An Islamic Ice Angels Festival
Ice sculptures are great for evoking the nippy, crispy air of snow-blown days, and what better choice for the transient statues than ethereal angels? Captured for just a moment in time, the fascinating play of light and shadow, water and ice is exquisite, capturing our imaginations together with the angels. As the weather warms and the ice melts, the angels seem to slip in slow motion back into the invisible and unchanging ether – a satisfying and understandable escape from the ever-changing Earth.
The season is already changing here in Egypt. Winter is ebbing away and the grapevines are making tiny little buds, signalling the onset of spring. I’m sure this seems impossible to many of you in the northern hemisphere who still have more than your fair share of winter to endure. Most years, I’m ready for spring in November, but this year I have really enjoyed the chilly weather. I’m not ready just yet for a change in season.
In order to prolong the delightful feeling of wrapping up warmly in multiple layers of clothing, I thought it would be fun to throw a little winter festival. So I went hunting for ice angels on flickr, and found a few to help generate a little winter wonderland here for all of us to enjoy. In between the photos of angels captured in ice, I’ve included some facts from Islamic teachings to share about the angels.
(Image source: Warrenski, flickr)
Angels in Islam
In Islam, believing in the angels is one of the six pillars of faith. Muslims must believe in all six pillars to be considered as faithful believers. These six pillars of faith are belief in Allah, His angels, His Books, His Messengers, the Last Day, and that our fate, both good and bad, comes from Allah.
There are many verses in the Holy Quran and the hadith, or sayings, of the prophet Muhammad, God’s peace and blessings be upon him, that provide enlightening information about the angels. The following are a few notable examples:
God Created Angels With Wings
Clearly stated in the Holy Quran, God created the angels with wings. In fact some angels have two pairs, some have three pairs, and some angels even have four pairs of wings:
“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.” [Quran 35:1]
Celebrating the Praises of God
Not only continuously singing the praises of God, the angels are also praying for all the people on Earth, asking God to show us mercy and grant us forgiveness:
“. . . For in the presence of your Lord are those who celebrate His praises by night and by day. And they never become tired (nor feel themselves above it).” [Quran 41:38]
“Those (angels) who bear the Throne (of Allah) and those around it glorify the praises of their Lord, and believe in Him, and ask forgiveness for those who believe (in the Oneness of Allah) (saying): ‘Our Lord! You comprehend all things in mercy and knowledge, so forgive those who repent and follow Your way, and save them from the torment of the blazing Fire!’” [Quran 40:7]
(Image source: Kelly DeLay, flickr)
The Archangel Gabriel
It was the Archangel Gabriel who delivered the verses of the Holy Quran from God to the prophet Muhammad. Gabriel, known in Arabic as “Jibreel,” also returned every year to have Muhammad recite the entire Quran to him. In commemoration of this, Muslims read and/or recite the whole Quran at least once during the holy month of Ramadan.
“I saw Jibreel descending from heaven, and his great size filled the space between heaven and earth.” [Prophet Muhammad]
As in the Christian New Testament, the Quran confirms the visitation of Gabriel to Mary, announcing God’s command that she would give birth to Jesus, although no man had ever touched her:
“. . . Then We sent to her (Mary, the mother of Christ) Our angel (Jibreel/Gabriel), and he appeared before her as a man in all respects.” [Quran 19:17]
Islam is very clear on the subject of our guardian angels, not only protecting us, but also keeping the record of our deeds. It is this record that will be read on the Day of Judgement, to determine our status in the eternal hereafter:
“(Remember!) that the two receivers (recording angels) receive (each human being after he or she has attained the age of puberty), 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).” [Quran 50:17-18]
“Or do they think that We hear not their secrets and their private counsel? (Yes, We do) and Our messengers (appointed angels in charge of mankind) are by them, to record.” [Quran 43:80]
(Image source: Sam Howitz, flickr)
A Dialogue Between God and the Angels
Abu Hurayrah, (may God be pleased with him), one of the companions of Prophet Muhammad, related the following hadith:
“The Messenger of Allah (God’s peace and blessings be upon him) said:
Allah, be He blessed and exalted, has angels who travel the highways seeking out the people of dhikr (who remember God).”
(Image source: jkbrooks85, flickr)
“When the angels find people remembering Allah, the Mighty and Majestic, they call out to one another, “Come to what you hunger for!” and they enfold them with their wings, stretching up to the lowest heaven.
Their Lord asks the angels, and He knows better than them, “What are My slaves (believers) saying?”
The angels reply, “They are glorifying, magnifying, praising and extolling You.”
Allah asks them, “Have they seen Me?”
They reply, “No, by Allah, they have not seen You.”
He then asks, “And how would it be if they saw Me?”
They reply, “They would be even more fervent and devoted in their praise and worship.”
He then asks, “What are they asking Me for?”
They reply, “They ask You for Paradise.”
He asks them, “And have they seen it?”
The angels reply, “No, by Allah, O Lord, they have not seen it.”
He next asks, “And how would it be if they saw it?”
They reply, “They would be even more eager for it and they would beseech You even more earnestly.”
“Allah then asks, “And what do they seek My protection from?”
The angels say, “From the Fire of Hell.”
He asks, “Have they seen it?”
They reply, “No, by Allah, they have not seen it.”
He then asks, “And how would it be if they saw it?”
They answer, “They would be even more afraid and anxious to escape it.”
Then Allah says, “You are My witnesses that I have forgiven them.”
One of the angels says: “So-and-so is not really one of them; he came (to the gathering) for some other reason.”
Allah says finally, “They were all in the gathering, and not one of them will be excluded (from forgiveness).””
[Hadith of Prophet Muhammad]
(Image source: willemvanbergen, flickr)
(Top image source: themeparkmom, flickr)
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