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Angel of Death by Evelyn De Morgan, 1881

Azrael (Biblical Hebrew: עזראל‎‎) is often identified with the Angel of Death of the Hebrew Bible.[1]:64–65

The Hebrew name translates to "Help of God", "Help from God", or "One Whom God Helps".[1]:64–65 Azrael is the spelling of the Chambers Dictionary. The Qur'an refers to a "مَلَكُ المَوْتِ" (Malak Al-Mawt or "Angel of Death") which corresponds with Hebrew term Malach ha-Mawet in Rabbinic Literature. Islamic-Arabic tradition adopts the name, in the ِArabic alphabet as a ʿIzrāīl (Arabic: عزرائيل‎‎).

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 will be the last to die, recording and erasing, constantly in a large book the names of men at birth and death, respectively.[2]

In JudaismEdit

In Jewish mysticism, he is commonly referred to as "Azriel" (Biblical Hebrew: עזריאל‎‎), not "Azrael". The Zohar, a holy book of the Jewish mystical tradition of Kabbalah, presents a positive depiction of Azriel. He is associated with the South and is considered to be a high-ranking commander of God's angels.

In ChristianityEdit

There is no reference to Azrael in the Bible, and he is not considered a canonical nor a non-canonical figure within Christianity. However, a story in 2 Esdras (a book disallowed by the Catholic and Protestant Churches, but considered canonical in Eastern Orthodox teachings) which is part of the Apocrypha, has the story of a scribe and judge named Ezra (not to be confused with the Biblical figure Ezra), also 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 non-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, though it should be noted that in Christianity one cannot "become" an angel, as humans and angels are two different orders of beings and not a promotion.

In IslamEdit

Along with Jibrail, Mīkhā'īl and Isrāfīl, the Angel of Death, called Azrail (also pronounced as ʿIzrāʾīl /Azriel) is believed by Muslims to be one of the archangels.[3] He is responsible for taking the souls of the deceased away from the body.[4] Azrail does not act independently from God and just takes those, who were commanded to be taken. Rather than merely representing an independent personified death, the Angel of Death is described in Islamic sources as subordinate to the will of God "with the most profound reverence".[5]

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.[6] In an islamic narration, Idris befriended the angel of death. Idris offered him food, thereupon he revealed him his non-human essence, because as an angel, he does not eat. Later the angel of death showed him the heavens.[7]

Even it is not allowed for a muslim to wish for death, death itself will, when it arrives, cause to believers a feeling of love. Additionally the angel of death will take the souls of the believers caring with the words: "O pure soul come fourth to God's pardon and pleasure".[8] Basically death is nothing to fear in Islam and accepted as wholly natural. It merely marks a transition between the material realm and the unseen world.[9]

Some scholars have also disputed the usage of the name Azrael as it is not used in the Qur'an itself.[10][self-published source?] However, the same can be said about many Prophets and angels who are also not mentioned by name in the Qur'an. But since there is no source in the Quran or in the Hadith Sahih, the angel of death is simply called Malak Al-Maut (angel of death). (There is a concept of levels and titles to angels but the best analogy to the term Archangel would be Al-Malak'u al-a'ala which means higher chief in reference to angels.)

In folklore and popular cultureEdit

In Folk-lore of the Holy Land: Muslim, Christian and Jewish, J. E. Hanauer tells several stories of Azrael including how he became the Angel of Death.[11]

In Kevin Smith's 1999 film Dogma, Azrael (portrayed by Jason Lee) is the character pulling the strings behind the bulk of the plot, manipulating both protagonists and antagonists to quietly carry out the cast-down angels' revenge on God for the judgment she cast on Azrael.

Azrael appears as one of The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse in the novel Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett.

Azrael appears in Melissa de la Cruz's book series Blue Bloods as a young woman named Madeleine "Mimi" Force.

The main antagonist in the 2015 game, Undertale, is Asriel, God of Hyperdeath, a reference to Azrael.

In the 2014's "The Leftovers",[12] one of the series' main characters is believed to be a conduit for Azrael (classified as a demon in the show's universe) as determined by cult-influenced pseudoscience.

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. ^ name="ReferenceA">Historical Dictionary of Prophets in Islam and Judaism, Brannon M. Wheeler (2002), Azrael, Scarecrow Press, ISBN 9780810843059
  4. ^ Qur'an 32:11
  5. ^ Hanauer, J.E. (1907), Folk-lore of the Holy Land: Muslim, Christian and Jewish, Chapter V: The Angel of Death, at sacred-texts.com
  6. ^ Scott B. Noegel, Brannon M. Wheeler Historical Dictionary of Prophets in Islam and Judaism Scarecrow 2002 ISBN 978-0-810-84305-9
  7. ^ Muham Sakura Dragon The Great Tale of Prophet Enoch (Idris) In Islam Sakura Dragon SPC ISBN 978-1-519-95237-0
  8. ^ Patrick Hughes, Thomas Patrick Hughes Dictionary of Islam Asian Educational Services 1995 ISBN 978-8-120-60672-2 page 79
  9. ^ Colin Turner Islam: The Basics Routledge 2011 ISBN 978-1-136-80963-7 page 125
  10. ^ Muhammad Saed Abdul-Rahman (2003), Islam: Questions and Answers, 1, pp. 130–133
  11. ^ Hanauer, James Edward (1907). Folk-lore of the Holy Land: Moslem, Christian and Jewish. Duckworth & Company. pp. 176–177. Retrieved 26 May 2017. 
  12. ^ Collins, Sean T. (14 April 2017). "A Guide to All The Leftovers Theories About the Departure". Vulture. New York Media LLC. Retrieved 26 May 2017.