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.
Israfil has been associated with a number of other angelic names not pertaining to Islam, including Uriel, Sarafiel and Raphael.
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.
A few reports assume what Israfil had visited Muhammad already before Gabriel did.
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.
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".