In Islamic belief, Maalik (Arabic: مالك / mālik) denotes an angel in Hell/Purgatory (Arabic: جهنم / jahannam) who administrates the Hellfire, assisted by 19 mysterious guards known as الزبانية / az-zabānīya. In the Qur’an, Maalik is mentioned in Sura 43:77, telling the wicked who appeal to him that they must remain in Hell because “they abhorred the truth when the truth was brought to them.”
According to Islamic tradition, Muhammad was taken to see Heaven and Hell, and there, he saw Maalik, and was shown a glimpse of the suffering of the people of Hell. The Qur’an itself does neither explain nor specifically describe the origin, purpose or character of Maalik.
In art, Malik is often depicted with a stern expression on his face, since the Hadith (a collection of Muslim commentaries on the teachings of Muhammad) says that Malik never laughs. Malik may also be shown surrounded by fire, which represents hell.
Role in Religious Texts:
In chapter 43 (Az-Zukhruf) verses 74 to 77, the Qur’an describes Malik telling the people in hell that they must remain there: “Surely, the disbelievers will be in the torment of hell to abide therein forever. [The torment] will not be lightened for them, and they will be plunged into destruction with deep regrets, sorrows and in despair therein. We wronged them not, but they were the wrongdoers. And they will cry: ‘O Malik! Let your Lord make an end of us!’ He will say: ‘Surely, you shall abide forever.’ Indeed we have brought the truth to you, but most of you have a hatred for the truth.” A later verse from the Qur’an makes it clear that Malik and the other angels who punish people in hell aren’t deciding to do so themselves; instead, they’re carrying out God’s commands: “O you who believe! Save yourselves and your families from a fire [Jahannam] whose fuel is men and stones, over which are [appointed] angels stern and severe, who flinch not [from executing] the commands they receive from God, but do [precisely] what they are commanded” (chapter 66 (At-Tahrim), verse 6).