Five times in the Qur’ān does Allah refer to the ‘honoured’ or ‘Al-Mukramūn’. In part one of this two-part article we will be analysing these five passages as well as how we can work to be from amongst them.
Al-Anbiyā’, Yā Sīn, al-Ṣāffāt, al-Dhāriyāt and Maʻārij are the five chapters in which the honoured are mentioned in the Quran.
In Sūrah Al-Anbiyā’, verse 26, Allah says, “And they say ‘The Most Gracious has taken a child’. Exalter be He! Rather they are honoured servants.” This verse primarily refers to those Arab tribes such as Khuzāʻah who used to believe that the angels were the daughters of Allah . Allah responds to this by stating that rather they are honoured slaves. They are honoured because, “They cannot precede Him in Word and they act by His command.” Thus, the angels are but humble slaves of Allah that He has chosen to honour.
Allah then continues, “He knows what is before them and behind them, and the cannot intercede except for those He is pleased with. And they, from fear of Him are in awe.” Thus, the angels can only obey Allah and their intercession is only by the permission of Allah for those He is pleased with; namely the people of tawḥīd as mentioned by the exegete of the Companions, ʻAbdullāh ibn ʻAbbās (ranhu). The angels – as established in this verse – intercede in this life and the next as we will mention in more detail in part two of this article. At the same time, their knowledge of Allah, His Names and His Attributes increases them in their awe and reverence of Him as the Prophet mentioned, “The heavens creak and they have a right to creak. There is not the area of a four finger except upon it is an angel with its forehead prostrating to Allah.” It is important to note that as one learns more about Allah , increases in faith and gains more knowledge they should also increase in khashyah of Him. This is the case with the angels. It was also true of the Prophets including our own Prophet (saw) who despite having all his sins forgiven would spend all night standing in prayer until his feet had blisters. It is for this reason that Allah describes the scholars as those who truly have khashyah of Him .
However, even if one of the angels, for the sake of argument was to claim to be a god besides Allah , they would be punished with the Fire. “And whoever of them says, ‘I am a god besides Him’, We shall recompense them with Hell. Thus, do We recompense the oppressors.” It is impossible for the angels to commit shirk, yet to demonstrate the gravity of this sin and the importance of tawḥīd, Allah makes this statement. Allah says something similar in relation to our Prophet emphasising the same principle, “And it has surely been revealed to you and those who came before you that if you were to commit shirk, all your actions would be nullified and you would be from the losers.” Thus, we see that the first group to be classified as the ‘honoured’ are the noble angels of Allah .
Surah Ya Sin
The second passage of the Qur’ān to speak about the honoured is in Sūrah Yā Sīn. It is mentioned in the context of the story of those people of the city to whom the messengers were sent. When the people rejected the messengers, a man from the farthest end of the city came imploring them to follow the messengers. This man; a carpenter named Ḥabīb according to some scholars of tafsīr, was killed by his people. Allah says that the man said, “Indeed I have believed in Your Lord so listen to me.” As a result of this he was rewarded with Paradise, “It was said, ‘Enter into Paradise’. He said, ‘If only my people knew.’”
He is longing for his people to know the reality of how Allah rewards the believers in the hopes that they too would follow his example. If only my people knew. Knew what exactly? Two things as Allah mentions, “…Of how my Lord has forgiven me and placed me among the honoured.” Thus, the second honoured category is the righteous believers who will enter into Paradise.
Surah Al Saffat
We move onto the Sūrah al-Ṣāffāt, wherein Allah in the opening pages of this chapter speaks about the disbelievers and their condition on the Day of Judgement. There will be reprisals amongst them, each one blaming the other. Allah says concerning these people, “Indeed you will be tasters of the painful torment. And you will not be recompensed except for what you used to do.”
However there are exceptions to these people, “Except for the sincere slaves of Allah. They will have a provision which is known.” Some of the exegetes said it will be known in terms of its sweetness and taste, others said it will be known in terms of the timings, i.e. that they will have their provision every morning and evening as mentioned elsewhere in the Qur’ān. Yet others said that the well-known nature of this provision is explained in the next verse, “Fruits, and they will be honoured.” As such, this third occasion also refers to the righteous believers of Paradise as the honoured.
Surah Al Dhariyat
Sūrah al-Dhāriyāt is the fourth chapter to mention the honoured. This time it is in relation to the story of the Prophet Ibrahim . “Has there reached you the story of the honoured guests of Ibrahim?” These were the three angels who came to Ibrahim in the form of men. When they then refused to eat from his food, Ibrahim became afraid at which point they mentioned they were angels who had come to give him glad tidings of a son. Therefore, in this incident as in Sūrah Al-Anbiyā’, the honoured refers to the angels once again.
Surah Al Maarij
The fifth and final mention of the honoured comes in Sūrah al-Maʻārij. Allah says speaking about mankind, “Indeed mankind was created impatient. If evil befalls him he is irritable. And if good comes to him he is miserly. Except for those who pray. Those who are constant in their prayers.” Allah then mentions a number of the virtues of these people.
Towards the end of these virtues, He says, “And those who are to their trusts and promises attentive. And those who in their testimonies are upright. And those who maintain the prayer. They will be in gardens, honoured.” Thus, the fifth category of honoured also refers to the righteous dwellers of Paradise.
From the above five occasions on which the honoured are mentioned in the Qur’ān, we conclude that they fall into two categories; the angels and the righteous believers who will be given Paradise. Therefore, the question is how do we ensure that the noble angels of Allah , who only obey His commands and intercede for whom He is pleased with will intercede for us? The Prophet (saw) understood the connection between these two honoured creations of Allah , which is why the Sunnah is replete with narrations of those that the angels supplicate for and those they curse.
It is this issue that part two of this article will look at in the hopes we can gain the supplications of the angels and safeguard ourselves from their curses.
 Al-Tirmidhī, no. 2312.