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Angel Gabriel – 600 Wings or 1-4 Wings?

  • Post last modified:8 April 2024

Exegetical Hadith Tradition of Q53:10

Chapter 53:10 of the Quran reads:

فَأَوْحَىٰٓ إِلَىٰ عَبْدِهِۦ مَآ أَوْحَىٰ

[53:10] He then revealed to His servant what was to be revealed.

The Hadith Corpus explains this verse in the Quran by saying the ‘He’ is a reference to Gabriel revealing to Muhammad his 600 wings.

Narrated Ash-Shaibani:

I asked Zirr about the Statement of Allah: ‘And was at a distance of but two bow-lengths or (even) nearer. So did Allah convey the Inspiration to His slave (Gabriel) and then he (Gabriel) conveyed that to Muhammad.’ (53.10) He said, “Abdullah (bin Mas`ud) informed us that Muhammad had seen Gabriel with six hundred wings.” (Sahih Bukhari 4857)

The Isnads diagrammed

We see that all of these hadith traditions have a common source-Sulaiman b. Abi Sulaiman.

Quran’s Stance on Angels and Their Wings

[35:1] Praise be to GOD, Initiator of the heavens and the earth, and appointer of the angels to be messengers with wings—two, three, and four (wings). He increases the creation as He wills. GOD is Omnipotent.

The Quran makes it clear that angels have two, three, and/or four wings. Gabriel, being amongst the angels, has two, three and/or four wings; not 600 wings as the hadith alleges. These hadith narrations were simply an exegetical explanation Q53:10. The exegesis of the verse was also wildly inaccurate considering the He in:

[53:10] He then revealed to His servant what was to be revealed.

…is in reference to GOD, not Gabriel. The subject of the verse had to be GOD considering its talking about an entity revealing to HIS servant. Muhammad is not the servant of Gabriel, leading to the only other option being GOD is revealing to His servant [Muhammad’ what was to be revealed.

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