Question: People often depict angels as girls with wings. They give the name Malak (Angel) to girls. Is there a religious obstacle to giving the names of four archangels to girls?
Those who depict angels as girls are Christians and the ignorant people who have fallen under the influence of them. Angels are neither male nor female. It would have been more appropriate to give the name Malak to boys rather than girls. By doing so, the possibility that angels may be considered to be female would have been eliminated at least. But now it has become customary. To name a boy Malak may be regarded as strange and odd. Our ancestors used the names of the four archangels for boys, thus making the impression that these angels are not female. It is appropriate to name boys with the names Jabrâil, Mikâil, and Isrâfil. The chief of the Angels of Paradise is Ridwân, and the chief of the Angels of Hell is Mâlik. Their names can be used for boys as well. Even though it is permissible to give their names to girls, we should not give them to girls in order not to bear a resemblance to Christians. Giving the name Azrâil is permissible, too. But it may be held up to ridicule by other children. Therefore, using this name has not been deemed to be suitable. The Qur’ân al-karîm purports the following about angels:
(Those who do not believe in the Hereafter name the angels with female names.) [Sûrat-un-Najm, 27]
(Has your Rabb allotted you sons and taken angels for Himself as daughters?) [Sûrat-ul-Isrâ’, 40]
(Say to the idolaters: Do daughters belong to your Rabb and sons to them? Or Did We create angels as females before their eyes?) [Sûrat-us-Saffât, 149-150]
Question: Does it cause disbelief (kufr) to say “the boorish hand of Azrâil”?
Yes, it does. The reason is that one, by saying it, has looked upon with disfavor Azrâil’s ‘alaihis-salâm taking away the souls of human beings by the command of Allahu ta’âlâ and has insulted him. To insult sinless angels in any manner whatsoever and to consider them faulty result in disbelief. (Birgiwî)
Question: Did angels prostrate themselves before Hadrat Âdam?
Angels did not make prostration for Âdam ‘alaihis-salâm. They prostrated themselves for Allahu ta’âlâ in the direction of Hadrat Âdam. Similarly, we do not make prostration for the Kaaba. We prostrate ourselves for Allah by turning towards the direction of the Kaaba.
Question: Do angels feel happy or sorry for something?
Question: Is it permissible to say “Azrâil is on holiday” when there is a decrease in accidents or when the old do not die?
It is not permissible. Azrâil ‘alaihis-salâm does not neglect his duty. Saying so has the implication that he is neglectful of his duty. Making fun of angels, in turn, will finally lead one to disbelief.
Question: A tafsîr book says that two angels called Hârût and Mârût committed a sin. Another book, however, writes that angels do not commit any sins. Which one is true?
The reason why the Qur’ân al-karîm mentions them as “two angels” is that genies were together with angels. Hârût and Mârût were from the tribe of genies. Angels do not commit sins. (Tafsîr-i Shaikhzâda, T. Qurtubî)
Question: Is the word jâmi formed by taking the initial letters of the names of the four archangels, namely, Jabrâil, Azrâil, Mikâil, and Isrâfil?
No, it has nothing to do with the names of the archangels. Jâmi is an Arabic word. It consists of three letters, not four. It is written with the (Arabic) letters jim, mim, and ayn. Furthermore, the superiority order of these angels does not match the letters of this word. Hadrat Mawlânâ Khâlîd-i Baghdâdî declares:
Angels have superiority to one another. Of the most superior four archangels, the first is Jabrâil, the second is Isrâfil, the third is Mikâil, and the fourth is Azrâil [‘alaihimus-salâm]. (I’tiqâdnâma)
Question: Though prophets are higher than angels, why is belief in angels written before belief in prophets?
Angels were created before all other living creatures. Therefore, we were commanded to believe in them before believing in the holy books, which came before the belief in prophets; and in the Qur’ân al-karîm the names of these beliefs are given in this succession.
Question: Despite the fact that angels are neither male nor female, why do Christians represent them as females? Why do Muslims name their boys with angelic names?
Christians hold the belief that angels are female. Muslims, in order to extirpate this impression, have given such angelic names as Jabrâil, Mikâil, and Isrâfil to boys. These names can be used for both girls and boys if such an impression is out of the question. There is no religious obstacle to saying such statements as “He or she is a person like an angel” or “He or she is an angel” to pious Muslims, whether they are men or women, children or adults, in the meaning of pure and sinless.
Allahu ta’âlâ’s sending an angel
Question: Such statements as “Allah sent an angel to one of His slaves” or “He immediately sent Jabrâil” appear in Islamic books. Because Allah is free from occupying a place, how can it be permissible to say “He sent” as if He were near angels?
There are seven layers of the heavens. The first layer of the heavens is much bigger than the earth. The other layers of the heavens, on the other hand, are much bigger than the first layer. Allahu ta’âlâ can command all the angels on the earth and in the heavens at the same time. So they leave there and go to different places. In the same way, He can command them to change from these places to another. Here the matter of place applies to angels, not Allahu ta’âlâ.
The question of angels
Question: The 30th âyah (verse) of Baqara Sûra purports: “Your Rabb said to angels, ‘I will create a caliph on the earth.’ The angels asked, ‘Will You make man, who will make mischief therein and shed blood, a caliph, while we glorify You with praise?’ Allah said to them, ‘Certainly I know what you do not know.’” Does this verse not prove that before humans there were living beings who made mischief and shed blood and that angels asked as such because they knew this fact?
There were angels, genies, and animals before Âdam ‘alaihis-salâm. The information in tafsîrs written over it is as follows:
Hadrat Ahmad bin Yahyâ states:
When angels heard the word caliph, they understood that among sons of Âdam there would be those who would make mischief, for the sense meant by the word caliph is eliminating evils and desisting from mischief. Angels previously witnessed genies’ plotting mischief and shedding blood. There were genies on the earth before the creation of Hadrat Âdam. They caused mischief and bloodshed on the earth, so Allah sent them an army composed of angels. For this reason, angels asked the question, “Will You create the one who will make mischief and shed blood therein,” purely and simply to apprehend the matter. That is, they meant to say whether this caliph [man] would be like the genie, whom they saw before, or another one.
Hadrat Ibni Zayd states:
Allahu ta’âlâ had informed angels of the fact that there would be those among human beings who would make mischief and spill blood on the earth. Accordingly, angels asked so. They asked such a question for the reason that they were astonished by the disobedience of a person despite the fact that Allah appointed him a caliph on His globe, thus bestowing a blessing upon him.
Hadrat Qatâda states:
Allahu ta’âlâ had informed angels, “If I create some humans, they will make mischief and spill blood.” When Allahu ta’âlâ declared, “I will create a caliph on earth,” angels asked this question in order to learn whether this caliph was man Allahu ta’âlâ informed them about or a different one. (Jâmi-ul-ahkâm)
Using the masculine pronoun for angels
Question: Why does the Qur’ân refer to angels using the masculine pronoun in spite of the fact that they are neither male nor female?
In Turkish we say, o melekler (Turkish for “those angels”). The personal pronoun O (Turkish for “he” or “she” or “it”) is used as a substitution of a male’s, a female’s, an animal’s, or an inanimate object’s name. Which one is used when we say o melekler? Of course, none of them can be used because there is not a special pronoun belonging exclusively to angels. Because of its absence the same pronoun is used for all.
As for English, the pronouns that refer to males and females are different. There are not separate pronouns used to refer to animals, plants, and inanimate objects. The personal pronoun it is used for all of them. For example, if we say when referring to a plant, “It is a rose,” and, “It is a cat,” when referring to an animal, no one will raise an objection saying, “You have used for the animal the pronoun used for a plant,” or conversely, “You have used for the plant the pronoun used for an animal.” The convention of this language calls for it. The English language states that the pronoun he should be used when the gender of the referent is unknown. But since they consider the angels, except the four archangels, as female according to the Christian faith, they mostly use a feminine pronominal reference for angels. They depict girl pictures and call them angels.
No language possesses a personal pronoun specific to angels. Therefore, the masculine pronoun is used for angels in Arabic. Hadrat Imâm-i Rabbânî declares: “Angels are not male or female. The reason why the Qur’ân al-karîm describes angels by pronouns proper to men is in respect of superiority. As a matter of fact, Allahu ta’âlâ represents Himself by such pronouns for this same reason.” (Vol. I, Letter 266)