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Christan Angelic Hierarchy
The most influential of these classifications was that put forward by Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite in the 4th or 5th century, in his book "The Celestial Hierarchy". However, during the Middle Ages, many schemes were proposed, some drawing on and expanding on Pseudo-Dionysius, others suggesting completely different classifications (some authors limited the number of Choirs to seven). Several other hierarchies were proposed, some in nearly inverted order. Scholars of the Middle Ages believed that angels and archangels were lowest in the order and were the only angels directly involved in the affairs of the world of men.
The authors of The Celestial Hierarchy and the Summa Theologica drew on passages from the New Testamehttp://site2746785.edit.webon.tripod.lycos.com/angels-and-the-bible/#nt, specifically Ephesians 1:21 and Colossians 1:16, in an attempt to reveal a schema of three Hierarchies, Spheres or Triads of angels, with each Hierarchy containing three Orders or Choirs.
From the comparative study of the Old Testament and New Testament passages, including their etymology and semantics, the above mentioned theological works (which contain variations), and esoteric Christian teachings, the descending order of rank can be inferred as following:
- First Sphere (Old Testament sources)
- Second Sphere (New Testament sources)
|1||Chayot Ha Kodesh|
|3||Erelim||See Isaiah 33:7|
|4||Hashmallim||See Ezekiel 1:4|
|5||Seraphim||See Isaiah 6|
|8||Bene Elohim||"Sons of Godly beings"|
|9||Cherubim||See Talmud Hagigah 13b|
|10||Ishim||"manlike beings", see Danie|
According to the Kabbalah as described by the Golden Dawn there are ten archangels, each commanding one of the choir of angels and corresponding to one of the Sephirot. It is similar to the Jewish angelic hierarchy.
|Rank||Choir of Angels||Translation||Archangel||Sephirah|
|1||Chayot Ha Kadesh||Living Ones||Metatron||Keter|
|8||Bene Elohim||Sons of Godly Beings||Michael||Hod|
|10||Ishim||Souls of Fire||Sandalphon||Malkuth|
There is no standard hierarchical organization in Islam that parallels the division into different "choirs" or spheres, as hypothesised and drafted by early medieval Christian theologians. Most[who?] Islamic scholars agree that this is an unimportant topic in Islam, especially since such a topic has never been directly mentioned or addressed in the Qur'an. However, it is clear that there is a set order or hierarchy that exists between angels, defined by the assigned jobs and various tasks to which angels are commanded by God. The angel Gabriel (Jibreel) is the most recognised angel, as in Islam this angel delivers the message of God (in the case of the Islamic prophet, Muhammad, the Qur'an) to the prophets.
Some scholars suggest that Islamic angels can be grouped into fourteen categories. Numbers 2-5 are considered archangels.
(Due to varied methods of translation from Arabic and the fact that these angels also exist in Christian contexts and the Bible, several of their Christian and phonetic transliteral names are listed.)
- Hamalat al-'Arsh, Those who carry the 'Arsh (throne of God)
- Jibraaiyl/Jibril (Judeo-Christian Gabriel), the angel of revelation, who is said to be the greatest of the angels. Jibraaiyl is the archangel responsible for revealing the Qur'an to Muhammad, verse by verse. Jibrayil is known as the angel who communicates with (all of) the prophets.
- Israfil/Israafiyl (Judeo-Christian Raphael), who will blow the trumpet twice at the end of time. According to the Hadith, Israafiyl is the angel responsible for signaling the coming of Qiyamah (Judgment Day) by blowing a horn and sending out a Blast of Truth. The blowing of the trumpet is described in many places in Qur'an. It is said that the first blow will destroy everything, while the second blow will bring all human beings back to life again to meet their Lord.
- Mikaaiyl (Judeo-Christian Michael), who provides nourishments for bodies and souls. Mikaaiyl is often depicted as the Archangel of mercy who is responsible for bringing rain and thunder to Earth. He is also responsible for the rewards doled out to good persons in this life.
- 'Azrael/'Azraaiyl a.k.a Malak al-maut (Judeo-Christian Azrael), the angel of death. He is responsible for parting the soul from the body. He is only referred as malak al-maut, meaning angel of death, in the Qur'an.
- The angels of the Seven Heavens.
- Hafaza (The Guardian Angel):
- Munkar and Nakir, who question the dead in their graves.
- Darda'il (The Journeyers), who travel in the earth searching out assemblies where people remember God's name.
- The angels charged with each existent thing, maintaining order and warding off corruption. Their number is known only to God.
- Maalik is the chief of the angels who governs Jahannam (Hell).
- Zabaniah are 19 angels who torment sinful persons in hell.
- Ridwan is the angel who is responsible for Jannah (Paradise).
The Qur'an also mentions angels who God has chosen to punish the sinful in hell, these angels take no pity on punishing them as they do what the Lord has commanded them to precisely and perfectly. A verse stipulates this:
O ye who believe! save yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is Men and Stones, over which are (appointed) angels stern (and) severe, who flinch not (from executing) the Commands they receive from Allah, but do (precisely) what they are commanded.—Qur'an, sura 66 (At-Tahrim) ayah 6
Also the number of Angels of Fire mentioned as nineteen:
Over it are Nineteen.
And We have set none but angels as Guardians of the Fire; and We have fixed their number only as a trial for Unbelievers,- in order that the People of the Book may arrive at certainty, and the Believers may increase in Faith,- and that no doubts may be left for the People of the Book and the Believers, and that those in whose hearts is a disease and the Unbelievers may say, "What symbol doth Allah intend by this?" Thus doth Allah leave to stray whom He pleaseth, and guide whom He pleaseth: and none can know the forces of thy Lord, except He and this is no other than a warning to mankind.—Qur'an, sura 74 (Al-Muddathir) ayat 30-31
The Qur'an also mentions that angels have qualities that may be typified by the word wings. Another ayah (verse) stipulates this: according to Muhammad, Gibril has four hundred wings and I watched Gibril two times in twenty three years in his original form. the wings of Gibril are so large that if he opened them one of his wing, it will cover the whole east or west.
However, according to hadith collected by Muhammad al-Bukhari, Muhammad said that Gabriel had 600 wings;
Narrated Abu Ishaq-Ash-Shaibani
I asked Zir bin Hubaish regarding the Statement of Allah: "And was at a distance Of but two bow-lengths Or (even) nearer; So did (Allah) onvey The Inspiration to His slave (Gabriel) and then he (Gabriel) Conveyed (that to Muhammad). (53.9-10) On that, Zir said, "Ibn Mas'ud informed us that the Prophet had seen Gabriel having 600 wings."—Sahih al-Bukhari
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.—Qur'an, sura 35 (Fatir) ayat 1
The preceding sentence does not imply that all angels have two to four wings. Most notably, archangels (namely Gabriel and Michael) are described as having thousands of wings. The angels also accompanied Muhammad up to Jannah (Heaven) when he received commands from God. Instead of riding on an angel, Muhammad rode a creature called a Buraq whose stride spans from horizon to horizon.
It is believed in Islam that young babies as well as animals can see angels. In relation to some narrations (riwayah), it is stated that the angels had accompanied, and had been in the presence of Muhammad when they were born. A classic example of this is, when Muhammad was born, then in some narrations it has been said that Gibrael had swung the cot, in which Muhammad lay. But this does not apply to all babies.
Verses in the Qur'an that directly name Angels
Gabriel (Jibreel) and Michael (Mikaa'eel) are mentioned early on the Qur'an in Sura Al-Baqarah:
Say: Whoever is an enemy to Gabriel-for he brings down the (revelation) to thy heart by Allah's will, a confirmation of what went before, and guidance and glad tidings for those who believe,-
Whoever is an enemy to Allah and His angels and messengers, to Gabriel and Michael,- Lo! Allah is an enemy to those who reject Faith.—Qur'an, sura 2 (Al-Baqara) ayat 97-98
Another angel, Maalik is defined in the Qur'an as a being who is the warden of Hell. However Maalik is not an evil angel, nor a fallen one, a notion Islam rejects, rather Maalik is merely doing what he is commanded to do by God. In Islam Iblīs or Shayṭan (the Devil or Satan) is an jinn rather than an fallen angel.
They will cry: "O Malik! would that thy Lord put an end to us!" He will say, "Nay, but ye shall abide!"—Qur'an, sura 43 (Az-Zukhruf ) ayah 77
Two other Angels are also mentioned directly in the Qur'an: Haaroot and Maaroot (Harut and Marut).
...and such things as came down at Babylon to the angels Harut and Marut.—Qur'an, sura 2 (Al-Baqara) ayah 102
Several angels such as Azrael, Israfil and Munkar and Nakir are not mentioned directly in the Qur'an but are explained further in the Hadiths of Muhammad. They are also mentioned in traditional myths, however, they seldom retain complete originality from the Hadith.
Zoroastrian angelic (Yazata) hierarchy- Wikipedia
Yazata- is originally an Avestan language adjective derived from the verbal root yaz- "to worship, to honor, to venerate." From the same root comes Avestan yasna "worship, sacrifice, oblation, prayer." A yazata is accordingly "a being worthy of worship" or "a holy being."
As the stem form, yazata- has the inflected nominative forms yazatō, pl. yazatåŋhō. These forms reflect Proto-Iranian *yazatah and pl. *yazatāhah. In Middle Persian the term became yazad or yazd, pl. yazdān, continuing in New Persian as izad.
Related terms in other languages are Sanskrit yájati "he worships, he sacrifices," yajatá- "worthy of worship, holy," yajñá "sacrifice," and perhaps[a] also Greek ἅγιος hagios "devoted to the gods, sacred, holy."
The term yazata is already used in the Gathas, the oldest texts of Zoroastrianism and believed to have been composed by Zoroaster himself. In these hymns, yazata is used as a generic, applied to God as well as to the "divine sparks", that in later tradition are the Amesha Spentas. In the Gathas, the yazatas are effectively what the daevas are not; that is, the yazatas are to be worshipped while the daevas are to be rejected.
The Gathas also collectively invoke the yazatas without providing a clue as to which entities are being invoked, and—given the structure and language of the hymns—it is generally not possible to determine whether these yazatas are abstract concepts or are manifest entities. Amongst the lesser Yazatas being invoked by name by the poet of the Gathas are Sraosha, Ashi, Geush Tashan, Geush Urvan, Tushnamaiti and Iza, and all of which "win mention in his hymns, it seems, because of their close association with rituals of sacrifice and worship."
In the Younger Avesta, the yazatas are unambiguously divinities, with divine powers but performing mundane tasks such as serving as charioteers for other divinities. Other divinities are described with anthropomorphic attributes, such as cradling a mace or bearing a crown upon their heads, or not letting sleep interrupt their vigil against the demons.
At some point during the late 5th or early 4th century BCE, the Achaemenids instituted a religious calendar in which each day of the month was named after, and placed under the protection of, a particular yazata. These day-name dedications were not only of religious significance because they ensured that those divinities remained in the public consciousness, they also established a hierarchy among the yazatas, with specific exalted entities having key positions in the day-name dedications (see Zoroastrian calendar for details).
Although these day-name dedications are mirrored in scripture, it cannot be determined whether these day-name assignments were provoked by an antecedent list in scripture (e.g. Yasna 16), or whether the day-name dedications provoked the compilation of such lists. Relatively certain however is that the day-name dedications predate the Avesta's Siroza ("30 days"), which contain explicit references to the yazatas as protectors/guardians of their respective days of the month.
The 9th - 12th century texts of Zoroastrian tradition observe the yazatas (by then as Middle Persian yazads) in much the same way as the hymns of the Younger Avesta. In addition, in roles that are only alluded to in scripture, they assume characteristics of cosmological or eschatological consequence.
For instance, Aredvi Sura Anahita (Ardvisur Nahid) is both a divinity of the waters as well as a rushing world river that encircles the earth, which is blocked up by Angra Mainyu (Ahriman) thus causing drought. The blockage is removed by Verethragna (Vahram), and Tishtrya (Tir) gathers up the waters and spreads them over the earth (Zam) as rain. In stories with eschatological significance, Sraosha (Sarosh), Mithra (Mihr) and Rashnu (Rashn) are guardians of the Chinvat bridge, the bridge of the separator, across which all souls must pass.
Further, what the calendrical dedications had begun, the tradition completed: At the top of the hierarchy was Ahura Mazda, who was supported by the great heptad of Amesha Spentas (Ameshaspands/Mahraspands), through which the Creator realized ("created with his thought") the manifest universe. The Amesha Spentas in turn had hamkars "assistants" or "cooperators", each a caretaker of one facet of creation.
In both tradition and scripture, the terms 'Amesha Spenta' and 'yazata' are sometimes used interchangeably. In general however, 'Amesha Spenta' signifies the six great "divine sparks." In tradition, yazata is the 1st of the 101 epithets of Ahura Mazda. The word also came to be applied to Zoroaster, but Zoroastrians to this day remain sharply critical of any attempts to divinify the prophet. In a hierarchy that does not include either Ahura Mazda or the Amesha Spentas amongst the yazatas, the most prominent amongst those "worthy of worship" is Mithra, who "is second only in dignity to Ohrmazd (i.e. Ahura Mazda) himself."
In the present day
Martin Haug's interpretations of Zoroastrian scripture allows the yazatas to be compared to the angels of Christianity. In this scheme, the Amesha Spentas are the arch-angel retinue of God, with the hamkars as the supporting host of lesser angels.
Haug's interpretations were subsequently disseminated as Parsi (Indian Zoroastrian) ones, which then eventually reached the west where they were seen to corroborate Haug. Like most of Haug's interpretations, this comparison is today so well entrenched that a gloss of 'yazata' as 'angel' is almost universally accepted; both in publications intended for a general audience as well as in (non-philological) academic literature.
Amongst the Muslims of Islamic Iran, Sraosha came to be "arguably the most popular of all the subordinate Yazatas," for as the angel Surush, only he (of the entire Zoroastrian pantheon) is still venerated by name.