PARADISE

Allah promises paradise to those who come to His presence as believers. Surely, Allah does not fail to keep His promise. People whose faith is assured, know that their Creator will keep His promise and that they will be accepted in paradise provided that they live as true believers in this world:

Paradise of Eternity, those which (Allah) Most Gracious has promised to His slaves in the Unseen: for His promise must (necessarily) come to pass. (Surah Maryam: 61)

The moment of entering paradise is the most important time for the faithful who believe and do good deeds. All through their lives, they strove for it, prayed for it and performed right actions to obtain it. In the presence of Allah, it is surely the best place to stay and the real place to attain: paradise, the place specially prepared for believers. Allah describes this unique moment in the following verse:

Gardens of perpetual bliss: they shall enter there, as well as the righteous among their fathers, their spouses, and their offspring. And angels shall enter unto them from every gate (with the salutation): "Peace unto you for that you persevered in patience! Now how excellent is the final home!" (Surat ar-Rad: 23-24)

The Beauty of Paradise

The parable of Paradise which the righteous are promised! Beneath it flow rivers: perpetual is the enjoyment thereof and the shade therein. Such is the end of the righteous; and the end of disbelievers is hell. (Surat ar-Ra'd: 35)

An excellent vista of lakes, rivers, and lush greenery is the sort of paradise imagined by the ordinary person. However this image of paradise needs to be clarified because it does not accurately reflect the Qur'anic point of view. It is certainly true that paradise has significant natural beauty; which is one of its perfect blessings. It is yet another beautiful aspect that splendid mansions are built in shady gardens, by flowing rivers. However such accounts will definitely prove to be inadequate to the magnificence of paradise.

The beauty and glory of paradise are beyond one's imagination. The Qur'anic words "containing all kinds (of delights)" (Surat ar-Rahman: 48) surely illustrate a vivid picture of the real nature of paradise. What is meant by "delights" are things specially created by Allah the All-Knowing. These delights may well be surprising rewards or things in which to take such pleasure as human beings have never imagined. The promise of Allah "they shall have, before their Lord, all that they wish for. That will indeed be the magnificent bounty (of Allah)" (Surat ash-Shura: 22) makes it explicit that, as a favour of Allah, the imagination of believers will shape a Paradise according to their own tastes and wishes.

The Eternal Residence of Believers

Allah has promised to believers, men and women, gardens under which rivers flow, to dwell therein, and beautiful mansions in gardens of everlasting bliss. But the greatest bliss is the good pleasure of Allah: that is the supreme felicity. (Surat at-Tawbah: 72)

In this world, believers live "in houses, which Allah has permitted to be raised to honour; for the celebration, in them, of His name." (Surat an-Nur: 36)

By Allah's command, these residences are kept clean and especially cared for. 

Similar to them are the residences in paradise; they are places where Allah is glorified and His name is constantly remembered.

As well as grand mansions in beautiful spots, believers' residences in the world can be works of ultra-modern design and architecture, built in beautiful cities.

The residences in paradise described in the Qur'an, are usually located in natural beauties:

But it is for those who fear their Lord that lofty mansions, one above another, have been built: beneath them flow rivers (of delight). (Such is) the Promise of Allah. Never does Allah fail in (His) promise. (Surat az-Zumar: 20)

The mansions, mentioned in the verse, below which rivers flow, may have wide windows or halls surrounded with glass walls making it possible to watch this beautiful scene. These are beautifully decorated houses with thrones specially designed for the comfort of the believers. They will rest on these thrones set in lines and enjoy an abundance of luscious fruits and various kinds of drinks. The design and decoration of the mansions are of the best quality of textiles and materials. Comfortable couches lined with silk brocade and thrones are specially emphasised in many verses:

They will be on thrones encrusted with gold and precious stones, reclining on them, facing each other. (Surat al-Waqi'ah: 15-16) 

They will recline with ease on thrones of dignity arranged in ranks... (Surat at-Tur: 20)

As the verses also suggest, thrones are the symbols of dignity, splendour and wealth. Allah wants His servants to reside in such glorious places in paradise. In such magnificent surroundings, believers constantly keep remembering Allah and repeat His word:

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 from us (all) sorrow: for our Lord is indeed Oft-Forgiving, Ready to appreciate (service), Who has, out of His bounty, settled us in a Home that will last: no toil nor sense of weariness shall touch us therein.' (Surat al-Fatir: 33-35)

The basic material of paradise is "works of great delicacy" and "remarkable beauties". These are all the reflections of the ultimate intelligence and art of Allah. For instance, thrones are encrusted with gold and precious stones. The thrones are not ordinary but exalted ones. Clothes are of silk and precious textile. Moreover, the silver and golden jewellery will be complementary to these precious garments. In the Qur'an, Allah gives many details of paradise, yet from those expressions it is clear that every believer will enjoy a Garden designed according to his own imagination. No doubt, Allah will bestow many other astonishing gifts on His beloved servants.

A Garden Beyond Imagination

To them will be passed round, dishes and goblets of gold: there will be there all that the souls could desire, all that their eyes could delight in: and you shall abide therein timelessly, for ever. (Surat az-Zukhruf: 71)

From the descriptions and illustrations existing in the Qur'an, we can get a general understanding of what paradise is like. In the verse "Whenever they shall be given a portion of the fruit thereof, they shall say: 'This is what was given to us before,'" (Surat al-Baqarah: 25) Allah states that the favours in paradise will be fundamentally similar to those in this world. In accordance with the description of the verse "And admit them to the Paradise which He has announced for them," (Surah Muhammad: 6) , we can arrive at the conclusion that Allah will let believers reside in a Paradise with which they were familiar before. 

Nevertheless, any information that we may gather about paradise in this world must necessarily be inadequate; it can only give some hints with which to paint a general picture. "Here is a parable of the Paradise 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." (Surah Muhammad: 15). This verse makes it clear that paradise is a place beyond our imagination. In the human soul, this verse evokes the feeling that it is a place of unexpected sights.

On the other hand, Allah describes paradise as "an entertainment" or a "feast":

But as to those who are careful of (their duty to) their Lord, they shall have gardens beneath which rivers flow, abiding in them; an entertainment from their Lord, and that which is with Allah is best for the righteous. (Surat Ali-'Imran: 198)

In this verse, Allah introduces paradise as a place of entertainment and joy. The "end" of this life, the joy of passing the "test" and attaining the best of places to reside for all eternity, are surely causes for believers to rejoice. This celebration will be a splendid one: one that bears no similarity whatsoever to any kind of feast or joy in this world.

In the eternal life, the fact that believers will enjoy various kinds of unceasing entertainment brings to mind another significant characteristic of believers in paradise: never feeling weariness. In the Qur'an, this condition is expressed as follows in words spoken by believers: "...Who has, out of His Bounty, settled us in a Home that will last: neither toil nor sense of weariness shall touch us therein." (Surat al-Fatir: 35). 

No doubt, believers will also not suffer from mental fatigue there. In contrast to paradise where "there no sense of fatigue shall touch them" (Surat al-Hijr 48), man in this world feels fatigue since his body has not been created strong. When one feels tired, it becomes difficult to concentrate and to make sound decisions. Due to weariness, one's perceptions alter. Yet, such a state of mind never exists in paradise. All senses remain keen perceiving the creation of Allah in the best manner. Believers are completely unaware of any feelings of fatigue and, hence, they taste the gifts of Allah without interruption. The pleasure and joy felt are boundless and eternal.

In an environment where fatigue and boredom do not exist, Allah rewards believers by creating "whatever they wish". Indeed, Allah gives the good news that He will create more than believers can imagine or wish: "There will be for them therein all that they wish – and more besides – in Our Presence." (Surah Qaf: 35)

It should be kept in mind that one of the most important favours of paradise is that "Allah will preserve believers from the Penalty of the Blazing Fire" (Surat ad-Dukhan: 56) and "not the slightest sound will they hear of Hell." (Surat al-Anbiya: 102)

Whenever they wish, on the other hand, believers have the opportunity to see and talk to the people of hell. They feel grateful for this favour also:

Saying: "Surely we feared before on account of our families but Allah has been gracious to us and He has saved us from the punishment of the hot wind. Surely, we called upon Him before. Surely He is the Benign, the Merciful." (Surat at-Tur: 26-28)

Paradise is described in the Qur'an as follows: "And when you look, it is there you will see a Bliss and a Realm Magnificent." (Surat al-Insan: 20)

Here, eyes savour and enjoy a different prospect, a different magnificence. Every corner and spot is decorated with precious ornaments. Such magnificence is only for those believers upon whom Allah bestows His mercy and to whom He grants His Garden. And We shall remove from their hearts any lurking sense of injury: (they will be) brothers joyfully facing each other on thrones of dignity.  (Surat al-Hijr: 47)

Abiding therein; they shall not desire removal from them. (Surat al-Kahf: 108)

The Most Important Favour of Allah: His Good Pleasure 

Allah has promised to believers, men and women, gardens under which rivers flow, to dwell therein, and beautiful mansions in gardens of everlasting bliss. But the greatest bliss is the good pleasure of Allah: that is the supreme felicity.  (Surat at-Tawbah: 72)

In the preceding pages, we mentioned the glorious favours that Allah bestows upon man in paradise. It is evident that paradise is a place containing all the joys man can experience through his five senses. However, the superior quality of paradise is the good pleasure of Allah. For believers, attaining the good pleasure of Allah becomes a major source of peace and joy in the hereafter. Furthermore, seeing the favours of Allah and being grateful to Allah for His benevolence makes them happy. In the Qur'an, the believers in paradise are described as follows:

...Allah is well pleased with them and they with Allah. That is the great salvation, (the fulfilment of all desires). (Surat al-Ma'idah: 119)

What makes the favours of paradise so precious is the good pleasure of Allah. The same types of favours may also exist in this world, yet if the good pleasure of Allah is not involved, believers do not enjoy these favours. This is a very important issue on which one needs to ponder. What actually makes a favour precious is something beyond the savour and pleasure it gives. What really matters, is the fact that Allah has bestowed that favour. 

A believer who has the benefit of such a favour and is grateful to his Creator derives his main pleasure from knowing that it is the benevolence of Allah. The satisfaction can be found only from the fact that Allah protects him, loves him and that his Creator shows His Mercy to him. Therefore, one's heart only takes pleasure from paradise. He is created to be a servant of Allah and therefore he takes only pleasure from His benevolence. 

In brief, paradise is a gift of Allah to His true servants and that is why it is important to them. Since "they are (but) slaves raised to honour," (Surat al-Anbiya: 26) they attain eternal happiness and joy. The words of the believers in paradise are "Blessed be the name of your Lord, full of Majesty, Bounty and Honour." (Surat ar-Rahman: 78)

 

 

 

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