Paradise in the Quran is called Jannah, the paradise where good people live after leaving their earthly abode. It’s described as beautiful gardens, with gorgeous scenes of lush vegetation and breath-taking sceneries of flowing rivers. It’s a place of Divine pleasure where people are rewarded after the probationary life on earth, the fruit of a lifetime of good actions, characterised by obedience, avoidance of sin and moral behaviour. There are seven paradises each has a different value, enjoys a unique make up with different Prophets, saints and Godly people living there. No wonder people pray “Lord give us paradise.”
In contrast, there is hell ‘Jahannam’, a place of blazing fire, smoke, where the residents are in a constant state of torment and sorrow. A landscape of pits with geysers spouting stinking, boiling water, fire and smoke. Here the soul is subjected to perpetual punishment. The Majestic Quran’s horror-filled descriptions should make anyone tremble with fear and make them pray “Lord, protect me from the torment of Hell.”
The seven paradises
“The seven paradises, the earth and all that is in them declare His glory, and all glorify and praise Him, but you do not understand their glorification, He is Forbearing, Forgiving” (Al-Isra: 44). The seven paradises are graded, Firdaus is the most exquisite, then Naeem and so on. Each soul is given a place according to what they earned in their earthly life, the righteousness of one’s deeds decides the level, they are:
This is the ‘eternal place’. After repenting and facing punishments for every committed sin, a Muslim is given a place in this heaven. In Surah Tawbah, Allah says that He assured believers that they would find a place in the Gardens of Adan. This is where one finds the greatest acceptance from Allah and marks the biggest conquest. The rivers that flow below the gardens and the fruit-laden trees provide everything that one needs.
This is the abode of ‘well-being’, the home of safety and peace. The Almighty calls back people who had followed the Straight Path. In Surah al An’am, Allah calls it a place where He would protect them.
- Jannat al-Naim
In Surah Yunus, the Almighty spoke about this level and said that people who have faith in Allah and do good work. Their conviction directed them to stay good throughout their life and led them to this level. Such devotees would come across rivers flowing underneath them in the ‘Paradise of Delight.’
- Jannat al-Mawa
It is a resting place made of brass-type material for devotees and martyrs. Mawa is defined as a place where people take refuge, a home and dwelling. In Surah An-Najm Allah speaks about this level that exists near the Lote-tree, which stands at the periphery of the cosmos.
- Dar al-Khuld
This level is the ‘Garden of Immortality’, eternal or where the immortals will live. Here one lasts forever. This level is promised to those who follow their path with the utmost devotion and without sin. This heaven compensates for the loss, the hardship and trials that one encountered in the earthly life.
- Dar al-Maqam
Here the soul finds an eternal place to stay. In Surah al Fatir Allah mentions this heaven as a safe place where all sufferings and tiredness will vanish, no more sorrow, sadness and pain.
- Jannat al-Firdaus
Firdaus refers to a garden with all kinds of plants, pomegranates, grapevines and much more. It is the most prestigious level and is described as superior to all levels in books of Hadith.
Many scholars believe that there is the eighth level of heaven, called Illiyyun, a home for the perfect devotees. An abode of the Hafaza angels, the protectors of the souls. This is where people are rewarded for their righteous deeds. Scholars also believe that there are a hundred levels of heaven, each level refers to a different grade where believers will live according to the value of their good deeds.
The Hoors of paradise
The descriptions of paradise paint a beautiful picture of the scenes that await those who spend their lives doing good works, they serve as motivation for people to be good. The word ‘hoor’ in Arabic applies to both male and female and signifies that in the Hereafter, males will have amazing, pure, gorgeous partners and so will the females. In Surah Al-Baqarah verse 26 and Surah Ale-Imran verse 16, ‘pure spouses’ is used for both men and women. The word ‘hoor’ also means one who has large, beautiful, white eyes with dark pupils, a symbol of purity.
The purpose of these spouses isn’t sexual pleasures, rather the believers are paired with spiritual partners who help them progress spiritually and attain Divine closeness. This refutes any allegation that the ‘hoors’ are for mere entertainment, far from it. It’s a pure, spiritual and perpetual pleasure of unimaginable intensity. The Messenger (peace be upon him) visited paradise on his celestial journey of the Ascension (Al-Isra:1). That night he (peace be upon him) saw its splendour and tasted its delights, smelt the fragrance and relished its melodious sounds. He (peace be upon him) described these on various occasions.
Here is a bouquet of the colourful descriptions of paradise taken from Sahih Muslim: Book explaining paradise, its delightful gifts, and its residents (Book 40).
Good news for the modern Muslim
Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said, “My most beloved people from the Ummah will be those who will come after me since every one of them will long to see me, even more than their family and love me more than their wealth” (Hadith 6791).
The ever-increasing beauty of the inhabitants of paradise
Anas Ibn Malik reported that Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said, “Every Friday the residents of paradise will pass through a street where the north wind will blow, it will scatter fragrance over their faces and clothes. This will add to their beauty and attractiveness” (Hadith 6792).
Abu Huraira reported the Messenger (peace be upon him) said, “the first group who will enter paradise will have bright faces like the stars. They will neither pass water, nor excrement nor produce phlegm and sputum. They will comb their hair with golden combs, their sweat will be fragrant like musk, the heaters in their mansions will be fuelled with fragrant expensive aloes. Their partners will be large eyed with large bodies” (Hadith 6795).