Araf (Islam)

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Diagram of "Plain of Assembly" (Ard al-Hashr) on the Day of Judgment, from an autograph manuscript of Futuhat al-Makkiyya by Sufi mystic and Muslim philosopher Ibn Arabi, ca. 1238. Shown are the 'Arsh (Throne of God), pulpits for the righteous (al-Aminun), seven rows of angels, Gabriel (al-Ruh), A'raf (the Barrier), the Pond of Abundance, al-Maqam al-Mahmud (the Praiseworthy Station; where the prophet Muhammad will stand to intercede for the faithful), Mizan (the Scale), As-Sirāt (the Bridge), Jahannam (Hell), and Marj al-Jannat (Meadow of Paradise).[1]

In Islam, al-A'raf (Arabic: الأعراف) is a separator realm or borderland between Jannah (heaven) and Jahannam (hell),[2] inhabited by those who are evenly balanced in their sins and virtues, they are not entirely evil nor are they entirely good. This place may be described as a kind of benevolent purgatory with privation but without suffering.

The word is literally translated as "the heights" in English. The realm is described as a high curtain between hell and paradise.[3] Ibn Kathir described A'raf as a wall that contains a gate.[4] In this high wall lived people who witness the terror of hell and the beauty of paradise. They yearn to enter paradise, but their sins and virtues are evenly balanced. Yet with the mercy of God, they will be among the last people to enter the paradise.[4] The Catholic scholar of Islam Louis Massignon believed the Christian concept of limbo was inspired by the Muslim interpretation of A'raf.[5]

A'raf is described in the Quran in sura Al-A'raf, 46–47.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Begley, Wayne E. The Garden of the Taj Mahal: A Case Study of Mughal Architectural Planning and Symbolism, in: Wescoat, James L.; Wolschke-Bulmahn, Joachim (1996). Mughal Gardens: Sources, Places, Representations, and Prospects Dumbarton Oaks, Washington D.C., ISBN 0884022358. pp. 229–231.
  2. ^ An Exegical Study of Qur’anic Term Al-A`raf
  3. ^ Questions on Islam - Who are the companions of Araf, which is mentioned in the Surah Al-Araf?
  4. ^ a b The People of Al-A'raf
  5. ^ Cyril Glassé, Huston Smith The New Encyclopedia of Islam Rowman Altamira 2003 ISBN 978-0-759-10190-6 page 60