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The Phases and Abodes of the Day of Judgement
The Hereafter
Javed Ahmad Ghamidi
(Tr. by:Dr. Shehzad Saleem)


The phases through which a person passes and the abodes in which he is lodged during his journey to meet his Lord are also mentioned in the Qur’ān. Slowly but surely, he is moving to encounter his Lord. The first phase of this journey is death. After a short stay in this world, every single person passes through this phase. There is no escape from it. The Almighty has said: كُلُّ نَفْسٍ ذَائِقَةُ المَوْت (٣: ١٨٥) (Every person shall taste death, (3:185)). It can come in the morning and it can come in the evening; one may taste it even before one’s birth or right after birth. It can come in childhood, in youth or in old age at any time and every person has to submit to it whether he likes it or not. According to the Qur’ān, at death, the real personality of a person which is called the soul by the Qur’ān and which is independent of his body is separated from his mortal being. The Almighty has told us that initially also it was given to man at the culmination of his mortal being which took place after passing through various phases and today also it is given to it once about 120 days elapse on the embryo.1 Death is the name of separating this personality of a person from his body. A specific angel – who has a whole staff of angels – is deputed for this task.2 He formally comes and collects a person’s soul just as a government official entrusted for collecting something discharges his responsibility:

قُلْ يَتَوَفَّاكُم مَّلَكُ الْمَوْتِ الَّذِي وُكِّلَ بِكُمْ ثُمَّ إِلَى رَبِّكُمْ تُرْجَعُونَ (١١:٣٢)

Tell them: “The angel of death deputed over you shall claim your souls. Then to your Lord shall you be returned.” (32:11)

At this instance, what happens to a person is also depicted in the Qur’ān. The souls of people who have deliberately rejected their prophets even after being convinced of their veracity are claimed by the angels whilst they hit and strike these disbelievers and at this very juncture of death they inform them that a terrible torment awaits them because of their evil deeds:

وَلَوْ تَرَى إِذْ يَتَوَفَّى الَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ الْمَلآئِكَةُ يَضْرِبُونَ وُجُوهَهُمْ وَأَدْبَارَهُمْ وَذُوقُواْ عَذَابَ الْحَرِيقِ ذَلِكَ بِمَا قَدَّمَتْ أَيْدِيكُمْ وَأَنَّ اللّهَ لَيْسَ بِظَلاَّمٍ لِّلْعَبِيدِ (٨: ٥٠-٥١)

And if you could see the angels when they take away the souls of these disbelievers whilst striking them on their faces and their backs and [say:] “Taste now the torment of the fire! This is the punishment for the deeds you committed with your own hands and [you should know that] God does not do the slightest of injustice to His servants.” (8:50-51)

On the other hand, people who profess faith in their prophets and are absolutely without any stain of disbelief or polytheism and have also not infringed upon the rights of others or been oppressive in any manner are presented with salutations from the angels and given glad tidings of Paradise:

الَّذِينَ تَتَوَفَّاهُمُ الْمَلآئِكَةُ طَيِّبِينَ يَقُولُونَ سَلامٌ عَلَيْكُمُ ادْخُلُواْ الْجَنَّةَ بِمَا كُنتُمْ تَعْمَلُونَ (٣٢:١٦)

Whose souls the angels claim such that they are virtuous saying: “Peace be on you. Enter [this] Paradise as a reward of your deeds.” (16:32)

After this, are the abodes s which are called Barzakh, Mahshar, Hell and Paradise. The various details about these places which are mentioned in the Qur’ān are outlined below.


This is an arabicized form of the Persian word pardah and is used for the boundary beyond which the dead shall be kept till the Day of Judgement. It is, so to speak, an obstruction that prevents them from coming back. وَمِن وَرَائِهِم بَرْزَخٌ إِلَى يَوْمِ يُبْعَثُونَ (١٠٠:٢٣) (Beyond them is a barrier till the Day they are raised [back to life], (23:100)). The “World of Barzakh” is a term which has originated from this word. In some Hadīth narratives the word “grave” has been figuratively used for this world. Here mankind would be alive but this life would be without any corporal form. Here, the awareness of the soul, the nature of emotions, observations and experiences would be almost the same as the one found during dreams. Thus it has been mentioned in the Qur’ān that when the trumpet is sounded this dream will end and the wrongdoers while suddenly finding themselves alive with bodies and souls in the large field of Mahshar will cry out: يَا وَيْلَنَا مَن بَعَثَنَا مِن مَّرْقَدِنَا هَذَا (Who has roused us from our resting-place?) (36:52)). It is evident from the Qur’ān that people whose fate would be absolutely clear whether they are the righteous who have remained faithful to God and to their human beings in an exemplary way or are the haughty who have rejected the truth in sheer arrogance, for them punishment and reward will begin in this world of Barzakh. The reason for this is that taking an account from them would not be required.

Examples of the first category are the Companions (rta) of the Prophet (sws) who fought with him against the forces of evil and were martyred as a result. The Qur’ān says that they are alive even though people are not aware of the nature of this life and are benefiting from the blessings of their Lord:

وَلاَ تَحْسَبَنَّ الَّذِينَ قُتِلُواْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللّهِ أَمْوَاتًا بَلْ أَحْيَاء عِندَ رَبِّهِمْ يُرْزَقُونَ  فَرِحِينَ بِمَا آتَاهُمُ اللّهُ مِن فَضْلِهِ وَيَسْتَبْشِرُونَ بِالَّذِينَ لَمْ يَلْحَقُواْ بِهِم مِّنْ خَلْفِهِمْ أَلاَّ خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلاَ هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ  يَسْتَبْشِرُونَ بِنِعْمَةٍ مِّنَ اللّهِ وَفَضْلٍ وَأَنَّ اللّهَ لاَ يُضِيعُ أَجْرَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ (٣: ١٦٩-١٧١)

And [in this battle] do not in any way regard those who have been slain in the cause of God to be dead. [They are not dead]. They are alive in the presence of their Lord and are being provided for, delighted with what God has blessed them from His favours whilst receiving glad tidings about those they left behind, who have not yet joined them that [in this Kingdom of God] there is neither any fear for them nor sorrow rejoicing in God’s grace and bounty and from the fact that God will not deny the faithful their reward. (3:169-171)

An example of the second category is the Pharaoh and his people who did not profess faith even after the truth had been communicated to them by Moses (sws) to the extent that they were left with no excuse to deny it. Thus as a recompense of their sin they were punished in this world and in the world of Barzakh also they are made to see Hell every morning and evening:

وَحَاقَ بِآلِ فِرْعَوْنَ سُوءُ الْعَذَابِ النَّارُ يُعْرَضُونَ عَلَيْهَا غُدُوًّا وَعَشِيًّا وَيَوْمَ تَقُومُ السَّاعَةُ أَدْخِلُوا آلَ فِرْعَوْنَ أَشَدَّ الْعَذَابِ (٤٠ :٤٥-٤٦)

And a dreadful torment encompassed the Pharaoh’s people. The Fire of Hell before which they are brought morning and evening and the day when that Hour comes it will be ordered: “Put the Pharaoh’s people through a sterner torment!” (40:45-46)

It is this torment of the graves which is mentioned in certain narratives.3 The Prophet (sws) has further informed us that the first question that would be asked from the people in whom he was sent was regarding his own status.4 The reason for this is obvious. Once a rasūl (messenger) is sent to his people, it is he who becomes the only distinguisher of good and evil for them. Hence after professing faith in him, there is no need to ask anything from any other person.

The Mahshar

The next place people would encounter is the Mahshar. The Qur’ān says that after the trumpet is sounded the second time all mankind born from Adam (sws) till the Day of Judgement will be raised to life again. This raising to life in the language of the Qur’ān is called hashr. We have already alluded to the fact that after the great upheaval on this Day a new earth will come into existence. This raising to life will take place on that new earth. The details of the events and incidents which will take place once people are created again are as follows:

1. All mankind will be given life and will rise from their graves. Each person will be given a body and a soul. This very re-creation is called “the second life” by the Qur’ān (40:11). The previous body of each person will be replaced with a new one which will be appropriate to endure God’s blessings as well as His wrath; however, each person will have the same personality at that time as he had in this world:

وَنُفِخَ فِي الصُّورِ فَإِذَا هُم مِّنَ الْأَجْدَاثِ إِلَى رَبِّهِمْ يَنسِلُونَ (٥١:٣٦)

And the trumpet will be blown and suddenly they will rise up from their graves and hasten to their Lord. (36:51)

وَقَالُواْ أَئِذَا كُنَّا عِظَامًا وَرُفَاتًا أَإِنَّا لَمَبْعُوثُونَ خَلْقًا جَدِيدًا قُل كُونُواْ حِجَارَةً أَوْ حَدِيدًا أَوْ خَلْقًا مِّمَّا يَكْبُرُ فِي صُدُورِكُمْ فَسَيَقُولُونَ مَن يُعِيدُنَا قُلِ الَّذِي فَطَرَكُمْ أَوَّلَ مَرَّةٍ فَسَيُنْغِضُونَ إِلَيْكَ رُؤُوسَهُمْ وَيَقُولُونَ مَتَى هُوَ قُلْ عَسَى أَن يَكُونَ قَرِيبًا (١٧: ٤٩-٥١)

And they say: “When we are turned to bones and bits of dust, shall we be raised to life again?” Tell them: “Whether you turn to stone or iron, or any other substance which in your opinion is even harder than these [even then you shall still be gathered to Us].” They will ask: “Who will re-create us?” Tell them: “The One Who created you the first time.” At this, they will shake their heads before you and will ask: “When will this be?” Tell them: “It may well be near at hand.” (17:49-51)

2. In this second life, the abilities and powers of a person will greatly increase. Whilst being stationed at his own place, he will even be able to see anyone he wants to however far that person may be and will also be able to converse with him. It is mentioned in the Qur’ān that when a person dwelling in Paradise would remember a friend of his in the previous life, he, from where he is, will easily be able to see that friend residing in the depths of Hell:

قَالَ هَلْ أَنتُم مُّطَّلِعُونَ  فَاطَّلَعَ فَرَآهُ فِي سَوَاء الْجَحِيمِ  قَالَ تَاللَّهِ إِنْ كِدتَّ لَتُرْدِينِ وَلَوْلَا نِعْمَةُ رَبِّي لَكُنتُ مِنَ الْمُحْضَرِينَ (٣٧: ٥٤-٥٧)

He will say: “Just take a peep inside.” After saying this as soon as he will bend down, he will see his friend in the very midst of Hell. [Then] will say: “By the Lord! you almost wrecked me! Had not the grace of God been with me, I would have surely been among those who have been brought in seized.” (37:54-57)

3. This will be a new world whose earth will be lit up with the light of God. His majesty will surround Him and angels will be encircled around Him. Everything will declare His praise; even criminals will reach His presence whilst declaring His praises and exaltedness:

ثُمَّ نُفِخَ فِيهِ أُخْرَى فَإِذَا هُم قِيَامٌ يَنظُرُونَ  وَأَشْرَقَتِ الْأَرْضُ بِنُورِ رَبِّهَا (٣٩: ٦٨-٦٩)

Then the trumpet will be sounded again and they will suddenly rise whilst staring around them and the earth on that Day will be lit up with the light of her Lord. (39:68-69)

يَوْمَ يَدْعُوكُمْ فَتَسْتَجِيبُونَ بِحَمْدِهِ وَتَظُنُّونَ إِن لَّبِثْتُمْ إِلاَّ قَلِيلاً (٥٢:١٧)

On that day, He will summon you all, and you shall obey Him whilst declaring His praises and exaltedness and you will think that you had stayed just for a small period. (17:52)

وَتَرَى الْمَلَائِكَةَ حَافِّينَ مِنْ حَوْلِ الْعَرْشِ يُسَبِّحُونَ بِحَمْدِ رَبِّهِمْ وَقُضِيَ بَيْنَهُم بِالْحَقِّ وَقِيلَ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ (٧٥:٣٩)

And you will see the angels encircling the Throne, giving glory to their Lord and declaring His praises and judgement will be passed with fairness between people and it will be declared: “Gratitude is for God, Lord of the Universe!” (39:75)

4. On that Day, the earth and the heavens will be in God’s grasp. For those who deny it in this world, this Day will be such that its severity will turn the young into old:

وَالْأَرْضُ جَمِيعًا قَبْضَتُهُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ وَالسَّماوَاتُ مَطْوِيَّاتٌ بِيَمِينِهِ سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى عَمَّا يُشْرِكُونَ (٦٧:٣٩)

And on the Day of Judgement, He will hold the entire earth in His grasp and the heavens will be folded up in His hand. Glory be to Him! Exalted is He above those whom they associate with Him! (39:67)

فَكَيْفَ تَتَّقُوْنَ إِنْ كَفَرْتُمْ يَوْمًا يَجْعَلُ الْوِلْدَانَ شِيبًا السَّمَاءُ مُنْفَطِرٌ بِهِ كَانَ وَعْدُهُ مَفْعُوْلًا (٧٣: ١٧-١٨)

So if you deny, how then will you save yourself from the Day which shall make the children grey-haired. The heavens are ripping apart with its burden and the promise of God is certain to be fulfilled. (73:17-18)

The deeds done by people will be evident from their very faces. Everyone will be only thinking of his ownself and will have no concern for others. A brother will not respond to the wailings of his own brother and sons will be heedless to the cries of their parents; men would forget their wives and children:

فَإِذَا جَاءَتْ الصَّاخَّةُ يَوْمَ يَفِرُّ الْمَرْءُ مِنْ أَخِيهِ وَأُمِّهِ وَأَبِيهِ وَصَاحِبَتِهِ وَبَنِيهِ لِكُلِّ امْرِئٍ مِنْهُمْ يَوْمَئِذٍ شَأْنٌ يُغْنِيهِ وُجُوهٌ يَوْمَئِذٍ مُسْفِرَةٌ ضَاحِكَةٌ مُسْتَبْشِرَةٌ  وَوُجُوهٌ يَوْمَئِذٍ عَلَيْهَا غَبَرَةٌ  تَرْهَقُهَا قَتَرَةٌ  أُوْلَئِكَ هُمْ الْكَفَرَةُ الْفَجَرَةُ (٨٠: ٣٣-٤٢)

So when the deafening blast comes [ask them: Where will they go]. On that Day, man will flee from his brother and from his mother and his father, his wife and his children. Every one will be concerned with his ownself. Many a face on that day will be bright, smiling and rejoicing, and many a face on that day will be gloomy, veiled in darkness. [They will be of] these very disbelievers, these wrongdoers. (80:33-42)

The wrongdoers on that day will be dragged by their forelocks. They will follow the very leaders there who they used to follow in the previous world. These wrongdoers will be recognized from their faces and will be brought from their graves in such a manner that one angel will be a person from behind and an another will be marching along him to bear evidence against him. They will be asked to prostrate in order to humiliate them but they will not be able to do so:

يُعْرَفُ الْمُجْرِمُونَ بِسِيمَاهُمْ فَيُؤْخَذُ بِالنَّوَاصِي وَالْأَقْدَامِ فَبِأَيِّ آلَاء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (٥٥: ٤١-٤٢)

The wrongdoers will be recognized through their looks; then they shall be seized by their forelocks and their feet [and thrown into Hell]. At that time, which of your Lord’s majesties would you deny? (55:41-42)

فَاتَّبَعُواْ أَمْرَ فِرْعَوْنَ وَمَا أَمْرُ فِرْعَوْنَ بِرَشِيدٍ  يَقْدُمُ قَوْمَهُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ فَأَوْرَدَهُمُ النَّارَ وَبِئْسَ الْوِرْدُ الْمَوْرُودُ (١١: ٩٧-٩٨)

But they followed what the Pharaoh said to them even though what he said to them was not right. On the Day of Judgement, He shall stand in front of his people and shall lead them into the Fire. What an evil place to reach where they have reached. (11:97-98)

وَنُفِخَ فِي الصُّورِ ذَلِكَ يَوْمُ الْوَعِيدِ  وَجَاءتْ كُلُّ نَفْسٍ مَّعَهَا سَائِقٌ وَشَهِيدٌ (٥٠: ٢٠-٢١)

And the trumpet shall be sounded. That day is the one in which Our threats will manifest and every soul shall come such that there will be one who drives it on and another to bear evidence. (50:20-21)

يَوْمَ يُكْشَفُ عَنْ سَاقٍ وَيُدْعَوْنَ إِلَى السُّجُودِ فَلَا يَسْتَطِيعُونَ  خَاشِعَةً أَبْصَارُهُمْ تَرْهَقُهُمْ ذِلَّةٌ وَقَدْ كَانُوا يُدْعَوْنَ إِلَى السُّجُودِ وَهُمْ سَالِمُونَ (٦٨: ٤٢-٤٣)

They must remember the day when a great tumult will take place and they will be called to prostrate and they will not be able to do so. Downcast shall be their looks; ignominy shall cover them. [These wrongdoers! their backs have now become stiff whilst] they also used to be called to bow in adoration when they were capable of it. (68: 42-43)

5. Mankind on that day will be divided into three groups. The foremost in faith, the righteous and the wrongdoers. The first and second of these two groups will be given their record in their right hand whilst the hands of the third of these groups will be tied and they will be given their account record from behind in their left hand:

وَكُنتُمْ أَزْوَاجًا ثَلَاثَةً  فَأَصْحَابُ الْمَيْمَنَةِ مَا أَصْحَابُ الْمَيْمَنَةِ  وَأَصْحَابُ الْمَشْأَمَةِ مَا أَصْحَابُ الْمَشْأَمَةِ  وَالسَّابِقُونَ السَّابِقُونَ  أُوْلَئِكَ الْمُقَرَّبُونَ (٥٦: ٧-١١)

And on that Day, you will be divided into three groups: the companions of the right hand so what to speak of the [good fortune] of the companions of the right hand and the companions of the left hand so what to speak of the [misfortune] of the companions of the left hand and the foremost are then the foremost. They indeed are the near ones. (56:7-11)

وَأَمَّا مَنْ أُوتِيَ كِتَابَهُ وَرَاءَ ظَهْرِه فَسَوْفَ يَدْعُو ثُبُورًا وَيَصْلَى سَعِيرًا(٨٤: ١٠-١٢)

And he whose record is handed out to him from behind his back [into his tied up hands] will call for death and shall enter the blazing fire of Hell. (84:10-12)

6. The reality behind the differences between people shall be disclosed. When they will be brought forth for accountability, each and every deed of theirs will be justly presented before them and with the weight it carries. At that time, neither will friendships avail people nor any sale/purchase, ransom or intercession will be of any use to anyone. No one will be wronged. Every thing will stand clear in the utmost manner:

إِلَى الله مَرْجِعُكُمْ جَمِيعًا فَيُنَبِّئُكُم بِمَا كُنتُمْ فِيهِ تَخْتَلِفُونَ (٤٨:٥)

To God shall you all return and then He shall inform you about that in which you were differing. (5:48)

وَنَضَعُ الْمَوَازِينَ الْقِسْطَ لِيَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِ فَلَا تُظْلَمُ نَفْسٌ شَيْئًا وَإِن كَانَ مِثْقَالَ حَبَّةٍ مِّنْ خَرْدَلٍ أَتَيْنَا بِهَا وَكَفَى بِنَا حَاسِبِينَ (٤٧:٢١)

And on the Day of Judgement, We shall set up the scales of justice so that no man shall in the least be wronged. And if a person has done a deed as small as a grain of a mustard seed We shall bring it forward and sufficient are We for taking account. (21:47)

وَاتَّقُوا يَوْمًا لَا تَجْزِي نَفْسٌ عَنْ نَفْسٍ شَيْئًا وَلَا يُقْبَلُ مِنْهَا شَفَاعَةٌ وَلَا يُؤْخَذُ مِنْهَا عَدْلٌ وَلَا هُمْ يُنصَرُونَ (٢: ٤٨)  

And guard yourselves against the day when no soul shall be of use to another in anyway and no intercession shall be accepted and no compensation be taken from it nor will people be helped. (2:48)

7. Witnesses shall be presented so that the wrong-doers are left with no excuse to deny their sins. Prophets of God shall also be presented as witnesses. Even the tongues, hands, feet, ears, eyes and skins of people will bear witness. After this, judgement shall be passed:

وَأَشْرَقَتِ الْأَرْضُ بِنُورِ رَبِّهَا وَوُضِعَ الْكِتَابُ وَجِيءَ بِالنَّبِيِّينَ وَالشُّهَدَاء وَقُضِيَ بَيْنَهُم بِالْحَقِّ وَهُمْ لَا يُظْلَمُونَ (٣٩: ٦٨-٦٩)

And the earth shall be lit up with the light of her Lord, and the register of accounts shall be laid open and all the prophets shall be called and those also who were given the responsibility of bearing witness [in the previous world] and people shall be judged with fairness such that none shall be wronged. (39:68-69)

يَوْمَ تَشْهَدُ عَلَيْهِمْ أَلْسِنَتُهُمْ وَأَيْدِيهِمْ وَأَرْجُلُهُم بِمَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ (٢٤:٢٤)

On the day when their own tongues, hands, and feet will bear witness to their deeds. (24:24)

حَتَّى إِذَا مَا جَاؤُوهَا شَهِدَ عَلَيْهِمْ سَمْعُهُمْ وَأَبْصَارُهُمْ وَجُلُودُهُمْ بِمَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ  وَقَالُوا لِجُلُودِهِمْ لِمَ شَهِدتُّمْ عَلَيْنَا قَالُوا أَنطَقَنَا اللَّهُ الَّذِي أَنطَقَ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ وَهُوَ خَلَقَكُمْ أَوَّلَ مَرَّةٍ وَإِلَيْهِ تُرْجَعُونَ (٤١: ٢٠-٢١)

So that when they come near it, their ears, their eyes, and their very skins will bear witness to what they had been doing in the [previous] world. “Why did you bear witness against us?” they will ask their skins, and their skins will reply: “God, who gives speech to all things, has given us speech.” And it was He who created you the first time and now to Him are you being returned. (41:20-21)

8. It is at this instant that the deities whom the polytheists worshipped shall regard them as liars and shall disown them and the eternal enemy of man – Satan – shall also renounce his followers and regard them as sinners:

وَإِذَا رَأى الَّذِينَ أَشْرَكُواْ شُرَكَاءهُمْ قَالُواْ رَبَّنَا هَـؤُلاء شُرَكَآؤُنَا الَّذِينَ كُنَّا نَدْعُوْ مِن دُونِكَ فَألْقَوْا إِلَيْهِمُ الْقَوْلَ إِنَّكُمْ لَكَاذِبُونَ (٨٦:١٦)

And when they who indulged in polytheism [in this world] will see their deities, they will say: “Lord, these are the deities whom we called up whilst leaving you.” At this, they [– the deities –] will retort: “You surely are liars!” (16:86)

إِذْ تَبَرَّأَ الَّذِينَ اتُّبِعُواْ مِنَ الَّذِينَ اتَّبَعُواْ وَرَأَوُاْ الْعَذَابَ وَتَقَطَّعَتْ بِهِمُ الأَسْبَابُ (٢: ١٦٦)

At that time when those who were followed will disown their followers and will face punishment and the ties which now unite them will suddenly break asunder. (2:166)

وَقَالَ الشَّيْطَانُ لَمَّا قُضِيَ الأَمْرُ إِنَّ اللّهَ وَعَدَكُمْ وَعْدَ الْحَقِّ وَوَعَدتُّكُمْ فَأَخْلَفْتُكُمْ وَمَا كَانَ لِيَ عَلَيْكُم مِّن سُلْطَانٍ إِلاَّ أَن دَعَوْتُكُمْ فَاسْتَجَبْتُمْ لِي فَلاَ تَلُومُونِي وَلُومُواْ أَنفُسَكُم مَّا أَنَاْ بِمُصْرِخِكُمْ وَمَا أَنتُمْ بِمُصْرِخِيَّ إِنِّي كَفَرْتُ بِمَآ أَشْرَكْتُمُونِ مِن قَبْلُ إِنَّ الظَّالِمِينَ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ (٢٢:١٤)

And after the judgement has been passed, Satan will say to them: “Indeed, true was the promise which God made with you and I never fulfilled the promises I made with you. And I had no power over you. I only called you and you responded to my call. Do not now blame me, but blame yourselves. Here I cannot address your grievances nor can you address mine. I have already denied your making me a partner [with God]. Indeed, it is for such wrong-doers that there is a grievous penalty.” (14:22)


Hell is the abode of punishment for the sinners. It is also a place in which their sins are cleansed and purged. It has been mentioned in the Qur’ān with various names. At some places, it has been called Jahannum and at others Saqar. It has also been called al-Sa‘īr, al-Nār and al-Nār al-Kubrā. It is the worst of abodes according to the Qur’ān (2:126,206; 3:151; 14:29). The Almighty has informed us that it will have seven doors and for each door there will a certain share of sinners (15:44). If the sins which the Qur’ān has called deadly are enumerated, they can be categorized as seven (17:22-39). Satan tries to induce people into one or all of these sins in order to lead them to Hell. In all probability, each of these seven doors of Hell are for these seven deadly sins. The extent and size of Hell is also intended to be made evident from this description. It will be so huge that it will have seven doors through which sinners will be made to enter in accordance with the sins they had committed. It has also been stated in the Qur’ān that nineteen angels are in charge of it:

وَمَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا سَقَرُ لَا تُبْقِي وَلَا تَذَرُ لَوَّاحَةٌ لِلْبَشَرِ عَلَيْهَا تِسْعَةَ عَشَرَ(٧٤: ٢٧-٣٠)

And what do you know what this Hell is? It will not show mercy nor spare anyone. It scorches the skin. Over it are nineteen. (74 27-30)

At various places, in the Qur’ān, it has been mentioned that people who deliberately associate partners with God and profess disbelief in Him shall be punished eternally. Similar will be the punishment of a Muslim who kills another Muslim. People who disobey the laws of inheritance are also promised this doom. This fate will also await those who have committed some similar crimes. No doubt, there will be people who would be taken out of Hell once they complete their term of punishment; however, it is evident from the Qur’ān that in order to punish the previously mentioned criminals, Hell will always be kept intact. In spite of this, it can be expected that one day, Hell too shall cease to exist. The reason for this is that its torment is a threat from the Almighty and not a promise and the Almighty certainly has the right to reduce the punishment of these sinners or turn them into dust and ashes and eternally bury them in Hell:

فَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ شَقُواْ فَفِي النَّارِ لَهُمْ فِيهَا زَفِيرٌ وَشَهِيقٌ  خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا مَا دَامَتِ السَّمَاوَاتُ وَالأَرْضُ إِلاَّ مَا شَاء رَبُّكَ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ فَعَّالٌ لِّمَا يُرِيدُ (١١: ١٠٦-١٠٧)

Then the damned shall be cast into the Fire; here they will groan and scream like donkeys and shall abide in it as long as the heavens and the earth [of this world] exist unless your Lord ordains otherwise. Indeed, your Lord is able to accomplish what He wants to. (11:106-107)

The Qur’ān also mentions the spiritual and corporal punishments which will be meted out to the sinners in Hell: There will be the punishment of the fire (22:9). This fire will scorch skins (74:29), burn faces (23:104), pluck out skins (70:16), reach the hearts (104:6-7) and its flame will be larger than castles (77:32); neither will people die nor receive any comfort (35:26; 87:12-13); such boiling water will be given to them for drinking that it will cut their intestines to pieces (47:15); this boiling water will also be poured on their heads (22:19); they will be made to drink the fluid in which wounds are washed (69:36-37; 78:24-25); thorny bushes and the tree of zaqqūm will be the food they will be given, this tree will boil in their stomachs like the boiling of scalding water (88:6; 44:43-46); it will neither nourish them nor satisfy their hunger (88:7); they will wear garments of fire (22:19), their necks will have yokes and their feet will be in chains (40:71; 76:4); everything will become a yearning for them (19:39). The greatest punishment will be that sinners will not be able to see the Almighty nor receive any attention from Him (83:15). The Almighty will not even like to look at some of them (3:77):

إِنَّ جَهَنَّمَ كَانَتْ مِرْصَادًا  لِلْطَّاغِينَ مَآبًا  لَابِثِينَ فِيهَا أَحْقَابًا لَا يَذُوقُونَ فِيهَا بَرْدًا وَلَا شَرَابًا  إِلَّا حَمِيمًا وَغَسَّاقًا  جَزَاءً وِفَاقًا إِنَّهُمْ كَانُوا لَا يَرْجُونَ حِسَابًا  وَكَذَّبُوا بِآيَاتِنَا كِذَّابًا وَكُلَّ شَيْءٍ أَحْصَيْنَاهُ كِتَابًا فَذُوقُوا فَلَنْ نَزِيدَكُمْ إِلَّا عَذَابًا (٧٨: ٢١-٣٠)

Verily! Hell lurks in ambush, a place for the transgressors. They will abide therein for ages. Nothing cool will they taste therein nor will they have anything to drink save hot water and pus. A recompense according to their deeds. These people are those who did not expect any account [of their deeds] and had recklessly denied Our revelations, [whereas] We have counted all their doings by writing them down. So taste [you O people!] We shall only increase torment for you. (78:21-30)


This is the abode of the righteous. Jesus (sws) has called it “The Kingdom of Heaven.”5 The Qur’ān has also called it Rawdah (garden), Firdaws (orchard), Jannah al-Na‘īm (orchard of blessings), Jannah al-Khuld (orchard of eternal life), Jannah ‘Adan (orchard of eternal abode) besides some other similar names. It is a place of eternal bliss where in contrast to this world, there is no concept of death with life, sorrow with happiness, worry with satisfaction, hardship with ease and torment with blessings. Its comfort is eternal, its bliss endless and its days and nights unending. Its peace is forever, its happiness will never cease and its majesty is everlasting and its perfection immaculate:

وَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ سُعِدُواْ فَفِي الْجَنَّةِ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا مَا دَامَتِ السَّمَاوَاتُ وَالأَرْضُ إِلاَّ مَا شَاء رَبُّكَ عَطَاء غَيْرَ مَجْذُوذٍ (١٠٨:١١)

And as for the fortunate, they shall abide in Paradise and remain there as long as the heavens and the earth endure, unless your Lord ordain otherwise. As a favour never ending. (11:108)

The Qur’ān has portrayed the life of Paradise by depicting the life of royal and regal people so that man in this transient word is able to have some idea of the blessings of Paradise. Hence it is for this purpose that lush green orchards, luxuriant gardens, towering castles, very expensive utensils, slaves wearning golden waste-bands, thrones made of gold, clothes of satin and brocade, goblets of crystal, blissful gatherings and beautiful maidens are mentioned:

إِنَّ لِلْمُتَّقِينَ مَفَازًا حَدَائِقَ وَأَعْنَابًا وَكَوَاعِبَ أَتْرَابًا  وَكَأْسًا دِهَاقًا لَا يَسْمَعُونَ فِيهَا لَغْوًا وَلَا كِذَّابًا  جَزَاءً مِنْ رَبِّكَ عَطَاءً حِسَابًا (٧٨: ٣١-٣٦)

However, for the God-fearing, there is great success on that Day. Gardens [to dwell in] and grapes [to feast on] and blooming maidens of equal ages [to be charmed with] and overflowing cups [to be drunk in their companionship]. They will not hear therein any idle talk or any false accusation. This will be the reward from your Lord – exactly according to their deeds. (78:31-36)

فَوَقَاهُمْ اللَّهُ شَرَّ ذَلِكَ الْيَوْمِ وَلَقَّاهُمْ نَضْرَةً وَسُرُورًا وَجَزَاهُمْ بِمَا صَبَرُوا جَنَّةً وَحَرِيرًا  مُتَّكِئِينَ فِيهَا عَلَى الْأَرَائِكِ لَا يَرَوْنَ فِيهَا شَمْسًا وَلَا زَمْهَرِيرًا وَدَانِيَةً عَلَيْهِمْ ظِلَالُهَا وَذُلِّلَتْ قُطُوفُهَا تَذْلِيلًا وَيُطَافُ عَلَيْهِمْ بِآنِيَةٍ مِنْ فِضَّةٍ وَأَكْوَابٍ كَانَتْ قَوَارِيرَ قَوَارِيرَ مِنْ فِضَّةٍ قَدَّرُوهَا تَقْدِيرًا وَيُسْقَوْنَ فِيهَا كَأْسًا كَانَ مِزَاجُهَا زَنجَبِيلًا عَيْنًا فِيهَا تُسَمَّى سَلْسَبِيلًا وَيَطُوفُ عَلَيْهِمْ وِلْدَانٌ مُخَلَّدُونَ إِذَا رَأَيْتَهُمْ حَسِبْتَهُمْ لُؤْلُؤًا مَنثُورًا وَإِذَا رَأَيْتَ ثَمَّ رَأَيْتَ نَعِيمًا وَمُلْكًا كَبِيرًا عَالِيَهُمْ ثِيَابُ سُندُسٍ خُضْرٌ وَإِسْتَبْرَقٌ وَحُلُّوا أَسَاوِرَ مِنْ فِضَّةٍ وَسَقَاهُمْ رَبُّهُمْ شَرَابًا طَهُورًا إِنَّ هَذَا كَانَ لَكُمْ جَزَاءً وَكَانَ سَعْيُكُمْ مَشْكُورًا (٧٦: ١١-٢٢)

So Allah [their Lord] saved them from the affliction of that Day and bestowed them with freshness and joy, and as reward for being patient [in this world] gave them Paradise [to live in] and robes of silk [to wear]. They will be reclining in it on thrones and will feel neither the heat of the sun nor the cold of the winters. The shades of its trees will bow down over them and the clusters of their fruits will be within their easy reach. And dishes of silver [to eat from] and goblets of crystal [to drink from] will be passed around them. And the crystal will be of silver which they [—their attendants—] will have aptly arranged [for every service]. [Besides this], they will be given to drink a wine flavoured with Zanjabi$l. This is also a spring therein called Salsabi$l. They will be attended by boys graced with eternal youth. When you see them you will think that they are pearls scattered about. And wherever you look you will see great bliss and a kingdom glorious [such] that even the over garments of [the dwellers of paradise] will be of green silk and brocade and satin. They were adorned with bracelets of silver [and then they reached the place where] their Lord gave them pure wine to drink. Indeed, this is a reward of your deeds and [congratulations to you that] your endeavours have been acknowledged. (76:11-22)

Similarly, the Qur’ān has said that the dwellers of Paradise will get whatever they desire (41:31; 43:71; 50:35). Their hearts will be cleansed from envy and malice; like brothers they will sit on thrones facing each other (7:43; 15:47). They will never be taken out from Paradise nor will they ever get fed-up and want to come out of it and nor will they face any sort of difficulty there (15:48; 18:108; 35:34-35). The blessings and favours of Paradise will come before them every time with a new taste, pleasure and beauty. When the same fruit will be given to them again and again it will have a new taste, a fresh outlook and provide them with a unique pleasure (2:25). Purity and cleanliness will abound everywhere (56:25). Neither will there be any regret of the past nor any fear of the future (2:62, 112, 262, 274, 277). Most of all, the dwellers of Paradise will be blessed with the pleasure of God: He will be pleased with them and in return the whole atmosphere will resound day and night with cries of exaltation, gratitude and praise for the Lord from the dwellers (9:72, 10:10, 19:62, 22:24, 39:73).

The Prophet (sws) has further explained that the dwellers of Paradise shall eat and drink but will neither spit nor need to urinate or defecate; neither will there be any fluid coming out of the nose nor will there be any saliva and cough; even their sweat will smell of musk; neither will their clothes rot nor will these people lose their youth. They will live in such luxuries that they will encounter no hardship. A caller will call: there is such health here which has no illness, there is such life here which has no death, there is such youth here which has no old age. The faces of people will be shinning like the moon and the stars.6

All this portrayal is to bring these sites closer to our comprehension. What exactly is their reality? The best answer to this question is the one given by the Prophet (sws) that in Paradise the Almighty will provide His servants with that which eyes have not seen, ears have not heard and never has any person ever been able to imagine what is in it.7 On a similar note, the Qur’ān too has said:

فَلَا تَعْلَمُ نَفْسٌ مَّا أُخْفِيَ لَهُم مِّن قُرَّةِ أَعْيُنٍ جَزَاء بِمَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ (١٧:٣٢)

No one knows what bliss has been kept hidden for him as a reward for his deeds. (32:17)


(Translated from Ghamidi’s Mīzān by Shehzad Saleem)






1. The Qur’ān, 32:6-9; 23:12-14; Tirmidhī, No: 2137.

2. The Qur’ān, 4:97; 6:93; 16:28.

3. Bukhārī, No: 1379; Muslim 2866.

4. Bukhārī, No: 1374; Muslim 2875.

5. Matthew, 5:19-20; 7:21.

6. Bukhārī, No: 3327; Muslim, No: 7149, 7157.

7. Bukhārī, No: 3344; Muslim, No: 7132.

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