Black Muslims : Islamic Cosmology and the Islamic View of Angels

Omowale Jabali

The Cosmic Journeyman
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There is no standard hierarchical organization in Islam that parallels the division into different "choirs" or spheres, as hypothesized and drafted by early medieval Christian theologians. Most[who?] Islamic scholars agree that this is an unimportant topic in Islam, especially since such a topic has never been directly mentioned or addressed in the Qur'an. However, it is clear that there is a set order or hierarchy that exists between angels, defined by the assigned jobs and various tasks to which angels are commanded by God. The angel Jibraaiyl (Gabriel) is the most recognizable angel, as in Islam this angel delivers the message of God (Allah) to the Islamic prophet, Muhammad. This message is the Qur'an. Angels can take on different forms, including human.[3]
Some scholars suggest that Islamic angels can be grouped into fourteen categories as follows, of which numbers 2-5 are considered archangels. Due to varied methods of translation from Arabic and the fact that these angels also exist in Christian contexts and the Bible, several of their Christian and phonetic transliteral names are listed:
  • Hamalat al-'Arsh, Those who carry the 'Arsh (throne of God)[4]
  • Jibraaiyl/Jibril (Judeo-Christian Gabriel), the angel of revelation, who is said to be the greatest of the angels. Jibraaiyl is the archangel responsible for revealing the Qur'an to Muhammad, verse by verse. Jibrayil is widely known as the angel who communicates with (all of) the prophets and also for coming down with Allah's blessings during the night of Laylat al-Qadr ("The Night of Destiny").
  • Israfil/Israafiyl (Judeo-Christian Raphael), who will blow the trumpet twice at the end of time. According to the Hadith, Israafiyl is the angel responsible for signaling the coming of Qiyamah (Judgment Day) by blowing a horn. The blowing of the trumpet is described in many places in Qur'an. It is said that the first blow will bring all to attention. The second will end all life,[5] while the third blow will bring all human beings back to life again to meet their Lord for their final judgement.[6]
  • Mikail (Judeo-Christian Michael),[7] who provides nourishments for bodies and souls. Mikail is often depicted as the Archangel of mercy who is responsible for bringing rain and thunder to Earth. He is also responsible for the rewards doled out to good persons in this life.
  • 'Azrael/'Azraaiyl a.k.a Malak al-maut (Judeo-Christian Azrael), the angel of death. He is responsible for parting the soul from the body. He is only referred as malak al-maut, meaning angel of death, in the Qur'an.[8]
  • The angels of the Seven Heavens.
  • Hafaza (The Guardian Angel):
    • Kiraman Katibin (Honourable Recorders),[9] two of whom are charged with each human being; one writes down good deeds, and the other writes down evil deeds.
    • Mu'aqqibat (The Protectors)[10] who keep people from death until its decreed time and who bring down blessings.
  • Munkar and Nakir, who question the dead in their graves.
  • Darda'il (The Journeyers), who travel in the earth searching out assemblies where people remember God's name.[11]
  • The angels charged with each existent thing, maintaining order and warding off corruption. Their number is known only to God.[12]
  • Maalik is the chief of the angels who govern Jahannam (Hell).
  • Zabaniah are 19 angels who torment sinful persons in hell.
  • Ridwan is the angel who is responsible for Jannah (Paradise).
The Qur'an also mentions angels who God has chosen to punish the sinful in hell, these angels take no pity on punishing them as they do what the Lord has commanded them to precisely and perfectly. A verse stipulates this:

O ye who believe! save yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is Men and Stones, over which are (appointed) angels stern (and) severe, who flinch not (from executing) the Commands they receive from Allah, but do (precisely) what they are commanded.
—Qur'an, sura 66 (At-Tahrim) ayah 6[13]
Also the number of Angels guarding Hell are mentioned as nineteen:

Over it are Nineteen.
And We have set none but angels as Guardians of the Fire; and We have fixed their number only as a trial for Unbelievers,- in order that the People of the Book may arrive at certainty, and the Believers may increase in Faith,- and that no doubts may be left for the People of the Book and the Believers, and that those in whose hearts is a disease and the Unbelievers may say, "What symbol doth Allah intend by this?" Thus doth Allah leave to stray whom He pleaseth, and guide whom He pleaseth: and none can know the forces of thy Lord, except He and this is no other than a warning to mankind.
—Qur'an, sura 74 (Al-Muddathir) ayat 30-31[14]
The Qur'an also mentions that angels have qualities that may be typified by the word wings: "All praise and thanks are due to Allah the Originator of the Heavens and Earth, Who made the angels messengers with wings, two or three or four..." .|Qur'an, sura 35 (At-Fatir or Al-Mala'ikah) ayah 1[15]
However, according to hadith collected by Muhammad al-Bukhari, Muhammad said that Gabriel had 600 wings;

Narrated Abu Ishaq-Ash-Shaibani
I asked Zir bin Hubaish regarding the Statement of Allah: "And was at a distance Of but two bow-lengths Or (even) nearer; So did (Allah) onvey The Inspiration to His slave (Gabriel) and then he (Gabriel) Conveyed (that to Muhammad). (53.9-10)[16] On that, Zir said, "Ibn Mas'ud informed us that the Prophet had seen Gabriel having 600 wings."
Sahih al-BukhariVolume 4, Book 54, Number 455[17]

Praise be to Allah, Who created (out of nothing) the heavens and the earth, Who made the angels, messengers with wings,- two, or three, or four (pairs): He adds to Creation as He pleases: for Allah has power over all things.
—Qur'an, sura 35 (Fatir) ayat 1[18]
The preceding sentence does not imply that all angels have two to four wings. Most notably, archangels (namely Gabriel and Michael) are described as having thousands of wings.[citation needed] The angels also accompanied Muhammad up to Jannah (Heaven) when he received commands from God. Instead of riding on an angel, Muhammad rode a creature called a Buraq whose stride spans from horizon to horizon.
In relation to some narrations (riwayah), it is stated that the angels had accompanied, and had been in the presence of Muhammad when he was born. A classic example of this is, when Muhammad was born, then in some narrations it has been said that Gibrael had swung the cot, in which Muhammad lay.
The following is a Quranic verse that mentions the meeting of an angel with Mary, mother of Jesus: Surah Aal ‘Imran Chapter 3 verse 45

Behold! The angels said: O Mary! God giveth thee glad tidings of a Word from Him: his name is the Christ Eisa the son of Mariam, held in honour in this world and the Hereafter and of (the company of) those Nearest to God.
— [Al-Qur’an 3:45]​
Muhammad, speaking of the magnitude of the angel Gabriel, has said that his wings spanned from the Eastern to the Western horizon.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_view_of_angels
 

Omowale Jabali

The Cosmic Journeyman
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Muslims believe that angels are spiritual beings who perform special tasks. Who are some of these angels, and what do angels do?
Islam teaches that angels, called al-malaikah in Arabic, were created by Allah to worship Him and to carry out special duties both in heavenly and earthly life. Belief in these angels is an important aspect of a Muslim's faith, just as it is in Judeo-Christian tradition. But according to Muslims, who are the angels, and what exactly do angels do?
From their primary religious sources of the Qur'an and Hadith (narrated teachings of the Prophet Muhammad), Muslims know the names and responsibilities of some angels.

Do Muslims Believe in Guardian Angels?

Muslims do believe in guardian angels, although Islam doesn't share the Christian concept of a single guardian angel. Rather, Muslims believe that there are a number of angels watching over and protecting each individual.
In the Quran, it says, “For each (person), there are angels in succession, before and behind him. They guard him by the Command of Allah." (Quran 13:10)

Kiraman Katibin - Honorable Scribes

In addition, two guardian angels are assigned to each person to record all deeds from the age of puberty on. "(Remember) that the two receivers (recording angels) receive (each human being), one sitting on the right and one on the left (to note his or her actions. Not a word does he (or she) utter but there is a watcher by him ready (to record it)." (Qur'an 50:16-18) In another verse (85:11), these angels are referred to as Kiraman Katibin, or "honorable scribes."

 

Omowale Jabali

The Cosmic Journeyman
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Rūḥ (روح) is an Arabic word meaning spirit. It is the third among the six purities or Lataif-e-sitta
Thirteen stages of taming ruh

To attend Tajalliy-e-Ruh, the Salik needs to achieve the following thirteen.
  1. Iradah or Commitment with God
  2. Istiqamah or Steadfastness in the way with God
  3. Haya or Shame in committing evil
  4. Huriyyah or Freedom: Ibrahim Bin Adham said, "A free man is one who abandons the world before he leaves the world". Yahya Bin Maz said, "Those who serves the people of world are slaves, and those who serve the people of Akhira are the free ones". Abu Ali Daqaq said, "Remember, real freedom is in total obedience. Therefore if someone has total obedience in God, he will be free from the slavery of non God"
  5. Fatoot or Manliness: Abu Ali Daqaq said, "Manliness is in one's being of continuous service to others. This is an etiquette that was perfected by Prophet Muhammed only".
  6. Hub or Love for God
  7. Aboodiyah or Slavery under God
  8. Maraqiba or Complete Focus on God
  9. Du'a or Prayer
  10. Faqar or Abandoning of materialism
  11. Tasawwuf or Wearing a dress of no material significance
  12. Suhbat or Company of the righteous ones
  13. Adab or Following Protocols of respect for the great ones
Acknowledgements

The excerpts are translation from Persian book "Shahid ul Wojood" written two hundred years ago.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruh
 

Omowale Jabali

The Cosmic Journeyman
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Lataif-as-Sitta ("the six subtleties" singular: latifa) are psychospiritual "organs" or, sometimes, faculties of sensory and suprasensory perception in Sufi psychology. They are thought to be parts of the self in a similar manner to the way glands and organs are part of the body. Drawing from the Qur'an, many Sufis distinguish Nafs, Qalb, Sirr, Ruh, Khafi, and Akhfa as the six lataif. Similar concepts in other spiritual systems include the Dantian mentioned in Chinese traditional medicine, martial arts and meditation, the sephiroth of kabbalah and the chakras of Indian Tantra and Kundalini yoga.

Among Sufis development involves awakening spiritual centers of perception that lie dormant in every person. The help of a guide is considered necessary to help activate them in a certain order. Each center is associated with a particular color, a general area of the body, and often with a particular prophet. Activation of all these "centers" is part of the inner methodology of the Sufi way or "Work". Purification of the elementary passionate nature (tazkiyat an-nafs), cleansing the spiritual heart (tazkiyat al-qalb), becoming a receptacle of divine love (ishq), illumination of the spirit (tajjali ar-ruh), emptying egoic drives (taqliyyat as-sirr) and remembering the divine attributes, often through repetition of the names of God, (dhikr) are a process by which the dervish is said to reach a certain type of "completion" in the opening of the last two faculties, khafi and akhfa.
The ten lata'if

According to Shaikh Ahmed Sirhindi, humans are made of ten Lata'if or components of creation. Five of them pertain to Alam-e-Amr (the divine world) and the remaining five pertain to Alam-e-Khalq (Created world). The five lata'if of Alam-e-Amr are Qalb, Ruh, Sirr, Khafi and Akhfa. The five lata'if of Alam-e-Khalq are Nafs, Soil (solid), Water (liquid), Air (gas) and Fire (energy).[1]
However there are seven lata'if in most of the sufi orders. The last four (corresponding to earth, water, air and fire) are collectively called lataif qalbia, referring to the physical human body (qalib), also referred to as Sultan al-Azkar in many sufi orders.[1]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lataif-e-sitta
 

Omowale Jabali

The Cosmic Journeyman
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Sep 29, 2005
20,817
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Among the more bizarre arguments used by Islamic apologists is the claim that the Qur'an contains scientific information that could not have been known 1400 years ago. Critical review invariably shows such claims to be entirely specious. There does not exist in the Qur'an any correct information that was not already known to ancient civilizations that long preceded the birth of Muhammad.
But that is not the subject of this article. This article is designed more narrowly to uncover and explain the actual state of scientific knowledge that is represented in the Qur'an and the Sunnah. Specifically, we will explore Islamic Cosmology, in particular the Qur'ans understanding of the nature and structure of the physical universe.
To no surprise, “Islamic Cosmology” was not advanced beyond that of any of its ancient neighbors, and in fact is far less sophisticated and accurate in its understanding than the Greeks or Romans that had preceded them by centuries. While other civilizations had (for example) long before realized that the earth was a globe, the Qur'an betrays no understanding that the earth is anything but flat.
Now, it is recognized up front that (as in almost every other ancient text), some of what is reflected in the Qur'an was meant to be taken literally, while some is allegorical or symbolic. But such recognition does not give the reader license to simply reject some descriptions which are obviously in error without good reason. In fact, the cosmology suggested by the Qur'an and the Sunnah is remarkably consistent, regardless of the specific purpose of the particular story being read.
This is because at no point was the purpose of the Qur'an or the Sunnah to describe the structure of the universe. In almost every instance, such descriptions exist only as side affects of the other religious or ethical lessons that were the real objectives of the texts we consider. If a detail of cosmology is contained in an allegory, yet itself has no allegorical purpose, then it must be accepted as the actual understanding of the author. So, while we have only a handful of direct statements concerning cosmology, a lot can still be determined from the occasional intriguing detail accidentally dropped by the authors as part of other discussions.
The wealth of such “hints” provide a compelling resource, and provide a clear picture of what Muhammad thought the universe looked like.

http://wikiislam.net/wiki/A_Qur’anic_Understanding_of_the_Universe
 
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