In the following sections, we will analyze how the Qur'an looks at Paradise
and, based upon these descriptions,"try to imagine this perfect place.
But before we do this, let's look at a few important points. In today's
societies, many people have erroneous ideas and impressions in their conscious
and subconscious minds. As such obstacles cause them to formulate a mistaken
view, we must describe some basic Islamic concepts whose meanings have
departed from their original understanding.
With this in mind, we first have to distinguish between "blessing"
In the following pages, we will see that the Qur'an describes Paradise
as an extremely luxurious and magnificent place, and that life therein
is as comfortable and attractive as it can be.
However, to many people today, such a life is not so much "Islamic"
as it is a natural outcome of being alienated from Allah and religious
So, because of this erroneous understanding that dominates society,
very many people think that a comfortable, luxurious, and ostentatious
life, and all that goes along with it, are "un-Islamic." They see such
things as expensive clothes, rich food, entertainment, dinner parties,
magnificently appointed houses, décor, and valuable art works as belonging
to ignorant people cut off from their religion. They usually call a life
filled with these things "dissolute," and criticize those who give this
society its name as "living undisciplined lives of dissolution." The word
"dissolution" (safahat) comes from the Arabic safih, and can be translated
as "a lack of discipline, overindulgence, a weakness of mind that comes
from living an irresponsible life of wealth and comfort."
Here, we encounter a false understanding that must be corrected. The
life of Paradise that Allah has been pleased to choose for His servants,
as well as a life that contains every kind of luxury, comfort, and ostentation,
is also the most beautiful and noble way of life, one that conforms as
closely as possible to religious moral teaching.
A false definition of dissolution opens the way to misunderstanding.
Dissolution, or rebellion against Allah through a lack of discipline and
overindulgence, is a condition of the human mind. People are not dissolute
because of their clothes, ostentatious houses, aesthetic environments,
or material wealth. Rather, the problem is in their minds.
The natural result of this situation is this: If people have a Qur'anic
morality and a strong faith, they can live among the richest opulence
imaginable without ever becoming dissolute. On the contrary, because they
view everything they encounter according to the Qur'anic criteria and
moral teaching, they see all of the beauty surrounding them as a blessing.
In other words, they realize that all of these things are gifts from Allah.
So, if Muslims know that Allah has given all of the surrounding riches,
beauty, opulence, and magnificence, naturally they thank our Lord for
what He has provided. This is, after all, why all blessings have been
If we applied this general way of thinking to our present society, we
would have to say that those who live a dissolute life and turn away from
Allah's commands have gone astray, because they do not see that all of
their possibilities are blessings from Him. If they saw these things as
blessings, this understanding would lead them to give thanks to Allah.
And then, they would use these blessings as Allah intended them to be
used: avoiding waste and using them in a way pleasing to Him.
So, wealth can be defined in two ways. Some rich people are believers
who consider all of their possessions to be blessings from Allah, while
other rich people go astray by considering all of their possessions as
their own, forget Allah, and fall into dissolution. However, the model
that Allah has proposed for all of His servants is wealth, as mentioned
in the first model above. Wealth and poverty are tests for believers.
Although some believers may be tested by poverty, Allah commands: "We
desired to show kindness to those who were oppressed in the land, and
to make them leaders and inheritors" (Surat al-Qasas, 5). This
might happen in the world, but it certainly will happen in the afterlife.
Therefore, it would be very wrong for Muslims to find fault with grand,
luxurious, and opulent lives. Muslims must not shun such people and regard
them with disdain, because, after all, all material things in this life
(e.g., fine clothes, delicious food, magnificent homes and works of art)
were created for Muslims, as we read in Surat al-A'raf, 32:
Say: "Who has forbidden the fine clothing that
Allah has produced for His servants and the good kinds of provision?"
Say: "On the Day of Rising, such things will be exclusively for those
who had faith during their life in the hereafter…"
The Qur'an gives the example of Prophet Sulayman (as), to whom Allah
gave great wealth. In fact, it describes these possessions, as well as
his opulent palace and works of art, in Surah Saba', 12-13 and Surat an-Naml,
The important thing here is that Sulayman (as) gave thanks to Allah
amid all of these magnificent possessions, for he knew that they were
a mercy from our Lord. By relating his words: "Truly
do I love the love of good with a view to the glory of my Lord" (Surah
Sad, 32), the Qur'an draws our attention to his deep understanding.
This example shows us that the love of possessions, defined here as
"the love of good," is legitimate as long as it is a
means to praise Allah. No doubt, believers who have this kind of love
will not hesitate to use their possessions as Allah directs. Possessions
are a blessing belonging to Allah, and so those who have them will use
them as Allah commands.
But if possessions are not seen as a blessing, dissolution sets in.
The Qur'an gives many examples of how deviators understand the meaning
of riches. One of the clearest examples is that of Qarun, a rich man who
"gloated" (Surat al-Qasas, 76) and said:
"I have only been given it because of the knowledge
I have" (Surat al-Qasas, 78). Such a love of possessions cannot
bring people close to Allah; rather, it diverts them from His way and
alienates them from faith. The Qur'an describes this type of love as:
Truly man is ungrateful to his Lord, and indeed
he bears witness to that. Truly he is fierce in his love of wealth. (Surat
So, for this reason Muslims must view wealth according to the Qur'an's
criteria and pursue it only to please Allah and serve Islam. They must
desire all of Allah's blessings, because all blessings of this earthly
life have been created for those faithful and sincere servants who exert
every effort to please and serve Allah. We have to be continually thankful
for these blessings and follow Sulayman's (as) example: "What
an excellent servant! He truly turned to his Lord" (Surah Sad, 30).
Those who live according to the real spirit of the Qur'an's moral teachings
and adopt the point of view described above will be deemed "worthy and
qualified" to enter Paradise, which possesses, as one of its most salient
characteristics, eternal splendor and dazzling wealth and beauty. People
who think and feel like Sulayman (as), who said: "Truly
do I love the love of good with a view to the glory of my Lord" (Surah
Sad, 32) amid all of this beauty, are believers.
Since this is how believers will think in Paradise, their true home,
they must establish this point of view in this world, which is no more
than a preparation for the world to come. Far from regarding wealth, beauty,
and splendor as dissolution, believers must know that every blessing is
a mercy from our Lord, recognize its value, learn to enjoy it, and be
The blessings of Paradise that we will look at in the following pages
must be examined from this point of view.
THIS LIFE IS NOT OUR REAL LIFE
Many people think that they can make a perfect life for themselves in
this world. They think that if they can acquire enough material possessions,
they will experience total personal satisfaction and happiness. According
to the most widespread opinion, a person's life will be perfect after
he or she has attained material wealth, gotten married with this intention
in mind, and is respected by society because of his or her influential
and well-established career.
The Qur'an does not support this view, for it states that this present
life will never be perfect and without problems, as it is designed like
The root of dunya (world) has a very important meaning in this sense:
It is a derivative of the adjective "daniy": low, unrefined, basic and
worthless. "World" means a space characterized by these traits. So, the
Qur'an often emphasizes this worldly life's worthlessness and unimportance.
It refers to such things as wealth, family, status, and success, which
are thought to make for a good life, as nothing more than transitory and
deceptive. In one verse, Allah says:
Know that the life of the world is merely a game
and a diversion and ostentation, and a cause of boasting among yourselves
and trying to outdo one another in wealth and children, like the plant-growth
after rain, which delights the cultivators. But then it withers, you see
it turning yellow, and then it becomes broken stubble. In the hereafter
there is terrible punishment, but also forgiveness from Allah and His
good pleasure. The life of the world is nothing but the enjoyment of delusion.
(Surat al-Hadid, 20)
Another verse explains how people are blinded by illusion because of
this earthly life:
Yet still you prefer the life of the world, when
the hereafter is better and longer lasting. (Surat al-A'la, 16-17)
As this verse says, such people regard the life of this world as superior
to the afterlife. Such a mistaken view causes them to turn away from faith
in Allah and His Book. The Qur'an describes such people as "those
who do not expect to meet Us and are content with the life of the world
and at rest in it, and those who are heedless of Our Signs" (Surah Yunus,
7) and reveals that they will find themselves in Hell's eternal
agony. Surely, this imperfection does not mean that this world contains
no beautiful things. On the contrary, Allah filled the world with beautiful
things to remind us of Paradise. But mixed in with these beautiful things
are the imperfection and ugliness of Hell.
The qualities of Paradise and Hell are mixed together here, for this
world is really a place of testing. Thus believers can get an idea of
those two places and, instead of getting caught up in this world's short
and transitory life, can direct themselves toward the real, perfect, and
endless life of the hereafter. As a result, the Qur'an describes the afterlife
as each person's true and eternal land.
But despite this truth, many people think they can make a perfect life
in this world. They view this life's imperfections and deficiencies (e.g.,
getting sick, becoming tired, and suffering from pain and worry) as something
totally natural. However, Allah has created all these imperfections with
many hidden meanings, and people have to think seriously about these meanings
and learn the appropriate lessons.
It could have been possible would never get sick or feel so tired that
they would need to rest or sleep. They could have had so much stamina
and energy that they would not feel fatigued. If Allah had willed, He
could have created us without such flaws and deficiencies. But He created
us with them so that we might understand that we are helpless and weak.
Each individual must come face to face with his or her helplessness and
weakness at every moment of life. His body, upon which he lays so much
value, constantly reminds him of his situation. When he wakes up every
morning and starts his day, his face is swollen and distorted, his mouth
has a bad taste, and there is an uncomfortable dirty feeling on his skin,
hair, and body. If he does not clean himself carefully, he cannot leave
this unpleasant state. This cleaning must be repeated several times during
the day, because after a few hours have passed, the dirt returns. After
not washing for a few days, his need to wash himself becomes all the more
obvious, coming to a point where he makes those around him very uncomfortable.
The human body is not as strong or resilient as a stone or a piece of
metal; rather, it is made of an extremely perishable material: flesh.
The body is covered with a thin skin that could be torn at any moment
by the slightest accident. Structurally speaking, flesh is very vulnerable.
It can be wounded, bruised, and twisted by the slightest blow, and, with
age, begins to lose its former youthfulness and becomes rough and wrinkled.
After death, it starts to rot. A few weeks after burial, the body begins
to disintegrate and be eaten by worms and bacteria, until finally it mixes
with the soil and disappears.
As stated earlier, this shows us our frailty and reminds us that the
imperfections in the world are specially created. Instead of flesh, human
beings could have been created from much stronger and purer materials
or could have been totally free of pain, illness, and vileness. However,
all of these things were created to remind human beings of how poor and
needy they are in relation to Allah, and to show them just how imperfect
and deficient a place this world really is.
When we look at these imperfections, we can see our own frailty and
understand the transitory nature of all people's earthly strength and
values. Meanwhile, we also can understand that the people who we adore,
try to please, or earn their respect and praise are as weak and imperfect
as anybody else.
But as most people cannot understand this or see this world's great
imperfection and flaws, they find satisfaction in this earthly life. Actually,
this is the result of an extreme ignorance and lack of intelligence.
The morality of such people is described in the Qur'an as follows:
So turn away from him who turns away from Our remembrance
and desires nothing but the life of the world. That is as far as their
knowledge extends... (Surat an-Najm, 29-30)
Those who are unaware of this truth and bound by a passion for the life
of this world are people without "knowledge," as the verse says.
But what is this "knowledge" that we must have in this matter? In truth,
it is nothing less than the knowledge of Paradise, which Allah has promised
to us. The most important steps toward this are to be well-versed in the
Qur'an and to think seriously about what it says.
In the Qur'an, Allah described the believers' real homeland in these
The life of the world is nothing but a game and
a diversion. The abode of the hereafter - that is truly Life, if they
only knew. (Surah al-'Ankabut, 64)
One hadith records our Prophet (saas) as saying that Paradise is humanity's
real abode, a place in which there will be no human imperfection:
A proclaimer will proclaim: "For you there is everlasting
health, and you will never be sick. For you there is everlasting life,
and you will never die. For you there is perpetual youth, and you will
never get old. And for you there is everlasting bliss, and you will never
be in want. (Muslim)
THE STATE OF THE PEOPLE OF PARADISE
IN THIS WORLD
The Beautiful Lives of Believers in this World
The Qur'an promises believers the joy of an endless reward and eternal
happiness. But one point often escapes attention: This good news, extending
in endless time and into endless beauty, has already started for believers
in this world, for since they have been promised Paradise in the world
to come, they will be blessed in this world by Allah's grace and generosity.
The Qur'an also says that believers who do good works will be given a
good life in this world as well:
Anyone who acts rightly, male or female, being
a believer, We will give them a good life and We will recompense them
according to the best of what they did. (Surat an-Nahl: 97)
In several places, the Qur'an proclaims that the good news announced
in the verse above will be enjoyed by all sincere believers, the Prophets
being the foremost among believers. For example, our Prophet (saas), who
was given the good tidings of the highest ranks of Paradise in the Qur'an,
was someone whom Allah made rich in this life: "Did
He not find you impoverished and enrich you?" (Surat ad-Duha, 8).
In addition, the Qur'an mentions the riches and possessions given to Prophets
Dawud (as), Sulayman (as), Ibrahim (as), and Dhu'l Qarnayn (as) several
Giving blessings and beauty in this world as a reward and encouragement,
as well as an indication to sincere believers of our Lord's grace and
favor, is one of Allah's unchanging laws. Since wealth, splendor, and
beauty are Paradise's most basic characteristics, Allah creates similar
blessings here to remind His chosen servants of Paradise and to increase
their ardor and desire to attain it. Therefore, just as unbelievers already
begin their eternal anguish in this world, sincere believers begin to
see the eternal beauty promised to them.
Believers live far from every spiritual anxiety and sorrow, because
they remain in the awareness of Allah, Who created them, and so conform
to His commands and prohibitions; because they live according to Islam,
the religion that Allah was pleased to choose for humanity; and, most
importantly, because they nurture hope and great expectations for the
life to come. Above all, our Lord's assistance and support is with them,
for: "Allah sent down His serenity on His Messenger
and on the believers" (Surat at-Tawba, 26). Believers find a sense
of comfort in the knowledge that Allah sees them in every prayer they
observe, in every faithful work they perform, and in everything they do,
both great and small, to gain His good pleasure. In addition, they also
know that angels record their deeds in books and that they will be rewarded
in the afterlife for what they have done. This is the sense of security
that comes from their knowledge that Allah supports them with unseen hosts
and angels, that they have a "succession of angels in front of them and
behind them, in order to "guard them by Allah's
command" (Surat ar-Ra'd, 11), that they will overcome the challenges
they will face in Allah's way, and that they always have the joyful promise
of Paradise. So, sincere believers, according to what Allah revealed to
the angels, will never be overcome with fear or excitement, for: "I
am with you, so make those who have faith firm" (Surat an-Anfal, 12).
The Qur'an says that believers are "those who
say: 'Our Lord is Allah,' and then go straight" (Surah Fussilat, 30).
The angels descend on them and say: "Do not fear
and do not grieve, but receive the glad tidings of Paradise you have been
promised" (Surah Fussilat, 30). It also says that believers know
that Allah "imposes on no self any more than it
can bear" (Surat al-A'raf, 42).
They have a firm belief in destiny and that Allah makes and accomplishes
everything. Thus they accept everything that happens to them as being
from Allah, as the following verse says: "Nothing
can happen to us except what Allah has ordained for us" (Surat at-Tawba,
51). Since they seek to please Allah, saying: "Allah
is enough for us and the Best of Guardians" (Surah Al 'Imran, 173-174),
no evil thing will touch them.
But because this world is a place of testing, believers will face difficulties,
such as hunger, illness, and sleeplessness, an accident or material loss.
They may go through even more difficulties and trials, such as those of
poverty and constraint, as indicated in the following verse:
Or did you suppose that you would enter Paradise
without facing the same as those who came before you? Poverty and illness
afflicted them, and they were shaken to the point that the Messenger and
those who had faith with him said: "When is Allah's help coming?" Be assured
that Allah's help is very near. (Surat al-Baqara, 214)
Such trials did not sway the Prophets and the believers from their firm
faith in our Lord, or from their determination to put the Qur'an's verses
into practice. At the end of the verse, Allah promises believers that
His assistance is already very near to them. In another verse, He states
Allah will give security, in their victorious Safe
Haven, to those who had fear. No evil will touch them, and they will know
no sorrow. (Surat az-Zumar, 61)
All believers know that difficulties are created to test their faith,
and that if they are patient and submissive, these difficulties will be
great opportunities for them to mature spiritually. In addition, these
trials will become the source of their eternal reward in the afterlife.
For this reason, they will submit to these difficulties and retain their
well-being, happiness, or joy. These anxieties will not upset their spiritual
balance or adversely affect their perception or determination. In fact,
their enthusiasm will continue to grow, because they know that they will
receive the reward for their patience and submission in His Presence.
For unbelievers, the situation is just the opposite. Those who deny
the Qur'an suffer spiritual anguish in addition to the physical pain that
they endure in this earthly life. The fear, sorrow, hopelessness, tension,
pessimism, and other negative feelings that they experience here are just
the beginning of the anguish they will suffer in Hell. Allah describes
these people in the following verse:
When Allah desires to guide someone, He expands
his breast to Islam. When He desires to misguide someone, He makes his
breast narrow and constricted, as if he were climbing up into the sky.
That is how Allah defiles those who do not believe. (Surat al-An'am, 125)
Allah reveals that He wills to forgive the sins and errors of those
who stand in awe and reverence of His Glory, that He will reward His faithful
and repentant servants with the finest blessings in this earthly life,
and that they will find favor with Him. As we read in the Qur'an:
Ask your Lord for forgiveness, and then turn toward
Him in repentance. He will let you enjoy a good life until a specified
time, and will give His Favor to all who merit it. But if you turn your
backs, I fear for you the punishment of a Mighty Day. (Surah Hud, 3)
In other words, seeking Allah's forgiveness and turning to Him in repentance
are duties enjoined upon all faithful Muslims. These attitudes show that
believers are aware of how helpless and weak they are before Allah, for
they know their errors and shortcomings and are aware that they can make
mistakes. Therefore, they desire Allah's mercy. As our Lord has said,
He rewards such people here for their fine morality and gives them a good
life until they die. In another verse, He describes the believers' earthly
life in this way:
When those who have fear of Allah are asked, "What
has your Lord sent down?" their reply is, "Good!" There is good in this
world for those who do good, and the abode of the hereafter is even better.
How wonderful is the abode of those who guard against evil. (Surat an-Nahl,
When all of this life's beauties are compared with the land to come,
they become completely valueless. Therefore, if a goal is to be chosen,
it can only be the life of the world to come. Allah increases the blessings
of those believers who, already in this world, have set their hearts on
the life to come.
In their prayers, believers pray for the world to come and ask Allah
for blessings and good in this life. Examples of such prayers are given
in the following verses:
When you have completed your rites, remember Allah
as you used to remember your forefathers - or even more. Some people say:
"Our Lord, give us good in this world." They will have no share in the
hereafter. Others say: "Our Lord, give us good in this world and good
in the hereafter, and safeguard us from the punishment of the Fire." They
will have a good share from what they have earned. Allah is swift at reckoning.
(Surat al-Baqara, 200-202)
In the Qur'an, those faithful servants of Allah who sincerely believe
in Him are said to be made heirs of this world. Surely His promise is
true and will come to pass. One verse states:
Allah has promised those of you who believe and
do right actions that He will make them successors in the land, as He
made those before them successors; (that He) will firmly establish for
them their religion (Islam), which He is pleased to give them; and, in
place of their fear, security. "They worship Me, not associating anything
with Me." As for those who do not believe after that, such people are
deviators. (Surat an-Nur, 55)
In an earlier section, we mentioned that those sincere believers who
give themselves to Allah will enjoy His blessings in this life before
they enter Paradise. One of the most important blessings is the promise
of good news to believers. Several verses"speak of Allah's promise of
Paradise and the announcement of this good news to believers as follows:
Their Lord gives them the good news of His mercy
and good pleasure, and Gardens where they will enjoy everlasting delight.
(Surat at-Tawba, 21)
There is good news for them in the life of the
world and in the hereafter. There is no changing the words of Allah. That
is the great victory! (Surah Yunus, 64)
The hearts of those believers who have hope in this good news trust
that their good works will find favor in Allah's sight, that the blessings
they await are close at hand, and are filled with contentment.
The Qur'an states that believers will receive the good news also from
angels. Those faithful servants who sincerely believe in Allah and associate
nothing with Him, who carefully obey the Qur'an's commands and counsel,
and are eager to live according to its moral teaching, may hope for this
joyful news. Certainly, this news is an indescribable joy for all believers
who ardently desire Paradise. As we read in the Qur'an:
The angels descend upon those who say: "Our Lord
is Allah," and then go straight: "Do not fear or grieve, but receive the
glad tiding of Paradise that you have been promised. We are your protectors
in the life of the world and the hereafter. You will have there all that
your selves could wish for. You will have there everything that you demand.
Hospitality from the One Who is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful." (Surah
Allah has also entrusted the prophets with announcing this good news.
In Surat al-Ahzab, 47, Allah commands the Prophet (saas) to proclaim that
believers will receive an immense reward from Him; In Surah Ya Sin, 11,
He reveals him that"those who obey the Qur'an and stand in awe of the
Most Gracious will receive pardon and an excellent reward; and Surat az-Zumar,
17 announces that those who shun the worship of false gods and turn toward
Allah will have good news. And in Surah Yunus, 2, Allah tells His Messenger
to "give good news to those who believe, that they
are on a sure footing with their Lord."
When we look at the common characteristics of the believers, those described
in the above verses as those given the good news of Paradise, we see that
they are sincere people who are extremely close to Allah, acknowledge
their weakness, obey the Qur'an and the Prophet, and fear Allah.
To those who will come into His Presence as believers, Allah gives the
promise of Paradise, wherein they will remain forever. As there is no
doubt that this promise will be fulfilled, those who believe with certainty
will never doubt its truth. Moreover, if they have surrendered their souls
to Him as believers, they know that their sins will be forgiven and that
they will be accepted into Paradise. The following verse makes this clear:
Gardens of Eden which the All-Merciful has promised
to His servants in the Unseen. His promise is always kept. (Surah Maryam,
The fact that Allah has promised Paradise to believers brings them an
indescribable joy and enthusiasm. They know that Allah wills Paradise
for His faithful servants, and that He has made them its heirs. Here is
another verse that mentions this promise:
Is someone to whom We have promised good and who
then obtains it like someone to whom We have given enjoyment in the life
of the world and then, on the Day of Rising, is one of those brought to
punishment? (Surat al-Qasas, 61)
If Allah has promised Paradise to any individuals, they will attain
eternal blessings with Allah's permission. And when believers enter Paradise,
they will certainly express their thanks to Allah in this way:
They will say: "Praise be to Allah Who has fulfilled
His promise to us and made us the inheritors of this land, letting us
settle in Paradise wherever we want. How excellent is the wage of those
who work." (Surat az-Zumar, 74)
Believers who have been given the good news several times during their
earthly lives, and to whom Allah has promised Paradise, will receive at
the end of their lives that for which they hoped. Finally, that long-awaited
moment will come. The place that they have contemplated throughout their
lives, prayed to attain, and striven to be worthy of is Paradise - "the
best place to be," and "the most beauteous of all goals."
This perfect place was prepared for believers, and its doors are opened
The following verse gives a unique view about their entrance into Paradise:
Gardens of Eden that they will enter, and all of
their parents, wives, and children who have acted honorably. Angels will
enter in to welcome them from every gate: "Peace be upon you because of
your steadfastness! How wonderful is the Ultimate Abode!" (Surat ar-Ra'd,
They will be welcomed into Paradise "with greetings
and [words of] peace" (Surat al-Furqan, 75), and enter there "in
peace, in complete security!" (Surat al-Hijr, 46). There is only
one thing left to do: to discover the beauties of this eternal land prepared
for believers and endowed with every kind of blessing.