Harming Angels

I have a question about the hadith which describes that Prophet Musa (alayhissalam) hit the angel of death and injured his eye. 1. What is our belief as to why Prophet Musa (alayhissalam) slapped the angel of death? 2. Does it mean that we can deduce a ruling from this hadith that an angel is bound to physical restrictions of the earth when he takes human form? Or is it that when an angel is in human form, only a Prophet can hit him?

Please find the answers below:

  1. Prophet Musa ('alayhi salam) had slapped the angel of Death when he came to take away his soul because he did not recognize him as being the angel of Death. It’s just like a stranger who comes to kill you, if you do not recognize him, you will defend yourself just like Prophet Musa ('alayhi salam) did. However, had Prophet Musa known that the man was an angel; he would not have slapped him because angels are noble creatures of and are sent by Allah for various tasks. Prophet Musa would have submitted to the angel because he would have known that he was sent by Allah to take away his soul. So consequently, he submitted to him when the angel of Death returned and brought with him what indicated that he was sent by Allah (the delay of his death according to the number of hairs on a bull’s back i.e. Allah would allow him to live for the amount of years equal to what his hand touched of the bull’s hair). However, he did not seek any delay in his time of death once he knew the man was the angel of Death.
  2. There is nothing that I have come across mentioned in the Qur'an and Sunnah in regards to your question. Allah knows best whether or not angels are bound to physical restrictions of human bodies when they are in that state. It seems that harm can only come to them when Allah wills it, such as in the aforementioned story of Musa (Alaihi salam) hitting the angel.
And Allah knows best.

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