Concept of Heaven and Hell in Islam

Islamic beliefs about the afterlife are very important. Muslims believe in the continued existence of the soul and a transformed physical existence after death. Islam teaches that there will be a day of judgment when all humans will be divided between the eternal destinations of Paradise and Hell. The day of judgment is described as passing over Hell on a narrow bridge to enter Paradise. Those who fall, weighted by their bad deeds, will remain in Hell forever.

 

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَالَّذِينَ هَادُوا وَالنَّصَارَىٰ وَالصَّابِئِينَ مَنْ آمَنَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ وَعَمِلَ صَالِحًا فَلَهُمْ أَجْرُهُمْ عِندَ رَبِّهِمْ وَلَا خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ

 

“Indeed, those who believed and those who became Jews and the Christians and the Sabians – who believed in Allah and the Day [the] Last and did righteous deeds, so for them (is) their with their Lord and no fear on them and not they will grieve.” (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:62)

 

Until the Day of Judgment, deceased souls remain in their graves awaiting the resurrection. However, they begin to feel immediately a taste of their destiny to come. Those bound for hell will suffer in their graves, while those bound for heaven will be in peace until that time. Allah Almighty described Heaven in the Holy Quran:

 

مَّثَلُ الْجَنَّةِ الَّتِي وُعِدَ الْمُتَّقُونَ فِيهَا أَنْهَارٌ مِّن مَّاءٍ غَيْرِ آسِنٍ وَأَنْهَارٌ مِّن لَّبَنٍ لَّمْ يَتَغَيَّرْ طَعْمُهُ وَأَنْهَارٌ مِّنْ خَمْرٍ لَّذَّةٍ لِّلشَّارِبِينَ وَأَنْهَارٌ مِّنْ عَسَلٍ مُّصَفًّى وَلَهُمْ فِيهَا مِن كُلِّ الثَّمَرَاتِ وَمَغْفِرَةٌ مِّن رَّبِّهِمْ كَمَنْ هُوَ خَالِدٌ فِي النَّارِ وَسُقُوا مَاءً حَمِيمًا فَقَطَّعَ أَمْعَاءَهُمْ

 

“A parable (of) Paradise which is promised (to) the righteous. Therein (are) rivers of water not polluted, and rivers of milk does not change its taste, and rivers of wine delicious for (the) drinkers, and rivers of honey purified, and for them therein of all fruits and forgiveness from their Lord like he who (will) abide forever in the Fire and they will be given to drink water boiling so it cuts into pieces their intestines.” (Surah Muhammad 47:15)

 

Islam teaches that Hell is a real place prepared by God for those who do not believe in Him, rebel against His laws, and reject His messengers. Hell is an actual place, not a mere state of mind or a spiritual entity.  The horrors, pain, anguish, and punishment are all real, but different than their earthly counterparts.  Hell is the ultimate humiliation and loss, and nothing is worse than it: Allah says:

 

رَبَّنَا إِنَّكَ مَن تُدْخِلِ النَّارَ فَقَدْ أَخْزَيْتَهُ وَمَا لِلظَّالِمِينَ مِنْ أَنصَارٍ

 

“Our Lord, indeed [You] whom You admit (to) the Fire then surely You (have) disgraced him, and not for the wrongdoers (are) any helpers.” (Surah Al-Imran 3:192)

 

Muslims believe in the death and eternal life which comes after death. For leading a good life what actions and qualities are desirable, what impact will be in our hereafter life due to our actions and deeds in this life, we should know about the concept of heaven and hell. We Muslims believe on Judgment Day after that Allah Almighty will decide based on individual deeds were to send in Jannah or Jahannam. Allah says:

 

انظُرْ كَيْفَ فَضَّلْنَا بَعْضَهُمْ عَلَىٰ بَعْضٍ وَلَلْآخِرَةُ أَكْبَرُ دَرَجَاتٍ وَأَكْبَرُ تَفْضِيلًا

 

“See how We preferred some of them over others. And surely the Hereafter (is) greater (in) degrees and greater (in) excellence.” (Quran, 17:21)

 

Heaven in the Holy Quran

Throughout our lives, we compete to believe and serve Allah Almighty so that we can gain Jannah in the hereafter. We can just imagine how paradise will be look alike. Only Allah Almighty knows it but He (SWT) describes it for us in the Holy Quran.

  • Allah’s Pleasure: The greatest reward in Jannah is the pleasure and mercy of Allah Almighty. This great reward is for those who believe in Allah and work hard for the pleasure of Allah (SWT). Allah Almighty says in the Holy Quran: “Say: Shall I give you glad tidings of things far better than those? For the righteous are Gardens in nearness to their Lord… and the good pleasure of Allah. For in Allah’s sight are (all) His servants.”  (Quran, 3:15)
  • Gardens: The most important or convincing definition of paradise is a beautiful garden with greenery and flowing water. Allah (SWT) said in the Holy Quran: “But give glad tidings to those who believe and work righteousness, that their portion is Gardens, beneath which rivers flow” (Quran, 2:25)
  • Family: In Jannah, many families will be reunited. Allah Almighty says in Holy Quran: “And whoever obeys God and the Messenger – those will be with the ones upon whom God has bestowed favour – of the prophets, the steadfast affirmers of truth, the martyrs and the righteous. And excellent are those as companions!” (Quran 4:69)
  •  Food and Drink: The description of Heaven in the Quran includes unlimited food and drink, without any feelings of intoxication. In Holy Quran Allah Almighty described in these words: “Eat and drink at ease for that which you have sent forth (good deeds) in days past!”(Quran, 69:24)
  • Eternal Home:  Heaven is the everlasting place to live life according to Islam where believers will stay forever in peace and happiness. Holy Quran describes the eternal home in these words: “But those who have faith and work righteousness, they are companions of the garden. Therein shall they abide forever.” (Quran, 2:82)

People Who Will Go to Hell in Islam

According to the Quran, the following people shall all end up in hell:

  • Disbelievers – these are those who don’t believe in Allah
  • Polytheists – these are people who believe in more than one god.
  • All people who reject the truth
  • People who persecute believers
  • All sinners and criminals
  • Murderers
  • The unjust
  • People who hide Allah’s revelations
  • People who commit suicide
  • All tyrants
  • Hypocrites

وَاتَّقُوا النَّارَ الَّتِي أُعِدَّتْ لِلْكَافِرِينَ

 

“And consciously revere the Fire which is prepared for the disbelievers.” (Surah Al-Imran 3:131)

 

Names of Hell in the Qurʾān

Hell Fire has different names in Islamic texts.  Each name gives a separate description.  Some of its names are:

 

Jaheem – fire –  because of its blazing fire.

Jahannam – Hell – because of the depth of its pit.

Latham – blazing fire – because of its flames.

Sameer – blazing flame – because it is kindled and ignited.

Saqar – because of the intensity of its heat.

Hatamah – broken pieces or debris – because it breaks and crushes everything that is thrown into it.

Haawiyah – chasm or abyss – because the one who is thrown into it is thrown from top to bottom

Paradise and Hell Presently Exist and are Eternal

Hell exists at present and will continue to exist forever.  It will never die down, and its inhabitants will remain in it forever.No one will come out of Hell except for sinful believers who believed in the Oneness of God in this life and believed in the specific prophet sent to them (before the coming of Muhammad).

 

“Surely, God has cursed the disbelievers, and has prepared for them a flaming Fire wherein they will abide forever.” (Quran 33:64)

 

The polytheists and unbelievers will reside in it forever. This belief has been held from classical times and is based on clear verses of the Quran and confirmed reports from the Prophet of Islam. The Quran speaks of Hell in the past tense and states that it has already been created:

 

The Keepers of Hell

Mighty and stern angels stand over Hell who never disobey God.  They do precisely as ordered.  God says:

 

“O you who believe, save yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is men and stones over which are (appointed) angels, stern and severe, who flinch not (from executing) the commands they receive from God, but do (precisely what) they are commanded.” (Quran 66:6)

 

They are nineteen keepers of Hell as God says: “Soon I will cast him into Hell-Fire.  And what will explain to you what is Hellfire?  Nothing does it allow to endure, and nothing does it leave alone!  Darkening and changing the colour of man!  Over it are nineteen (angels as keepers of Hell).” (Quran 74:26-30)

 

One should not think that the inhabitants of Hell will be able to overcome the keepers of Hell because there are just nineteen of them.  Every one of them has the strength to subdue all humanity by himself.  These angels are called the Guards of Hell by God in the Quran: “And those in the Fire will say to the Guards of Hell, ‘Call upon your Lord to lighten for us the torment for a day!” (Quran 40:49)

 

Eternal Nature of Hell

Hell is an eternal abode for most who enter it. A minority of Muslim scholars hold that hell will eventually end, but a majority maintain that it is eternal. Several verses in the Qurʾān describe hell as eternal:

  • “…And they will never leave of the Fire.” (Quran 2:167)
  • “They will long to leave the Fire, but never will they leave there from; and theirs will be a lasting torment. “(Quran 5:37)
  • “Surely, those who disbelieve and did wrong; God will not forgive them, nor will He guide them to any way except the way of Hell, to dwell therein forever.” (Quran 4:168-169)
  • “Surely, God has cursed the disbelievers and has prepared for them a flaming Fire wherein they will abide forever. (Quran 33:64)
  • “And whosoever disobeys God and His Messenger, then surely, for him is the fire of Hell, he shall dwell therein forever.” (Quran 72:23)
  • “Surely, the gates of the Heaven will not be opened for those who deny Our revelations and treat them with arrogance; their admission into paradise will be as impossible as the passing of a camel through the eye of a needle. That is how We shall reward the criminals. Hell shall be their bed and flames shall be there covering. That is how We shall reward the wrongdoers.” (Quran 7:40-41)

Gates of Hell

  • “The unbelievers will be led to Hell in crowds until, when they arrive there, its gates will be opened.”(Qurʾān 39: 71)
  • “And verily, Hell is the promised abode for them all. It has seven gates: to each of those gates is a specific class of sinners assigned.” (Quran 15: 43-44)
  • “To them will be said, ‘Enter you the gates of Hell to dwell therein. And how evil is this abode of the arrogant.” (Quran 39: 72)
  • “But those who reject Our signs are the companions of the left hand – on them will be fire vaulted over.” (Quran 90:19-20)
Food of Hell

The food of the people of hell is described as only increasing in torment. It does not provide nourishment nor does it relieve hunger.

 

“No food will there be for them except a bitter, thorny plant which neither nourishes nor avails against hunger.” (Quran 88:6-7)

 

There is a special tree in a hell called zaqūm that people will it from. This tree is rooted at the bottom of hell and its branches are described as being similar to the heads of devils.

  • “Indeed, the tree of zaqūm is food for the sinful, like murky oil, it boils within bellies, like the boiling of scalding water.” (Quran 44:43-46)
  • “Is Paradise better as an abode or the tree of zaqūm?  Indeed, We have made it a torment for the wrongdoers.  Indeed, it is a tree issuing from the bottom of the Hellfire, its emerging fruit as if it was heads of the devils.  And, indeed, they will eat from it and fill with it their bellies.  Then, indeed, they will have after it a mixture of scalding water.  Then, indeed, their return will be to the Hellfire.” (Quran 37:62-68)
  • “Then indeed you, O those astray (who are) deniers, will be eating from trees of zaqūm and filling with it your bellies, and drinking on top of it from scalding water, and will drink as the drinking of thirsty camels.  That is their hospitality on the Day of Recompense.” (Quran 56:51-56)

Holy Quran also mentions who will enter hell. For sure disbelievers in Lord and especially if they die in that state of, hypocrites, idolaters, the arrogant, those who treat religion as a pastime, have broken the treaty, made fun of Allah’s Messengers or on the reality of Day of Judgment. Also, murderers, ones misappropriating inheritance especially of orphans, slandering chaste women or claiming divinity for themselves on their own will reside in hell.

 

“God’s kindled fire, which reaches up to the hearts: it is closed in over them in long columns.” (Quran 104:5-9)

 

At most of the places where Hell is mentioned, the beauty and peace of Heaven are also mentioned to show the contrast between them. So Muslims are obligated to pray five times a day and ask forgiveness and protection from hellfire in each prayer from Allah Almighty.

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