(Arab. Malak, Turk. Melek)
Angels are beings of light that can metamorphose into different forms, cannot be grasped by the senses, have no gender, and are not subject to urges such as eating, drinking, or sleeping. God alone knows their numbers and their constitution (74:31). According to the Qur’an, they assume certain responsibilities in the God‑cosmos and God‑humankind relationships and fulfil these completely. Belief in the existence of angels is one of the articles of faith in Islam (2:285; 4:136).
The Qur’an is critical of some of the views about angels that are deep-rooted in Arabic society at the time of its passing-down, such as the claim that angels are daughters of God (37:149‑150; 43:19). There are several statements in the Qur’an about angels’ properties, capabilities and missions: they existed before Adam, communicate with God (2:30‑34), they do not eat or drink (11:69‑70; 51:24‑28), have hands (6:93) and wings (35:1), and are in the heavens (53:26). Their missions include that of continuously exalting God (7:206; 13:13; 21:20; 37:166; 41:38), prostrating themselves before Him, following His commands (16:49‑50; 66:6), conferring a blessing upon the Prophet Muhammad (33:56), praying for humankind, asking for forgiveness for them (40:7‑9; 42:5), and coming to the aid of believers in difficult situations (3:123‑125; 8:9; 9:26, 40). God chooses messengers from among the angels as He does from among the people (22:75).
In addition, there are angels who carry the throne of God and surround it (39:75; 40:7; 69:17; 4:172), as well as angels who record people’s words and deeds (43:80; 50:17‑18) and angels who perform a variety of tasks in the hereafter (13:23‑24; 39:71‑72; 43:77). The existence of angels not found in the Qur’an but mentioned in the hadiths (cf. Tirmidhi) and particularly in popular piety, Munkar and Nakir, who test the faith of the dead in their graves, is contested among scholars.
İsmail Hakkı Ünal
This post is also available in Turkish.