The Characteristics of Angels
Belief in the angels is one of the six pillars of belief (iman) in Islam, an obligatory act of faith (fard), essential for every Muslim. Angels are described in the Qur’an as “noor.” Roughly translated, “noor” means light. Malak, the Arabic term used for angels, has been translated to effect of “messenger” or “deputy” (1)
“When you were imploring your Lord for help (as a special mercy), and He responded to you: “I will help you with a thousand angels, coming host after host.” (8:9) (2)
Knowledge of and belief in angels is crucial because angels are the intermediary creatures that transmit revelation from God-Almighty to the Prophets.
The Tasks of Angels
Angels have been sent to humanity for several purposes. The first of these purposes are the angels (Muqarribin), whose only task is to spend their time in worship and praise of God-Almighty. They never tire and are seamless in their duties.
The second group of angels (Mudabberat) is assigned duties that resemble the types of tasks we may see here on a daily basis (i.e. farmers or gardeners). They make sure vegetation and animal species are in proper order. It is important to note that these do not mimic or embody the same characteristics as human farmers (or other workers). Imagine the world is a large farm and each angel has been assigned a particular duty to ensure every facet of this “farm” is working in proper order. The task of taking care of the world God-Almighty has created is an act of worship. In other words, they are in charge of the order of the universe.
The third group of angels is known as the divine messengers. Charged with bringing revelation to the Prophets, they have also been known to inspire and spiritually develop human beings.
Kiramim Katibun (the Noble Recorders) are dutied with subscribing the deeds (both good and bad) of each human life. God-Almighty also tasks 360 angels to guard each mu’min (believer). In addition to guarding them, particularly during infancy and old age, they spend much of their time praying and asking God-Almighty to forgive their sins.
In addition to all these, there also angels assigned to assist during times of war, angels assigned to Heaven and Hell and angels assigned to partake in gatherings where people meet to glorify God-Almighty.
Physical & Spiritual Traits
Unlike humans, angels are never promoted for the work they do. The have a pre-ordained rank and need no external gratification for the completion of their duties. They find their reward in the work they do. They also do not sin and they never disobey. They do not have a “nafs” or evil-commanding soul that would lead them astray. Animalistic qualities such as lust, jealousy, anger, and pride are not present in angels. They are gender free and do not have physical limitations such as the need for food or drink. They never feel tired and spend every moment in constant worship. They are fulfilled wholly by their worship and praise of God-Almighty and the substantial benefits that alone provides them.
Humans can find much serenity in the belief of angels. Knowing they are with us can provide a sense of peace and relief.
Those (angels) who bear the Supreme Throne (of God), and the others around it glorify their Lord with His praise; and they believe in Him (as the Unique Deity, Lord, and Sovereign of all creation), and ask for His forgiveness for those (among His creation) who believe, saying: “Our Lord! You embrace all things with mercy and knowledge (having perfect knowledge of every creature’s need, and answering that need with mercy), so forgive those who repent (of their sins) and follow Your way, and protect them from the punishment of the Blazing Flame. (40:7) (3)
Why Did God-Almighty Assign Angels to Perform Duties?
The All-Powerful does not need anyone to guard the universe for Him. However, it is well within his Divine Knowledge to assign or appoint angels to guard those who serve Him (humans). Should one wish to fully benefit from the guardianship and company of angels, they must first prioritize a close relationship with God-Almighty. Strong iman (belief), regularly performing the five daily prayers, abstaining from what is forbidden and enjoining in good are key in benefiting from this relationship God-Almighty has so graciously given us.