Abilities of Angels

What are the abilities of angels?

With regards to the abilities of angels, we have been informed that they are able to read human intent and comprehend the thoughts of people. Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) was quoted by Abu Hurayrah as saying, The Great and the Glorious Lord said (to angels): Whenever My bondsman intends to commit an evil, do not record it against him, but if he actually commits it, then write it as one evil. And when he intends to do good but does not do it, then take it down is one act of goodness, but if he does it, then write down ten good deeds (in his record).” [1]

Virtually all movements and activities that take place in the world are under their command or their control or influence and this is deduced from the verse in which Allah said:

وَٱلصَّـٰٓفَّـٰتِ صَفًّ۬ا (١

By those [angels] lined up in rows

فَٱلزَّٲجِرَٲتِ زَجۡرً۬ا (٢

And those who drive [the clouds]

فَٱلتَّـٰلِيَـٰتِ ذِكۡرًا (٣

And those who recite the message [2]

They are also assigned to every human being, from the time they are formed in the womb, until the time of birth. It was narrated by Anas ibn Malik, that the Prophet (ﷺ) is reported to have said, “Allah the exalted and most glorious, has appointed an angel as a care taker of the womb that said “My Lord! It is like an oily drop, My Lord! It is like a Leech, My lord! It is becoming like a clump of chewed flesh”, and then if Allah wished to complete His creation, the angel will ask, “My lord, will it be male or female?” [3]

Furthermore, we have another narration from Abdullah ibn Masood, that when the fetus reaches the beginning of the fifth month the angel breathes the soul into him and at that same time four things are recorded; his livelihood, his life span, his deed and whether he would be wretched or happy. [4]

Besides that, for each person there is an angel assigned to him, not necessarily the same but throughout his life the angel is encouraging him to do good and guarding him from evil. This is part of the consciousness of good and evil that every person should be aware of, keeping in mind that the evil side is related to the world of the Jinn.

Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said, “Every one of you has been assigned a companion from one among the jinn and one from among the angels.”[5]

This is basically encountering the evil whispers of the Jinn and to keep and guide the person to the right path.

There are also 2 other angels who are assigned to record the deeds. In Surah al-Infitaar, Allah says:

وَإِنَّ عَلَيۡكُمۡ لَحَـٰفِظِينَ (١٠

And indeed, [appointed] over you are keepers,

كِرَامً۬ا كَـٰتِبِينَ (١١

Noble and recording; [6]

Other than that, we have angels throughout our life span, and these angels who are with us are constantly recording whatever we do. The angel who is assigned for good thought and to motivate us to do any good deed may leave us as this is what was referred to when the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said, “The angels do not enter a house in which there is a dog or pictures or statues of living beings.” [7]

With regards to a person dying, an angel is also assigned to take the soul at the time of his death. When a person dies, the soul is passed over to an angel for the next life and the angels who received that soul take the soul through a particular journey, i.e. Barzakh.

"When the deceased - or when one of you - is buried, two black and blue angels come to him, one of whom is called Munkar and Nakeer. They will say, 'What did you say about this man?' and he tells them what he used to say, 'He is the slave of Allah and His Messenger. I bear witness that there is no God except Allah and that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger..' But if he was a hypocrite, he says, 'I heard the people saying something and I said likewise; I don't know...'"[8]

And Allah knows best.

References:

[1] Hadith no. 233, Book of Faith, Sahih al Muslim

[2] Surah as-Saffat, verses 1 – 3

[3] Sahih al Muslim, 6397

[4] Al-Bukhaari, al-Fath, no. 3208 and al-Muslim, no. 2643

[5] Sahih al Muslim 4/2168, hadith no. 2814

[6] Surah al-Infitaar, verses 10 and 11

[7] Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 3053; Muslim, 2106

[8] Tirmidhi, Kitaab al-Janaa'iz, 3/383, Nasirudeen Al-Albani, in Saheeh al-Jaami' as-Sagheer, 1/259; also narrated in his Silsilat al-Hadeeth as-Saheehah, 1391.

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