Do the Angels See Allah in This World?
There is nothing in the Quran or Sunnah to indicate that Jibreel (peace be upon him) or any other angel has seen Allah, may He be exalted, and it is well known that this is one of the issues of the unseen which cannot be proven except on the basis of evidence.
In the hadeeth (report) of the M’iraj (Prophet’s ascent to heaven) it says that Jibreel (peace be upon him) ascended with our Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) to a level where the scratching of the pens could be heard, but there is no proof that either of them saw Allah (may He be glorified and exalted) in that place.
The Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “Then I passed by Ibrahim, and he said: ‘Welcome to the righteous Prophet and the righteous son.’ I said: ‘Who is this?’ He said: ‘This is Ibrahim (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him).’” Ibn Shihab said: And Ibn Hazm told me that Ibn ‘Abbas and Abu Habbah al-Ansari used to say: The Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “Then I was taken up until we reached a level where I could hear the scratching of the pens.” Ibn Hazm and Anas ibn Malik said: The Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “Allah enjoined upon my ummah (followers) fifty prayers, and I went back with that until I passed by Moosa…”
Narrated by al-Bukhari, Muslim.
The scholars differed concerning this seeing: some of them affirmed it and some of them denied it.
Ibn Hajar al-Haythami (may Allah have mercy on him) was asked: Do the angels see Allah, may He be exalted?
Shaykh ‘Izz al-Deen ibn ‘Abd al-Salam stated that they do not see Him, and he quoted evidence at length to support that, and he was followed in that by some scholars, but he was refuted by the statement of the imam of Ahl al-Sunnah, Shaykh Abu’l-Hasan al-Ash‘ari (may Allah be pleased with him) who said that they do see Him. This was mentioned in his book al-Ibanah fi Usool al-Diyanah. He was followed by al-Bayhaqi who narrated it with its isnad (chain of narration) from ‘Abd-Allah ibn ‘Amr ibn al-‘As and another sahabi (companion). This was also followed by Ibn al-Qayyim and al-Jalal al-Balqeeni. According to a hadeeth that was classed as saheeh (authentic) by al-Hakim, Jibreel never saw his Lord before the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) prostrated before his Lord on that occasion, but this does not necessarily mean that he did not see Him after that or that others of the angels do not see Him. The view that only Jibreel could see Him is invalid.
End quote from al-Fatawa al-Hadeethiyyah.
Shaykh Ibn Baz (may Allah have mercy on him) was asked: Do the angels see their Lord in this world or does He send revelation to them from beyond a screen?
He replied: Allah knows best.
End quote from Fatawa Noor ‘ala al-Darb.
Shaykh ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Barraak (may Allah preserve him) was asked:
There is evidence to suggest that they do not see Him. There is the verse in Soorat Ghafir in which Allah, may He be exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): “Those (angels) who bear the Throne (of Allah) and those around it glorify the praises of their Lord, and believe in Him, and ask forgiveness for those who believe (in the Oneness of Allah) (saying): ‘Our Lord! You comprehend all things in mercy and knowledge, so forgive those who repent and follow Your Way, and save them from the torment of the blazing Fire!’” [40:7].
The word “believe” in this verse may point to such a meaning -- is this correct?
The fact that Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, says of the angels who bear the Throne and who are around it that they believe in Him does not necessarily mean that they do not see Him, or that some of them do not see Him, or that other angels do not see Him, just as (aspiring to) see Him does not contradict faith. Similarly, the fact that Allah spoke (to some of the Prophets) is not contrary to faith. Ibrahim (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) saw how Allah brought the dead back to life and that increased him in faith, as Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And (remember) when Ibrahim said, ‘My Lord! Show me how You give life to the dead.’ He (Allah) said: ‘Do you not believe?’ He [Ibrahim] said: ‘Yes (I believe), but to be stronger in faith.’” [2:260].
Allah spoke to Moosa (peace be upon him) from behind a screen, and that does not mean that he did not believe. To sum up, there is no contradiction between faith and seeing Him. This is borne out by the fact that Moosa (peace be upon him) asked his Lord to let him see Him so as to increase him in faith: “… he said: ‘O my Lord! Show me (Yourself), that I may look upon You.’” [7:143]. Yes, after seeing Allah, faith will no longer be regarded as belief in the unseen, so it is possible that the bearers of the Throne and those who are around it may have seen Allah and thus attained the highest level of certainty. By the same token, when the believers see their Lord on the Day of Resurrection, they will move from certainty based on knowledge to certainty based on seeing, for when they see Allah they will believe in Him with the faith of having seen and they will find the deepest joy in this; they will be blessed with seeing Him and hearing His words. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Some faces that Day shall be Nâdirah (shining and radiant).
Looking at their Lord (Allah).” [22-23].
We ask Allah for the joy of looking upon His noble Countenance. And Allah knows best.
End quote from Fatawa al-Islam al-Yawm.
To sum up: This is a matter of the unseen and it is not permissible to affirm it or deny it except on the basis of evidence. The correct approach is to refrain from asking about it.
And Allah knows best.