Are Angels Male or Female?
وَالصّافّاتِ صَفًّا 1
By the [angels] ranged in ranks,
فَالزّاجِراتِ زَجرًا 2
by the ones who drive vigorously,
فَالتّالِياتِ ذِكرًا 3
by the ones who recite the reminder:
فَاستَفتِهِم أَلِرَبِّكَ البَناتُ وَلَهُمُ البَنونَ 149
Ask them, are daughters to be for your Lord while sons are to be for them?
أَم خَلَقنَا المَلائِكَةَ إِناثًا وَهُم شاهِدونَ 150
Did We create the angel’s females while they were present?
أَلا إِنَّهُم مِن إِفكِهِم لَيَقولونَ 151
Look! It is indeed out of their mendacity that they say,
وَلَدَ اللَّهُ وَإِنَّهُم لَكاذِبونَ 152
‘Allah has begotten,’ and they indeed speak a falsehood.
أَصطَفَى البَناتِ عَلَى البَنينَ 153
Has he preferred daughters to sons?
وَإِنّا لَنَحنُ الصّافّونَ 165
Indeed, it is we who are the ranged ones.
وَإِنّا لَنَحنُ المُسَبِّحونَ 166
Indeed, it is we who are those who celebrate Allah’s glory.’
In Surah al-Saffat verses 1 to 3, the angels are addressed with the plural form for which females are addressed to. Then in verses 165 to 166, they are addressed with the plural form for which males are addressed to. Furthermore, in verses 149 to 153 they are clearly stated as not being females with this statement and the earlier statements that were mentioned, verses 1 to 3. And statements in Verses 165 to 166 that have been pointed to. One would see a clear, and apparent paradox between these statements.
The Verses that the Angels are addressed to with the Female Form (Plural)
In Surah al-Saffat verses 1 to 3, God addresses the Angles by saying “By the [angels] ranged in ranks,”; (verse 1). “by the ones who drive vigorously”; (verse 2). “by the ones who recite the reminder”; (verse 3) Here, God is swearing upon three different groups of angels. One, Angels arrayed before Him in devotional ranks. Two, angels who drive the clouds, or hold back (or drive away) the eavesdropping devils, or to angels (or verses of the Qur'ān) that restrain people from sins. Three, angels, who recite the Qur'an or the scriptures. When one takes a look at the original text, written in Arabic, of the Qur’an, God has addressed all three groups with the female form/noun.
The verses that the Angels are addressed to with the Male form (Plural)
In verses 165 to 166 God again, addresses the angles by saying “Indeed it is we who are the ranged ones”; (Verse 165). “Indeed it is we who are those who celebrate Allah’s glory”; (verse 166). In these verses God is talking on behalf of the angels, pointing out to two qualities that the Angels possess. One, that they are waiting for the orders of God; [whenever that may be], two; they are in constant worship of God. Again when You look at the original Arabic text of these verses, in both of these verses the male noun/form is used.
The verses that God clearly states Angles Are Male
Then, God says; “Ask them, are daughters to be for your Lord while sons are to be for them”; [verse 149] “Did We create the angels’ females while they were present?” [verse 150] “Look! It is indeed out of their mendacity that they say” (verse 151) “Allah has begotten, and they indeed speak a falsehood.” [Verse 152] “Has he preferred daughters to sons?”; [verse 153] In these verses, God is rebutting the lie, illogical view the polytheists had, that God has Daughters which is done in the form of a question, that the person asking the question receives a negative answer which, when one looks at the laws of Arabic grammar for example; Ali has the belief in a certain issue and he believes it to be true. But his friend believes Ali’s belief in that issue is wrong. At which point Ali will ask his friend “You think that I am in the wrong don’t you!?” By focusing a little, one comes to the conclusion that Ali in asking this question, is saying that I am not wrong, to the contrary you are in the wrong. Hence, sometimes news can be given in the form of a questionable sentence. Which is the same, in the case of the verses mentioned above, whereby God is saying “Then ask them whether your lord has daughters and they have sons” furthermore God goes on to say “or did we create the angel’s females while they were witnesses” by focusing on the composition of the sentence and how God is addressing the polytheists in the verses prior to this, one can see that God is clearly rebutting the beliefs of the polytheists, saying your views are illogical and dumb founded.
In the starting of Surah al-Saffat verses 1-3, the Angles are addressed by God, with the plural form/noun, that a female is addressed by. Then in verses 165-166 they are addressed to, using the male form/noun. In addition to this in other verses of Surah al-Saffat; i.e. verses 149-153 they are clearly said to be Males. One can see that these verses are clearly contradicting one another.
If one concentrates on two introductions, the contradiction that one sees can be resolved. One, by taking a closer look at the type of nature and creation of Angels which is not that of a material body. Two, a closer look at the Arabic grammar which shapes the Arabic language. Once these two introductions are understood The contradiction that a reader would see in the latter verses can be resolved. It is worth mentioning that in the Arabic language, the femininity of something is defined in two ways; One, it can be biologically feminine, two; it can be feminine in wording, meaning the way it is written, the same goes for defining the masculinity of something. Based on The grammatical laws of the Arabic language using a male or female form does not define or prove the femininity or masculinity of something. We will take an in-depth look at these grammatical rules later on. However, the verses that are under question of Surah al-Saffat 1-3 and 165-166 are not sufficient enough to prove the femininity of angels however, nor are verses 149-153 sufficient enough to say that angles are masculine. Furthermore, the polytheists that are claiming, angles to be from the female gender, made these claims based upon having no prior knowledge of angles.
Dividing Creation into being Male or Female
The Dividing of a certain being or thing, being male or female, or saying so and so is from the male category and so and so is from the female category is not applicable to every creation. Creation in being divided into male or female is of two types. Some types of creation have the capacity of being male or female for example: man and animal. Opposite to some types of creation, that don’t have the capacity of being male or female. For them to be male or female has no validity and doesn’t make sense; why? Because being or dividing, so and so into the male or female category only makes sense, when the latter possesses male or female organs. It is from this point of view that the dividing of something into male or female will give it meaning for example; a wall being male or female has no meaning, or a car being male or female makes no sense, as a wall can’t be put into either category, nor can a car, as both a wall, car don’t possess what one needs to define if the latter is male or female [male or female organs]. Which leads to the result that not every creation can be divided into being male or female.
The Impossibility of dividing Angels into being Male or Female
The realities of the universe are divided in to two groups, some are existences that have a Material body for example water, mud etc. However, opposite to these realities are existences that don’t have a Material body, meaning they are not tangible; For example, bravery, the bravery of a person is not tangible. However, with intellect and understanding, which themselves don’t possess a material body, one will still give the adjective of bravery to someone, that he is brave, to put it into simple words bravery cannot be seen, heard, felt, smelt or be tasted but with all this said, one still excepts that bravery exists; or so and so is brave. These kinds of existences are the opposite to material existences that can be seen, heard, felt, smelt and tasted in other words are tangible. Angels are also from this category and are not tangible. One of the qualities that this category has is that it cannot be divided into, being Male or Female and doing so would be meaningless, why? Because, like mentioned previously defining if something is male or female is done according to if the latter possesses Male or Female organs, but in this case when the thing under question, that you are trying to define possesses none of these qualities then how is it possible that you say the latter is male or female. For example, lets dissect bravery which comes from the second category of existences that are not tangible, let’s say male bravery for the bravery of a man, and feminine bravery for the bravery of a female, here it makes no sense as bravery is bravery whether it be that of a male or a female. So, from this one reaches the conclusion that not every reality can be divided into being male or female. Angels also are neither Male or Female as they don’t possess male or female organs which therefore makes it impossible for them to be divided into male or female.
The laws for using Male and Female Forms in Arabic grammar
Particles in the Arabic language do not have gender. Verbs do, but their gender is based on that of their subjects, and their subjects are, of course, nouns. So, in reality, nouns are the only part of speech that have any gender in Arabic. The grammatical gender of nouns is one of two: a noun may be masculine or it may be feminine, and there is no neutral option. Moreover, masculinity is the default grammatical gender and a word does not have to have anything special in order to reflect this. Femininity, on the other hand, is not default and a noun would have to have something special to reflect this gender.
A noun is masculine by default. It must have one of four signs in order for it to be considered feminine. Which nouns receive one of these four signs (and are therefore feminine) and which do not receive any of these signs (and are therefore left masculine) is entirely coincidental. There is no rule that dictates whether a noun will be masculine or feminine; it is entirely based on coinage. Yes, there are clues such as things that are conceptually masculine will most likely be grammatically masculine as well – the word ‘man’ (رجل) is masculine and the word ‘woman’ (امرأة) is feminine.
This applies to static nouns (جامد) and gerunds (مصدر). Derived nouns (مشتق), on the other hand, usually have the capability to be masculine sometimes and feminine other times; they toggle depending on the grammatical requirements. For instance, the derived noun قاض is masculine but it has a feminine form قاضية as well.
The four signs of femininity are as follows. Below the list is a table with some examples.
1. around Taa (ة) at the end of the noun
o if it is written ة, it is called تاء مدوَّنة
o it if is written ـة, it is called تاء مربوطة
2. an الف مقصورة at the end of the noun
3. an الف ممدودة at the end of the noun
4. an assumed round Taa at the end of the noun
Type Translation Example
1 bicycle دَرّاجة
1 dislike كَراهة
1 content راضِية
1 Hamza; a man’s name هَمْزة
1 Fatimah; a woman’s name فاطِمة
2 highest عُلْيى
3 friends أَصْدِقاء
4 eye عَيْن
The round Taa is the most common sign of femininity. And notice that it can be appended to masculine participles, thus rendering them feminine, as in ( قاض and قاضية). Another example of where a masculine name is rendered to be feminine is (Mu‘āvīyah معاویه ), Muaviya is a male name but because it has the round Taa appended to it, it will be rendered feminine. Which you also see in the name Hamza; a man’s name, these were a few examples of where a masculine noun is rendered and used as a feminine noun.
All the examples mentioned above were for singular nouns, now we will take a look at plural nouns. So the plural of men رجال, plural of lady’s نسوة and the plural of trees أشجار, which are all broken plurals. When looked at singularly, only one of them has the Taa appended to it, that being the plural of lady’s نسوة. However, we see that in the Arabic language, all of them are rendered as feminine. Whereas one would think only the plural of ladies should of been rendered feminine, because of it carrying the appended Taa. As the plural of men relates back to something that is biologically masculine, and the plural of trees relates back to neither, which should make it masculine by default. So what happened here? here, the reason for all three to be rendered feminine is, not what the nouns meant or nor weather they had one of the three signs mentioned earlier, appended to them. But rather what took place here is something that takes place a-lot in the Arabic language, whereby a noun, verb or even a sentence has been dropped from the actual text, but when it comes to analyzing it, that noun, verb or sentence will still be considered as being present in the sentence, which is what happened in the case of the aforementioned nouns. The actual word that was dropped is (جماعه meaning a group), because of this word having one of the three signs of being feminine, all three nouns are rendered feminine.   Taking into consideration, that which, so far been mentioned, one reaches the conclusion that using a feminine noun/form is not sufficient enough, to say that so and so is biologically feminine, or such and such thing is biologically feminine.
Explanation of the answer
With what was previously mentioned it becomes clear that in the case of angels being male or female. It would be meaningless to say that angels are either male or female. However, this all being said the question arises that how then is it possible that the Qur’an in reference to angels neither being male or female refers to them with the male and female form. This will be dissected later by taking a look at the grammatical rules of the Arabic Language. In Surah al-Saffat verses 1-3. By the [angels] ranged in ranks,”; (verse 1). “by the ones who drive vigorously”; (verse 2). “by the ones who recite the reminder”; (verse 3).
Dissecting the claim that verses 1-3 are implying that Angels Are Female
In Surah al-Saffat, the words that are used to refer to the angels are as follows, (wa-ṣ-ṣāffāti, verse 1), (az-zājirāti, verse 2), (fa-t-tāliyāti, verse 3). Therefore, the reason for the female form to be used, is that, the same rule has been applied here that was applied in the cases that were previously mentioned, i.e. men رجال, lady’s نسوة and trees أشجار. Whereby, they drop a noun, verb or even a sentence from the actual text, but when it comes to analyzing it, that noun, verb or sentence will still be considered as being present in the sentence. 
Dissecting the claim that verses 165-165 are implying that Angels Are Male
In surah al-Saffat God says, “Indeed it is we who are the ranged ones”; (Verse 165). “Indeed it is we who are those who celebrate Allah’s glory”; (verse 166) The Arabic words which are used in reference to the angels are, aṣ-saffun and al-musabbihun. However, when written in Arabic, in no way or form, represent that they are feminine nouns/forms. Which can only mean, they are masculine nouns/forms. We will explain the reason for, why the masculine nouns/forms were used here. The reason that such words are used for the angels is because these words refer to the individual angels, i.e. each and every specific angel. Making reference to the individual angels ensures that the feminine does not have to be used because the words do not have anything to indicate that they are feminine. 
God clearly stating that angels are male
In Surah al-Saffat, God says “Ask them, are daughters to be for your Lord while sons are to be for them?” (verse 149) “Did We create the angel’s females while they were present?” (verse 150) “Look! It is indeed out of their mendacity that they say” (verse 151) “‘Allah has begotten, “and they indeed speak a falsehood” (verse 152) “‘Has he preferred daughters to sons?” (verse 153) In these verses God is asking the polytheists that, do I give preference to daughters over sons? Or is it that while I was creating Angels you were there, therefore you know they are daughters? These questions in reality are rebutting the claims of the polytheists. However, the benefit of asking these questions is not to receive an answer, but in fact is to make a statement. Therefore, we have to clarify what these verses, are rebutting; two things can be rebutted here, but we have to see which one God is implying here, by taking a look at which one of the two, is in line with the Qur’an,
first possibility being that, God is saying no, angels are not my daughters. Which gives the possibility that angels are in fact children of God, which means to say God does have children but they not females. So the only thing being refuted here is the gender that the polytheists claimed was feminine. However, this possibility when put side by side with the Qur’an, contradicts other verses of the Qur’an; for example, verse three of surah al-Ikhlas “He neither begat, nor was he begotten” this verse clearly contradicts what the polytheists are saying. Whereby, it makes it clear that he has neither father nor mother, nor children. So the first possibility is out of the question.
The second possibility that exists is that the Qur’an by using these questions, is clearly saying that, the possibility of God having children doesn’t exist, let alone them being the daughters of God. As the Qur’an clearly states, “ask them, are daughters to be for your Lord while sons are to be for them?” “that were you present at the time that angels were created, that you make such claims”. Meaning that the polytheists don’t know how the angels were created, let alone what gender they are. And their attributing sons to their selves and daughters to God was out of spite, as giving birth to a female was considered as an omen. However, when you put this side by side with what surah al-Ikhlas is saying (verse three) we reach the conclusion that God doesn’t have children. However, these verses don’t mention anything about the gender of the angles. So Besides proving that God has no offspring, it also makes it clear that the first possibility is totally out of the question, therefore the Angels being male cannot be extracted from this, why?
Because the only thing these verses prove, are the absence of Angels being children of God. The sole reason that the polytheists had this belief that the Angels Are Daughters of God, has its roots in the backwardness, that the Arabs of that time had. whereby, they believed having daughters was considered as an omen, something bad in society and having sons was something superior. If an Arab, was to give birth to a female, because of the shame and dishonor this birth would bring upon the family. Arabs would bury their newborns alive to escape the shame and dishonor, the practice of burying, a newborn daughter was not looked upon as bad. But instead was considered to be something normal. Which is the main reason the polytheists attributed daughters to God and sons to their selves.  
- Muḥammad ibn Ḥasan Razī al-Ḍīn Ūstrābādī, Sharḥ ul-Razī ‘alā Kāfīyah, volume 3, 2005, Tehran, al-Ṣādiq lil-Ṭabā’ah wal-Nashr, pages 340-342
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