Honest Myth:Islamic- Azrael

Winged Figure Seated Upon a Rock by Abbott Handerson Thayer (1849)

Winged Figure Seated Upon a Rock by Abbott Handerson Thayer (1849)

Today’s ‘deity’ of death is an angel that can be found in Islamic texts, Christian texts, Sikh texts, and Jewish texts, but whose name is most common in Islam, the Archangel of Death, Azrael.

Azrael’s name means one who helps god. He was one of the first angels to become an arch angel. When souls were going missing, or not going to heaven after death, God gave Azrael the Word of Death so that he could research the problem. He learned that many souls got reincarnated, and some got lost and became ghosts stuck on earth. Finding this, he was elevated to Archangel and given the duties to direct souls to heaven after death (kind of like a psychopomp). As the angel of Death, he will be the last to die or disappear at the end of existence.

The Jewish have a positive view of Azrael. He is said to be a high ranking angel of God who receives prayers of faithful souls when they finally enter heaven.

In the Christian Bible, Azrael is not seen as canon,  but there was a mention of a scribe name Azra who was elevated to angelic status. Did you know: that the addition of ‘el’ at the end of an angel’s name is the show of angelic status.

The Sikh have a more negative view where they believe that Azrael is only sent to those who do not repent their sins. He kills the sinful, and takes their souls to hell.

Morrocan men have a custom of leaving a single lock of hair on their head so that Azreal can pull their souls from their body and lead them to heaven.

Azrael, the Angel of Death, by Evelyn De Morgan (1881)

Azrael, the Angel of Death, by Evelyn De Morgan (1881)

In the Qur’an, Azrael is known as the Archangel of Death who returns the souls of the dead back to God. He never knows when people are meant to die until God tells him. Azrael’s role is to care for dying so they do not fear death, removed the soul from the body, and then guides them to god. Here he is more then just death, but an angel that follows the will of God. He also comforts those whose loved one died.

In the Islamic texts, Azrael is shown to be a very kind angel. He is patient, soft-spoken, and hardworking, doing his duty obediently. His role includes helping the dying make peace with god, and counseling those grieving for loved ones. He is depicted as having four faces, and four thousand wings. His entire body is covered in eyes and tongues, the exact number of each being the amount of souls on earth. He tracks the souls by writing down the names of souls at birth in a book and erasing them once they die.

Find more here, very interesting to read: http://www.amadan.org/Innomine/Azrael.htm
-Blog Barista

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