Paradise: Page 4

WHERE BELIEVERS LIVE IN PARADISE

Allah has promised the men and women of the believers Gardens with rivers flowing under them, remaining in them timelessly, forever, and fine dwellings in the Gardens of Eden. And Allah's good pleasure is even greater. That is the great victory. (Surat at-Tawba: 72)

As we said earlier, the houses where believers live their earthly lives are "places in which Allah has permitted to be built and in which His name is remembered" (Surat an-Nur, 36), places that are cared for and kept spotlessly clean according to Allah's command. Houses in Paradise are like these, in that they are incomparably refreshing places in which Allah is remembered and offered thanksgiving.

In the same way as these beautiful houses and mansions may be built amid natural beauty, it is also possible that they may have been built in outstandingly modern cities with aesthetically beautiful architecture and superior technology.

The houses mentioned in the Qur'an are generally built amid natural beauty, as the following verse informs us:

But those who heed their Lord will have mansions raised upon mansions high, beneath which runnning waters flow. That is Allah's promise. Allah does not break His promise. (Surat az-Zumar, 20)

Mansions located in high places, with views around and below them, provide a detailed panorama that allows their inhabitants to perceive many beautiful things at the same time.

The Qur'an mentions that water runs below those mansions built in high places. Thus, in order to see this view, the mansions may contain sitting-rooms with picture windows or with glass on all four sides. In such mansions,"designed to provide the human spirit with the greatest amount of pleasure possible, believers lounge on their thrones, enjoy the best fruits and drinks and, as they look down from above, derive pleasure from looking at one beautiful view after another.

The mansions are designed and furnished with the highest quality materials and the most harmonious colors, and feature comfortable armchairs and thrones facing each other. As "gold-encrusted thrones" (Surat al-Waqi'a, 15) and "thrones lined up" (Surat at-Tur, 20) maintain, thrones are symbols of wealth, splendor, and power.

Believers, to whom Allah has granted Paradise's eternal blessings, have been found worthy of such beauty. Sitting and reclining on their thrones, and surrounded by unimaginable beauty, they continually remember Allah. The Qur'an states:

They will enter Gardens of Eden, where they will be adorned with gold bracelets and pearls, and where their clothing will be of silk. They will say: "Praise be to Allah, Who has removed all sadness from us. Truly, our Lord is Ever-Forgiving, Ever-Thankful: He Who has lodged us, out of His favor, in the Abode of Permanence, where no weariness or fatigue affects us." (Surah Fatir, 33-35)

Reclining upon soft couches, believers "gaze around them" (Surat al-Mutaffifin, 23). Just seeing Paradise's magnificent views and beauties is a feast for the eyes and a great blessing. This will be an enjoyable banquet for believers to behold.

To share these beauties and pleasures with all believers, regardless of when they led their earthly existence, is a blessing that can be realized fully only in Paradise. For example, to sit on facing thrones and converse with Musa (as), 'Isa (as), or with pious believers and the Prophet's Companions, as well as to remember Allah with them, is not a pleasure that the world can grant; this pleasure belongs only to Paradise.

In Paradise, everything believers desire will be created and brought to them by special servants appointed for that task. The Qur'an informs us that:

Circulating among them will be youths like hidden pearls. (Surat at-Tur, 24)

Believers, whom Allah has made worthy of Paradise, are highly select and valuable persons. The fact that they are in a position of "high honor" (Surat as-Saffat, 42) shows the value that Allah places upon them. The servants mentioned above, who attend immediately to the believers' every wish and give them free and interrupted service, are described in the Qur'an as ageless young men:

Ageless youths will circulate among them, serving them. Seeing them, you would think them scattered pearls. (Surat al-Insan, 19)

These servants, whose sole purpose is to attend to the believers' wishes, and the fact that the blessings are freely offered with such perfect service, are other examples of glorious beauty. The gadgets used in this service also have great value and are of high quality, for:

Platters and cups of gold will be passed around among them, and they will have there all that their hearts desire and in which their eyes find delight. You will remain in it timelessly, forever. (Surat az-Zukhruf, 71)

While in this world, believers attend to many things, among them getting as close as possible to the blessings of life in Paradise. We can learn about the magnificent material used for clothing there. Allah teaches people in this world to wear fine clothing, as stated in:

O Children of Adam! We have sent down clothing to you to conceal your private parts, and fine apparel. But the garment of the fear of Allah - that is the best! That is one of Allah's Signs, so that hopefully you will pay heed. (Surat al-A'raf, 26)

In Surat al-A'raf, 31, Allah urges believers to wear clean and fine clothing: "O Children of Adam! Wear fine clothing in every mosque. Eat and drink, but do not be profligate. He does not love the profligate." Therefore, the clothing worn in Paradise will be several times more splendid and stylish than worldly clothing. The Qur'an especially mentions two kinds of material found in Paradise: silk and brocade. For example, it states that believers will wear "fine silk and rich brocade, face to face with one another" (Surat ad-Dukhan, 53). In this world, these two materials are rare, expensive, and of high quality. Such clothing will give great aesthetic pleasure both to the person wearing them and the one who sees them being worn. The beauty and splendor of this clothing only enhances the perfection of those who wear it.

Of course, the material and clothing found there is not limited to these two, for Allah, Who granted these great rewards, will clothe the people of Paradise in many more beautiful garments made of many more beautiful materials. He can create clothing styles and materials that are unknown to us in this world.

The Qur'an tells us that this beautiful clothing is ornamented with jewelry to enhance its attractiveness. Gold and silver bracelets and pearls are mentioned specifically, as in the following verses:

Allah will admit those who believe and do right actions into Gardens with rivers flowing under them, where they will be adorned with gold bracelets and pearls, and where their clothing will be of silk. (Surat al-Hajj, 23)

They will wear green garments of fine silk and rich brocade. They will be adorned with silver bracelets. And their Lord will give them a pure draught to drink. (Surat al-Insan, 21)

As this verse maintains, beautiful jewelry complements fine clothing, and both offered for the pleasure of believers.

The basic quality of the materials in Paradise is their varied delicacy and striking beauty, both of which are reflections of Allah's eternal knowledge and artistry. For example, thrones are inlaid with precious stones and arranged carefully in high places; clothing is made of silk and brocade, and adorned with gold and silver ornaments.

Allah has given many details about Paradise in the Qur'an, but the expressions that He has used allow believers to use their imagination open. In Paradise, (Allah surely knows best) every believer will have all kinds of blessings, views, and places especially designed for his or her own pleasure. Of course, apart from the blessings announced in the Qur'an, Allah has prepared many more surprises for believers, whom He has made worthy of Paradise.


SPOUSES OF THE PEOPLE OF PARADISE

But as for those who have faith and do right actions, We will admit them into Gardens with rivers flowing under them, remaining in them timelessly, for ever and ever. In them, they will have spouses of perfect purity...(Surat an-Nisa', 57)

Paradise is a magnificent place of eternal life that Allah has prepared as a reward for His faithful servants. As we saw earlier, the Qur'an describes Paradise by telling of the houses people will live in, the food and drink they will enjoy, the clothes they will wear, and of all the beautiful things to be found there. In Paradise, just as in this world, life continues to be lived. Of course that life is far too wonderful to be compared to this life, but there are some general similarities. For this reason, when believers pass from this earthly life to the afterworld, they encounter no shock or strangeness and thus will adapt easily.

Their new eternal life in Paradise will be similar to the one they lived here. In other words, they will have the best food and drink, the finest clothing, splendid homes, and spouses. As the Qur'an says, they will enter Paradise together with the spouses that Allah has presented to them as a blessing, and they will be welcomed with a joyful celebration. (Surat az-Zukhruf, 70)

The Qur'an describes the women of Paradise as "spouses of perfect purity" (Surat an-Nisa', 57). In addition, all of this world's deficiencies, worries, and needs are completely absent in Paradise: "Indeed, We have produced them [i.e., the women of Paradise] in a [new] creation." (Surat al-Waqi'a, 35) This new creation will have all of the excellent things appropriate to Paradise.

When we consider a creation suitable for the perfections of Paradise, these general characteristics of women in Paradise come to mind: Their hair is always clean and shiny, their skin is smooth and clear, and delightful aromas come from their bodies. (Allah surely knows best.)

Another feature of the women given in marriage to believers in Paradise is that they are "of equal age" (Surah Sad: 52) who were created only for their husbands. They are mentioned in the Qur'an as having "eyes reserved for them alone." (Surat as-Saffat, 48)

Another verse says in this regard:

In them are maidens with eyes for them alone, untouched before them by either man or jinn. (Surat ar-Rahman, 56)

The fact that they are mentioned "as if they were [delicate] eggs, well protected" (Surat as-Saffat, 49) or "dark-eyed maidens like hidden pearls" (Surat al-Waqi'a, 23) leads us to believe that they were created and preserved for their husbands alone. The word "hidden" indicates that they are as difficult to obtain as they are valuable to possess. Their being compared to an egg or a pearl may indicate that their skin is smooth and shiny. (Allah knows the truth.)

The desire that a man feels for a woman who belongs only to him, and who shows him interest and affection, gives the human spirit much pleasure. Of course, the source of this strong feeling must be created in the believer's spirit according to the norms of Paradise. The human spirit takes great delight in fine conversation, courtesy, and being complemented. So, in Paradise this desire can be obtained with women who "limit their glances to their own mates" (Surat ar-Rahman, 56). In Surat ar-Rahman, 70, Allah describes these women of Paradise as "sweet, lovely maidens."

As "secluded in cool pavilions" in Surat ar-Rahman, 72 indicates, the wives of believers exist only for their husbands. Likewise, "untouched before them by either man or jinn" emphasizes their virginity. Surat al-Waqi'a, 36, which proclaims that "[We] made them purest virgins" strengthens this idea. Allah describes believers and their wives in Paradise, in shady nooks and reclining on their thrones, as people who "are busy enjoying themselves" (Surah Ya Sin, 55-56).

There, all believers have their own wives, who have been created wonderfully and with all of the qualities that a person could desire. The fact that they are "devoted, passionate, of like age" (Surat al-Waqi'a, 37) shows that the women are bound by a passion and affection based not on the ignorant worldly impulse to "make a profit and trust in the future," but only on Allah's consent.

By "sweet, lovely maidens" (Surat ar-Rahman, 70), Allah points out that the beauty of women's faces is another characteristic of Paradise. The shining inner beauty in their faces reflects the pureness of their spirit. This expression could mean that they have a face that is symmetrical, original, flawless, and smooth. This originality could be hidden in their eye color, nose structure, or in their eyebrows, jaw, and cheekbones. In short, it could be in every detail of their facial construction. The verse "We will marry them to maidens with large, [beautiful] eyes" (Surat at-Tur, 20) draws attention to one detail: their large eyes.

Indeed, engaged in conversation while sitting on thrones or opposite each other in the shades, the focus of attention will be a person's face. While speaking with someone, we look at his or her face. Engaged in good conversation with a beautiful-faced woman speaking of interesting things in a beautiful place where Allah is remembered will give a person indescribable pleasure.

Of course, the perfection of these women is not limited to their faces, for they are created from head to toe with a wonderful variety. Surat an-Naba', 33, mentioning the beauty of their bodies, says "nubile maidens of similar age." Another verse also draws attention to the fact that they are of the same age: "Beside them will be chaste women restraining their glances, (companions) of equal age" (Surah Sad, 52). Since age, as understood in the common worldly sense, is of no consequence in the eternal life, this verse shows that each of them will be of a suitable age for the other.

The Qur'an compares women to "rubies and coral" (Surat ar-Rahman, 58). These elegant and valuable stones, which are so pleasing to the eye, are used in the Qur'an to stress these women's striking beauty. We can imagine that comparing the women to rubies and coral is meant to describe their bright and pure complexion.

Due to these terse comparisons and essential descriptions, believers can understand how great a reward Allah has prepared for them. Thus, they pray even more to attain Allah's good pleasure and mercy, to be received into His Paradise, and exert great effort to attain it.

Allah has not revealed all of Paradise's blessings in the Qur'an, for they are beyond any human being's ability to imagine and conceive. In Paradise, Allah offers believers countless blessings that the eye has never seen and the ear has never heard.



A PARADISE BEYOND THE IMAGINATION

They will have there all that their hearts desire and in which their eyes find delight. You will remain in it timelessly, forever. (Surat az-Zukhruf: 71)

We can get a general idea of what Paradise is like from the fact that the blessings of Paradise are similar to those in this world (Surat al-Baqara, 25) and from the descriptions and comparisons found in the Qur'an. Allah said in the Qur'an that He "will admit them into Paradise, which He has made known to them." (Surah Muhammad, 6)

So we can, with Allah's permission, glean some information while still living this earthly life. However, Allah bestows this knowledge only to give us"an idea of what Paradise is like, for in reality its beauty and blessings are beyond our conception. For example, the verse "in it there are rivers of water that will never spoil, and rivers of milk whose taste will never change, and rivers of wine, delightful to all who drink it, and rivers of honey of undiluted purity" (Surah Muhammad, 15) shows us that Paradise contains excellences that cannot be compared with things in this world. A hadith also indicates this unimaginable beauty:

Allah said: "I have prepared for My pious servants things which have never been seen by an eye, nor heard by an ear, or (even) imagined by a human being." (Muslim)

In one verse, Allah says that believers will live in Paradise as His welcome guests:

But those who heed their Lord will have Gardens through which rivers flow, to live in for ever as a welcome from Allah. What is with Allah is better for those who are truly good. (Surah Al 'Imran, 198)

In this verse, Allah describes Paradise as a place of celebration. The end of the world, passing the test, and reaching one's true homeland is certainly a reward worth celebrating. This celebration's duration, dimensions, and content will be too glorious to compare with anything on Earth.

An eternal life full of such never-ending blessings brings a joy that belongs only to Paradise: not to grow tired. Believers in Paradise speak of this excellence as "no weariness or fatigue affects us" (Surah Fatir, 35).

Of course, this includes mental fatigue. People living under this world's prevailing conditions tire easily, because their bodies are created weak. When they get tired, their minds begin to get cloudy, they lose concentration and find it hard to think and conceptualize. But this does not happen in Paradise, for its people's minds are always open, and their consciousness is clear so that they can perceive Allah's blessings perfectly and take pleasure from them. Since this sense of fatigue, which comes from the world's imperfections, is eliminated, believers can have the uninterrupted benefit of endless blessings. People will find perfect joy in Paradise's blessings and go from one blessing to another.

In an environment with no fatigue or boredom, Allah rewards believers by creating "whatever they wish" (Surat ash-Shura, 22; Surat al-Furqan, 16; Surat az-Zumar, 34). There, they have everything that their hearts want. In Surat al-Kahf, 35, Allah says that He will give believers more than they can desire or imagine, and that these blessings will be increased several-fold in Paradise. One hadith paints the beauty of Paradise as follows:

I asked: "O Messenger of Allah! Of what was the creation made?" He replied: "Of water." We asked: "(As for) Paradise, what is its foundation?" He said: "One brick of gold and one brick of silver. Its mortars are of musk of strong scent, its stones are pearls and emeralds, and its soil is of saffron. Whoever enters it will be in bliss and not in want, live in bliss and not die, their clothes will not get old, and their youth will not end." (Ahmad, Tirmidhi)

Allah, Who created human beings, certainly knows better than they what their hearts desire, and so will create these things for believers as a reward in Paradise. The Qur'an announces some of these blessings; the rest are left to the pleasure and desire of the believers' imagination. Generally speaking, all believers delight in the same things, with only slight differences in details. A person can ask the Lord for blessings that appear impossible under this world's conditions, or for blessings of which they have no knowledge. Another verse describes the incomparable beauty of these things:

Platters and cups of gold will be passed around among them, and they will have there all that their hearts desire and in which their eyes find delight. You will remain in it timelessly, forever. (Surat az-Zukhruf, 71)

From this verse, we can understand that believers expect surprises in Paradise; that they will be pleased with, and derive pleasure from, what they see. They also feel happiness when they see the pleasure and happiness experienced by other believers.

Also, we must not forget that one of the greatest blessings of Paradise is protection from the agonies of Hell (Surat ad-Dukhan, 56). All of these things provide a great means of thanksgiving for believers, who can see Hell when they desire and speak with its inhabitants. The Qur'an describes how believers give thanks to Allah, as follows:

They will say: "Beforehand we used to live in fear among our families. But Allah was gracious to us and safeguarded us from the punishment of the searing wind. Beforehand we certainly used to call upon Him because He is the All-Good, the Most Merciful." (Surat at-Tur, 26-28)

In the Qur'an, Allah uses different names when referring to the gardens of Paradise, such as Gardens of Eden, Gardens of Refuge, Gardens of Firdaws, and Gardens of Delight. These names may express the different sections in which various pleasures are to be experienced. (Allah knows the truth.) It is also possible that Paradise may have various degrees or different sections. We can infer this from the following verse:

But as for those who come to Him as believers, having done right actions, they will have the highest ranks. (Surah Taha, 75)

The Qur'an describes Paradise as: "Wherever you look, you will see pleasure and great dominion." (Surat al-Insan, 20)

The following hadith indicates that every detail found in Paradise holds great beauties and blessings: "There is no tree in Paradise that does not have a trunk of gold" (Tirmidhi). Every corner is furnished with countless blessings, thanks to Allah's incomparable knowledge. These things are prepared only for believers, whom Allah forgives in His mercy and accepts into His Paradise.

In the Qur'an, Allah describes the believers' state in Paradise as follows:

We will strip away any rancor in their hearts - brothers, resting on couches face-to-face. (Surat al-Hijr, 47)

Remaining in them timelessly, forever, with no desire to move away from them. (Surat al-Kahf, 108)

 

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