The opening of Q. 35:1 (Surat al-Mala’ika or Surat al-Faṭir) attests to the creative power of God and describes the angels as winged messengers, the only aya (verse) where angels are portrayed in this way in the whole of the Qur’an. It is an important aya, as it is one of only a few which describe the relationships between God, humans and angels. However, two of the most significant words in this aya are often passed over without comment or consideration by modern translators and commentators alike: malak (mala’ika) and faṭir.
Stephen Burge joined the Institute of Ismaili Studies as a Research Associate in 2009, having completed his doctorate at the University of Edinburgh. He has published a monograph on angels in Islam, as well as a number of articles on angels, exegesis and interpretation. He is also co-editing and translating a volume of the Anthology of Qur’anic Commentaries Series on the Pillars of Islam, and editing a volume entitled The Meaning of the Word: Lexicology and Qur’anic Exegesis. His main research interests are the works of Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti, hadith studies, tafsir (Qur'anic Exegesis) and angelology.