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.
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.
The second edition of The Encyclopedia of Angels is significantly
changed from the first edition, published in
1996. Content is increased with the addition of several
hundred new entries and more than 70 new illustrations.
Nearly all major entries and numerous smaller
ones have been revised, reorganized, and cross-referenced
to make the book more valuable as a resource. I
have included many more entries on individual angels,
including fallen angels. If you use the “angels” and
“angelology” entries as starting points, you will find
your way to all of the principal entries in the book.
In particular, I have added significant depth and
detail from apocryphal, mystical, and esoteric texts,
which are rich sources of our angel beliefs and lore.
Visionary recitals of journeys into the heavens written
nearly two millennia ago retain their power today in
their vivid portrayals of mighty beings called angels.
The angels experienced then are different in many ways
from the angels experienced today; the history of that
evolution is a fascinating one. The angel of the prophets
is fierce and enigmatic. Today’s angel is more accessible,
more personal, more like us. What remains unchanged,
however, is the alluring mystery that surrounds angels.
I am indebted to the groundwork laid by Gustav
Davidson’s Dictionary of Angels, which I do not attempt to
re-create. Readers who are familiar with that work will
appreciate the longer treatments and discussions of topics
related to angels made possible in this book by an encyclopedia
format. The “further reading” recommendations
at the ends of many entries are not intended to be exhaustive
references but to direct readers to useful sources.
In the years since I completed the first edition of this
encyclopedia, my views on angels have not changed in
any profound ways, but they have in more subtle ways.
I consider angels to exist in their own right, but also as
part of us and all creation. To attempt to define them too
precisely shatters their mystery. Angels exist in a realm
that can be grasped only through intuitive knowing and
visionary experience. Nonetheless, intellectual inquiry and
study of angels is valuable, for consciousness is raised to a
higher plane and made fertile for visionary understanding.
Readers will notice at times that the names of angels
can be confusing. Even within a single text, the name of
an angel may be spelled in different ways. The entries on
individual angels give alternative spellings and names in
parentheses. Sometimes variant names describe what
appear to be different angels altogether, or perhaps
aspects of an angel. For example, Sariel is the alternate
name of Uriel, but Sariel is not always Uriel. An alternate
name of Sariel is Saraqael, which is also an alternate
name of Sarakiel. There are both overlaps and differences
in identities and duties, depending on the texts in
which the angels are mentioned. As noted in the entry
NAMES, many early angel names were the products of
trance recitations of prayers and incantations. Readers
may wish to read the names entry as one of the first,
along with ANGELOLOGY as an orientation to this book.
The literature on angels describes their many roles:
messenger, protector, guardian, punisher, destroyer,
administrator, minister, teacher, and servant and
worshiper of God. These roles capture only pieces of
their essence. Above all, angels are participants with us
in the glory of creation. They sing the wonders of God
and the cosmos. Their song is ours to sing too.
—Rosemary Ellen Guiley, Ph.D.
TO THE SECOND EDITION
Since its publication in 1996, Holy Land has become an American classic. In "quick, translucent prose" (Michiko Kakutani, New York Times) that is at once lyrical and unsentimental, D. J. Waldie recounts growing up in Lakewood, California, a prototypical post-World War II suburb. Laid out in 316 sections as carefully measured as a grid of tract houses, Holy Land is by turns touching, eerie, funny, and encyclopedic in its handling of what was gained and lost when thousands of blue-collar families were thrown together in the suburbs of the 1950s. An intensely realized and wholly original memoir about the way in which a place can shape a life, Holy Land is ultimately about the resonance of choices—how wide a street should be, what to name a park—and the hopes that are realized in the habits of everyday life.