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Who Are the Angels?

Angels are creatures that are unseen by us who worship Allah. They do not have any of the traits of divinity or lordship. Allah created them from pure light and gave them the inflexible and innate inclination to always obey Him. They have great powers to execute whatever they are commanded.

Allah the Most Exalted said (interpretation of the meaning):

{To Him (Allah) belongs whosoever is in the heavens and on earth. And those who are near Him (i.e. the angels) are not too proud to worship Him, nor are they weary (of His worship).

They (i.e. the angels) glorify His Praises night and day, (and) they never slacken (to do so).} (Quran 21:19-20)

The angels are so numerous that only Allah can count their numbers. Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, recalling his miraculous journey of ascension to the highest heaven, al-Mi’raj:

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“… I was then shown al-Bait al-Ma’moor, seventy thousand (angels) enter it every day, never to return to it.” (Narrated by al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Al-Bait al-Ma’moor, which is in the Seventh Heaven, is the Qiblah (direction of prayer) of the angels. The meaning of ‘enter it’ is that they worship Allah therein and circumambulate around it, as the Muslims circumambulate around the Ka’bah(the sacred house of worship in Makkah).

Do Angels have physical forms and bodies?

Some deviant people have denied that the angels have physical forms and bodies, claiming that they represent, instead, the inherent power of the unseen good in creation. This position is a direct denial of the Book of Allah (i.e. the Quran), the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and the consensus (ijma’) of Muslims.

Allah the Most Exalted said (interpretation of the meaning):

{All praise and thanks are Allah’s, the (only) Originator [or the (Only) Creator] of the heavens and the earth, Who made the angels messengers with wings, two or three or four. He increases in creation what He wills. Verily, Allah is Able to do all things.} (Quran 35:1)


Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:

“When Allah likes a slave, He calls on Jibreel (Gabriel) saying: ‘Allah loves such and such (a person) therefore love him.’ Then Jibreel loves him. So then Jibreel calls on the inhabitants of heaven, saying: ‘Allah loves so and so, therefore love him.’ So the people of heaven love him. Then the acceptance will be granted for him on the earth.” (Narrated by al-Bukhari)

The Prophet also said:

“When the day of Friday comes, angels stand at each of the doors of the Masjid(mosque) to record the first, and then the next (person that comes to the Masjid). When the Imam sits (on the pulpit) they close the scrolls and come to listen to the words of reminder.” (Narrated by al-Bukhari)

The above texts from the Qur’an and Sunnah of the Prophet clearly demonstrate that the angels have physical forms, and are not just spiritual forces, as the misguided claim. The entire community of Muslims understands that these texts (and their like) mean that the angels exist in a real physical form and body.

Can Angels take different forms and shapes?

The angels can change their shapes and transform themselves by the order and will of Allah. They may take the shape of men, like when Allah sent Jibreel (Gabriel) to Maryam (Mary, mother of Jesus Christ (peace be upon him)) or when He sent Jibreel to Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) in the shape of a man wearing very white clothes with very dark hair while he was with his companions, and whom none of the companions knew and who had no evidence apparent on him that he was a traveler.

He sat in front of the Prophet such that his knees touched the knees of the Prophet and put his hands on his thighs. He then asked the Prophet about Islam, Iman (faith and belief), Ihsaan (excellence in the religion) and the Last Hour and its signs. The Prophet answered all his questions, and when Jibreel left, the Prophet said to his companions, “This was Jibreel, who came to teach you your religion.” Similarly, the angels that Allah sent to Ibrahim (Abraham, peace be upon him) and Lut (Lot, peace be upon him) were also in the form of humans.

Are there specific Angels for specialized tasks?

Some angels are commissioned with specialized tasks, for example:

Jibreel (Gabriel): He is the angel commissioned and entrusted to convey Allah’s revelations to the Prophets and Messengers.

Mikaa‘eel (Michael): He is the angel commissioned and entrusted to distribute sustenance like the rainfall and vegetation.

Israfeel: He is the angel commissioned and entrusted to blow the Trumpet on the Appointed Hour of the Day of Resurrection.

Malak-ul-Mawt (The angel of Death): He is the angel commissioned to take the souls from the bodies at the time of death.

Maalik: He is commissioned to guard the hellfire.

Then there are angels that are commissioned to the embryos while in the wombs of their mothers: Allah sends these angels after the embryos complete four months in the womb and orders them to write the decree of the person’s provision, life term, deeds, and whether he will be of the wretched or the blessed.

Also there are angels commissioned to guard people and record all the deeds of the children of Adam (i.e. mankind): there is an angel on the right [writing good deeds] and another on the left [writing the evil ones].

Some angels are commissioned to examine the dead with specific questions once they are buried: two angels (Munkar and Nakeer) come and ask the dead person in his grave about his Lord, his Religion, and his Prophet.

What does it mean to belief in Angels?

1. To believe in their existence.

2. To believe in those whose names are known to us, like Jibreel (Gabriel), as well as those whose names we do not know.

3. To believe in all that we know about their traits and attributes, like the fact that the angel Jibreel, whom the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) saw in his original form in which he was created, has six hundred wings and is so immense that he covered the entire horizon.

4. To believe in what we know about the deeds and tasks they perform in obedience to the commandments of Allah, like the fact that they worship, glorify and praise Allah day and night without becoming bored, slacken or tire.

What are the benefits of believing in Angels?  

The great benefits of believing in the angels include the following:

1. Recognition of Allah’s Greatness, Magnificent Power and Authority, because the Greatness of Allah’s creation is only due to the Greatness of Allah, the Creator.

2. Giving praise and thanks to Allah for His care and concern to mankind, since He has appointed the angels to protect them, record their deeds and do other beneficial acts for them.

3. Love of the angels for the fact that they are sincere worshippers to Allah.

Taken from the book “The Explanation of the Fundamentals of Islamic Belief” by Sheikh Muhammad ibn Salih Al-Uthaymeen, with some minor modifications. To download the book, visit at: