Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah (S.A) said, that Almighty Allah said: “I have prepared for my righteous servants which no eye has seen, no ear has heard and the heart of no man has conceived. And read if you like: “So no soul knows what is hidden for him which will refresh the eyes.” (32: 17) (Bukhari, Muslim).
Among the essential beliefs of a Muslim is the belief in Paradise and Hell. These are two existing abodes which have been prepared for men and Jinn.
Paradise and Hell are not mere spiritual states, allegorical conditions or abstract concepts, but instead, they are two real, physical and existing abodes.
Paradise is a place of enjoyment and pleasure. It is far above the comprehension of man. It is a place prepared for the believers and righteous servants of Allah.
Entrance into Paradise will take place after Resurrection. After man is questioned and the actions are weighed on the scales of justice, all will have to pass over the Siraat which is the bridge passing over Hell. The people destined for Jannah will pass safely over the bridge while those doomed to Hell will slip into the fire below.
According to the teachings of the Qur’aan and Hadith, whosoever had faith in Allah, even those who had the slightest faith will eventually enter Paradise. It is in this respect the Prophet (S.A.) said: ‘He who died knowing (fully well) that there is no God but Allah will enter Paradise.” (Muslim). However those who disobeyed Allah and practised evil deeds will first taste the fire of Hell and thereafter be sent to Paradise. The duration of punishment will be proportionate to the sins an individual committed in this world.
Paradise is the abode of the God fearing. It is the promise of Allah which He will fulfill. The Qur’aan says, “And those who feared their Lord will be led to the Garden in crowds. Until behold, when they arrive there its gates will be opened, and its keepers will say, ‘Peace be upon you! Well have you done! Enter you here, to dwell therein.’ They will say, ‘Praise be to Allah, who has truly fulfilled His promise to us and has given us (this) land in heritage. We can dwell in the Garden as we will. How excellent a reward for those who work righteousness’.” (39: 73-74).
The Prophet (S.A.) has, in many Ahadith, given us different descriptions of Paradise. The descriptions deal with the size of Paradise, the inmates of Paradise, the houses in Paradise, the fruits, rivers, fountains etc.
There are different stages in Paradise, the highest of which is Firdaus. Prayer, Fasting, Zakaah, and Jihad will each have separate ranks (or doors).
The foundation of Paradise is of silver and gold and its earth is of saffron. This is clearly borne out by the following Hadith. Abu Hurairah reported, I asked, “0 Messenger of Allah, what were the creatures made of?” He replied, “Of water.” We asked, “As for Paradise, what is its foundation?” He said, “One brick of gold and one brick of silver and its mortars are of musk of piercing smell, and its earth is of saffron. Whosoever enters it will be in bliss and not in want. They will live forever and not die. And their clothes will not get old and their youth will not end.” (Ahmad, Tirmizi)
The rivers of Paradise will be of different kinds. The Qur’aan states. “Here is a likeness of the Garden which the righteous are promised. In it are rivers of water incorruptible, rivers of milk of which the taste never changes, rivers of wine, a joy to those who drink, and rivers of honey pure and clear. (47:15).
It is reported in another tradition that the Prophet (S.A.) said, “Verily the first group will enter Paradise with their faces like the moon on the full-moon night. Then those who will follow them will be like the brightest star in the firmament shining. Their hearts will be upon the heart of one man. There will be no differences among them nor will there be mutual hatred. For every man among them there will be two wives of the pure eyed virgins, the marrow of their hind legs will be seen from behind the bones and the flesh, because of their beauty. They will glorify Allah at morning and at night.
They will have no disease, no urine, no stool and no spitting. Their utensils will be of silver and gold, and their comb, of gold and the flame of their fire-pots, of aloes and their perspiration, of musk and all of them will be upon the conduct of one man and in the form of their father Adam, sixty cubits.” (Bukhari, Muslim).
According to another tradition the people of Paradise will continue to be young and will never get old and they shall never be in want. (Muslim)
In another tradition it is stated that there is a market in Paradise. The people of Paradise will come to it every Friday. The northern wind will blow and pass over their faces and clothes and so they will become more beautiful and handsome. They will return to their inmates who have also become more beautiful and handsome. Their inmates will tell them, “By Allah, you have become more beautiful and handsome after (you left us).” They will say, “By Allah, you too have become more beautiful and handsome.” (Muslim)
A proclaimer will proclaim to the inmates of Paradise, “For you there is everlasting health, and you will never get sick, and for you there is everlasting life and you will never die, and for you there is perpetual youth and you will never get old, and for you is everlasting bliss and you will never be in want.” (Muslim)
There will be many ranks in Paradise. The believers will be placed in different stages and ranks in proportion to their good deeds. This is clearly borne out by the hadith which states that Paradise consists of a hundred stories, between each two stories there is a distance equal to the space between the sky and the earth. Firdaus is the name of the highest storey and from there, four rivers will flow. The Prophet (S.A.) said, “Whenever you ask anything of Allah, ask for Jannatul-Firdaus.” (Tirmizi).
Paradise is, therefore, a place of every comfort and delight. In it there are such blessings that are unheard of and unimagined by any man. Paradise contains one hundred levels where there are palaces of gold. A person who will offer thanks for things in this world, will receive in return, such blessings in Heaven that worldly delights will be far inferior to them in comparison.
The Qur’aan has given us in many different verses an insight into the enjoyment in Paradise. One such description is mentioned in Surah-A1-Insaan. It states, “As to the righteous, they shall drink of a cup (of wine) mixed with kafur.” (76:5).
Kafur is literally translated as camphor. It is a fountain in Paradise. It is an ingredient added to the cup of pure beautiful wine, which causes no intoxication, but stands for all that is wholesome, agreeable and refreshing. Camphor is cool and refreshing and is given as a soothing tonic in eastern medicine.
The verse continues, “A fountain where the devotees of Allah do drink, making it flow in unlimited abundance.” (verse 6)
“And because they are patient and constant, He will reward them with a Garden and (garments of) silk.” (verse 12)
“Reclining in the Garden on raised thrones, they will see there neither the sun’s (excessive heat) nor (the moon’s) excessive cold.” (verse 13).
“And the shades of the Garden will come low over them. And the branches (of fruit) there, will hang low in humility.” (verse 14).
“And in front of them will be passed vessels of silver and goblets of crystal.” (verse 15).
“Crystal clear, made of silver- they will determine the measure thereof (according to their wishes).” (verse 16).
“And they will be given to drink there, a cup (of wine) mixed with Zanjabil.” (verse 17).
Zanjabil literally means ginger. In eastern medicine ginger is used to give warmth to the body and zest to the taste.
“A fountain there called Salsabil.” (verse 18).
Nu’man bin Bashir reported that the Messenger of Allah (S.A) said, “Verily the easiest of the inmates of fire in punishment will be one who will have a pair of shoes and lace of fire. His brain will boil on this account as the kettle boils up. No one will seem to suffer a heavier punishment than him, but he will be the easiest of them in punishment.” (Bukhari, Muslim)
Hell is one of the abodes of the Hereafter, which is prepared for the unbelievers and sinners. It is a place of torment and punishment, where a person can meet the eternal damnation in the fire, or he can temporarily undergo the necessary punishment because of his sins. Those who have completely denied the existence of Allah or have disbelieved in Him will remain in Hell forever. The Qur’aan says, “They (unbelievers) wish to come out from the fire but they shall not come forth from it. And they shall have a lasting punishment.” (5: 37)
With regards to others who had the slightest faith in their heart in this world, Allah will save them after long suffering in Hell.
They will then be taken out and placed in Paradise. This fact is clearly indicated by the Hadith of the Prophet which states that Allah will admit into Paradise those deserving of Paradise, and He will admit whom He wishes out of His mercy, and will admit those condemned to Hell into the fire. He would then say, see, whom you find having as much faith in his heart as a grain of mustard, bring him out. They will then be brought out burned and turned to charcoal, and would sprout as does a seed in the silt carried away by the flood. Have you not seen that it comes out yellow (fresh) and intertwined. (Muslim)
Hell, therefore, is a place of punishment from Allah and is very unpleasant. It is narrated in a tradition that Paradise and Hell argued with each other. Hell said, “I have in me the boastful and powerful tyrants.” Paradise said, “What is the matter with me that none but weak men, the innocent men and the careless (of worldly affairs) will enter me.” The Almighty Allah then said to Paradise, “Verily you are My mercy, I shall show mercy with you upon those whom I like of My servants.” And He said to Hell, “Verily you are My punishment, I shall punish with you those whom I like of my servants, but each one of you both shall be filled up with them.” (Bukhari, Muslim)
In many traditions, the Prophet (S.A.) has described to us the consequence and the situation of the Hell fire. It is stated that there are seven stages (popularly called) doors of Hell. They are Jahannam (Hell), Flaming Fire, Crashing Disaster, Burning Fire, Scorching Fire, Fierce Fire and the Abyss of Fire.
The fire of Hell is intensely hot. According to a tradition, “This fire was burnt for one thousand years till it became red. Again it was burnt for one thousand years till it became white. Again it was burnt for one thousand years till it became black. It is intensely black.” (Tirmizi)
In another tradition the Prophet is reported to have said. “Your fire is a portion of seventy portions of the fire of Hell. It was then said, “0 Messenger of Allah, it is superior by sixty-nine times, each being like its heat.” (Bukhari, Muslim). There is one valley which is called the Valley Of Sorrow from which the Hell itself seeks refuge. It is stated that Hell has been made so deep that if a stone is thrown from the top, it will take seventy years to reach the bottom. (Muslim). The fire in Hell for each sinner will be in proportion to his sins.
The Prophet said, “There will be some to whose ankles the fire will reach, some to whose knees, some to whose waists the fire will reach, and some to whose collar bone the fire will reach. (Muslim)
Besides the description of Hell, the Prophet (S.A) has also described to us the punishment of the dwellers of Hell. Abu Hurairah reported from the Prophet (S.A) who said, “Hot water will be poured over the heads of the dwellers of Hell. The hot water will penetrate him till it will reach his belly. It will cut to pieces that which is in his belly. It will then pierce through his feet. Then he will be returned as he was before.” (Tirmizi) It is also stated that the dweller of Hell will be given pus which he will drink. He (the Prophet) said, “He will draw it near his mouth but he will dislike it. When it will be taken nearer to him, it will scald his face and the scalp of his head will fall down. When he will drink it, it will cut his entrails to pieces (47: 15). And if he seeks help, he will be helped with a liquid like molten copper which will scald his face. How evil is the drink?” (18: 29).
Hunger will be thrown over the inmates of Hell. And it will be equal to whatever punishment they will be in. They will seek food, but will be given food of Dhari (i.e. a food that chokes). It neither fattens, nor appeases hunger. They will again ask for food and will be given a food that chokes. They will remember that they used to mix the choking foods in the world with drink and so they will seek drink.
The hot drink will be lifted up before them on iron hooks. When that will be taken near to their faces, it will fry their faces. When it enters their bellies, it will cut whatever is in them. And they will say, “Call the guards of Hell.” They will say, “Did not apostles come to you with clear proofs?” “Yes,” they will reply. They will say, ‘call’. And the call of the polytheist will be nothing but misguidance.” (Tirmizi).
According to another tradition, there are serpents in the fire. One of them will give one sting and the person will feel its pain for forty years. There are scorpions in the fire like saddled mules. One of them will give a sting and he will feel its pain for forty years. (Ahmad).
And Allah Knows Best
Mufti Waseem Khan