Angels in Islam
Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti's al-Haba'ik fi akhbar al-mala'ik
Routledge – 2012 – 340 pages
Angels are a basic tenet of belief in Islam, appearing in various types and genres of text, from eschatology to law and theology to devotional material. This book presents the first comprehensive study of angels in Islam, through an analysis of a collection of traditions (hadith) compiled by the 15th century polymath Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti (d. 911/1505).
With a focus on the principal angels in Islam, the author provides an analysis and critical translation of hadith included in al-Suyuti’s al-Haba’ik fi akhbar al-mala’ik (‘The Arrangement of the Traditions about Angels’) – many of which are translated into English for the first time. The book discusses the issues that the hadith raise, exploring why angels are named in particular ways; how angels are described and portrayed in the hadith; the ways in which angels interact with humans; and the theological controversies which feature angels. From this it is possible to place al-Suyuti’s collection in its religious and historical milieu, building on the study of angels in Judaism and Christianity to explore aspects of comparative religious beliefs about angels as well as relating Muslim beliefs about angels to wider debates in Islamic Studies.
Broadening the study of Islamic angelology and providing a significant amount of newly translated primary source material, this book will be of great interest to scholars of Islam, divinity, and comparative religion.
Part I: Angels, Islam and al-Suyūṭī’s al-Ḥabā'ik fī akhbār al-malā'ik 1. Angels in Classical Islam and Contemporary Scholarship 2. Al-Suyūṭī and his Works Part II: Themes in Islamic Angelology 3. Naming Angels 4. Imagining Angels 5. Angelic Companions 6. Angels and Theology Part III: Translation of al-Suyūṭī’s al-Ḥabā'ik fī akhbār al-malā'ik 7. Translation and Notes on al-Ḥabā'ik fī akhbār al-malā'ik Part IV: Conclusions 8. Angels in Islam and Islamic Angelology. Appendices
Stephen Burge is a Research Associate at the Institute of Ismaili Studies. His main areas of research are in the life and works of al-Suyuti, hadith studies, tafsir and angelology.