(3,954 words)

(a.) angels (Persian “angel” = firis̲h̲ta ).

1. In the Ḳurʾān and in Sunnī Islam.

The form malāʾika is the broken plural in Arabic of a word going back to early North-West Semitic (there is no cognate in Akkadian), Ugar. mlʾk “messenger”, Aram. malʾak and O.T. Hebr. malʾāk̲ “messenger, angel”, the root in Arabic being referred by the lexicographers and commentators to a root m-l-k, ʾ- l-k or even l-ʾ-k (see LA, xii, 272-4, 370-1; al-Ṭabarī, Tafsīr , i, 150; Lane, Lexicon , i, 81c), which they consider original to Arabic. A. Jeffery, The foreign vocabulary of the Qurʾān , 269-70, following e.…

Cite this page
MacDonald, D.B. and Madelung, W., “Malāʾika”, in: Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition, Edited by: P. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel, W.P. Heinrichs. Consulted online on 14 November 2018 <>
First published online: 2012
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004161214, 1960-2007

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