As-Sunnah Vol. 2 Issue No. 6


The Angel's Ability to take on Different Forms and their Great Numbers

Ability to take on Different Forms: Allah has bestowed the angels with the ability to take on different forms. He sent Jibraeel (alaihi as-salaam) to Maryam (See, Soorah Maryam (19): 16-19), Ibraheem (alaihi as-salaam) (see, Soorah Hud (11): 69), Loot (alaihi as-salaam) (See, Soorah Hud (11): 77) in a human form. Jibraeel (alaihi as-salaam) used to come to Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alahi wa-sallam) in different forms; sometimes he came in the form of Dihyah ibn Khaleefah - a Sahabi who was of a handsome appearance, and sometimes in the form of a bedouin. Narrated Aa'isha (radhi allahu anha) that she saw him (i.e., Prophet sallallahu alahi wa-sallam) placing his hand on the mane of Dihyah al-Kalbee's horse while talking to him. When she asked about it, he replied that it was Jibraeel (alaihi as-salaam) and he had sent greetings to her.' [(Hasan) Musnad Ahmad]

It is narrated that Umar Ibn al-Khattab (radhi allahu anhu) said, 'Whilst we were sitting with the Messenger of Allah, one day, a man came to us whose clothes were exceedingly white and whose hair was exceedingly black. There were no signs of travel on him and none of us knew him. He sat down in front of the Prophet (sallallahu alahi wa-sallam), with his knees touching his, and put his hands on his thighs and said, 'O Muhammad, tell me about Islam…' The Hadeeth states that he asked him about Eeman, Ihsan and the Hour and its signs…' [Saheeh Muslim (1/3, hadeeth no. 8)]

Number: Angles are very great in number and none knows their exact number except He, Who created them as He said in the noble verse, 'None knows the hosts of your Lord except Him.' [Soorah al-Mudhaththir (74): 31]

The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alahi wa-sallam) said regarding the number of angels in the seven heavens, 'There is no space in the seven heavens a foot length or a hand-span or a palm's width which does not have an angel standing, bowing and prostrating.' [At-Tabaree]

Jibraeel (alaihi as-salaam) said concerning the number of angels that visit al-Bayt al-Ma'moor (the Much-Frequented House) on the seventh heaven when Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alahi wa-sallam) inquired about it on the night of Isra wal-Miraj, 'This is al-Bayt al-Ma'moor; every day seventy thousand angels pray in it, and they never come back to it.' [Saheeh al-Bukharee (2207)]

It is also narrated in Saheeh Muslim about the angels that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alahi wa-sallam) said, 'On that Day (of Judgment), Hell will be brought with seventy thousand ropes, each of which will be pulled by seventy thousand angels.' [Saheeh Muslim, (4/2184, hadeeth no.2842)]

If one were to study the texts, which mention the role of angels in human life, he will realize how great their number is! From the moment, an individual is conceived in his mother's womb, until his death and beyond, angels play a variety of roles in all stages of human life.

Moreover, angels are also assigned duties in the functioning of the universe.

Taken from As-Sunnah Newsletter -


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