Excerpt from 'Angels Unveiled' by Shaykh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani published by KAZI. Reprinted with permission from Naqshbandi Sufi Order Library

A certain king once went on a trip to one of his provinces. He set out on his journey, dressed in a sumptuous array and puffed up with pride. A man poorly dressed approached and greeted him from the side of the road; but the king would not answer. The man caught the bridles of the king's horse and none of the king's soldiers could make him let go. The king cried: "Let go of the bridle!" The man said: "First grant me my request." The king said: "Release the bridle and I promise to hear your request." The man said: "No, you must hear it right away," and he pulled harder on the reins. The king said: "What is your request?" The man replied: "Let me whisper it in your ear, for it is a secret." The king leaned down and the man whispered to him: "I am the Angel of Death."

The king's face became pale and he stammered: "Let me go home and bid farewell to my family, and wrap up my affairs." But Azra'il said: "By the One Who sent me, you will never see your family and your wealth in this world again!" He took his soul there and then, and the king fell from his horse like a wooden log.

The Angel of Death went on his way and saw a believer walking by himself on the road. The angel greeted him, and he gave back his greeting. The angel said: "I have a message for you." "Yes, my brother, what is it?" "I am the Angel of Death." The believer's face brightened with a big smile. "Welcome, welcome!" He said. "As God is my witness, I was waiting for you more impatiently than for anyone else."

"O my brother!" the Angel of Death said, "perhaps you have a matter that you wish to settle first, so go and take care of it, for there is no rush."

"As God is my witness," the believer said: "there is nothing I wish more dearly than to meet my Lord." The angel said: "Choose the way in which you would like me to take your soul, for so I have been ordered to ask you."

The believer said: "Then let me pray two cycles of prayer, and take my soul while I am kneeling in prostration."

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