Last Updated on 18th August 2020
The second article of Islam, after faith in Allah, is the belief in His angels. This article of faith has been entirely or partially distorted and misrepresented by a number of Muslims. Some people believe that angels can commit sins.
Referring to the incident of Prophet Adamas, certain so-called scholars presented angels in such a way that (God forbid) they stood before God and objected to His wisdom. However, we find in the Holy Quran that the angels never criticised the actions of God Almighty, as they said:
وَ نَحۡنُ نُسَبِّحُ بِحَمۡدِکَ وَ نُقَدِّسُ لَکَ
“We glorify Thee with Thy praise and extol Thy holiness.” (Surah al-Baqarah, Ch.2: V.31)
The story of Harut and Marut is even more shocking than the previous incident. It is said that (God forbid), God sent two angels in this world in the guise of men and they fell in love with a prostitute woman and as a punishment, they were blindfolded and hung upside down in a well.
Likewise, it is said that (God forbid), Iblis was the leader of all angels. Some people are of the view that angels are also material beings and run around like humans.
On the other hand, some people even deny the existence of angels and call them mythical beings. They interpret the angels described in the Holy Quran as powers and forces of nature.
The Promised Messiahas not only rejected these non-Islamic beliefs but also presented their true explanation and removed all objections raised against angels. He proved through the Holy Quran that angels neither object God, nor do they indulge in sins. Allah the Almighty says:
لَّا یَعۡصُوۡنَ اللّٰہَ مَاۤ اَمَرَہُمۡ وَ یَفۡعَلُوۡنَ مَا یُؤۡمَرُوۡنَ
“[Angels] disobey not Allah in what He commands them and do as they are commanded.” (Surah al-Tahrim, Ch.66: V.7)
Thus, a creation of the Almighty Allah, created with the powers of obedience and submission, can never fall into evil and love of prostitutes. Moreover, if angels are prone to sin, then why are we commanded to believe in them? The meaning of believing is to obey them. Instructing us to believe those who can defy God is like commanding someone to commit suicide.
In the same way, the Promised Messiahas explained that angels are spiritual beings. They do not wander around like human beings. On the contrary, just as the sun shines from its place, they also obey the commands of Allah from their assigned places. The Promised Messiahas states:
“Muslim scholars, for one, do not subscribe to the view that angels, with some kind of material bodies quite like humans, have to walk on foot to come down to earth. This kind of thinking would evidently be false. Were it necessary for angels to come down to earth in any formal shape to carry out their respective duties, it would have been absolutely impossible for them to complete any task. For instance, the angel of death has to take the lives of thousands of people per second, who live thousands of miles apart from one another, in different parts of the world. If he was under the obligation to walk to each country, town and home to find the opportunity to take a life, then let alone seconds, even months wouldn’t suffice to carry out such a huge task. Is it possible for a person moving about like humans to go around the world in a split second or even less? No, not at all. On the contrary, angels do not even fractionally stir from their true stations allotted to them by God Almighty. Quoting the angels, God says in the Holy Quran:
وَ مَا مِنَّاۤ اِلَّا لَہٗ مَقَامٌ مَّعۡلُوۡمٌ۔ وَّ اِنَّا لَنَحۡنُ الصَّآفُّوۡنَ
“‘And there is no one of us but has an appointed station. And verily we are those who stand ranged in ranks’” (Surah al-Saffat, Ch.37: V.165-166)].
Hence, the fact of the matter is that just as the Sun keeps to its orbit and its heat and light continue to envelop the earth and benefit each and everything in accordance with the capacity of each, the same is true about spiritual entities. Call them what you will; for instance, celestial spirits after the Greeks, or, in terms of the Avesta and Vedas, call them spirits of stars, or, in the simple and straightforward manner of those who believe in One God, call them God’s angels. The fact remains that these strange beings, each in its own particular station, are staying put and holding fast.
“In the infinite wisdom of God Almighty, these spiritual entities are busy serving everything that exists on earth and has the potential to help everything attain its desired goal to the fullest extent. The functions they perform are both visible and invisible. Just as our bodies and overt functions are influenced by the Sun, the Moon and other planets, all these angels too are exerting their respective influence on our hearts, minds and indeed on all our spiritual functions in keeping with our respective capacities. Be it a particle of dust or a drop of water that enters an oyster shell, or the womb of a mother, through the spiritual influence of these angels of God, it is transformed into a ruby, sapphire, diamond, a highly lustrous and large pearl or a human being with great qualities of head and heart …
“I would like to point out that the Quranic perception regarding angels is so clear, straightforward and reasonable that one cannot help but accept it. A close study of the Holy Quran shows that the presence of certain intermediaries is essential for external and internal development, not only of mankind, but also of all terrestrial creation. At places in the Holy Quran, there are clear and positive hints to the effect that some of these pure and holy beings known as angels are variously related to the different levels of the heavens. Through their specific influence, some of them perform the function of controlling winds while others control rain.
“There are still others who bring their influence to bear on this earth. Without doubt, because of their affinity to light, these holy spirits may well have some kind of relationship with the bright and luminous stars found in the heavens. But this relationship should not be confused with the kind of relationship the living organisms on earth have with life. Instead, these holy entities, because of their own light and lustre with which they are spiritually blessed, have a subtle and mysterious relationship with the stars. This relationship is so close and intense that it is not possible to imagine any separation between the two without undermining their strength. It is through the hidden hand of these beings that all stars are busy performing their assigned tasks. As God Almighty is the life force of the entire universe, so are these enlightened spirits, not wholly but in part, the elan vital of these stars and planets. Their separation would mean disaster for the existential condition of the stars. To date, no one has ever differed from the view that all heavenly bodies – stars and planets – are busy all the time contributing to the development and completion of life on earth.
“In short, it is a considered and fully established truth that day and night, heavenly bodies continue to work their influence on all existence – animate or inanimate. If nothing else, even an ignorant peasant would at least know for certain that moonlight effectively nourishes fruit and sunlight ripens it and that certain winds help increase its yield.
“Now if the apparent order of the universe is subject to the different influences of these phenomena, can there be any doubt that the latent order of the universe too is being influenced by these enlightened spirits – angels – at God’s command. Since the apparent order of external reality is being constantly nourished and moulded by the influence of such phenomena, how is it possible to doubt that the latent and innate order of reality is also subject to the influence of these luminous forces. In fact, they are as intense to the luminous stars as life is to our organism.” (Elucidation of Objectives, pp. 27-33 [English translation of Taudih-e-Maram])
The Promised Messiahas also rejected the idea that Iblis was the leader of angels or that he was an entity living among the angels. He was an evil spirit who defied Allah the Almighty, as has been stated in the Holy Quran:
وَ کَانَ مِنَ الۡکٰفِرِیۡنَ
“And he was of the disbelievers.” (Surah al-Baqarah, Ch.2: V.35)
The Promised Messiahas also dispelled the misconception that angels are mythical creatures or names of various forces of nature. He proved the existence of angels based on his own experience and observations. He enlightened the ill-informed people who already believed that Allah created the sun to help us see and the wind for sound to reach our ear and this has no effect on the omnipotence of God. However, if we say that Allah has created many means to carry out spiritual affairs, then the ignorant among us argue that holding such a belief calls into question His powers.
The Promised Messiahas explained that the creation of means by Allah the Almighty is not because He cannot convey His commandments directly to His servants, but on the contrary, humans lack the capacity to listen to the word of Allah the Almighty without these means. Moreover, these means are helpful in the development and progress of His servants. Th e Promised Messiahas states:
“In order to accept the existence of angels, the easiest way is that we should direct our reason to the following. It is admitted that for the training and perfection of our bodies and in order for the desired actions of our senses to be carried into effect, God Almighty has promulgated the law of nature that the elements and the Sun and the Moon and all the stars have been pressed into service that they should help our bodies and faculties to perform all their functions in the best manner possible. We cannot escape from the verity that our eyes cannot perform their function by their own light unless they are aided by the light of the sun and our ears cannot hear anything by their faculty of hearing unless they are aided by the air. Does this not prove that Divine law has ordained that the perfection of our faculties should be achieved through external means and that our nature cannot dispense with the help of external means? If we observe carefully, we will find that not in one or two matters, but for the perfection of all our senses and faculties and powers, we are dependent upon external help.
“As this law and system of God Almighty, Whose works display unity and appropriateness, operates firmly and compulsorily with reference to our external faculties and senses and our material needs, then does it not follow necessarily that there should be some system for our spiritual perfection and spiritual performance so that the identity of the two systems should prove the Unity of the Creator? It is obvious that the All-Wise One, Who has instituted this external system and has chosen that through the effect of the external means like the heavenly bodies and elements etc., our bodies and faculties and senses should be perfected, the same All-Wise and All-Powerful One would have chosen that system for our spiritual perfection, for He is One without any associate and there is unity in all His wisdom and works. Thus, the external means that affect our spirituality and fulfil our spiritual needs, as the Sun and the Moon and the elements help us with regard to our physical needs, are known by the name of angels.
“This proves the existence of angels and, observing the law of nature as a whole, we are compelled to acknowledge their existence, though we may not be able to penetrate their reality, nor is this necessary. When we have accepted the external law, there is no reason why in the same way we should not accept the internal law. We shall have to accept it in the same way as we have accepted the external law. This is the reason why God Almighty in His Holy Book has set forth these two laws in the same words, as He says:
وَالذّٰرِیٰتِ ذَرۡوًا۔ فَالۡحٰمِلٰتِ وِقۡرًا۔ فَالۡجٰرِیٰتِ یُسۡرًا۔ فَالۡمُقَسِّمٰتِ اَمۡرًا
“[By the winds that scatter seeds with a true scattering. Then by the clouds that carry the load of moisture. Then by the rivers that flow gently. And then by the angels that finally administer and execute affairs (Surah al-Dhariyat, Ch.51: V.2-5)], that is to say, God puts forward the testimony of the winds that separate the vapours from the oceans and other waters and carry them inside like pregnant women and waft them in the shape of clouds to their goal and the testimony of the angels that put into effect all these matters. This indicates that the winds have no power in themselves to lift the vapours from the oceans and to convert them into clouds and to cause them to send down rain where it is needed and thus administer matters. All this is the function of angels. In these verses, God Almighty first indicated, like philosophers, the cause of rain descending from the clouds and set out how water becomes vapour and then becomes clouds. Then, in the last verse:
“[And then by the angels that finally administer and execute affairs (Surah al-Dhariyat, Ch.51: V.5)] disclosed the reality that no one should imagine that the system of material causes and effects is adequate for the divine dispensation, but that a system of spiritual causes is behind this physical system that supports this visible system. At another place, it is said:
وَ الۡمُرۡسَلٰتِ عُرۡفًا۔ فَالۡعٰصِفٰتِ عَصۡفًا۔ وَّ النّٰشِرٰتِ نَشۡرًا۔ فَالۡفٰرِقٰتِ فَرۡقًا۔ فَالۡمُلۡقِیٰتِ ذِکۡرًا
“[By the angels who are sent forth with goodness. And then they push on with a forceful pushing. And by the forces that spread the truth, a good spreading. And then they distinguish fully between good and evil. Then they carry the exhortation far and wide (Surah al-Mursalat, Ch.77: V.2-6)]. This means that God Almighty puts forth the testimony of the winds and angels which proceed slowly and then proceed fast, and the winds that raise the clouds, and the angels which are appointed over them, and the winds that carry the message to the ears, and the angels who carry the Divine Word to the hearts. “In this way, God Almighty has combined the angels and stars in the verse:
“[Then they manage the affair entrusted to them’ (Surah al-Naziat, Ch.79: V.6)]. The seven planets have been referred to as arranging the affairs of the earth externally and the angels are referred to as arranging them internally. The commentary, Fath-ul-Bayan sets forth both these views on the authority of Muaz bin Jabal and Qushairi. Ibn-e-Kathir has reported on the authority of Hasan that all arrangements that are carried out between heaven and earth are carried out through angels and Ibn-e-Kathir writes that this is an agreed interpretation.
“Ibn-e-Jarir has interpreted the verse:
“[Then they manage the affair entrusted to them (Surah al-Naziat, Ch.79: V.6)] as meaning that the angels carry out the arrangements of the universe, that is to say, that though on the surface, the stars, the Sun, the Moon and the elements carry out their functions, yet in reality, it is carried out by angels.” (Essence of Islam, Vol. 2, pp. 143-147, [Aina-e-Kamalat-e-Islam, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 5, pp. I33-I37])