Allah (swt) paints a picture for us in the Qur’an of one of the greatest losers:
“But as for he who is given his record in his left hand, he will say, “Oh, I wish I had not been given my record and had not known what is my account! My wealth has not availed me! Gone from me is my authority!” (Qur’an, 69:25-29)
In the hereafter, our aspirations, intentions and beliefs will be put on display. This person thought that their wealth and power would save them but realized this was false hope after facing the reality. He says in his utter despair and regret that the two avenues of salvation he was relying on amounted to absolutely nothing. That is the definition of a loser.
What happens next to this person? Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala (exalted is He) will announce to the keepers of Hell:
“Seize him and shackle him! Then into Hellfire drive him! Then fasten him with a chain whereof the length is seventy cubits!” (Qur’an, 69:30-32)
The English translation does not capture the terror of these verses. When Allah (swt) gives these orders, He (swt) is not speaking to one Angel, rather He (swt) is addressing a group of Angels to take hold of this person, tie him up with chains, then throw him into Hell-Fire. No one will enter the Fire willingly, so it takes a group of strong and stern Angels to take people to the Hell-Fire.
Even though these Angels are strong enough to restrain the sinners and disbelievers who will enter the Fire, Allah (swt) will order the Angels to secure them with chains and fetters – another level of punishment and humiliation for them. Allah (swt) says, “Those who deny the Book and that with which We sent Our messengers – they are going to know, When the shackles are around their necks and the chains.” (Qur’an, 40:70-71)
After they are chained individually, they will then be chained together: “And when they are thrown into a narrow place therein bound in chains, they will cry out thereupon for destruction.” (Qur’an, 25:13) We know that Hell-Fire is huge, but it will feel as if it is a tight and cramped place. Their state is described as muqaraneen, which means they will all be tied together. One of the biggest fears people have today is claustrophobia, the fear of narrow spaces. Those destined for the Fire will experience the fear of claustrophobia on a much greater level. This punishment shows that the torments of the Fire will not only be physical but also psychological.
Different ways of Entering the Fire
After being seized, shackled and chained together, they will then enter the Fire. Some will enter differently than others, and Allah (swt) shows this in the Qur’an.
Some will be thrown into the Fire:
“The criminals will be known by their marks, and they will be seized by the forelocks and the feet.” (Qur’an, 55:41) The Angels will grab these people by their foreheads and feet and throw them in the Fire. We can only imagine how humiliating it is to be detained in such a position.
Others will be pushed into the Fire:
“The Day they are thrust toward the fire of Hell with a [violent] thrust.” (Qur’an, 52:13) Some of us who have experienced being pushed somewhere or having to do something against our will can attest to how powerless it makes one feel and how terrifying it can be. These people will be pushed into Hell-Fire against their will because no one will enter the Fire willingly.
Some will be dragged into the Fire:
“The Day they are dragged into the Fire on their faces.” (Qur’an, 54:48) Our face is the most honorable part of our bodies, revealing how degrading it will be for the disbelievers and sinners to be dragged on it.
Finally, some people will enter the Fire unexpectedly:
“And those who disbelieved will be driven to Hell in groups until, when they reach it, its gates are opened.” (Qur’an, 39:71) This verse is one of the many miracles of Qur’anic composition, showing how every addition and subtraction of a word has an impact on the meaning. When Allah (swt) says that the disbelievers will be taken to Hell-Fire in groups, He (swt) does not include a conjunction between that statement and the statement that the gates will be opened. Meaning, Allah (swt) does not say, “then the gates will be opened” but simply, “its gates are opened”. The English translation does not capture the profound meaning of this verse. The scholars say that the omission of the Arabic letter waw (which can mean “and” as well as “then”) shows that the gates will open all of a sudden, without warning, on the disbelievers. Being thrown and pushed into the Fire are terrifying, but this entrance into the Fire is unquestionably the scariest.
Just as we are greeted by the inhabitants when we enter a new location, the companions of the Fire will also be greeted – but their greeting will not be one of welcome and pleasure. Instead, Allah (swt) says, “The day they see the angels – no good tidings will there be that day for the criminals, and [the angels] will say, “Prevented and inaccessible.” (Qur’an, 25:22) They will be prevented from Paradise, and unable to access anything that will bring relief, happiness or comfort.
Allah (swt) says in another ayah (verse): “No welcome for them!” (Qur’an, 38:59) Rather, the Angels will greet them with mocking questions:
“Did there not come to you messengers from yourselves, reciting to you the verses of your Lord and warning you of the meeting of this Day of yours?” (Qur’an, 39:71)
The Angels will repeat this question over and over, “Every time a company is thrown into it, its keepers ask them, “Did there not come to you a warner?” (Qur’an, 67:8)
It is as if the Angels are saying, “How could you have known about this Fire yet you still entered it?! Were you not warned of it?!” This is adding insult to injury, showing yet another aspect of the psychological trauma of those in Hell-Fire.
We seek Allah’s refuge from the Fire!