Hell and Heaven in the Quran

Hell and Heaven in the Quran

One of the reasons for the establishment of the Qiyamah is so that the doers of good and evil in the world can face the outcome and results of their actions. The doers of good will be rewarded with Heaven and its abundant blessings and the doers of evil will face punishment in Hell. Therefore, Hell and Heaven in the Quran is extensively discussed and the Quran describes their various punishments and blessings.

The article discusses the following topics:

Names of Hell and Heaven in the Quran

For Heaven and Hell, various names have been mentioned in the Quran. We will list some of them below.

Other Names of Hell in the Quran

  • Jahannam (جهنم). 1
  • Saqar (سقر). 2
  • Saʿeer (سعیر). 3
  • Jaheem (جحیم). 4
  • Hutama (حطمة). 5
  • Hawiya (هاویة). 6

Other Names of Heaven in the Quran

  • Jannah (الجنة). 7
  • Dar al-Salam (دار السلام). 8
  • Firdaus (فردوس). 9
  • Dar al-Muqama (دار المقامة). 10
  • Dar al-Qarar (دار القرار). 11

What is Hell?

إِنَّهُ مَن يَأْتِ رَبَّهُ مُجْرِمًا فَإِنَّ لَهُ جَهَنَّمَ لَا يَمُوتُ فِيهَا وَلَا يَحْيَىٰ ﴿74﴾

Whoever comes to his Lord laden with guilt, for him shall be hell, where he will neither live nor die. 12

The fire of Hell is a place for those who have disobeyed God. There are different punishments and various groups of people, according to the Quran, who will enter into Hell. We go into these two discussions below.

The Punishments of Hell in the Quran

There are various punishments of Hell mentioned in the Quran; some are:

  1. Fire:

Indeed, We have prepared for the wrongdoers a Fire whose curtains will surround them [on all sides]… 13

  1. Scalding and festering water:

…وَإِن يَسْتَغِيثُوا يُغَاثُوا بِمَاءٍ كَالْمُهْلِ يَشْوِي الْوُجُوهَ ۚ بِئْسَ الشَّرَابُ وَسَاءَتْ مُرْتَفَقًا ﴿29﴾

…If they cry out for help, they will be helped with a water like molten copper, which will scald their faces… 14

مِّن وَرَائِهِ جَهَنَّمُ وَيُسْقَىٰ مِن مَّاءٍ صَدِيدٍ ﴿16﴾

يَتَجَرَّعُهُ وَلَا يَكَادُ يُسِيغُهُ وَيَأْتِيهِ الْمَوْتُ مِن كُلِّ مَكَانٍ وَمَا هُوَ بِمَيِّتٍ ۖ وَمِن وَرَائِهِ عَذَابٌ غَلِيظٌ ﴿17﴾

In front of such a one is Hell, and he is given, for drink, boiling fetid water. In gulps will he sip it, but never will he be near swallowing it down his throat.. 15

  1. Food from the tree of Zaqqum:

إِنَّ شَجَرَتَ الزَّقُّومِ ﴿43﴾

Indeed the tree of Zaqqum

﴾ طَعَامُ الْأَثِيمِ ﴿44﴾

will be the food of the sinful.

كَالْمُهْلِ يَغْلِي فِي الْبُطُونِ ﴿45﴾

Like molten copper it will boil in their bellies,

كَغَلْيِ الْحَمِيمِ ﴿46﴾

seething like boiling water 16

  1. Other punishments:

…الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا قُطِّعَتْ لَهُمْ ثِيَابٌ مِّن نَّارٍ يُصَبُّ مِن فَوْقِ رُءُوسِهِمُ الْحَمِيمُ ﴿19﴾

يُصْهَرُ بِهِ مَا فِي بُطُونِهِمْ وَالْجُلُودُ ﴿20﴾

وَلَهُم مَّقَامِعُ مِنْ حَدِيدٍ ﴿21﴾

…As for those who are faithless, cloaks of fire will be cut out for them, and boiling water will be poured over their heads, with which their skins and entrails will fuse, and there will be clubs of iron for them. 17

There are also psychological tortures that the inhabitants of Hell will face.

Groups of People who will go to Hell

The Quran mentions various groups of people who are deserving of Hell on the Qiyamah. Here we will mention some of them.

Hell and Heaven in the Quran: The Deniers

وَالَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا وَكَذَّبُوا بِآيَاتِنَا أُولَـٰئِكَ أَصْحَابُ النَّارِ ۖ هُمْ فِيهَا خَالِدُونَ ﴿39﴾

But those who are faithless and deny Our signs, they shall be the inmates of the Fire and they shall remain in it [forever]. 18

Disbelief and denial go together when one knows of the truth and intentionally and purposefully denies it. In other words, his disbelief is based on spite and obstinacy not ignorance. For such people, the Quran has promised Hell. 19

However, those who disbelieve because they are not aware of the truth or the truth has not reached them or they are not capable of distinguishing truth from falsehood; they are not the inmates of Hell. Rather, their fate lies in the hands of God. 20

Hell and Heaven in the Quran: The Polytheists

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا مِنْ أَهْلِ الْكِتَابِ وَالْمُشْرِكِينَ فِي نَارِ جَهَنَّمَ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا ۚ أُولَـٰئِكَ هُمْ شَرُّ الْبَرِيَّةِ ﴿6﴾

Indeed the faithless from among the People of the Book and the polytheists will be in the fire of hell, to remain in it [forever]. It is they who are the worst of creatures. 21

Surah Bayyinah talks about the fact that God sent the evident proof in the form of Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him and his household) and describes and invites the upright religion.

This verse states that the polytheists and the People of the Book who disbelieved in this evident proof, will be thrown into the fire of Hell and are the worst of creatures. This is because the blessing of guidance is the highest of Divine blessings and denial and disbelief in it is the highest form of disbelief. 22

Hell and Heaven in the Quran: The Hypocrites

إِنَّ الْمُنَافِقِينَ فِي الدَّرْكِ الْأَسْفَلِ مِنَ النَّارِ وَلَن تَجِدَ لَهُمْ نَصِيرًا ﴿ ﴿145﴾

Indeed the hypocrites will be in the lowest reach of the Fire, and you will never find any helper for them. 23

According to the Quran, a hypocrite is one who outwardly expresses faith and belief but in his heart is a disbeliever. 24 Those who outwardly express belief in that which God has revealed and yet turn away from the Prophet are also hypocrites. 25

Also according to verses of the Quran which mention the hypocrites along with the disbelievers 26 the hypocrites are, in fact, disbelievers themselves. 27

The aforementioned verse explains that the place of the hypocrites is in the lowest depths of Hell and they will have no access to anyone who could help them or anyone that could intercede to Allah on their behalf. 28

Hell and Heaven in the Quran: The Unjust

ثُمَّ قِيلَ لِلَّذِينَ ظَلَمُوا ذُوقُوا عَذَابَ الْخُلْدِ هَلْ تُجْزَوْنَ إِلَّا بِمَا كُنتُمْ تَكْسِبُونَ ﴿52﴾

Then it shall be said to those who were unjust: Taste abiding chastisement; you are not requited except for what you earned. 29

Injustice includes injustice against oneself as well as others and sins in general.

The unjust will be given their due punishment on the Qiyamah which is the result of their actions and sins.

The command to taste punishment is not a verbal one; rather, it is an existential one, i.e. every action has repercussions and effects and it is not possible that a sinner and disbeliever not taste the effects of their disbelief. 30

This lasting punishment is not an injustice to them from God as it is the result of their own actions. 31

Hell and Heaven in the Quran: The Sinners

There are two types of sinners who will enter into Hell. The first group is one of those who have been taken over an encompassed by their sins; while others are believers who have committed sins in their lives but not to the extent that it has taken over their existence.

This group also encompasses all the previous groups of people who will enter Hell.

 Hell and Heaven in the Quran: Encompassed by Sins

بَلَىٰ مَن كَسَبَ سَيِّئَةً وَأَحَاطَتْ بِهِ خَطِيئَتُهُ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ أَصْحَابُ النَّارِ ۖ هُمْ فِيهَا خَالِدُونَ ﴿81﴾

Certainly whoever commits misdeeds and is besieged by his iniquity—such shall be the inmates of the Fire, and they will remain in it [forever]. 32

This verse is following a verse where the Israelites claimed that even if we are sinful we will remain in Hell only for a short time and less than others. However, in this verse, in contrast, states that all equal in the eyes of the law and if the consequences of one’s sins encompass a person to an extent that there is no opportunity for repentance or turning back; such people will remain in Hell forever. 33

Hell and Heaven in the Quran: Believers who Sin

For the believers who sin, according to narrations they too will have to face the consequences of their actions. Depending on their status, some of them will not need to enter Hell and the Prophet and the Ahlul bait will intercede for them and thus they will be delivered. Others would need to enter Hell for a time until they are purified for their sins. How long this would be only God knows.

However, in Barzakh, the period between death and the Hereafter and in the realm of the grave, there is no intercession and all who have sinned or done good deeds will taste the consequences of their actions there.

As is mentioned in a narration, the grave is either a garden from the gardens of Paradise or a pit from the pits of Hell 34

What is Heaven?

Heaven is the place of blessings and reward for the doers of good in the world. It includes many types of blessings and has different levels. We will discuss some of the blessings in this article.

وَبَشِّرِ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ أَنَّ لَهُمْ جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرِي مِن تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ ۖ كُلَّمَا رُزِقُوا مِنْهَا مِن ثَمَرَةٍ رِّزْقًا ۙ قَالُوا هَـٰذَا الَّذِي رُزِقْنَا مِن قَبْلُ ۖ وَأُتُوا بِهِ مُتَشَابِهًا ۖ وَلَهُمْ فِيهَا أَزْوَاجٌ مُّطَهَّرَةٌ ۖ وَهُمْ فِيهَا خَالِدُونَ ﴿25﴾

And give good news to those who have faith and do righteous deeds, that for them shall be gardens with streams running in them: whenever they are provided with their fruit for nourishment, they will say, ‘This is what we were provided before,’ and they were given something resembling it. There will be chaste mates for them, and they will remain therein [forever]. 35

Many verses of the Quran speak of the bounties and blessings of Heaven.

This verse, as do many other verses, speaks of streams in Heaven. This is because there will be different kind of drinks available for the inhabitants of Heaven. 36

Hell and Heaven in the Quran: Interesting Point of the Verse

One interesting point about this verse is that when they are blessed with the blessings of Heaven they will say they have been provided with it before and are given something similar. The reason for this is that whatever man receives in the Hereafter is what he has prepared for himself in this world. The difference between the inhabitants of Heaven and Hell is that the people of Heaven will be given more than what they prepared for the Hereafter. They will be given whatever they want. 37

Blessings of Heaven in the Quran

Some of the blessings provided in Heaven according to verses of the Quran are the following:

  1. Drink:

The Garden of Paradise which has been promised to the pious is a Garden in which flow streams of sweet and unstaling water, and streams of milk the taste of which never changes, and streams of joyful drinks, and streams of pure and clear honey… 38

  1. Food:

There will be every kind of fruit in it for them, and forgiveness from their Lord… 39

  1. Clothes

أُولَـٰئِكَ لَهُمْ جَنَّاتُ عَدْنٍ تَجْرِي مِن تَحْتِهِمُ الْأَنْهَارُ يُحَلَّوْنَ فِيهَا مِنْ أَسَاوِرَ مِن ذَهَبٍ وَيَلْبَسُونَ ثِيَابًا خُضْرًا مِّن سُندُسٍ وَإِسْتَبْرَقٍ مُّتَّكِئِينَ فِيهَا عَلَى الْأَرَائِكِ ۚ نِعْمَ الثَّوَابُ وَحَسُنَتْ مُرْتَفَقًا ﴿31﴾

For such there will be the gardens of Eden with streams running in them. They will be adorned therein with bracelets of gold and wear green garments of silk and brocade, reclining therein on couches. How excellent a reward and how good a resting place! 40

  1. Shade and Comfort

Reclining therein on couches, without facing any [scorching] sun, or [biting] cold. ﴾13﴿

Its shades will be close over them and its clusters [of fruits] will be hanging low ﴾14﴿

Hell and Heaven in the Quran: Heavenly Spouses

Another one of the blessings of Heaven are the Heavenly spouses; these are of two types: they are either Heavenly beings that have been created in the higher realms or if the spouses of the believers were also believers and good in the world they would be beside them with a more beautiful countenance in the Hereafter. 42

The Greatest Blessing of Heaven

وَعَدَ اللَّـهُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتِ جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرِي مِن تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا وَمَسَاكِنَ طَيِّبَةً فِي جَنَّاتِ عَدْنٍ ۚ وَرِضْوَانٌ مِّنَ اللَّـهِ أَكْبَرُ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ هُوَ الْفَوْزُ الْعَظِيمُ ﴿72﴾

Allah has promised the faithful, men and women, gardens with streams running in them, to remain in them [forever], and good dwellings in the Gardens of Eden. Yet Allah’s pleasure is greater [than all these]; that is the great success. 43

According to this verse, God’s pleasure, referred to as rizwan (رضوان) is the greatest blessing of Heaven.

It has been used in the verse in the indefinite tense to show that man’s knowledge cannot understand it or its limits because His pleasure is not limited or measurable. And perhaps it is also to indicate that the least of God’s pleasure no matter how little it may be is greater than all the Heavens. 44

Hell and Heaven in the Quran: Servitude of Love

This is because the reality of servitude that the Quran invites towards is a servitude that is performed out of love for God; not due to a desire for His Heaven or fear of His Hell. And the greatest happiness for a lover is that he is able to attain the pleasure and satisfaction of the person he loves without thinking of satisfying his own desires.

This pleasure is the reality of all success and victory. Even the reality of the success that is achieved through attaining eternal Heavenly abode is that very pleasure of God. This is because if in Heaven the reality of God’s pleasure is not there, that very Heaven would be a punishment not a blessing. 45

Levels of Hell and Heaven in the Quran

وَلِكُلٍّ دَرَجَاتٌ مِّمَّا عَمِلُوا ۖ وَلِيُوَفِّيَهُمْ أَعْمَالَهُمْ وَهُمْ لَا يُظْلَمُونَ ﴿19﴾

For everyone there are degrees [of merit] pertaining to what he has done: He will recompense them fully for their works, and they will not be wronged. 46

For both the believers and disbelievers there are levels and degrees of elevation and degradation, i.e. Heaven has elevating degrees while Hell has descending ranks.

This difference between the two groups comes back to the difference that is in their souls even though the realities of souls are manifested through actions. This is why the verse says: for everyone there are degrees pertaining to what he has done, and it is clear that the degree belong to the people and the source of those are the degree of actions.

Doors of Hell and Heaven in the Quran

There have been mentioned in verses and Islamic teachings the number of doors that Hell and Heaven have.

Hell and Heaven in the Quran: Doors of Hell

لهَا سَبْعَةُ أَبْوَابٍ لِّكُلِّ بَابٍ مِّنْهُمْ جُزْءٌ مَّقْسُومٌ ﴿44﴾

It has seven gates, and to each gate belongs a separate portion of them. 47

Hell and Heaven in the Quran: Doors of Heaven

Though verses of the Quran speak of the doors to Heaven, they do not specify the number of doors. However, according to narration there are 8 doors of Heaven 48

Summary

Hell and Heaven in the Quran is an important topic as it delves into the outcome of the Qiyamah and the accounting of deeds that will take place on that day. The believers who performed good deeds will go to Heaven and the disbelievers will go to Hell.

Hell and Heaven in the Quran have many names; some of the names of Hell are: Jahannam, Saqar, Saʿeer, Jaheem, etc. and some of Heaven’s are: Jannah, Fardaus, Dar al-Qarar, Dar al-Salam, etc.

Some of the punishments of Hell are the fire, the scalding water, the thorny tree of Zaqqum as food, cloaks and columns of fire, etc. some of the groups of people that will enter Hell are the deniers of God and the Qiyamah, the polytheists, the disbelievers and the unjust.

Some of the blessings of Heaven include the abundance of fruits and Heavenly foods, drinks from pure streams of different types, comfort and shade, beautiful clothes, Heavenly spouses, etc. However, the greatest blessing of Heaven is God’s pleasure.

Both Hell and Heaven in the Quran are divided into levels and degrees which depend on the levels of one’s deeds.


References

  1. [2: 206]; [3:12]; [4: 55]; [7: 18]; [8: 16], etc.
  2. [54: 48]; [74: 26, 27, & 42]
  3. [4: 10]; [31: 21]; [35: 6]; etc.
  4. [2: 119]; [5: 10]; [9: 113]; [26: 91]; etc.
  5. [104: 4 & 5].
  6. [101: 9].
  7. [2: 35, 82, 111, etc.]; [3: 133, 142, etc.]; [4: 124]; etc.
  8. [10: 25]; [6: 127]
  9. [18: 107] & [23: 11]
  10. [35: 35]
  11. [40: 39]
  12. [20: 74]. Qarai translation
  13. [18: 29]. Qarai translation
  14. Ibid.
  15. [14: 16-17]. Yusufali translation
  16. [44: 43-46]. Qarai translation
  17. [22: 19-21]. Qarai translation
  18. [2: 39]. Qarai translation
  19. Qarashi, A. A. Ibid. Vol. 3, p. 36
  20. Tabatabai, M. H. Ibid. Vol. 5, p. 387
  21. [98: 6]. Qarai translation
  22. Tabatabai, M. H. Ibid. Vol. 20, p. 577
  23. [4: 145]. Qarai translation
  24. Tabatabai, M. H. Ibid. Vol. 19, p. 470
  25. Ibid. Vol. 4, p. 644
  26. For example, [9: 68]
  27. Ibid. Vol. 9, p. 453
  28. Ibid. Vol. 5, p. 192
  29. [10: 52]. Shakir translation
  30. Tabatabai, M. H. Ibid. Vol. 10, pp. 108-109
  31. Qarashi, A. A. Ibid. Vol. 4, p. 396
  32. [2: 81]. Qarai translation
  33. Tafsir Nur. Commentary of Surah al-Baqarah. Verses 80 & 81
  34. Bihar al-Anwar, 2nd ed. (1403 AH). (Research by a group of researchers). Beirut: Dar Ihya al-Turath al-Arabi. Vol. 6, p. 205
  35. [2: 25]. Qarai translation
  36. Qarashi, A. A. Ibid. Vol. 1, p. 70
  37. Tabatabai, M. H. Ibid. Vol. 1, p. 139
  38. [47: 15]. Safarzadeh translation
  39. [47: 15]. Qarai translation
  40. [18: 31]. Qarai translation
  41. [76: 13-14]. Qarai translation
  42. Tafsir Nur. Commentary of Surah Baqarah. Verse 25
  43. [9: 72]. Qarai translation
  44. Tabatabai, M. H. Ibid. Vol. 9, p. 456
  45. Ibid.
  46. [46: 19]. Qarai translation
  47. [15: 44]. Qarai translation
  48. Al-Khisal. (1362). (Researcher and Editor Ali Akbar Ghaffari). Jamiatol Modarresin Publications. Vol. 2, p 597

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