What is Hz. Azrael like in terms of his nature? How does he appear to the people who will die? Is there a hadith about it?

Details of the Question

What is Hz. Azrael like in terms of his nature? How does he appear to the people who will die? Is there a hadith about it?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Azrael is one of the archangels and he is compassionate toward believers and harsh toward unbelievers like the other angels.  

"The spirit of a good person is removed like removing a hair from dough and the spirit of a bad person is removed like removing a cheesecloth from a thorny tree."

In the first case, the spirit is not injured. In the second case, it is injured, wounded and riddled. Those wounds make that person suffer agony throughout the life in the grave. A person whose spirit was removed described the agony he felt as follows: 

"The heavens have flopped down on me. I feel as if my body is passing through the eye of a needle."

Hz. Ka'b stated the following:

"When the spirit is removed, it is as if a thorny stick is put into the mouth of the person and the thorny branches move in his blood vessels. Then, a strong man removes this stick."

When the spirit is removed, the angel of death appears. This angel appears different to people based on their creeds and deeds. For instance, the same electricity appears as light in a lamp, as fire in an electric stove and cold in a refrigerator. Similarly, Hz. Azrael appears based on the nature of the spirit. If a person has lived as a Muslim, Azrael appears to him as light, that is, in a luminous way. If he has lived as an unbeliever or a sinner, Azrael removes his spirit like fire or ice based on the degree of the person. That is, Azrael will appear to a person according to his nature.  

According to a narration, Hz. Ibrahim said to the angel of death, "Appear to me as you appear when you remove the spirits of bad people." The angel said, "You will not be able to put up with seeing me like that." However, Hz. Ibrahim insisted and said, "I will." Azrael said, "Turn." Hz. Ibrahim turned and saw Azrael as a dark-complexioned figure in black with disheveled hair and beard, giving off a disgusting smell, with flames of fire and smoke leaping up from his mouth and nostrils. He could not bear it anymore and fainted. When he regained consciousness, he saw Azrael in his previous form. He said, "'Even if there were no other affliction for a sinner, it should suffice to see your face for his punishment." This time, Hz. Ibrahim asked Azrael, "Appear to me as you appear when you remove the spirits of good people." When he saw the angel in a nice form, he said, "Even if there were no other joy for the good people, it should suffice to see you like this for his reward."

Those are the hardships that disobedient people will encounter and obedient people will be saved from. Those who obey Allah will see Azrael in the most beautiful form. When the books of deeds are closed in the end, two angels who write the deeds of the dead person will appear to him. If he is a good person, the angels will say to him, "May Allah reward you with good things! You made us write good deeds all the time and you pleased us." If he is a bad person, the angels will say to him, "May Allah punish you with bad things! You made us write bad deeds all the time and you made us unhappy."

The Prophet (pbuh) said,

"One of you will not die until he sees whether he will be rewarded or punished and watches his place in Paradise or Hell." (Ibn Abid-Dunya)

If a person tries to fulfill the orders and prohibitions of Allah in order to save himself from the drunkenness of death before that time comes, he will leave this word easily and nicely inshallah. As a matter of fact, Allah Almighty states the following in a verse:

"(Namely) those whose lives the angels take in a state of purity." (an-Nahl, 16/32)

Hasan al-Basri states the following:

"A believer will relax only when he rejoins Allah."

It means the day when a believer feels sure, happy and joyful is the day when he dies.

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