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Angel of Death by Evelyn De Morgan, 1881. Sometimes identified with the angel Azrael.

Azrael (/ˈæzriəl/; Biblical Hebrew: עֲזַרְאֵל‎ʿázarʾēl) is an angel in the Abrahamic religions. He is often identified with the Angel of Destruction and Renewal of the Hebrew Bible.[1]:64–65

The Hebrew name translates to "Angel of God", "Help from God", or "One Whom God Helps".[1]:64–65 Azrael is the spelling of the Chambers Dictionary.

In Islamic tradition, Azrael is identified with the Quranic Malak al-Mawt (ملك الموت) "angel of death" which corresponds with Hebrew term malach ha-maweth in Rabbinic Literature. The Arabic language adapts the name as ʿAzrāʾīl (عزرائيل). He is responsible for transporting the souls of the deceased after death.

Contents

BackgroundEdit

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.[1]: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 constantly recording and erasing in a large book the names of men at birth and death, respectively.[2]

In JudaismEdit

In Judaism, Azrael is identified as the Angel of Death. However, the name "Azrael" itself is rarely used in Hebrew lore.[citation needed] 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.[according to whom?] 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).

In ChristianityEdit

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[which?], it could be taken as Ezra ascending to angelic status. This would add the suffix "el" to his name, which denotes a heavenly being[according to whom?] (e.g. Michael, Raphael, Gabriel, Uriel).[citation needed] Hence, it would be Ezrael/Azrael. Later books[which?] 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.

In IslamEdit

Azrael is, along with Jibrail, Mīkhā'īl and Isrāfīl, one of the four major archangels in Islam.[3] He is the chief of the angels of death, who are responsible for taking the souls of the deceased away from the body.[4][5] It is clear from eschatological manuals that Azrael does not act independently, but is only informed by God when time is up to take a soul.[6] Forty days before the death of a person approaches, God drops a leaf from a tree below the heavenly throne, on which Azrael reads the name of the person he must take with him.[7]

The Kitab ahwal al-qiyama offers a detailed account of death and its relation to the Angel of Death. Accordingly Death and the Azrael were once two separate entities. When God created Death, all the angels were ordered to look upon it and they swoon for a thousand years. After the angels regained consciousness, death recognized it must submit to Azrael.[8]

Most notions of Azrael are not attested by the Quran nor by the Kutub al-Sittah, but derive from the reports of the Tabi‘un especially Wahb ibn Munabbih, compiled during the reign of the Rashidun.[9] Suyuti's al-Haba'ik fi akhbar al-mala'ik contains many such hadiths describing the appearance of Azrael, his duties and meetings between him and the prophets,[10] including Idris, Moses[11] and Solomon.[12]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c Davidson, Gustav (1967), A Dictionary of Angels, Including the Fallen Angels, ISBN 9780029070505
  2. ^ Hastings, James; Selbie, John A. (2003), Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics Part 3, Kessinger Publishing, p. 617, ISBN 0-7661-3671-X
  3. ^ Noegel, Scott B.; Wheeler, Brannon M. (2002). Historical Dictionary of Prophets in Islam and Judaism. Scarecrow. ISBN 9780810843059.
  4. ^ Cenap Çakmak Islam: A Worldwide Encyclopedia [4 volumes] ABC-CLIO 2017 ISBN 9781610692175 pp. 137
  5. ^ Houtsma, M. Th.; Arnold, Russel; Gibb, Camilla, eds. (1987). E.J. Brill's First Encyclopaedia of Islam 1913-1936. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill Publishers. p. 570. ISBN 978-9-004-08265-6.
  6. ^ Jane I. Smith, Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad Islamic Understanding of Death and Resurrection State University of New York Press 1981 ISBN 9780873955072 p. 35
  7. ^ Houtsma, M. Th.; Arnold, Russel; Gibb, Camilla, eds. (1987). E.J. Brill's First Encyclopaedia of Islam 1913-1936. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill Publishers. p. 570. ISBN 978-9-004-08265-6.
  8. ^ Jane I. Smith, Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad Islamic Understanding of Death and Resurrection State University of New York Press 1981 ISBN 9780873955072 p. 34-35
  9. ^ Cenap Çakmak Islam: A Worldwide Encyclopedia [4 volumes] ABC-CLIO 2017 ISBN 9781610692175 pp. 137
  10. ^ Burge, Stephen (2015). Angels in Islam: Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti's al-Haba'ik fi akhbar al-mala'ik. Routledge. p. 73. ISBN 978-1-136-50473-0.
  11. ^ Scott B. Noegel, Brannon M. Wheeler Historical Dictionary of Prophets in Islam and Judaism Scarecrow 2002 ISBN 978-0-810-84305-9
  12. ^ Houtsma, M. Th.; Arnold, Russel; Gibb, Camilla, eds. (1987). E.J. Brill's First Encyclopaedia of Islam 1913-1936. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill Publishers. p. 571. ISBN 978-9-004-08265-6.

External linksEdit

  •   Media related to Azrael at Wikimedia Commons