What is belief in the angels?

The second principle of belief is to believe in the angels.It is fard for every Muslim to believe in the angels.

Allah Almighty states the following in the Quran regarding the angels:

"The Messenger believeth in what hath been revealed to him from his Lord, as do the men of faith. Each one (of them) believeth in Allah, His angels, His books, and His Messenger... " (al-Baqara, 285)

To believe in the angels whose properties and duties are explained in detail in the Quran is one of the principles of belief in Islam. This belief has a very important place in the belief system of the religion of Islam. For, the angels are "Allah's divine messengers", who convey Allah's "divine revelation", which is the foundation of the institution of prophethood, which is regarded as a grant and grace of Allah Almighty to human beings, from the realm of the unknown to human beings and to the prophets selected among them.

The angels are Allah's spiritual beings that arrange the system and order in the skies and on the earth; they are the honorable scribes and luminous beings that protect human beings, that inspire them good deeds and charities and that write down what they do.

According to this principle, belief in the divine revelation and prophethood, even the hereafter and "the affairs of the hereafter", Paradise and Hell can only be possible through belief in the angels. Then, before believing in the prophets and the heavenly books sent down to them, it is necessary to believe definitely in the existence of the angels that bring them the prophethood, revelation and books. Therefore, "belief in the angels" means "belief in the prophets".  Denial of the angels means denial of the prophethood. That is why, belief in the angels is in the second place among the principles of belief, after belief in Allah.

As a matter of fact, after belief in Allah, we are ordered to believe in His angels, then to His books and then to His prophets in the Quran. The following is stated in the chapter of al-Baqara: "The Messenger believeth in what hath been revealed to him from his Lord, as do the men of faith. Each one (of them) believeth in Allah, His angels, His books, and His Messenger..." (2/285) 

In fact, to believe in the other principles of belief (the hereafter, qada (destiny) and qadar (decree)) becomes possible by believing in Allah first and in His angels. Therefore, belief in the angels is mentioned immediately after belief in Allah in the Quran.  In the famous hadith reported by Hz. Umar from the Messenger of Allah (pbuh), when the Prophet (pbuh) talked to Jibril, the angel of revelation, and was asked "what is belief", he answered as follows:

"Belief is to believe in Allah, His angels, books, prophets, the hereafter and qadar." (Muslim, Iman 1; Bukhari, Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi and Nasai also reported some similar hadiths.)

A person who denies the existence of the angels, whose existence is definite by the verse and hadith above and similar ones, is regarded to be an unbeliever by the Quran, the Sunnah and the consensus of the ummah. For, Allah Almighty states the following: "And who denieth Allah, His angels, His Books, His Messengers, and the Day of Judgment, hath gone far, far astray." (an-Nisa 4/136) Therefore, denying the angels is regarded as denying both the Quran and prophethood.

Then, the reality is as follows: The existence of the angels is definite by verses and hadiths and it is possible in terms of the mind. For, all of the prophets informed us that angels existed. Hz. Prophet (pbuh) also saw them and informed us that they existed.

In the Quran, there are many verses mentioning the angels, their attributes, various duties they fulfill and their high ranks in the eye of Allah. Everything informed by the Quran, which is the word of Allah, is true and definite. Prophets are innocent. They are equipped with the attributes of ismah (innocence), sidq (loyalty), tabligh (conveying) and amanah (trust); so, they never tell lies.

Then, Muslims have to believe in the angels, whose existence is definite by the verses of the Quran and sound hadiths, and on whose existence all prophets and heavenly religions agree. Therefore, to deny the existence of the angels, whose existence is definite, makes a person an unbeliever. It is by no means permissible to try to interpret the clear verses and religious evidences regarding the issue.

Every Muslim has to believe in the properties of the angels listed below:

1. Angels are the slaves of Allah created by Him. Then, they are not the daughters or sons - God forbid - of Allah; they are not His enemies, either. (The wrong beliefs of the idolatrous Arabs and the members of previous religions about angels are imaginary and superstitious.)

2. Angels follow Allah's orders exactly. They never oppose him or rebel against Him; they never violate any of His prohibitions; they never commit sins, either. For, they have the attributes of "ismah" and "amanah". The common properties of all angels are to praise Allah and to glorify Him by obeying and worshipping Him. (al-Anbiya, 21/26-27; al-Mumin, 40/7)

3. Angels have two, three or four wings based on their luminous nature (the tasks and duties they do). This is definite by the verses of the Quran, which is the word of Allah. However, it is a wrong understanding to imagine angels, who are from the unseen realm, who are isolated from material density and whose real nature is not known, as material beings. For, they were not created in a way that can be seen by our eyes due to the will and decree of Allah; there is no clear information about the issue in the Quran. The wing mentioned in the Quran is a spiritual wing indicating that they fulfill their duties very fast and a symbol of force and power, which is in accordance with the purpose of the creation of the angels and their luminous nature. This word is a symbolic and figurative expression. As a matter of fact, a person who is good at religious and worldly sciences is figuratively called "dhul-janahayn (having two wings)"; it is stated that mothers have wings of compassion and mercy for their children. Christians regard and describe angels as beings with wings like birds. They differ from the Islamic creed in this regard. 

4. According to the Quran and the Sunnah, angels were created out of invisible light, but Allah Almighty granted them the power of assuming the form of dense things and human beings when it is necessary. (M. Said Ramazan al-Buti, Kubral-Yaqiniyyat al-Kawniyya, p. 271-278; A. A. Aydın İslâm İnançları, I, 402-403)

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