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Categories of Angels

 There are different categories of angels and each category has been entrusted with responsibilities which they fulfil devotedly. Allah has proclaimed:

لا يَسْبِقُونَهُ بِالْقَوْلِ وَهُمْ بِأَمْرِهِ يَعْمَلُونَ (الأنبياء: 27)

(Translation of meaning) [“They speak not until He hath spoken, and they act by His Command” (Al-Anbiya: 27)].

The Bearers of the Divine Throne

The duty of one category of the angels is to bear the Divine Throne. Quran says:

الَّذِينَ يَحْمِلُونَ الْعَرْشَ وَمَنْ حَوْلَهُ يُسَبِّحُونَ بِحَمْدِ رَبِّهِمْ وَيُؤْمِنُونَ بِهِ وَيَسْتَغْفِرُونَ لِلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا(7) (غافر: 7)

(Translation of meaning) [“Those who bear the Throne, and all who are round about it, hymn the praises of their Lord and believe in Him and ask forgiveness for those who believe” (Ghafir: 7)].

وَيَحْمِلُ عَرْشَ رَبِّكَ فَوْقَهُمْ يَوْمَئِذٍ ثَمَانِيَةٌ (الحاقة: 17)

(Translation of meaning) [“and eight will uphold the Throne of their Lord that day, above them” (Al-Haqqah: 17)].

The Angels Orbiting the Throne

There is a category of the angels who throng near the Divine Throne and keep on orbiting it. They are always busy in hymning the praise of Allah and glorifying and sanctifying Him. Allah pronounces:

وَتَرَى الْمَلائِكَةَ حَافِّينَ مِنْ حَوْلِ الْعَرْشِ يُسَبِّحُونَ بِحَمْدِ رَبِّهِمْ (الزمر: 75)

(Translation of meaning) [“And Thou [O Muhammad] seest the angels thronging round the Throne, hymning the praises of their Lord. And they are judged aright.” (Az-Zumar: 75)].

 

The Angels of the Paradise

The angels of the Paradise shall be the guards and the caretakers of the Paradise. They shall be at the service of the dwellers of the Paradise. They will welcome anybody who will be admitted to the Paradise. They will greet the dwellers of the Paradise with the words that Allah has provided these bounties for you. Allah says in the Quran:

لا يَحْزُنُهُمْ الْفَزَعُ الأَكْبَرُ وَتَتَلَقَّاهُمْ الْمَلائِكَةُ هَذَا يَوْمُكُمْ الَّذِي كُنتُمْ تُوعَدُونَ (الأنبياء: 103)

(Translation of meaning) [“The Supreme Horror will not grieve them, and the angels will welcome them, [saying]: this is your Day which ye were promised” (Al-Anbiya: 103)].

In another place He proclaimed:

وَالْمَلائِكَةُ يَدْخُلُونَ عَلَيْهِمْ مِنْ كُلِّ بَابٍ (23) سَلامٌ عَلَيْكُمْ بِمَا صَبَرْتُمْ فَنِعْمَ عُقْبَى الدَّارِ (24) (الرعد: 23 ، 24)

(Translation of meaning) [“The angels enter unto them from every gate, [saying]: Peace be unto you because ye persevered. Ah, passing sweet will be the sequel of the [Heavenly] Home” (Al-Ra’d : 23-24)].

The Messenger of Allah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

« آتِي بَابَ الْجَنَّةِ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ فَأَسْتفْتِحُ، فَيَقُولُ الْخَازِنُ: مَنْ أَنْتَ؟ فَأَقُولُ: مُحَمَّدٌ، فَيَقُولُ: بِكَ أُمِرْتُ لَا أَفْتَحُ لِأَحَدٍ قَبْلَكَ » (مسلم، أحمد)

(Translation of meaning) I shall reach the gate of the Paradise and ask for the door to be opened. Then the gate keeping angel will ask: Who’s there? I will say, I am Muhammad. Then he will open the door saying that my Lord had commanded me that I should not open the door before you for anybody (Muslim, Ahmad).

The Angels Guarding the Hell

The angels assigned the duty of guarding the Hell, named as Zabaniyyah, and shall be nineteen in number. Their task will be to torture the dwellers of the Hell. Allah has proclaimed:

سَأُصْلِيهِ سَقَرَ (26) وَمَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا سَقَرُ (27) لا تُبْقِي وَلا تَذَرُ (28) لَوَّاحَةٌ لِلْبَشَرِ (29) عَلَيْهَا تِسْعَةَ عَشَرَ (30) وَمَا جَعَلْنَا أَصْحَابَ النَّارِ إِلاَّ مَلائِكَةً (31) (المدثر: 26-31)

(Translation of meaning) [Him shall I fling unto the burning. – Ah, what will convey unto thee what that burning is! – It leaveth naught; it spareth naught. It shrivelleth the man. Above it are nineteen. We have appointed only angels to be wardens of the fire” (Al-Mudaththir: 26-31).

One of the warden angels of the Hell, named as Malik, shall be approached by the inmates of the Hell for relief. Their plight has been portrayed in the Quran in these words:

وَنَادَوْا يَا مَالِكُ لِيَقْضِ عَلَيْنَا رَبُّكَ قَالَ إِنَّكُمْ مَاكِثُونَ (77) (الزخرف: 77)

(Translation of meaning) [“And they cry: O Malik [master]! Let thy Lord make an end of us. He saith: Lo! Here ye must remain” (Az-Zukhruf: 77)].

In another place Allah proclaimed:

وَقَالَ الَّذِينَ فِي النَّارِ لِخَزَنَةِ جَهَنَّمَ ادْعُوا رَبَّكُمْ يُخَفِّفْ عَنَّا يَوْماً مِنْ الْعَذَابِ (49) قَالُوا أَوَ لَمْ تَكُ تَأْتِيكُمْ رُسُلُكُمْ بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ قَالُوا بَلَى قَالُوا فَادْعُوا وَمَا دُعَاءُ الْكَافِرِينَ إِلاَّ فِي ضَلالٍ (50) (غافر: 49 ، 50)

(Translation of meaning) [“And those in the fire say unto the guards of the Hell: Entreat your Lord that He relieve us of a day of the torment. The say: Came not your messenger unto you with clear proofs? They say: Yea, verily. They say: Then do ye pray, although the prayer of disbelievers is in vain” (Ghafir: 49-50)].

Angels to Protect Foetus in Mother’s Womb

Angels are appointed to govern the transformation of the foetuses growing in the wombs of their mothers. They transform them in different shapes and writes down his livelihood, their longevity, their fortune or misfortune. According to a saying of the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam):

« إِنَّ أَحَدَكُمْ يُجْمَعُ خَلْقُهُ فِي بَطْنِ أُمِّهِ أَرْبَعِينَ يَوْمًا، ثُمَّ يَكُونُ فِي ذَلِكَ عَلَقَةً مِثْلَ ذَلِكَ، ثُمَّ يَكُونُ فِي ذَلِكَ مُضْغَةً مِثْلَ ذَلِكَ، ثُمَّ يُرْسَلُ الْمَلَكُ فَيَنْفُخُ فِيهِ الرُّوحَ، وَيُؤْمَرُ بِأَرْبَعِ كَلِمَاتٍ: بِكَتْبِ رِزْقِهِ، وَأَجَلِهِ، وَعَمَلِهِ، وَشَقِيٌّ أَوْ سَعِيدٌ » متفق عليه.

(Translation of meaning) A fertilized sperm remains in the womb of its mother for forty days, then it takes the shape of coagulated blood during the next forty days, then it takes the form of a piece of flesh. Then Allah sends an angel who infuses the spirit in it and writes down four matters: First, how much livelihood he will have; second, when will he meet his death; third, what will he do in his life; and fourth whether he will enjoy good fortune or bad fortune. (Bukhari and Muslim).

The Angels as Noble Scribes

Allah has assigned angels to scribe the good and bad deeds of human-beings. The angle on right records good deed of men while the angle on left records bad deeds. Allah proclaims:

وَإِنَّ عَلَيْكُمْ لَحَافِظِينَ (10) كِرَاماً كَاتِبِينَ (11) يَعْلَمُونَ مَا تَفْعَلُونَ (12) (الانفطار: 10-12(

(Translation of meaning) [“Lo! There are above you guardians; Generous and recording; Who know [all] that ye do” (Al-Infitar: 10-12)].

In another place He proclaims:

أَمْ يَحْسَبُونَ أَنَّا لا نَسْمَعُ سِرَّهُمْ وَنَجْوَاهُمْ بَلَى وَرُسُلُنَا لَدَيْهِمْ يَكْتُبُونَ (80) (الزخرف: 80)

(Translation of meaning) [“Or deem they that We cannot hear their secret thoughts and private confidences? Nay, but Our envoys, present with them, do record” (Az-Zukhruf: 80”)].

The Guardian Angels: Hafadha

Allah has appointed guardian angels to protect the human beings from the evil of the Satan and other calamities and sudden travails. Allah proclaims:

لَهُ مُعَقِّبَاتٌ مِنْ بَيْنِ يَدَيْهِ وَمِنْ خَلْفِهِ يَحْفَظُونَهُ مِنْ أَمْرِ اللَّهِ (11) (الرعد: 11)

(Translation of meaning) [“For him are angels ranged before him and behind him, who guard him by Allah’s command.”  (Al-Ra’d: 11)]. Interpreting this verse Hadrat Ibn Abbas (RadhiAllahu Anhu) says: although the angels are deployed before and behind the human beings to protect them from evils but they retreat when the Divine Will requires something untoward to happen. The famous successor to the Companions Hadrat Mujahid says that these angels protect the human beings from other human beings and the jinns all the time whether sleeping or awake.

 The Companion Angels

Allah has attached a companion angel to each human being who is his well-wisher and guides him towards obedience and worship of Allah and cooperates with him in the doing of good deeds.                   There is a Prophetic saying that:

«مَا مِنْكُمْ مِنْ أَحَدٍ، إِلَّا وَقَدْ وُكِّلَ بِهِ قَرِينُهُ مِنَ الْجِنِّ» قَالُوا: وَإِيَّاكَ؟ يَا رَسُولَ اللهِ قَالَ: «وَإِيَّايَ، إِلَّا أَنَّ اللهَ أَعَانَنِي عَلَيْهِ فَأَسْلَمَ، فَلَا يَأْمُرُنِي إِلَّا بِخَيْرٍ»

(Translation of meaning) There is none among you who is not accompanied by an angel and a jinni. Those present asked: O Messenger of Allah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), do they accompany you, too? He said yes both accompany me, too. But Allah has granted me full control over my jinn so he guides me to nothing but good (Muslim, Ahmad). There is another saying of the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam)  that:

«إِنَّ لِلشَّيْطَانِ لَمَّةً بِابْنِ آدَمَ وَلِلْمَلَكِ لَمَّةً فَأَمَّا لَمَّةُ الشَّيْطَانِ فَإِيعَادٌ بِالشَّرِّ وَتَكْذِيبٌ بِالحَقِّ، وَأَمَّا لَمَّةُ المَلَكِ فَإِيعَادٌ بِالخَيْرِ وَتَصْدِيقٌ بِالحَقِّ، فَمَنْ وَجَدَ ذَلِكَ فَلْيَعْلَمْ أَنَّهُ مِنَ اللَّهِ فَلْيَحْمَدِ اللَّهَ وَمَنْ وَجَدَ الأُخْرَى فَلْيَتَعَوَّذْ بِاللَّهِ مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ الرَّجِيمِ» ، ثُمَّ قَرَأَ {الشَّيْطَانُ يَعِدُكُمُ الفَقْرَ وَيَأْمُرُكُمْ بِالفَحْشَاءِ} [البقرة: 268] الآيَةَ: (الترمذي)

(Translation of meaning) All humans are endowed with a satanic trait and an angelic trait. The Satanic trait provokes them to commit evil and corrupt deeds and incites them to falsify the right while the angelic trait encourages them to do good deeds and support the right. Whosoever feels like this he must understand that this is ordained by the Almighty Allah and he should thank Him for this. But whenever he feels inclined towards evil he should realize that this is inspired by Satan and he should seek refuge in Allah against this. Then the Prophet of Allah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam)  recited this verse:

الشَّيْطَانُ يَعِدُكُمْ الْفَقْرَ وَيَأْمُرُكُمْ بِالْفَحْشَاءِ (268) (البقرة: 268)

(Translation of meaning) [“The Devil promiseth you destitution and enjoins on you lewdness.”  (Al-Baqarah: 268)].

The Soul Plucking Angels     

Allah proclaims:

وَهُوَ الْقَاهِرُ فَوْقَ عِبَادِهِ ۖ وَيُرْسِلُ عَلَيْكُمْ حَفَظَةً حَتَّىٰ إِذَا جَاءَ أَحَدَكُمُ الْمَوْتُ تَوَفَّتْهُ رُسُلُنَا وَهُمْ لَا يُفَرِّطُونَ (61) (الأنعام: 61)

(Translation of meaning) [“He is the Omnipotent over His slaves. He sendeth guardians over you until, when death cometh unto one of you, Our messengers receive him, and they neglect not” (Al-An’am: 61)].

In another place He pronounces:

قُلْ يَتَوَفَّاكُمْ مَلَكُ الْمَوْتِ الَّذِي وُكِّلَ بِكُمْ ثُمَّ إِلَى رَبِّكُمْ تُرْجَعُونَ (11) (السجدة: 11)

(Translation of meaning) [“Say: the angel of death, who hath charge concerning you, will gather you, and afterward unto your Lord ye will be returned” (As-Sajdah: 11)].

He pronounced further:

الَّذِينَ تَتَوَفَّاهُمْ الْمَلائِكَةُ طَيِّبِينَ يَقُولُونَ سَلامٌ عَلَيْكُمْ ادْخُلُوا الْجَنَّةَ بِمَا كُنتُمْ تَعْمَلُونَ (32) (النحل: 32)

(Translation of meaning) [“Those whom the angels cause to die [when they are] good. They say: Peace be unto you! Enter the Garden because of what ye used to do” (An-Nahl: 32)].

Allah has assigned the angels to extract the souls of human beings. When the last moment of a believer comes those angels approach him with fair faces and sitting beside him say: O the contented soul come out and return to the forgiveness and pleasure of your Creator. The same angels approach a disbeliever with black faces and say: O wicked soul come out and move to your Creator’s wrath and displeasure. Hadrat Baraa Bin Azib (RadhiAllahu Anhu) has narrated that :Once we proceeded along with the Apostle of Allah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam)  in the funeral procession of a deceased Ansari and reached the burial ground. When the body was laid down in the grave the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam)  sat down on the ground and we also sat down around him in a circle. All of us were dead silent and motionless. The Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam)  began sketching some lines on the ground with a stick in his hand. Then he raised his head towards the sky and said: “Seek refuge in Allah against the ordeal of the grave” twice or thrice. Then he added that when a believer is ready to depart from the world and moves towards the other world the fair angels with faces as bright as sun descend from the heaven with the funeral shroud from the Garden scented with the perfume of the Garden. They sit within the sight of the dead. Then the Malakal Maut [the Angel of Death] comes and sitting at the head of the believer says: O pure soul proceed to the forgiveness of your Creator. And when the last moment of a disbeliever comes then angels with black faces descend from the heaven with rags and they sit within the sight of the body and then the Angel of Death comes and sitting at his head says O wicked soul come out and move towards the wrath and displeasure of your Creator (Ahmad).

According to a tradition: Once a person who had committed ninety-nine murders while searching for a man of knowledge reached a Christian monk. He told him I have committed ninety-nine murders is there any way for the atonement of my sins? The monk said none at all. Angered by this the person killed the monk too and made up the tally of one hundred. Then pursuing a man of knowledge again he met a theologian. He asked him if there was a way for the atonement of his sin, as he had committed one hundred murders. The theologian said yes. Who can come between you and your atonement? Go to such and such place where people are worshipping Allah and join in their worship. Do not return to your place, for that is not a good land. The man proceeded towards that place but in the middle way came his end. Then the angels of mercy and the angels of torture both descended for him and began quarrelling among themselves over the custody of the soul of the dead man. The angles of mercy argued that this man had repented and returned to Allah. The angels of torture argued that he had done nothing good in his life; therefore, they were entitled to his soul. Meanwhile, an angel appeared in the shape of a human being whom both made their arbitrator. He advised for the measurement of the distance he had covered while proceeding towards his destination. If he was nearer to his destination he belongs to the angels of mercy but if he was nearer to the point of his departure then he belongs to the angels of torture. Thus the measurement of the ground covered revealed that he was nearer to the intended destination of good. So he was taken into custody by the angels of mercy (Muslim).

Angels for Interrogation in Graves

Allah has proclaimed:

يُثَبِّتُ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا بِالْقَوْلِ الثَّابِتِ فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا وَفِي الآخِرَةِ وَيُضِلُّ اللَّهُ الظَّالِمِينَ وَيَفْعَلُ اللَّهُ مَا يَشَاءُ (27) (ابراهيم: 27)

(Translation of meaning) [“Allah confirmeth those who believe by a firm saying in the life of the world and the Hereafter and Allah sendeth wrong-doers astray. Allah doeth what He will” (Ibrahim: 27)].

Allah keeps the believers firmly footed in this world as well as at the time of death. Death is the first step towards the life of Hereafter. They will be immune from the horrors of the Day of Judgment as well. This is in a tradition that: When a Muslim will be interrogated in his grave he will affirm that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is His messenger (Nasai). In another tradition it is said that:  When a dead body is laid in the grave and the people accompanying him start returning he hears the humming of their steps. At this moment two angels come to him and make him to sit up. Then they will ask him what was your opinion about this person [Muhammad (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam)? If the dead man is a believer he will testify that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is his slave and messenger. Then he will be told that your place was fixed in Hell but Allah has replaced it by Garden and then he will be shown both the places. However, when a hypocrite or a disbeliever is asked about Muhammad (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) he will say he does not know anything. I used to say what others said. He will be told then that he did not exercise his own mind nor followed those who knew. Then he will be beaten with a steel hammer. He will make cries which will be heard by all except the human beings and the jinns. Every Muslim believes whatever has been described in the Quran and the Hadith about the after-death proceedings that are conducted within the grave. For a peaceful transition from such a stage it is essential that we understand and follow the commands of Allah and His messenger with full concentration. We can face the interrogation in the grave only when we follow the example of the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) properly. Without it no success at this stage can be expected.

The Angels of the Mountains

Allah created the earth and inserted the mountains in its surface like nails so that they keep it anchored in the space. Allah has created some angles for these mountains. When the pagans of Quraish refused to listen to the teachings of the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) he travelled to nearby Ta’if in the hope that its residents may listen to him. But instead of listening to him they teased and tortured him.  On that occasion Malakul Jibal [the Angel of the Mountains], accompanied with Hadrat Jibril (Alaihis Salam), visited the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam)  and said that if you so wish I can strike them with the akhshbain [the two mounts of Makkah]. The Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam)  declined it and said that I am hopeful that if not they then their coming generations shall become devotees of Allah and the deniers of shirk (Bukhari, Muslim).

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