The Qur'an refers to a "مَلَكُ المَوْتِ" (Malak Al-Mawt), which corresponds with Hebrew term Malach ha-Mawet in Rabbinic Literature. Islamic-Arabic tradition adopts the name, in the Arabic alphabet as ʿAzrāʾīl (Arabic: عزرائيل). He is responsible for transporting the souls of the deceased after death.
Depending on the outlook and precepts of various religions in which he is a figure, Azrael may be portrayed as residing in the Third Heaven.:288 In one description, he has four faces and four thousand wings, and his whole body consists of eyes and tongues whose number corresponds to the number of people inhabiting the Earth. He is recording and erasing constantly in a large book the names of men at birth and death, respectively.
In Judaism, Azrael is identified as the Angel of Death. However, the name "Azrael" itself is rarely used in Hebrew lore. In Jewish mysticism, he is commonly referred to as "Azriel," not "Azrael." The Zohar (a holy book of the Jewish mystical tradition of Kabbalah), presents a positive depiction of Azriel. The Zohar says that Azriel receives the prayers of faithful people when they reach heaven, and also commands legions of heavenly angels. Accordingly, Azriel is associated with the South and is considered to be a high-ranking commander of God's angels. (Zohar 2:202b)
There is no reference to Azrael in the Christian Bible, and as such Azrael is regarded as neither a canonical nor non-canonical figure in Christianity. In the apocryphal book of 2 Esdras, however, a story features a scribe and judge named Ezra, sometimes written "Azra" in different languages. Azra was visited by the Archangel Uriel and given a list of laws and punishments he was to adhere to and enforce as judge over his people. Azra was later recorded in the Apocrypha as having entered Heaven "without tasting death's taint". Depending on various Christian religious views, it could be taken as Ezra ascending to angelic status. This would add the suffix "el" to his name, which denotes a heavenly being (e.g. Michael, Raphael, Uriel). Hence, it would be Ezrael/Azrael. Later books also state a scribe named Salathiel, who was quoted as saying, "I, Salathiel, who is also Ezra". Again, depending on certain views of Christian spirituality, this could be seen as angelic influence from Ezrael/Azrael on Salathiel.
Along with Jibrail, Mīkhā'īl and Isrāfīl, the Angel of Death, called Azrail (عزرائيل) is one of the archangels of the Islamic faith. He and his subordinate angels are responsible for taking the souls of the deceased away from the body. Azrail does not act independently from God; he takes only those souls which he has been commanded to take. Rather than merely representing an independent personified death, Azrail is described in Islamic sources as subordinate to the will of God "with the most profound reverence".
Several Muslim traditions recount meetings between the Angel of Death and the prophets, the most famous being a conversation between the Angel of Death and Moses. In an Islamic narration, the prophet Idris befriended the angel Azrael. Idris offered him food, whereupon Azrael revealed to Idris his non-human essence because as an angel, he does not eat. Later the archangel showed him the heavens.
- Angels in Islam
- Death (personification)
- List of angels in theology
- Punishment of the Grave
- Thanatos, the personification of Death in Greek mythology
- Davidson, Gustav (1967), A Dictionary of Angels, Including the Fallen Angels, ISBN 9780029070505
- Hastings, James; Selbie, John A. (2003), Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics Part 3, Kessinger Publishing, p. 617, ISBN 0-7661-3671-X
- name="ReferenceA">Historical Dictionary of Prophets in Islam and Judaism, Brannon M. Wheeler (2002), Azrael, Scarecrow Press, ISBN 9780810843059
- Qur'an 32:11
- Hanauer, J.E. (1907), Folk-lore of the Holy Land: Muslim, Christian and Jewish, Chapter V: The Angel of Death, at sacred-texts.com
- Scott B. Noegel, Brannon M. Wheeler Historical Dictionary of Prophets in Islam and Judaism Scarecrow 2002 ISBN 978-0-810-84305-9
- Muham Sakura Dragon. The Great Tale of Prophet Enoch (Idris) in Islam. Sakura Dragon SPC. ISBN 978-1-519-95237-0.
- Media related to Azrael at Wikimedia Commons