In one of his brief writings, Mr. Jochen Katz has stated that the Qur’an at one instance has stated that man has no protector or helper besides Allah, while at another instance it says that angels are protectors of the faithful, which according to him, is an obvious contradiction. Mr. Katz, summarizing his point, writes:
“NO protector besides Allah” [2:107, 29:22]. But in Sura 41:31 the angels themselves say: “We are your protectors in this life and the Hereafter.” And also in other suras is their role described as guarding [13:11, 50:17-18] and protecting [82:10].
First of all, it would be a great help if we would clearly understand the implication of the verses like 2: 107. Al-Baqarah 2: 107 reads as:
أَلَمْ تَعْلَمْ أَنَّ اللَّـهَ لَهُ مُلْكُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۗ وَمَا لَكُم مِّن دُونِ اللَّـهِ مِن وَلِيٍّ وَلَا نَصِيرٍ
Do you not know that whatever is in the heavens and the earth is solely Allah’s, and besides Allah, you do not have any protector or helper.
These verses actually state that no one else besides God can provide protection to man from evil happenings, whether disease, disaster or physical harm. These verses, thus, are actually a negation of polytheistic beliefs, according to which it was held that protection of different deities was required against the varying kinds of harms. These verses obviously do not negate the fact that if God wills, He can provide this protection through someone — like, for instance, angels. Angels, according to the Qur’an, are completely obedient to Allah. They do whatever and only what they have been commanded to. The Qur’an in Al-Tahreem 66: 6 says:
لَّا يَعْصُونَ اللَّـهَ مَا أَمَرَهُمْ وَيَفْعَلُونَ مَا يُؤْمَرُونَ
They [the angels] do not disobey Allah in what He commands them and they do whatever they have been commanded to do.
Then again in Al-Nahl 16: 50, the Qur’an says:
يَخَافُونَ رَبَّهُم مِّن فَوْقِهِمْ وَيَفْعَلُونَ مَا يُؤْمَرُونَ
They [the angels] fear their Lord over them and do what they have been commanded to do.
Thus, if God was to provide protection to His obedient servants through His angels, it would be absolutely correct to attribute this protection either to God or to the angels, as this protection was provided as per the directives of God..
Thus, in Fussilat 41: 31, when the angels say that:
نَحْنُ أَوْلِيَاؤُكُمْ فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا وَفِي الْآخِرَةِ ۖ
We are your guardians in this life as well as the hereafter…
it is not contradictory to Al-Baqarah 2: 107, as the protection of the angels is in effect God’s Own protection. Angels, in a way are the agents of God, and we know that it is not incorrect or contradictory to attrbute the action of an agent to the principal. Examples of such attribution can also be found in the Bible. For example:
Genesis 19: 12 – 13 says:
The two men [actually angels] said to Lot, “Do you have anyone else here–sons-in-law, sons or daughters, or anyone else in the city who belongs to you? Get them out of here, because we are going to destroy this place.
and just a few verses later, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is quite rightly attributed to God. These verses read as:
By the time Lot reached Zoar, the sun had risen over the land. Then the LORD rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah–from the LORD out of the heavens. Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, including all those living in the cities–and also the vegetation in the land. (Genesis 19: 23 – 25)
In the same way, Job 12: 23 says:
He [that is God] makes nations great, and destroys them.
In Proverbs 26, it clearly says that God Himself guards and protects the just and the faithful. The verse reads as:
He holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones. (Proverbs 2: 6 – 8)
While in Psalm 91, it is mentioned that such guard is provided by God through His angels:
If you make the Most High your dwelling– even the LORD, who is my refuge– then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways (Psalms 91: 9 – 11)
The same kind of varying — though not contradictory — attribution of action can be seen in the following two verses of Matthews:
Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 13: 47 – 50)
When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. (Matthew 25: 31 – 33)
It is quite clear that neither of these verses — whether of the Bible or of the Qur’an — are contradictory to the other, because of the simple fact that linguistically, it is not incorrect to attribute the action of an agent — especially the one performed on behalf of and according to the directions of the principal — to the principal.
© Copyright July, 1999. All Rights Reserved with the Author