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A DESCRIPTION OF JAHANNUM

(Part-I)

Islam teaches that Jahannum (Jahannum) is a real place prepared by Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) for those who do not believe in Him, rebel against His laws, and reject His messengers.  Jahannum is an actual place, not a mere state of mind or a spiritual entity.  The horrors, pain, anguish, and punishment are all real, but different in nature than their earthly counterparts.  Jahannum is the ultimate humiliation and loss, and nothing is worse than it: “Our Lord!  Surely, whom You admit to the Fire, indeed You have disgraced him, and never will the wrongdoers find any helpers.” (Quraan 3:192)

“Know they not that whoever opposes Allah and His Messenger (Muhammad), certainly for him will be the Fire of Jahannum to abide therein?  That is the extreme disgrace.” (Quraan 9:63)

The Names of Jahannum
Jahannum Fire has different names in Islamic texts.  Each name gives a separate description.  Some of its names are:
Jahannam - Jahannum - because of the depth of its pit.
Jaheem – fire -  because of its blazing fire.
Lazaa - blazing fire - because of its flames.
Sa’eer - blazing flame - because it is kindled and ignited.
Saqar - because of the intensity of its heat.
Hatamah - broken pieces or debris - because it breaks and crushes everything that is thrown into it.
Haawiyah - chasm or abyss - because the one who is thrown into it is thrown from top to bottom.

Jannah (Jannah) and Jahannum (Hell) Presently Exist and are Eternal
Jahannum exists at the present time and will continue to exist forever.  It will never die down, and its inhabitants will remain in it forever.  No one will come out of Jahannum except sinful believers who believed in the Oneness of God in this life and believed in the specific prophet sent to them (before the coming of Muhammad).  The polytheists and unbelievers will reside in it forever.  This belief has been held from classical times and is based on clear Aayaat (Verses) of the Quraan and confirmed reports from the Prophet of Islam.  The Quraan speaks of Jahannum in the past tense and states that it has already been created: “And fear the Fire which is prepared for the disbelievers.” (Quraan 3:131)

The Prophet Muhammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) said: “When any of you dies, he is shown his position (in the life o Aakhirah — Hereafter) morning and evening.  If he is one of the people of Jannah, he is shown the place of the people of Jannah.  If he is one of the people of Jahannum, he is shown the place of people of Jahannum.  He is told, ‘this is your position, until Allah resurrects you on the Day of Qiyaamah (Resurrection).” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari, Saheeh Muslim)

In another report, the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) said: “Surely, the soul of a believer is a bird hanging on the trees of Jannah, until Allah returns it to his body on the Day of Qiyaamah.” (Muwattaa Imaam Maalik)

These texts make it clear that Jahannum and Jannah exist, and that souls may enter them before the Day of Qiyaamah.  Speaking of Jahannum’s eternity, Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) says: “They will long to leave the Fire, but never will they leave there from; and theirs will be a lasting torment.” (Quraan 5:37)

“…And they will never leave of the Fire.” (Quraan 2:167)

“Surely, those who disbelieve and did wrong; Allah will not forgive them, nor will He guide them to any way except the way of Jahannum, to dwell therein forever.” (Quraan 4:168-169)

“Surely, Allah has cursed the disbelievers, and has prepared for them a flaming Fire wherein they will abide forever.” (Quraan 33:64)

“And whosoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger, then surely, for him is the fire of Jahannum, he shall dwell therein forever.” (Quraan 72:23)

The Keepers of Jahannum
Mighty and stern angels stand over Jahannum who never disobey Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa).  They do precisely as ordered.  Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) says:

“O you who believe! Save yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is men and stones over which are (appointed) angels, stern and severe, who flinch not (from executing) the commands they receive from Allah, but do (precisely what) they are commanded.” (Quraan 66:6)

They are nineteen keepers of Jahannum as Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) says: “Soon I will cast him into Jahannum Fire.  And what will explain to you what is Jahannum fire?  Nothing does it allow to endure, and nothing does it leave alone!  Darkening and changing the color of man!  Over it are nineteen (angels as keepers of Jahannum).” (Quraan 74:26-30)

One should not think that the inhabitants of Jahannum will be able to overcome the keepers of Jahannum because there are just nineteen of them.  Every one of them has the strength to subdue all humanity by himself.  These angels are called the Guards of Jahannum by Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) in the Quraan: “And those in the Fire will say to the Guards of Jahannum, ‘Call upon your Lord to lighten for us the torment for a day’.” (Quraan 40:49)

The name of the chief angel guarding over Jahannum is Maalik, as mentioned in the Quraan: “Surely, the disbelievers will be in the torment of Jahannum to abide therein forever.  (The torment) will not be lightened for them, and they will be plunged into destruction with deep regrets, sorrows and in despair therein.  We wronged them not, but they were the wrongdoers.  And they will cry: ‘O Maalik! Let your Lord make an end of us’ He will say: ‘Surely, you shall abide forever.’  Indeed We have brought the truth to you, but most of you have a hatred for the truth” (Quraan 43:74-78)

Its Location
There is no exact mention from the Quraan or the sayings of Prophet Muhammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) which pinpoint the location of Jahannum.  No one knows its exact place except Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa).  Due to some linguistic evidence and context of certain Ahaadeeth, some scholars have stated that Jahannum is in the heavens, yet others say it is in the lower earth.

Its Size
Jahannum is huge and immensely deep.  We know this through several ways.

First, innumerable people will enter Jahannum, each, as described in a Hadeeth, with the molar teeth as large as Uhud (a mountain in Medina)(Saheeh Muslim)

The distance between the shoulders of its inhabitants has also been described as being equivalent to three days of walking. (Saheeh Muslim)

Jahannum will house all the unbelievers and sinners from the beginning of time and there will still be room for more. Allah (Subhaana-hu Wa Ta’aalaa) says: “On the Day when We will say to Jahannum: ‘Are you filled?’  It will say, ‘Are there any more (to come)?’” (Quraan 50:30)

The Fire of Jahannum is likened to a mill that grinds thousa-nds and thousands of tons of grain and then waits for more to come.

Second, a stone thrown from the top of Jahannum will take a very long time to reach the bottom.  One of the Sahaabah (Companions) of the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) describes how they were sitting with the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) and heard the sound of something falling.  The Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) inquired if they knew what it was.  When they expressed their lack of knowledge, he said: “That was a stone thrown into Jahannum seventy years ago and it is yet in the way (the other side) of Jahannum until now.” (Mishkaat ul Masaabeeh)

Another report states: “If a stone as big as seven pregnant camels was thrown from the edge of Jahannum, it would fly through it for seventy years, and yet it would not reach the bottom.” (Saheeh al-Jami’)

Third, a great many angels will bring Jahannum on the Day of Resurrection. Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) speaks of it: “And Jahannum will be brought near that Day…” (Quraan 89:23)

The Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) said: “Jahannum will be brought forth that Day by means of seventy thousand ropes, each of which will be held by seventy thousand angels.” (Saheeh Muslim)

Fourth, another report that indicates the vast size of Jahannum is that the sun and moon will be rolled up in Jahannum on the Day of Qiyaamah. (Tahaawi in Mushkaal al-Aathaar, Bazzaar, Baihaqi, and others)

Its Levels
Jahannum has various levels of heat and punishment, each is reserved according to the extent of their disbelief and sins of those being punished. Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) says: “Surely, the hypocrites will be in the lowest depths (grade) of the Fire.” (Quraan 4:145)

The lower the level of Jahan-num, the greater is the intensity of heat.  Since the hypocrites will suffer the worst punishment, so will they be in the lowest part of Jahannum.

Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) refers to the levels of Jahannum in the Quraan: “For all will be (ranked) by degrees according to what they did.” (Quraan 6:132)

“Is one who seeks the good pleasure of Allah then like the one who draws on himself the wrath of Allah?  His abode is Jahannum – and worst, indeed, is that destination!  They are in varying grades with Allah, and Allah is All-Seer of what they do.” (Quraan 3:162-163)

The Gates of Jahannum
Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) speaks of seven Gates of Jahannum in the Quraan: “And surely, Jahannum is the promised place for them all. It has seven gates, for each of these gates is a class of sinners assigned.” (Quraan 15:43-44)

Each gate has an allotted share of the damned who will enter through it.  Each will enter according to his deeds and assigned a level of Jahannum accordingly.  When the unbelievers are brought to Jahannum, its gates will open, they will enter it, and stay in it forever:

“And those who disbelieved will be driven to Jahannum in groups until, when they reach it, its gates are opened and its keepers will say, ‘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?’ They will say, ‘Yes, but the word (meaning the decree) of punishment has come into effect upon the disbelievers.’” (Quraan 39:71)

They will be told after admission: “Enter the gates of Jahannum to abide eternally therein, and wretched is the residence of the arrogant.” (Quraan 39:72)

The gates will be shut and there will be no hope of escape as Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) says: “But those who reject Our signs, they are the companions of the left hand.  On them will be Fire vaulted over (meaning the gates will be locked).” (Quraan 90:19-20)

This was based on the explanation of Ibn Abbas. (‘Tafseer Ibne Katheer)

Furthermore, Allah (Subha-anahu Wa Ta’aalaa) says in the Quraan: “Woe to every scorner and mocker, who collects wealth and (continuously) counts it. He thinks that his wealth will make him immortal. No! He will surely be thrown into the Crusher.  And what can make you know what is the Crushers? It is the fire of Allah, (eternally) fueled, Which mounts directed at the hearts. Indeed, it (Jahannum fire) will be closed down upon them in extended columns.” (Quraan 104:1-9)

The gates of Jahannum are also closed before the Day of Qiyaamah.  The Prophet Muhammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) spoke of them closing in the month of Ramadhaan. (Tirmizi)

Its Fuel
Stones and stubborn unbelievers make the fuel of Jahannum as Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) says: “O you who have believed! Protect yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is people and stones...” (Quraan 66:6)

“…then fear the Fire, whose fuel is men and stones, prepared for the disbelievers.” (Quraan 2:24)

Another source of fuel for Jahannum will be the pagan gods that were worshipped besides Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa): “Indeed, you (disbelievers) and what you worship other than Allah are the firewood of Jahannum.  You will be coming to (enter) it.  Had these (false deities) been (actual) gods, they would not have come to it, but all are eternal therein.” (Quraan 21:98-99)

The Clothing of its Inhabitants
Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) tells us that the dress of the people of Jahannum will be garments of fire tailored for them: “…But those who disbelieved will have cut out for them garments of fire.  Poured upon their heads will be scalding water.” (Quraan 22:19)

“And you will see the criminals that Day bound together in shackles, their garments of liquid pitch (melted copper) and their faces covered by the Fire.” (Quraan 14:49-50)

The intense heat, food, and drink of the people of Jahannum is also described in Islamic religious sources.

Its Heat
Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) says: “And the companions of the left – what are the companions of the left?  (They will be) in scorching fire and scalding water and a shade of black smoke, neither cool nor beneficial.” (Quraan 56:41-44)

Everything people use to cool down in this world – air, water, shade – will be useless in Jahannum.  The air of Jahannum will be hot wind and the water will be boiling.  The shade will not be comforting or cooling, the shade in Jahannum will be the shadow of black smoke as mentioned in the Aayah: “And shadow of black smoke.” (Quraan 56:43)

In another passage, Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) says: “But he whose balance (of good deeds) will be light, will have his home in a (bottomless) pit.  And what will explain to you what this is?  (It is) a Fire blazing fiercely.” (Quraan 101:8-11)

Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) describes how the shade of Jahannum’s smoke will rise above the Fire.  The smoke that rises from Jahannum will be divided into three columns.  Its shade will neither cool nor offer any protection from the raging Fire.  The flying sparks will be like huge castles similar to string of marching yellow camels: “Proceed to a shadow (of smoke) having three columns (but having) no cool shade and availing not against the flame.  Indeed, it throws sparks (as huge) as a fortress, as if they were yellow camels (marching swiftly).”(Quraan 77:30-33)

The Fire consumes everyth-ing, leaving nothing untou-ched.  It burns skin reaching all the way to the bones, melting the contents of the stomach, leaping up to the hearts, and exposing the vital organs.  Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) speaks of the intensity and affect of the Fire: “I will drive him into Jahannumfire.  And what can make you know what is Jahannum fire?  It lets nothing remain and leaves nothing (unburned), altering the skins.” (Quraan 74:26-29)

The Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) said: “Fire as we know it is one seventieth part of the Fire of Jahannum.  Someone said: “O Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Taáalaa)’s Messenger (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam)! It is enough as it is!”

He said: “It is as if sixty-nine equal portions were added to fire as we know it.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari)

The Fire never extinguishes: “So taste you (the results of your evil deeds).  No increase shall We give you except in torment.” (Quraan 78:30)

“…Whenever it abates, We shall increase for them the fierceness of the Fire.” (Quraan 17:97)

The torment will never be reduced and the unbelievers will not have any break: “…Their torment shall not be lightened nor shall they be helped.” (Quraan 2:86)
(Continued)
 

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