You Say Malachim, I Say Apsaras
Angels, by any name, exist in many world religions.
BY: Rebecca Phillips
Angels and archangels are part of the hierarchy of nine bodiless powers in Orthodox tradition. Angels are workers and messengers of God.
Angels are usually described in a physical way, either as having the form of man, or being six-winged. However, angels do not actually have physical bodies.
Of all the nine types of spirit beings, the angels are the closest to man. They are appointed to guard and help believers.
Orthodox Christians follow a hierarchy of angels similar to Catholicism, also divided into three levels. The Seraphim are the closest to the Holy Trinity. The most important of all angels is the archangel Michael. Other archangels include Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, Selaphiel, Jehudiel, Barachiel, and Jeremiel. Satan, the fallen angel, plays a similar role to that of other Christian denominations.
While not specifically referred to as angels, Hinduism does have many different types of spirit beings who act in a similar capacity. One example is the minor gods, or devas, literally "shining ones," who inhabit the higher astral plane. Gods, devas, planets like Sani (Saturn), gurus (teachers), and ancestors can all play a protective role for humans. Also present in Hinduism are asuras, evil spirits or demons. They are fallen devas who inhabit the lower astral plane, the mental plane of existence. If asuras do good, they can be reincarnated into devas and do not have to remain eternally in the lower plane. Hinduism also includes apsaras, who are heavenly nymphs, angiris, who preside over sacrifices, and lipika, who regulate karma.
Devas and apsaras are spiritual beings, but they are often depicted in physical form. Apsaras are seductively beautiful and the devas often look like royalty, stately and handsome.
Devas and asuras can inspire or bring down aspirants, helping or hindering people's spiritual journey.
No specific individual angels.
Angels in Islam, or malaikah, play an essential role as messengers and intermediaries from Allah to the world, beginning with the angel Jabrai'il (Gabriel) who revealed the Qur’an, Islam's holy book, to the Prophet Muhammad.
Angels do not have a real physical shape. Though at certain times angels may materialize in different forms in dreams or visions, their true form is incomprehensible to humans.
Every person has two guardian angels in their lives. Guardian angels watch and record everything people do.
The most important of these messengers was the angel Gabriel, or Jabra'il, who Muslims believe revealed the Qur'an from Allah to Muhammad. The other Islamic archangels are Mika'il (Michael), who patrols the Israelites, Israfil, who will sound the trumpet on the last day, and Izra'il, who is the angel of death. Munkar and Nakir are two other angels who visit graves and test the faith of the recently deceased. Shaitan, the Muslim equivalent of the devil, is also important in Islam. Also called Iblis, Shaitan is the source of evil in the world. He is not considered an angel, but instead is a member of the jinn, invisible spirit beings who can be good or bad. Shaitan tempts humans are tries to mislead them.