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Thursday 2nd of December 2021
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The Kinds of Angels

In his description of the first verses of the sacred Surah of Safat(Qur’an 37):

وَالصَّافَّاتِ صَفًّا، فَالزَّاجِرَاتِ زَجْرًا، فَالتَّالِيَاتِ ذِكْرًا

“I swear by those who draw themselves out in ranks. Then those who drive away with reproof, then those who recite, being mindful,[1] “Imam Ali(a.s) has stated: The attribute "صافّات" refers to the ranking system among angels in accordance with their capacities in worshipping Allah. The second attribute refers to the actualization of human heavenly spirit into pure action. The third attribute refers to the influence of heavenly rays over the language competence of man.

In the description of:

وَالنَّازِعَاتِ غَرْقًا  [2]

“I swear by the angels who violently pull out the souls of the wicked,” Imam Ali(a.s) states: This expression refers to those angels who annihilate the unbelievers, so that they may face great torture.

In the description of:

وَالنَّاشِطَاتِ نَشْطًا  [3]

“And by those who gently draw out the souls of the blessed, “Imam Ali(a.s) says: By this expression is meant those angels who gently draw out the souls of the believers.”

In description of:

وَالسَّابِحَاتِ سَبْحًا  [4]

“And by those who float in space,” Imam Ali(a.s) says these are angels who draw out gently the souls of the believers, like something which is dragged in the water.

In the description of:

فَالسَّابِقَاتِ سَبْقًا  [5]

“Then those who are foremost going ahead,” Imam Ali(a.s) explains: These are angels who excel over men in the issues of faith and benevolence and cause the souls of the believers reach the paradise soon.

And in the description of:

فَالْمُدَبِّرَاتِ أَمْرًا  [6]

“Then those who regulate the affair,” Imam Ali(a.s) says: These angels regulate the affairs of the believers on the yearly basis. This also might refer to Jibreel, Michael, Izraeel and Israfeel who regulate the world affairs with God’s permission.

Concerning the angels, Imam Ali(a.s) says: O God: you created them and housed them in your skies; They are not weak; neither do they neglect their tasks; no do they get involved in sins. They are wiser than others in your recognition; They are more frightened from you than others; They are closer to you than others; They are more obedient to you than others; They do not have to sleep; They would not become unconscious; They would not become weak. You did not create them from parents. You created them spontaneously. Then you housed them in your skies; You endeared them and you trusted them. You kept them away from any hazard; You kept them clean of any sins. They would not become powerful if You did not give them powers. They would not last long if you did not give them steadiness. If you were not kind to them, they would not be obedient to you and if you did not exist, they would not exist, either.

But despite the position they hold in front of You, if they realized Your unknown things, they would consider their tasks as insignificant and would consider themselves as nothing worthy and they would realize that they had not worshipped you as you deserve. You are flawless, O God! How nice it is of you to examine your creatures.

Ali Ibn Ibrahim reports from Imam Sadiq(a.s): Imam was asked about the number of angels compared with that of human beings. Imam answered: I swear to the One in whose hands lies my life the number of angels is bigger than the number of human beings. In the skies you may not find a place where there is no angel. In every corner there is an angel worshipping Allah. On the earth, too, there are countless angels on every tree and piece of rock there is one angel stationed. These angels ask Allah to bless men on earth and curse their foes. They ask God to punish these foes of men.

In the magnificent book called Ehtejaj, it is narrated from Hesham Ibn Hakam who reports that an infidel asked Imam Sadiq(a.s) the following question: Why should Allah assign angels on each person to report on his or her activities when Allah knows everything? Imam answered: Allah has assigned these angels to worship Him and to be witnesses on the activities of human beings. In this way men would be more careful of their tasks and responsibilities, and pray to God even more. It happens a man desires to do something wrong. But when he recalls there are angels who report on him, he will stop getting engaged. He would then argue in this way: Allah is watching me, now and the angels are witnesses to what I am performing. Imam, then continued: Allah has assigned these angels to people out of his magnanimity so that the angels could protect man from the hazards of devils, and beasts.

Ali Ibn Ibrahim reports from Imam Baqir(a.s) about Imam’s interpretation of:

لَهُ مُعَقِّبَاتٌ مِنْ بَيْنِ يَدَيْهِ وَمِنْ خَلْفِهِ يَحْفَظُونَهُ مِنْ أَمْرِ اللَّهِ  

“For his sake there are angels following one another, before him and behind him, who guard him by Allah’s commandment,” Imam said: The angels are ordered by Allah to protect man so that he may not fall in the water-well, so that he may be protected against the falling walls, and so that no harm may befalls him till the time that God has arranged for him to receive him. Two angels guard him at night and two will do the protection at nights. This is the meaning of the expression “the angels are following one another.”

Koleyni reports from the sixth Imam(a.s): “Any body who heals a sick muslim person, God will assign for him seventy thousand angles for ever who will be with him and will worship God and half of their prayers will be for the person who has healed the sick Moslem person.

Abu Qorreh says: I heard from the sixth Imam(a.s) who stated: “Any body who pays a visit to his Moslem brother who is sick, and if his visit is sincere and not out of hypocrisy, will receive seventy thousand angels from Allah. These angels will follow the man and will cry after him: May you enjoy the cleanliness of the heaven; you are God’s guests. And we will follow you till you arrive at your residence. Yassir told Imam: what happens if he had come from a long distance? Imam(a.s) answered: what happens if he has come from a long distance? Imam(a.s) answered: O Yassir, it does not make any difference. The angles will follow the man even if it takes him one year to go back home. God is generous and the angels are innumerable. They will see him off to his house.

Imam Sadiq(a.s) has said: Any body who goes on fasting on a hot day will receive one thousand angels who will touch his face giving him the good news of the paradise and God’s blessings.

The angels take up a great volume of the books on narrations. It is a great issue. The great narrator, Allama Majlisi in the 59th volume of his great book called Bihar, has collected all the narrations concerning the angels and has discussed on them where ever necessary. You may refer to that volume for further information. Now, let us see what Imam Ali(a.s) has said in his Nahjol Balaga, concerning the angels.

Imam Ali(a.s) in the first sermon of Nahjul Balaga states:

“Then the Almighty God stationed numerous angels in the skies. Some of these angels are performing prostration, but do not get involved in genuflection; some are in the state of genuflection without taking on the standing posture. They are continual worshippers who never get tired or bored. They do not sleep, their wisdom will not falter; weakness will not make them miserable; they are always vigilant God has assigned some of them as the special carriers of revelation to the Prophets. God has assigned other group of them to carry out His commandments. God has put some of them as protectors of men and some others as the janitors of the doors of the paradise.

Some angles possess feet and legs that touch the earth and necks that are higher than the loftiest mountains. Their limbs are wider than the universe and their shoulders are as thick as the columns of the skies. These sacred beings are standing, looking down on the earth and they are entangled in their wings.

There are heavenly curtains between these angels and the creatures dwelling on the earth and beneath them. These angels will never envisage Allah as a limited Being; rather God’s position for them is the loftiest ever.

Imam Ali(a.s), in his ninety first sermon, describes the angels in the following manner:

1- Then the Almighty Allah created the honorable and lofty angels in order to house them in His skies:

2- The angels are busy chanting supplications and sanctifying Allah;

3- Behind the curtains of God’s Grandeur, the angels are busy worshipping God.

4- There are magnanimous lights in the skies that cannot be observed by our eyes.

5- The Almighty God created those angels in different dimensions and sizes (They have wings); they are worshipping God.

6- Those angels will not take pride in being created by God; rather, they are humble servants to God, carrying out his commandments;

7- The Almighty God has trust in these angels as genuine and reliable carriers of revelation to his apostles; in this way He has made the apostles rely on God.

8- None of those angels would go astray and the Almighty God assists them.

9- God has rooted in their hearts humbleness and honesty together with assurance and continuously admires their work.

10- God has revealed unto them the signs of monotheism.

11- The heavy loads of guilt and sins have not bothered them; this alludes to the fact that they would not get involved in sins.

12- The passage of nights and days does not have any effect on them.

13- Incentives and wishes; doubts and skepticisms do not influence the strength of their beliefs.

14- Assumptions may not exert any assault on the fortification of their conviction.

15- The stimuli to create jealousy and hatred are not present in them;

16- Temptations do not grow in them to spoil them;

17- Some of those angels take part in the production of heavy rains and some of them are employed to construct lofty mountains.

18- Some other groups of these angels have got legs stretched to the earth; their legs look like white flags passing through the air into the earth (this alludes to their stretch of power).

19- The only business of those angels is praying to God. Their faith links them to God. Their conviction to the Almighty God makes them disconnect with anything but God. Their desires and wishes are directed only towards God.

These angels have tasted the sweetness of knowing God and have drunk the God’s nectar of love. Reverie for God is located in their hearts and the continuity of their prayer has made a curve in their stature.

Their eagerness for God has not broken the ropes of humbleness. They have not become haughty to mistakenly assume that their past prayers and worships are worth mentioning. Due to their long worshipping, weakness may not ever dominate them. Their zeal and eagerness to meet with God keep them vigilant enough not to lose hope in their God.

The length of their prayers towards God has not dried their tongues and their other work and tasks have not hindered them from performing their worshipping. Their mourning in their supplication to God has never weakened. Negligence does not have any room in their worships and wishes and whims do not influence them.

These angels have reserved the powerful God for their days of need. At those moments when people cut with God and resort to other people, the angels have only God in mind and trust Him. They would not foresee any endpoint for worshipping God. The phenomenon of fear mixed with zeal which is called reverie will never leave the greed and worldly lusts have not enslaved them.

These angels would never think their past worshipping has been sufficient. If they think they have performed great acts, then their fear from God will vanish altogether.

The satanic temptations will never distance them from their Lord. Disagreements would never divide them and treason and jealousy would never dominate them.

Skepticism and illusions have not brought about disagreements among these angels. The angels heavily reply on faith. They would not manifest any sign of deterioration in their beliefs.

You would not find a small place in the skies where there is no angel, praying to God. These angels add up to their knowledge through performing supplications to God. Day by day the Grandeur of God is more felt in their hearts.[7]

The distinguished Islamic scholar, Sheikh Muhammad Taqi Ja’afari, in his description of the first sermon of Nahjul Balaga, discussing on the issue of angels, mentions a significant point that should be stated here. He writes:

“The issue of angels has been put forth by different religions in the past. As the Holy Qur’an shows and as it is discussed in different reliable narrations, the existence of angels is not questionable. In the Holy Qur’an the word “angel” is used thirteen times, the word “two angels” [Malakaini is the dual of malak (angel) in Arabic] is used twice, and the word “angels” is used seventy three times.

Some modern scientist who are inclined to accept every truth in its natural perspective, try to depict the angels as a form of the hidden forces of nature. But this is a superficial way to understand the nature of sciences and nature.

Weren’t those who typified element of only four kinds considered as genuine scientists? Didn’t those who considered sound among adventitious phenomena, which was assumed to be non-transferable, pretend to be real scholars? But the number of those who have defended the bases of science but have been ignorant of the internal structure of particles in nature has not been small.

A glance at the status of sciences during man’s life will reveal that sciences have provided the scientists only with partial knowledge of the truths in nature. We could easily divide the scientists into two groups regarding this issue:

The first group includes those pseudo-scientists who erroneously assumed that the limited knowledge that they had was sufficient to explain every phenomenon in nature. This group was not only deprived of advancement but deprived others of such a movement ahead.

The second group consisted of those vigilant thinkers who had realized the limit of their knowledge and did not put any obstacles on the way of other’s advancement. Newton has said:

“I resemble a small child who is standing on the shore of an infinite ocean and is observing only some colorful pebbles at the bottom of the Ocean. But the infinite Ocean with its infinite puzzles lies in front of that small child.”

This latter group both paved the way the advancement of others, and depicted the cranial capacity of human brain as well.

Anyhow, it is a pernicious approach to consider the universe and sciences as limited phenomena; this will lead us towards an Ocean of calamity and stresses.

With the vast knowledge that we now possess regarding the principles which govern the universe, which is heading towards metaphysics, how would it be possible to consider the existence in general and sciences in particular to be limited in nature and why should we let us resort to nihilistic approaches?

Why should you be carried away by the minute amount of knowledge that you have and daringly declare that “This is the true existence which I have found out; there is nothing more to it.” How simple-hearted and naïve such scholars are!

We declare that the angels exist. Now if we denied the existence of the angels simply because they are intangible, then we would have to deny half of our knowledge which is based on the non-tangible truths and facts. No rational thinker would ever use the theory of “I do not see it, therefore it does not exist,” as the basis for his world-views. He would not be allowed to declare that some thing does not exist because he could not touch it.

We know that sounds should be at certain frequency for us to hear them (The frequencies between 20 and 20,000 Hertz). Things, colors and shapes are discernible for us only at certain distances. We have never seen an electron yet; we have not felt the gravity of the earth; nor have we touched our internal capacities such as thoughts and imaginations that we collectively refer to, as “I” There is no scientific apparatus to be able to show these phenomena to us yet we know that they exist.

The angels are not created from the familiar elements of nature; rather, they are sacred beings whose creation is unique.

Our descriptions of the angels rely on the revelations that we directly get out of the Holy Qur’an or indirectly from Imam Ali (a.s) and other members of the Infallibles.[8]



[1] Quran 37:1-3.

[2] Quran 79:1.

[3] Quran 79:2.

[4] Quran 79:3.

[5] Quran 79:4.

[6] Quran 79:5.

[7] The interpretation on Nahjol balaga, Vol.15, P 42.

[8] The Description of Nahjolbalaqa, Vol.1, P 116.


source : The Book: Diar Aashiqan b prof, Hussain Ansarian
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