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 (hadīth) compiled by the 15th century polymath Jalāl al-Dīn al-Suyūtī (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 hadīth raise, exploring why angels are named in particular ways; how angels are described and portrayed in the hadīth; the ways in which angels interact with humans; and the theological controversies which feature angels. From this it is possible to place al-Suyūtī’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.
Table of Contents
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-Suyūtī, hadīth studies, tafsīr and angelology.
"In summary, Burge’s work provides readers with a well-written and well-researched presentation of the function of angels in Islamic theology. His book and translation have the potential to become a standard work on angels in Islamic theology and history."
Göran Larsson University of Gothenburg, Sweden