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We have appointed only angels to be wardens of the Fire, and their number have We made to be a stumbling-block for those who disbelieve.
~ The description of the Zabaniyah in Surah 74.

The Zabaniyah (also spelt Zabaniyya or Zebani) are the guardians of Jahannam, the Islamic equivalent of Hell. They are often depicted as horrifying demons with flames leaping from their mouths, however the Koran and other Islamic holy documents describe them as being angels (albeit those of punishment unlike those that reside in Heaven).

History

The Zabaniyah are the nineteen fallen angels that guard the fiery realm of Jahannam, where unbelievers and sinners are tortured. According to the Islamic tradition, they stand above the flames to prevent the sinners from escaping. Some translations also state that there are many levels of Jahannam presided over by the Zabaniyah, each more horrific than the last. The most terrible level of all is reserved for hypocrites and idolators.

During the post-Quranic-exegesis, Zabaniyah are also identified with the angels of death appearing to the unjust who snatch away their souls and drag them to Jahannam.

Only one of the Zabaniyya, Susāʾīl, is ever named. This was the demon who was ordered to show the Prophet Muhammad the punishments of Hell. These punishments include flogging, stoning, drowning, and the lips being cut off with a pair of scissors.

Trivia

  • Reasons for people being sent to Jahannam to be tortured range from the serious to the trivial, such as drinking from a silver vessel.
    • According to the hadith, nine hundred and ninety-nine out of every thousand people will end up being tortured by the Zabaniyah.

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