What are Angels

The Nature of Angels

Angels were created out of light, before the creation of humans (which are made from clay/earth). Angels are naturally obedient creatures, worshipping Allah and carrying out His commands. Angels are genderless and do not require sleep, food, or drink; they have no free choice, so it is just not in their nature to disobey.

"Allah says in the Quran says: “O believers! Protect yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is people and stones, overseen by formidable and severe angels, who never disobey whatever Allah orders—always doing as commanded.”

The Role of Angels

In Arabic, angels are called mala'ika, which means 'to assist and help.' The Quran says that angels have been created to worship Allah and carry out His commands:

“Everything in the heavens and every creature on the earth prostrates to Allah, as do the angels. They are not puffed up with pride. They fear their Lord above them and do everything they are ordered to do.”

Angels are involved in carrying out duties in both the unseen and physical worlds. Other angels are mentioned, but not specifically by name. Some angels carry Allah's throne, angels who act as guardians and protectors of believers, and angels who record a person's good and bad deeds, among other tasks.

Angels in Human Form

As unseen creatures made from light, angels have no specific bodily shape but rather can take on a variety of forms. The Quran does mention that angels have wings (Quran 35:1), but we as Muslims shouldn’t speculate on what exactly they look like. It is haram (not permissible), for example, to make images of angels as cherubs sitting in clouds.

It is believed that angels can take the form of human beings when required to communicate with the human world. For example, the Angel Jibreel appeared in human form to Mary (Maryam), the mother of Jesus (Isa), and the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ when questioning him about his faith and message.

Fallen Angels

There is no concept of 'fallen' angels in Islam, as it is in the nature of angels to be faithful servants of Allah. They have no free choice, and hence no ability to disobey God. There is a different unseen being that often gets mixed up with angels. These are the Jinn, and they are unseen beings that coexist with humans and are made from a smokeless fire as mentioned in the Quran:

“As for the jinn, We created them earlier from *smokeless* fire.”

The most famous Jinn, that even many non-Muslims are aware of is the Jinn Iblis also known as Shaytan (Satan). Muslims beleive that Satan was not a 'fallen' angel, but a disobedient Jinn, that lost his rank in Jannah, by refusing to prostrate to Adam (peace be upon him) as mentioned in Surah al-Kahf:

“And ˹remember˺ when We said to the angels, “Prostrate before Adam,” so they all did—but not Iblîs, who was one of the jinn, but he rebelled against the command of his Lord. Would you then take him and his descendants as patrons instead of Me, although they are your enemy? What an evil alternative for the wrongdoers ˹to choose˺!”