70. In who’s hands is Death? Is it with God or The Angel of Death, Azrael?

In the Qur’an, God sometimes attributes work to Himself and other times to others, for example, in regards to the collection of souls, in one place He states:

اللَّـهُ يَتَوَفَّى الْأَنفُسَ

“Allah takes the souls.”1

In another Ayah He states:

يَتَوَفَّاكُم مَّلَكُ الْمَوْتِ

“The angel of death “Azrael” will gather the souls of me.”2

Yet elsewhere He states that the Angels will collect the Souls;3

تَوَفَّتْهُ رُسُلُنَا

All three phrases can be accepted. When you see a house, you can say that the house is built by an engineer and architect, or the house was built by the builder and their apprentices, or the house was built by the owner. With respect to the building of the house, all three are correct.

Likewise, you can say: The key opened the door, or my hand opened the door, or I opened the door. This is because the key is in your hand, and your hand is under your control.

In the Ayahs described above, it may be that: Angels collect the souls of men and pass them on to Azrael whom in turns passes them to God. It may also be possible that the souls of the general public are collected by angels, while those of outstanding people are collected by Azrael, while the most pious of the men are collected by God.

Likewise, in another area, the Qur’an makes different statements with regards to people of heaven. In one place he states:

وَسَقَاهُمْ رَبُّهُمْ

“Their Lord will quench their thirst.”4

While earlier in the same Surah the Qur’an states:

وَيُسْقَوْنَ فِيهَا كَأْسًا

“They are watered with a cup.”5

And no mention of God is made.