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Who causes death? God, Izra'eel or the angels?

Here comes up a question: Who takes away the soul? It is God or Izra'eel or the angels? There are three verses about this in the Holy Quran. At one place it says: God causes Death. At another place it is mentioned that: The angel of death takes away the soul. (Surah Sajdah 32:11)[1]. On yet another occasion it is mentioned: Angels collect the souls. (Surah Nisa 4:97)[2]. The fact is that all these statements are true because, the angel of death and his subordinate angels collect souls as commanded by God Almighty. Doubtlessly it is just like this: A king, through his army and its chiefs, conquers a country. It is correct to say that such and such army won such and such territory. Similarly, it is also correct to mention that such and such commander captured such and such country. But in both the statements the fact remains that the country has been conquered by


[1] Say: The angel of death who is given charge of you shall cause you to die, then to your Lord you shall be brought back.

 

[2] Surely (as for) those whom the angels cause to die while they are unjust to their souls, they shall say: In what state were you? They shall say: We were weak in the earth. They shall say: Was not Allah's earth spacious, so that you should have migrated therein? So these it is whose abode is hell, and it is an evil resort.

 


the king who owns, manages and directs the affairs of his state through officers and personnel under his command. This example also is only for making the matter understandable. Otherwise such examples cannot fully describe and explain the power of the Almighty.

The Lord of the Universe has Fixed Some Causes for Death

It is agreed that it is only God who takes away life at the time of death. But you should also remember that God has made this world a world of causes. He has created causes for death also like falling from roof, becoming ill or being murdered etc. Surely all these events become causes of death but the same is not absolutely essential because it can be also be seen that some people were seriously ill but they did not die of that illness. Of course when their lifespan comes to end even a light and ordinary thing can also become the reason of death and the Lord of the universe takes away his life. It is also seen that some people die without even the slightest illness.

Appearance of Izra'eel According to the Deeds of the Dying Person

A matter pertaining to the angel of death is that when he comes to take the soul of any person he assumes a face according to the deeds of the dying person.

It is mentioned in narrations that once Ibrahim (a.s.) asked the angel of death, "What shape do you assume while fetching the soul of unbeliever?" The angel replied, "You will not be able to look at that frightening shape." The Friend of God repeated, "I intend to see it." He saw the angel in the form of a black man. His hair was standing on its end all over his body. A foul stench emanated from that frightening figure. His clothes were dark and flames and smoke leapt out from his mouth and nose. Ibrahim (a.s.) became unconscious. When he came to sense he said, "Even if the unbeliever is not given any other punishment, seeing you in this form is torture enough for him."

On the other hand the shape in which the angel of death appears before a believer has been mentioned in a number of traditions.[1]

Arrival of Angels and Satans at the time of Death

During the last moments of man's life, angles arrive and stand on his right side. Likewise the Satans (devils) also approach him and stand on the left side of the deathbed[2]. The job of Satans is to deceive and betray, particularly at the time of death so that, if that person has any faith, it could be destroyed. The scale of man's luck or misfortune is his last word and deed. The way in which he passes his life is the same manner and the state in which he has died, will be his state when he will be made to rise in Qiyamat. His wish at the time of his death will be what it was during his life and so he will die with the same ambitions. If in your heart there was an aspiration to see the charm of Amirul Mo-mineen (a.s.) you will be able to observe that beauty at the last moment. But if, God forbid your wish throughout your life was only the fulfilment of desire and passion then that lust of yours will become more intense at the time of death. But the one who had perfect faith is promised by God that He will protect him and Satan will not be able to gain control over him.

Allah confirms those who believe with the sure word in this world's life and in the hereafter... (14:27)

When Abu Zakaria Razi was about to die, those sitting around him asked him to recite, Laa Ilaaha Illallaah (There is no God except Allah). He replied, "I will not recite it." Then he became unconscious. When he gained sense he said, "Just now a man had come to me who said, 'If you wish to be lucky and fortunate then say: Isa is the son of God. I said, 'I will not say.' After a number of requests and denials that fellow said, 'Okay then say: There is no God but Allah.' Yet I said, 'Since you are asking me to say so I will not.' Suddenly there appeared a weapon, which killed that fellow. Now I am conscious and am reciting the Kalimah (formula of


[1] Biharul Anwar, Vol: 3, Chapter on Angel of death.

 

[2] Biharul Anwar, Vol: 3, Chapter on Angel of death.

 


faith)." Then he recited the two formulae (Shahaadatain) and passed away from this world.

Verily, how Satan can subdue a man who had the belief that there is only one God at the time of his death? Of course the man who had been the follower of devil throughout his life will be a companion of devil on his deathbed also.

Comfort and Discomfort at the Time of Death

Much has been mentioned in narrations about comfort and discomfort at the time of death. In some, it (the trouble or pain) has been compared with the pain experienced when one's skin is peeled. In some it is said that the pain of death is much less compared to the revolving of a large stony door of a castle having nails, in one's eyes. In yet another narration it is said that the pain of death is like that experienced when one's body is cut into pieces by scissors or torn with a saw. So it has come to notice that some dying persons have suffered pains beyond description, which make the observers tremble.

But, on the other hand, for some persons death has been as pleasing as smelling a fragrant flower.

Those whom the angels cause to die in a good state, saying: Peace be on you: enter the garden for what you did. (16:32)

In some traditions it is mentioned by the infallibles, that for some people, death is like taking off dirty clothes and putting on a clean dress. In some other narrations it is compared with liberating the body from chains and yokes, as if death is like being freed from the imprisonment of this material world.


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