SHAMAN, SAIVA AND SUFI
(e) ANGELS AND DEVILS OF ISLAM
To−day in every hamlet in Malaya, that has sufficient inhabitants to form a congregation, there is a mosque
where, along with his fellow villagers, the magician acknowledges that there is no God but Allah and Muhammad
is His Prophet. The office of Caliph or head of the Muslim faith within his own State is the most cherished
prerogative of a Malay ruler. His installation is attended by the magician, once master of the ceremony but now
merely an onlooker, who listens and hears the court heralds call to the four archangels to send down upon their
new ruler "the divine majesty of kings by the hands of his angels: the angels of the rising sun, the angels of the
evening, the angels who stand upon the right and left of the empyrean throne, the angel of the zenith and the
horned princess, angel of the moon." Suckled in creeds outworn, the magician sits at the feet of the pious and
learns all he can about these angels and the demonology of the youngest of Malaya's religions. He adds the names
of angels and devils and spirits to his repertory of incantations.
He learns that there are angels, demons (or Shaitan) and jinn, all higher than man. Actually he has had a Malay
account of Muhammadan mythology for nearly three hundred years in a work called the Garden of Kings, written
in 1638 A.D. by an Indian missionary of Islam in Acheen. That work tells him of the four angels who bear the
throne Of God, one in the form of a bull, one in the form of a tiger, one in the form of an eagle, and one in the
form of a man. It tells also of the cherubim who cry incessantly "Glory to God." But more interesting to him are
the four archangels with individual names, who are concerned with the welfare of men. There is Gabriel, the angel
of revelation, with six pinions, each composed of one hundred smaller wings; he is covered with saffron hairs;
between his eyes is a sun, and between every two hairs of his body a moon and stars. Every day he dives three
hundred and sixty times into the Sea of Light, and every drop of water from his wings creates a spiritual angel
(Ruhaniyun) in his likeness. Two of his pinions he expands only when God desires to destroy hamlet or town.
Two green pinions he opens only once annually on the night of destiny, when from the tree that stands by the
throne of God the leaves fall inscribed with the names of those who shall die during the ensuing year. There is
Michael, created five hundred years before Gabriel and five hundred years after Israfil. His whole body is covered
with saffron hairs, every hair possessing a million faces having a thousand mouths, each mouth containing a
thousand tongues that entreat the mercy of God, while the tears of his million eyes, weeping for the sins of the
faithful, create cherubim in his likeness. These cherubim are his servants, who control rain and plants and fruits,
so that there is not a drop of rain falling on earth or sea that is not watched by one of them. There is Israfil, whose
head is level with the throne of Allah and whose feet reach lower than the lowest earth. With one pinion he
envelopes the west, with another the east; with a third he covers his person, and with a fourth he veils himself
from mouth to chest. Between his eyes is the jewelled tablet of fate. His duty it will be to sound the last trump on
the day of judgment. There is 'Azrail, who according to this version is not (as he should be) the angel of death but
only his warder, and is like Israfil in appearance. The angel of death, bigger than the seven earths and the seven
heavens, God kept hidden and chained with seventy thousand chains until the creation of Adam. When he was
seen by the angels, they fell into a faint that lasted a thousand years. He has seven thousand pinions. His body is
full of eyes and tongues, as many as there are men and birds and living things. Whenever a mortal dies, an eye
closes. He has four faces. When he takes the life of prophet or angel, he shows the face on his head; the face on
his chest is shown to believers, the face on his back to infidels, and the face on the soles of two of his feet to jinn.
Of his other two feet one is on the borders of heaven, the other on the brink of hell. So huge is he that if the waters
of all seas and all rivers were poured upon his head, not one drop would reach the earth. No living creature shall
escape death except the four archangels and the four angels who bear the throne of God.
There is also a huge angel called Ruh or the Spirit, with the face of a man, who will stand beside the throne on
the day of judgment and implore mercy for the faithful.
There are the two inquisitor angels, Munkar and Nakir, who visit the dead in their graves and enquire if they
Night and day man is protected from devils and jinn by two out of four attendant angels, who change guard at
sunrise and sunset. Recorders of his good and evil deeds, they are termed Kiraman Katibin, the Noble Writers;
good deeds are written down by the angel on his right, bad by the angel on his left. Nineteen Zabaniah (or Guardian Angels), under Malik their chief, are in charge of hell.
Finally, Iblis, the fallen rebel angel who refused to prostrate himself before Adam, is commander of an army of
supreme interest to the magician, the host of infidel genies or jinn.