Revelation of Mystery (Kashf al Mahjub)

Superiority of Prophets and Saints over Angels

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Chapter XIV (u)

Superiority of Prophets and Saints over Angels


The whole community of Sunnis (orthodox Muslims) and all the Sufi Sheikhs agree that the prophets and such of the saints as are guarded from sin are superior to the angels. The Mutazilites differs with this view, and declares that the angels are superior to the prophets. They say angels being of more exalted rank, of subtle constitution, and the most obedient to Allah, qualify them for their superiority over all creatures.

We say that the reality is contrary to their view. The body obedience, an exalted rank, and a subtle constitution are not the cause of Allah’s kindness, for excellence lies where Allah wills.  All these qualities of angels were possessed by Iblis (Satan), yet he is universally acknowledged to have become accursed. Hence, superior is he whom Allah blesses with His grace and makes him His chosen one.

The superiority of the prophets is evident by the fact that Allah commanded the angels to prostrate Adam; for the state of one who is prostrated is higher than the state of who prostrates. It may be argued that, just as a true believer is superior to the Kaba, an inanimate mass of stones, although he bows down before it, so the angels may be superior to Adam, although they bowed down before him. In reply I assert that no one says that a believer bows down to a house or an altar or a wall but all say that he bows down to Allah, whereas everyone admits that the angels bowed down to Adam. Allah said, “اسْجُدُواْ لآدَمَ bow down to Adam” (Q 2:32), i.e. We said and commanded the angels to bow down to Adam, whereas when believers were commanded to bow down, Allah said, “وَاسْجُدُوا وَاعْبُدُوا رَبَّكُمْ prostrate yourselves, and adore your Lord.” (Q 22:77) i.e. prostrates to Allah and commit yourself to His devotion. Therefore, Kaba cannot be compared to Adam. A traveler may worship Allah while on his ride, and he is excused may the ride be not facing the direction of Kaba, and in like manner, one who has lost his bearing and is unable to determine the direction of the Kaba, will have done his duty in whatever direction he may turn to pray. The angels had no excuse or compulsion to bow down to Adam and the one who made an excuse for himself became accursed. These are clear proofs to any person of insight.

Again, this also may be in consideration that in one respect angels are under compulsion to have marifat (knowledge of Allah), for they are free of every lust, covetousness, and evil. Their nature is devoid of hypocrisy and guile, and obedience is their food and their drink is the abode of the Commands of Allah. Whereas lust is an impediment in human nature which is ever inclined to commit sins and be impressed by the vanities of this world. Satan has so much power over human bodies that he circulates with the blood in their veins and the nafs (lower soul) which is the cause of all wickedness is closely attached to him.

Therefore, one whose nature has all these qualities and who, inspite of the violence of his lust, refrains from immorality, and notwithstanding his covetousness renounces this world, and though his heart is still tempted by the devilish thoughts, turns back from sin and averts his face from sensual depravity in order to occupy himself with devotion and persevere in piety and mortify his nafs (lower soul) and contend against the Satan. So in reality, such creature is superior and of higher rank to angels who are not pitched against lust, and are devoid of food and pleasure, and has no care for wife and child and kinfolk, and need not have recourse to means and instruments and are not absorbed in corrupt ambitions.

By my Lord! I am surprised on that man who keeps an eye on excellence of an act or considers beauty and elegance an honor or recognizes property and profit as dignity and nobility. These apparent delights may be taken away at any time, then why does not he aspire for the grace and bounties of the Lord of the Universe, so it remains with him and his heart be satisfied and delighted both in this and the next world.

Gabriel (may blessings of Allah be on him), who worshiped Allah many thousands of years in the hope of gaining a robe of honor, and the honor bestowed on him was that of acting as Muhammad’s groom on the night of the ascension. How could he be superior to one who disciplined and mortified his nafs (lower soul) by day and night in this world, until Allah looked on him with favor and granted him the grace of His vision and delivered him from all hazards?

When the pride of the angels passed all bounds and every one of them boasted the purity of his conduct as evidence and spoke ill of mankind, Allah resolved to show them their real state. He therefore bade them to choose three of the chiefs among them, in whom they had confidence, to go to the earth and be its governors. They were commanded to reform its people and to establish justice among them.  So three angels were chosen, but before they came to the earth one of them perceived its corruption and begged Allah to let him return. When the other two arrived on the earth Allah changed their nature so that they felt a desire for food and drink and were inclined to lust, and Allah punished them on that account, and the angels recognized the excellence and superiority of mankind to themselves.

In short, the elects among the true believers are superior to the elects among the angels, and the ordinary believers are superior to the ordinary angels. Accordingly, those men who are preserved and protected from sin are more excellent than Gabriel and Michael (may blessings of Allah be on them), and those who are not thus preserved are better than Recording Angels.

There are lot many sayings on this subject as every Sheikh has talked something. Allah awards superiority to whom He pleases, over whom He pleases. This is curtailed but complete narration of the Hakimis sect about Sufism, discussion on subjects linked up with their doctrine and the disagreement among the Sufis in reference to their doctrine.

You must know that saintship is a Divine mystery which is revealed only through conduct. A saint is known only to a saint. If this matter could be made plain to all reasonable men it would be impossible to distinguish the friend from the foe or the spiritual adept from the heedless. Therefore Allah so willed that the pearl of His love should be set in the shell of popular contempt and be cast into the sea of affliction, in order that those who seek it may hazard their lives on account of its preciousness and dive to the bottom of this ocean of death, where they will either win their desire or bring their mortal state to an end.

I wanted to give more detail but fearing the reader’s tiredness and inattentiveness, I have followed the brevity path which should be enough for the seekers of the Path.



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Zahid Javed Rana, Abid Javed Rana, Lahore, Pakistan

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