Paradise: Page 3

THOSE WHO ARDENTLY HOPE FOR PARADISE: THE PARTY OF ALLAH

Allah has inscribed faith upon such people's hearts, will reinforce them with a spirit from Him, and admit them into Gardens with rivers flowing under them, remaining in them timelessly, forever. Allah is pleased with them, and they are pleased with Him. Such people are the party of Allah. Truly it is the party of Allah who are successful. (Surat al-Mujadala, 22)

Those believers to whom Allah has announced His promise of good news have important qualities, as revealed in the Qur'an:

-They believe and do right actions. (Surat al-Baqara, 25)

- They fear Allah. (Surah Al 'Imran, 15)

- They spend for the cause of Islam in times both ease and hardship. (Surah Al 'Imran, 134)

- They control their rage. ( Surah Al 'Imran, 134)

- They pardon other people.( Surah Al 'Imran, 134)

- After they act indecently or wrong themselves, they remember Allah and ask forgiveness for their wrong actions. (Surah Al 'Imran, 135)

- They do not knowingly persist in doing wrong actions. (Surah Al 'Imran, 135)

- The obey Allah and his Messenger. (Surat an-Nisa', 13)

- They keep up prayer, spend in charity, believe in and support Allah's messengers. (Surat al-Ma'ida, 12)

- They are truthful. (Surat al-Ma'ida, 119)

- They leave their homes for the cause of Allah and strive in Allah's way with their souls and possessions. (Surat at-Tawba: 20)

- They do good. (Surah Yunus, 26)

- They humble themselves before their Lord. (Surah Hud, 23)

-They repent of their sins. (Surah Maryam, 60)

- They honor their trusts and contracts. (Surat al-Mu'minun: 8)

- They safeguard their prayers. (Surat al-Mu'minun: 9)

- They compete with one another in the doing of good deeds. (Surah Fatir, 32)

- They are Allah's chosen servants. (Surat as-Saffat, 40)

- They believe in the Qur'an. (Surat az-Zukhruf, 69)

- They say "our Lord is Allah" and thereafter stand firm in their faith. (Surat al-Ahqaf, 13)

- They are heedful. ( Surah Muhammad, 15)

- They turn toward Allah with their whole heart. (Surah Qaf, 32)

- They stand in awe of the Most Gracious, although He is beyond the reach of human perception, and come unto Him with a heart returning in repentance. (Surah Qaf, 33)

- They are the doers of good. (Surat adh-Dhariyat, 16)

- They ask for Allah's forgiveness before the dawn. (Surat adh-Dhariyat, 18)

- They are the forerunners. (Surat al-Waqi'a, 10)

- They always keep their word and fear a day whose evil will spread far and wide. (Surat al-Insan, 7)

- They give food, despite their love for it, to the poor and orphans and captives. (Surat al-Insan, 8)

- They give the appropriate respect to the Messenger of Allah. (Surat al-Hujurat, 3)



AN EASY PASSAGE TO THE NEXT WORLD

Those the angels take in a virtuous state. They say: "Peace be upon you! Enter Paradise for what you did."(Surat an-Nahl: 32)

Death in a Virtuous State

Up to this point, we have seen that sincere believers live a good life in this world, are not overcome with fear or pessimism, and have a healthy and comfortable spiritual life. Since those who believe seek Allah's pleasure, we learn from the Qur'an that they have won His special assistance, support, and protection; their misdeeds will be removed from them and that they will be rewarded according to the best of what they did; and they will not be wronged. Since they "purchase" the next life in exchange for this life, they have made what the Qur'an calls a "good bargain." Allah is pleased with them, and they are pleased with Him.

But what will happen to them at the end of their lives? Where and when will Allah meet them at the hour He has appointed for their death? Neither believers nor unbelievers know where and when they will die. This fact is explained in Surah Luqman in these words:

Truly Allah has knowledge of the Hour, sends down abundant rain, and knows what is in the womb. And no self knows what it will earn tomorrow, and no self knows in what land it will die. Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware. (Surah Luqman, 34)

Together with this, the Qur'an informs us how death will come to believers, how their souls will be taken, and what will happen at the moment of death. As far as we know, believers experience death as a very gentle passage, like a momentary change in dimension. Just like the person whom Allah causes to be "as dead during his sleep" (Surat az-Zumar, 42) and wakes up the next morning to a new day, when believers die, they will be taken out of the worldly dimension and pass to the next dimension (Certainly Allah knows the truth.)

Allah announced this gentle and easy passage in Surat an-Nazi'at, 2, where He points to the appointed angels and says "those who draw out gently."

Another verse tells about the angels' conversation when they come to take a believer's soul:

Those the angels take in a virtuous state. They say: "Peace be upon you! Enter Paradise for what you did." (Surat an-Nahl, 32)

The following verse describes a believer's death:

The greatest terror will not upset them, and the angels will welcome them: "This is your Day, the one that you were promised." (Surat an-Anbiya', 103)

Clearly, believers who have led a good life in this world will have a beautiful and easy death, and their life in the next world will begin when they are met by angels. From that moment on, all of their relations with this world will cease, and they will be sent to an appointed place where they will come before Allah's Presence. As it was from the beginning, so it continues: comfort and ease await all believers.


AN EASY ACCOUNTING

After the believers' souls are taken gently by angels comes the moment of accounting, when all human beings will come before our Lord's Presence with all that they have done.

The course of events begun on the Day of Rising will continue with the resurrection of everyone who has ever lived with a new body and their gathering around the flames of Hell. Later, all of the witnesses will be brought in, each person's book of deeds will be opened, and everyone will account for what he or she did in the world. After this, all believers will be saved from the flames of Hell by Allah's mercy and taken to Paradise. The Qur'an describes the end of the world and the believers' state on that day in some detail.

The end of the world begins with the first blow of the trumpet. The world and the universe will be destroyed forever, mountains will break into pieces, the seas will boil, and the sky will be destroyed…

With the second blow, human beings will be resurrected and gather in one place to account for their actions. Everything they did, no matter how small, will be revealed to witnesses and to the one giving the account. This moment will bring a deadening shame to unbelievers, but joy and excitement to believers, for the Qur'an refers to that day as the "Day when Allah will not disgrace the Prophet and those who had faith along with him" (Surat at-Tahrim, 8)

Allah promises: "We will certainly help Our Messengers and those who believe both in the life of this world and on the Day the witnesses appear," (Surah Ghafir, 51)

On the last day, sincere believers will receive the book of their worldly deeds on their "right side." Their accounting will be easy, as the Qur'an says, and they will be considered worthy enough to enter Paradise.

As for him who is given his Book in his right hand, he will say: "Here, come and read my Book!" (Surat al-Haqqa, 19-22)

Believers, who are to receive what our Lord has promised, are excited and happy on "the Day of Timeless Eternity" (Surah Qaf, 34), and their state is described as follows:

As for him who is given his Book in his right hand, he will be given an easy reckoning and return to his family joyfully. (Surat al-Inshiqaq: 7-9)

When they have given their account, believers experience the joy of being saved. One verse says: "Enter them [Gardens and Springs] in peace, in complete security!" (Surat al-Hijr, 46) This is also described in another verse:

O self at rest and at peace, return to your Lord, well-pleasing and well-pleased! Enter among My servants! Enter My Paradise. (Surat al-Fajr, 27-30)

By then, Allah has forgiven the sins of those servants upon whom He has mercy, transformed their wrong actions into good, and given them permission to enter Paradise. These servants say:

..."If my people only knew how my Lord has forgiven me and placed me among the honored ones!" (Surah Ya sin, 26-27)

In another verse, Allah announces this good news to the people of Paradise:

This is the Day when the sincerity of the sincere will benefit them. They will have Gardens with rivers flowing under them, remaining in them timelessly, for ever and ever. (Surat al-Ma'ida, 119)

My servants, you will feel no fear today; you will know no sorrow. (Surat az-Zukhruf, 68)

In another verse, Allah informs us that "Paradise will be brought up close to the righteous, not far away" (Surah Qaf, 31)


THE NATURAL BEAUTY OF PARADISE

"What is the example [i.e., description] of Paradise promised to the righteous like? It has rivers flowing under it, and its foodstuffs and cool shade never fail. That is the final fate of those who have done their duty. But the final fate of the disbelievers is the Fire." (Surat ar-Ra'd, 35)

Natural beauty and greenery are among Paradise's wonderful blessings. Mansions built in gardens, right next to springs, are another beauty. Paradise, in which there is "neither burning sun nor bitter cold" (Surat al-Insan, 13), has such a pleasant climate that no one is made uncomfortable. It contains no exhausting sweaty heat or freezing cold. In Paradise, Allah will admit believers into "cool, refreshing shade" (Surat an-Nisa', 57)

The expression "refreshing shade," along with revealing that the climate will be comfortable and just as a person would want it, points out that Paradise's environment and conditions have been designed to give the human spirit true satiety and comfort. Every thing and condition in Paradise will be just as a believer desires.

One of the natural beauties most mentioned by Allah in the Qur'an is that of "outpouring water" (Surat al-Waqi'a, 31).

As we observe in this earthly life, the human spirit derives great pleasure from water, especially flowing water. Lakes, rivers, waterfalls, and streams flowing in a forest all speak to the human spirit. All artificial pools and fountains in mansions, residences, estates, and villa gardens, as well as artificial and natural streams, arise from this longing for the spiritual aesthetic.

The main reason why these esthetic views are so pleasurable is because the human spirit has been created for Paradise. These beauties are described elsewhere, as follows:

In them [two other Gardens] are two gushing springs. (Surat ar-Rahman, 66)

The sight and sound of flowing water comfort and gladden the human heart. The sight and sound of water falling from above give pleasure and are a means whereby people can give thanks to Allah and praise His name. Especially if the water flows in the hills, among trees and greenery or runs over stones, it is a really impressive sight. It either collects in the place where it falls, or forms pools and flows from one place to another. Continually flowing water is a sign of endless and inexhaustible plenty.

As we learn in Surat al-Hijr, 45: "The heedful will be amid Gardens and Springs." Another verse reads: "The heedful will be in shady nooks by springs" (Surat al-Mursalat, 41)

The "shady nooks" may be special spaces created so that believers can sit and observe all of this beauty. (Allah knows best) As with mansions, these shady nooks also are placed in high places so that the people in Paradise can view the beauty below and see its many details. Shady nooks offer special pleasure to believers. For example, people are served various kinds of food and fruits there, come together there and hold pleasurable conversations, and enjoy themselves there. Their being placed next to springs, spaces that give pleasure to the human soul, adds to their attractiveness. From these springs flow delicious waters.

Another natural beauty is the gardens. For example, the "lush Meadows of the Gardens" mentioned Surat ash-Shura, 22 have been prepared only for believers. One of their particular features is the harmony of natural beauty contained therein. Within them grow a never-ending variety of plants, similar to the most delicate and sweet-smelling ones on Earth, and several species of animals, both known and unknown to us.

The gardens are adorned with various fruit and other types of trees, plains of "deep viridian green" (Surat ar-Rahman, 64) plants and flowers, and, in some places, pools and fountains. Surat al-Waqi'a also mentions "fruit-laden lote-trees with thorns removed" and "[banana] trees layered [with fruit]" (28-29).

By reflecting upon all of these things, we can form a general view of Paradise. Some of its characteristics remind us of things in this world; others are unique blessings and beauties of Paradise that no one has ever seen or known, and that our minds cannot imagine or express. We must be aware that beautiful things and surprises are waiting for believers in Paradise, things and surprises prepared by Allah's infinite knowledge and beyond our imagination. As Surat ash-Shura, 22 tells us: "They will have whatever they wish for with their Lord. That is the great favor," everything in Paradise, including all of its natural beauties, are brought into being in accordance with a believer's own desire and pleasure. In other words, Allah allows a believer's imagination a role in forming Paradise's environment as a favor from Him.


ENDLESS DELIGHT

Eat and drink with relish for what you did.(Surat al-Mursalat, 43)

The Qur'an announces that the people of Paradise are blessed with the finest food and various drinks. But since these people require no nourishment, we can understand that such food and drink have been created only to give pleasure.

This food resembles the food of this world. The people of Paradise will express this similarity in the following way:

Give the good news to those who believe and do right actions, that they will have Gardens with rivers flowing under them. When they are given fruit there as provision, they will say: "This is what we were given before." But they were only given a simulation of it. They will have there spouses of perfect purity, and will remain there timelessly, forever. (Surat al-Baqara, 25)
Many foods in this world address people's appetites and give pleasure by their appearance and taste. Of course Allah can easily create similar foods in Paradise to give pleasure to believers. But, unlike with earthly food, there will be no need to worry about gaining weight, cholesterol, overeating, and so on, for Allah tells them: "Eat and drink with relish for what you did" (Surat al-Mursalat, 43) Being able to eat and drink beyond any reckoning is a delightfully pleasant reward.

In order to attain Paradise, people are tested in this earthly life. Believers show great effort and zeal in order to please our Lord, for they turn to Him sincerely, thank Him continually, pray to Him, and repent of their sins. As a reward, Allah offers them the blessings of Paradise.

Leading all of the food mentioned in the Qur'an is meat. In Paradise, Allah gives believers "any kind of fruit and meat that they desire" (Surat at-Tur, 22), and will offer them "any bird-meat they desire" (Surat al-Waqi'a, 22). Moreover, their food will "never run out" (Surah Sad, 54), because believers will"enter Paradise, provided for in it without any reckoning" (Surah Ghafir, 40).

They will be able to eat as much as they want, for the amount and types of food available will never decrease, and no one will be forced to stop eating due to being full or feeling sick.

Fruit is perhaps the food most often mentioned in the Qur'an. In Paradise, believers receive whatever type of fruit they desire. The Qur'an describes this:

Its shading branches will droop down over them, its ripe fruit hanging ready to be picked. (Surat al-Insan, 14)

Thus, we understand that fruits of Paradise grow on trees in natural surroundings and that believers can easily pick and eat them. Surat al-Waqi'a 28-29 mentions ""fruit-laden lote-trees with thorns removed" and "[banana] trees layered [with fruit]," meaning that the fruit can be obtained easily due to Paradise's infinite blessings.

The fruit it so plentiful that the tree branches cannot bear its weight, and it is easy to reach because the branches bend down to the ground.

This fruit may be offered freely on golden and silver trays and tastefully designed plates to believers, who are sitting on thrones and conversing with one another. Certainly all seeds and traces of rot and bruising that annoy people in this world have been removed, as befits Paradise. All fruits are offered to believers freely, with their eye-catching beauty and without blemish.

Fruit also adds further color and aesthetic beauty to Paradise. The sight of trees laden with all sorts of colorful fruits lends even more beauty to the wonderful landscape. The predominant color is green, and within that green are yellows, oranges, and reds that form a beautiful view that strikes the human eye. As an indication of Allah's mighty artistry, this view is another cause for thanksgiving.

Certainly, many kinds of drinks are also desirable. For instance, Surat as-Saffat, 45 mentions "a cup from a flowing spring passing round among them." In Paradise, believers are given "the choicest sealed wine to drink, whose seal is musk" (Surat al-Mutaffifin, 25-27). As these verses state, whatever they drink is also sweet-smelling and, of course, this wine is unlike any earthly wine.

The people who drink it will not become intoxicated or have their awareness impaired. Allah says that these drinks will be offered in glasses. They will not cause headaches, a loss of control of themselves, or any alteration in their minds. Young men whom Allah appointed for this service freely offer these drinks.

 

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