Who Takes the Soul at Death
The allegation is as follows:
There are conflicting views on who takes the souls at death: THE Angel of Death [32:11], THE angels (plural) [47:27] but also "It is Allah that takes the souls (of men) at death." [39:42]
The verses in question are the following:
32:11 Say: "The Angel of Death, put in charge of you, will (duly) take your souls: then shall ye be brought back to your Lord."
47:27 But how (will it be) when the angels take their souls at death, and smite their faces and their backs?
39:42 It is Allah that takes the souls (of men) at death; and those that die not (He takes) during their sleep: those on whom He has passed the decree of death, He keeps back (from returning to life), but the rest He sends (to their bodies) for a term appointed verily in this are Signs for those who reflect.
There are some very simple points, which will explain this allegation.
1. Before we get into the specific explanations concerning the Angels, let us analyze the meaning of the last verse. It is obvious that Allah does not directly take the souls of a human, but rather the action is attributed to Him because everything happens by His command. The Angels cannot disobey God, hence their actions are the direct result of God's command. It is not unusual for an action to be attributed to the One in command. The angels are the tools of God.
For example, if a man writes a letter to a friend, and they ask, "Who sent this letter?" is the answer the mail man or the man who wrote the letter?
Often, actions done by an army are also attributed to the one in charge. For example, we can say that Hitler invaded Poland, even though he did not actually march in and attack Poland, but his army did it by his command.
2. Concerning the Angels, the narrations from the Prophet Muhammad indicate that the Angel of Death takes the soul of the deceased person and passes it to two other angels who accompany him. Thus, the Angel of Death takes the soul from the body, and the other angels take the soul from the angel of death and wrap it in a shroud.
This is similar to saying that the Police arrested a man, even though a single officer performed the arrest.
Another example is if there is a basketball game between two teams, and someone mentions that a certain team scored the final goal, even though it was a single player who actually scored that final goal.
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