Heaven and Hell in Islam - a Concept Study

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The concept of heaven vs. hell has been in place since any form of religion existed. The destiny of a soul is arguably one of the most noteworthy components of religion. The eternal destination of a soul in a religion aids to determine the behavior of people who are a part of this religion. Heaven is typically viewed as a happy and peaceful place where no earthly problems exist. In contrast, hell is normally viewed as a place with fire and eternal misery. In most religions, if one believes in the all powerful God and lives his or her life according to the guidelines created for the belief, then he or she will be able to enter heaven. However, if a person fails to follow the God or disobeys the guidelines, then he or she will be forced to live in hell for eternity. The idea of heaven vs. hell in the religion of Islam possesses a synonymous premise. If one believes in and follows the holy book, the Koran, then he or she will be allowed to ascend into heaven after death. One of the main components of any religion is the idea of heaven and hell. The Islamic faith suggests that heaven is an oasis with water and that hell is a fiery place filled with eternal suffering, and although all religions have some sort of beliefs about the afterlife, those of Islam differ than the major other religions of the world.

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In the Koran, heaven is referred to as “Jannah”. The term “Jannah” can be interpreted as meaning “garden”. The Koran’s most significant description of “Jannah” is as a garden filled with greenery and flowing water (Khalil 623). “Those who attain to faith and do righteous deeds, the gardens of paradise will be there to welcome them” (Koran 18:107). This quote describes heaven as the “gardens of paradise” because gardens were viewed as significant to the Muslim people. Water is also a noteworthy description of Islamic heaven. Since the words of the “Koran“ were from God, but spoken through a human, the ideas of heaven and hell were presented in a way in which the people could comprehend (Khalil 624). The environment in which Islam was founded was the dreadfully hot desert surrounding the cities of Mecca and Medina of Saudi Arabia. Due to the miserable heat of this environment, water was viewed as precious, making it a main component in the Koran’s description of “Jannah” (Toon). However, this description is only relative to the environment in which the Koran was interpreted. If the Muslim people originated in an environment with unbearable coldness, the Koran would have stated that heaven was a place where the environment was sunny and warm. Also, the Islamic faith teaches that the greatest reward of “Jannah” is receiving Allah’s grace and mercy. Heaven is viewed as a privilege given by Allah and not a right given to the Muslim people (Toon). Heaven or “Jannah” is presented as a privilege given by Allah and a place with consistent flowing water with huge gardens.

Achieving a place in “Jannah” in Islam means performing good deeds and having full faith in Allah. While acting as a good person and believing in Allah allows Muslims to be in heaven, not all Muslims achieve the same heaven. Islam teaches various levels of the paradise of “Jannah”. The specific number of levels of Islamic heaven is unclear

(Khalil). However, many scholars believe the Koran could be translated into claiming there are seven levels (Toon). “So Allah decreed them as seven heavens in two days and revealed to each heaven its orders. And We adorned the lowest heaven with lights, and protection. Such is the decree of the Exalted; the Knowledgeable.” (Koran 41:12). Even though Islamic heaven contains levels, one level of heaven is not described to be superior to the other levels. Instead of one heaven being superior, the levels are synonymous to the level of understanding of Allah. The highest level of heaven possesses the greatest understanding of Allah and his creation of the world (Fazlur). Islamic heaven is described as being a garden with flowing water with various levels.

While heaven or “Jannah” is presented in the Koran as being a place filled with flowing water, hell is depicted as being extremely hot and filled with fire and misery. “Our Lord! Surely, whom You admit to the Fire, indeed You have disgraced him, and never will the wrongdoers find any helpers” (Koran 3:192). In this quote, hell is referred to as “the Fire”. Hell is also referred to as “Jaheem”, “Jahannam”, and “Ladthaa”, all of these term have a synonymous meaning of fire (Thomassen 414). Fire is a common view of hell as Christianity also depicts hell as a fiery and horrible place. Since flowing water is viewed as being in heaven, it is sensible that fire, the opposite of water, is the main element of Islamic hell.

Hell in the religion of Islam is where non-believers or people who disobey Allah are sent. In comparison to “Jannah” or Islamic heaven, many believe there are multiple levels of Islamic hell. Each level of hell discusses the burning flesh of humanity, and the further the levels reach, the more the severity of the burns increases (Turner). Islamic faith teaches various levels of each destination of heaven and hell.

The ideas of heaven and hell are common concepts within religion. Destiny is arguably one of the main components of any faith. Islamic and Christian faiths both suggest that people will either ascend into heaven at the time of death or descend into hell for eternal punishment. While Christianity and Islam share the same overall concept of destination, Islamic faith teaches the idea of multiple levels of both heaven and hell due to the severity of a person’s actions during his or her lifetime, and Christianity teaches that there is only one level of heaven and only one level of hell (Turner). Hinduism and Buddhism both teach the idea of reincarnation rather than a place of heaven or hell after death. These religions believe in the rebirth of life once life has ended (Turner). While all religions differ in ideas of afterlife, they all have a decided result that will occur at the time of death. All faiths express opinions on the destination of humanity after death.

Destination of the human soul in Islamic faith is due to the belief in Allah and the good deeds performed throughout one’s lifetime. The heaven of Islam is described as being a place with peace and an abundance of flowing water. In contrast, hell is depicted as hot, miserable place in which humanity’s flesh will burn forever. Islam also teaches the leveling of each destination, differentiating Islam from other common religions. Although all religions have some beliefs about the afterlife, Islam is exclusive in its belief in levels of paradise or torment, and the Islamic depiction of heaven and hell is unique to the Islamic religion.

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