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.
When Azrael appears before the righteous during their final hour, he is described as having a fair appearance as typical of any angel. Although despite Azrael's fair form, his face is said to be unmoving and cold. But when appearing before the sinful, he comes as a dark figure with a loud voice, solemn and terrible. 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 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. 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. Azrael is often depicted wielding a sword or knife, or wearing a hood, since these symbols represent his role as the angel of death.
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. He assumed his position as the angel of death when the concept of death was first introduced into the newly birthed universe.
War in Heaven
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. He also appears to be on friendly terms with Death of the Endless where Death would offer the souls of those who committed more virtues than sins to Azrael who then takes them to Heaven though she leaves the collection of Saints and prophets to Azrael.
Azrael was one of the few angels that did not hold Lucifer in reverence and awe as he was more isolated than the other angels. Though this did not mean that Azrael disliked Lucifer more along the lines of him being uninterested in Lucifer's preaching and acts of splendor through music. It is also revealed that Azrael did not take part in the War in Heaven although he prevented several rebel angels from entering the Chamber of Reconditus to take the chalices of Vril for Lucifer. He also collected the discorporeal essences of the angels that were slain during the civil war and would have his subordinate death angels watch over them until they regain their original forms.
Angel of Death
Azrael was among the angels who observed the creation of Adam and Lilith. After the Fall of Man where death was introduced to mortals when Adam and Eve were cursed with mortality and death, Azrael's duties as the Angel of Death truly began. However, he was not fully active during the Golden Age of the Hyperborean people where commissioned one of his underlings Rahab to be their guide to the afterlife, one related to the sea itself, while Gabriel propositioned that Rahab would also be their defender, both of which were agreed upon by Michael. Unfortunately, after the destruction of Hyperborea and the imprisonment of Rahab due to his transgressions by Gabriel, Azrael grew cold and bitter, becoming the feared Angel of Death he is known as to this day.
Rahab's imprisonment may have been perceived as a vacancy for Azrael to become the Angel of Death in his stead though nothing is confirmed. In any case, 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.
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. Azrael would only come for the souls of the firstborn whose doors were not marked with the blood of a lamb. However, it was revealed that the angel Dumah, the patron angel of Egypt, was originally tasked with performing this duty but when Dumah refused as he deemed it immoral, he was banished and the task was given to Azrael instead. 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.
Azrael had a hand in the development of Jesus' conception. When Lailah took a seed from one of the flowers of the Tree of Life and infused the Holy Spirit within the seed, Azrael cupped a handful of the soil from the Earth whereby Lailah planted the seed into the soil so as the child would be given a physical form to the Earth and thus be vulnerable to its concepts of mortality and death but all while having the divine essence of the Heavens from within so when his physical body perishes, his essence will remain and resurrect into a divine being. Gabriel then had this amalgamation of divinity and mortality placed within the womb of the Virgin Mary.
Azrael was described as being stern, dispassionate and never forgetting a thing. He was the angel who slaughtered the first born children of Egypt, and counselled against allowing inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah to be judged in Purgatory, instead immediately be sent to Hell. However, unlike Satan, he is not cruel nor vindictive, and his judgements are not of his own design but rather by the will of God. Nevertheless, Azrael is often perceived as being callous and even cruel when performing his duties. 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.
Indeed, despite his infamous reputation, Azrael is 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. Azrael does not act independently, but is only informed by God when the 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.
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), subordinate 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. He also assisted God in the creation of Adam when he gathered clay for Him.