Angels, or Mala’ika in Arabic, are a fundamental aspect of Islamic belief. Created from light, they are pure beings who obey the commands of Allah (God) without falter. Unlike humans, they are devoid of free will and thus do not commit sins.
The Quran, Islam’s holy book, contains numerous references to angels, highlighting their various roles, from delivering revelations to recording the deeds of humans. But a question that has intrigued many is: Can angels recite the Quran? This article delves into the nature and role of angels in Islamic theology and addresses this intriguing question. For a deeper understanding of Islamic theology, consider enrolling in our Online Tafseer Study Course.
In Islam, angels are considered one of the unseen creations of Allah. They are:
- Created from Light: Unlike humans, who are made from clay, angels are created from light. This makes them pure and luminous beings.
- Devoid of Desires: Angels do not eat, drink, or procreate. They are free from earthly desires and passions.
- Constant in Worship: They are always in a state of worship, glorifying and praising Allah.
Can Angels Recite the Quran?
The question of whether angels can recite the Quran is not explicitly answered in the Quran. However, there are references to angels listening to the Quran when it is recited by humans. The act of humans reciting the Quran is so profound that it attracts the attention of angels, who descend to listen. This underscores the honor and privilege bestowed upon humans, who, despite their free will and imperfections, can engage with the divine words in a manner that even angels are drawn to.
Nature of Angels in Islam
Angels, known as Mala’ika in Arabic, are among the most fascinating and revered beings in Islamic theology. Their existence, nature, and roles are frequently mentioned in the Quran and Hadith, providing believers with insights into these celestial beings who constantly worship and serve Allah.
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Understanding Angels as Beings Created from Light
In Islamic tradition, angels are distinct from other creations due to their origin:
- Created from Light: The Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) mentioned in a Hadith that angels were created from light. This light is not the same as the physical light we perceive but is a divine, celestial light.
- Purity and Perfection: Being created from light symbolizes their purity and perfection. Unlike humans and jinn, angels are free from desires, sins, and imperfections. They are in a constant state of worship and obedience to Allah.
- Lack of Physical Needs: Angels do not have the same physical needs as humans. They do not eat, drink, sleep, or procreate. Their sustenance is the remembrance and glorification of Allah.
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Role as Messengers and Executors of God’s Commands
Angels have been assigned specific roles and tasks by Allah:
- Messengers to Prophets: Some angels, like the archangel Gabriel (Jibreel), have the role of delivering Allah’s revelations to the prophets. Gabriel is notably responsible for conveying the Quran to Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him).
- Guardians and Protectors: Every human is assigned guardian angels who protect them from harm and danger, as decreed by Allah. They accompany individuals throughout their lives, ensuring divine protection.
- Record Keepers: Known as the “Honorable Scribes” (Kiraman Katibin), these angels record every deed, action, and utterance of humans. They maintain a precise account, which will be presented on the Day of Judgment.
- Executors of Divine Commands: Angels also execute various commands of Allah, from providing sustenance to controlling natural phenomena. For instance, the Angel of Death (Malak al-Maut) is responsible for taking the souls of individuals at their appointed times.
Angels and the Quran
The Quran, being the literal word of Allah, holds a special place not just in the hearts of believers but also in the realm of the unseen, where angels reside. These celestial beings, created from light, have specific interactions with the Quran as mentioned in various Islamic sources. Speaking of the Quran, many often wonder, Can a Cat Touch the Quran?, a topic we’ve explored in another article.
References from Islamic Sources About Angels’ Interaction with the Quran
- Descent During Recitation: The Quran mentions in Surah Al-Isra (17:105): “And with the truth We have sent the Qur’an down, and with the truth it has descended.” This indicates the role of angels, especially Gabriel, in bringing down the Quran from the heavens to the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him).
- Angels and Laylat al-Qadr: Surah Al-Qadr (97:4) mentions: “The angels and the Spirit descend therein by permission of their Lord for every matter.” This refers to Laylat al-Qadr (the Night of Decree), when the Quran was first revealed. On this night, angels descend in abundance, and their presence is closely associated with the Quran.
- Listening to Human Recitation: In Surah Al-Jinn (72:1), it is mentioned: “Say, [O Muhammad], ‘It has been revealed to me that a group of the jinn listened and said, “Indeed, we have heard an amazing Qur’an.”‘”. This indicates that even the jinn, another creation of Allah, are drawn to the Quran’s recitation, and it’s understood that angels too are attracted to its recitation.
The Distinction Between Listening, Understanding, and Reciting
- Listening: Angels are known to listen to the Quran when it is recited by humans. Their act of listening is one of reverence and admiration for the divine words. They are drawn to its recitation, especially when done with sincerity and understanding.
- Understanding: Angels, being close to Allah and involved in executing His commands, inherently understand the meanings and implications of the Quranic verses. Their understanding is profound and encompasses the depths of the divine revelations.
- Reciting: While angels listen and understand the Quran, there’s no explicit evidence in Islamic sources that suggests they recite it in the same manner humans do. Their interaction is more of a deep reverence and acknowledgment of its significance. However, they do proclaim the praises of Allah and glorify Him, which can be seen as a form of recitation.
The question of whether angels recite the Quran has intrigued many Islamic scholars over the centuries. While the Quran and Hadith provide insights into the nature and duties of angels, the specific act of angels reciting the Quran is not explicitly mentioned. This has led to various interpretations and views among scholars. Similarly, questions like Is Eating Permissible While Reading the Quran? have been topics of discussion and reflection.
Insights from Islamic Scholars on Why Angels Might Not Recite the Quran
- Special Honor for Humans: Some scholars opine that the act of reciting the Quran is a special honor bestowed upon humans. While angels listen to and revere the Quran, the privilege of reciting it, understanding its meanings, and acting upon its guidance is unique to humans.
- Angels’ Constant State of Worship: Angels are in a constant state of worship and glorification of Allah. Their interaction with the Quran might be in a form of worship that transcends mere recitation, encompassing a deeper, more profound connection with the divine words.
- Absence of Free Will: Unlike humans, angels do not have free will. They obey the commands of Allah without falter. Some scholars suggest that the act of choosing to recite, reflect upon, and implement the Quran’s teachings requires free will, making it a distinct human endeavor.
Exploring Different Interpretations and Views
- The Role of Angel Gabriel: Some scholars highlight the special role of Angel Gabriel in relation to the Quran. As the angel responsible for conveying the revelations to Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), Gabriel has a unique connection with the Quran. However, whether this extends to recitation is a matter of scholarly debate.
- Angels and Laylat al-Qadr: The descent of angels on Laylat al-Qadr, the night when the Quran was first revealed, is seen by some scholars as indicative of the angels’ deep reverence for the Quran. Their descent is in honor of the Quran, but it doesn’t necessarily imply recitation.
- The Act of Listening: Some scholars emphasize the act of listening over recitation for angels. When humans recite the Quran with sincerity, angels are drawn to listen, reflecting their admiration and reverence for the divine words.
The Quran, being the literal word of Allah, is not just a book of guidance but also a spiritual beacon. Its recitation has profound spiritual implications, especially when considering the presence of angels, the celestial beings who are always near, witnessing our deeds and actions.
Significance of Humans Reciting the Quran in the Presence of Angels
- A Divine Audience: When a believer recites the Quran, they are not alone. Angels, drawn to the divine words, gather around the reciter. This elevates the act of recitation from a mere ritual to a profound spiritual experience, where the reciter is surrounded by a divine audience.
- Earning Angelic Prayers: It is believed that angels pray for the person who is reciting the Quran. Their prayers, or dua, seek forgiveness and mercy for the reciter, amplifying the spiritual benefits of the recitation.
- A Testimony on the Day of Judgment: On the Day of Judgment, angels will bear witness to the deeds of humans. Those who regularly recited the Quran will have the angels testify in their favor, highlighting the moments when they engaged with the divine words.
The Honor and Privilege Bestowed Upon Humans in the Realm of Recitation
- A Unique Gift: Among all of Allah’s creations, humans have been uniquely honored with the ability to recite, reflect upon, and implement the teachings of the Quran. This privilege underscores the special status of humans in the divine scheme.
- Elevating the Soul: The act of recitation is not just about uttering words but also about elevating the soul. Engaging with the Quran allows humans to connect with their Creator, seek His guidance, and purify their hearts.
- A Means of Nearness to Allah: The Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) mentioned in a Hadith that the best among his followers are those who learn the Quran and teach it. Recitation is a means for believers to draw nearer to Allah, earn His pleasure, and attain higher ranks in the hereafter.