Aqeedah (Belief) Spiritual Purification With the Divine

Paradise and Hell

Paradise and Hell Series: Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V | Part VI | Part VII | Part VIII

Imagine that you knew the angel of death was coming to you in a few hours. What would your first thought be?

For most of us, it would be: What have I prepared for the next life?!

Doctors today speak of how people are living longer than ever before. In some countries, people live well beyond 90 years of age. Some of us may delay doing good deeds because we think we have a long life ahead of us. But, when Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) speaks of the Day of Judgment, He (swt) tells us that people will feel that they’ve only stayed in the dunya (this life) for a day or part of a day or even an hour. While 90 years is a long time to live, it does not compare to eternity. People will only realize that the next life is truly everlasting when they are standing in front of Allah (swt) and are seeing it with their own eyes. This is why the strongest motivation for a believer to do good deeds and stay away from sins, after seeking the pleasure of Allah (swt), is to remember death and the hereafter.

As humans, we are prone to forget and we are quickly distracted by the glitter of this world. To keep this reminder constantly in our minds, Allah (swt) mentions the hereafter on every page in the Qur’an.

Yet even though we are constantly reminded of Hell-Fire and Paradise in the Qur’an, we do not truly comprehend their nature because we do not understand their descriptions and meanings in the Qur’an and Sunnah (tradition of the Prophet ﷺ, peace be upon him). If we truly understood the nature of the Fire, we would fear it as it should be feared. And if we understood the real nature of Paradise, we would yearn for it as it deserves to be yearned for.

Allah (swt) discusses both Hell and Paradise equally in the Qur’an, displaying the balance of our religion. The two wings of a believer are fear and hope, and just as a bird cannot fly without balanced wings, the believer cannot either. Insha’Allah (God willing) we will be following this example for our series; posting one topic about Hell-Fire and the next about Paradise to balance our hope and fear in Allah (swt). Each week, we will learn about a new aspect of Hell or Paradise including:

  • The Names and Descriptions of Paradise and Hell
  • The Entrance into Paradise and Hell
  • The Food and Clothing of Paradise and Hell
  • The Entertainment of Paradise and Hell
  • The Conversations of the Inhabitants of Paradise and Hell
  • The Supplications of those in Paradise and Hell

The first part we will cover are the Names and Descriptions of Paradise and Hell. By learning their names and descriptions, we will be able to comprehend the true nature of jannah (Paradise) and nar (Hell-Fire). Names and descriptions allow us to understand different aspects of each, as each name and description gives us a new perspective on these final abodes.

Understanding the Fire

When we think of Hell-Fire, we compare it to the fire that we have in this world. We think of our stove or fireplace; yet the Fire of Hell is more intense and severe. The Prophet ﷺ said, “Your [ordinary] fire is one of 70 parts of the (Hell) Fire.” Someone said, “O Allah’s Apostle, this [ordinary] fire would have been sufficient (as a punishment)!” Allah’s Apostle ﷺ said, “The (Hell) Fire has 69 parts more than the ordinary [worldly] fire, each part is as hot as this [worldly] fire.” (Bukhari)

In another well-known narration, the Prophet ﷺ said, Hell-Fire will be brought forth on the Day of Judgment with 70,000 zimaam each pulled by 70,000 Angels,” (Muslim). The word zimaam is usually translated as “chains” but a more fitting translation is “leashes”. What do leashes restrain? They restrain animals. Hell-Fire is a living, breathing monster. To put this into perspective, let us remember the magnificent creation of the Angels. The Prophet ﷺ described the Angels who hold Allah’s Throne saying, “The distance between his ear-lobes and his shoulders is equivalent to a seven-hundred-year journey,” (Abu Dawud). The Angels are not a small creation, and they will be pulling and restraining this monster.

Allah (swt) describes the animalistic nature of the Fire in the Qur’an:

إِذَا رَأَتْهُمْ مِنْ مَكَانٍ بَعِيدٍ سَمِعُوا لَهَا تَغَيُّظًا وَزَفِير

“When the Hellfire sees them from a distant place, they will hear its fury and roaring,” (Qur’an 25:12).

Before the inhabitants of the Fire even see it, they will hear its anger and rage from far away. How far? Imam Al-Suddi says the distance of 100-years’ travel.

Allah (swt) uses a human emotion to describe the Fire, gaydh, which means a furious anger and rage. Why is the Fire angry? The scholars say that it is angry at peoples’ disbelief and disobedience to Allah (swt)!

Allah (swt) tells us how the Fire will roar:

إِذَآ أُلْقُواْ فِيهَا سَمِعُواْ لَهَا شَهِيقًا وَهِىَ تَفُورُ تَكَادُ تَمَيَّزُ مِنَ الغَيْظِ

“When they are thrown into it, they hear from it a (dreadful) inhaling while it boils up. It almost bursts with rage […]” (Qur’an 67:7-8).

Jahannam, Jaheem, and Hutumah

Among the names of Hell-Fire is jahannam. Jahannam  (جهنم) appears in the Qur’an 77 times, and is one of the more well-known names of Hell-Fire. Allah (swt) says:

وَلِلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا بِرَبِّهِمْ عَذَابُ جَهَنَّمَ

“And for those who disbelieved in their Lord is the punishment of jahannam […]” (Qur’an 67:6).

Jahannam has several meanings:

  • The literal meaning is to meet with a frowning face and to have a stern look. When you look at a person who has jahm, you become fearful.
  • Darkness. Jahm is used for the darkest part of the night. One of the biggest fears people have is being in complete darkness. Jahannam is a dark place where you don’t want to be alone.
  • A waterless cloud. A cloud without water brings disappointment and does not provide any comfort.

Put these meanings together and jahannam is a place that looks scary, is completely dark, and provides no comfort.

Another name of Hell-Fire is jaheem. Allah (swt) says:

وَبُرِّزَتِ الْجَحِيمُ لِلْغَاوِينَ

“And Hellfire will be brought forth for the deviators,” (Qur’an 26:91).

Al-Jaheem (الجحيم) appears 23 times in the Qur’an. These are among the meanings of this name:

  • The literal meaning is to light and stir up a fire–you add fuel and ensure it keeps burning.
  • The word jahama means to stare with sharp eyes, and refers to the way a lion stares at its prey.
  • The word ajham, from the same root, means someone who has red eyes.
  • Jaheem is also used for a pit with blazing fire–and not just any fire, but an extremely hot, intense, and fiercely-burning fire.

Next time Shaytan (the devil) whispers to you and you are inclined to commit a sin, remember this description of Hell-Fire, like a lion staring at its prey, waiting to pounce on it:

إِنَّ جَهَنَّمَ كَانَتْ مِرْصَادًا

“Indeed, Hell has been lying in wait,” (Qur’an 78:21).

Another name of Hell-Fire is al-hutamah. Allah (swt) says about the one who slanders and backbites:

لَيُنبَذَنَّ فِي الْحُطَمَةِ

وَمَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا الْحُطَمَةُ

نَارُ اللَّهِ الْمُوقَدَةُ

“No! He will surely be thrown into al hutamah. And what can make you know what is al hutamah? It is the fire of Allah, [eternally] fueled,” (Qur’an 104:4-6).

Hutamah is one of the descriptive names of the Hell-Fire and it is from the word hatama which means to crush something to pieces. Hutamah is also used to describe a person who eats a lot and is never satisfied. When we eat, we must chew our food first, and then we are able to digest it. Similarly, the Hell-Fire will crush everything as it consumes.  It will crush and mash everything thrown into it. Allah (swt) tells us in Surah Qaaf (Chapter of the letter ‘Qaaf’) that Hell-Fire will say: hal min mazeed? “Is there any more (to consume)?” (Qur’an 50:30)

Allah (swt) describes al-hutamah further by saying it is: naar allahil mooqadah: it is the fire of Allah, kindled.

This Fire is attributed to Allah (swt) and when the idaafah (possession) of something is to Allah (swt), it gives great importance to that thing. Hell is such a great fire that only Allah (swt) can light a fire of this nature.

It is al-mooqadah: the one that is kindled. It is already burning right now; it has been lit and set ablaze. It is not going to be started on the Day of Judgment.

Futhermore Allah (swt) says:

الَّتِي تَطَّلِعُ عَلَى الْأَفْئِدَةِ

“Which mounts directed at the hearts,” (Qur’an 104:7).

This fire will not be limited to the external body, rather it is going to consume the body and reach the core. It will penetrate through the body. This hutamah will be such a great consumer that it will consume all the way to the hearts.

This is Hell-Fire: a fierce Fire that is the crusher of bones, bursting with rage and fury and brought forth before us with leashes pulled by 70,000 angels.

O Allah, we beg You to protect us from this abode!


About the author



Amatullah is a student of the Qur’an and its language. She completed the 2007 Ta’leem program at Al-Huda Institute in Canada and studied Qur’an, Tajweed (science of recitation) and Arabic in Cairo. Through her writings, she hopes to share the practical guidance taught to us by Allah and His Messenger and how to make spirituality an active part of our lives. She has completed her undergraduate degree in Social Work and will be completing a Masters program in 2014. Her experiences include working with immigrant seniors, refugee settlement, and accessibility for people with disabilities.


  • Amatullah, your articles are awesome. This is a very good series that you have started.
    I want add that it is a common thinking process among muslims today, when they read or hear descriptions of Jahannum, they think ‘I’m certainly not that bad, I know a lot of people who are worse than me. This is not for me. I know Allah will forgive me’
    And from there comes lackadaisical attitude towards deen.

  • MashAllah an excellent article.. And a series I intend to follow..
    certainly puts things into perspective..
    And May Allah keep the vision of hell in our sights.. And the love for Jannah in our hearts.. So we may remain firm & steadfast upon the Siraat’l mustaqeem.. Ameen..

  • May Allah swt protect us from it may he safeguard us from it may he have mercy on us I ask him to grant all believers the essence of paradise the light of it its fragrance may he bring us back to our homes and forgive us Ameen we are so lost in this Worldly life we do little to try to obey him we sit there and commit sin after sin and yet he waits and wants us to come ask his forgiveness so he van grant it to us we disobey him and yet he still cures us and helps us and guides us and provides us and supports us and loves us ya muslimeen reliZe what and who Allah is he dosent deserve this he deserves more than us prostrating ourselves and worshiping him all day and night with every last breath the wouldn’t even sum up a drop of what he’s given us and yet we repay him with sins what are we all doing find your way may Allah guides us may we give him that drop that is nothing to what he’s granted us if only we can repay him though in this time many don’t even try. يا أمة محمد اتقو الله. اسأل الله ان يغفرلنا

  • A living, breathing ,extremely furious,dreadfully screaming ,enormous-than-the-universe fire monster that has got this hhungggry eyes lying in wait for the sinners ,longing and craving to eat them.ANd its a glutton ! that can ONLY be stopped by Allah,the Majestic HImself..SUbhanalah,this is too scary!!

    No wonder the sahabas and saliheen feared this monster.
    subhanallahil adheem!

  • Jazakillah khayr for the awesome article; it was provided new insight and was a great reminder.

    If I may suggest – in future articles, would it be possible to focus on the possibility that all Muslims are not necessarily guaranteed freedom from the Hell fire, just as they are not guaranteed Paradise by virtue of their background/ culture?

    Something to debunk the beliefs that Ahl al Kitaab have about themselves.


  • Question;;;;;; Jazakum Allah alf khare I ask Allah swt to grant you all the reward and gather us all in Jenna inshallah ,, Suhaib I was reading and studying then I came upon a thing that kind of confused me I’ve always kept in mind that the only people who will enter Jenna inshllah will be those who islam is their deen and they are Muslims .believe in the oneness of Allah monotheism ….and that Mohammed saw is his last messenger. nd that inshallah those are the ones who will be safeguard from he’ll thanks to our beloved peophet mohammeds dua .than I wonder what about those that believ in Allah swt and the last day along with his prophets and etc though they don’t believe in Mohammed a

  • Sorry about that ;;;; so what I’m trying to
    Say is what about those who believe in god and the last day though are not Muslims the the people of the book …some believe in god do righteous deeds but lack the reality of the quran and sunnah. I ask this because I was reading the book the call of unity by harun yahya ;;;and according to the verses Quran 3:11 13-15 Quran 3:199 and it’s stated that Allah swt knows what in their hearts and some of them have earned his pleasure. Also that Islam excepts Jews and Christianity though does Allah except them to smell the fragrance of his paradise like the Muslims inshallah will . I don’t know if you get my question basically is Jenna only if you believe in Allah swt and that Mohammed is his last messenger… I’ve come to notice that some of the people of the book never heard of the prophet mohammed saw …alhamdulliah Allah guided me to know the greatest creation our beloved mohammed saw

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