Our Beacon Forum

By:Jawaid Ahmed
Date: Friday, 21 May 2010, 2:30 pm


Someone posted a question about Jinn and I presented my understanding of ‘them’ in a post listed below. The response came back with verse 6:50 of the Quran which speaks about Malaika, not mentioning Jinn at all, so I was a little confused whether the brother agreed with my Jinn article or not. However, in an effort to answer this question and increase my understanding of Malaika, here is my humble explanation of this term

First of all, the definition of allegory:-
1. A work in which the characters and events are to be understood as representing other things and symbolically expressing a deeper, often spiritual, moral, or political meaning.
2. The symbolic expression of a deeper meaning through a story or scene acted out by human, animal, or mythical characters.
3. A symbolic representation of something.

The Quran has the following to say on this form of language which must be kept in mind when reading its verses:-

3:7 (The Book He has sent down, bears an important Principle.) He it is Who has revealed to you (O Prophet) the Scripture. In it some verses are Literal, while some verses are Allegorical. The verses that pertain to Permanent Values have been presented literally. These verses, Muhkamat, are the Essence of the Divine Law. On the other hand, abstract phenomena, historical events, and the World of the Unseen are described in similes, metaphors and allegories (Mutashaabihaat) for your understanding. But those who are given to crookedness in their hearts pursue the allegories and try to give them literal meanings, thus creating dissension of thought. None encompasses their final meaning (of such as the Essence of God, His Throne, His Hand, His Book of Decree, the exact mode of Revelation on the heart of the messengers, the Eternity) but God. Those who are well founded in knowledge understand why the allegories have been used and they keep learning from them. They proclaim the belief that the entire Book is from their Lord. As the human knowledge evolves, more and more allegories will unfold their literal meaning (41:53). But only the men and women of understanding will bear this fact in mind.
[Every verse of the Qur’an is Muhkam, Absolute Truth. The context will enable you to understand which ones are to be taken literally and which ones are to be taken allegorically. Each verse in the Book complements another. 11:1, 39:23, 41:53, 47:20, 74:31]

Personally, I do not like delving too much into allegorical verses; they are there to tease the thinking mind only, not show us moral or ethical teachings. However, Verse 6:50 says:-

6:50Say, (O Messenger), “I do not claim that I have the Treasures of God, nor do I have the knowledge of the Unseen, nor do I tell you that I am an angel. I follow what is revealed to me. (You blindly follow your ancestors.) Say, “Is the blind of the heart the same as the seer who uses reason? Would you not reflect?”

Before I respond to this, let us look at a verse that is traditionally translated and understood to show that angels exist (white winged females/ hermaphrodites; I will use angels for the normal understanding and Malaika when referring to the Quranic understanding).

Yusuf Ali translation
2.30. Behold, thy Lord said to the angels: "I will create a vicegerent on earth." They said: "Wilt Thou place therein one who will make mischief therein and shed blood?- whilst we do celebrate Thy praises and glorify Thy holy (name)?" He said: "I know what ye know not."
2.31. And He taught Adam the nature of all things; then He placed them before the angels, and said: "Tell me the nature of these if ye are right."
2.32. They said: "Glory to Thee, of knowledge We have none, save what Thou Hast taught us: In truth it is Thou Who art perfect in knowledge and wisdom."
2.33. He said: "O Adam! Tell them their natures." When he had told them, Allah said: "Did I not tell you that I know the secrets of heaven and earth, and I know what ye reveal and what ye conceal?"
2.34. And behold, We said to the angels: "Bow down to Adam" and they bowed down. Not so Iblis: he refused and was haughty: He was of those who reject Faith.

Now I mentioned allegories above and these verses are one of them. Dr Shabbir has translated the above with notes throughout to show what is being elucidated to us:-

2:30 (Now is related to you the creation of Adam or mankind, in allegorical terms; when God decided to create humans who would be given free will, and supremacy on earth.) Your Lord announced His Plan to the angels, “Indeed, I am about to place on earth a new creation that will have dominion over it.” They exclaimed, “Will you place on it such creation as will cause disorder therein and shed blood! - But we strive to manifest Your Glory (in the Universe)!” He answered, “Surely, I know what you do not know.”
[God had programmed the angels (God’s Forces in Nature) with specific tasks that express the Divine Will. He created humans through the process of evolution and granted them the ability to make free choices. They may choose to follow Divine Guidance or deviate from it (33:72). The "angels" were not even remotely aware of any will other than God’s. The Qur’an metaphorically portrays the immense responsibility given to humans in the story of Adam. Free will may be likened to the breathing into humans from the Divine Energy. The angels wondered if a clash of wills would not result in chaos and bloody disorder on earth, while the angelic role had always been that of striving to manifest the Impeccable Glory of their Lord and absolute submission to His Commands. (15:28-29, 16:49-50). Tasbeeh from Sabah = Swim with long strides = Strive hard = Apply oneself to a mission. Moses and Aaron did Tasbeeh - strove hard against Pharaoh 20:33. Human Evolution … 6:2, 7:189, 15:26-27, 22:5, 23:12-13, 25:54, 32:7-9, 35:11, 37:11, 71:17]
2:31 And God endowed humanity with the capacity to attain knowledge. Then He showed the angels certain things and said to them, “Tell me if you have the capacity of learning about these, if you are indeed truthful (and better qualified to have supremacy on the planet earth).” [‘Allam-al-Aadam-al-Asma = He endowed humankind with the capacity to attain knowledge]
2:32 They humbly said, “Glorified are You, High Above all! We only know what you have taught us (the tasks assigned to us). Most certainly, You, only You, are the Knower, the Wise.”
2:33 Then He said, “O Adam! Show them some of your capacity to attain knowledge.” And when Adam informed them of his ability to learn, He said to the angels, “Did I not tell you that I know the secrets of the Highs and the Lows? And I know what is manifested by your efforts and the potentials that lie dormant within you.”
2:34 And when We said to the angels, “Humble yourselves and be subservient to Adam-mankind, they instantly complied humbling themselves except Iblees (Satan). He refused through self-glorification, and so became a rejecter of the Divine Command.
[Thus, God endowed mankind with the ability to harness the Forces in Nature through science. There is, however, an internal domain He has designed within humans, the Nafs or ‘Self’. Call it 'I', ‘Self’, ‘Ego’, ‘Personality’, ‘I-amness', ‘Me’. This has been placed for the humans to exercise free will and achieve personal growth or self-actualization. But this ‘self’ is vulnerable to the evil prompting of its own intrinsic selfish desire or that of extrinsic sources. In that situation the ‘self’ rebels against the higher controls of human judgment, and more importantly, against the Revealed Moral Values. This rebellious state of the ‘self’ has the ability to rationalize its desire and emotions through the intellect. And this rebellious state of the ‘Ego’ is Satan or Iblees. It was this Iblees that refused to humble itself to the higher human controls of judgment and Divine Commands. Incidentally, the Qur’an nowhere mentions a human ‘soul’, ‘spirit’ or 'spirituality'. Iblees = Deprivation = Hopelessness = Frustration = Desperation and regret = Rebellious state of the human ‘self’ that drifts away from the Divine Commands, but wishes to escape personal responsibility by blaming God for its own misdeeds. See 7:16. Sajdah = Prostration = Complete submission = Willful obedience = Utter humility = Adoration = Utmost commitment to Divine Cause = Humbling one's own self]

I agree with this understanding but someone may object to on the grounds that it ‘clearly’ says that angels spoke so they must be sentient beings. Let me show you the following:-

Surah 41 verse 11. Yusuf Ali
Moreover He comprehended in His design the sky, and it had been (as) smoke: He said to it and to the earth: "Come you together, willingly or unwillingly." They said: "We do come (together), in willing obedience

Who in their right mind is going to say that the sky and earth are sentient beings? They responded with direct speech so they are acting in the same way as the angels [if you believe it was real and a ‘miracle’ of Allah, please stop reading now, nothing else I write is going to persuade you!].

Dr Shabbir always lets the cat out of the bag with his translation, so I put the traditional understanding first, then his:-

41:11 Likewise, He it is Who designed well the Sky when it was Smoke (Nebulae of gas). And He said to it and the earth, "Come both of you willingly or unwillingly." They said, "We do come, obedient." [Thumm = Afterward, then, so, likewise, similarly, in the like manner. The Cosmic bodies coming into their orbits willingly or unwillingly indicates their being inherently subservient to Divine Laws, unlike humans who have been granted free will. 3:82, 13:15]

The willing obedience is none other than following the Universal Laws that Allah laid down at the Big Bang, with all bodies [the Sun, planets, stars] unable to deviate from their ‘path’ [the cow cannot jump over the Moon, and no little dog can laugh to see such fun!]. Again, allegorical verses that show the beauty of the Quran.

We cannot take verses 2:30-34 as literal and 41:11 as allegorical so we must not understand Malaika as angels.

The two angels, Haaroot and Maaroot

These two angels are mentioned in the Quran, so does this mean they existed? Reading Yusuf Ali leaves no doubt that they were there and we cannot use the ‘allegory’ defence on this one:-

2:102. They followed what the evil ones gave out (falsely) against the power of Solomon: the blasphemers were, not Solomon, but the evil ones, teaching men Magic, and such things as came down at Babylon to the angels Harut and Marut. But neither of these taught anyone (Such things) without saying: "We are only for trial; so do not blaspheme." They learned from them the means to sow discord between man and wife. But they could not thus harm anyone except by Allah’s permission. And they learned what harmed them, not what profited them. And they knew that the buyers of (magic) would have no share in the happiness of the Hereafter. And vile was the price for which they did sell their souls, if they but knew!

Taking a closer look at the first line, we see that there were people who spread falsehood that there were two angels practicing their dark arts. It was a fabrication, a concoction, and a lie, as confirmed by the translation of ‘you know who’:-

2:102 (They had followed conjecture in the past as well.) Some satanic folk spread a rumour in the Kingdom of Solomon. Solomon never disbelieved in the Divine Laws, but the satanic folk did. They fabricated a story that two angels Haaroot and Maaroot had descended in Babylon and taught magic to some people; and that they used to warn people, “We are only a temptation, therefore be not oblivious to the rational Divine Laws.” The rumour further stated that people learned magic from both of them and learned how to create discord between a man and his wife. They could harm none against the Divine Laws. And what they try to learn only harms them and does not profits them. Indeed, they ought to know that any person indulging in this trade (the so-called occult sciences) will be a loser in the long run, and shall have no portion in the Hereafter. And certainly, evil is the price for which they sell their humanity, if they only knew better.
[The entire story of Haaroot Maaroot was Hazaliat (nonsense). Magic, amulets, ghoul, demon-possession, exorcism, witchcraft, evil eye, fortune telling, astrology, palm reading, clairvoyance, knowledge of the future, Voodoo, are nothing but conjecture. These things can neither harm nor benefit anyone since nothing happens in the Universe contrary to the immutable Divine Laws in Nature. However, superstitions can harm people by becoming self-fulfilling prophecies. 3:123-127, 6:73, 7:54, 45:22]

The two angels Haroot and Maaroot were believed by some to have worked their magic in Babylon, but this is the Quran speaking about the belief in them and not confirming their real existence. This is important because when the Quran mentions something, it has to be understood in the context it was written and not taken as fact that this was true.
So Haroot and Maaroot did not exist, they were the imaginings of deceitful and corrupt minds.

Gabriel and Michael

Now I am in trouble; Gabriel and Michael are mentioned here and are they not angels? Dr Shabbir cannot allegorise his way out of this one!

2:97 (They are displeased with Gabriel for bringing Revelation to a gentile Prophet. 2:90.) Say (O Prophet), “Who bears a grudge against Gabriel?" For, he has revealed (the Qur’an) upon your heart by God’s Leave, confirming what was revealed before it. And it is a Beacon of Light and glad tiding for all those who accept it. [2:101]
2:98 Whoever bears a grudge against God, His angels, His messengers, and Gabriel and Michael, must know that indeed, God opposes the deniers of Truth.
[2:87, 16:2, 16:102, 26:193, 42:52. The Divine Law intervenes between obstinate rejection and true Success. ‘Adu and its derivatives = Enemy = Wedge = Opponent = Causing remoteness = Divider = Bearer of grudge. It must be noted that the Quranic terminology carries various shades of meanings according to the context, and whether the terms are referring to humans or to the Creator]

Because I cannot grab hold of a clear verse that reveals all, I am here giving only my simple understanding; No man can see Allah, no man can hear Him, touch Him, etc. In order to make a connection between Allah and man, for revelation requires a connection between the Giver and the receiver, a force whose nature is of no concern and was not disclosed to us, was needed to traverse this barrier. Gabriel is the name of this ‘agent’, elsewhere referred to as Roohul Qudus:-

16:102 Tell them, “Gabriel has brought it down from your Lord in Absolute Truth. This Revelation will keep firm in thought and action, those who accept it. And it will provide Guidance and good news to Submitters.” [Roohul Qudus = Sacred Energy = Gabriel 2:97. Rooh, Raooh = Soothing Mercy 12:87. Trustworthy angel 26:193]

Elsewhere Roohul Qudus is referred to as the ‘revelation’ so it is clear that Gabriel is tied to the deliverance of the Message:-

2:253 (All messengers were one in Purpose. They were assigned different strategies suitable to their times, locations and people.) We caused some of those messengers to excel others. God spoke to some of them. Others He raised in degrees of high honour. Jesus son of Mary was one of those messengers whom We gave clear signs of Truth and helped him with Sacred Revelation. If God had so willed, the later generations would not have fought among themselves after clear evidence of the Truth had come to them. But they chose to differ, some believing and others rejecting. (Again) if God had so willed, they would not have fought. But God makes Laws as He wills.
[All messengers one in purpose - 2:136, 2:285. God did not create human beings like programmed robots. He endowed men and women with free will, and never ordained compulsion in religion (2:256). God makes His Laws in the World of Command as He wills, and implements them in the World of Creation. (7:54). And He never changes His Laws. 6:15, 6:34, 7:54, 10:64, 17:77, 30:30, 33:62, 35:43, 48:23. Roohul Qudus = The Noble Revelation = Gabriel 2:87, 5:110, 16:102]

Going back to verse 6:50 says:-

6:50Say, (O Messenger), “I do not claim that I have the Treasures of God, nor do I have the knowledge of the Unseen, nor do I tell you that I am an angel. I follow what is revealed to me. (You blindly follow your ancestors.) Say, “Is the blind of the heart the same as the seer who uses reason? Would you not reflect?”

This verse refers to those who believed in angelic beings and ‘sons of god’ wanting someone other than a man to be the last Messenger of Allah delivering the Message. Why should a desert Arab be the last Messenger? The response to this was clear; “I am but a man chosen by Allah. I have no special powers, I cannot see the future, reveal anything that was not revealed to me; I am not an angel that you are seeking, I cannot change a thing; this Quran is all I give”.

Numerous other verses are there showing Malaika doing various ‘jobs’, all allegorical and require subtle understanding based on their context

I will let you judge if I have shown the meaning of Malaika, which are not angels, or confused myself as well as others.

Messages In This Thread

Jawaid Ahmed -- Friday, 21 May 2010, 2:30 pm
Re: Malaika
Dr. Shabbir -- Friday, 21 May 2010, 8:22 pm
Re: Malaika
Sidqi -- Saturday, 22 May 2010, 6:01 am
Re: Malaika
Jawaid Ahmed -- Monday, 24 May 2010, 8:00 am
Re: Malaika
Sidqi -- Tuesday, 25 May 2010, 4:25 pm
Re: Malaika
Jawaid Ahmed -- Wednesday, 26 May 2010, 7:52 am
Re: Malaika
Sidqi -- Wednesday, 26 May 2010, 7:26 pm
Re: Malaika
Jawaid Ahmed -- Thursday, 27 May 2010, 11:31 am
Re: Malaika
Sidqi -- Thursday, 27 May 2010, 7:46 pm
Re: Malaika
mohammad Shukoor -- Wednesday, 26 May 2010, 9:32 pm