Angels in our lives: The ethereal bodies of light

ALLAH created them, and they worship and obey Him. Those who are in His presence do not disdain to worship Him, nor do they weary. (Quran, 21:19)

By Abid Ishaq

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Published: Fri 15 Jul 2005, 11:21 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 6:44 PM

Dear readers, the above verse of the noble Quran refers to the Creator’s most obedient worshippers; the Angels. From early age we are taught about angels and perhaps the one thing that fascinates most children is the fact that angels can fly. Most children reach adulthood with this limited knowledge of angels. Today, many of us are not able to elaborate on the greatness or the characteristics of these noble beings who do not disdain to worship Him, nor do they weary. So let’s look at the characteristics of angels and examine their divine relationship with you and me.

To start with, angels are created from light, not the light that we know, but light in its more refined and subtle form, which we call nur. The Arabic word for angel is malak. According to its root form, malak means messenger, deputy, envoy, superintendent and the powerful one. The root meaning also implies descent from a high place. Angels are beings who build relations between the meta-cosmic world and the material one, convey God’s commands, direct the acts and lives of beings (with God’s permission), and represent their worship in their own realms. Having refined or ethereal bodies of nur (light), angels move very rapidly and permeate or penetrate all realms of existence.

There are various classes of angels. One class is engaged in constant worship; another worships by working. These working angels have functions that resemble human occupations, like shepherds or farmers. In other words, Earth’s surface is like a general farm, and an appointed angel oversees its entire animal species by the command of the All-Majestic Creator, by His permission and Power, and for His sake.

For example, the Earth’s surface is also an arable field where all plants are sown. Another angel is appointed to oversee all of them in the name of Almighty God and by His power. Lower ranking angels worship and glorify Almighty God by supervising particular plant species. Archangel Michael, peace be upon him, is the head of all these angels.

Angels who function as shepherds or farmers bear no resemblance to human shepherds or farmers, for their supervision is purely for God’s sake, in His name, and by His power and command. They observe the manifestations of God’s lordship in the species they are assigned to supervise, study the manifestations of divine power and mercy in it, communicate divine commands to it through some sort of inspiration, and somehow arrange its voluntary actions. How they go about fulfilling their job descriptions is known only to the Omniscient Allah, may He be glorified.

One of the Angels that most of us are familiar with since childhood is Gabriel. We believe that the angel Gabriel is entrusted with revelation. He brings it down from Allah to whomever He wishes from among His prophets and messengers and the noble Quran was revealed to the Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, through angel Gabriel.

Among other angels are Michael, who is in charge of rain and the growth of plants; Israfil, who is in charge of blowing the horn at the time of the resurrection; the Angel of Death, who takes away people’s souls at the time of death. Among other angels is the one who is in charge of mountains; and Malik, the keeper of Hell.

Some angels are in charge of embryos in wombs, others are responsible for protecting human beings, and some others are busy recording men’s deeds: there are two angels for every person, when the two angels receive (his deeds), one sitting on the right and one on the left, not a word he utters but by him is an observer ready (Quran, 50:18). Some other angels are in charge of questioning the dead after he is placed in his last abode.

Dear readers, it is important for us to reflect on these noble beings who have been commissioned by Allah the Most High. So let us remember that angels do not sin or disobey, for they do not have an evil-commanding soul that must be resisted. They have fixed stations, and so are neither promoted nor abased. They are also free of such negative qualities as envy, rancour, and enmity, and from all lusts and animal appetites found in human beings and jinn. They have no gender, do not eat or drink, and do not feel hunger, thirst, or tiredness. Praise, worship, recitation of God’s names, and glorification of Him are their nourishment. Praise be to Allah, the Creator of all beings.

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