Lesson 15 (Heaven and hell)

Chapter No.: 

In the preceding chapter it has been said that the Last Day will be the Day of Judgment. On that Day the believers who will also have done good deeds in the world and on whom there will be no punishment will rejoice. During the entire proceedings of the Day they will rest secure under the shadow of Divine benevolence and gain immediate admission into the Paradise. Such of them as well be adjudged worthy of deliverance but only after they have undergone a spell of punishment will be forgiven and admitted into the Paradise after they have suffered some of the agonies of the Day of Reckoning, or, at the utmost, after they have spent some time in Hell. In any case, those possessing the least amount of faith will, sooner or later, find their place in Heaven. Only men who will have departed from the world in a state of infidelity or polytheism will be doomed to live permanently in Hell. In sum, Heaven is the reward for faith, fidelity and good doing and

Hell for infidelity, polytheism and revolt against Allah and transgression against His will. The superlative, incomparable blissfulness of Heaven and the fearful, loathsome punishment and torture of Hell have been described in proper detail in the Quran:

قُلْ أَؤُنَبِّئُكُمْ بِخَيْرٍ مِنْ ذَلِكُمْ لِلَّذِينَ اتَّقَوْا عِنْدَ رَبِّهِمْ جَنَّاتٌ تَجْرِي مِنْ تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا وَأَزْوَاجٌ مُطَهَّرَةٌ وَرِضْوَانٌ مِنَ اللَّهِ وَاللَّهُ بَصِيرٌ بِالْعِبَادِ ()

For righteous are Gardens in nearness to their Lord, with rivers flowing beneath; therein is their eternal home; with Companions pure (and holy); and the good pleasure of Allah. For in Allah's sight are (all) His servants. (3:15)

إِنَّ أَصْحَابَ الْجَنَّةِ الْيَوْمَ فِي شُغُلٍ فَاكِهُونَ () هُمْ وَأَزْوَاجُهُمْ فِي ظِلَالٍ عَلَى الْأَرَائِكِ مُتَّكِئُونَ () لَهُمْ فِيهَا فَاكِهَةٌ وَلَهُمْ مَا يَدَّعُونَ ()

Verily the companions of Garden shall that Day have joy in all that they do; they and their associates will be in grove of (cool) shade; reclining on Thrones (of dignity); every fruit (enjoyment) will be there for them; they shall have whatever they call for; "Peace!" a word (of salutation) from a Lord Most Merciful. (36:55-58)

يُطَافُ عَلَيْهِمْ بِصِحَافٍ مِنْ ذَهَبٍ وَأَكْوَابٍ وَفِيهَا مَا تَشْتَهِيهِ الْأَنْفُسُ وَتَلَذُّ الْأَعْيُنُ وَأَنْتُمْ فِيهَا خَالِدُونَ ()

There will be there all the souls could desire, all that the eyes could delight in; and ye shall abide therein (for eye). (43:71)

مَثَلُ الْجَنَّةِ الَّتِي وُعِدَ الْمُتَّقُونَ فِيهَا أَنْهَارٌ مِنْ مَاءٍ غَيْرِ آسِنٍ وَأَنْهَارٌ مِنْ لَبَنٍ لَمْ يَتَغَيَّرْ طَعْمُهُ وَأَنْهَارٌ مِنْ خَمْرٍ لَذَّةٍ لِلشَّارِبِينَ وَأَنْهَارٌ مِنْ عَسَلٍ مُصَفًّى وَلَهُمْ فِيهَا مِنْ كُلِّ الثَّمَرَاتِ وَمَغْفِرَةٌ مِنْ رَبِّهِمْ كَمَنْ هُوَ خَالِدٌ فِي النَّارِ وَسُقُوا مَاءً حَمِيمًا فَقَطَّعَ أَمْعَاءَهُمْ ()

(Here is) a Parable 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 of joy to those who drink; and rivers of honey (pure and clear). In it there are for them all kinds of fruits; and Garden from their Lord. (47:15)

لَا يَمَسُّهُمْ فِيهَا نَصَبٌ وَمَا هُمْ مِنْهَا بِمُخْرَجِينَ ()

No sense of fatigue shall touch them. (15:48)

In short, Heaven is the abode of supreme and eternal blissfulness, felicity and happiness. There will not be the faintest trace of pain, sorrow or distress in it. Let us now see how will life in Hell be like:

وَمَنْ خَفَّتْ مَوَازِينُهُ فَأُولَئِكَ الَّذِينَ خَسِرُوا أَنْفُسَهُمْ فِي جَهَنَّمَ خَالِدُونَ () تَلْفَحُ وُجُوهَهُمُ النَّارُ وَهُمْ فِيهَا كَالِحُونَ ()

But those whose balance is light, will be those who have lost their souls; in Hell they will abide. The fire will burn their faces, and they will therein grin with their lips displaced. (23:103-4)

إِنَّا أَعْتَدْنَا لِلظَّالِمِينَ نَارًا أَحَاطَ بِهِمْ سُرَادِقُهَا وَإِنْ يَسْتَغِيثُوا يُغَاثُوا بِمَاءٍ كَالْمُهْلِ يَشْوِي الْوُجُوهَ بِئْسَ الشَّرَابُ وَسَاءَتْ مُرْتَفَقًا ()

For the wrong-doers We have prepared a Fire whose (smoke and flames), like the walls and roof of a tent will hem them in: if they implore relief they will be granted water like melted brass, that will scald their faces. (18:29)

But those who deny (their Lord), for them will be cut out a garment of Fire; over their heads will be poured out boiling water.

فَالَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا قُطِّعَتْ لَهُمْ ثِيَابٌ مِنْ نَارٍ يُصَبُّ مِنْ فَوْقِ رُءُوسِهِمُ الْحَمِيمُ () يُصْهَرُ بِهِ مَا فِي بُطُونِهِمْ وَالْجُلُودُ () وَلَهُمْ مَقَامِعُ مِنْ حَدِيدٍ () كُلَّمَا أَرَادُوا أَنْ يَخْرُجُوا مِنْهَا مِنْ غَمٍّ أُعِيدُوا فِيهَا وَذُوقُوا عَذَابَ الْحَرِيقِ ()

With it will be scalded what is within their bodies, as well as (their skins). In addition, there will be maces of iron (to punish) them. Every time they wish to get away therefore, from anguish, they will be forced back therein, and (it will be said), "Taste ye the Penalty of Burning!" (22:19-22)

إِنَّ شَجَرَةَ الزَّقُّومِ () طَعَامُ الْأَثِيمِ () كَالْمُهْلِ يَغْلِي فِي الْبُطُونِ () كَغَلْيِ الْحَمِيمِ () خُذُوهُ فَاعْتِلُوهُ إِلَى سَوَاءِ الْجَحِيمِ () ثُمَّ صُبُّوا فَوْقَ رَأْسِهِ مِنْ عَذَابِ الْحَمِيمِ ()

Verily the tree of Zaqqum will be the food of the sinful, like molten brass; it will boil in their insides, like the boiling of scalding water. (A voice will cry) "Sieze ye him and drag him into the midst of the Blazing Fire! Penalty of boiling water." (44:4348)

مِنْ وَرَائِهِ جَهَنَّمُ وَيُسْقَى مِنْ مَاءٍ صَدِيدٍ () يَتَجَرَّعُهُ وَلَا يَكَادُ يُسِيغُهُ وَيَأْتِيهِ الْمَوْتُ مِنْ كُلِّ مَكَانٍ وَمَا هُوَ بِمَيِّتٍ وَمِنْ وَرَائِهِ عَذَابٌ غَلِيظٌ ()

And he is given for drink boiling fetid water. In gulps will he sip it, but never will be near swallowing it down his throat: death will come to him from every quarter, yet will he not die; and in front of him will be a chastisement unrelenting. (14:16-17)

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا بِآيَاتِنَا سَوْفَ نُصْلِيهِمْ نَارًا كُلَّمَا نَضِجَتْ جُلُودُهُمْ بَدَّلْنَاهُمْ جُلُودًا غَيْرَهَا لِيَذُوقُوا الْعَذَابَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَزِيزًا حَكِيمًا ()

Those who reject Our Signs, We shall soon cast into the Fire: as often as their skins are roasted through, We shall change them for fresh skins that they may taste the Penalty. (4:56)

But enough. Here are hundreds of verses in the Quran that tell the same story. To take now some of the Traditions of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam): "Says Allah, 'For My faithful servants I have got ready (in Heaven) things no eye has seen, nor ear heard of nor the thought of which has ever crossed a human heart'."

The delicious foods, the luscious fruit, the delightful drinks, the gorgeous clothes, the magnificent palaces, the splendid gardens, the delectable lakes, the wonderful houris (celestial brides) and other innumerable things of divine beauty and joy that will be available in Heaven are, to be sure, known only to Allah. We, on our part, believe in them implicitly and hold them to be absolutely true.

Says another Tradition: "As the dwellers will enter Heaven a heavenly herald will proclaim, 'Stay healthy; disease is not going to touch you here. Live forever; death does exist for you no more. Remain young; you shall not grow old in Heaven. Be happy always; for you, now, there is neither pain nor sorrow." But the greatest boon that will be conferred on the faithful, who also practice righteousness, after they have entered their celestial abode, is that they will see Allah in all His Divine Splendor. In the words of the holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) it will be like this:

"When the dwellers of Paradise have entered the home of celestial bliss Allah will enquire from them thus: 'Do you want that I may bestow a favour upon you over and above the blessings you enjoy?' The people of the Heaven will answer: 'Our Lord! Thou hast illumined our faces, saved us from Hell and granted us the paradise. (What more can we want)? The veil will then be lifted and they shall see their Lord unhindered. All the endless joys and blessings of the Paradise will fade away before the glorious spectacle of the Almighty."

In another Tradition it is related that once the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) while describing the marvelous pleasures of the Paradise and the extreme agony of the Hell observed:

"On the Day of Judgment a person will be brought who will have lived in greatest pomp and luxury in the world but will be condemned to hell because of his evil deeds. He will be dipped once into the fire of Hell and then taken out of it immediately and asked, "Have you ever known comfort?' The man will reply, 'No, our Lord. I swear by Thy name, I have never known what comfort is.' Afterwards, another person will be brought who will have led a life of rank misery and misfortune on the earth but will be found worthy of Paradise owing to his faithfulness of Allah and piety. He will be taken to Heaven and then led out of it immediately and asked, 'Have you ever known pain or misery?'. 'No, our Lord!' he will reply, 'I swear by Thy name, I have never known what pain or misery is?"

In truth, Allah has provided such wonderful joys and comforts in the Paradise that a man who has passed his days in the world in utmost distress will forget all about it as soon as he has had a taste of them. Likewise, the Hell is such an infernal place that a person who has lived all one's life in the world in rare luxury and happiness will at once feel, on stepping into it, that he had never known what it was to be happy or comfortable.

The severity and dreadfulness of the chastisement of the Hell can be imagined from this one Tradition of the sacred Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam):

"The mildest punishment that will be inflicted on a person in the Hell is that he will be made to wear a pair of sandals made of fire which will be so hot as to set his brain boiling as if something was cooking in a pot on a stove."

The fare that will be served there has been indicated in the verses of the Quran we have quoted already. Here, also, are two Traditions of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam):

"The stinking pus people will be made to drink in Hell is such that if a bucket of it was thrown into the world the whole world would be filled with its infernal stench."

"If a drop of Zaqqum were to fall on the earth it would be enough to pollute all the articles of food and drink that are found here."

Brothers, all these things the holy Quran and the sacred Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) have told about the shape of things to come after death the Barzakah, the Resurrection, the Judgement and Heaven and Hell and we have discussed in this lesson and in the preceding one, are literally correct and true. There can be no doubting them at all. By the Almighty, they will come to pass exactly as the Quran and the holy Prophet (Peace be upon him) have taught. We will see them ourselves, with our own eyes, after death.

The Last Day and Heaven and Hell have been dwelt upon in the Quran and the Traditions with such emphasis and thoroughness and referred to again and again a thousand times for no other reason except to arouse in us a living, genuine anxiety to do all that lies in our power to save ourselves from the fearful penalty of Hell and attain the cherished, supremely delightful goal of Paradise.

Brothers, life is transitory, One day we must die. Death is certain, and so is the Last Day. We will, surely, have to stand before Allah after death and answer for our deeds on the earth. What, then, is our eternal home going to be Heaven or Hell?

There is time still for us to mend our ways, to offer honest repentance for our misdeeds of the past and make a real, sincere effort for the attainment of Paradise.

Should, Allah forbid, the rest of our days in the world be also spent in neglect and folly, then, be sure, there is nothing in store for us in the Hereafter save regret and the punishment of Hell.