Since they are part of al-Ghaib, the unseen creation of Allah, angels can be a little tricky to explain to youngsters. Even though these phenomenal beings surround us and interact with us daily, we can’t see or hear them. Nevertheless, angels are a fundamental part of our religion, and we know they are real even if our senses cannot detect them. Understanding their amazing attributes and the roles they play in our daily life can increase our children’s love of Islam and help them welcome angels into their midst.
Many kids have been exposed to mainstream, un-Islamic representations of angels, such as winged cherubs or berobed human figures with harps and halos. Some non-Muslims talk about their loved ones becoming angels in heaven after they die. Many believe in guardian angels who protect people from harm. Helping our children sort facts from fiction about angels is important because Islamic tradition does teach us a great deal about these remarkable servants of Allah.
Here are the top ten things our children should know about angels.
1. They never disobey Allah.
Angels are extremely powerful but have no will of their own and always follow the commands of Allah. They never tire of worshiping Him. The Quran tells us:
"They celebrate His praises night and day, nor do they ever slacken."
(Surah Al-Anbya, 21:20)
2. Angels are unimaginable.
We do not know exactly what they look like and no human can comprehend their extraordinary attributes. Angels are made of light and come in different sizes and appearances. In the Quran God tells us that angels have wings:
“All praise is for Allah, the Originator of the heavens and the earth, Who made angels as His messengers with wings — two, three, or four. He increases in creation whatever He wills. Surely Allah is Most Capable of everything."
(Surah Al-Fatir, 35:1)
But even with this description, our minds cannot really conjure up a correct image. According to Dr. Zohair Abdul-Rahman, a scholar of Hadith and Islamic Sciences, “The reality of the angels and their physical descriptions are beyond anything we have ever experienced in this world.”1
3. There are too many to count.
Angels are so plentiful that we humans cannot fathom their number. During his ascension to Heaven, the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, witnessed Allah’s House of Worship known as al-Bayt al-Mamoor which 70,000 angels visit daily to worship and pray. Amazingly, 70,000 new, additional angels join their ranks each day, and they will continue to increase exponentially until the Day of Resurrection. (Sahih Bukhari 3207; Sahih Muslim 164) And those are just some of Allah’s multitude of angels! Only He knows how many there are.
4. Angels play crucial roles in our life.
They are with us before we are even born and they will be with us after we die. The Prophet said:
“Each one of you is constituted in the womb of the mother for 40 days, and then he becomes a clot of thick blood for a similar period, and then a piece of flesh for a similar period. Then Allah sends an angel who is ordered to write four things. He is ordered to write down his (each person's) deeds, his livelihood, his (date of) death, and whether he will be blessed or wretched (in religion). Then the soul is breathed into him….”
(Sahih al-Bukhari 3036)
As long as we live, four angels accompany us constantly. Then, when we are lying in our graves, two angels will question us about our faith and our deeds. (Surah Fussilat, 41:30) Another angel will take our soul from our body. If Allah is pleased with us, these interactions will be beautiful and peaceful.
5. They are good influences.
Angels inspire positive mental energy and pure thoughts in our minds. Just like devils can whisper bad suggestions, angels’ whispers can incline us toward good. Dr. Abdul-Rahman writes, “It is important to recognize that when the angels are present, they bring their love, support, protection, positive inspiration, and prayers. This becomes an invaluable source of strength in a person’s life that leads them to success in whatever they embark upon.”2
6. Angels have our back.
“Not only do the angels pray for us, protect us, and support us, but they also can feel genuine love for the believers.”3 In Islam we do believe in guardian angels in the sense that they can protect us from physical and spiritual danger. Allah says in the Quran:
“For each (person), there are angels in succession, before and behind him. They guard him by the command of Allah….”
(Surah Ar-Ra’d, 13:11)
The Prophet taught us that if we recite Ayatul Kursi before we sleep at night, an angel will come to protect us from devils until morning (Sahih al-Bukhari 2311). Whenever we pray, even if we are by ourselves with no human in sight, we are not truly alone. There are always angels on our left and right, and angels the size of mountains praying behind us (Muwatta Malik).
7. Angels love when we do good deeds.
Angels ask Allah to bless and forgive us whenever they witness us doing positive things for His sake. If we visit a sick person, for instance, 70,000 angels will pray for our forgiveness. Whenever we make duaa (supplicate) for our brother or sister in Islam, an angel hears us and says, “Ameen, and may you have likewise.”
8. They’re taking notes.
Each of us walks around every day with an angel on our left and another on our right. Their job is to write down every single thing we do and say. Whosoever does an atom’s weight of good will have it recorded, and whosoever does an atom’s weight of evil will have it recorded. But Allah is so merciful! When a person first commits a sin, Allah tells the angel to hold his pen for a period of time. If the person repents within that time frame, his sin will not be written down. Instead, a good deed will be written down.
9. They can take human form.
There are many examples in the Quran and Sunnah of angels appearing in human form, such as Angel Jibreel who met Maryam, may Allah be pleased with her, in the form of a man. Angels visited Prophets Ibrahim and Lut, peace be upon them, in human form. Angel Jibreel took a human form in front of Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, and the Sahabah.4 As Sheikh Omar Suleiman explains in his video series “Angels In Your Presence,” angels can even interact with regular people like you and me, and we might not realize that the person we helped – or the one who helped us – was really an angel!
10. We can welcome them.
How can we encourage angels to surround us? Praying, making dhikr, and reciting the Quran are all invitations for angels to gather around us. Angels love purity, so making sure our bodies and thoughts are clean is also crucial.
Who would not want to have these beautiful companions by their side? With mindfulness and effort, each one of us can take full advantage of this amazing blessing from Allah. Our culture idolizes fictional superheroes and fantastical creatures with other-worldly powers. But we Muslims know that there are actual beings with amazing powers (bestowed by Allah) who can help us, protect us, and advocate for us. Who needs a superhero when there are angels in our midst?
Laura El Alam is a freelance writer and editor and a first-generation American Muslim. She is the author of over 100 published articles and has written a children’s book, Made From the Same Dough, due to be released in 2023, inshaAllah. A wife and mother of five, Laura lives with her family in Massachusetts. You can visit her online at www.seaglasswritingandediting.com.