بسم الله الرحمـن الرحيم
Angel Michael (peace be upon him) has the honor of being mentioned by name in the Quran al-Hakim, where Allah Most High condemns the “enemies” of His Angels and Apostles, particularly Gabriel and Michael (Sura 2: 98). Although Angel Gabriel is more frequently mentioned in Islamic texts, being associated with the revelation of the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him & his family), and therefore there are many more reported narrations concerning the Angel Gabriel, it should be known that the Angel Michael likewise used to descend upon the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), and there are several authentic Hadith which establish this fact. The third of the three great Archangels is Angel Israfil. Although not mentioned by name in the Quran, it is generally believed that Israfil is the Angel who will blow the Sur (horn) on Judgment Day. I should, however, point out that I have not come across any authentic Hadith, with a sound sanad going back to the Prophet (peace be upon him), that identifies the Angel of the Horn as Israfil. What is authentically established is that the Prophet (peace be upon him) invoked Allah by calling Him:
رَبَّ جِبْرَائِيلَ وَمِيكَائِيلَ وَإِسْرَافِيلَ
“Lord of Gabriel, Michael and Israfil” (Sahih Muslim)
While traditionally many Muslims identify and name the Angel of the Horn as Israfil, just as they identify and name Azrael as the Angel of Death, I have come across some other information which may question this tradition. Some Salafis object to naming the Angel of Death “Azrael” despite it being a longstanding tradition in the Muslim Umma on the basis that there isn’t a single authentic Hadith where the name Azrael is mentioned on the tongue of the beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Yet these same Salafis insist that Israfil is the name of the Angel of the Horn. For example, Umar al-Ashqar writes: “Another of the angels is Israafeel, who will blow the Trumpet.” (The World of the Noble Angels p. 31) and on Islam Q&A under the supervision of Saalih al-Munajjid: “With regard to the one who will blow into it, it is well known that he is Israafeel (peace be upon him). Some of the scholars narrated that there is concensus on this, and it is stated clearly in some ahaadeeth.” But the fact of the matter is that Umar al-Ashqar didn’t cite any actual text of a Hadith to this effect.
Regarding the Angel Israfil, Imam Ibn Jarir al-Tabari mentions in his Tarikh some narrations from Imam Aamir b. Sharahil al-ShaabiRA that this Angel was “associated” with the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) for three years that preceded the coming down of Gabriel with the Quran:
حَدَّثَنِي الْحَارِثُ ، قَالَ : حَدَّثَنَا ابْنُ سَعْدٍ ، قَالَ : أَخْبَرَنَا مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ عُمَرَ الْوَاقِدِيُّ ، قَالَ : حَدَّثَنَا الثَّوْرِيُّ ، عَنْ إِسْمَاعِيلَ بْنِ أَبِي خَالِدٍ ، عَنِ الشَّعْبِيِّ ، قَالَ : وَحَدَّثَنَا ، إِمْلاءً مِنْ لَفْظِهِ ، مَنْصُورٌ ، عَنِ الأَشْعَثِ ، عَنِ الشَّعْبِيِّ ، قَالَ : قُرِنَ إِسْرَافِيلُ بِنُبُوَّةِ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ ، صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ ، ثَلاثَ سِنِينَ ، يَسْمَعُ حِسَّهُ وَلا يَرَى شَخْصَهُ.
ثُمَّ كَانَ بَعْدَ ذَلِكَ جِبْرِيلُ عَلَيْهِ السَّلامُ
Al-Harith – Ibn Sa’d – Muhammad b. Umar al-Waqidi – al-Thawri – Isma’il b. Abi Khalid – al-Sha’bi: He (al-Waqidi) also said that he had this from al-Mansur by dictation – al-Ash’ath – al-Sha’bi: “Israfil was associated with the Messenger of God’s prophethood for three years. The Messenger of God was aware of him, but could not see his person. After that came Gabriel.”
حَدَّثَنَا ابْنُ الْمُثَنَّى ، قَالَ : حَدَّثَنَا ابْنُ أَبِي عَدِيٍّ ، عَنْ دَاوُدَ ، عَنْ عَامِرٍ ، قَالَ : أُنْزِلَتْ عَلَيْهِ النُّبُوَّةُ وَهُوَ ابْنُ أَرْبَعِينَ سَنَةً ، فَقُرِنَ بِنُبُوَّتِهِ إِسْرَافِيلُ ثَلاثَ سِنِينَ ، فَكَانَ يُعَلِّمُهُ الْكَلِمَةَ وَالشَّيْءَ ، وَلَمْ يَنْزِلِ الْقُرْآنُ عَلَى لِسَانِهِ ، فَلَمَّا مَضَتْ ثَلاثُ سِنِينَ ، قُرِنَ بِنُبُوَّتِهِ جِبْرِيلُ ، عَلَيْهِ السَّلامُ ، فَنَزَلَ الْقُرْآنُ عَلَى لِسَانِهِ عَشْرَ سِنِينَ بِمَكَّةَ ، وَعَشْرَ سِنِينَ بِالْمَدِينَةِ
Ibn al-Muthanna – Ibn Abi Adi – Dawud – Amir: “Prophethood descended upon him when he was forty. Israfil was associated with his prophethood for three years, and used to teach him the word and the deed, but the Qur’an was not revealed by his tongue. After three years had gone by Gabriel was associated with Muhammad’s prophethood and the Qur’an was revealed by his tongue for ten years in Mecca and ten years in al-Madinah.”
In explanation of this, Ibn Kathir quotes, in his al-Bidaya wal-Nihaya, Shaykh Shihab al-Din Abu Shama:
وأما الشيخ شهاب الدين أبو شامة فإنه قد قال : وحديث عائشة لا ينافي هذا ، فإنه يجوز أن يكون أول أمره الرؤيا ، ثم وكل به إسرافيل في تلك المدة التي كان يخلو فيها بحراء ، فكان يلقي إليه الكلمة بسرعة ، ولا يقيم معه ; تدريجا له وتمرينا إلى أن جاءه جبريل ، فعلمه بعدما غطه ثلاث مرات . فحكت عائشة ما جرى له مع جبريل ، ولم تحك ما جرى له مع إسرافيل اختصارا للحديث ، أو لم تكن وقفت على قصة إسرافيل
“The Hadith of Aaisha does not negate this. It is possible that the first of his affair were Visions, then Israfil was associated with him during his seclusion in Hira, giving him the word”
In other words, before the Angel Gabriel came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) with the revelation of the Quraan, it was the Angel Israfil guiding and inspiring him for a period of three years.