I is for Islam

I have touched on Islam in previous posts, particularly their views on angels and demons, but what is their concept of Heaven and the afterlife?

Like Christians, Muslims believe in the continue existence of the soul and a physical transformation into the afterlife. Similarly to some Christian views, whether they go to Paradise or Hell will not be determined until the Day of Judgement, or the Last Day, on which the world will be destroyed and Allah will resurrect all people and jinn (demons) in order to judge them. During the period of waiting, souls will remain in their graves although they are said to start experiencing what is to come, knowing even then whether they are destined for Paradise or Hell.

Passing into Paradise or Hell is described as crossing a narrow bridge – those who make it will enjoy spiritual and physical pleasures in Paradise forever more, but those who fall – due to the weight of their sins – will be condemned to torture and suffering in Hell. However, there are two exceptions: warriors who die fighting in the name of God will be admitted straight to Paradise and enemies of Islam are sent immediately to Hell.

Paradise is called Jannah, ‘The Garden’, where there are lofty gardens, rivers of milk and honey (‘rivers of water incorruptible; rivers of milk of which the taste never changes’ (Quran 47:15)), and fountains scented with ginger, to name but a few. The Qu’ran says there are seven heavens, the highest of which is reserved for the prophets and those particularly pious. In comparison, Hell is described as having seven doors which lead to a fiery crater of different levels, the level of hell depending on the degree of sin. There is debate over whether souls remain in Hell forever – some believe that because Allah is merciful he can save souls so that there will become a time when Hell is empty, but others believe that non-believers will suffer in Hell for eternity.

Descriptions in the Qu’ran appear abundant and I am at a loss at which ones to use that will paint the most beautiful picture of the heaven that Muslims believe in. What has struck me though is how much simpler and definite their concept is compared to what I have looked at so far. Despite this, the Qu’ran makes it clear through the following quotes that everything in Paradise is far beyond are imagination and comprehension.

‘And when you look there (in Paradise) you will see a delight (that cannot be imagined), and a great dominion’ (Quran 76:20)

‘I have prepared for my slaves what no eye has seen, no ear has heard and no human heart can imagine… No person knows what is kept hidden for them of joy as a reward for what they used to do.'(Quran 32:17)

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