Angels have various duties, with each having a well defined role.
The Qur’an says:
“And there is not any among us, except that has a known position. And we are indeed the ones who glorify Allah.”
Angels thus teach us the benefits of specialization. So, in the Islamic society, some members must specialize in the Qur’an and its sciences, others in medicine, still others in agriculture and so on and so forth, so that the Muslim community becomes efficient and well balanced. Similarly, in the home, the responsibilities are divided. While the man is responsible primarily for supporting the family financially, the woman has an important role in the upbringing of the children, although she is by no means confined to only this task.
Only Allah knows all the details and roles of all the angels:
“…And none know the hosts of your Lord except He…”
Nevertheless, He has told us about some of these angels through the Qur’an and the Sunnah.
The Names and Roles of Some Angels
Only a few angels are mentioned in the Qur’an and the Sunnah, Others are mentioned either by specific names or by role or their general nature of serving and worshipping Allah.
Among those mentioned are:
** Jibreel – This is the most distinguished of the angels, and is entrusted with carrying revelation to the Prophets. This includes bringing the Qur’an to Prophet Muhammed (saws), which is referred to in the following:
“And it is surely the revelation of the Lord of the worlds. The trusted Spirit has brought it down to your heart, in order that you might be one of the warners, in clear Arabic speech.”
Angel Jibreel (as) is also called ‘the Holy Spirit’, as mentioned in the Qur’an:
“And we gave Isa, son of Maryam, clear proofs, and supported him with Ruh-al-Qudus (holy spirit ie. Jibreel).”
** Mika’el – The one entrusted with the sustenance of creatures, and is also one of the most prominent angels.
** The Recorders – These are two angels who accompany every human being and record his deeds. One of them stays on the right side and he records only good deeds. The other stays on the left side and records only bad deeds.
The one on the right (the generous one – He records good deeds and is so named because each good deed is rewarded ten times over or even more.
“And indeed, there are over you scribes, generous and recording. They know what you do.”
These angels record our deeds, words, and thoughts. Allah says regarding mankind:
“He utters not any word except that there is with him an observer, ready.”
The system of recording of deeds is detailed in Hadith Qudsi. Narrated by Abdullah ibn Abbas in which he narrates from his Lord:
“Indeed, Allah has defined the good and the evil deeds, and then explained them. So, whoever had the thought to do a good deed, but did not do it, Allah writes it for him as a complete good deed, while if he actually did it. Allah writes it for him as ten good deeds, or up to seven hundred fold, or even many times more. And, if he had a thought to do an evil deed, but dispelled the thought and did not do it. Allah writes it for him as a complete good deed, while if he entertained the thought and acted on it, Allah writes it as a single evil deed.”
(Bukhari and Muslim)
The one on the left – The recorder of evil deeds: He is simply called the recorder, because each evil deed counts as only one act.
** The Gaurdians – They are angels who protect us from whatever evil Allah wills to save us from.
“For each (person) there are angels in succession in front of him and behind him, who guard him by Allah’s command.”
The succession of angels referred to is clarified in a Hadith narrated by Al-Bukhari and Muslim, which tells us that the angels of the day and the angels of the night succeed one another, meaning that they perform their duties in shifts. At the time of Fajr (dawn) and Asr prayers, both the angels of the night and the angels of the day are present. Then, the angels of the night ascend, and their Lord asks them, although he is the All-Knowing. “How did you leave my servants ?” They say, “We came to them while they were praying, and when we left while they were praying,.” The Fajr prayer, then, is of special blessing, and we should take great care to perform it on time, and to recite long portions of the Qur’an for:
“Indeed, the recitation of Fajr is witnessed”
ie. The angels of the night and day witness it.
The protecting angels only leave us when we have the call of nature and when we are have sexual relations with our spouses, and so we should recite the appropriate supplications from the Sunnah prior to performing these acts.
Also, it must be noted that angels do not enter a house in which there is a dog or pictures (of animals and Humans). Related by Bukhari and Muslim.
** The Angel of Death – He is entrusted with taking the souls of all creatures in the universe.
“Say: The Angel of Death, who is set over you, will take your souls, then you shall be brought to your lord.”
There are angels with him who torture the wrongdoers at the time of death:
“If only you could see, when the angels take the souls of those who disbelieve, the angels are beating their faces and their backs.”
(Qur’an l 8:50)
** Munkar and Nakeer – They are the two angels in charge of questioning people in their graves about their faith.
** Ridwan and Malik – They watch over Heaven and Hell. The custodian of Heaven is called Ridwan, while that of Hell is named Malik. Hell has nineteen angels who watch over it.
“Over it (Hell) are nineteen (angels)”
There are angels who welcome the believers into heaven, greeting them with peace:
“And angels shall enter unto them from every gate saying: “salaam alaykum” (peace be upon you for that you persevered in patience! Excellent indeed is the final home.”
Eight angels will carry the Arsh, which is Allah’s greatest creation, on the Day of Judgment:
“And the angels will be on its sides, and eight angels will that Day, bear the throne of your Lord above them.”
Gabriel (PBUH): The Archangel (A.S)
Gabriel (A.S) is one of the four greatest angels. He is appointed to convey revelations to the prophets by Allah. In three places of the Qur’an, His name is Jibril. Besides, He is mentioned in verses as the spirit, rasulun karim, ruh al-Amin and ruh al-qudus”. In addition to these, in one of the hadiths, he is called “an-namus”.
The Angel of Soor (The Trumpet): Hz. Israfel (A.S)
The angel that will blow the trumpet is called Israfel. His name is mentioned among the four great angels in the hadiths. Israfel will blow two times, in the first one, the Doomsday will occur and in the second blowing, the resurrection will occur. Because of this duty of him, He is called the angel of Soor (the Trumpet). When the prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was asked about the nature of the trumpet, he answered: “A horn that is blown” (Ahmad b. Hanbal, II, 196).
The prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said that “Israfel is awaiting the order of blowing while He grasps the trumpet”. (Tabari Jami-ul Bayan, VII, 211; Ibn Kathir, Tafsiru’l-Qur’an-il Azim, Egypt, n.d. II, 276)
The Angel of Death: Hz. Azrael (A.S)
His duty is to grasp the souls of people whose death times have come. He is called as “Malak-ul Mawt”, that is, the angel of death.
Say: “The Angel of Death, put in charge of you, will (duly) take your souls: then shall ye be brought back to your Lord.” (Surah as-Sajda)
The Angel that controls the events in this realm: Hz. Mikail (A.S) (Michael)
He is one of the greatest angels of four and He is responsible for the pouring of rain, the blowing of the wind, natural events such as the ordering of seasons and the management of supplications of the created beings. He is only mentioned in one place of the Qur’an. Hz. Mikail is the angel that manages the divine work of arts that are planted on the field of earth with the power of Allah and His order.
The angels of Kiraman Katibin
It is the names of the angels who are attendant on the right and left of humans. The angel on the right is responsible for recording the good deeds and manners; the angel on the left is responsible for recording the bad deeds and manners. “The angels who are also called Hafaza will attend as witnesses of the deeds of humans in the Day of Judgment during reckoning.
The Angels of Muqarrabun
The angels who are known asIlliyyun and Karubbiyyun are responsible for glorifying Allah, are very close to Him and have an exalted place before Allah.
“Those who sustain the Throne (of Allah) and those around it sing Glory and Praise to their Lord; believe in Him; and implore forgiveness for those who believe.” (Surah Ghafir, 7)
Munkar – Nakir Angels:
They are the angels that question man after he dies in the grave. The words of “Munkar” and “Nakir” means unknown, unrecognized and unaccustomed. They are called by this way because they come to the dead in a way that he/she has not seen before. These two angels question the dead by questions as follows and treat them according to the answers that they receive: Who is your lord? Who is your prophet? What is your book?
There are more angels than mentioned here. In hadiths, there are angels who inspires man the right and truth, descend on the earth when the Qur’an is recited, who are spiritual herders of animals on earth, who manage clouds, make the sound of thunder and so on…