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Israfil (Arabic: إِسْـرَافِـيْـل, romanized: Isrāfīl, alternate spellings: Israfel, Esrafil) is the angel who blows into the trumpet before Armageddon and sometimes depicted as the angel of music. Though unnamed in the Quran, he is one of the four Islamic archangels, the others being long with Mikhail, Jibrail and Azrael. 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 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." — Quran, 39.68.
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, although only Izra'il succeeded in this mission. It was from this dust that Adam was formed.
Certain sources indicate that, created at the beginning of time, Israfil 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.
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.
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.
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- Israfil is the subject and title of a poem by Edgar Allan Poe, used for the exotic effect of the name:
- 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.
- Israfel is the first name of the controversial and mysterious author, Israfel Sivad. The spelling, as well as the fact that the name is used by a poet lead many to believe that the name is a pseudonym inspired by the poem, "Israfel" by Poe.
- 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.
- Israfil appears as an angelic character in the Sheri S. Tepper book – "Beauty".
- Israfel appears in Marian Osborn's (1871–1931) poem, "The Song of Israfel".
- Israfil appears as a character in the anime, Neon Genesis Evangelion.
- The titular antagonist in the popular Minecraft machinima series Shadow of Israphel derives his name from Israfil.
- Israfil is mentioned in Kazi Nazrul Islam's poem Bidrohi. (আমি ইস্রাফিলের শিঙ্গার, মহা হুঙ্কার; I am the mighty roar of Israfil's bugle).
- Israfel is featured as a summonable demon in the Atlus RPG series Shin Megami Tensei.
- Lewis, James R., Oliver, Evelyn Dorothy, Sisung Kelle S. (Editor) (1996), Angels A to Z, p. 224, Visible Ink Press, ISBN 0-7876-0652-9
- Sophy Burnham A Book of Angels: Reflections on Angels Past and Present, and True Stories of How They Touch Our L ives Penguin 2011 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.
- JewishEncyclopedia.org, Gabriel
- "Israfil". Encyclopaedia. Britannica. Retrieved 20 November 2012.
- Davidson, Gustav (1967), A Dictionary of Angels, Including The Fallen Angels, Entry: Israfel, Free Press, pp. 151, 152, Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 66-19757, ISBN 9780029070505
- Weil, Dr. Gustav (1863), The Bible, the Koran, and the Talmud or Biblical Legends of the Mussulmans, Adam, p. 19, at sacred-texts.com
- Scott B. Noegel, Brannon M. Wheeler The A to Z of Prophets in Islam and Judaism Scarecrow Press 2010 ISBN 978-1-461-71895-6 page 13
- Gabriel on jewishencyclopedia.com
- Death, Angel of on jewishencyclopedia.com
- Israfil at the Encyclopædia Britannica
- See Jalaluddeen As Suyuti's compilation on the proofs of Qutb, Awtad and Abdals.
- Stephen Burge Angels in Islam: Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti's al-Haba'ik fi akhbar al-mala'ik Routledge 2015 ISBN 978-1-136-50473-0 page 92
- Crowley, A., Bennet, A., Liber Israfel at sacred-texts.com
- Kazi Nazrul Islam, Sanchita
- Campo, Juan E. (2009). Encyclopedia of Islam. New York, NY: Facts On File. p. 750. ISBN 1438126964.
- Oliver, Evelyn Dorothy; Lewis, James R. (2008). Angels A to Z (2nd ed.). Canton, MI: Visible Ink Press. p. 202. ISBN 9781578592128.
- Schwebel, Rosemary Ellen Guiley ; foreword by Lisa (2004). The encyclopedia of angels (2nd ed.). New York: Facts on File. p. 193. ISBN 9781438130026.
- Webster, Richard (2009). Encyclopedia of angels (1st ed.). Woodbury, Minn.: Llewellyn Publications. p. 97. ISBN 9780738714622.
- Student's Britannica: India. New Delhi: Encyclopædia Britannica (India). 2000. p. 92. ISBN 9780852297605.