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Definition of ‘Daabbah’ and whether angels are considered ‘Dawaabb’

Question

Assalaamu alaykum. What does Daabbah mean? Does it also include the angels?

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger. 

The term ‘Daabbah’ in Arabic refers to every living creature that treads – i.e. walks or moves – on the earth, of people, animals, and insects.

Allah says (what means): {Allah has created every Daabbah from water. And of them are those that move on their bellies, and of them are those that walk on two legs, and of them are those that walk on four. Allah creates what He wills. Indeed, Allah is over all things competent.} [Quran 24:45]

As regards the angels, we have not come across an explicit text in their regard, and we do not believe that knowing this fact leads to any benefit. Nonetheless, many interpreters of the Quran stated that the angels are not among the Dawaabb (plural of Daabbah) because they fly and do not tread on the earth.

Ibn Al-Jawzi said in Zaad Al-Maseer fi ‘Ilm At-Tafseer (2/564), “With regard to the saying of Allah {and the Angels...} (i.e. in the verse 16:49 (which means): {And to Allah prostrates whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth of creatures, and the angels [as well], and they are not arrogant.}), Allah did not include the Angels among the Dawaabb because they have wings and fly, so they are not included among the creatures that tread on the earth.”

Moreover, Tafseer Al-Khaazin (3/80) reads, “The term Daabbah is derived from Dabeeb (crawling or creeping), which is a physical movement, so Daabbah is a term that applies to every physical body that moves and treads, including the human being because a human being treads on the earth. It is for this reason that Allah singled out the angels because they have wings with which they fly…”

Also, Tafseer Al-Baghawi (3/82) reads, “Allah singled out the angels although they are among the living creatures in the heavens and the earth as an honor for them and their high status. It was also said, ‘It is because they are not described with making Dabeeb as they have wings with which they fly.’”

Tafseer Al-Maawardi (3/192) reads:

“Singling out the angels although they are among the creatures in the heavens and the earth is for two reasons: Firstly, Allah mentioned them separately because of their status, so Allah distinguished them from other creatures even though they are included among them. Secondly, they are not among the creatures who move and crawl on the earth, as Allah created them with wings, so they are not included in the general term of Dawaabb, and it is for this reason that they are mentioned separately.”

http://www.islamweb.net/emainpage/index.php?page=showfatwa&Option=FatwaId&Id=345139

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