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About Islam

The rewards of paradise

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Description of Paradise in the Qur'an:

Janna (Paradise, Heaven) is called by eight names in the Qur'an: Jannatu al-Khuld, Darul as-Salam, Darul al-Qarar, Jannatu al-`Adn, Jannatu al-Ma`wa, Jannatu an-Na`im, `Illiyin, and Jannatu al-Firdaus. Janna is the Arabic word for "garden." 1 They have been translated into English as: paradise, a garden on high, a home that will last, garden of eternity, garden of everlasting bliss, gardens of delight, home of peace, home of the righteous, etc. 2

The Prophet Muhammad is quoted as saying that everyone will see God on the Day of Resurrection, as easily as one can see the sun when there are no clouds. 3

There will be no sickness, pain, sadness or death there. The Prophet Muhammad said that there are things in Paradise "which no eye has seen no ear has heard and no human mind has thought of." 4

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Descriptions of Paradise in the Qur'an:

bulletSura (chapter) 2:82: "But those who have faith and work righteousness, they are companions of the Garden: Therein shall they abide (For ever)."
bullet3:133: "Be quick in the race for forgiveness from your Lord, and for a Garden whose width is that (of the whole) of the heavens and of the earth, prepared for the righteous."
bullet3:185: "Every soul shall have a taste of death: And only on the Day of Judgment shall you be paid your full recompense. Only he who is saved far from the Fire and admitted to the Garden will have attained the object (of Life): For the life of this world is but goods and chattels of deception."
bullet18:107: "As to those who believe and work righteous deeds, they have, for their entertainment, the Gardens of Paradise."
bullet39:73: "And those who feared their Lord will be led to the Garden in crowds: until behold, they arrive there; its gates will be opened; and its keepers will say: 'Peace be upon you! well have ye done! enter ye here, to dwell therein'."
bullet39:74: "They will say: 'Praise be to God, Who has truly fulfilled His Promise to us, and has given us (this) land in heritage: We can dwell in the Garden as we will: how excellent a reward for those who work (righteousness)!' "
bullet47:15: "(Here is) a Parable of the Garden which the righteous are promised: in it are rivers of water incorruptible; rivers of milk of which the taste never changes; rivers of wine, a joy to those who drink; and rivers of honey pure and clear. In it there are for them all kinds of fruits; and Grace from their Lord...."
bulletSura 56:1-40 of the Qur'an deals in depth with the Day of Judgment and the rewards that await persons who have led a good life.
bullet56:15-21: "[They will sit] on gold-encrusted thrones of happiness, reclining upon them, facing one another in [love]. Immortal youths will wait upon them with goblets, and ewers, and cups filled with water from unsullied springs by which their minds will not be clouded and which will not make them drunk; and with fruit of any kind that they choose, and with flesh of any fowl that they may desire."
bullet56:22-26: "And [accompanying them will be their] companions pure, most beautiful of eye, like unto pearls hidden in their shells. [This will be] a reward for what they did [during life]. No empty talk will they hear there, nor any call to sin, but only the tiding of inner soundness and peace."
bullet56:27-33: "Now as for those who have attained to righteousness- what of those who have attained to righteousness? [They too will find themselves] admist fruit-laden lote-trees, and acacias flower-clad, and shade extended, and waters gushing, and fruit abounding, never-failing and never out of reach."
bullet56:34-37: "And [with them will be their] spouses, raised high; for behold, We shall have brought them into being in a life renewed, having resurrected them as virgins, full of love, well matched to those who have attained to righteousness"
bulletSurah 55 discusses the presence of "húr." They have most commonly been considered to be Houris -- beautiful virgins:
bullet55:70: "In them will be fair [Maidens], good, beautiful."
bullet55:72: "Maidens restrained [as to their glances], in [goodly] pavilions."
bullet55:74: "Whom no man or Jinn before them has touched."

Others have interpreted the "húr" to be "the fruits of the good deeds" that a person has performed while alive. They are unique to Paradise and not like anything experienced on Earth. 6
bulletSurah 44:51-55 and 52:17-20 state that the men in Paradise will enter marriage with the Houris.

Jinns are living entities that God created from "a smokeless flame of fire." 5 They are invisible to the human eye but marry, produce children, eat, drink, and die like all other creatures in the universe." 7,8

In his commentary on Surah 55:72, Ibn Kathir (d. 1373 CE) stated: "The Prophet Muhammad was heard saying: 'The smallest reward for the people of paradise is an abode where there are 80,000 servants and 72 wives, over which stands a dome decorated with pearls, aquamarine, and ruby, as wide as the distance from Al-Jabiyyah [a Damascus suburb] to Sana'a [Yemen]'." 9

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Who is eligible for entry into Paradise:

Entry to Paradise is limited to those who believe in God and his messengers, and who have led a good life on earth. In the Qur'an:

bulletSurah 2:25: "And give good news [O Muhammad] to those who believe and do good deeds, that they will have gardens [Paradise] in which rivers flow...."
bulletSurah 4:57: "But those who believe and do good deeds, We will admit them to gardens (Paradise) in which rivers flow, lasting in them forever...."
bulletSurah 57:21: "Race one with another for forgiveness from your Lord and for Paradise, whose width is as the width of the heavens and the earth, which has been prepared for those who believe in God and His messengers...."

Presumably Agnostics, Atheists, Polytheists, and followers of non-Abrahamic religions will be denied access to Paradise because of their lack of belief. So too will be people who have done a preponderance of evil deeds.

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Comparison of Paradise to the Christian Heaven:

The Qur'an describes the physical characteristics of Paradise in great detail.

Revelation 7:16 does mention the absence of hunger, thirst, and excessive heat in Heaven as in Paradise. However, the Christian Scriptures (New Testament) do not dwell on the physical characteristics of Heaven. The Bible's emphasis is rather on emotional and spiritual factors:

bulletRevelation 7-17 talks about a lack of sadness. Revelation 21:4 discusses an absence of death, mourning, crying and pain.
bulletVerses in Revelation, Chapters 4, 5, 7, 8, 15, 16,19, 21, and 22 talk about worship, praising, developing a relationship with and serving God.

Perhaps the greatest difference between the Islamic Paradise and the Christian Heaven is related to sensual and sexual pleasures. As noted above, men will have the companionship of their earthly wife or wives, as well as of many Houris. However, marriage -- and presumably sex and procreation as well -- are not present in the Christian Heaven. Luke 20:28-35 discusses a case where a woman had seven husbands -- she was compelled to marry six of her first husband's brothers in succession, as each brother died. Jesus is quoted as saying that those who attain Heaven "neither marry or are given in marriage." Mark 12:25, Matthew 22:30, and Luke 20:35 also imply a sexless Heaven.

Another difference is the entry criteria to Heaven or Paradise. As noted above, Muslims believe that entry to Paradise is dependent upon recognizing and worshiping Allah, and performing good works. Christians differ:

bulletConservative Christian denominations teach that one must first be saved by trusting in Jesus as Lord and Savior before one can attain Heaven.
bulletLiberal Christians and many mainline Christians believe that everyone will go to Heaven.
bulletThe Roman Catholic Church teaches that salvation is dependent on an individual having avoided mortal sin and participating in church sacraments.

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References used:

  1. "Paradise: Janna," at: http://answering-islam.org/ (Caution: this web site is virulently anti-Muslim. However, the above quotes are believed to be accurate.
  2. "Names of Paradise," Al-Islam.com, at: http://dictionary.al-islam.com/
  3. "Ramadhan Ruhaniah: The people said, "O Allah's Apostle! Shall we see our Lord on the Day of Resurrection," Ramadhan.org, at: http://www.ramadhan.org/
  4. "Chapter 2: Some benefits of Islam," at: http://www.islam-guide.com/
  5. From the Qur'an: Ar-Rahmaan 55:15 and Al-Hijr 15:27.
  6. "Explanation of so-called ‘maidens’ (húr) in Islamic conception of paradise," The Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement, at: http://www.muslim.org/islam/hur.htm
  7. "Jinn: According to the Qur'an and Sunnah: The different types," Muttaqun Foundation, at: http://muttaqun.com/
  8. Zafar Khan, "FAQ on Jinn," at: http://www.geocities.com/
  9. "Virgin? What virgins," The Guardian, at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/

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Site navigation: Home page > World Religions > Islam > here

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Copyright © 2003 to 2005 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2003-MAR-05
Latest update: 2005-DEC-13
Author: B.A. Robinson

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