The Islamic Hereafter
On the Wall Between Heaven and Hell
7:46 Between them (the people of Paradise and the people of the Fire) is a veil, and on the Ramparts are men who know everyone by his mark. And they will call out to the People of Paradise: “Peace be upon you.” That is, before they enter it, though they hope to do so.
7:47 And when their eyes are turned towards the people of the Fire, they will say: “Lord, do not place us among the wrongdoing people.”
7:48 And the people of the Ramparts will cry out to some men whom they will recognize by their marks saying: “Your amassing [of wealth] and your arrogance are of no avail to you.”
7:49 “Are those the people that you swore Allah will have no mercy on?” [To these people will be said]: “Enter Paradise, you have nothing to fear, and you shall not grieve.”
And to these fortunate ones who will make their way to Paradise via the Ramparts and witness the terrible things Allah is doing to people they once knew, it will be forbidden by the Compassionate One to share a single drop of water to alleviate their thirst because they enjoyed life among the living a little too much and forgot about Allah.
7:50 Then the people of the Fire will call out to the people of Paradise: “Pour out upon us some water or part of what Allah has provided you with.” They will say: “Allah forbids them both unto the unbelievers,
7:51 “Who take their religion as amusement and sport, and the present life deludes them.” Today, We forget them as they forgot the encounter of this Day and used to deny Our Revelations.
7:52 And We have brought them a Book, which We have expounded with knowledge, as a guidance and mercy for a people who believe.
7:53 Do they only wait for its fulfilment? The Day its fulfilment comes, those who forgot it before will say: “The Messengers of our Lord brought the truth. Have we then any intercessors to intercede for us, or shall we be taken back, so as to do something other than what we used to do?” They have indeed lost their souls, and what they fabricated has failed them.
The Bridge over Hell
There is a bridge over Hell called Sirat. Muslim tradition maintains that after we have been judged, we must travel over this razor sharp, jagged bridge that stretches to the horizon to get into Paradise.
The angels will already have thrown the worst sinners into Hell. Everyone else will have to make the journey. The righteous and the prophets will zoom above it and get to the other side unscathed.
Those who have sinned will only make it part of the way before falling screaming into the flames below. Others whose sins are minor may find themselves hovering between heaven and Hell, what Islam calls The Heights, a type of purgatory, as a reminder of where they could have ended up if Allah had not been merciful.
Then again, Hell itself may do double-duty as both purgatory i.e. as a temporary abode for lesser sinners (the “removed from Hell” reference in the following revelation) and a permanent abode for the more recalcitrant.
3:185 Every soul shall taste death; and you shall receive your rewards in full on the Day of Resurrection. Whoever is removed from Hell and is admitted into Paradise wins. Life in this world is nothing but an illusory pleasure.
Often, the Prophet's disparate comments about Allah's revelations only made complicated concepts even more difficult to comprehend, raising the credibility/nonsense bar even higher.
Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri:
Allah's Apostle said, "When the believers pass safely over (the bridge across) Hell, they will be stopped at a bridge in between Hell and Paradise where they will retaliate upon each other for the injustices done among them in the world, and when they get purified of all their sins, they will be admitted into Paradise. By Him in Whose Hands the life of Muhammad is, everybody will recognize his dwelling in Paradise better than he recognizes his dwelling in this world."
An Argument between Paradise and Hell
The Prophet said: "Paradise and the Fire (Hell) argued, and the Fire (Hell) said, 'I have been given the privilege of receiving the arrogant and the tyrants.'
Paradise said, 'What is the matter with me? Why do only the weak and the humble among the people enter me?'
On that, Allah said to Paradise, 'You are My Mercy which I bestow on whoever I wish of my servants.'
Then Allah said to the (Hell) Fire, 'You are my (means of) punishment by which I punish whoever I wish of my slaves. And each of you will have its fill.'
As for the Fire (Hell), it will not be filled till Allah puts His Foot over it whereupon it will say, 'Qati! Qati!'
At that time it will be filled, and its different parts will come closer to each other; and Allah will not wrong any of His created beings.
As regards Paradise, Allah will create a new creation to fill it with."
An Eyewitness Account
The Prophet asked his Patron to show him what the unbelievers were promised, that is Hell.
23:93 Say: “Lord, you would show me what they are promised.
23:94 “Lord do not reckon Me among the wrongdoing people“.
Allah was more than happy to oblige, and show His Messenger His personal torture chamber.
23:95 And We are surely Able to show you what We promised them.
Allah did not ward off evil with "that which is fairer"; but, that is what He counseled His protégé to do, for the time being. The evil in the following are the Meccans, many the Prophet's kin, who thought he had lost his mind.
23:96 Ward off evil with that which is fairer*. We know best what they describe (utter against you, Moududi).
The Prophet may have been concerned about the devils in Hell.
23:97 And say: “Lord, I seek refuge with you from the goadings (sic) of the devils.
23:98 “And I seek refuge with You lest they join me”.
Much of what we know about the Hereafter are from lucid visions and dreams, which would explain the horrific descriptions of Judgement Day and Hell, what mere words could not have conveyed.
Narrated Anas bin Malik:
Once Allah's Apostle led us in prayer and then (after finishing it) ascended the pulpit and pointed with his hand towards the Qibla of the mosque and said, "While I was leading you in prayer, both Paradise and Hell were displayed in front of me in the direction of this wall. I had never seen a better thing (than Paradise) and a worse thing (than Hell) as I have seen today, I had never seen a better thing and a worse thing as I have seen today."
Aisha, the Prophet’s child-bride and the most trusted of the narrators of what God’s Messenger said and did, remembered her husband receiving “(the Devine Inspiration) in the form of true dreams in his sleep."
The commencement (of the Divine Inspiration) to Allah's Apostle was in the form of true dreams in his sleep, for he never had a dream but it turned out to be true and clear as the bright daylight …
None dared wake up the Prophet less he interrupt a transmission from Paradise.
And whenever the Prophet used to sleep, nobody would wake him up till he himself used to get up as we did not know what was happening (being revealed) to him in his sleep …
From what he saw of Hell God's Messenger drew interesting conclusions; for instance, that Hell’s Fire has an impact on the weather.
Narrated Abu Huraira:
Allah's Apostle said: “The Hellfire complained to its Lord, saying, ‘O my Lord, my different part eat each other up.’ So Allah allowed it to take two breaths – one in the winter and the other in the summer. This is [the cause] of the severe heat and bitter cold you experience.’”
The Prophet may not have been aware that in the southern hemisphere the seasons are reversed when he made the following observation as to the intensity of Hell’s Fire:
Allah's Apostle said, "Your (ordinary) fire is one of 70 parts of the (Hell) Fire."
Someone asked, "O Allah's Apostle this (ordinary) fire would have been sufficient (to torture the unbelievers)."
Allah's Apostle said, "The (Hell) Fire has 69 parts more than the ordinary (worldly) fire, each part is as hot as this (worldly) fire."
The Prophet also gave us an idea as to how deep Hell is.
If a stone as big as seven pregnant camels was thrown from the edge of Hell, it would fly through it for seventy years, and yet it would not reach the bottom. Sahih al-Jami’
* Revelation 23:96 is from a surah received by God's Messenger during his stay in Mecca when he expected his discourse sufficient to get people to accept him as a legitimate spokesman for the Almighty. Once he became a powerful figure in his own right, after fleeing Mecca for Medina, the persuasive power of the sword replaced "that which is fairer", as revelations from that period reflect.
Women on Fire
Of all the observations the Prophet made about his benefactor’s massive torture chamber, the most disturbing has to be that the vast majority of those roasting in His Hell are females – wives and mothers mostly. Allah, the Prophet said, will doom these unfortunate females to an eternity in agony on fire in His Hellhole for not being grateful enough for all the good things their husbands have generously provided them out of the goodness of their heart.
Narrated Ibn Abbas:
The Prophet said: "I was shown the Hell-fire and that the majority of its dwellers were women who were ungrateful."
It was asked, "Do they disbelieve in Allah?" (or are they ungrateful to Allah?)
He replied, "They are ungrateful to their husbands and are ungrateful for the favors and the good (charitable deeds) done to them.
Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri:
Once Allah's Apostle went out to the Musalla (to offer the prayer) o 'Id-al- Adha or Al-Fitr prayer. Then he passed by the women and said, "O women! Give alms, as I have seen that the majority of the dwellers of Hellfire were you (women)..."
Narrated Abdullah bin Abbas:
The people say, "O Allah's Apostle! We saw you taking something from your place and then we saw you retreating."
The Prophet replied, "I saw Paradise and stretched my hands towards a bunch (of its fruits) and had I taken it, you would have eaten from it as long as the world remains.
I also saw the Hell-fire and I had never seen such a horrible sight. I saw that most of the inhabitants were women."
The people asked, "O Allah's Apostle! Why is it so?"
The Prophet replied, "Because of their ungratefulness."
Another reason why there will be so many women in Hell is because even if they have spent an exemplary God-fearing life, if their husbands go to Hell so do they.
37:22 Gather together those who were wrongdoers, their spouses and what they used to worship;
37:23 Apart from Allah, and lead them to the path of Hell.