Ustadh Farid Dingle is asked of using noble terms as colloquial expressions of approval or praise in a metaphorical sense is permissible.
Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.
Is it wrong to refer to things of this world as “heaven/heavenly/paradise”? For example, “This cake is heavenly” or, “My home is my paradise.” It is said as an expression, knowing full-well that nothing that we can conceive of is like that in the heaven/paradise of the afterlife. Nonetheless, is this wrong or a form shirk?
Likewise, is it wrong to say to someone whom you admire and appreciate, “You are an angel,” when obviously they are a human?
On the same line of thinking, is it wrong to name a child “Malak” meaning “angel”?
Jazakum Allah khayr.
Wa alaykum assaalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.
Yes, it is permissible to use metaphorical expressions as long as they are tasteful and it is clear to the reader/listener.
The Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) referred to extreme heat as being ‘of the blaze of the Hell-Fire’, meaning that it is like the Hell-Fire. [Muwatta]
So it is perfectly fine, as long as it does not detract from the reverence due to the original sense of the word.
Regarding naming someone Malak (Angel), there is some debate as to whether or not someone should name one’s child any specific angel’s name like Jibril, and there is also some debate about giving names that imply perfection or piety, such as Barrah (goodness).
On top of that, the name Malak in the Middle East is often used for girls, and Allah makes a very clear statement in the Quran that the Angels are not women. [43: 19]
In light of these considerations, I think it would be better to name the child the child after some prophet or righteous early Muslim. Though it would not be forbidden to name the child, male or female, Malak.
The Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, ‘Name your children after the prophets. The most beloved of names to Allah are Abdullah and Abdurrahman. The truest [names] are Harith and Hammam, and the ugliest of them are Harb and Murrah. [Abu Dawud]
These names mean Plougher, Brave/Generous, and War and Bitter, respectively.
I pray this helps.
Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.