Fruits for the Week

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They do not eat and drink

The angels cannot be described as being male or female. Similarly, they do not eat or drink the type of food we (humans) eat and drink. Allah has told us that the angels came to Prophet Ibrahim (AS) in human form, and he offered them food, but they did not stretch out their hands towards it. He felt afraid of them, but then they told him of their true identity, and his fear left him.

Allah (SWT) said:” Has the story reached you, of the honored guests (three angels (Gabriel along with another two) of Ibrahim? When they came into him and said:’ Salaam!’ He answered:’ Salaam,’ and said:’ You are a people unknown to me.’ Then he turned to his household and brought out a roasted calf (as this property of Ibrahim was mainly cows). And placed it before them (saying):’ Will you not eat?’ Then he conceived a fear of them (when they are not). They said:’ Fear not.’ And they gave him glad tidings of a son having knowledge.” (Qur’an 51:24-28)

In another verse, it says:” But when he saw their hands went not towards it (the meal), he mistrusted them, and conceived a fear of them. They said:” Fear not, we have been sent against the people of Lut.” (Qur’an 11: 70). Imam Suyuti narrated from Al-Fakh ar-Razi that scholars agreed that the angels do not eat, drink, or get married.

They do not get bored or tired

The angels worship and obey Allah (SWT), and carry out His commands, without getting tired or bored. They do not feel what humans feel tiredness and boredom. Allah (SWT) says describing His angels:” They (angels) glorify His praises night and day, and they never slacken to do so.” (Qur’an 21: 20). The meaning of ‘they never slacken’ is they never become weak. In another verse, Allah (SWT) says:” Then there are those who are with your Lord (angels) glorify Him night and day, and never are they tired.” (Qur’an 41: 38)

Imam Suyuti inferred that the verse “And they never slacken to do so” means that angels do not sleep; he narrated this view from Al-Fakh ar-Razi.

The dwelling place of the angels

The abode and dwelling place of the angels is in the heavens, as Allah (SWT) says:” Nearly the heavens mighty be rent asunder from above them(by His Majesty), and the angels glorify the praises of their Lord.” (Qur’an 42: 5). And Allah has described them as being with Him:” But if they are too proud, then there are those who are with your Lord (angels) glorify Him night and day, and never are they tired.” (Qur’an 41: 38)

They come down to the earth by the command of Allah, to fulfill the tasks with which they have been entrusted:” And we (angels) descend not except by the command of your Lord {O Muhammad}.” (Qur’an 19: 64)

They come down a lot on special occasions, such as Lailat al-Qadr:” The night of Al-Qadr (decree) is better than a thousand months. Therein descend the angels and the Jaibril by Allah’s permission with all decrees.” (Qur’an 97: 3-4).

The numbers of the angels

The angels are many; no one knows how many they are except the One who created them:” And none can know the hosts of your Lord but He.” (Qur’an 74: 31)

If you want to know how many they are, listen to what Jibril said concerning Al-Baitul Ma’mur (the much-frequented house), when the messenger (SAW) asked him about it when he reached it on the night of the Isra’:” This is Al-Baitul Ma’mur; every day seventy thousand angels pray in it, and they never come back to it.” (Bukhari)

In Sahih Muslim, it is narrated by Abdullah that the Messenger of Allah (SAW) said:” On that Day, Hell will be brought with seventy thousand ropes. Each of which will be pulled by seventy thousand angels” (Muslim). Based on this, those who will bring forth Hell on that Day will be forty-nine million angels.

If you study the texts which have been narrated about the angels who are appointed to take care of each person, you will realize how great their number is. There is an angel who is entrusted with the nutfah, two angels appointed to write down the deeds of each person, angels whose task is to protect each person, and an angelic companion (qarin) to guide a person.

(To be continued)

by Dr. Umar S. Al-Ashqar

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