Belief in benevolent angels who protect and serve humanity is widespread around the world. Sculptures, figurines, pictures and paintings of winged-super-human-beings portrayed in protective roles are prevalent in almost every culture. The reason for this is simple, the three major religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) all share a common belief in angels, and so do many of the lesser religions. To no ones surprise, there are numerous differences and similarities, especially when it comes to guardian angels. So, what does the population of earth believe about angels? Here is a very basic rundown of the most popular ideas:
Angels (from αγγελōς = messenger, Greek equivalent of the Hebrew ) are generally viewed as superhuman beings dwelling in heaven, who occasionally reveal to man God’s will and execute his commands. In one form or another, the belief in angels appears in the earliest stages of Jewish history with Abraham being stopped by an angel from sacrificing his son Isaac. This ancient belief continues to live in the Jewish spiritual world with the common belief that Michael is the guardian angel and protector of Israel. To learn more, click here: Angel Types In Judaism.
With the roots of Christianity closely linked to Judaism, it comes as no surprise that Christians hold angels in high esteem. As in Judaism, angels played vital roles in many events viewed with great importance by Christians. It was the angel Gabriel who appeared to Mary and told her of how she was chosen by God to give birth to his son Jesus. The New Testament also states that Jesus’ resurrection from the dead was announced by angels. Christians generally believe angels are God’s special messengers and ambassadors to humanity, each person has a special guardian angel to protect and serve them, and there are both good and bad angels currently working in the earth today. To learn more, click here: Angel Types In Christianity.
Angels are also prominent in the Islamic faith, one of their basic articles of faith being the belief in angels. Muslims believe that each person has four guardian angels, which they call “Malaaika” (Arabic = messengers). Two angels are tasked to keep a record of their assigned person’s good actions, and the other two record the bad deeds. Angels in Islam are also responsible for assigning souls to newborns, taking care of the environment, delivering special messages to humanity, and more. It is believed that angels visit earth daily. The Much-Frequented House is a sacred heavenly sanctuary above the Kaaba, the black cube in the city of Mecca. Every day 70,000 angels visit it and leave, never returning again, followed by another group of 70,000 angels daily – every day of every month of every year unending. Check out this video of a supposed angel sighting above the Kaaba: Angels Coming From The Sky.
One main difference between the Islamic and Christian/Jewish views on angels, is that for Muslims, it is not possible for angels to fall from grace, as they cannot commit sin. Christian and Jewish views generally recognize demons to have once been angels that committed sins, fell from grace, and were cast from heaven along with their leader, the former archangel Lucifer. Muslims do not believe that Lucifer was once an angel created from light. They believe he is a “Jinn” – beings, both good and bad, created from smokeless fire, inhabiting a parallel unseen world. For more on Islamic beliefs about angels, check this out: Reality of Angels. For a general comparison of Christian vs. Muslim beliefs, click here: Christianity vs. Islam.
Hindus may not specifically refer to angels but they do recognize them as “devas” (shining ones). These entities are responsible for natural elements such as water, earth, wind, and fire. Hindus also believe that every living person has two guardian divas/angels. While angels are viewed as divine workers in Christianity, Islam and Judaism, they are not worshipped. However, the distinction between divas/angels and the lesser avatars are far more blurred within Hinduism, leading many to worship their personal guardians. To learn more about Hindu beliefs, check this out: Angels In The Bhagavad Gita
Followers of Zoroastrianism (estimated at just around 200,000 worldwide), also believe that each one of us has a guardian angel, a “Fravashi” that protects and guides us. To learn more about angels in Zoroastrianism, click here: Zoroastrianism & Angels.
In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, angels are heavenly beings in human form that help spread the work and word of God on earth. Mormonism was established after an angel allegedly appeared to its founder Joseph Smith. Mormons do not have a specific doctrinal statement about guardian angels, however they generally accept the idea that every person has one guardian angel protecting them. Mormonism teaches that angels are not winged beings, rather people in their spirit/resurrected state.
Buddhists generally believe in angels as a form of energy or light or highly evolved beings (devas) who may visit people in dreams. In Buddhism there is no true guardian angels except for deceased family members who have reached nirvana. If they so chose, they can stay behind as “kami” to protect and offer guidance for their loved ones. This concept is mostly held by Buddhists who practice the Japanese “action-religion” Shinto.
In the Baha’i faith, angels are viewed as powerful celestial beings who reveal God’s “abounding grace” to humanity. They’re described as “blessed beings” that have been released from the “chains of self,” and transcended this world to take on their angelic attributes. These “blessed beings” are largely hailed as guardians and spirit guides.