The Angel Israfil
, Muhammad ibn Muhammad Shakir Ruzmah-'i Nathani
Israfil in Islamic calligraphy
Israfil (Arabic: إِسْـرَافِـيْـل, Isrāfīl; or Israfel or Rafā'īl) is the angel who blows into the trumpet to signal Qiyamah (the Day of Judgment), therefore often considered an angel of music. Though unnamed in the Quran, he is one of the four Islamic archangels, along with Mīkā'īl, Jibrā'īl, and Azrā'īl. The "Book of Dead" described Israfil as the oldest of all archangels.
It is believed that Israfil will blow the trumpet from a holy rock in Jerusalem to announce the Day of Resurrection. He is commonly thought of as the counterpart of the Judeo-Christian archangel Raphael.
In religious tradition
Although the name Israfil does not appear in the Quran, mention is repeatedly made of an unnamed trumpet-angel assumed to identify this figure:
And the trumpet shall be blown, so all those that are in the heavens and all those that are in the earth shall swoon, except him whom Allah will ; then it shall be blown again, then they shall stand up awaiting.
In Islamic tradition, he is said to have been sent along with the other three Islamic archangels to collect dust from the four corners of the earth, though only Azrael succeeded in this mission. It was from this dust that Adam was formed.
Israfil has been associated with a number of other angelic names not pertaining to Islam, including Uriel, Sariel, and Raphael.
Certain sources indicate that, Israfil, created at the beginning of time, possesses four wings, and is so tall as to be able to reach from the earth to the pillars of Heaven. A beautiful angel who is a master of music, Israfil sings praises to God in a thousand different languages, the breath of which is used to inject life into hosts of angels who add to the songs themselves. Due to his beautiful voice, he is also the Muezzin of the people in heaven.
According to Sunni traditions reported by Imam Al-Suyuti, the Ghawth or Qutb, is someone who has a heart that resembles that of archangel Israfil, signifying the loftiness of this angel. The next in rank are the saints who are known as the Umdah or Awtad, amongst whom the highest ones have their hearts resembling that of angel Michael, and the rest of the lower ranking saints having the heart of Jibreel or Gabriel, and that of the previous prophets before Muhammad. The earth is believed to always have one of the Qutb.
Israfil is mentioned in a hadith as the angel nearest to God, portrayed as an angel with four wings, who mediates between the commands of God and the other archangels.
A few reports assume that Israfil had visited Muhammad before Gabriel did.
In 19th-century Occultism
Israfil appears in cabbalistic lore as well as 19th-century Occultism. He was referenced in the title of Aleister Crowley's Liber Israfel (formerly Liber Anubis), a ritual which in its original form was written and utilized by members of the Golden Dawn. This is a ritual designed to invoke the Egyptian god, Thoth, the deity of wisdom, writing, and magic who figures large in the Hermetica attributed to Hermes Trismegistus upon which modern practitioners of alchemy and ceremonial magic draw.
In art and literature
In Heaven a spirit doth dwell
- Whose heart-strings are a lute;
None sing so wildly well
As the angel Israfel,
And the giddy stars (so legends tell),
Ceasing their hymns, attend the spell
- Of his voice, all mute.
- Inspired by the above, Israfel is the title of Hervey Allen's 1926 biography of Poe.
- Israfil is mentioned in Lou Harrison's Second Symphony, Elegiac, in the first and third movements (each entitled "Tears of the Angel Israfel"). Harrison writes that Israfel is the angel of music and that he "stands with his feet and his head in the sun. He will blow the last trumpet. Six times daily he looks down into hell and is so convulsed with grief that his tears would inundate the earth if Allah did not stop their flow".
- Israfil appears as a character in the book Heavenly Discourse by C. E. S. Wood.
- Israfil is a character in the Remy Chandler book series—specifically the book A Kiss Before the Apocalypse—by Thomas E. Sniegoski. In that series he plays the part of the Angel of Death.
- Israfel appears in Marian Osborne's poem, "The Song of Israfel".
- Israfil is mentioned in Kazi Nazrul Islam's poem "Bidrohi":
আমি ইস্রাফিলের শিঙ্গার, মহা হুঙ্কার
I am the mighty roar of Israfil's bugle
- ^ a b c Lewis, James R., Evelyn Dorothy Oliver, and S. Sisung Kelle, eds. 1996. Angels A to Z. Visible Ink Press. ISBN 0-7876-0652-9. p. 224.
- ^ Burnham, Sophy. 2011. A Book of Angels: Reflections on Angels Past and Present, and True Stories of How They Touch Our Lives. Penguin. ISBN 978-1-101-48647-4.
- ^ Webster, Richard (2009). Encyclopedia of angels (1st ed.). Woodbury, he will blow the trumpet when the day comes to the end Minn.: Llewellyn Publications. p. 97. ISBN 9780738714622.
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- ^ Weil, Gustav. 1863. "Adam." Pp. 19 in The Bible, the Koran, and the Talmud or Biblical Legends of the Mussulmans. via Internet Sacred Text Archive.
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- ^ "Death, Angel of", Jewish Encyclopedia
- ^ Tottoli, Roberto. 2018. "Isrāfīl." Encyclopaedia of Islam 3, edited by K. Fleet, G. Krämer, D. Matringe, J. Nawas, and E. Rowson. Retrieved 9 January 2020. ISBN 9789004356641.
- ^ See Jalaluddeen Al-Suyuti's compilation on the proofs of Qutb, Awtad and Abdals.
- ^ Burge, Stephen. 2015. Angels in Islam: Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti's al-Haba'ik fi akhbar al-mala'ik. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-136-50473-0. p. 92.
- ^ Kraemer, Joel L. 1993. Israel Oriental Studies, Band 13. Brill. ISBN 9789004099012. p. 219.
- ^ Crowley, A., and A. Bennet. Liber Israfel. via Internet Sacred Text Archive.
- ^ Jacobs, James David. "Lou Harrison's "Elegiac" Symphony". WGBH. Archived from the original on 16 February 2018. Retrieved 17 May 2021.
- ^ "Kazi Nazrul Islam: THE REBEL (Original: Bidrohi) – English Translation". imcradiodotnet.wordpress.com. 10 January 2011. Retrieved 18 May 2021.
- ^ Kazi Nazrul Islam, Sanchita