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Azrael, meaning "One Whom God Helps", "Help from God" or "Angel of God", is the Archangel of Death and leader of the Angels of Death. He is also known as the Pale Rider, King of Atrocity, King of Skulls.

Description

Azrael reveals that the reason he will not reveal his true form is due to his absolute hideousness. Azrael's true form is in fact so terrifyingly awful, the mere sight of it could not only kill a human, but can drive even a lower class angel, demon, and other monsters to madness. 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.

Only his archangel brethren and the most powerful demons and gods are immune to this, though some admit being uncomfortable when in the presence of his true form. Azrael is described as being completely covered in eyes and tongues, and the number of eyes and tongues constantly changes to reflect the number of people who are currently alive on Earth.

Rather than merely representing death personified, Azrael is usually described in Islamic and Biblical sources as subordinate to the will of God with the most profound reverence, when he extracts the soul from a dying person, a good dying person will not feel the pain from the removal of the soul from his body, Azrael removing it with ease, and for those who are bad, the removal of the soul is tough and difficult.

Overview

Azrael is one of the archangels of God and the angel of death. It is likely that he came into being after Samael himself who was created after the original five archangels. This would mean that Azrael likely formed around the exact time of the universe's creation or during its process of conception. Nevertheless, he is one of the oldest of God's angels and one of the more enigmatic of them all. Azrael is often depicted wielding a sword or scythe, or wearing a hood, since these symbols represent his role as the angel of death who is reminiscent of the popular culture’s Grim Reaper.

He is said to reside in the Third Heaven, and guides the souls of the departed to their appropriate destinations when they are permitted to enter Heaven and to which ring. He is constantly recording and erasing in a large book the names of men at birth and death, respectively. Azrael is perhaps best known for being the one who took the lives of all the firstborn sons in Egypt during a time when the Hebrews were being persecuted and enslaved by the Pharaoh. It was this act under God's command that the Pharaoh relented into releasing the Hebrews. This event has since become known as the "Passover". His name became known when carries souls up to Heaven to be judged by God.

He helps dying people make the transition from Earth to the afterlife, and he comforts people who are grieving the death of a loved one. Azrael can also fiercely hunt down people who are unfaithful and unrepentant for their sins in their time of dying. Azrael appears on Earth in human form and hits sinful people on the head with his scythe to kill them and extract their souls from their bodies. Then he takes their souls to Hell, and makes it certain that they get their severe punishment. A damned soul stated that when Azrael was extracting his soul, it felt as though that every fiber of his muscles, bones, and even molecules were being violently and ferociously pulled, all while being devoured at the same time.

Myths and Legends

Azrael is, along with Jibrail, Mīkhā'īl and Isrāfīl, one of the four major archangels in Islam, and is identified with the Quranic Malak al-Mawt. He is responsible for transporting the souls of the deceased after death. In comparison to similar concepts of death, Azrael holds a rather benevolent role as the angel of death. However, Azrael is not necessarily the only angel of death. Tafsir al-Baydawi mentions an entire host of angels of death (which includes Rahab, Samael and Sariel), subordinative to Azrael.

Also, the Quran speaks about many angels of death. Islamic traditions explains that the lesser angels of death are for the common people, but saints and prophets meet the archangel of death himself. Azrael does not act independently, but is only informed by God when time is up to take a soul. According to one Muslim tradition, 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. He also assisted God in the creation of Adam when he gathered clay for Him.

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