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Angel

(5,969 words)

Author(s): Webb, Gisela
Heavenly messenger. Like its Hebrew (malʾak) and Greek (angelos) counterparts, the Arabic term malak (pl. malāʾika) means “messenger.” The Qurʾān uses the term about ninety times, with some angels designated by name, Gabriel (Jibrīl, see gabriel ) and Michael (Mikāʾīl, q 2:97-8; see michael ) and others only by function, e.g. reciters, glorifiers, dividers, guardians, ascenders, warners, recorders. Reflection about the role of angels — as described in the Qurʾān and elaborated in ḥadīth and commentary — constitutes a fundamental aspect of…

Michael

(874 words)

Author(s): Webb, Gisela
An angelic being, Michael (Ar. Mīkāl; also Mīkaʾīl; Mīkāʾil; Mīkaʾil) is mentioned by name only once in the Qurʾān (Mīkāl, q 2:98) in a verse affirming belief in God's angels (including Gabriel; see angel;¶ gabriel ) and apostles (see messenger ) as a requirement of faith (q.v.) for the community of believers ( muʾminīn, see belief and unbelief; community and society in the qurʾān). The role of Michael, however, is elaborated in ḥadīth and qurʾānic interpretation (see ḥadīth and the qurʾān; exegesis of the qurʾān: classical and medieval). This angel, whose ontological status seems…

Gabriel

(1,066 words)

Author(s): Webb, Gisela
The angelic being who “brings down” the qurʾānic revelation to the prophet Muḥammad's heart (q.v.; q 2:97), Gabriel (Ar. Jibrīl, also Jabrāʾīl; Heb. Gabrīʾēl) is named three times in the Qurʾān, q 2:97, 98 (where Michael [q.v.], too, is mentioned), and q 66:4. Commentators on the Qurʾān such as al-Ṭabarī (d. 310/923), al-Zamakhsharī (d. 538/1144) and al-Bayḍāwī (d. ca. 716/1316-7) identify Gabriel as the messenger who brings the revelation to Muḥammad, and understand the two visions of Muḥammad recorded in q 53:1-18 to be the Prophet's sighting of Gabriel (Pedersen, Djabrāʾ…