What Is Angel Michael's Duty in Islam?

by John Green
The angels Michael and Gabriel are said to weigh people's deeds on the day of judgment.

The angels Michael and Gabriel are said to weigh people's deeds on the day of judgment.

Islam teaches that the angel Michael has played significant roles in human history. However, most of the information about Michael is not in the Quran, but Islamic tradition, which contains far more extensive accounts of Michael's angelic duties. According to Muslim religious scholars, the angel Michael not only assisted Muhammad in fulfilling his spiritual mission, but he continues to provide sustenance and insight to people today.

Angels in Islam

According to University of Chicago scholar of Islamic thought Fazlur Rahman, the Quran describes angels as spiritual beings who carry out God's commands in the material world and bring back reports to the heavenly realm. One important duty shared by all angels was to prostrate themselves before the first human, Adam, since humans, unlike angels, are endowed with creativity and serve as God's vice-regents on earth. Angels can also have specific roles, such as the angel Gabriel, who is said to have revealed the Quran to Muhammad.

Michael in the Quran

Michael, also spelled "Mikal or "Mikail," is mentioned in the Quran only once, and only in reference to his relation to God. According to the Quran (2:92), "Whosoever is an enemy to God, or his angels, or his apostles, or to Gabriel or to Michael, verily God is an enemy to the unbelievers." [] Based on the wording of this passage, Fazlur Rahman suggests that Michael and Gabriel might not actually be angels, but a different type of spiritual being ranked above angels, although this is not the consensus within the Islamic community.

Michael and Muhammad

More complete accounts of Michael's work can be found in writings after the Quran, including the Hadith, which contains reports of Muhammad's actions by the Prophet's contemporaries. For example, one prominent story in Islamic tradition is that of Muhammad's night journey, in which the angel Gabriel took the Prophet through the seven heavens to the throne of God. According to "The Encyclopaedia of the Quran," some accounts state that the angel Michael was commanded to assist in preparing Muhammad for his ascent by supplying the water that Gabriel used to purify the Prophet. Muhammad is also reported as saying that God appointed Michael and Gabriel to be his viziers, or personal advisers.

Michael and Humanity

According to Islam, Michael and Gabriel were the first angels to bow before Adam. Michael himself was placed in charge of the plants and the rain, which Muslim scholars have interpreted more generally to mean that Michael's duties are to provide material food for the body and spiritual food for the soul. Islamic tradition also states that the angels Gabriel and Michael will work the balance weighing individual's good and evil acts on the day judgment. In regard to this work, it is said that Michael has not laughed since the creation of the eternal fire in which the wicked will suffer.

References

Resources

  • Encyclopedia of Angels; Richard Webster
  • Al Islam: The Belief in the Angels
  • Angels: A Very Short Introduction; David Albert Jones
  • Islamic Legends: Histories of the Heroes, Saints and Prophets of Islam, volume 2; Jan Knappert and Liesje Knappert

About the Author

John Green is an attorney who has been writing on legal, business and media matters for more than 20 years. He has also taught law school and business courses in entrepreneurship, business enterprise, tax and ethics. Green received his J.D. from Yale Law School and his Ph.D. in religion from Duke.

Photo Credits

  • Wathiq Khuzaie/Getty Images News/Getty Images