There was a pinching cold wind that night. The kind that would whistle past your bones leaving behind a crippling chill, except that there were no skeletal beings around. Barzakh, that night, was drenched in dark solitude.
A distant pulsing thud swiftly faded in to harmonize the howling wind. The orchestra became more intriguing as the thud grew louder as if someone walking with heavy footsteps was approaching closer. Someone strong but not visible. The vibrations of fright intensified when a figure appeared walking out of thin air. His steps causing the thumping beats.
He was tall. Smart. Darkly dressed and walked with effortless grandeur. His face was stern, expressionless. His eyes were deep, not-so-bright.
He gazed up at the black sky while taking a few more steps and then stood still, lowering his face to look straight ahead. He was waiting for someone. The orchestra had lost its thump in his paused steps but the howling wind kept on till it was interrupted by a loud flutter of wings. The sudden sound was startling but all to his indifference. He maintained his stance and continued to look on.
The flapping of invisible wings recurred a couple of times and then another presence came to sight.
He appeared sitting on his feet as if he had just landed on the ground. As he stood up slowly his magnificent white wings gracefully folded into their place at his back. He was tall, smart, and brightly dressed. His face was tender and his eyes were lustrous. His luminance offered a stark contrast to the dark surroundings and his husky voice introduced warmth to the biting chill.
How is the banishment from Heavens coming along, my dear Azazil? Are you liking the world of the living? He asked the darkly dressed Azazil while walking up to him.
It's bliss, it's torment, it's struggle, it's strife. Azazil replied in a deep hoarse uninterested voice. Why did you call me to Barzakh, Jibril?
With eyes locked on Azazil's face, Jibril moved to walk around him.
You are often discussed up there in the Heavens, he said pointing towards the sky. Can nothing be done to make your punishment end?
Ah Jibril! Azazil looked around at him with a sigh and went on. You would not be able to comprehend this. Walking those skies does not interest me anymore. What seems like a punishment to you is freedom to me. It is my ticket to run the world of those lowly humans. I am free to make it thrive. I am free to make it strive. Why would I still want to be in the Heavens? All you get there is the ever-so-binding obedience of the Almighty. I am better off the way I am! Azazil’s tone marked arrogance.
Well, you did have an exalted status. Almighty's favors were all for you up there. And you chose to lose it all for a mere ‘No?’ All you had to do was accept Adam as a superior being. Your selfish arrogance tainted me and the rest of us in the Lord's eyes too. Jibril lamented in a concerned tone.
Even after all this time you continue to be a shortsighted angel, Jibril. It was not arrogance, it was, rather, my courage that put me in a place where I could expose man of his hypocrisy. I wonder what the Almighty was so proud of about this creation of His.
Look how my whispers manipulated the heart and mind of Adam and Eve. Look how my mischief continues to drive all their sons and daughters till this day. Azazil replied in a louder, uneasy tone pointing down at Earth. Oh, but wait. What would you know? You prefer to stay on the safe shores following His commands mindlessly. I could not live like that. I had to take the plunge into the ocean. I had to explore the waters and prove to you all that man was never worthy of our respect.
Jibril silently listened on. His intense eyes locked on Azazil's face.
Azazil continued berating Jibril. His fist clenched tight with the arm held high and his chin pointing outwards with pride.
Today, it is my chaos that you see in every passing moment, in each heart, in every soul. Go ask the Almighty if you could dare, who has rendered all this color to the dull canvas of Man? Go ask who breeds all the passion and progression in the man’s world. This is all my doing. All the struggle, all the commotion, everything that keeps you and everyone else occupied Jibril. It is all me!
His dark eyes grew red as he continued.
Go dare to ask your Lord whose idea continues to perpetuate in His heart, mine or yours? It is my thought Jibril. It is I who resides in Almighty's heart, who He thinks about. And you? You are nothing but a mere follower, an obedient mindless worshipper!
Azazil stopped. The echoes of his words circled the limitless horizon of Barzakh.
Jibril blinked his eyes breaking the gaze that he had intently maintained on Azazil's face throughout. A smirk marked his lips as he inched closer to Azazil with all his poise and grace. He held Azazil’s tight fist to lower his arm slowly while giving a calming pat on his shoulder. Azazil reciprocated with an even harsher expression. His response changed Jibril's smirk to a full smile.
His wings slowly unfolded as he stepped back with a calm elegance. The flapping sound filled the air once again and before its echo faded he was gone with all his luminance.
Left behind was dark, cold Barzakh with howling wind and fading thump of Azazil's footsteps.
Adapted from ‘Jibreel Aur Iblees’ by Muhammad Iqbal