The angels (mala’ikah) are heavenly beings and are messengers of Allah. Unlike humans or jinn (spiritual creatures occupying unseen world), they have no free will and therefore can do only what Allah orders them to do. Mala’ikahs were created from light (Nur) and were created, before human, for the purpose of worshipping Allah. Each Angel has various duties to perform. All Angels are free from sins and they don’t disobey Allah.
Articles Of Faith: Belief in His Angels (Mala’ikah)
The exact number of mala’ikahs created by Allah is not known, however the Qur’an and hadith does mentions a few by name.
Mala’ikahs in human form
Angels cannot be seen as they are heavenly beings but that can take on different forms, including human, if Allah ordered them to do so.
Four prominent Mala’ikahs: Jibra’il, Mikra’il, Azra’il, and Israfi’l (peace be upon them)
Jibra’il (‘alaihus salam)
Known as Gabriel (Peace be upon Him) in Judeo-Christian. Jibra’il is the angel who brought Allah’s Revelations (Wahy), Messages, Books and Orders to all the Prophets including revealing the Qur’an to the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him), verse by verse. Jibra’il came down with Allah’s blessings during the night of “Laylat al-Qadr” (The Night of Power) – the night when the Qur’an was first revealed to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
Jibra’il (‘alaihus salam) was also charged with communicating with (all of) the Prophets and helping and aiding them at times to fight their enemies.
Mikra’il (‘alaihus salam)
Known as Michael (Peace be upon Him) in Judeo-Christian. Mikra’il is in charge of food and rain. Numerous Angels work under him who are in charge of clouds, seas, rivers and winds. He receives Orders from Allah, and then orders the other Angels under his command. Mikra’il is also responsible for the rewards doled out to good persons in this life.
Azra’il (‘alaihus salam) – or Malik al-maut (Angel of Death)
Known as Azrael (Peace be upon Him) in Judeo-Christian. Azra’il is in charge of death and takes away life with the Order of Allah. Numerous Angels work under him. Some appear in a beautiful state and take away the lives of believers while others appear in a terrifying state and take the lives of unbelievers and sinners.
Israfi’l (‘alaihus salam)
Known as Raphel (Peace be upon Him) in Judeo-Christian. Israfi’l will blow the Trumpet (Sur) on the Day of Judgment. The sound of the Trumpet will destroy and kill everything and everyone that is on the earth and in the skies.
Israfi’l will blow the Trumpet a second time and all will come back to life according to the Order of Allah.
Other notaries: Kiramun Katibin, and Munkar and Nakeer
Kiramun Katibin (Honourable recorders)
Every human being has two Angels with him at all times sitting on their right and left shoulders recording their good and bad deeds respectively. These angels are known as Kiramun Katibin (Honourable recorders).
READ MORE: The Role Of Angels In Islam
The only job of the Kiraman Katibin is to write down and record every action, thought, or feeling a person has each day. The Book in which the angels are writing is the cumulative record of a person’s deeds. After that person’s death, it is said that on the Day of Judgement each person will be confronted with this record, and the two angels will be present to tell Allah of what the person did.
The (scribe) on the left hand raises his pen (i.e., delays writing) for six hours (this may refer to six hours of 60 minutes as measured by astronomers, or it may refer to short periods of time during the day or night, according to Lisan al-‘Arab) before he records the sinful deed of a Muslim. If [the Muslim] regrets it and seeks God’s forgiveness, the deed is not recorded, otherwise it is recorded as one deed.
A further respite is granted after the deed has been recorded; up until the moment before death approaches, one is able to repent and ask for forgiveness.
A Muslim will enter Jannah (Paradise) if their good deeds outweighs their bad deeds. Else they’ll go to Jahannam (Hell) for purification until Allah Wills otherwise.
We verily created a man and We know what his soul whispereth to him, and We are nearer to him than his jugular vein.
When the two Receivers receive (him), seated on the right hand and on the left, He uttereth no word but there is with him an observer ready.
And the agony of death cometh in truth. (And it is said unto him): This is that which thou wast wont to shun.
And the trumpet is blown. This is the threatened Day.
And every soul cometh, along with it a driver and a witness (And unto the evil doer it is said): Thou wast in heedlessness of this. Now We have removed from thee thy covering, and piercing is thy sight this day.
Munkar and Nakeer (The Denied and The Denier)
After death, a person’s soul passes through a stage called barzakh, where it exists in the grave (even if the person’s body was destroyed, the soul will still rest in the earth near their place of death).
Angels Munkar and Nakeer (The Denied and The Denier) will come and test the faith of a person in their grave by asking them three fundamental questions:
Who is your Lord?
Who is your Prophet?
What is your religion?
A righteous believer will respond with Allah is our Lord, Muhammad is our Prophet, and Islam is our religion.
This questioning begin when the funeral is over and the last person of the funeral congregation has stepped 40 steps away from the grave. Munkar and Nakeer will prop the deceased soul upright in the grave and ask these questions. Failure to answer these questions correctly will mean that the soul will be punished until the Day of Judgement.
These angels are described as having solid black eyes, having a shoulder span measured in miles, and carrying hammers “so large, that if all of mankind tried at once to move them a single inch, they would fail”. When they speak, tongues of fire come from their mouths. If one answers their questions incorrectly, one is beaten every day, other than Friday, until Allah gives permission for the beating to stop.
Muslims believe that a person will correctly answer the questions not by remembering the answers before death but by their imaan (faith) and good deeds such as salah (prayer) and shahadah (declaration of faith).
…and many more
Some Angels are in charge of Heaven, some of Hell, some of looking after children, the old, the weak and others whom Allah wishes to protect.