I’m going to talk to you about one of my favourite persons in the world. Well he probably doesn’t qualify as a person because he is an angel. Literally.
Angels are beings I spend an unusual amount of time thinking about. They are frequently on my mind; the ones taking account on my sides, the ones protecting my front and back. The one I undoubtedly think about the most is the angel of death but i’m not here to talk about him. I’m here to talk about Angel Jibreel (Gabriel) A.S; one of the greatest creations of Allah.
My knowledge of angels in general are very limited (as it should be) but with the help of Sheikh Omar Suleiman, I’ve happened to acquire a lot more knowledge about angel Jibreel from a 3 hour lecture he taught on him. The lecture was recorded but only bayyinah institute students can access the video. I had to share some of this knowledge. I took pages and pages of notes because there was a lot of information I was coming across for the first time. If you are someone that contemplates a lot about everything that relates to the unseen world (jannah, jahannam, angels, jinns, period in the grave e.t.c) then you’ll find this very consoling.
When we are talking about the angels, the Prophetﷺ was asked particularly on the night of Al Isra’ wal Mirajj (the night the prophet ﷺ made a journey from medina to jerusalem and then to heaven) by a group of companions that what did it sound like? When he was traveling through all these galaxies with rapid speed, what did he hear out there? They were curious. The messengerﷺ replied I see things that you are incapable of seeing and I hear things that you are incapable of hearing. I’m grateful for this to be honest, I certainly don’t want to be able to hear the screams of those being punished in the grave nor would I like to be able to see a jinn sitting on my bathroom seat doing God knows what. The prophetﷺ told the companions the heavens are shaking violently. There’s a reason why the heaven sounds like it is shaking violently. The prophetﷺ said its because there isn’t a space of four fingers, except that there is an angel that has been created in prostration to Allah that is doing nothing but declaring His praise.
At the end of this post you can click on the link provided to listen to a 30 second sample of what space sounds like. Just click on ‘sample this song’; the recording was taken from the album NASA released called symphonies of the planet. You’ve probably heard that there’s no sound in outer space. Although space is a virtual vacuum, this does not mean there’s no sound in space; the sound exists as electromagnetic vibrations. It’s actually quite breathtaking.
The malaikas (angels) are a magnificent creation and the belief in angels is found in almost all religion, its the second pillar of our faith. We know angels are created from light and free of all impurities. Allah tells us in the Quran that there’s not a single command that they disobey. Now do they love certain things? Hate certain things? Do they have character? Yes they do, they are not robots. There are numerous hadiths that tells you what offends the angels and what causes them to come near.
What do they look like? Allah tells us they do have wings, but not those two little weak feathery things you think. Some of them have 2 wings, 3 wings , 4 wings and Allah increases them as he wills [Sahih Bukhari]. This automatically tells us that they are of different sizes, but what will an average angel look like? It was narrated that no one enters into salat except there are angels the size of mountains that are praying there with him. Subhanallah and you are there praying in your room thinking you are all by yourself.
What about an angel that has a bigger task (such as the elite group of angels)? Allah praises and makes mention of the Hamalat al-Arsh (bearers of the throne).
In suratul Ghafir Allah says 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 have believed, [saying], “Our Lord, You have encompassed all things in mercy and knowledge, so forgive those who have repented and followed your way and protect them from the punishment of hellfire” (40:7)
What do the bearers of the throne look like? The prophetﷺ said I’ve been given permission to tell you about one of the angels that bear the throne of Allah. The distance between his earlobe and his shoulder is a journey of 700 years. So how do we even determine who is the greater angel and who is the smaller angel and what does this have to do with Angel Jibreel A.S? Imam suyuti said the greater the task that has been given to an angel, the greater the size of the angel. This tells us right away that Jibreel A.S is even bigger than that; he is the biggest of the angels and greatest in size because he had the greatest of tasks.
Jibreel A.S also belongs to what is knows as the most elite class of the malaikas; those who apportion the commands of Allah, there are four of them. The first of them being Jibreel and he is the angel that through him is the life of the heart. Why? Because he brings revelation and through revelation our hearts live. Allah swt apportions through Jibreel al wahi; he brings spiritual life. Each and every prophet that received a revelation, received it from Jibreel. What else does Jibreel deal with? Every nation that rejects the revelation, oppressed and transgressed is also dealt with by Jibreel (A.S). The people of Lut (A.S) the entire city was destroyed just by the tip of one of jibreel’s wing; this shows the strength of Jibreel (A.S).
The second of the angels is Mikaeel (Michael) A.S. and through Mikaeel physical life is apportioned; such as provisions, sustenance, rain and wind. Mikaeel (A.S) is the angel that Allah has chosen to move those things in a certain way when Allah commands him to do so.
The next two angels have to do with death (so two of them are in relation to life and two of them are in relation to death). Israfeel (Uriel) A.S deals with the taking of souls collectively. Allah has created this great angel with one task alone and that is to blow the horn. The prophetﷺ said I lost my appetite for this world when I saw Israfeel (A.S) with his lips already puckered to the horn and his eyes gazing and fixated on the throne of Allah waiting for the command.
The fourth one deals with the taking of the souls individually. What’s his name? Actually that name does not exist, we just know him as malaikat maut (angel of death). Allah and the prophetﷺ referred to him as the angel of death and he’s been assigned to take our souls when Allah swt decrees so. Those are the four great angels that apportion the command of Allah and the most elite of that class is Jibreel (A.S).
Allah often refers to Jibreel as ruh (the spirit) in the Quran. Allah has called him the holy spirit, the trustworthy spirit, the truthful spirit and also ‘our spirit’. Why is he constantly being referred to as ruh? There is much beauty to the explanations that are given. One of them is that Jibreel brings a person a soul (what settles the heart). In the Quran Allah said weren’t you dead and Allah gave you life? Allah gives life through revelation. Some of the scholars say he is called that because he brings that which gives you a soul in the first place. If you dissect the root letters of the word ruh its the same root as the word raha which means to comfort, to settle; just like the soul settles in the body Jibreel brings that which settles the heart. So he is called Ar Ruh.
Another explanation (and the one that has the most evidence to it) is that Jibreel is the first living breathing creature of Allah. He is the first creature that has ever been given a soul. How was he brought into existence and when he was brought into existence what did he say? Said ibn al-Musayyib R.A narrated that as the angels are brought into existence they say laa hawla wa laa quwwata illa billaah (There is neither might nor power except with Allah). Also that Jibreel is a noble messenger and possesses mighty strength. Why would he need to posses mighty strength? Think about it, Allah speaks to him directly with revelation and then he has to guard that revelation and then he deals with those that reject revelation.
The prophetﷺ said Jibreel resides directly under the throne of Allah swt and that he is completely free of fault; he embodies perfection in body, mind and soul. Ibn Abass says it refers to his size and beauty. The angels love and respect him. He is the trustworthy, the truthful and the loving. Those are the way in which Jibreel is referred to in the glorious Quran and sunnah.
What does Jibreel look like? Now Jibreel took on multiple forms. He took on a human form and sometimes he takes on an angelic form, but it wasn’t his full form; so the Prophetﷺ will see a light, he would hear the voice of Jibreel (likewise the other prophets before but they weren’t seeing Jibreel in his full form). What does he look like when he is in his full form? The Prophetﷺ said I saw Jibreel and he has 600 wings. He filled up the entire horizon and he was sitting on a throne that Allah swt provided for him. The Prophetﷺ said not only are those 600 wings spread out, there are constant rubies and pearls falling from his wings. Subhanallah. The Prophetﷺ also said that the colour of his wings are green and the soles of his feet are green. Can you imagine how beautiful that sight was for the Prophetﷺ? I mean its also a horrifying sight, how huge Jibreel A.S was but the Prophetﷺ only saw Jibreel in his full form twice in his whole life. Jibreel in his full form is a very hard sight to grasp; so that’s his angelic form, unparalleled by any of the angels.
What does he look like in his human form? Jibreel can assume multiple human forms but when he came to the Prophetﷺ he had a consistent human form. I’ll give the full hadith from the an-nasai because it’s beautiful how the prophetﷺ is explaining to the companions after he arrived from Al Isra’ wal Mirajj what the people he met looked like. The Prophetﷺ said I saw Musa (Moses) A.S and he looked like a man that comes from Shanu’a or Azut. Shanu’a and Azut are two african tribes, not only are they african tribes but Azut were a tribe that had the darkest skin from anyone else. The Prophetﷺ is speaking to a people who were emerging from one of the most racist societies on the planet and he is telling them listen, Musa doesn’t look like Christian Bale. Musa A.S looks like one of those people that you guys actually use to look down upon. The man who Allah spoke to directly, the man who is mentioned more times in the Quran than anyone else, is a dark black african man. Deal with that if you’re racist.
Secondly, heﷺ said I saw Isa (jesus) A.S, and he looked like Abdullāh ibn mas’ūd and then he said I saw Ibrahim A.S. Heﷺ said I’ve never seen a man that looked more like me than Ibrahim A.S. Then heﷺ said I saw Jibreel and he looked like Dihyah ibn Khalifah al-Kalbi (R.A). I’m sure you’re wondering who is that? Dihya is a very interesting man, you don’t hear about him as often as the other companions but he served in all of the battles with Prophetﷺ. He was there at the time Jibreel presented himself for the first time to a large group of companions, which completely puts to rest anyone saying that Dihya was posing as Jibreel. He was there when Jibreel came in human form amongst many of the other companions. Jibreel A.S didn’t look exactly like Dihya but if you saw him up close, he looked almost like him but you can tell that he is not Dihya. Who is Dihya and why is it that Jibreel chose him? Dihya was called the Yusuf of banu Kalb. Women could not keep their hands off of Dihya; this is why Dihya used to stay away many times from public gatherings because women threw themselves on him. The prophetﷺ in his wisdom sent Dihya to Hercules in jerusalem (to the romans). When Dihya went there he caused a raucous in the city, everyone came out to see him, everyone wanted to know what the messenger of the messenger of muslims looked like. Dihya is a really really good looking man.
So Jibreel looked strikingly similar to Dihya, however did he always look like Dihya? When he went to Maryam did he look like Dihya? No. Ibn Kayyim said when Jibreel was sent to a prophet, he would resemble the most beautiful person of that prophets people. So if he was sent to an african/asian prophet he resembled the most beautiful african/asian man that was from that people. Subhanallah it was a sign of his nobility. So when Jibreel was sent to the prophetﷺ, he looked like the most beautiful Arab man from that time; Dihya.
How old is Jibreel? It’s mentioned earlier that one of the opinions is that he is the first creature to have been given a spirit. What’s the evidence of that statement? It’s the authentic hadith of the prophetﷺ he said when Allah created paradise and hellfire, he sent Jibreel to go look at jannah (telling us jibreel was there before jannah or hellfire even existed) and see what He has prepared for its inhabitants. Jibreel comes back to Allah with excitement and he said I swear by your Glory Allah no one is going to hear about this place except they are going to enter it. (I don’t care who they are, what kind of creation they are, no one is going to know that a place like this exists and miss out on it). Then Rasullalahﷺ said Allah surrounded Jannah with obstacles and hardships. It’s not that easy, He wanted to show Jibreel that it’s not like that. So He sends Jibreel back to Jannah to look at it again. Jibreel A.S comes back the second time and this time he’s worried he said I swear by your glory now I’m afraid no one is going to get into jannah. How are they going to get past this hardships and obstacles? Then Allah sent Jibreel to look at Hellfire and see what He has prepared for its inhabitants. Jibreel came back to Allah swt and he said i swear by your glory no one is going to hear about hellfire and enter it. When people know what hellfire is like, they are going to make sure to avoid the things that would cause them to enter into it. Then Allah surrounded hellfire with desires, ease, tests and trials in a different way; with goodness. Jibreel goes and he looks at it and comes back to Allah and says I swear by your glory now i’m afraid no one is going to be safe from hellfire.
What this shows right away is that Jibreel has a love for the people of iman before they have even been created. Allah then put Jibreel to ease by saying: the believers who have humility in their prayers will enter into paradise. The secret of your success has already been put in the moment that hellfire and paradise were created. Before you were created, salat was made the determining factor. Subhanallah.
What is the relationship between Allah and Jibreel A.S? The first is he is kallimullah minal Malikah; he is the one that Allah speaks to from the angels. Now you might be wondering doesn’t Allah speak to all of the angels? No. Just as there are particular human beings that Allah speaks to directly there are particular angels that Allah speaks to directly such as the four angels mentioned that apportion the command of Allah. There are narrations of direct communication between Allah and them but Allah always speaks directly to Jibreel, Allah never sends another angel to talk to jibreel. Allah speaks to jibreel directly, then Jibrel goes out and delivers the message to the rest of the angels.
There’s not a single prophet of Allah that you study except that you find the mention of Jibreel. He’s been sent to 124,000 prophets amongst them 315 were messengers. He was sent to every single one of them to teach them, to support them, to protect them. There are many narration of Jibreel and his encounters with the other prophets; I’d love to go through all of them but I can’t it’s too much. I will only mention a few that will illustrate the kind of person Jibreel was and hopefully you get to love him too.
The prophet Ibrahm A.S when he was about to be thrown into the fire by his people, the angels wanted to help him. Mikaeel and the other angels were waiting for the command of Allah to put out the fire and were wondering why there was a delay from Allah. Then jibreel comes to Ibrahim A.S and asks “Is there anything you want me to do for you?” Ibrahim knows why Jibreel is asking that question. He told Jibreel “if its from you I don’t want anything from you. If it’s from Allah then okay.” So Jibreel is telling Ibrahim “Why don’t you just ask Him? It will all be dealt with!” Ibrahim said “Allah knows my situation, his knowledge of my situation make it irrelevant for me to ask him.” Now that’s not for us, that is for the prophets. As normal human beings, Allah loves when we ask him for things and hates it when we don’t. Ibrahim only said that because he trusted and knew Allah had a plan for him. Here we see how much Jibreel wanted to help him and we know that the fire didn’t burn Ibrahim.
When does the Prophetﷺ first see Jibreel? As a young child. Anas ibn Malik narrates that the Prophetﷺ was running around playing with all of the other children (this is the year that his mother died and he also lost his father) when suddenly a man came and he grabbed rasullallahﷺ and he threw him into the ground and all of the other children went running to their parents saying Muhammadﷺ has been killed. As they were running away, the prophetﷺ is watching what this man is about to do to him. Rasullah ﷺ said Jibreel cut open his chest and grabbed the heart of the prophetﷺ he then took something out of the heart of the prophetﷺ and he said this is the portion of evil within you and he threw it away. Prophetﷺ said he then proceeded to wash my heart in a golden vessel of zam zam and started to purify the heart, and my heart was put back in my chest. By the time the kids got back, they found the Prophetﷺ with his chest sewn up. Anas ibn malik said there was a line down the chest of the prophet Muhammedﷺ that had a perfect line of stitching and his face was blue (because the circulation was caught off). 34 years later at the age of 40 years old the Prophetﷺ started to see truthful righteous dreams for 6 months. So he already started to have an idea that something is happening. Aisha R.A said that suddenly Allah bestowed the love of seclusion on the Prophetﷺ. He would climb up (two hours journey) and stay in Hira for days and weeks, and Khadija R.A a 55 year old woman out of her love for him would climb up Hira to bring him food, drink and clothing without him asking.
One day the Prophetﷺ sees Jibreel A.S. Did jibreel come to him in the form of an angel or human being? Human being. Then you might be thinking why in the world was the Prophetﷺ scared then? Think about it you are two hours up in the cave, no one is around you and then all of a sudden you see a strange man standing at the mount of the cave and he’s just staring down at you not saying anything. What might you think is happening if you were the prophetﷺ? Hallucination..dreaming…is this something that i’m seeing? A future narration tells us what happened between them. Rasullalahﷺ told Khadija what happened: the one who i’ve been seeing in my dreams came to me. So he’s thinking this is strange i’m not sleeping right now, i’m not dreaming which explains why Jibreel grabbed him and hugged him. This is real, read. You are not hallucinating, I’m really here. Not only am I here seeing you and squeezing you tight, the words that are going to be revealed to you is going to be very heavy; you need to be ready to acquire this. So Jibreel commanded him iqra; read! and he let him go. The Prophetﷺ said I don’t know how to read. So Jibreel A.S grabbed him again harder and insisted iqra (read)! The prophetﷺ said the same thing and Jibreel grabbed the Prophetﷺ the 3rd time and he held him so tight that the Prophetﷺ thought he was going to die and said again iqra! Then the prophetﷺ said what shall i read? and thats when Jibreel said Iqra bismi rabbikal lazee khalaq (read in the name of your lord who creates) (96:1) Khalaqal insaana min ‘alaq (Who created men from a suspended clot) (96:2) Iqra wa rabbukal akram Al lazee ‘allama bil qalam (Read and your Lord is most generous who taught men the use of the pen) (6:3-4).
The Prophetﷺ as he receives these words, Jibreel didn’t grab him again and he didn’t go anywhere. The Prophetﷺ left the cave and he went running down. You can imagine how long that journey back must have been after experiencing such and you can imagine the relief the Prophetﷺ felt when he finally got home and saw the sight of his wife Khadija R.A. and literally embraced/hugged her and told her to hold him. Khadija R.A asks him what happened? When the Prophetﷺ told her what happened, Khadija could have easily said well maybe you should stop going up there, maybe you should stay home more often, lets pretend this never happened, you can meditate in the corner of the house and we’ll leave you alone and ISA nothing will happen again. She didn’t say any of that, She truly believed in the Prophetﷺ before he believed in himself. She tells him Allah will never disgrace you. Why does she say Allah? Because The Prophetﷺ was thinking that what he’s been going through for the past six months and then now was a trial, he’s been afflicted with something and it may be the work of the devil because he was loosing his mind. Khadija R.A starts mentioning all the good qualities of the Prophetﷺ: you are a man who establishes the ties of kinship, who takes care of the orphans and the poor, who is generous to his guests and neighbours, theres no one who takes up a cause except you take up their cause. Allah will never disgrace you. Then she tells him lets go to Warakah (her cousin who was a biblical scholar and a monotheist who refused to worship the idols).
The Prophetﷺ told him what he saw and Waraqah recognised and told him right away that it was Jibreeel the one that came to Musa. Waraqah and the rest knew something was about to happen. They knew a messenger was about to come. Waraqah then said I wish I was young enough to live long and support you when your people turn you out. The Prophetﷺ is like what me? Will my people really turn me out? The Prophetﷺ has never disappointed or turned anyone down; he was on good terms with everyone. It was hard to believe but Waraqah knows how these things go.
How was waraqah able to tell the man was Jibreel? If you look up the original bible, Daniel 8 says ‘behold i saw a man before me with a booming voice saying understand as he touched me and recited the words to me, I fell on my face trembling and lost all strength but I could still hear his voice. Then he stood me upright, and said fear not o beloved one of God, fear not peace be on to you.’ Subhanallah. How incredibly consistent is that with what the Prophetﷺ experienced?
Aisha R.A narrated that after that incident, there was a pause in revelation for a very long time. The Prophetﷺ waits for the next revelation but he doesn’t get it, he gets something else. The Prophetﷺ starts to walk back into those mountains and Rasullahﷺ explained that he felt like he wanted to throw himself off because he wanted some clarity, what’s going on? Every time he went up the mountains he would hear the voice of Jibreel saying Oh Muhammed you are the messenger of Allah, it’s the truth and that calmed the prophetﷺ down and he would go back to his house. Then later on Jibreel said Oh Muhammed you are the messenger of Allah, it’s the truth and I am Jibreel; confirming what waraqah said but still there was no quran, no revelation what’s going on?
In another narration Khadija R.A comes to the prophetﷺ and she says to him if this companion of yours comes back to you, tell me. So the Prophetﷺ was waiting and Jibreel A.S came. What was the Prophetﷺ seeing? He was hearing the voice and he was seeing the radiance of Jibreel. Khadija R.A said sit on my right side, so he sat on her right side. Khadija said do you see him? The prophetﷺ said na’am (yes). So she tells the Prophetﷺ sit on my left side and he sat on her left side. She asked again do you see him? The Prophetﷺ said yes. Khadija then took off her kheemar (the hijab back then that was tied to the back but still exposed the chest and neck) and embraced the Prophetﷺ from behind him and put her chin on his shoulder. She was holding him so close that the Prophetﷺ was almost on her lap and she said do you see him? The prophetﷺ said no. She said be firm thats an angel not a devil. Subhanallah, I was speechless the love I have for this woman Khadija R.A; She is so loving and wise to know that Jibreel has haya (modesty/shyness).
Then finally the Prophetﷺ was walking, he looked up to the skies and suddenly there was Jibreel two bow lengths away from him in his full angelic form covering the entire horizon. Jibreel leaned closer and the Prophetﷺ fell to the ground and he ran back to his house and he told Khadija cover me, embrace me and that’s when the next revelation came.
Allah started off with an ayat in suratul Muzammil “Oh you who wraps himself! Stand up and call the people and declare the greatness of your lord. Purify your garments and abandon the idols.
That was the next revelation and from that moment, Aisha R.A says the revelation heated up and started coming very quickly to the Prophetﷺ. Thats when it starts, the Prophetﷺ now understand whats happening; that he is a messenger of Allah and he is no longer terrified by the presence of Jibreel.
We know that the revelation was very heavy on the Prophet saw, he would sweat on a bitterly cold day, his body would become physically heavier. Rasullalahﷺ was sitting on a camel when suratul al- an’am was revealed to him and the knees of the camel buckled and the Prophetﷺ got off as a mercy to the camel.
Allah himself in the Quran said in surat al’hashr “Had we sent down this Quran on a mountain, you would surely have seen it humbling itself and coming apart from fear of Allah. Such are the parables which we put forward to mankind that they may reflect” ( 59:21) Allahuakbar.
I’m sorry but i’ll have to end this here and post the rest of Jibreel’s story at a later date; it would include the sight of a particular person that caused the great angel to shrink in size out of fear, how you can get Jibreel to call on you, his wise words/advice and many more things that is worth knowing. I write this in parts because I fear the post is already way too long and some of your attention may be lost. So digest this current information and stay tuned for the next part that gets way better 🙂
Have a blessed week and see you soon ISA ^.^