For as long as I can remember, there has been a certain depiction of Heaven and Hell portrayed in popular culture. Heaven is always luminescent, white, and in the clouds, while Hell is dark, red, and fiery underground. I remember seeing these scenes in cartoons as a kid, but there was always a comedic air to it. In Islam, there is nothing funny about the topic of Heaven and Hell—they are very much serious realities.
Heaven and Hell are oft-repeated themes in the Quran, for they serve as a reminder to mankind regarding the temporary nature of this world. A person will be taken to task for their actions during their lifetime on this earth, and in the end, he or she will end up in either Heaven or Hell. The mention of these places in the Quran can serve as a motivation for people to do good and avoid bad. Below are just a handful of verses specifically about Heaven. They paint a beautiful picture of the scene that awaits those who spend their lives doing good works.
“And give good tidings to those who believe and do righteous deeds that they will have gardens [in Paradise] beneath which rivers flow. Whenever they are provided with a provision of fruit therefrom, they will say, ‘This is what we were provided with before.’ And it is given to them in likeness. And they will have therein purified spouses, and they will abide therein eternally.” (Q. 2:25)
The phrase “gardens beneath which rivers flow” is a very common scene depicted about the eternal Heaven. Other descriptors mentioning lush, green, and life are also common elements that arise.
“Their Lord gives them good tidings of mercy from Him and approval and of gardens for them wherein is enduring pleasure. [They will be] abiding therein forever. Indeed, Allah has with Him a great reward.” (Q. 9:21-22)
A great reward is God’s pleasure, for that is what any practicing Muslim is working toward. Heaven is a result of that pleasure, but ultimately His approval, love, and glad tidings are what we hope to achieve.
“Indeed, those who have believed and done righteous deeds – their Lord will guide them because of their faith. Beneath them rivers will flow in the Gardens of Pleasure. Their call therein will be, ‘Exalted are You, O Allah,’ and their greeting therein will be, ‘Peace.’ And the last of their call will be, ‘Praise to Allah, Lord of the worlds!’” (Q. 10:9-10)
This pair of verses highlights what the conversation in Heaven will be like—peace. For a believer who worked in this life to please Allah, there is no greater comfort and pleasure than hearing a greeting of peace from his Lord in the ultimate abode of Heaven.
“Those will have gardens of perpetual residence; beneath them rivers will flow. They will be adorned therein with bracelets of gold and will wear green garments of fine silk and brocade, reclining therein on adorned couches. Excellent is the reward, and good is the resting place.” (Q. 18:31)
In the above verse, we get a tangible and detailed description of what the inhabitants of Paradise will be adorned with—gold and silk. They will be in the most comfortable and luxurious of spaces for all of eternity.
“…the chosen servants of Allah. Those will have a provision determined—fruits; and they will be honored in gardens of pleasure on thrones facing one another. There will be circulated among them a cup from a flowing spring, white and delicious to the drinkers; no bad effect is there in it, nor from it will they be intoxicated.” (Q. 37:40-47)
Another pleasure of Heaven is that of its fruits and drink. Whenever I cut different types of fruit, I am always reminded of Allah and His greatness—there is such an intricacy and uniqueness in each fruit. Bananas, oranges, pomegranates, kiwis, grapes…and that is only what we have been exposed to living in the United States! We have not even heard or dreamt of what is available in other parts of the world, let alone Paradise. This verse additionally describes the special drinks of Heaven, which unlike drinks in this world, cause no harm and only result in joy and satisfaction.
“[Other] faces, that Day, will show pleasure. With their effort [they are] satisfied. In an elevated garden, wherein they will hear no unsuitable speech. Within it is a flowing spring. Within it are couches raised high and cups put in place and cushions lined up and carpets spread around.” (Q. 88:8-16)
Here too, we get more descriptors of the comforts in Paradise. Couches, cushions, carpets, and my favorite—no ill speech! A pet peeve of mine was always hearing people throwing around curse words on the bus at college. My mind would jump to verses like this that promised no vain or vulgar talk in a place like Heaven, which definitely was something to look forward to.