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Definition of Malaika (Forces of Nature)

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The following excerpt is taken form “Exposition of the Quran” by Ghulam Ahmed Pervez pg. 1172-1173:


               It is usually translated in English as angels, but the common religious notion of the word is very different from its Quranic concept. Some scholars think that its root is alkun, which means to convey a message, and al-malaika means messengers. Alaka means to chew something (Taj/Moheetand/Ibn-e-Faris)

               Other scholars think that its root is malkun, which means force. Raghib says that malaika, are the forces (malkun) that are responsible for discharging certain duties assigned to them. Even among human beings, people with some authority and responsibility are called malikun. Mufti Muhammad Abdohu, Egyptian scholar (d 1905AD), in his Tafseer Al-Minar writes that everything in the universe has some basic energy or force by virtue of which it exists, survives, or retains balance. People who do not believe in wahi call these forces the forces of nature, but in the Quranic language, they are called malaika. Anyway, the name should not make much difference as long as one acknowledges the existence of these forces.

               The Quran has also used malaika as messengers in verse (22:75). This, of course, is one aspect of their functions or duties, otherwise they are those who direct affairs (79:5) and govern the events by command (51:4). As such taken as a whole, the root of malaike as to malkun sounds better than alkun, i.e., the forces. These forces have no free will, independent power or discretion to do whatever they like, but carry out the given responsibility as ordained by Allah. The knowledge as to how these forces operate is given to man (2:31) and it is within his competence to conquer these forces. This is the meaning of the verse (2:34), which stated that all the malaika bowed before Adam.

               Malaika are the forces not only operating externally, they are also referred to as the subjective forces having psychological effect (41:30). Nazool-al-malaika, or malaika’s descent meant to bring about psychological changes in man, which remove all fears, apprehensions and replace them with confidence and steadfastness. Forces of dejection, depression or fear and disappointment are referred to as forces of Iblees, and positive forces as malaika. Verses (8:12) and (9:26) refer to the forces which strengthened the hearts of the mujahideen in the battle of Badr and Hunain.

               Malaika are also referred to as the forces, which constantly record human actions and then bring about their destined results (10:21, 43/80); in another place, this responsibility is attributed to Allah (19:79). So malaika are those heavenly forces, which operate in the universe according to the duties Allah has assigned to them. Man is the only being in the universe, endowed with a free will and independent power.

See also:

The World of the Noble Angels – Islamic Web Library


 Pervez, Ahmad (2010). Exposition of the Quran. (p. 1172-1173).