Angels are honoured and pious servants of Allah. They are a sign of His majesty and power. Created from light, they are colossal numbers of them. When the Prophet ﷺ was taken up to the heavens, he was shown al-Bayt al-Maʿmūr. He was told that 70,000 angels pray in it every day, and when they leave, they do not get another chance to return. Imagine how many angels there are in total! He ﷺ also said, “Indeed I see what you do not see. The sky is creaking, and it has every right to creak: there is not even the space of four fingers (in the sky), except that there is an angel who has lowered his head in prostration to Allah” (Tirmidhī).
Some angels have two wings, some have three, some have four and some have many more. The Prophet ﷺ saw Jibrīl (ʿalayhis-salām) in the Night of Miʿrāj by the Lote Tree in the heavens: he had 600 wings, from which multicoloured pearls and rubies were falling. His wings are so huge that if he was to unroll a pair of them, it would fill the space between the sky and the earth. Likewise, the Prophet ﷺ was given permission to inform us about an angel who is so great that his feet are in the lowest earth and his neck is under the Throne of Allah. Realising the greatness of Allah, he constantly repeats, “How Perfect are You! How Magnificent are You, Our Lord!” (Ṭabarānī).
Despite being huge and having immense strength, angels never stop praising Allah (ʿazza wa jall) and worshipping Him. Allah says, “And those nearest to Him are never too proud to worship Him, nor do they tire. They glorify Him day and night, never wavering” (21:19-20). And yet, on the Day of Judgement, they will look at Allah and say, “How Perfect are You! We did not worship You as You deserved to be worshipped.”
Reflecting on the greatness of the angels, should increase our awe of their Creator: Allah, and make us appreciate and revere Him as He deserves to be revered.
Orderly and organised in straight rows, angels have different tasks assigned to them. Jibrīl – the best of them – was assigned the task of bringing down Allah’s words and conveying them to our beloved Prophet ﷺ. He was the bearer of the eternal guidance, without which, we would be completely lost. Reflecting on this should increase our gratitude for Allah.
Angels: Our Companions
We all have two angels who accompany us and record all our deeds, good and bad. Allah says, “Yet there are guardians watching over you, honourable scribes, who know all that you do” (82:10-12). Believing this and being regularly aware of this should increase our fear of Allah. It should deter us from sinning, both when we are in public and when alone.
It is from the mercy of Allah that the angels delay “registering the sin of a Muslim for six periods of time. If he repents (within these six periods of time), and seeks Allah’s forgiveness, they drop it off. If he doesn’t, they write it down as a single sin” (Ṭabarānī).
We also have angels who are assigned to protect our bodies and souls from harm. Allah says, “For each one there are successive angels in front of him and behind him, protecting them by Allah’s command” (13:11). Imagine if a person offered this kind of service to you: to always, and freely, be your bodyguard? Wouldn’t you love him? We should be grateful (shukr) to Allah and earnestly praise Him for His divine care.
The less the servant sins, the further shayṭān retreats from him; and the closer his guardian angel draws to him, until it takes responsibility for him, and takes him under its wings. Ibn al-Qayyim (raḥimahullāh) describes this angel as “the servant’s companion, the one who brings him the most benefit amongst the creation, and the one who is the sincerest to him, and the one in whose closeness lies his happiness.” He goes on to say, “There is nothing which brings greater benefit to the servant than the company of his angel. The angel is his guardian when he is awake and asleep, in his life and at the time of his death, and in his grave. He is his source of comfort in his loneliness, his companion in his isolation, and the one who shares his secrets.
The angel defends him and repels his enemy. He promises him good, gives him glad tidings, and encourages him to believe in the truth, as the Prophet ﷺ said, “Indeed, Shayṭān has an influence on the son of Ādam and the angel has an influence. As for the influence of Shayṭān, it is by threatening evil repercussions and denying the truth. As for the influence of the angel, it is by promising good and affirming the truth… (Tirmidhī).””
Ibn al-Qayyim categorises the soul into three types. One of these types is the soul which resembles angels in its character and actions. For such a person, “The angel becomes the guardian for him and thereby advises him, guides him, and teaches him. He keeps him firm, prompts him to say the correct thing, and repels his enemy. He seeks forgiveness for him when he sins, reminds him when he forgets, consoles him when he is sad, puts tranquillity in his heart when he feels scared, and wakes him up for ṣalāh if he is sleeping…He warns him from becoming attached to the world, and encourages him to seek out what is with Allah.”
He goes on to explain that since the angel is a believer’s close companion and neighbour, and his special guest, it is not befitting of him to dishonour his neighbour. Rather, he should honour these ‘honourable scribes (kirām kātibīn)’ by staying away from what offends them. In other words, we should stay away from sin, and always remain pure – spiritually and physically.
Angels & Gatherings of Righteousness
The angels love the pious because they love to be surrounded by the words of Allah and His remembrance. There are special angels who roam the earth looking for gatherings of dhikr. When they find them, they sit in these gatherings, to the extent that some of their wings overlap the wings of the other angels, until they fill the distance between the earth and the first sky. Similarly, there are angels who travel around the earth conveying the Ummah’s salām to our beloved Prophet ﷺ.
On Jumuʿah, at each door of the masjid there are angels who record the names of those who come to the masjid first. Then when the imām sits down, they close their books and come to listen to the sermon. Similarly, the masājid have ‘pillars’: congregants whose hearts are attached to the houses of Allah. These congregants have special companions from the angels. If they are absent, the angels ask about them; if they are ill, they visit them; and if they are in need, they help them.
The angels love the Qur’ān, and love hearing its recitation. They descend when the Qur’ān is recited. They stand behind us to listen to the recitation of the Qur’ān when we pray ṣalāh. When we recite Sūrah al-Fātiḥah, the angels say Āmīn. When we recite Āyah al-Kursī before going to sleep, a guardian angel stays by our side and no devil approaches us until we wake up in the morning.
We can attain the company of the noble angels by becoming attached to the Qur’ān, as our beloved Prophet ﷺ said, “The one who is proficient in the Qur’ān is with the ‘righteous and noble angel-scribes’ (as in 80:15-16)” (Bukhārī).
As we recite the Qur’ān, we should keep in mind the following ḥadīth: “When the servant uses the siwāk and then stands to pray, an angel stands behind him and listens to his recitation. The angel draws near until he puts his mouth on (the reciter’s) mouth. Nothing of the Qur’ān comes out of his mouth except that it enters the heart of the angel. Thus, purify your mouths for the Qur’ān” (Bazzār).
Angels are pure and they like to be surrounded by purity. This is why our beloved Prophet ﷺ instructed us to not come to the masjid having eaten onions or garlic, as “the angels are offended by what offends the Children of Ādam” (Bukhārī). Similarly, when we sleep with wuḍū’, an angel stays by our side throughout the night. Each time we turn and wake up, the angel asks Allah to forgive us.
The angels lower their wings in approval for the seekers of knowledge, and they attend the funeral prayers of the righteous. They fight alongside the believers and help them to remain steadfast, as occurred in the Battle of Badr.
Will The Angels Make Duʿa for You?
The angels make duʿā’ for the believers. Here are some deeds which result in the angels making duʿā’ for you:
• Make duʿā’ for your brothers and sisters in their absence.
• Seek knowledge and teach it.
• Sleep in a state of wuḍū.
• Visit the sick.
• Give charity.
• Pray in the 1st row of the congregation.
• Pray on the right side of the row.
• Remain seated in the place of prayer.
• Invoke ṣalawāt on our beloved Prophet ﷺ.
• Eat suḥūr.
What Should Iman in Angels Lead To?
Īmān in angels should increase our awe and fear of Allah. We should always think twice before sinning, since they are ever present and recording our deeds. Their presence should humble us, and make us recognise how negligent we are of Allah’s rights. If the angels, who are in perpetual servitude to Allah, think they aren’t doing enough, then what is our state?
Īmān in Angels should increase our appreciation and love for Allah. Allah has tasked so many angels with caring for us. From protecting us to supplicating for us, they address our every need, and all for free!
Just thinking about the Bearers of the Throne of Allah, a special category of angels, always seeking forgiveness for us and praying for our success, should overwhelm our hearts with love for Allah. Our lives are so intertwined with theirs. This should comfort us on one hand, while motivating us on the other to stop sinning and pursue righteous deeds. In this way, we will take the angels as our best friends and gain the maximum benefits of their companionship.
A Never-Ending Companionship
Just as angels accompany us throughout our lives, they also accompany us in our journey to the hereafter. They will comfort the believers who remained steadfast and say to them, “Do not fear, nor grieve. Rather, rejoice in the good news of Paradise, which you have been promised. We are your close friends in this worldly life and in the Hereafter. There you will have whatever your souls desire, and there you will have whatever you ask for: as a welcoming gift from the Most Forgiving, the Most Merciful” (41:30-2).
May Allah al-Karīm (The Most Generous) grant us the friendship of His angels, grant us Paradise, and make us of those whom “…the angels will enter upon them from every gate (of Paradise, saying,) ‘Peace be upon you for your perseverance. How excellent is the ultimate abode!’” (13:23-4).