By Uzma Jawed
Almost all religions and cultures offer the promise of Paradise. For the Celtics, it was the Mag Mell; for the ancient Greeks, it was Elysium; for the Indo-Europeans, it was Svarga and the Fortunate Isles. Christians call it the Kingdom of God, while Jews call it the Olam Haba (Garden of Eden). Islam not only promises the Gardens of Everlasting Bliss but also describes them in vivid detail and explains how one can be eligible to enter the fabulous realm of Jannah.
Our belief and actions are the two primary factors that can lead us to Jannah. Allah (swt) promises in the Quran: “And whoever does righteous good deeds, male or female, and is a true believer in the Oneness of Allah (Muslim), such will enter Paradise and not the least injustice, even to the size of a Naqira (speck on the back of a date-stone), will be done to them.” (An-Nisa, 4:124) Furthermore, Allah (swt) says in Surah Al-Imran that those, who spend benevolently, restrain their anger, pardon men, treat others with kindness and repent, Allah (swt) will reward them with gardens beneath which rivers flow.
It says in the Quran that every man will taste death. Life, as we know it, is only temporary – it is a transition period. It is where every man, woman and child is tested. We try to get through this test by attesting that there is only one God, emulating the lives of His prophets, seeking guidance from the Quran, trying to do good deeds and asking for His forgiveness. Allah (swt) says in the Quran: “And march forth in the way (which leads to) forgiveness from your Lord, and for Paradise as wide as are the heavens and the earth, prepared for Al-Muttaqun (the pious)” (Al-Imran, 3:133) Once this test comes to an end, we will all receive our grades. That is what the Judgement Day is for. Once all our deeds are reviewed, we will be given our verdict: guilty or innocent.
After the judgements, all the people will have to journey over a bridge called the Sirat – a thin, narrow bridge over the chasm of Hell, which leads to Paradise on the other side. The sinful people will stumble and fall into the pit. The prophets and the righteous people will be able to make it into Jannah. They will feel relief and joy, when they will hear the angels standing by the gates of Jannah, telling them to enter with peace. (Ar-Ra’d, 13:23-24)
The Gates of Paradise
There are eight gates leading into Jannah – one for every major deed. For example, there will be gates named after Salah, Jihad, Sadaqa, struggling against evil and Ar-Rayyan (exclusively for those who fast). Each of these gates will call to that person, who used to perform that activity the best. In some cases, people may be called by more than one or all the gates! The Prophet (sa) said: “Whoever performs Wudhu and does it properly, then lifts his gaze to the sky and says ‘Ashhadu an la ilaha illa Allah, wahdahu la shareeka lah, wa ashhadu anna Muhammadan ‘abdahu wa rasuluhu,’ the eight gates of Paradise will be opened to him, and he will enter it through whichever one he wishes.” (Muslim and Ahmad)
As the believers enter through the gates, the awe and amazement that they will feel cannot even be imagined. The Prophet (sa) said that Allah (swt) said: “I have prepared for My slaves what no eye has seen, no ear has heard and no human heart can imagine.” (Bukhari)
Allah (swt) describes Jannah in earthly terms, so that the believers can relate and draw mental images. The scene will be exquisite and compelling. There will be lush gardens, rolling meadows, mountains made of musk and rivers flowing in valleys of pearl and ruby. The fresh scents, vibrant colours and the delightful sounds will make the believer feel magnetised.
A Sahabah asked the Prophet (sa) about Paradise, and he replied with a wonderful description: “Bricks of gold and silver, and mortar of fragrant musk, pebbles of pearl and sapphire, and soil of saffron. Whoever enters it is filled with joy and will never feel miserable; he will live there forever and never die; their clothes will never wear out and their youth will never fade.” (Ahmad and At-Tirmidhi)
Trees of Jannah
Amidst rivers of water, milk and honey, there will be grapevines, date palms, pomegranate trees, as well as lotus trees and banana trees.
Allah (swt) describes for us in the Holy Book: “And those on the Right Hand – who will be those on the Right Hand? (They will be) among thornless lote-trees, among Talh (banana-trees) with fruits piled one above another, in shade long-extended, by water flowing constantly, and fruit in plenty.” (Al-Waqiah 56:27-32)
The lotus tree (As-Sidr) is a thorny plant, but in Paradise it will be thornless. At-Talh (banana tree) is large sized thorny shrub, but in Paradise its fruits will be ready to eat, with no effort required. Another wondrous fact about the trees in Jannah is that all the trunks are of gold!
Levels of Jannah
Jannah has several levels, in which the believers will reside. The higher the level, the more the reward and delight associated with it. According to the Prophet (sa), the level that each believer will be in is determined by their good deeds, actions, perseverance and their knowledge of the Deen.
Bukhari and Muslim report that the Prophet (sa) said: “The people of Paradise will look at the people dwelling in the chambers above them in the same way that people look at a brilliant star shining far away on the horizon, in the East or West, because of their superiority (in reward) over them.” The people asked: “O Messenger of Allah, are these the dwellings of the prophets, which no one else can attain?” He replied: “No, by the One in Whose Hand is my soul, they are for the men who believed in Allah and also in His messengers.”
People of Paradise
Since all the levels are so exquisite, there will be no feeling of jealousy. In fact, such sentiments will not exist in Jannah; there will be no hurtful and offensive talk, gossip and rivalry. The hearts of the people of Paradise will be pure and their speech will be good. No one will be sick, old, handicapped or deformed. The people of Jannah will be perfectly healthy and in the prime of their life. Their physical appearance will be in the image of their father prophet Adam (as), as there is no human form more perfect and beautiful than that of Adam (as), whom Allah (swt) created very tall (like a great palm tree – sixty cubits tall).
Another aspect of their beauty is that they will have no body hair and will look as if their eyes are anointed with kohl. Each of them will enter Paradise aged thirty-three, the age of strength, vitality and youth. The Prophet (sa) further mentioned that the people of Jannah will never need sleep, nor will they ever spit, blow their noses or excrete. Everything that an individual will do there is for their pure pleasure. They will eat and drink there not because of hunger or thirst, but just out of pleasure and enjoyment that they derive from it.
Food and Drink
There will be an abundant and myriad supply of food available: fowl, fruits, cakes, honey and everything that your heart desires (Al-Waqiah 56:32-33). One of the delights that the people of Jannah will enjoy will be that its fruits are similar in appearance, but different in taste. There will be a never-ending supply of fruits, whose season will never end. Also, the fruits of the trees will be low-hanging, within easy reach of the people of Paradise: “And the shade thereof is close upon them, and the bunches of fruit thereof will hang low within their reach.” (Al-Insan 76:14)
The believers will recline on raised thrones that are encrusted with gold and precious stones. (Al-Waqiah 56:15) There will be green, comfortable cushions and rich, beautiful carpets. While leisurely lounging among relatives and friends, the believers will be served by special servants, whose purpose is only to serve and please. They will cater to every need and whim of the immortal inhabitants and never get tired of serving them. They will be served wine in chalices of crystal and silver. (Al-Insan 76:15)
The most honoured treasures of Allah (swt) will be visible to the inhabitants of Jannah, such as the fountain of Salsabil, the stream of Kauthar and the spring of Kafur. People, who drink from these, will experience unimaginable delights and purest of pleasures. A drink from the fountain of Tasneem is reserved for the best people in Jannah. The glasses of wine will be filled from clear flowing fountains of Salsabil and Kafur. (Al-Insan 76:5,18) This wine will have the sweetest taste and will never cause intoxication or make you sick. (Al-Waqiah 56:19)
People of Paradise will live in palaces and mansions made from pearls. Each house in Jannah is made from a single, hollowed-out pearl and is sixty miles high. (Bukhari) There also will be no night or day in Paradise; rather, there will be an eternal everlasting light.
The weather will also be prefect. It won’t be too hot or too cold. The lives of believers will be eternal bliss. They will never experience boredom and will rejoice in the company of their parents, wives and children (provided they were permitted to Jannah). They will converse about how Allah (swt) has blessed them by admitting them to Paradise, and recall their past lives.
There will also be pure pleasure companions called Hoors that will provide their companions with endless delights. (As-Saffat 37:48) People will be dressed in garments of fine silk and heavy brocade and will wear gold bracelets. (Al-Kahf 18:31) People will be able to attend exquisite banquets, go to Bazars for shopping and travel if they wish.
Jannah is everyone’s dream – it will provide its inhabitants unimaginable joy and happiness. Greater than all these pleasures, however, is the ability to see Allah (swt). The ultimate triumph would be the opportunity to see the fantastic spectacle of indescribable light and sound beyond the highest level of Jannah.
If all of us want to achieve this amazing reward, then we need to plan for it. We never know when our time in this world and our chances to make preparations will be over. All we will have in the end is ourselves, our Iman and our actions that have been recorded by the angels. Hence, we need to be ready at all times so that we, Insha’Allah, won’t have to feel any grief when we hear our verdict.
Allah (swt) says: “Short is the enjoyment of this world. The Hereafter is (far) better for him who fears Allah…” (An-Nisa 4:77) The vivid descriptions of the Hereafter in the Quran and Ahadeeth make the believer strive harder for it. His firm belief in life after death is what helps him live a better life in this world and encourages him to do good and avoid evil.
“Truly, this is the supreme success! For the like of this let the workers work.” (As-Saffat 37:60-61)