Saturday, September 20, 2008

Kiraman Katibin

In Sura Qaf (16-22), it is written:
We indeed created man; and We know what his soul whispers within him, and We are nearer to him than the jugular vein.

When the two angels meet together, sitting one on the right, and one on the left, not a word he utters, but by him is an observer ready.

And death's agony comes in truth; that is what thou wast shunning! And the Trumpet shall be blow; that is the Day of the Threat. And every soul shall come, and with it a driver and a witness. 'Thou wast heedless of this; therefore We have now removed from thee thy covering, and so thy sight today is piercing.’
(The translation is A. J. Arberry's.)

Whether their names are or are not Ateed and Raqeeb, these two angels (or "receptors," "guardians," or "honorable recorders") are known jointly as the Kiraman Katibin. In the fullness of time, their transmogrifications have populated cultural productions as diverse as Marlowe's Doctor Faustus, Eminem & Dr. Dre's "Guilty Conscience," Tank Girl, South Park, and--repeatedly--The Simpsons.

And now they're here.