Jibreel, appeared to him in human form.
But this was a miracle only the Prophet experienced.
This in itself does not mean that the angels are made of material substance normally visible to humans.
The Quran clearly says that the day when the angels are visible to the world would be a very harsh day for the unbelievers:
Upon the day when they see the angels — no good tidings that day for the sinners […] On the day when the heavens and the clouds are split asunder and the angels are sent down in a grand descent, the dominion that day will belong truly to the All-Merciful; it will be a harsh day for the unbelievers. (Quran 25:22, 25-26)
Referring to the torments of Hell awaiting the unbelievers, Allah Almighty says in the Quran:
Believers, guard yourselves and your families against a Fire whose fuel is men and stones, and over which are harsh, terrible angels. (Quran 67:6)
And those blessed souls admitted to Allah’s Paradise can also see angels there, as the Quran says:
Gardens of Eden which they shall enter […] and the angels shall enter unto them from every gate. (Quran 13:23).
Angelic Interactions with Humans
The Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) through the Angel Jibreel.
And since the first revelation, there were several other instances in the life of the Prophet when Angel Jibreel appeared to him in human form.
It is reported in an authentic hadith that when people assemble in activities organized for the purpose of remembering Allah, the angels are around them.
And indeed Allah has informed us in His Book that each and every one of us has two angels recording all our deeds:
There are over you watchers, noble writers, who know whatever you do. (Quran 82:10-12)
This means that those angels have a duty to record all our deeds from birth to death.
And they are our constant companions throughout our earthly life though invisible to us.
Thus, we can see that the belief in angels is crucial and central to our faith and Islam.
This means that the absence of this belief would take away an essential part of our faith; and that is why we underscore the idea that belief in angels strengthens our faith.
I hope this answers your question. Please keep in touch.
(From Ask About Islam’s archives)