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In Islam, Jannah (Arabic: جنّة Jannah; plural: Jannat Turkish: Cennet), lit. "paradise, garden", is the final abode of the righteous and the Islamic believers, but also the Garden of Eden, where Adam and Hawa dwelt is called Jannah. Firdaus (Arabic: فردوس) is the literal term meaning paradise which was borrowed from Persian پردیس, but the Quran generally uses the term Jannah symbolically referring to paradise. However "Firdaus" also designates the highest layer of heaven.
In contrast to Jannah, the words Jahannam and Nār are used to refer to the concept of hell. There are many words in the Arabic language for both Heaven and Hell and those words also appear in the Quran and hadith. Most of them have become part of the Islamic traditions.
Heaven and Jannah
While Jannah in the Quran is often translated as "Heaven" in the sense of an abode where believers are rewarded in afterlife, سماء samāʾ (usually pl. samāwāt) is the word for heaven in the sense of firmament or celestial sphere, as "seven heavens" (2:29, 78:12).
Some sources connect the two in some way. According to Sufi cosmology, Paradise is often depicted as being above the seven heavens or between the sixth and seventh heaven. In some modern interpretations, based on Surah 21:30 and 67:5, the lowest heaven is also interpreted as the observable universe, with the other six beyond, once were amassed together[clarification needed] with the earths and later expanded.
Images and descriptions
The Quran gives an idyllic description of Jannah. It says that each person that goes to Jannah is greeted by angels from every gate with the words, "Peace be with you, that you persevered in patience! Now how excellent is the final home!" (13:24)
Each person lives near to the Lord in a garden (3:15) of perpetual bliss (13:23), with flowing springs (88:10–16), and flowing rivers (5:119) of incorruptible water and unchangeable milk (47:15). Each garden is the width of the whole heavens and earth (3:133).
In each garden is a mansion (9:72), a high throne (88:10–16) of dignity (52:20) in a grove of cool shade (36:56–57), an adorned couch (18:31), rows of cushions (88:10–16), rich carpets spread out (88:10–16), a cup (88:10–16) full of wine (52:23), and every meat (52:22) and fruit (36:56–57) that is like the food on Earth (2:25). Each person is adorned in golden and pearl bracelets (35:33) and green garments of fine silk and brocade (18:31).
Each man is married to a beautiful woman (52:20), accompanied by any children that did not go to Jahannam (52:21), and attended to by servant-boys (52:24). The Quran does not specify any specific rewards for women, however.
Jannah is described as an eternal dwelling (3:136), with its supreme felicity and greatest bliss being God's good pleasure (9:72).
The Paradise is described as surrounded by eight principal gates, each level generally being divided into a hundred degrees guarded by angels (in some traditions Ridwan). The highest level is known as firdaws (sometimes called Eden) or Illiyin. Entrants will be greeted by angels with salutations of peace or As-Salamu Alaykum. Furthermore, paradise is considered to be "as vast as the heavens and the earth".
In the classical interpretation of the Quran, "the Garden" is described with material delights, such as beautiful maidens for men and young men for women, precious stones, delicious foods, and constantly flowing water—the latter especially appealing to the desert dwelling Arabs, who spend most of their life in arid lands. The Islamic texts describes life for its immortal inhabitants as: one that is happy—without hurt, sorrow, fear or shame—where every wish is fulfilled. Traditions relate that inhabitants will be of the same age (33 years), and of the same standing. Their life is one of bliss including wearing sumptuous robes, bracelets and perfumes as they partake in exquisite banquets served in priceless vessels by immortal youths (Houri), as they recline on couches inlaid with gold or precious stones.
According to Muslim belief, everything one longs for in this world will be there in Paradise. Inhabitants will rejoice in the company of their parents, spouses, and children (provided they were admitted to paradise)—conversing and recalling the past.
One day in paradise is considered equal to a thousand years on earth. Palaces are made from bricks of gold, silver, pearls, among other things. Traditions also note the presence of horses and camels of "dazzling whiteness", along with other creatures. Large trees whose shades are ever deepening, mountains made of musk, between which rivers flow in valleys of pearl and ruby.[attribution needed]
The names of four rivers[according to whom?] are Saihan (Syr Darya), Jaihan (Amu Darya), Furat (Euphrates) and Nil (Nile). Salsabil is the name of a spring that is the source of the rivers of Rahma (mercy) and Al-Kawthar (abundance). Sidrat al-Muntaha is a Lote tree that marks the end of the seventh heaven, the boundary where no angel or human can pass.[further explanation needed]
In spite of the goodly dwellings given to the inhabitants of paradise, the approval of God and nearness to Him is considered greater. According to the Quran, God will bring the elect near to his throne (‘arsh), a day on which "some faces shall be shining in contemplating their Lord." The vision of God is regarded as the greatest of all rewards, surpassing all other joys. The true beauty of paradise is also understood as the joy of beholding God, the Creator.
Besides the material notion of the paradise, those descriptions are also interpreted as allegories, explaining the state of joy people will get. For some theologians, seeing God is not a question of sight, but of awareness of God's presence. Although early Sufis, such as Hallaj, took the descriptions of Paradise literal, later Sufi traditions usually stressed out the allegorical meaning. The Sunni Persian theologian Al-Ghazali said:
This life belongs to the world of earth and the world of visibility; the hereafter belongs to the world of transcendental and the world of beings. By this life I understand your state before death, by hereafter I understand your state after death ... However, it is impossible to explain the world of beings in this life by any other means than allegories.
Houris, who live in paradise, are described as women who will accompany faithful Muslims in Paradise. Muslim scholars differ as to whether they refer to the believing women of this world or a separate creation, with the majority opting for the latter.
According to the Quran, the basic criterion for salvation in the afterlife is the belief in the oneness of God (tawḥīd), angels of God, revealed books of God, all messengers of God, as well as repentance to God, and doing good deeds. Though one must do good deeds and believe in God, salvation can only be attained through God's judgment.
Regarding salvation from hell, according to hadith literature, Muhammad said, “Surely a time will come over hell when its gates shall be blown by wind, there shall be none in it, and this shall be after they have remained therein for many years.” Still in the Hadith literature, Muhammad is reported to have said, "Allah will bring out people from the Fire and admit them into Paradise." Otherwise some hadiths indicate, that the majority of mankind will not access heaven. According to Islam, a Muslim, even if condemned to Jahannam, will eventually enter Jannah.
As in life there are many trials which one must face. This is also a condition individuals must encounter in order to enter Jannah.
Or do ye think that ye shall enter the Garden (of bliss) without such (trials) as came to those who passed away before you? They encountered suffering and adversity, and were so shaken in spirit that even the Messenger and those of faith who were with him cried: "When (will come) the help of Allah?" Ah! Verily, the help of Allah is (always) near!
Did ye think that ye would enter Heaven without Allah testing those of you who fought hard (In His Cause) and remained steadfast?— Qur'an, sura 3 (Al-i-Imran), ayah 142
Several precise numbers are mentioned in the hadith literature regarding the extremely high standards required to qualify for Jannah. Initially, a select elite group of 70,000 people from the followers of Muhammad will enter Jannah without any accountability of their sins.
After the above group, only 1 out of 1000 people from the rest of humanity (Muslim) would qualify for Jannah. It is understood that despite this small percentage, the actual number of people who would make it to Jannah would be higher, as Allah would forgive the sins of many people, allowing them to enter Jannah as well.[unreliable source?] Furthermore, it is understood that the 1 out of 1000 who will enter Jannah would be from among the Muslims, and the remaining 999 would be from Non Muslim.[non-primary source needed]
A shahid (witness or martyr) is considered one whose place in Jannah is promised. Sunni sources such as Ibn Kathir, as well as Shia sources cite Quran At-Tawbah 9:111 in support of this view.
There are different opinions among scholars in regard whether non-Muslims could enter Jannah. Some Muslims and Islamic scholars argued Surah 2:62 indicates Jannah is not exclusively for Muslims.
Indeed, those who believed and those who were Jews or Christians or Sabeans—those who believed in Allah and the Last Day and did righteousness—will have their reward with their Lord, and no fear will there be concerning them, nor will they grieve.2:62
On the other hand, other scholars hold this verse is abrogated by Surah 3:85 and just applied until the arrival of Muhammad. For example, before Jesus was born, Jewish people will enter Jannah and so will Christians who lived before Muhammad, but every religious group must accept the newest prophet.
And whoever desires other than Islam as religion—never will it be accepted from him, and he, in the Hereafter, will be among the losers.3:85
Scholars like Ibn Arabi did not hold the first to be abrogated by the latter, since "Islam" in this context, does not apply to Islam as a religious tradition, but to "submission". Modernist scholars Muhammad Abduh and Rashid Rida are also rejecting the notion that the People of the Book are excluded from Jannah, with reference to Quran 4:123-124. In Iran, People of the Book who were on the Iranian side during the Iran–Iraq War are regarded as martyrs, which is why the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei regularly visits the families of fallen Christian soldiers at Christmas, and Iranian Jewish soldiers are honored and memorialized for their sacrifice. Ghazali distinguished between the "saved" and "those who will attain success". Therefore, righteous non-Muslims will neither enter hell nor Jannah, but will stay in Araf. The Fate of the unlearned is also a matter of dispute within Islamic theology.
Further those who regard Jannah as exclusively for Muslims argue, that Islam is the "completed" and "perfected" religion and it is necessary to believe in the whole teaching of God, the prophets and the angels that just can be done by a Muslim.
Islam theologian Süleyman Ateş argues, Muslims had made the same mistake Jews and Christians made before by claiming Jannah is exclusive to Muslims only. Further he states, that those who believes in God without associating any partners with Him, believes in the hereafter without any doubt and do good and useful deeds can enter paradise, conditions several religions offer. He also refers to the Quran 5:66 that there are good and bad people among any religion, and even not all Muslims may enter paradise.
Finally, most scholars agree that non-Muslims who did not hear the message of Islam and non-Muslims who died in childhood are eligible for Jannah as well, based on the following verse:
… And We never punish until We have sent a Messenger (to give warning).17:15
Islamic scholars debated whether or not, the jinn can enter Jannah. It is clear from the Quran, that the jinn might be thrown into Jahannam (hell), but does not mention explicitly the presence of jinn in Jannah. Houris are explicitly described as "untouched by human and jinn" indicates, that jinn could enter Jannah, too. Others however, deny the possibility for jinn to enter Jannah, they could merely try to avoid hell. Accordingly, in the afterlife the fires of hell will be brought forth to the jinn. While the infidel jinn will suffer in the flames, the pious jinn will turn to dust before they touch the flames. Other traditions explain, in more detail, the nature of jinn in paradise, such as inverting the invisibility of jinn, thus the jinn will turn into fixed forms, while they can not see humans anymore.
According to Abu Hanifa, founder of the Hanafi schools jurisprudence of Sunnism, the jinn might enter jannah, but, just like angels, they will receive no reward. Impossibility to enter jannah only applies to the demons (shayatin) and unbelieving angels.
Layers of Jannah
- Firdaws – The Highest Gardens of Paradise (al-Kahf, Al-Mu’minoon)
- Dār al-maqāmah – The Home (Fāṭir)
- Jannatul Aliyah (suras Haqqah, Ghashiyah)
- Dār al-salām – Home of Peace (Yūnus, Al-An'am)
- Dār al-Ākhirah – The Home in the Hereafter (al-‘Ankabūt)
- al-Jannah – This is the most commonly used term in the Quran and Hadith. (al-Baqarah, Āl ‘Imran,}},)
- Jannat al-ʿadn – Gardens of Everlasting Bliss (al-Tawbah: 72, al-Ra‘d)
- Jannat al-Khuld – The Eternal Gardens (al-Furqān)
- Jannat al-Ma’wā – Garden of Abode (al-Najm)
- Jannat al-Na‘īm – The Gardens of Delight (al-Mā’idah, Yūnus, al-Ḥajj)
- Maq‘ad al-Ṣidq – Assembly of Truth (al-Qamar)
- al-Maqām al-Amīn – The House of Security (al-Dukhān)
Doors of Jannah
According to hadith, there are eight doors of Jannah. Their names are as following:
- Bāb al-Ṣalāh: For those who were punctual in prayer
- Bāb al-Jihād: For those who took part in jihad
- Bāb al-Ṣadaqah: For those who gave charity more often
- Bāb al-Rayyān: For those who fasted (siyam)
- Bāb al-Ḥajj: For those participated in the annual pilgrimage
- Bāb al-Kāẓimīn al-Ghayẓ wa-al-‘Āfīn ‘an al-Nās: For those who withheld their anger and forgave others
- Bāb al-Aymān: For those who by virtue of their faith are saved from reckoning and chastisement
- Bāb al-Dhikr: For those who showed zeal in remembering Allah
Comparison with other religions
Comparison with Judaism
Jannah shares the name "Garden of the Righteous" with the Jewish concept of paradise. In addition, paradise in Judaism is described as a garden, much like the Garden of Eden, where people live and walk and dance with God and his angels, wear garments of light, and eat the fruit of the tree of life. Like the feast of Jannah, Jewish eschatology describes the messiah holding a Seudat nissuin, called the Seudat Chiyat HaMatim, with the righteous of every nation at the end time.
Comparison with Christianity
Jesus in the Gospels uses various images for heaven that are similarly found in Jannah: feast, wine, mansion, throne, and paradise. However, the Book of Revelation describes the new heavens and earth as the new Jerusalem, whereas Jannah does not include cities.
Vision of Don Bosco
In an alleged private revelation, John Bosco describes visiting a garden beautiful beyond description, with trees made of gemstones and mansions too great to describe. His guide tells him that he's in paradise.
- Garden of Eden
- Islamic eschatology
- Isra and Mi'raj
- Riyāḍ al-Jannah (Garden of Heaven) is a part of Al-Masjid al-Nabawi (Mosque of the Prophet)
- Shia eschatology
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