Concept of Hell in Islam


Hell is the abode which Allah (swt) has prepared for those who do not believe in Him (swt), those who rebel against His (swt) laws and disbelieve in His Messengers. It is the punishment for His (swt) enemies, the prison for evildoers.

It is the ultimate humiliation and loss; there is nothing worse:

“Our Lord! Verily, whom You admit to the Fire, indeed, You have disgraced him, and never will the Dhaalimoon [polytheists and wrongdoers] find any helpers” (3:192)

“Know they not that whoever opposes and shows hostility to Allah and His Messenger, certainly for him will be the fire of Hell to abide therein? That is extreme disgrace”. (9:63)

“The losers are those who will lose themselves and their families on the Day of Resurrection. Verily, that will be a manifest loss!” (39:15)

How could Hell be other than we have described, when it is full of utterly indescribable torment, pain and grief? It is eternal and its inhabitants will remain there forever. Allah (swt) has condemned them and their place in the Fire:

“Evil indeed it [Hell] is as an abode and as a place to dwell” (25:66)

“This is so! And for the Tagheen [transgressors] – will be an evil final return – Hell! Where they will burn, and worst [indeed] is that place to rest!” (38:55-6)

Paradise and Hell Have Already Been Created

  At-Tahhaawi said, in his book on al-‘Aqeedah al-Salafiyyah (correct belief in accordance with that of the early generations of Islam) that is known as al-‘Aqeedah al-Tahhaawiyyah.

“Paradise and Hell have already been created. They will never come to an end or cease to exist. Allah (swt) created Paradise and Hell before the rest of creation, and He (swt) created inhabitants for each of them. Whoever He (swt) wishes (will enter) Paradise by His grace and mercy, and whoever He (swt) wishes (will enter Hell) as a result of His (swt) justice. Every person will behave according to that for which he was created, and his destiny will be that for which he was created; good deeds and evil deeds are foreordained for all men”.

Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn Abul-‘Izz al-Hanafi remarked, in his commentary on this text:

“With regard to his saying that Paradise and Hell have already been created, Ahl as-Sunnah agree that Paradise and Hell have been created and are in existence at the present moment. Ahlus-Sunnah continued to hold this view, until some odd ideas of the Mu’tazilah and Qaadariyyah came along, which denied that. These groups said: “Allah will create them (ie Paradise and Hell) on the Day of Resurrection.” They said this because of their false arguments by means of which they seek to improve regulations on what Allah (swt) should do; (they say) it befits Allah (swt) to do this, or it does not befit Allah (swt) to do that. They compare Him to His creation and their actions. This is a kind of anthropomorphism with regard to deeds; they have allowed the ideas of Jahmiyyah (a sect of Mu’tazilah named after the deviant, Jahm ibn Safwan) to creep into their thinking, and have become mu’attalah (those who deny that Allah can see). They said, “It does not make sense for Paradise to be created before the time of reward, because it will not be used or inhabited for a very long time. They rejected the aayaat and reports that contradict these false notions they seek to project onto Allah (swt). They misinterpreted the texts and accused those who disagreed with them of going astray and concocting bid’ah”.

Proofs from the Qur’an and Hadeeth in support of this are, for example:

“Race with one another in hastening towards forgiveness from your Lord, and Paradise the width whereof is as the width of the heaven and the earth, prepared for those who believe in Allah and His Messengers. That is the Grace of Allah, which He bestows on whom He is pleased with. And Allah is the Owner of Great Bounty”. (57:21) “…for Paradise as wide as are the heavens and the earth, prepared for al-Muttaqun”(3:133) “And fear the fire, which is prepared for the disbelievers” (3:131)

“And indeed he (Muhammad) saw him (Jibreel) at a second descent (ie another time), near Sidrat al-Muntahaa (lote tree of the utmost boundary (beyond which none can pass), near it is the Paradise of Abode” (53:13-15)

The Prophet (saw) saw Sidrat al-Muntahaa, a tree in Heaven, and near it, Paradise, as is mention in al-Bukhaari, and Muslim in the hadith of Anas (ra). At the end of this narrative of al-Israa, the Prophet (saw) said, “Then Jibreel brought me to Sidrat al-Muntahaa which was veiled in colours indescribable. Then I entered Paradise, and its lights were of pearls and its soil was musk”.

Muslim, Abu Dawud and Imaam Ahmad report from Abu Hurayrah (ra) that the Messenger (saw) said, “When Allah (swt) created Paradise and Hell, He sent Jibreel to Paradise, saying “Go and look at it and at what I have prepared therein for its inhabitants”. So he went and looked at it and at what Allah had prepared therein for its inhabitants…. then He sent him to Hellfire saying, “Go and look at it and what I have prepared therein for its inhabitants” So he looked at it and saw that it was in layers, one above the other….”

Muslim reports from Aishah (ra) that there was a solar eclipse in the time of the Messenger (saw) and he said, “Whilst I was standing here I saw everything that you have been promised, I even saw myself picking some of the fruits of Paradise, when you saw me stepping forward. And I saw Hellfire, parts of it consuming other parts, when you saw me stepping backward”.

al-Bukhaari and Muslim report from Ibn ‘Abbas the same incident, “I saw Paradise and I tried to take a bunch of its fruit. If I had managed to do so, you would have eaten from it until the end of time. And I saw the Fire of Hell, and I have never seen anything so horrific or terrifying. I saw that the majority of its inhabitants are women.”

Muslim also reports from Anas that the Prophet (Saw) said, “By the One in Whose Hand is my soul, if you had seen what I saw, you would laugh little and cry much.” They said, “What did you see, O Messenger of Allah?”, He said, “I saw Paradise and Hell”.

The Prophet (saw) also ascended into jannah on the night of Mi’raj in his ‘Isra (night journey): for example

“…I saw four rivers flowing out from beneath Sidrat al-Muntahaa, two visible and two hidden.” (Muslim, Kitaab al-Imaan, Baab al-‘Israa, 1/150, no.164) * “Whilst I was walking in Paradise I saw a river whose banks were domes of hollow pearls and I asked, “What is this, O Jibreel?” He said, “This is al-Kawthar which your Rabb has given to you”. (from Anas ibn Maalik, Sahih al-Bukhaari, Kitaab ar-Riqaaq, Baab fil-Hawd, Fath al-Baari, 11/464)

* al-Bukhaari and Muslim report from Jaabir that the Messenger of Allah said, “I entered Paradise where I saw ar-Rumaysa, the wife of Abu Talhah. And I heard footsteps and asked, “Who is that?” He (Jibreel) said, “That is Bilaal”. And I saw a palace with women in its courtyard. I asked, “Whose is this?” They said, It is for ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab” (Mishkaat al-Masaabih, 3/226)

Imaam Ahmed, Ibn Hibbaan and al-Haakim report from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet (saw) said, “The children of the believers are in Paradise, being cared for by Ibraahim (as)[and in the narration of Abu Nu’aym, ad-Dawylami, and Ibn Asakir it adds- “and Sarah, until they give them back to their parents on the day of Resurrection”]

al-Bukhaari and Muslim also report from ‘Abdullaah ibn ‘Umar (ra) that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said, “When anyone of you dies, he will be shown his position morning and evening. If he is one of the people of Paradise then he will be one of the people of Paradise, and if he is one of the people of Hell, then he will be one of the people of Hell, and he will be told, “This is your position, until Allah (swt) resurrects you on the Day of Resurrection”.

According to al-Muwatta of Imaam Maalik and as-Sunaan, Abu Dawood, “Ka’b ibn Maalik said the Messenger of Allah (saw) said, “Verily the soul of the believer is a bird hanging on to the trees of Paradise, until Allah Swt returns it to its body on the day of Resurrection”

This makes it clear that souls will enter Paradise before the Day of Resurrection.

As for the specious arguments of those who say that Hell has not been created yet, they say: If it was already created now, then it would of necessity have to come to an end of the Day of Resurrection and everyone in it would have to perish because Allah says:“Everything will perish save His Face” (28:88) and “Everyone shall taste death..”(3:185) The response to this is: If you mean that Paradise does not exist until the Trumpet is blown and people are resurrected from their graves, then this is incorrect and is refuted by the evidence quoted above and other proofs which we have not mentioned here. If you mean that Allah (swt) has not yet completed the creation of everything that He will prepare for the inhabitants of Paradise and that He is still creating more and more things in it, and that when the believers enter Paradise, Allah (swt) will create even more things in it, then this is true and cannot be refuted, and the evidence that you give can only mean this, but when you use the aayah – “Everything will perish save His Face” – as evidence, your problem is that you misinterpret this aayah. Using it to prove that Paradise and Hell do not yet exist is like your colleagues using it to prove that they will both be destroyed and their inhabitants will all perish! You and your scholars did not understand the aayah properly; only the leaders (great scholars) of Islaam have understood it properly. They say that “everything” for which Allah (swt) has decreed destruction and oblivion “will perish” but Paradise and Hell have been created to last forever and never pass away, as has the Throne, which forms the roof of Paradise.

“It was suggested that it meant that everything would perish except His dominion, or whatever was done for His sake. Another suggestion was that when Allah (swt) revealed the word: “Whatever is on it will perish” – the angels said, “The people of earth are doomed”, and hoped that they would remain. Allah said that the people of heaven and earth would perish and said, “And invoke not any other ilaah along with Allah, Laa ilaaha illaa Huwaa. Everything will perish save His Face” (28:88) because He is the Living and does not die. The angels realise that they too were destined to die. Their words should be taken in the light of and reconciled with other clear and unambiguous reports that prove that both Paradise and Hell are eternal”.

(Sharh at-Tahaawiyyah, p.479, see also Siddeeq Hasan Khan, Yaqadhah ula al-‘i’tibaar, p. 37 and ‘Aqeedah as-Safarini 2/230)

The Keepers of Hell

  Standing over Hell are MIGHTY and STERN angels who never disobey Allah subhaanahu wa ta’ala Who has created them. They do whatever He commands them, as Allah subhaanahu wa ta’ala says:

“O you who believe! Save yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is men and stones, over which are [appointed] angels stern [and] severe, who flinch not [from executing] the Commands they receive from Allah, but do [precisely what] they are commanded.” (66:6)

Their number is nineteen as Allah (swt) says:

“Soon I will cast him into Hellfire. And what will explain to you what Hellfire is? Naught does it permit to endure, and naught does it leave alone! Darkening and changing the colour of man! Over it are nineteen [angels as guardians and keepers of Hell]” (74:26-30)

This number was a challenge to the kuffaar who thought that they would easily overcome such a small number, but they did not realise that one of these angels has the strength to confront the whole of mankind on his own. For this reason, Allah (swt) said in the next aayah:

“And We have set none but angels as guardians of the Fire, and We have fixed their numbers [19] only as a trial for the disbelievers..” (74:31)

Ibn Rajab said, “What is known and well-established among the earlier and later generations (as-Salaf wal-Khalaf) is that the trial came about when the number of angels was mentioned and the kuffaar thought that it was possible to kill them. They thought that they would be able to fight and resist them. They did not know that humankind in its entireity would not be able to resist even ONE of them.” (at-Takhweef min an-Naar, p.174)

These angels are the ones whom Allah subhaanahu wa ta’ala called the guardians of Hell:

“Those in the Fire will say to the keepers [angels] of Hell: “Call upon your Rabb to lighten for us the torment for a day!” (40:49)

The Location of Hell

  The scholars differ as to where Hell is located at present. Some say that it is in the lower earth, other say that it is in the heavens, and yet others refrain from discussing the matter at all. This last group is correct, because there are no sound and clear reports that define the location of Hell. One of those who prefer not to discuss the matter at all is al-Haafidh as-Suyuti who said, “Do not discuss Hell, i.e. do not discuss where it is located, for none knows this except Allah (swt) and I know of no hadeeth that I could rely on with regard to this issue”. (Siddiq Hasan Khan, Yaqazah uli al-I’tibar, p.47)

Sheikh Waliullaah ad-Dahlawee says in, his ‘Aqeedah, “There is no clear text which states their location (of Paradise and Hell). They are wherever Allah (swt) wishes them to be, and we cannot comprehend all the universes created by Allah (swt)” (ibid, p.47). Siddeeq Hasan Khan says, commenting on these words, “I say, that is the best and most cautious of opinions, inshaa’Allah” (ibid).

The Vast Extent of Hell

  Hell is huge and vast and immensely deep, as is proven by several things:

(1) Those who will enter Hell are innumerable, yet one of them will be so huge that his molars will be as big as Mount Uhud, and the distance between his shoulders will be equivalent to three days walking. Nevertheless, Hell will accommodate the huge number of Kuffaar and evildoers who have existed throughout history, in spite of their huge size, and there will still be room for more, as Allah says in the Qur’an:

“On the Day when We will say to Hell: “Are you filled?” It will say: “Are there any more to come?” (50:30)

The Fire of Hell is like a mill to which are brought thousands upon thousands of tons of grain, which it grinds tirelessly until it is all done, then waits for more. In the hadith that describes the debate between Paradise and Hell, it says that Allah (swt) said to Hell, “You are My Punishment; I will punish in you whomsoever I will”. Both Paradise and Hell will be filled, but Hell will not be filled until Allah (swt) places His foot in it and it will say, “Enough, enough!”. Then it will be filled and its different parts will come closer to one another. Allah (swt) will not wrong any one of His Creation. Reported by al-Bukhaari and Muslim from Abu Hurayrah (ra) (Jaami’ al-Usool, 10/544). [See the narration from Anas in al-Bukhaari, Muslim and Mishkaat ul-Masaabeeh, 3/109 with a similar meaning].

(2) Another indication of its vast depth is the fact that a stone thrown from the top of Hell takes a very long time to reach the bottom. Muslim reports that Abu Hurayrah (ra) said:

“We were with the Messenger of Allah (saw) and we heard the sound of something falling. The Prophet (saw) said, “Do you know what that was?” We said, “Allah and His Messenger know best”. He said, “That was a stone that was thrown into Hell seventy years ago and it was falling through Hell until now“. (Muslim, Kitaab al-Jannah, Baab fi shiddat haar an-naar, 4/2184 no. 2844)

Haakim reports from Abu Hurayrah, and Tabaraani from Mu’aadh and Abu Umamah (ra) that the Prophet (Saw) said, “If there was a huge stone as big as seven khalifaat stones, and it was thrown from the edge of Hell it would fly through it for seventy years before it reached the bottom”. (Saheeh al-Jaami’ as-Sagheer, 5/58, no. 5124, Its isnaad is saheeh).

(3) The great number of angels who will bring Hell forth on the Day of Resurrection.

The Messenger (saw) described how Hell will be brought forth on the Day of Resurrection, concerning which Allah (swt) said,

“And Hell will be brought near that Day”. (89:23)

The Prophet (saw) said,

“Hell will be brought forth that Day by means of seventy thousand ropes, each of which will be held by seventy thousand angels.” (reported by Muslim from ‘Abdullaah ibn Mas’ud, 4/2184 no.2842)

We can only image the vastness of this terrifying creation that requires such a huge number of strong and powerful angels whose strength is known only to Allah!

(4) Another indication of the vastness of Hell is the fact that two great creations like the sun and moon will be two rolled-up bulls in Hell. at-Tahhaawee reports, in Mishkil al-Aathaar, that Salamah ibn ‘Abdur-Rahman said, “Abu Hurayrah told us that the Prophet (saw) said:

“The sun and moon will be two rolled-up bulls in Hell on the Day of Resurrection” al-Bayhaqi also reported this in “al-Ba’th wal-Nushur”, as did al-Bazzaar, al-Isma’ili and al-Khattaabi, with an isnaad that is saheeh according to the conditions of al-Bukhaari, who reported in al-Saheeh al-Mukhtasar, with the wording “The sun and moon will be rolled up in Hell of the day of Resurrection”. (Sheikh Naasir ud-Deen al-Albaani narrated this hadeeth in Silsilah al-ahadeeth as-Saheehah, 1/32, hadith no:124)

The Levels of Hell

  There are variations in the degrees of heat in Hell, and in the levels of punishment which Allah (swt) has prepared for its inhabitants; there is not just one level.

As Allah says:

“Verily the hypocrites will be in the lowest depths [grade] of the Fire” (4:145)

It is said that both Paradise and Hell have different levels; the lower the level in Hell, the greater the intensity of the heat. The hypocrites will suffer the worst punishment, and so they will be in the lowest level of Hell.

Allah (swt) refers to the levels of Paradise and Hell in the Qur’an:

“For all there will be degrees [or ranks] according to what they did” (6:132)

“Is then one who follows [seeks] the good pleasure of Allah like the one who draws on himself the Wrath of Allah? His abode is Hell – and worst, indeed, is that destination! They are in varying grades with Allah, and Allah is All-Seer of what they do”. (3:162-3)

‘Abdur-Rahmaan ibn Zayd ibn Aslam said, “The levels of paradise go up and the levels of Hell go down” [Ibn Rajab, at-Takhweef min an-Naar, p.5]. It was reported from some of the Salaf that the sinners amongst the monotheists who enter Hell would be in the first level, the Jews would be in the second level, the Christians in the third level, the Sabians in the fourth level, the Magians in the fifth level, the polytheist Arabs in the sixth level and the hypocrites in the seventh level (1) Some books give names to these levels: the first is called Jahanam, the second Ladhaa, the third al-Hutamah, the fourth as-Sa’eer, the fifth Saqar, the sixth al-Jaheem, and the seventh al-Hawiyah.

There is no proof for this division of the inhabitants of Hell or the names that have been attributed to the various levels. The truth is that all of these names – Jahanam, Ladhaa, al-Hutamah, etc – are alternative names by which Hell in its entirety is known, and they are not applied to one part or another of it. It is also known that people will be placed in different levels of Hell according to the extent of their kufr and sins.


(1) If this division is based on our understanding of the texts that indicate the evil of the various groups, then it needs to be revised, for the Magians who worship fire are no less sinners than the Arab polytheists. It is better not to engage in speculation about matters that were not discussed in the nusoos (texts).

The Gates of Hell

  Allah has told us that Hell has seven gates, as He (swt) said:

“And surely, Hell is the promised place for them all. It [Hell] has seven gates, for each of these gates is a [special] class [of sinners] assigned”. (15:43-44)

Ibn Katheer commenting on this aayah, said: “This means that each gate has been allotted its share of the followers of Iblees who will enter it, and the will not be able to avoid it. May Allah (swt) protect us from it. Each will enter a gate according to his deeds, and will be assigned to a level of Hell according to his deeds.”

It was reported from ‘Ali ibn Abi Taalib (ra) that he said, during a khutbah (sermon): “The gates of Hell are such and-such”. Abu Harun said, “They are in layers, one above the other”. It is reported that he also said, “The gates of Hell number seven, one above the other. The first will be filled, then the second, then the third, until all of them are filled.” (Tafseer Ibn Katheer, 4/162)

When the disbelievers come to Hell, its gates will be opened, and they will enter it, to remain there forever:

“And those who disbelieved will be driven to Hell in groups, till, when they reach it, the gates thereof will be opened [suddenly like a prison at the arrival of the prisoners]. And its keepers will say, “Did not the Messengers come to you from yourselves – reciting to you the Verses of your Rabb, and warning you of the Meeting of this Day of yours”. They will say, “Yes” but the Word of torment has been justified against the disbelievers”. (39:71)

After they are admitted, they will be told:

“Enter you the gates of Hell, to abide therein. And [indeed] what an evil abode of the arrogant!” (39:72)

These gates will be shut upon the evildoers, and they will have no hope of ever escaping from them after that, as Allah (swt) says, “But those who reject Our Signs, they are the [unhappy] Companions of the Left Hand. On them will be Fire vaulted over [all round].” (90:19-20)

Ibn ‘Abbaas said, “vaulted” (literally: “shut over them”) means that the gates will be locked”. al-Mujaahid pointed out that the word used (mu’sadah) is the word used in the dialect of Quraysh to mean “locked” or shut” (Tafseer Ibn Katheer 7/298)

In the Qur’an Allah (swt) says:

“Woe to every [kind of] scandalmonger and backbiter, who piles up wealth and lays it by. Thinking that his wealth would make him last forever! By no means! He will be sure to be thrown into that which Breaks to Pieces. And what will explain to you that which breaks to pieces? The Fire of [the wrath of] Allah, kindled [to a blaze], which mounts [right] to the heart. It shall be made into a vault over them, in columns outstretched.” (104:1-9)

Allah (swt) states that the gates of Hell will be locked behind them. Ibn Abbaas said, “In columns outstretched” means that the gates will be stretched out”. ‘Atiyah said, “It is a pillar of iron“. Muqaatil said, “The gates will be closed firmly behind them and locked with a bolt of iron, so that the pain and heat will be intensified. The expression “stretched forth” applies to the “pillar”, meaning that the bolts with which the gates are locked will be very long, because a long bolt is stronger than a short one” (Ibn Rajab, at-Takhweef min an-Naar, p.61)

The gates of Hell may be opened and closed before the Day of Judgement. The Prophet (Saw) told us that the gates of Hell are locked during the month of Ramadhan. at-Tirmidhi reported that Abu Hurayrah said the Prophet (saw) said: “When the first night of Ramadhan comes, the Shayaateen and evil jinns are chained up. The gates of Hell are closed and not one of them is opened. The gates of Paradise are opened and not one of them is closed.” (Ibid, p.66)

Fuel of Hell

  Stones and the rebellious disbelievers are the fuel of Hell, as Allah says:

“O you who believe! Save yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is men and stones!” (66:6)

“…then fear the Fire [hell] whose fuel is men and stones, prepared for the disbelievers” (2:24)

What is meant by the people who will be fuel for the Fire is the disbelievers and polytheists. As for the type of stone that will fuel the Fire, Allah (swt) knows best what it really is. Some of the Salaf thought that this stone was brimstone or sulphur. ‘Abdullaah ibn Mas’oud said, “It is a stone of sulphur which Allah (swt) created in the first heaven the day He created the heavens and earth and prepared it for the disbelievers”. This was reported by Ibn Jareer, Ibn Abi Haatim and Haakim in al-Mustadrak. Ibn ‘Abbaas, Mujaahid and Ibn Juryayj were also of this opinion. (Tafseer Ibn Katheer, 1/107)

If this opinion was based on something that the Prophet (saw) had said then we could accept it without hesitation or argument. If it is the matter of ijtihaad, based on knowledge of the nature and qualities of stones, then we cannot accept it without question. There may be other stones that are superior to sulphur in strength and flammability. The first Muslims saw that sulphur has qualities that do not exist in other stones, so they thought that it would be the fuel of Hell. Ibn Rajab said, “Most of the mufassireen suggest that what is meant by stones is sulphur, with which the Fire of Hell will be fuelled. It was said that it includes five kinds of torment that are not found in other stones: it catches fire quickly, it has an unpleasant odour, it produces a lot of smoke, it sticks to flesh, and it is very hot when it is heated” (Ibn Rajab, at-Takhweef min an-Naar, p.107). Allah may create other kinds of stones that are superior to sulphur, and we can be sure that whatever exists in the Hereafter will be different from this world.

Another fuel for the Fire will be the gods, which were worshipped instead of Allah (swt);

“Certainly! You [disbelievers] and that which you are worshipping now besides Allah, are [but] fuel for Hell! [Surely] you will enter it. Had these [idols etc] been aaliha [gods] they would not have entered there [Hell] and all of them will abide therein.”(21:98-99)

“al-Jawhaari said, “Everything that is used to feed the Fire or increase it is its fuel”. Abu Ubaydah said, “Everything that you throw into the Fire is fuel for it” (Yaqazah uli al-i’tibaar, p.61)

The Intensity of Its Heat and the Vastness of Its Smoke and Sparks

  Allah (swt) says:

“And those on the left hand – who will be those on the Left Hand? In fierce hot wind and boiling water. And shadow of black smoke, [that shadow] neither cool, nor [even] good”. (56:41-44)

This aayah includes all of the things that people avail themselves of in this world when it is too hot; these three things are: water, air and shade. But the aayah states that these three things will be of no help whatsoever to the people of Hell. The air of Hell is al-Sumoom, which is an intensely hot wind; its water is al-Hameem, boiling water; its shade is al-Yahmoom, which is a part of the smoke of Hell. (at-Takhweef min an-Naar, p.85)

Just as this aayah emphasises the horrifying position of those on the Left Hand, who are the people of Hell, another aayah emphasises the horror of Hell itself. Allah (swt) says:

“But he whose balance [of good deeds] will be [found] light, will have his home in a [bottomless] pit. And what will explain to you what this is? [It is] a Fire blazing fiercely!” (101:8-11)

The shade referred to in the aayah “and the shadow of black smoke” (56:43) is the shade cast by the smoke of Hell. Shade usually makes one feel cool and comfortable, and people love to feel it, but this shade [in Hell] will neither be cool nor pleasant; it is the shadow of black smoke.

The Qur’an tells us that this shade is the smoke of Hell which rises above the Fire:

“”Depart you to a shadow [of smoke ascending] in three columns, [which yields] no shade of coolness and is of no use against the Fierce Blaze”. Indeed! It [Hell] throws about sparks [huge] as forts, as if there were [a string of] yellow camels [marching swiftly].” (77:30-33)

This aayah states that the smoke that rises from Hell is so great that it is divided into three columns. It gives shade, but it is not cooling and it offers no protection from the Raging Fire. The sparks that fly from this Fire are like huge castles, and they are likened to yellow or black camels.

Allah (swt) explained how strong this Fire is, and how it affects the tormented:

“Soon I will cast him into Hellfire. And what will explain to you exactly what Hellfire is? Naught does it permit to endure, and naught does it leave alone! Darkening and changing the colour of man!” (74:26-29)

The Fire consumes all, destroying everything and leaving nothing untouched. It burns skin, reaching to the bone, melting the contents of the stomach and exposing what is innermost.

The Prophet (saw) told us: “Fire as we know it is one-seventieth part of the Fire of Hell.” Someone said, “O Messenger of Allah (saw), it is enough as it is!” He said, “It [the fire of Hell] is as if sixty nine equal portions were added to the fire as we know it.(al-Bukhaari)

This Fire never dies down, no matter how much time passes:

“So taste you [the results of your evil actions]; no increase shall We give you, except in torment”. (78:30)

“…whenever it abates, We shall increase for them the fierceness of the Fire”. (17:97)

The disbelievers will not taste the luxury of respite, and the torment will not be lessened for them no matter how long it lasts:

“Their torment shall not be lightened nor shall they be helped”. (2:86)

The Fire is rekindled every day as is stated in the hadith reported by Muslim from ‘Amr ibn ‘Absah (ra) who said:

“The Prophet (saw) said, “Pray salaat as-subh (the early morning prayer) then stop praying when the sun is rising until it is fully up, for it rises between the horns of Shaytaan and the disbelievers prostrate to the sun at that time. Then pray, for the prayer is witnessed (by the angels) until the shadow becomes the length of a lance. Then cease prayer, for at that time Hell is heated up. Then when the shadow moves forward, pray..”

al-Bukhaari and Muslim report from Abu Hurayrah (ra) that the Prophet said, “When it becomes very hot, wait until it cools down to pray, because the intense heat is a breeze from Hell”.

The Fire of Hell will be further refuelled on the Day of Resurrection when it receives its inhabitants:

“And when Hellfire shall be kindled to a fierce blaze, and when Paradise shall be brought near”. (81:12-13)

Hell can Speak and See

  Whoever reads the descriptions of Hell in the Qur’an and hadiths will discover that it is a creation that can see, speak and complain. The Qur’an tells us that Hell will be able to see its people from afar when they are coming towards it, and it will start to utter terrifying cries that will indicate how much anger and hatred it feels towards these evildoers:

“When it [Hell] sees them from a far place, they will hear its raging and roaring”.(25:12)

Ibn Jareer reports that Ibn ‘Abbaas said:

“A man will be dragged towards Hell, which will shrink into itself. Allah (swt) will say: “What is the matter with you?” It will say, “He is seeking refuge with you from me”. He will say, “Release My slave”. Another man will be dragged towards Hell and it will send out a gust of air like a mule snorting at a camel, then it will take in a gust of air and there will be no-one left except it will terrify him”. (Ibn Katheer quoted this report in an-Nihaayah, 2/21, and said that its isnaad is saheeh).

Imaam Ahmad and at-Tirmidhi report from Abu Salih from Abu Hurayrah (ra) that the Prophet (saw) said:

“On the Day of Resurrection a neck will stretch forth from Hell; it will have two eyes to see, two ears to hear, and a tongue to speak. It will say, “I have been appointed to take care of three types of people: every arrogant tyrant, every person who called on some deity other than Allah (swt) and those who made pictures” (at-Tirmidhi stated that this hadith was saheeh – at-Takhweef min an-Naar, p.179, See also Jaami’ al-Usool, 10/518, the editor said its isnaad is hasan).

Ibn ‘Umar’s Vision of Hell

  al-Bukhaari and Muslim report that Ibn ‘Umar said, “I saw in a dream that two angels came to me. Each of them was holding a whip of iron in his hand. Then I met (another) angel who was also holding a whip of iron in his hand. They said, “Do not worry, you are a good man; we just wish that you prayed more at night”. They took me to the edge of Hell, which looked like a well with horns: between every two horns stood an angel holding a whip of iron. I saw men hanging upside-down, held with chains, and I recognised some men of Quraysh. Then they led me away, towards the right. I told Hafsah about my dream, and she told the Messenger of Allah (saw) who said, “Abdullaah is a righteous man”. (at-Takhweef min an-Naar, p.51)

Does Anybody See Hell in Reality Before the Day of Resurrection?

  We know that our Prophet (saw) saw Hell, just as he saw Paradise during his lifetime. al-Bukhaari and Muslim report from ‘Abdullaah ibn ‘Abbaas that the Prophet (saw) said concerning Salaat al-Khusf (eclipse prayer):

“I saw Paradise and I reached out to take a bunch of its fruits. If I had managed to do so you would have eaten from it until the end of time. And I saw Hell, and I have never seen anything more terrifying. I saw that most of its inhabitants are women”. (Mishkaat al-Masabeeh, 1/480)

Imaam Ahmad reports from al-Mugheerah ibn Shu’bah that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said:

“Hell was brought so close to me that I tried to blow its heat away from my face. I saw there the man with the stick with the crooked end, and one who had tended al-Baheerah (a she-camel let loose for pasture for idols, upon which nothing was allowed to be carried), and the man of Humayr and the woman who had imprisoned the cat”. (Saheeh al-Jaami’, 2/181 #1968)

Muslim reports from Jaabir (ra) that the Prophet (saw) said:

“Paradise and Hell were shown to me. Paradise was brought close to me, so that I tried to take fruit from it but I could not reach it. Hell was shown to me, and was brought so close that I stepped back for fear that it would touch me. I saw a Humayr woman who was tall and black, being punished on account of a cat that she owned: she had tied it up, not giving it anything to eat or drink, or allowing it to eat of the vermin of the earth. I also saw Abu Thumaamah ‘Umar ibn Maalik being dragged by his trachea through Hell”. (Saheeh al-Jaami’, 2/298, #2394)

After people die they are shown, in al-Barzakh (the period between death and Judgement) their position in Paradise (if they are believers) or Hell (If they are disbelievers).

How Hell Affects this Earth and its Inhabitants

  al-Bukhaari reports in his saheeh that Abu Hurayrah said:

“Hell complained to its Rabb, saying “O my Rabb, some parts of me have consumed others.” So He allowed it to exhale twice, once in the winter and once in the summer. That is why you find extreme heat (in the summer) and extreme cold (in the winter)”.

al-Bukhaari also narrated from Abu Sa’eed (ra) that the Prophet (saw) said:

“Delay your prayers until it cools down, for the intensity of heat is from the exhaled air of Hell”. (Saheeh al-Bukhaari, Kitaab Bad’ al-Khalq, Baab Siffaat an-naar wa annaha makhluqah and Fath al-Baari 6/330. The author of Jaami’ al-Usool 10/517 attributed these two reports to al-Bukhaari, Muslim and at-Tirmidhi).

The People of Hell and Their Evil Deeds

  1. The People Who Will Abide Therein Forever

The people of Hell who will abide therein forever, never leaving it and never dying, are the disbelievers and polytheists. Allah (swt) says:

“But those who reject Allah, for them will be the Fire of Hell. No term shall be determined for them, so they should die, nor shall its penalty be lightened for them”. (35:36)

“But those who reject Faith and belie Our Signs, they shall be companions [or dwellers] of the Fire; they shall abide therein”. (2:39)

“Verily those who reject faith and die rejecting – on them is Allah’s Curse and the Curse of the Angels and of all mankind. They will abide therein: their penalty will not be lightened, nor will respite be their lot.” (2:161-162)

Know they not that for those who oppose Allah and His Messenger is the Fire of Hell – wherein they shall dwell? That is the supreme disgrace”. (9:63)

“It is not for such as join gods with Allah to visit or maintain the Mosques of Allah while they witness against their own souls to infidelity [or disbelief]. The works of such bear no fruit: In Fire shall they dwell.” (9:17)

Because they will abide therein forever, Allah (swt) described the torment of Hell as a lasting torment, one that will never end, one that is eternal:

“Their wish will be to get out of the Fire, but never will they get out therefrom: their Penalty will be one that endures”. (5:37)

“At length it will be said to the wrongdoers: “Taste you the enduring punishment! You get but the recompense of what you earned!” (10:52)

Death will be slaughtered, as is stated in the hadith narration from Ibn ‘Umar by al-Bukhaari and in Muslim from Abu Sa’eed who said:

“The Messenger of Allah of Allah (saw) said: “Death will be brought like a horned ram, and will be made to stand between Paradise and Hell”. It will be said, “O people of Paradise, do you know what this is?” They will raise their heads and look, and will say, “Yes, this is death”. It will be said, “O people of Hell, do you know what this is?” They will raise their heads and look, and will say, “Yes, this is death”. Then the command will be given for death to be slaughtered. Then it will be said, “O people of Paradise, it is eternal, there is no death. O people of Hell, it is eternal, there is no death”. Then the Messenger of Allah (saw) recited:

“And warn them of the Day of Grief and regrets when the case has been decided, while [now] they are in a state of carelessness, and they believe not”. (19:39)

and in the narration of at-Tirmidhi, Abu Sa’eed al-Khudree added: “If any were to die of joy it would be the people of Paradise and if any were to die of despair, it would be the people of Hell”. (at-Tirmidhi, said “This is a sahih hasan hadith”).

  1. Hell will be the Dwelling Place of the Kuffar and Mushrikeen

Because the disbelievers and polytheists will remain in Hell forever, it is considered to be their abode or dwelling place, just as Paradise is the abode of the believers:

“Their abode will be the Fire; and evil is the home of the wrongdoers” (3:151)

“Their abode is the Fire, because of the [evil] they earned”. (10:8)

“Is there not a home in Hell for those who reject Faith?” (29:68)

Hell is abode that they deserve:

“Your abode is the Fire: that is the proper place to claim you…” (57:15)

Hell is the worst abode and destination:

But for the wrongdoers will be an evil place of [final] Return! – they will burn therein – an evil bed [indeed to lie on]!” (38:55-56)

  1. Those Who Call Others to Hell

Those who follow misguided beliefs and ideologies that contradict the laws of Allah (Swt) and those who believe in their false causes, these are the ones who call others to Hell:

“Those [unbelievers] do [but] beckon you to the Fire..” (2:221)

“And We made them [but] leaders inviting to the Fire; and on the Day of Judgement no help shall they find”. (28:41)

One of them is Shaytaan:

“..[would they do so] even if it is Shaytaan beckoning them to the Penalty of the [Blazing] Fire?” (31:21)

“He [Shaytaan} only invites his adherents that they may become Companions of the blazing Fire” (35:6)

Those who call others to the Fire in this world will lead their people and their followers to the Fire in the Hereafter. An example is Pharaoh:

“He will go before his people on the Day of Judgement, and lead them into the Fire.”(11:98)

All evil leaders who call people to their belief systems that go against Islaam are in fact calling people to the Fire of Hell, because the only way to escape the Fire of Hell and enter Paradise is to follow the path of Faith:

“And O my people! [strange] it is for me to call you to salvation while you call me to the Fire!” (40:41)

This man’s people were calling him to the kufr and shirk of Pharaoh while he was calling them to Tawheed and faith in Allah (swt). Because the kuffaar invite people to the Fire, Allah (swt) forbade believing men to marry mushrik women, just as He forbade believing women to marry mushrik men:

“And do not marry unbelieving (literally, polytheist) women until they believe. A slave woman who believes is better than a [free] unbelieving woman, even though she allures you. Nor marry [your girls] to unbelievers until they believer; a male slave who believes is better than a [free] unbeliever, even though he allures you. Those [unbelievers] do [but] beckon you to the Fire, but Allah invites by His Grace to the Garden [of Bliss] and forgiveness, and makes His Signs clear to mankind that they may receive admonition” (2:221)

The Worst Evil Deeds of Those Who Will Remain Forever in Hell

  The Qur’an speaks at length of the evil deeds for which those who will abide in the Hell forever deserve their never-ending fate. Here we will mention the most serious of them.

(1) Kufr and Shirk: Allah (swt) tells us that it will be said to those who disbelieved, when they are in the Fire, that Allah’s hatred of them will be greater than their own hatred towards themselves because of their disbelief. Then He explains that their eternal fate in Hell is because of their kufr and shirk:

“The unbelievers will be addressed: “Greater was the aversion of Allah to you than [is] your aversion to yourselves, seeing that you were called to the Faith but you used to refuse. They will say, “Our Rabb! Twice have You made us without life, and twice have You given us life! Now have we recognised our sins: is there any way out [of this]?” [The answer will be]: “This is because, when Allah was invoked as the Only [object of worship] you did reject Faith, but when partners were joined to Him, you believed! The Command is only with Allah, All-High, All-Great!” (40:10-12)

Allah (swt) tells us that the keeper of Hell will ask the kuffaar as they are approaching Hell:

“Did there not come to you your messengers with clear signs?” (40:50)

The response will be that they deserved Hell because they disbelieved in the Messengers and their Message:

“They will say, “Yes indeed; a Warner did come to us, but we rejected him” and said: “Allah never sent down any [Message] you are in nothing but a great error!” (67:9)

Concerning those who disbelieved in the Qur’an, Allah (swt) says:

“for We have sent you a Message from Our own presence. If any do turn away therefrom, verily they will bear a burden on the Day of Judgement. They will abide in this [state] and grievous will that burden be to them on that Day”. (20:99-101)

Concerning those who disbelieve the Qur’an and associate partners with Allah (swt), Allah (swt) says:

“Those who reject the Book and the [Revelations] with which We sent Our Messengers: but soon shall they know, when the yokes [shall be] round their necks, and the chains, they shall be dragged along. In the boiling fetid fluid, then in the Fire shall they be burned. Then shall it be said to them, “Where are the deities to which you gave part-worship in derogation to Allah? They will reply: “They have left us in the lurch. Nay, we invoked not, of old, anything [that had real existence].” Thus does Allah leave the unbelievers to stray. That was because you were want to rejoice on the earth in things other than the Truth, and that you were want to be ignorant. Enter the gates of Hell, to dwell therein and evil is [this] abode of the arrogant”. (40:70-76)

Concerning those kuffaar and mushrikeen who regarded their gods as equal to the Rabb of the Worlds, Allah (swt) says:

“Then they will be thrown headlong into the [Fire] – they and those straying in Evil and the whole hosts of Iblees together. They will say there in their mutual bickerings: “By Allah, we were truly in an error manifest, when we held you [false gods] as equals with the Rabb of the Worlds” (26:94-98)

Concerning the fate on the Day of Judgement of those who disbelieved, Allah said:

“If you do marvel [at their want of faith] strange is their saying: “When we are [actually] dust, shall we indeed then be a creation renewed?” They are those who disbelieve in their Rabb! They are those around whose necks will be yokes [of servitude]. They will be Companions of the Fire to dwell therein [for aye]!” (13:5)

..their abode will be Hell; every time it shows abatement, We shall increase for them the fierceness of the Fire. That is their recompense, because they rejected Our Signs and said, “When we are reduced to bones and broken fragments, should we really be raised up [to be] a new creation?” (17:97-98)

(2) Failing to fulfill the legislated duties, as well as denying the Day of Judgement. Allah (swt) tells us that the people of Paradise will ask the people of Hell:

“What led you into Hellfire?” (74:42)

They will reply: “..We were not of those who prayed, Nor were we of those who fed the indigent, But we used to talk vanities with vain talkers, And we used to deny the Day of Judgement, Until there came to us [the Hour] that is certain.” (74:43-47)

(3) Obeying the misguided leaders of kufr and accepting the principles by means of which they mislead people and turn them away from the religion of Allah (swt) as taught by the Prophets:

“And We have destined for them intimate companions [of like nature] who made alluring to them what was before them and what was behind them. And the Sentence among the previous generations of jinns and men who have passed away, is proved against them; for they are utterly lost. The unbelievers say: “Listen not to this Qur’an but talk at random in the midst of its [reading] that you may gain the upper hand!” But We shall certainly give the unbelievers a taste of a severe penalty, and We shall requite them the worst of their deeds. Such is the requital of the enemies of Allah – the Fire, therein will be for them the eternal home, a [fit] requital for that they used to reject Our Signs” (41:25-28)

When the kuffaar are thrown into Hell they will be filled with regret for having disobeyed Allah and His Messenger and having followed their masters and leaders:

“Verily Allah has cursed the unbelievers and has prepared for them a blazing Fire, to dwell therein; no protector will they find, nor helper. The Day that their faces will be turned upside down in the Fire, they will say, “Woe to us! Would that we had obeyed Allah and obeyed the Messenger”. And they would say, “Our Rabb! We obeyed our chiefs and our great ones and they misled us as from the [Right] Path”. (33:64-67)

(4) Hypocrisy

Allah promised Hell to the hypocrites, a promise that He has taken upon Himself to never break:

“Allah has promised the hypocrites, men and women, and the rejecters of Faith, the fire of Hell, therein shall they dwell. Sufficient is it for them. For them is the curse of Allah and an enduring punishment.” (9:68)

He has told us that the position of the hypocrites is the lowest level of Hell, which si where the heat and agony are most intense:

“The hypocrites will be in the lowest depths of the Fire; no helper will you find for them”. (4:145)

(5) Arrogance:

This is a quality shared by most of the people of Hell. Allah (swt) says:

“But those who reject Our Signs and treat them with arrogance – they are the Companions (dwellers) of the Fire, to dwell therein [forever]” (7:36)

Muslim devoted a chapter of his Saheeh to this issue, entitled Baab an-Naar Yadhkhulha al-Jabbaaroon wal-Jannah yadkhuluha ad-du’afaa (Hell will be entered by the arrogant and Paradise will be entered by the weak). In this chapter he refers to the debate between Paradise and Hell, what they said and what Allah (swt) sad to them. Muslim quotes the hadeeth of Abu Hurayrah (ra) which goes back to the Prophet (saw), in which it is stated that Hell said, “The arrogant and proud will enter me.” According to another report, Hell said, “I will become rich (have too many) from the proud and arrogant”. Allah (swt) said, “You are My Punishment with which I will punish whomsoever I will”. (Sahih Muslim, 4/2186, no. 2846)

al-Bukhaari, Muslim and at-Tirmidhi report from Harithah ibn Wahb that the Messenger of Allah (swt) said: “Shall I not tell you about the people of Paradise? Every meek person who is considered to be so humble that if he were to adjure something by Allah (swt), He would fulfil it for him. Shall I not tell you about the people of Hell? Every haughty, greedy and proud person.” (Jaami’ al-Usool, 10/547, no. 8111)

According to a report given by Muslim, he (saw) said, “Every proud mean and arrogant person”. This is confirmed by the Qur’an

“Is there not in Hell an abode for the Haughty [i.e. arrogant]?” (39:60)

“But today shall you be recompensed with a penalty of humiliation for that you were arrogant on earth without just cause, and that you [ever] transgressed”(48:20)

“Then, for such as had transgressed all bounds, and had preferred the life of this world, the Abode will be Hellfire” (79:37-39)

Evil Deeds that Lead One to Hell

Sheikh al-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah, may Allah (swt) have mercy on him, was asked: “What are the deeds of the people of Hell and what are the deeds of the people of Paradise?” He replied, “The deeds of the people of Hell are:

  • Associating partners in worship with Allah (swt)
  • Disbelieving in His Messenger
  • Kufr (ingratitude, disbelief)
  • Hasad (malicious envy)
  • Lying
  • Treachery
  • Oppression and wrongdoing (dhulm)
  • Promiscuity
  • Backstabbing
  • Cutting off the ties of kinship
  • Cowardice at the time of jihaad
  • Miserliness
  • Inconsistency between what is in one’s heart and the face one shows to people
  • Despairing of the mercy of Allah (swt)
  • Feeling secure from the plan of Allah (swt)
  • Panicking blindly at the time of crisis
  • Pride and extravagance at the time of plenty
  • Abandoning one’s duties towards Allah (swt)
  • Transgressing His limits
  • Violating His sanctity
  • Fearing a created being instead of the Creator
  • Showing off
  • Going against the Qur’an and Sunnah in word or deed
  • Obeying a created being in some act of disobedience to the Creator
  • Blindly supporting falsehood
  • Mocking the signs of Allah (swt)
  • Rejecting the truth
  • Withholding knowledge and testimony that should be revealed
  • Witchcraft and magic
  • Disobeying one’s parents
  • Killing any soul forbidden by Allah (swt) except for reasons of justice
  • Consuming the wealth of the orphan
  • Riba (usury)
  • Desertion from the battlefield
  • Slandering the reputation of innocent, chaste, believing women”

(Yaqadhat uli al-I’tibar, p.222)

The Messenger of Allah (saw) mentioned all the sins that will lead one to Hell. Muslim reports from ‘Iyadh bin Himaar that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said, during a lengthy khutbah:

“..the people of Hell are five: the weak who lack the power to (avoid evil); the (carefree) who pursue (everything irrespective of whether it is good or evil) and who have no concern for their families or their wealth; the dishonest people whose greed cannot be concealed even in the case of minor things; and those who betray you, morning and evening, with regard to your family and your property. He also mentioned misers, liars and those who are in the habit of abusing people and using obscene, foul language”. (Muslim in Kitaab al-Jannah wa Sifaat Na’imihaa Baab as-Sifaat allaatee yu’raf bihaa fid-dunyaa ahl al-Jannah wa ahl an-Naar, 4/2197 no. 2865)

Specific People Who Will Be In Hell

The kuffaar and mushikreen will be in Hell, no doubt about it, but the Qur’an and hadith also mention specific people who will be in the Fire. One of them is the Pharaoh who ruled at the time of Musa (as):

“He [Pharaoh] will go before his people on the Day of Judgement, and will lead them into the Fire..” (11:98)

Also included are the wives of Nuh (as) and Lut (as):

“Allah sets forth for an example to the unbelievers, the wife of Nuh and the wife of Lut. They were [respectively] under two of Our righteous slaves, but they were false to their [husbands] and they profited nothing before Allah on their account, but were told: “Enter the Fire, along with those who enter!” (66:10)

Abu Lahab and his wife are also among those mentioned specifically:

“Perish the hands of the Father of Flame [Abu Lahab]! Perish he! No profit to him from all his wealth and all his gains! Burnt soon will he be in a Fire of blazing flames! His wife shall carry the [crackling] wood, as fuel! A twisted rope of palm fibre round her [own] neck!” (111:1-5)

Another of them is ‘Amr ibn ‘Aamir al-Khuzaa’i, whom the Prophet (saw) being disembowelled in Hell (sahih hadith narrated by al-Bukhaari, Muslim, Ahmad); and the one who killed ‘Ammar and plundered his possessions. A report with a Saheeh isnaad quoted in Mu’jam at-Tabaraani from ‘Amr ibn al-‘Aas, and his son states that the Prophet (saw) said, “The one who killed ‘Ammaar and plundered his possessions will be in Hell”. (Saheeh al-Jaami’, 4/110, #4170)

The Disbelievers Among the Jinn Will Be In Hell

The disbelievers among the jinn will enter Hell just like the disbelievers among mankind, for the jinn are held responsible for their actions just as human beings are:

“And I have only created jinns and men that they may worship Me [alone]” (51:56)

On the Day of Resurrection, the jinn and mankind will be gathered alike:

“And on the Day when He will gather them [all] together, [and say]: “O assembly of jinns! Many did you mislead of men” (6:128)

“So by your Rabb, without doubt, We shall gather them together, and [also] the Evil Ones [with them], then We shall bring them forth on their knees round about Hell. Then shall We certainly drag out from every sect all those who were worst in obstinate rebellion against Allah the All-Gracious. And certainly We know best those who are most worthy of being burned therein”. (19:68-70)

Then Allah (swt) will tell the disbelieving jinn:

“Enter in the company of nations who passed away before you, of men and jinns into the Fire”. (7:38)

Then they will be thrown on their faces in Hell:

“Then they will be thrown headlong into the [Fire], they and those straying in evil. And the whole hosts of Iblis together”. (26:94-95)

Thus Allah’s promise that Hell will be filled with the disbelievers among the jinn and mankind will be fulfilled:

“..And the word of your Rabb shall be fulfilled: “Surely I will fill Hell with jinns and men all together” (11:119)

“And the Sentence among the previous generations of jinns and men that had passed away is proved against then..” (41:25)

Those Who Will Not Remain in Hell Forever

(1) Definition: Those who will enter Hell and be brought forth at a later time are the monotheists who did not associate anything with Allah (swt) but they committed many sins that far outweigh their good deeds. They will enter Hell for a period known only to Allah (swt), then they will be brought forth through the intercession of those who intercede, and Allah (swt) will bring forth, through His Mercy, people who never did any good at all.

(2) The Sins for which Allah (swt) has promised Hell –

Here we will mention some of the sins which the Qur’an and Hadeeth state will earn the punishment of Hell:

(i) Following groups and sects that go against the Sunnah

Abu Dawood, ad-Daarami, Ahmad, al-Haakim and others narrate that Mu’awiyah ibn Abi Sufyan said:

“The Messenger of Allah (swt) stood up among us and said: “There were some among the People of the Book before you who divided into seventy-two sects. This nation will divide into seventy-three sects, seventy-two of whom will be in Hellfire, and only one in Paradise. (This group) is al-Jamaa’ah”

This is a sahih hadith. After mentioning its various asaanid (chain of narrator), al-Haakim remarked, “These asaanid prove that this hadith is sahih”. Adh-Dhahabi agreed with him. Sheikh al-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah said, “It is a mashhoor sahih hadith al-Shatibee said in al-I’tisaam that it is sahih. Sheikh Naasir ud-Deen al-Albaani listed its asaanid and stated that it is without a doubt sahih. (See Silsilat al-Ahadith as-Saheehah, hadith no. 204)

Siddeeq Hasan Khan suggested that the extra wording in the hadith, “all of them are doomed except one” or “seventy two are in the Fire”, was a da’eef addition. He transmitted this opinion from his Shaykh, ash-Shawkaani, who narrated it from Ibn al-Wazeer and Ibn Hazm before him. He approved the opinion of one who said, “This addition is one of the fabrications of the atheists because it puts people off Islaam and scares them away from embracing it.” (Yaqadhaat ul al-I’tibaar, p.206)

Sheikh Naasir ud-Deen al-Albaani refuted the opinion that this addition is da’eef on two counts:

(a) Scholarly critical examination of the hadith indicates that this addition is Sahih so the opinion that it is da’eef carries no weight.

(b) Those who say that it is sahih are greater in number and more knowledgeable than Ibn Hazm, who is well-known among the scholars for being extremely strict in his criticism. His opinion should not be taken as evidence if he is the only one who says so, even if there is no conflict, so how can it be taken as evidence when it differs from everyone else’s view?

Ibn al-Wazeer rejects the hadith on the grounds of its meaning rather than its isnaad. Siddeeq Hasan Khan spoke on this in Yaqadhaat uli al-I’tibaar explaining that the indication of this addition is that those of this ummah who will enter Paradise are few in number, whereas well-proven Sahih texts indicate that those of this ummah who will enter Paradise are very many, so many that they will be half the population of Paradise:

This may be reconciled in the following ways:

a) Dividing the ummah into seventy-three sects does not mean that most of this ummah will be in Hell, because most of its ummah are `awaam (“rank and file”) who are not counted among those sects. Those who deviated and established rules that contradict the Sunnah are few in number when compared to those who avoided falling into that trap.

(b) Not everyone who differs from Ahl as-Sunnah is SOME issue is counted as contradicting the Sunnah. What is meant is those people who adopted rules that made them a separate, independent group and caused them to abandon many texts of the Qur’an and Sunnah, like the Khawaarij, the Mu’tazilah and Rawaafidh.

As for those who adopt the Qur’an and Sunnah and do not deviate from them, if they differ in some matter it does not mean that they are counted as one of the (doomed) sects.

(c) This addition indicates that all other sects will enter Hell, but that does not necessarily mean that they will abide therein forever.

It is well known that some of these sects are kuffar and will abide eternally in Hell, like the extreme Baatinis who make a show of faith whilst concealing kufr in their hearts, and the Ismaa’ilis, Druze, Nusayris and so on.

There are others who differ from Ahl as-Sunnah in some serious issues, but that does not mean they are kuffaar. They have no definite guarantee of entering Paradise. Allah (swt) may forgive them or punish them as He wills. They made do some righteous deeds that will save them from Hell, or they may be saved by the intercession of those who intercede, or they may enter Hell and remain there for as long as Allah (swt) wills, then be brought forth through the intercession of those who intercede and the Mercy of the Most Merciful.

(ii) Refusing to Migrate for the Sake of Allah Muslims are not permitted to remain in Daar al-Kufr if there are Muslim countries to which they could migrate (NB: or if it becomes waajib on them to make hijrah) especially when staying in Daar al-Kufr exposes them to trials and temptations. Allah (swt) will not accept any excuse from those who refused to migrate:

“When the angels take the souls of those who die in sin against their souls, they say: “In what [plight] were you?” They reply, “Weak and oppressed were we in the earth”. They [the angels] say: “Was not the earth of Allah spacious enough for you to move yourselves away from evil?” Such men will find their abode in Hell – what an evil refuge [or destination]! Except those who are really weak and oppressed – men, women and children, who have no means in their power, nor [a guide post] to direct their way”. (4:97-98)

Allah (swt) will not excuse any of them (NB: upon whom hijrah was OBLIGATORY) except those weak and oppressed person who had no means of migrating and could find no way of moving to Islaamic lands.

(iii) Judging Unjustly

Allah (swt) revealed the Shari’ah to establish justice among mankind, and He commanded His slaves to be Just:

“Verily Allah commands the justice [and] the doing of good..” (16:90)

He has made it obligatory for rulers and judges to be just and never to be unfair:

“Allah commands you to render back your trusts to those to whom they are due; and when you judge between man and man, that you judge with justice”. (4:58)

Allah (swt) threatens Hell to those who do not judge with justice. Buraydah ibn al-Husayb narrated that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said,

“There are three types of judges: one will be in Paradise and the other two in Hell. The one who will be in Paradise is the one who knows the truth and judges according to it. As for the one who knows the truth but is unjust in his judgement, he will be in Hell, as will the one who judges between people without understanding or knowledge”. (Abu Dawood – Jaami’ al-Usool, 10/168)

(iv) Lying about [falsely attributing words to] the Messenger of Allah (saw)

Ibn al-Ithir included in his famous book, Jaami’ al-Usool a chapter in which he quoted many hadith that warn against lying about the Prophet (saw). These include the report by al-Bukhaari, Muslim and at-Tirmidhi from ‘Ali ibn Abi Taalib who said: “The Messenger of Allah (saw) said to me: “Do not lie about me (or falsely attribute anything to me) for whoever lies about me will enter Hell”.

al-Bukhaari reported that Salaman ibn al-Akwa’ said: “I heard the Messenger of Allah (saw) say: “Whoever attributes to me words that I did not say, let him take his place in Hell”.

al-Bukhaari and Abu Dawood reported that ‘Abdullaah ibn az-Zubayr narrated from his father, az-Zubayr ibn al-‘Awwaam: “I heard the Messenger of Allah (saw) say:“Whoever lies about me deliberately, let him take his place in Hell”.

al-Bukhaari and Muslim narrated from al-Mughirah ibn Shu’bah, “The Messenger of Allah (saw) said “Lying about me is not like lying about anybody else. Whoever lies about me, let him take his place in Hell”. (Jaami al-Usool, 10/211)

(v) Pride One of the major sins, al-Kabaa’ir, is pride. Abu Hurayrah (ra) narrated: “The Messenger of Allah (saw) said that Allah (swt) said, “Pride is My cloak and greatness is My robe. Whoever competes with Me in respect of either of them, I shall admit him to Hellfire”. (according to another report, “I will make him taste Hellfire”) – Muslim.

Ibn Mas’ud said: “The Messenger of Allah (saw) said, “No one who has an atom’s weight of pride in his heart will enter Paradise”. A man said, “But what if a man likes his clothes and shoes to look good?” He said, “Allah is beautiful and loves beauty. Pride is rejecting the truth and looking down on people”. (Muslim).

(vi) Killing a person for no legitimate reason Allah says: “If a man kills a believer intentionally, his recompense is Hell to abide therein [forever] and the Wrath and the Curse of Allah are upon him, and a dreadful Penalty is prepared for him“. (4:93) It is not permitted for a Muslim to kill another except in three cases, as explained in the hadith narrated by al-Bukhaari and Muslim from Ibn Mas’ud (ra) who said that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said: “It is not permitted to shed the blood of any Muslim person who testifies that there is no god but Allah (swt) and that I am His Prophet, except in three cases: a soul for a soul (i.e in the case of murder), the married man who commits adultery, and the one who forsakes his religion and abandons the jamaa’ah”. (Tafseer Ibn Katheer, 2/355) al-Bukhaari narrates from Ibn ‘Umar that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said: “The believer has a chance so long as he does not spill blood that it is forbidden to spill”. Ibn Umar (ra) said, “One of the situations from which there is no escape for the one who falls into it is the shedding of blood for no legitimate reason”. (Sahih al-Bukhaari, Kitaab ad-Daayaat, Baab Qawl Allah ta’ala wa man yaqtul mu’minan muta’ammidan, Fath ul-Baari, 12/187)

The Prophet (saw) warned the Muslims against fighting one another and stated that the killer and his victim will both be in Hell. Abu Bakrah said: “The Messenger of Allah (saw) said, “If two Muslims face one another with swords, both the slayer and the slain will be in Hell”. I asked, or it was asked, “O Messenger of Allah (it is clear about) the slayer, but what about the slain?” He said, “He was trying hard to kill his counterpart”. (Muslim, Kitaab al-Fitan, Baab idhaa tuwajaha al-Musliman bi sayfayhimaa 4/2213)

Hence the righteous slave of Allah (swt) refuses to fight his brother, for fear that he may be among the people of Hell, for the slayer will carry his own sins and those of his slain brother:

“Recite to them the truth of the story of the two sons of Aadam. behold, they each presented a sacrifice [to Allah]: it was accepted from one but not from the other. Said the latter: “Be sure I will slay you”. Said the former: “Allah does not accept the sacrifice of those who are righteous. If you do stretch your hand against me to slay me, it is not for me to stretch my hand against you to slay you, for I fear Allah, the Cherisher of the Worlds. For me, I intend to let you draw on yourself my sin as well as yours, for you will be among the Companions [or dwellers] of the Fire, and that is the reward of those who do wrong”. (5:27-29)

(vii) Consuming Ribaa

One of the sins that will condemn a person to Hell is consuming ribaa. Allah (swt) says of those who indulge in this sin after they have come to know that He has forbidden it:

“..but those who repeat the offence (ribaa) are Companions (dwellers) of the Fire – they will abide therein [forever]” (2:275)

“O you who believe! Devour not [interest, ribaa] doubled and multiplied, but fear Allah that you may [really] prosper. Fear the Fire, which is prepared for those who reject Faith”. (3:130-131)

According to a hadith whose authenticity is agreed upon, the Prophet (saw) counted ribaa as one of the seven sins that would doom the one who committed them to Hell. al-Bukhaari and Muslim report that Abu Hurayrah (ra) said:

“The Messenger of Allah (saw) said, “Avoid the seven sins that will condemn the one who commits them to Hell”. They asked, “What are they, O Messenger of Allah (saw)?” He said, “Associating anything in worship with Allah (swt); magic and witchcraft; killing anyone whose killing Allah (swt) has forbidden, except in the course of justice; consuming ribaa; consuming the wealth of the orphan; running away from the battlefield; and slandering the reputation of innocent, chaste believing women”.

(viii) Consuming people’s wealth or property unjustly As Allah says: “O you who believe! Eat not up your property among yourselves in vanities; but let there be amongst you traffic and trade by mutual good will. Nor kill [or destroy] yourselves, for verily Allah has been to you All-Merciful. If any do that in rancour and injustice, soon shall We cast him into the Fire, and easy is it for Allah” (4:29-30)

The one who consumes the wealth of people unjustly also consumes the property of orphans unjustly. Allah (swt) made specific mention of the property of orphans because of their weak position and the ease which their property may be consumed, and the particular ugliness of this sin:

“Those who unjustly eat up the property of orphans, eat up a Fire into their own bellies, and they will soon be enduring a blazing Fire! (4:10)

(ix) Those Who Make Images of Animate Beings

The people who will be most severely punished on the Day of Resurrection are those who make images and seek to imitate the creation of Allah (swt). al-Bukhaari and Muslim narrate that ‘Abdullaah ibn Mas’ud said, “I heard the Messenger of Allah (saw) said, “The people who will be most severely punished on the Day of Resurrection are those who make images”. (Mishkaat al-Masaabeeh, 2/505)

Ibn ‘Abbaas said, “I heard the Messenger of Allah (saw) say, “Every maker of images will be in the Fire, and for every image he made Allah (swt) will create for him a soul [i.e. so that the punishment will be multiplied accordingly] and Allah (swt) will punish him in Hell.” (al-Bukhaari and Muslim).

‘Aaishah reported that the Prophet (saw) said, concerning a pillow that had pictures on it, “The makers of these images will be punished on the Day of Resurrection. It will be said to them: “Give life to that which you have created”. (al-Bukhaari and Muslim).

‘Aaishah also reported that the Prophet (saw) said “Those who will be most severely punished are those who imitate the creation of Allah (swt)” (Mishkaat al-Masaabeeh)

Abu Hurayrah (ra) said, “I heard the Messenger of Allah says, “Allah (swt) said, “Who is a greater wrongdoer than the one who tries to create something like My creation? Let them create a grain or let them create a seed or a grain of barely”(al-Bukhaari and Muslim).

(x) Inclining to Those Who Do Wrong

One of the reasons why people will enter Hell is inclining towards and supporting those who do wrong, the enemies of Allah (swt);

“And incline not to those who do wrong, or the Fire will seize you, and you have no protectors other than Allah, nor shall you be helped”. (11:113)

(xi) Women Who Are Dressed But Appear Naked, and Those Who Whip the Backs of People

Another type of person who will enter Hell is the corrupt woman who makes a display of herself and tempts men – perhaps this phenomenon has never been quite so widespread as it is now – and never obeys Allah (swt). Abu Hurayrah (ra) reported that the Prophet (saw) said: “There are two types of people of Hell that I have never seen; people with whips like the tails of cattle, with which they strike the people, and women who are dressed but appear naked, walking with an enticing gait, with their heads looking like the humps of camels, leaning to one side. They will never enter Paradise, nor even smell its fragrance, although its fragrance can be discerned from such and such a distance”. (Muslim, al-Bayhaqi, and Ahmad – Silsilat al-Ahadith as-Saheehah, 3/316, no. 1326)

Concerning those who have whips like the tails of cattle, al-Qurtubee said, “This type of whip can be seen among us in Morocco until now.” Commenting on al-Qurtubee’s remark, Siddeeq Hasan Khan said, “Indeed it can be seen in every time and place, and it is increasing day by day among the leaders. We seek refuge in Allah (swt) from all that Allah (swt) despises”. (Yaqadhat uli al-I’tibaar p.113)

And I say: we still see such people in many places, striking the people. May they and their like perish. (xii) Those Who Torture Living Beings Muslim reports in his Saheeh from Jaabir that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said,

“I was shown Hell and I saw a woman of Banu Israa’eel who was being punished because of a cat that she had owned. She tied it up and did not feed it, or let it eat of the vermin of the earth, until it died of hunger.” (Mishkaat al-Masaabeeh, 3/688)

If this is the case for one who tormented a cat, then how will it be for those who use all kinds of methods to torture human beings, especially when it is the righteous who are being tortured for their faith and their Islaam? May Allah curse those who torture the believers – be it in the lands of Chechnya, Kashmir, Maluku, Philippines, Palestine, or in the jails of the Muslim lands.

(xiii) Insincerity in Seeking Knowledge al-Haafidh al-Mundhiri mentions many hadiths that warn the person who seeks knowledge for a cause other than the sake of Allah (swt). We will quote a few of them here. Abu Hurayrah (ra) said, the Messenger of Allah (saw) said, “Whoever seeks knowledge that should be sought only for the sake of Allah (swt) but seeks it purely for some worldly gain, he will not smell the fragrance of Paradise on the Day of Resurrection”. It was reported by Abu Dawud and Ibn Maajah, by Ibn Hibbaan in his Saheeh and by al-Haakim who said, “It is saheeh according to the conditions of al-Bukhaari and Muslim”.

Jaabir said, The Messenger of Allah (saw) said, “Do not seek knowledge in order to compete with the knowledgeable, or to win arguments with the ignorant, or to show off in gatherings. Whoever does any of that will be in Hell.” It was reported by Ibn Maajah (ra), by Ibn Hibbaan in his Saheeh and al-Bayhaqi.

Ibn ‘Umar (ra) said that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said, “Whoever seeks knowledge for a reason other than for the sake of Allah (swt), then let him take his place in Hell.” It was reported by at-Tirmidhi and Ibn Maajah from Ibn ‘Umar via Khaalid ibn Durayk who did not hear it directly from him; the men in their isnaads are thiqaah.” (at-Targheeb wat-Tarheeb by al-Mundhiri 1/91)

(xiv) Those Who Drink From Vessels of Gold and Silver

al-Bukhaari and Muslim report from Umm Salamah that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said“The one who drinks from a vessel/utensil of god and silver is pouring the fire of Hell into his stomach”. According to a report narrated by Muslim, the wording is “The one who eats and drinks from vessels of gold and silver..” (Mishkaat al-Masaabeeh, 2/462)

Hudhayfah (ra) said, I heard the Messenger of Allah (saw) say, “Do not wear silk or brocade, do not drink from vessels of gold and silver, and do not eat from such platters, for these belong to them [the kuffaar] in this world, and to you in the Hereafter” (al-Bukhaari and Muslim).

(xv) The One Who Cuts Down Trees that Offer Shade To People

‘Abdullaah ibn Hubaysh (ra) said, The Messenger of Allah (saw) said, “Whoever cuts down shade trees, Allah (swt) will cast him head first into Hell”. (Abu Dawud, Mishkaat al-Masaabeeh, 2/125. Sheikh Naasir ud-Deen al-Albaani mentioned it in Saheeh al-Jaami’ 5/431, hadith no. 6352 and ascribed it to Abu Dawud an ad-Diyaa, al-Mukhtarah.)

al-Bayhaqi reported, with a saheeh isnad from ‘Aaishah that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said, “Those who cut down shade trees will be thrown on their heads in Hell.” (al-Bayhaqi in Saheeh al-Jaami’ 2/88, al-Albaani said it is saheeh)

(xvi) Those Who Commit Suicide al-Bukhaari and Muslim report from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet (saw) said,“Whoever kills himself with iron (a sharp instrument) then his iron will be in his hand, and he will be stabbing himself in the stomach with it forever in the Fire of Hell. Whoever kills himself with poison, then he will be drinking that poison forever in the Fire of Hell. Whoever throws himself from a mountain and kills himself, he will be throwing himself down forever in the Fire of Hell”. (at-Tawkheef min an-Naar, p. 148)

al-Bukhaari reports from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet (saw) said, “The one who strangles himself will be strangling himself in Hell, and the one who stabs himself will be stabbing himself in Hell”. (Saheeh al-Jaami’ 5/114)

The Vast Number of People in Hell

Many texts indicate the large numbers of the children of Aadam will enter Hell, and the few who will enter Paradise. Allah (swt) says:

“Yet no faith will the greater part of mankind have, however ardently you desire it.” (12:103)

An indication of the large numbers of kuffaar and mushrikeen who rejected the call of the Messengers is the fact that the Prophets will come on the Day of Resurrection some with a small group (of less than ten), others with one or two and some with no followers at all. Muslim reports from Ibn ‘Abbaas that the Prophet (saw) aid:

“I was shown the nations and I saw a Prophet accompanied by a small group, another accompanied by one or tow men, and another with no companions at all..” (Saheeh Muslim, 1/198, no.220)

Many texts indicate that nine hundred and ninety-nine out of every thousand of the children of Aadam will enter Hell, and only one (in a thousand) will enter Paradise.

al-Bukhaari narrates from Abu Sa’eed that the Prophet (saw) said: Allah will say, “O Aadam!” Aadam will reply, “I respond to Your call, I am obedient to Your commands, and all good is in Your hands.” Then Allah (swt) will say to Aadam, “Send forth the people of the Fire”. Aadam will say, “How many are the people of the Fire?!” Allah (swt) will say, “Out of every thousand, take nine hundred and ninety-nine”. At that time, children’s hair will turn grey and every pregnant female will spontaneously abort and you will see the people looking as if they are drunk, although they are not, but Allah’s punishment will be most severe”. This speech distressed his Companions and the said, “O Messenger of Allah (saw), who amongst us will be that man (one in a thousand)?” He said, “Be of good cheer: the thousand will be from Ya’juj and Ma’juj (Gog and Magog) and the one will be from among you”. Then he said, “By Him in Whose hand is my soul, I hope that you will be one third of the people of Paradise.” We praised and glorified Allah (swt) and then he said, “By Him in Whose Hand is my soul, I hope that you will be half of the people of paradise, as you are among the nations like a white hair on the hide of a black bull or a round hairless spot on the foreleg of a donkey”. (al-Bukhaari, Kitaab ar-Raqaaq, Baab Qawl Allah Azza wa jalla, innaa zalzalat al-Saa’ah, Shay’un ‘Adheem, Fath al-Baari, 11/388; see also Tafseer Ibn Katheer, 4/610, Musnad Ahmad 4/435).

It might be asked: how can we reconcile between these hadith and the report from Abu Hurayrah in Saheeh al-Bukhaari, in which the Prophet (saw) said that Allah (swt) said to Aadam (‘alayhis-salaam) – “Send forth [into Hell] ninety-nine out of every hundred [of your descendants]”. It is obvious that these reports do not contradict the other Saheeh reports that we have quoted above, because these figures are referring to different groups. The hadith that mention a ratio of nine hundred and ninety-nine may be interpreted as referring to all the progeny of Aadam, whilst the hadith of al-Bukhaari that mentions a ratio of ninety-nine may be interpreted as referring to the progeny of Aadam excluding Ya’juj and Ma’juj. This reconciliation is more likely to be correct – as Ibn Hajar suggests – because Ya’juj and Ma’juj are mentioned in the hadith of Abu Sa’eed whereas they are not mentioned in the hadith of Abu Hurayrah. It may be said that the first hadith refers to all of creation, so the ratio of people admitted to Hell when all nations are taken into account is 999 in every thousand. The latter hadith of al-Bukhaari explains the ratio of people who will enter Hell from this ummah alone. Ibn Hajar (said) “This interpretation is supported by the words of the Sahabah in the hadith of Abu Hurayrah (ra): “If ninety-nine out of every hundred are taken from us, what will be left of us?” This division of people could happen twice: once involving all the nations, when one in a thousand will enter Paradise, and a second time involving this ummah alone, when ten out of every thousand will enter Paradise”. (Fath al-Baari, 11/390).

The Wisdom Behind There Being So Many People In Hell

The reason why there will be so many people in Hell is not that the truth failed to reach them all, wherever or whenever they lived. Allah does not blame anyone whom His call did not reach:

“..Nor would We punish with Our Wrath until We had sent a Messenger [to give warning].” (17:15)

“..And there never was a people, without a Warner having lived among them [in the past]”. (35:24)

The reason behind it is the fact that those who responded to the Messengers were few in number, while those who disbelieved were great. Furthermore, many of those who responded were not pure and sincere in faith.

In his book, at-Takhweef min an-Naar, Ibn Rajab discussed the reason why so few people will enter Paradise and so many will enter Hell: “These hadith and other similar reports prove that most of the children of Aadam will enter Hell, and that the followers of the Messengers are few in number when compared to the rest of mankind. Those who did not follow the Messengers will enter Hell, except for those whom the Message did not reach, or who could not understand it because of the garbled form in which they heard it. Many of those who claim to be followers of the Messengers are in fact adhering to a distorted religion and an altered book, and they too will be among the people of Hell, ” as Allah (swt) says:

“…But those of the sects that reject it [the Qur’an] the Fire will be their promised meeting-place” (11:17)

As for those who claim to follow the Book and Law of Allah (swt) the true religion, many of them will also enter Hell. These are the Munaafiqoon (the hypocrites) who will be in the lowest level of the Fire. Many of those who claim to follow it openly and in secret will be tested by ambiguities and doubts – these are the misguided inventors and followers of bid’ah (reprehensible innovations, heresies). Several hadith have been narrated which state that the ummah will split into seventy-odd sects, all of which will be in the Hell except for one. Many people will also be tested with forbidden desires for which the promised punishment is Hellfire, although in this case it is not necessarily an eternal punishment. No one from this ummah will be saved from the Fire, or deserve the absolute promise of Paradise, apart from the one sect or group, who follow the example and practice of the Prophet (saw) and his Companions openly and in secret, and are saved from the temptation and trials of desires and doubts. Such are very few indeed, especially in latter times”. (at-Takhweef min an-Naar, Ibn Rajab, p.214)

The main reason why so many follow their desires is that the love of such things is deeply rooted in the human psyche:

“Fair in the eyes of men is the love of things they covet: women and children; heaved-up hoards of gold and silver [wealth]; horses branded [for blood and excellence]; and [wealth of] cattle and well-tilled land. Such are the possessions of this world’s life..” (3:14)

Many people want to fulfill these desires in whatever way they wish, without paying attention to the revealed laws of Allah (swt), and by adhering to the customs of their forefathers in ways that contradict these laws:

“Just in the same way, whenever We sent a Warner before you [Muhammad] to any people, the wealthy ones among them said: “We found our fathers following a certain religion, and we will certainly follow in their footsteps”. [The Warner] said: “What! Even if I brought you better guidance than that which you found your fathers following?” They said, “For us, we deny that you [Prophets] are sent [on a mission at all]”. (43:23-24)

Loving the ways of one’s forefathers to the point of sanctifying them is a disease which many nations are suffering from, and its effects on the deeply-rooted desires of men are no less, if it is not counted as a desire in itself.

at-Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud, and an-Nasaa’ee report from Abu Hurayrah (ra) that the messenger of Allah (saw) said, “When Allah (swt) created Hell, He told Jibreel, “Go and look at it.” Jibreel went and looked at it, and when he came back he said, “By Your Glory, I fear that no-one who hears of it will enter it”. So He surrounded it with desires, and said, “Go and look at it.” Jibreel went and looked at it, and when he came back, he said, “By Your Glory, I fear that there will be no-one left who does not enter it”. (the version narrated by an-Nasaa’ee adds the words, “and at what I have prepared for its inhabitants in it”.) [Jaami al-Usool, 10/250, # 8068. at-Tirmidhi described it as sahih hasan].

al-Bukhaari and Muslim narrated from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet (saw) said, “Hell is veiled in desires and Paradise is veiled in hardships”.

Siddeeq Hasan Khan said, “What is meant by desires is the things that people want and enjoy”. al-Qurtubee said, “Desires are all those things that people like and towards which they are inclined, and surrounding a thing means placing something all around it, so that it cannot be reached without going through it”. (Yaqadhat uli al-I’tibar, p.220)

Most of Those Who Enter Hell Will be Women

Most of the sinners amongst the monotheists who enter Hell will be women, as is reported in as-Saheehayn, via Ibn ‘Abbaas: in the khutbah given during a solar eclipse, the Prophet (saw) said, “I saw Hell and I saw that most of its inhabitants were women”.

al-Bukhaari and Muslim report from Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri that the Prophet (saw) said, “O women give in charity, for I have seen that you form the majority of the people of Hell.” They asked, “Why is that so, O Messenger of Allah (saw)?” He said, “Because you curse too much and are ungrateful for good treatment”.

al-Bukhaari and Muslim report from Usaamah ibn Zayd that the Prophet (saw) said “I stood at the gate of Hell, and saw that most of those who entered were women”.

Muslim reports from ‘Imraan ibn Husayn (ra) that the Prophet (saw) said, “Few of the inhabitants of paradise are women”.

This does not contradict the fact that every man in Paradise will have more than one wife. What is referred to by the women who will be the majority of the inhabitants of Hell is women who are descendants of Aadam: the inhabitants of Paradise will have many wives from among al-Hoor al-‘Iyn.

“Women will be few among the inhabitants of Paradise because in most cases they prefer the immediate pleasures of this life, as they are less wise and unable to keep the Hereafter in mind. They are too weak to strive and prepare themselves for it, and are more inclined towards this world. In spite of all this, they are the strongest factor in this world that distracts men from the Hereafter, because men are inclined to desire them and they are not concerned with the Hereafter. They are quick to follow those who call them to deviate from Islaam, and reluctant to follow those pious people who call them to the Hereafter, and righteous deeds”. (al-Qurtubee, at-Tadhkirah, 1/369)

In spite of all this, there are many righteous women among them, who stay within the limits set by Allah (swt), adhere to His laws, and obey Allah (swt) and His Messenger. Many of these women will enter Paradise, and many of them excel over men in their faith and righteous deeds.

The Huge Size of the People of Hell

When the People of Hell enter the Fire they will be huge in size, in a form that none can comprehend, except the One Who Created them.

According to a hadith narrated by Abu Hurayrah, the Messenger of Allah (saw) said:“The distance between the shoulders of the Kaafir in Hell will be like three day’s travelling for a fast rider” (Muslim, 4/290)

Abu Hurayrah reported that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said: “The molar of the kaafir or the eye-tooth of the kaafir, will be like Uhud, and the thickness of his skin will be like a journey of three (days)”. (Muslim, 4/2189, at-Tirmidhi, al-Haakim, Ibn Maajah and Ahmad)

Zayd ibn Arqam said, “The man who is destined for Hell will become huge in preparation for it, so that one of his molars will be as big as Mount Uhud”. This is narrated by Ahmad, who attributes it to the Prophet (saw) but Zayd did not state that he heard it from the Prophet (saw). (Silsilat al-Ahadith as-Sahihah, 4/131, al-Albaani said its isnaad is saheeh according to Ibn Maajah and Ahmad)

Abu Hurayrah reported that the Prophet (saw) said: “The kaafir’s skin will be forty-two cubits thick and his molar will be like Uhud and the space he occupies will be as wide as the distance between Makkah and Madinah.” (at-Tirmidhi) (Mishkaat al-Masaabeeh 3/103, sahih hasan)

Abu Hurayrah (ra) reported that the Prophet (saw) said: “The molar of the kaafir on the Day of Resurrection will be like Uhud, and the thickness of his skin will be seventy cubits. His upper arm will be like al-Bayda’, his thigh will be like Warqaan and the space he occupies will be like the distance between me and ar-Rabdhah” (al-Haakim and Ahmad – Silsilah al-Ahadith as-Sahihah, 4/94. al-Baydaa` could be the name of a mountain or it may refer to the well-known city in Morocco)

This increasing of the kaafir’s body size will increase his suffering and torment. Commenting on the hadith narrated by Muslim on this subject, an-Nawawi said, “All of this is in order to intensify the suffering, and all of this is possible for Allah (swt). We must believe in it, because the truthful (Prophet) has told us about it” [Sharh an-Nawawi ‘alaa Muslim, 17/186]. Ibn Katheer in a comment on these hadith said, “So that their punishment and suffering may be more severe, as Allah (swt) the Severe in punishment says:

“…that they may taste the Penalty”. (4:46)

[Ibn Katheer, an-Nihayah, 2/139]

The Food, Drink and Clothing of the People of Hell

The food of the people of Hell is ad-Daree and az-Zaqqum, and their drink is al-Hameem, al-Ghasleen and al-Ghassaaq.

Allah (swt) says:

“No food will there be for them but a bitter Daree obnoxious thorny plant, which will neither nourish nor satisfy hunger”. (88:6-7)

ad-Daree is a thorny plant know as ash-Shubruq that grows in the Hijaaz. Ibn ‘Abbaas said, “It is a low-growing thorny plant; when it grows tall it is called daree”. Qataadah said, “It is one of the very worst types of food” (Ibn Rajab, at-Takhweef min an-Naar, p.115). This food of the people of Hell will be of no benefit whatsoever to them, and they will not enjoy it in the least; this is one of the forms of punishment that they will suffer. Allah (swt) says:

“Verily the tree of Zaqqum will be the food of the sinful, like molten brass, it will boil in their insides, like the boiling of scalding water.” (44:43-46).

The Tree of Zaqqum is described in another aayah:

“Is that [Paradise] the better entertainment or the tree of Zaqqum [a horrible tree in Hell]? For We have truly made it [as] a trial for the wrongdoers. For it is a tree that springs out of the bottom of Hellfire, The shoots of its fruit-stalks are like the heads of devils; Truly they will eat thereof and fill their bellies therewith. Then on top of that they will be given to drink a mixture made of boiling water. Then, shall their return by to the blazing Fire of Hell”. (37:62-68)

Elsewhere in the Qur’an, Allah (swt) says:

“Then, will you truly – O you that go wrong, and treat [Truth] as Falsehood]! You will surely taste of the tree of Zaqqum. Then you will fill your insides therewith, and drinkboiling water on top of it. Indeed you will drink like diseased camels raging with thirst! Such will be their entertainment on the Day of Requital!”(56:51-66)

What we may understand from these aayaat is that this tree is a repulsive tree, whose roots go deep into the bottom of Hell, and whose branches stretch forth all over. Its fruits are so ugly that they are likened to the heads of devils, so that everyone may easily understand just how ugly they are, even though they have never seen them. Although this tree is so vile and obnoxious, the people of Hell will become so hungry that they will have no choice but to eat from it until they are full. When they have filled their bellies, this food will start to churn like boiling oil, which will cause a great deal of suffering to them. At that point they will rush to drink al-Hameem, which is an extremely hot water, and they will drink it like camels that drink and drink but their thirst is never quenched because of some disease. Then it will tear their innards:

“..[they] will be given to drink, boiling water, so that it cuts up their bowels [to pieces]” (47:15)

This is the hospitality that will be offered to them on that awesome Day. May Allah (swt) protect us from this by His Grace and Mercy.

When the people of Hell eat this vile food of ad-Daree and az-Zaqqum, they will choke because of its foulness:

“Verily with Us are fetters [to bind them] and a raging Fire [to burn them], And a food that chokes and a Penalty grievous”. (73:12-13)

The food that makes people choke is the food that sticks in the throat.

The Prophet (saw) portrayed for us the ugly and terrifying nature of az-Zaqqum:

“If one drop from az-Zaqqum were to land on this world, the people of earth and all their means of sustenance would be destroyed. So how must it be for the one who must eat it?” It was reported by at-Tirmidhi, who said, it is a sahih hasan hadith. [Mishkaat al-Masaabeeh, 3/105, narrated by Ibn ‘Abbaas]

Another kind of food that will be eaten by the people of Hell is al-Ghasleen. Allah (swt) says:

“So no friend has he here this Day, Nor has he any food except corruption [or filth] from the washing of wounds [al-Ghasleen], which none do eat but those in sin”. (69:35-37)

“Yea, such! – Then shall they taste it – a boiling fluid and a fluid dark, murky, intensely cold [ghassaaq]! And other penalties of a similar kind – to match them!”(38:57-58)

al-Ghasleen and al-Ghassaaq mean the same thing, which is the festering pus that oozes out of the skin of the people of Hell. It was suggested that it refers to the offensive discharge that flows from the private parts of adulterous women, and the decaying skin and flesh of the kuffaar. al-Qurtubee said, “It is the juice of the people of Hell”[Yaqhadhat uli al-I’tibaar, p. 86]

Allah tells us that al-Ghasleen is just one of many similarly obnoxious punishments.

The drink of the people of Hell will be al-Hameem. Allah (swt) says:

“…and if they implore relief, they will be granted water like melted brass that will scald their faces. How dreadful the drink! How uncomfortable a couch to recline on!” (18:29)

“…and he will be made to drink boiling, festering water. He will sip it unwillingly, and he will find great difficulty in swallowing it..” (14:16-17)

These aayaat mention four kinds of drink that the people of Hell have to endure:

(1) al-Hameem: an extremely hot water.

As Allah says: “In its midst and in the midst of the boiling hot water will they wander round!” (55:44)

This was explained as being ultra-hot water. And Allah (swt) says: “They will be given to drink from a boiling hot spring.” (88:5)

(2) al-Ghassaaq: as discussed above.

(3) al-Sadeed (pus): what flows from the flesh and skin of the Kaafir. Muslim reports from Jaabir that the Prophet (saw) said, “Anyone who drinks intoxicants will be made to drink the mud of khabaal”. They asked, “O Messenger of Allah, what is the mud of khabaal?” He said, “The sweat of the people of Hell”, or “the juice of the people of Hell”.

(4) al-Muhl: according to the hadith of Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri narrated by Ahmad and at-Tirmidhi the Prophet (saw) said:

“It is like boiling oil, and when it is brought near a person’s face, the skin of the face falls off into it”. Ibn ‘Abbaas said, “It is like very thick oil”.

Some of the sinners will be fed the burning coals of Hell as an appropriate punishment:

“Those who unjustly eat up the property of orphans, eat us a Fire into their own bellies, and they will soon be enduring a blazing Fire!” (4:10)

“Those who conceal Allah’s revelations in the Book, and purchase for them a miserable profit – swallow into themselves naught but Fire..” (2:174)

As for the dress of the people of Hell, Allah (swt) has told us that garments of fire will be tailor-made for them, as it says in the Qur’an:

“..But for those who deny [their Rabb] for them will be cut out a garment of Fire; over their heads will be poured out boiling water” (22:19)

When Ibraaheem at-Taymi recited this Aayah he used to say, “Glory be to Allah, Who has created garments out of fire” (at-Takhweef min an-Naar, p.126)

Allah (swt) says, “And you will see the sinners that Day bound together in fetters. Their garments of liquid pitch and their faces covered with Fire“. (14:49-50)

This pitch or tar is melted copper. According to a hadith narrated by Muslim from Abu Maalik al-Ash’ari, the Prophet (saw) said, “The woman who wails for the dead, if she does not repent before she dies, she will be resurrected on the Day of Resurrection, wearing a shirt of tar and a shield of scabs.” Ibn Maajah reported this with the wording, “The woman who wails over the dead, who does not repent before she dies, Allah (swt) will cut out for her a garment of tar and a shield of scabs”.

The Punishment of the People of Hell: The Intensity of the Suffering of the People of Hell

The Fire is an intense punishment, in which there are different types of torment, to escape which people would give the dearest possessions that they own:

“As for those who reject Faith, and die rejecting – never would be accepted from any such as much gold as the earth contains, though they should offer it for ransom. For such is [in store] a penalty grievous and they will find no helpers”.(3:91)

“As to those who reject faith – if they had everything on earth and twice repeated, to give as ransom for the Penalty of the Day of Judgement, it would never be accepted of them. Theirs would be a grievous Penalty.” (5:36)

Muslim reports from Anas ibn Maalik that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said: “One of the people of Hell who found the most pleasure in the life of this world will be brought forth on the Day of Resurrection, and will be dipped into the Fire of Hell. Then he will be asked: O son of Aadam, have you ever seen anything good? Have you ever enjoyed any pleasure?” He will say, “No, by Allah (swt), O Rabb”” (Muslim, Mishkaat al-Masaabeeh, 3/102).

Just a few short moments will make the kuffaar forget all the good times and pleasure that they had enjoyed. al-Bukhaari and Muslim report from Anas ibn Maalik that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said, “On the Day of Resurrection, Allah will say to one whose punishment in the Fire is the lightest, “If you had whatever you wanted on earth, would you give it up to save yourself?” He will say, “Yes”. Allah (swt) will say, “I wanted less than that from you: when you were still in the loins of Aadam, I asked you not to associate anything in worship with Me, but you insisted on associating others in worship with Me””. (al-Bukhaari, in Kitaab ar-Raqaaq, Baab Sifaat al-Jannah wan-Naar, Fath al-Baari, 11/416, See also Mishkaat al-Masaabeeh, 3/102)

The horror and intensity of the Fire will make a man lose his mind, and he would give up everything he holds dear to escape it, but he will never be able to:

“..the sinner’s desire will be: would that he could redeem himself from the Penalty of that Day by [sacrificing] his children, his wife and his brother, his kindred who sheltered him, and all, all that is on earth, so that it could deliver him. By no means! For it would be the Fire of Hell! Plucking out [his being] right to the skull”. (70:11-16)

This horrendous ongoing punishment will make the life of these evildoers one of continual sorrow and pain.

Pictures of Their Punishments

(1) The Punishment of the People of Hell Will Vary in Degree

As Hell has various levels, in some of which the torment and horror is greater than in others, so the people of Hell will be given different levels of punishment. According to a hadith narrated by Muslim and Ahmad from Samurah, the Prophet (saw) said, concerning the people of Hell:”There are some whom the Fire will take up to their ankles, others up to their knees, others up to their waists, and others up to their collarbones”. According to another report, “up to their necks” (Muslim in Kitaab al-Jannah wa Sifaat Na’imihaa, Baab Shiddat Harr an-Naar, 4/2185)

The Messenger of Allah (saw) has told us about those who will receive the lightest punishment in Hell. al-Bukhaari reports from al-Nu’maan ibn Basheer who said:

“I heard the Messenger of Allah (saw) say, “The person who will have the least punishment among the people of Hell on the Day of Resurrection will be a man under the arch of whose feet will be placed a smouldering ember, and his brains will boil because of it.”

In another report also narrated by al-Bukhaari from an-Nu’maan ibn Basheer, the Prophet (saw) said, “The person who will have the least punishment among the people of Hell on the Day of Resurrection will be a man under the arch of whose feet will be placed two smouldering embers, because of which his brains will boil like water boils in a mirjal [copper vessel] or qumqum [narrow-necked vessel].” (al-Bukhaari in Sahih, Kitaab ar-Raqaaq, Baab Sifaat al-Jannah wan-Naar, Fath al-Baari, 11/417, and Muslim in his Sahih, Kitaab al-Imaan, 1/196, no. 363)

According to a report narrated from an-Nu’man ibn Basheer by Muslim, the Prophet (Saw) said: The person who will have the least punishment among the people of Hell on the Day of Resurrection is a man who will be given shoes and laces of fire, because of which his brains will boil like water in a mirjal (copper vessel). He will not think that anyone could be more severely punished than himself, yet he will be the one with the lightest punishment”. (Sahih Muslim, Kitaab al-Imaan, 1/196, no. 364; Muslim also reports from Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri in the same chapter, no. 361)

al-Bukhaari and Muslim both narrate from Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri that he heard the Messenger of Allah (saw) say, when his uncle Abu Taalib was mentioned: “Maybe my intercession will help him on the Day of Resurrection, so that he may be put in a shallow part of Hell, with fire reaching to his ankles and causing his brain to boil”.(al-Bukhaari in Kitaab ar-Riqaaq, Baab Sifaat al-Jannah wan-Naar, Fath al-Baari, 11/417 and Muslim in Kitaab al-Imaam, Baab Shifa’at an-Nabi (saw), ‘Ali ibn Abi Taalib, 1/195, hadith no. 360)

Many aayaat confirm the different levels of punishment that will be given to the people of Hell:

“The hypocrites will be in the lowest depths of the Fire..” (4:145) “..and [the Sentence will be] on the Day that Judgement will be established [it will be said to the angels]: “Cast the people of Pharaoh into the severest Penalty!”(40:46)

“Those who reject Allah and hinder [men] from the Path of Allah, for them will We add penalty to penalty, for that they used to spread mischief [or corruption]”. (16:88)

al-Qurtubi said, “This topic indicates that the kufr of the person who simply disbelieves is not like the kufr of a person who oppresses, disbelieves, rebels and disobeys. There is no doubt that the kuffaar will suffer different levels of punishment in hell, as is known from Qur’an and Sunnah. We know for certain that the punishment of those who oppressed and killed the Prophets and Muslims, and spread corruption and disbelief on earth, will not be the same as the punishment of those who simply disbelieved, but treated the Prophets and Muslims well. Do you not see Abu Taalib, how the Prophet (Saw) will bring him up to a shallow level of Hell, because he helped him, protected him and treated him well? The hadith narrated by Muslim from Samurah may be interpreted as referring to the kuffaar, as there is a hadith about Abu Taalib, or it may be interpreted as referring to those monotheists who will be punished”. (at-Tadhkirah, p. 409)

Ibn Rajab said, “Know that the different levels of punishment suffered by the people of Hell will be according to the levels of their deeds for which they entered Hell”. Then he quotes the evidence for that, such as the words of Ibn ‘Abbaas, “The punishment of those who were extreme in their disbelief and spread corruption on earth, calling others to kufr, will not be like the punishment of those who did not do such things”. Then Ibn Rajab says, “Similarly, the punishments of the monotheists in Hell will be at different levels, according to their deeds. The punishment of those who were guilty of major sins (kabaa’ir) will not be like that of those who were guilty of minor sins (saghaa’ir). The punishment may be reduced for some of them because of other good deeds, or for whatever reason Allah (swt) wills. Hence some of them may die in the Fire”. (at-Takhweef min an-Naar, p. 142-143)

(2) Roasting of the Skin

The Fire of the Almighty will burn the skin of the kuffaar. The skin is the site of sensation, where the pain of burning is felt, and for this reason, Allah (swt) will replace the burnt skin with a new one, to be burnt anew, and this will be repeated endlessly:

“Those who reject Our Signs, We shall soon cast them into the Fire. As often as their skins are roasted through, We shall change them for fresh skins, that they may taste the penalty. For Allah is Exalted in Power, All-Wise” (4:56) (3) Melting

One of the kinds of torment will be the pouring of al-Hameem over their heads. al-Hameem is ultra-heated water; because of its extreme heat, it will melt their innards and everything inside: “… then as for those who disbelieve, garments of fire will be cut out for them, boiling water will be poured down over their heads. With it will melt or vanish away what is within their bellies, as well as [their] skins”. (22:19-20)

at-Tirmidhi reported from Abu Hurayrah (ra) that the Prophet (saw) said:

al-Hameem will be poured on their heads and will dissolve through until it reaches their sides and all their innards will drop out, until it comes out of his feet, and everything is melted, then he will be restored as he was. He (at-Tirmidhi) said, “It is a sahih ghareeb hasan hadith”. (at-Takhweef min an-Naar, p.145, Jaami’ al-Usool, 10/540)

(4) Scorching (the face).

The noblest and most dignified part of a person is the face, hence the Prophet (saw) forbade us to strike the face. One of the ways in which Allah (swt) will humiliate the people of Hell is by gathering them on their faces, blind, deaf and dumb, on the Day of Resurrection:

“..We shall gather them together prone on their faces, blind, dumb, and deaf; their abode will be Hell; everytime it shows abatement, We shall increase for them the Fierceness of the Fire”. (17:97)

Then they will be thrown on their faces in the Fire:

“And if any do evil, their faces will be thrown headlong into the Fire; “Do you receive a reward other than that which you have earned by your deeds?” (27:90)

The Fire will burn and cover their faces forever, with no barrier between them and it:

“If only the unbelievers knew [the time] when they will not be able to ward off the Fire from their faces, nor yet from their backs, and [when] no help can reach them!” (21:39)

“The Fire will burn their faces and they will therein grin, with their lips displaced”(23:104)

“Their garments of liquid pitch, and their faces covered with fire”. (14:50)

“Is then one who has to fear the brunt of the penalty on the Day of Judgement [and receive it on] his face, [like one guarded therefrom]?” (39:24)

Look at this horrific scene that makes one shudder!

“The Day that their faces will be turned upside down in the Fire, they will say, “Woe to us! Would that we had obeyed Allah and obeyed the Messenger.” (33:66) Do you not see that just as meat and fish are turned over when they are cooked, so their faces will be turned over in the Fire of Hell. We seek refuge with Allah (swt) from the punishment of the people of Hell. (5) Dragging

Another of the painful torments that the Kuffaar will suffer is being dragged on their faces into Hell:

“Truly those in sin are the ones straying in mind, and mad. The Day they will be dragged through the Fire on their faces [they will hear]: “Taste the touch of Hell.”(54:47-48)

Their pain at being dragged will be increased by the fact that they will be tied up in chains and fetters:

“…But soon shall they know – when the yokes [shall be] round their necks, and the chains, they shall be dragged along, in the boiling fetid fluid, then shall they be burned”. (40:70-72)

Qataadah said, “They will be dragged once in the Fire, and once in al-Hameem.” (Ibn Rajab, at-Takhweef min an-Naar, p.147)

(6) Blackening of the faces.

Allah (swt) will blacken the faces of the people of Hell in the Hereafter:

“On the Day when some faces will be [lit up with] white and some faces will be [in the gloom of] black; to those who faces will be black [it will be said]: “Did you reject Faith after accepting it? Taste then the Penalty for rejecting Faith”. (3:106)

This is intense blackness, as if the darkness of night had covered their faces

“But those who have earned evil will have a reward of like evil, and ignominy will cover their faces. No defender will they have from [the wrath of] Allah. Their faces will be covered, as it were, with pieces from the darkness of night. They are Companions [or dwellers] of the Fire, they will abide therein [for aye!] (10:27)

(7) The Fire Will Surround the Kuffaar

The people of Hell are the Kuffaar whose sins and disobedience surround them, leaving no hasanah for them. Allah (swt) said, in response to the Jews who claimed that the Fire would only touch them for a certain length of time:

“Nay, those who seek gain in evil and are girt round by their sins – they are companions [or dwellers] of the Fire; therein shall they abide [forever]” (2:81)

No one will be in such a state unless he is a kaafir and a mushrik. Siddeeq Hasan Khan says, “What is referred to here by evil deeds is a certain type of deed, the reasons for which should be overwhelming, with no way out or means of achieving hasanah. Eternity in Hell is for the kuffaar and mushrikeen, so evil and sin in this aayah has to be interpreted as meaning kufr and shirk. Thus the arguments of the Mu’tazilah and Khawaarij are shown to be false by the proven mutawaatir reports that state that the sinners among the monotheists will eventually be brought forth from Hell.” Sins and evil deeds surround the Kuffaar like a bracelet around the wrist, so their punishment should fit their crimes. Hence the Fire will surround the Kuffaar on all sides, as Allah (swt) says:

There will be a bed of Hell [Fire] and over them coverings [of Hellfire]” (7:41)

The “bed” is what comes under them, and the “coverings” are what come over them. What is meant is that fires will surround them from above and below, as Allah (swt) says:

“On the Day when the torment [Hellfire] shall cover them from above them and from underneath their feet” (29:55)

They shall have coverings of Fire above them, and coverings of Fire beneath them”. (39:16) Some of the Salaf interpreted the “Bed” (al-Mihaad) as meaning a mattress and the “cover” (al-Ghawaash) as being a blanket (Tafseer Ibn Katheer, 3/168)

The “surrounding” may be interpreted in another way, which is that Hell will have a wall to surround the kuffaar so that they will never be able to get out or escape form it, as Allah (swt) says: “..Verily We have prepared for the wrongdoers a Fire whose [smoke and flames] like the walls and roof of a tent, will hem them in; If they implore relief, they will be granted water like melted brass, that will scald their faces. How dreadful the drink! How uncomfortable a couch to recline on!” (18:29) (8) The Fire Will Leap Up Over Their Hearts

We have already explained that the physical bodies of the people of Hell will be made huge in size. In spite of that, the Fire will penetrate their bodies until it reaches their innermost depths:

“Soon will I cast him into Hellfire! And what will explain to you what Hellfire is? Naught does it permit to endure, and naught does it leave alone, Darkening and changing the colour of man!” (74:26-29)

Some of the Salaf said concerning the phrase, “naught does it leave alone” that it meant, “it eats bones and flesh and brains and does not leave anything untouched” (Ibn Rajab, at-Takhweef min an-Naar, p.146)

Allah (swt) says: “By no means! He will be sure to be thrown into that which Breaks to Pieces. And what will explain to you what that which Breaks to Pieces is? [It is] the Fire of the [wrath of] Allah, kindled [to a blaze], that which mourns [right] to the hearts”. (104:4-6)

Muhammad ibn Ka’b al-Qurtubee said, “The Fire eats into him until it reaches his heart, then his body will be created anew. It was reported that when Thaabit al-Bananee read this aayah, he said, “The Fire will burn them until it reaches their hearts, while they are still alive; this is how great their suffering is!” Then he wept.” (at-Takhweef min an-Naar, p.146)

(9) Their entrails will be spilled out in the Fire

al-Bukhaari and Muslim report from Usaamah ibn Zayd that the Prophet (saw) said: “A man will be brought forth on the Day of Resurrection and thrown into the Fire. Then his entrails will be spilled out into the Fire, and he will be forced to walk around and around like a donkey in a treadmill. The people of Hell will gather around him and say, “O So-and-so, what is wrong with you? Did you not enjoin us to do good and forbid us to do evil?” He will say, “I used to order you to do good, but I did not do it, and I used to forbid you to do evil, but I used to do it.” Then he will walk around and around like a donkey in a treadmill” (al-Bukhaari and Muslim, Mishkaat al-Masaabeeh, 2/642, hadith no. 5139)

One of the people whose entrails will be spilled out in Hell is ‘Amr ibn Lahay who was the first to change the religion of the Arabs. The Prophet (saw) saw him dragging his own entrails in Hell. Muslim reports from Jaabir ibn Abdullaah that the Prophet (saw) said, “I saw ‘Amr ibn ‘Aamir al-Khuza’ee dragging his own entrails in Hell, and he was the first one to introduce as-Saa’ibah (a she-camel turned loose for free pasture for the sake of idols, upon which nothing was allowed to be carried”. (Mishkaat al-Masaabeeh, 2/642)

(10) The Chains, Fetters and Hammers of the People of Hell

Allah (swt) has promised that the people of Hell will have chains fetters and hammers in the Fire:

“For the Rejecters We have prepared iron chains, yokes and a blazing Fire”. (76:4)

“With Us are fetters [to bind them] and a Fire [to burn them] and a food that chokes, and a penalty grievous”. (73:12-13)

The yokes will be placed around their necks:

“…We shall put yokes on the necks of the unbelievers. It would only be a requital for their ill [or evil] deeds”. (34:33)

“When yokes [shall be] round their necks, and the chains, they shall be dragged along.” (40:71)

The chains or fetters are something with which Allah (swt) will punish them:

“With Us are fetters…” (73:12)

The chains are another kind of punishment, with which the wrongdoers will be tied up, just as criminals are chained up in this world. See how the Qur’an describes them:

“The stern command will say, “Seize him and bind him, and burn him in the blazing Fire, further, make him march in a chain, whereof the length is seventy cubits”. (69:30-32) Allah (swt) has promised the people of Hell hooked rods of iron which are like hammers with which the evildoers will be beaten when they try to escape from the Fire, and they will be thrown ever deeper into Hell:

“And for them are hooked rods of iron [to punish them]. Every time they seek to get away therefrom, from anguish, they will be driven back therein, and [it will be] said to them: “taste the torment of burning!” (22:21-22)

(11) They will be accompanied by their objects of worship and their devils in Hell

The Kuffaar and Mushrikeen used to glorify the false deities that they worshipped instead of Allah (swt); they would defend them and give of themselves and their wealth in their worshipping. On the Day of Resurrection, Allah (swt) will cause those deities that they used to worship instead of Him to enter the Fire, as a source of humiliation and shame for them, so that they will know that they were misled and that they worshipped something that has no power either to benefit them or to harm them:

“Verily, you [disbelievers] and the [false] gods that you worship besides Allah are [but] fuel for Hell! To it will you [surely] come! If these had been gods, they would not have got there! But each one will abide therein.” (21:98-99)

Ibn Rajab says, “Because the Kuffaar worship their gods instead of Allah (swt) and believe that they will intercede for them with Allah (swt) and will bring them closer to Him, they will be punished by having these gods in Hell with them as a source of humiliation and shame, and to make them feel deep sorrow and regret. Because when a punishment is accompanied by the thing that was the reason for the punishment, the pain and sorrow becomes more intense.” (at-Takhweef min an-Naar, p.105)

For this reason the sun and moon will be thrown into Hell, and will be fuel for it, to punish those wrongdoers who used to worship them instead of Allah. As the hadith says, “The sun and moon will be rolled up in Hell”. (al-Bayhaqi in Shu’ab al-Imaan, and al-Bazzar, al-Isma’eelee and al-Khattabee, see Silsilat al-Hadith as-Saheehah, 1/32)

al-Qurtubee says, “They will be placed in Hell, because they were worshipped instead of Allah (swt). It is not a punishment for them, because they are inanimate, but that will be done in order to increase the sorrow and shame of the Kaafireen. This is what was said by some of the scholars.” (al-Qurtubee, at-Tadhkirah, p.392)

For the same reason, the Kuffaar and their devils will be gathered together, so as to make the punishment more intense:

“And if anyone withdraws himself from the remembrance of [Allah] All-Gracious, We appoint for him an evil one to be an intimate companion to him. Such evil ones really hinder them from the Path, but they think that they are being guided aright! At length, when [such a one] comes to Us, he says, [to his evil companion], “Would that between me and you were the distance of east and west”. Ah, evil is the companion indeed! When you have done wrong, it will avail you nothing, that Day that you shall be partners in punishment”. (43:36-39)

(12) Their sorrow, regret and supplications

When the Kuffaar see Hell, they will be filled with intense regret, at a time when regret will be of no avail:

“…they would declare [their] repentance when they see the penalty but the judgement between them will be with justice, and no wrong will be done unto them.” (10:54)

When the Kuffaar looks at the record of his deeds, and sees his kufr and shirk, for which he deserves eternal Hell, he will pray for oblivion and death:

“But he who is given his Record behind his back, soon will he cry for perdition, and he will enter a blazing Fire”. (84:10-12)

They will repeat their prayer for oblivion when they are thrown into the Fire and its heat touches them:

And when they are cast, bound together, into a constricted place therein, they will plead for destruction there and then! This Day plead not for a single destruction: plead for destruction oft-repeated”. (25:13-14)

Their screams will grow louder and more desperate and they will call on their Rabb, hoping that He (swt) will take them out of the Fire:

“Therein will they cry aloud [for assistance]: “Our Rabb! Bring us out, we shall work righteousness, not the [deeds] we used to do.” (35:37)

At that time, they will come to realise the error and foolishness of their kufr:

“They will further say: “Had we but listened or used our intelligence we would not [now] be among the companions of the blazing Fire”. (67:10)

They will say, “Our Rabb! Twice have You made us without life and twice have you given us life! Now we have recognised our sins: Is there any way out [of this]?” (40:11)

But their prayer will be harshly refused, and they will be answered as animals deserve to be answered:

“They will say, “Our Rabb! Our misfortune overwhelmed us, and we became a people astray. Our Rabb! Bring us out of this; if ever we return [to evil] then shall we be wrongdoers indeed!” He [Allah] will say, “Be driven into it with ignominy! And speak not to Me!” (23:106-108)

The promise will come true, and they will reach a destination where no prayer will benefit them and there will be no hope:

“If only you could see when the guilty ones will bend low their heads before their Rabb [saying], “Our Rabb! We have seen and we have heard; now then send us back [to the world], we will work righteousness for we do indeed [now] believe”. If We had so willed, surely We could certainly have brought every soul its true guidance, but the Word from Me will come true: I will fill Hell with jinns and men all together. Taste you then – for you forgot the Meeting of this Day of yours, and We too will forget you – taste the penalty of eternity for your [evil] deeds!” (32:12-14)

After that the people of Hell will call upon the keepers of Hell: “Pray to your Rabb to lighten us the penalty for a day [at least]! They will say, “Did there not come to you your Messengers with clear signs?” They will say, “Yes”. They will reply, “Then pray [as you like]! But the prayer of those without faith is nothing but [futile wandering] in [mazes of] error”. (40:49-50)

Then they will ask for intercession so that their Rabb might annihilate them:

“And they will cry, “O Malik [Guard of Hell]! Would that your Rabb put an end to us”. He will say, “Nay, but you shall abide”” (43:77)

Everything they ask for will be refused. There will be no coming out of the Fire, no reduction in the torment, and no oblivion. Rather it is ongoing, eternal punishment, and at that time they will be told:

“…and whether you are patient of it, or impatient of it, it is all the same. You are only being requited for what you used to do.” (52:16)

Then their wailing will increase, and they will weep for a long time:

“Let them laugh a little: much will they weep: a recompense for the [evil] that they do”. (9:82)

They will weep until no tears are left, then they will weep blood, and their tears will leave traces on their faces like the channels cut into rock by water. In al-Mustadrak by al-Haakim there is a report from ‘Abdullaah ibn Qays that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said: “The people of Hell will weep so much that if ships were placed in their tears, they would float, and they will weep blood – meaning, instead of tears”

Anas ibn Maalik reported that the Prophet (saw) said: “The people of Hell will be made to weep, and they will weep until they have no tears left. Then they will weep blood until they have as it were channels in their faces, if ships were put in them, they would float”. (1)

Those evildoers lost their own souls and their families when they preferred kufr to eemaan. Listen to the wailing and cries when they are punished:

“The Day when their faces will be turned upside down in the Fire, they will say, “Woe to us! Would that we had obeyed Allah and obeyed the Messenger!” And they would say, “Our Rabb, verily we obeyed our chiefs and our great ones, and they misled us from the (right) Path. Our Rabb, give them double penalty and curse them with a very great curse!” (33:66-68)

Listen to how Allah (swt) described their condition [we seek refuge with Allah (swt) from that]:

“As for those who are wretched, they will be in the fire, sighing in a high and low tone. They will dwell therein for all the time that the heavens and earth endure, except as your Rabb wills..” (11:106-107)

az-Zajjaj said, “The high tone (az-Zafeer) is because of the intensity of their groaning and it is very high. It was suggested that az-Zafeer means the panting of the breath in the chest due to extreme fear, so that the ribs become swollen. The “low tone” (ash-Shaheeq) is a long drawn-out breath, or an intake of breath; in either case it is an indication of the great extent of their grief and anguish. Their situation is likened to that of the one whose heart was overwhelmed by heat and whose soul was surrounded by it. al-Layth said, “az-Zafeer means that a man will take deep breaths because of his intense grief, and ash-Shaheeq refers to his exhaling” (Siddeeq Hasan Khan, Yaqadhat uli al-I’tibaar p.72)

(1) Sheikh Naasir ud-Deen al-Albaani narrated these two hadiths in Silsilat al-Hadith as-Saheehah, 4/245, no. 1679 and attributed the first hadith to al-Haakim in al-Mustadrak. al-Haakim said “It is a hadith whose isnaad is saheeh”. adh-Dhahabi agreed with him. Sheikh Naasir said, “He should have added: according to the conditions of al-Bukhaari and Muslim. All the men of its isnaad are men who narrated the hadith they (al-Bukhaari and Muslim) recorded. He mentioned that one of them, Abul-Nu’man, whose nickname was ‘Aarim had become confused. Sheikh Naasir quoted the second hadith in support of the first, and attributed it to Ibn Maajah, and Ibn Abi-Dunyaa; Yazeed al-Raqqas one of the narrators, is da’eef, but the rest of the narrators are those from whom al-Bukhaari and Muslim narrated.

How to Save Oneself From the Fire

As it is kufr that will condemn a person to eternal Hell, the way to be saved from Hell is through eemaan and righteous deeds. So the Muslims pray to their Rabb with faith to save them from the Fire:

“Those who say, “Our Rabb! We have indeed believed, forgive us then, our sins and save us from the agony of the Fire”. (3:16)

“…Our Rabb! Not for naught have You created [all] this, glory to You! Give us salvation from the torment of the Fire. Our Rabb! Any whom You admit to the Fire, truly You cover with shame, and never will wrongdoers find any helpers. Our Rabb! We have heard the call of one calling [us] to faith: “Believe in your Rabb,” and we have believed. Our Rabb! Forgive us our sins and blot out from us our inequities, and take to Yourself our souls in the company of the righteous [al-Abraar]. Our Rabb! Grant us what You did promise unto us through Your Messengers and save us from shame on the Day of Judgement, for You never break Your Promise”. (3:191-194)

Many ahadith speak in detail about this matter and describe the deeds that will protect one from the Fire, for example, love of Allah (swt). In al-Haakim’s al-Mustadrak, and Ahmad’s al-Musnad, a report from Anas ibn Maalik (ra) states, “The Messenger of Allah (saw) said, “By Allah (swt), Allah will never thrown one whom He loves into the Fire” (sahih, See Sahih al-Jaami’ 6/104)

Fasting is also a source of protection from the Fire, as Ahmad reports in al-Musnad and al-Bayhaqi in Shu’ab al-Imaan, with a hasan isnaad from Jaabir ibn ‘Abdullaah: “The Prophet (saw) said, “Allah (swt) says, “Fasting is a shield with which one may protect oneself from the Fire“. (Sahih al-Jaami, 4/114)

In Shu’ab al-Imaan, al-Bayhaqi reports from ‘Uthmaan ibn Abil-Aas that the Prophet (saw) said, “Fasting is a shield from the punishment of Allah (swt)” It was reported by Ahmad, an-Nasaa’ee, Ibn Maajah and Ibn Khuzaymah and its isnaad is saheeh (Sahih al-Jaami’ 3/264).

If fasting is accomplished at the time of jihaad against the enemy, then that is a great victory, as it was reported from Abu Sa’eed al-Khudree that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said: “Whoever fasts for one day when he is engaged in jihaad for the sake of Allah, Allah will remove him [lit. his face] seventy years distance from the Fire“. (Ahmad, al-Bukhaari, Muslim, at-Tirmidhi and an-Nasaa’ee – Sahih al-Jaami’ 5/310)

Other means of salvation from the Fire are fear of Allah and jihaad for His sake:

“But for him who fears the standing before his Rabb, there will be two gardens [ie in Paradise]” (55:46)

at-Tirmidhi and an-Nasaa’ee reported from Abu Hurayrah (ra) that the Messenger of Allah(saw) said: “No one who weeps out of fear of Allah will enter Hell until the milk goes back into the breast [i.e. never] and a man will never have both the dust from fighting in the way of Allah (swt) and the smoke of Hell”. (Mishkaat al-Masaabeeh, 2/356, no. 3828, isnaad is sahih)

al-Bukhaari reports from Abu ‘Abs that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said, “No two feet that get dusty for the sake of Allah (swt) will never meet in the Fire of Hell”.(Mishkaat al-Masaabeeh, 2/349, no. 3794)

Muslim reports from Abu Hurayrah (ra) that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said, “A Kaafir and the one who kills him will never meet in the Fire of Hell.” (Mishkaat al-Masaabeeh, 2/349, no. 3795)

We may also be shielded from the Fire by seeking protection with Allah from it:

“Those who say, “our Rabb! Avert from us the wrath of Hell, for its wrath is indeed an affliction grievous.” Evil indeed is it as an abode and as a place to rest in”. (25:64-65)

Ahmad, Ibn Maajah, Ibn Hibbaan, and al-Haakim report with a sahih isnaad from Anas, that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said, “No one asks Allah (swt)) for Paradise three times, but Paradise will say, “O Allah (swt) admit him to Paradise”. And no Muslim asks Allah for protection from Hell three times, but Hell will say, “O Allah save him from me”” (Sahih al-Jaami, 5/145, no.5506)

al-Bukhaari and Muslim report from Abu Hurayrah (ra) that when the Prophet (saw) was discussing the angels who seek out gatherings of dhikr he said, “Allah (swt) asks them and He knows best, “What are they seeking protection from?” They tell Him, “From the Fire”. He asks, “And have they seen it.” They say, “No, by Allah, O Rabb, They have not seen it.” He says, “How would it be if they had seen it?” They say, “They would be even more afraid and anxious to escape it”. He (swt) says, “Bear witness that I have forgiven them””. (Sahih al-Jaami’, 2/233, no. 2169)


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