What Do Angels Look Like in Islam?
29 SEP 2017
Followers of Islam believe in the six articles of faith: without belief in all six, a Muslim's faith is not complete. One of these articles is a belief in angels. Although the Quran does not focus on detailed physical description of angels, a close look at the text reveals that -- for the most part -- angels in Islam resemble the Judeo-Christian ideal of these holy beings.
1 The Form of Angels
Angels in Islam, believed to be the creation of Allah, are said to be made of light. As mystical celestial beings, angels can take any shape they wish in their efforts to carry out the work of Allah. In the Quran, angels appear in the form of man. When an angel visits Maryam, the Quran's version of the biblical Mary, surah 19 describes the scene: “Then We sent to her Our Angel, and he represented himself to her as a well-proportioned man.” Other translations describe the angel as “a well-made man,” “a well-formed human being” or a “man without fault.”
Surah 35 of the Quran describes angels as “messengers with wings -- two, or three or four (pairs).” This description adheres to the traditional image of winged angels, but Islamic texts often emphasize multiple sets of wings, a distinct characteristic of angels in this faith. In one hadith, a collection of words attributed to the Prophet Muhammad, Abdullah Ibn Mas'ud, one of Islam's first converts, claims that the angel Gabriel has 600 wings.
3 Other Characteristics
Muslims believe that angels record the deeds of men on earth, both good and bad. When a person's spirit leaves the physical word, angels receive the soul on its journey to the afterlife. Each Muslim is said to have two guardian angels, one for the day and one for the night, who both watch over the person and record her deeds for final judgment.
4 Significant Angels in the Quran
Just as in Christianity, the angel Gabriel -- referred to as Jibrael, Jibril or Jibreel -- plays in important role in Islamic texts. Muslims believe that Gabriel recited the Quran to Muhammad in a cave called Hira'a just outside of Mecca. Angels such as Michael and Israel, among others, also appear in the Quran.