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Short description: Concept of paradise in Islam

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Diagram of "Plain of Assembly" (Ard al-Hashr) on the Day of Judgment, from an autograph manuscript of Futuhat al-Makkiyya by Sufi mystic and Muslim philosopher Ibn Arabi, ca. 1238. Shown are the 'Arsh (Throne of God), pulpits for the righteous (al-Aminun), seven rows of angels, Gabriel (al-Ruh), A'raf (the Barrier), the Pond of Abundance, al-Maqam al-Mahmud (the Praiseworthy Station; where the prophet Muhammad will stand to intercede for the faithful), Mizan (the Scale), As-Sirāt (the Bridge), Jahannam (Hell), and Marj al-Jannat (Meadow of Paradise).[1]

In Islam, Jannah (Arabic: جَنّة, pl. جَنّٰت jannāt, Turkish: Cennet), lit. "paradise, garden", is the final abode of the righteous[2] and the Islamic believers. The Garden of Eden, where Adam and Hawa (Eve) dwelt is also called Jannah. Firdaus (Arabic: فردوس) is the literal term meaning paradise which was borrowed from the Persian word Pardis (Persian: پردیس‎), being also the source of the English word "paradise", but the Qur'an generally uses the term Jannah symbolically referring to paradise. However, "Firdaus" also designates the highest level of heaven.[3]

In contrast to Jannah, the words Jahannam and Nār are used to refer to the concept of hell. There are many words in the Arabic language for both Heaven and Hell and those words also appear in the Quran and hadith. Most of them have become part of the Islamic belief.[4]

Heaven and Jannah

While Jannah in the Quran (2:29, 78:12) is often translated as "Heaven" in the sense of an abode where believers are rewarded in afterlife, سماء samāʾ (usually pl. samāwāt) is the word for heaven in the sense of space or celestial sphere.[5][6] Whether or not Jannah coexists with the world (dunya) is a matter of dispute among Muslim scholars.[7]:{{{1}}} The heavenly paradise is pictured through the Quran as above the earth, a "great kingdom" (76:20) stretching out over the entire world.[7]:{{{1}}} The Quran describes paradise as "lofty" (69:22).[8]:{{{1}}} Heaven can be accessed vertically through its gates (7:40) by ladders (ma'arij) (70:3) or sky-ropes (asbab). However, only select beings such as angels and prophets can access.[9] Iblis (Satan) and devils are repelled by star-hurling angels, whenever they try to climb back to heaven (37:6-10).[7]:{{{1}}} Notably, contrary to many Christian ideas on heaven, God (Allah) does not reside in paradise or heaven.[7]:{{{1}}} The highest layer of heaven (al-firdaws) is said to be so close that its inhabitants could hear the sound of God's throne above.[7]:{{{1}}} This is the place in which the messengers, prophets, Imams, and martyrs (shahids) live.[7]:{{{1}}} The other layers are named, according to al-Suyuti, Jannat al-Na'im ("Garden of Bliss"), Jannat al-Ma'wa ("Garden of Refuge"), Jannat 'Adn (Garden of Eden), Dar al-Khuld ("Abode of Eternity"), Dar al-Salam ("Abode of Peace"), and Dar al-Jalal ("Abode of Glory"), in descending order.[7]:{{{1}}}

Images and descriptions

A Persian miniature depicting paradise from The History of Mohammed, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris.


The Quran describes paradise as a garden with flowing water, rising from springs and fountains (Q88:10|88:10), trees with unceasing supply of fruits grow.[8]:{{{1}}} Four rivers provide four different drinking substances, which are water, milk, honey, and wine (47:15), while wine in paradise doesn't intoxicate (52:23).[8]:{{{1}}} Physical pleassures are understood to appeal to humans. In paradise, humans will still be humans, not turn to angels.[8]:{{{1}}} Each person that goes to Jannah is greeted by angels from every gate with the words, "Peace be upon you, because ye have endured with patience; how excellent a reward is paradise!" (Q13:24) [10] Each person lives near to the Lord in a garden (3:15) of perpetual bliss (13:23). In paradise, people would have "whatever they wish for" (Q25:16).[8]:{{{1}}} In each garden is a mansion (9:72), a high throne (88:10–16) of dignity (52:20) in a grove of cool shade (36:56–57), an adorned couch (18:31), rows of cushions, rich carpets spread out, a cup (Q88:10–16) full of wine (52:23), and every meat (52:22) and fruit (Q36:56–57) that is like the food on Earth (Q2:25). Each person is adorned in golden and pearl bracelets (Q35:33) and green garments of fine silk and brocade (Q18:31).

Both men and women will have beautiful and pure spouses (Q2:25, Q4:57), accompanied by any children that did not go to Jahannam (Q52:21), and attended to by servant-boys with the spotless appearance similar to a protected pearls (Q52:24). The Believers Men will get untouched (Q55:56) virgin companions of equal age (56:35-38) and have large, beautiful eyes (37:48).

Jannah is described as an eternal dwelling (Q3:136), with its supreme felicity and greatest bliss being God's good pleasure (Q9:72).[11]


Pomegranate flower and fruit, considered a fruit from paradise in Muslim tradition. Therefore, it is used as an ingredient in a dessert (Ashure) used to commemorate prophetic events.

The Paradise is described as surrounded by eight principal gates, each level generally being divided into a hundred degrees guarded by angels (in some traditions Ridwan). The highest level is known as firdaws (sometimes called Eden) or Illiyin. Entrants will be greeted by angels with salutations of peace or As-Salamu Alaykum.[12] Furthermore, paradise is considered to be "as vast as the heavens and the earth".[13]

In the classical interpretation of the Quran, "the Garden" is described with material delights, such as beautiful maidens for men and beautiful virgin men for women, precious stones, delicious foods, and constantly flowing water—the latter especially appealing to the desert dwelling Arabs, who spend most of their life in arid lands. The Islamic texts describes life for its immortal inhabitants as: one that is happy—without hurt, sorrow, fear or shame—where every wish is fulfilled. Traditions relate that inhabitants will be of the same age (33 years), and of the same standing. Their life is one of bliss including wearing sumptuous robes, bracelets and perfumes as they partake in exquisite banquets served in priceless vessels by immortal youths (Houri), as they recline on couches inlaid with gold or precious stones.

According to Muslim belief, everything one longs for while in this world will be there in Paradise.[14] Inhabitants will rejoice in the company of their parents, spouses, and children (provided they were admitted to paradise)—conversing and recalling the past.[15]

The names of four rivers[according to whom?] are Saihan (Syr Darya), Jaihan (Amu Darya), Furat (Euphrates) and Nil (Nile).[16] Salsabil is the name of a spring that is the source of the rivers of Rahma (mercy) and Al-Kawthar (abundance).[17] Sidrat al-Muntaha is a Lote tree that marks the end of the seventh heaven, the boundary where no angel or human can pass.[18]Template:Elaboration needed Muhammad is suppossed to have taken a pomegranate from jannah, and shared it with Ali, as recorded by Nasir al-Din al-Tusi. However, some scholars, like Ghazali, reject that Muhammad grabbed the fruit, argued he had only a vision instead.[7]:{{{1}}}

In spite of the goodly dwellings given to the inhabitants of paradise, the approval of God and nearness to Him is considered greater. According to the Quran, God will bring the elect near to his throne (‘arsh), a day on which "some faces shall be shining in contemplating their Lord." The vision of God is regarded as the greatest of all rewards, surpassing all other joys.[12] The true beauty of paradise is also understood as the joy of beholding God, the Creator.[19][20]

Besides the material notion of the paradise, those descriptions are also interpreted as allegories, explaining the state of joy people will get. For some theologians, seeing God is not a question of sight, but of awareness of God's presence.[21] Although early Sufis, such as Hallaj, took the descriptions of Paradise literal, later Sufi traditions usually stressed out the allegorical meaning.[22] The Sunni Persian theologian Al-Ghazali said:

This life belongs to the world of earth and the world of visibility; the hereafter belongs to the world of transcendental and the world of beings. By this life I understand your state before death, by hereafter I understand your state after death ... However, it is impossible to explain the world of beings in this life by any other means than allegories.[citation needed]

Houris, who live in paradise, are described as women who will accompany faithful Muslims in Paradise.[23] Muslim scholars differ as to whether they refer to the believing women of this world or a separate creation, with the majority opting for the latter.[24]

Garden Eden and Paradise

Adam and Eve, cast out from the Garden, along them the serpent and the peacock, who gave aid to Satan. Painting from a copy of the Fālnāmeh (Book of Omens) ascribed to Ja´far al-Sādiq.

Muslim scholars are undecided if Garden Eden, in which Adam and Eve dwelled, is the same as the abode of the righteous believers. Most scholars in the early centuries of Islamic theology and the centuries onwards think it is.[7]:{{{1}}} It was argued that, when God commanded Adam to "go down" (ihbit) from the garden, this does not indicate a vertical movement (such as "falling"), but a horizontal dislocation.[7]:{{{1}}} However, when the idea of paradise was sublimated, some scholars denied the identification of both abodes. Al-Balluti (887 – 966) reasoned that the final paradise is perfect, while the primordial Garden of Eden was not.[7]:{{{1}}} Adam and Eve lost the primodrial paradise, while the paradisical afterlife lasts forever. Also, he argues, if Adam and Eve were in the otherworldly paradise, the devil (Shaiṭān) could not have entered and deceive Adam and Eve, since there is no evil or idle talk in paradise. Further, Adam slept in his garden, but there is no sleep in paradise.[7]:{{{1}}}

Muslim exegesis does not regard Adam and Eve's expulsion from paradise as punishment for disobedience or a result from abused free will on their part.[7]:{{{1}}} As ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya (1292-1350) states, Islamic theology asserts that God's wisdom (ḥikma) destined human's settlement on earth. This is because God wants to unfold the full range of his attributes.[7]:{{{1}}} If humans were not to live on earth, God couldn't express his love, forgivness, and power to his creation.[7] Further, if humans were not to experience hardship, they could neither long for paradise nor appreciate its delights.[7] Khwaja Abdullah Ansari (1006–1088) describes Adam and Eve's expulsion as ultimately caused by God.[25]:{{{1}}} Nonetheless, despite the paradoxical notion that man has no choice but to comply to God's will, humans must blame themselves for their sins.[25]:{{{1}}} This is exemplified by Adam and Eve in the Quran (7:23), in contrast to Iblis (Satan) who blames God for leading him astray (15:37).

Many adherences of the Muʿtazila, refuse to identify Adam's abode with paradise, because they argued that paradise and hell are yet to be created after Day of Judgement, an idea proposed by Dirar b. Amr.[7]:{{{1}}} Most Muslim scholars, however, assert that paradise and hell have been created already and coexists with the contemporary world, taking evidence from the Quran, Muhammad's heavenly journey, and the life in the graves.[7]:{{{1}}}


According to the Quran, the basic criterion for salvation in the afterlife is the belief in the oneness of God (tawḥīd), angels, revealed books, messengers, as well as repentance to God, and doing good deeds ('amal salih).[8]:{{{1}}} Though one must perform good deeds and believe in God, salvation can only be attained through God's judgment.[26] Muslim scholars disagree about exact criteria for Muslim and non-Muslim salvation, although the majority agrees that Muslims will be finally saved. Especially shahids (martyrs), who die in battle, are expected to enter paradise immediately after death.[7]:{{{1}}}

Regarding the fate for non-Muslims, Muslim scholars in favor for non-Muslims' salvation optimism cite: "Indeed, those who believed and those who were Jews or Christians or Sabians—those who believed in Allah and the Last Day and did righteousness—will have their reward with their Lord, and no fear will there be concerning them, nor will they grieve." 2:62, while whose who oppose this view regard this verse to be abrogated by Surah 3:85 and just applied until the arrival of Muhammad citing "And whoever desires other than Islam as religion—never will it be accepted from him, and he, in the Hereafter, will be among the losers.3:85", instead.[27][28]

The idea that, besides humans, jinn who are along with men addressed by sharia could find salvation too, was widely accepted, and based on the Quran (55:74).[7]:{{{1}}} Their destiny depends on, like that of humans, whether they accept God's guidance. Angels all go to paradise, because they are not subject to desire.[7]:{{{1}}}


Ashʿarism (/æʃəˈriː/; Arabic: أشعرية: al-ʾAshʿarīyah), one of the main Sunni schools of Islamic theology, founded by the Islamic scholar, Shāfiʿī jurist, Abū al-Ḥasan al-Ashʿarī in the 10th century,[29] is known for an optimistic perspective on salvation for Muslims, repeatedly adressing God's mercy over God's wrath.[30]:{{{1}}} However, God is, according to Ash'arism, neither obligated to punish disobedience nor to reward obedience.[30]:{{{1}}}

Ash'aris hold revelation necessary to understand good and evil, as well as religious truths.[31]:{{{1}}} Accordingly, revelation is necessary to reach moral and religious truths and thus, people who hear from a prophet or messenger are obligated to follow the brought religion. However, those who have not received revelation are not obligated, and can hope for salvation.[32]:{{{1}}} Mohammad Hassan Khalil considers Ash'arite scholar al-Ghazali to divide non-Muslims into three categories, among them, only the last group would be punished:[33]

  • people who never heard about Muhammad
  • those who only heared falsehood about Muhammad
  • the ones who heard about Muhammad and his character, yet rejected him.


Māturīdism (Arabic: الماتريدية: al-Māturīdiyyah) is one of the main Sunni schools of Islamic theology[34] developed and formalized by the Islamic scholar, Ḥanafī jurist Abū Manṣūr al-Māturīdī in the 10th century.[34] Māturīdi scholars generally acknowledge the idea that even sinners among Muslims will eventually enter paradise.[7]:{{{1}}} Regarding the fate of non-Muslims, there are diverse opinions.[31]:{{{1}}} Māturīdism holds people responsible for believing in a creator due to their intellectual capacities, even if they haven't heared about any prophetic mission.[35]:{{{1}}}[32]:{{{1}}}[31]:{{{1}}} While some (like Rifat Atay) regard Māturīdism to be exclusivistic, only allowing people who are Muslims to enter paradise,[31]:{{{1}}} others argue that Māturīdi understood "to believe in Islam" as referring to a subjective conceptualization of God and his laws by reason alone. This fits the doctrine that human reason suffices to grasp good and evil, and arrive at religious truths, uphold by Māturīdism.[31]:{{{1}}} Accordingly, people are judged by their degree of understanding God's universal law, not by their adherence to a particular belief system.[32]:{{{1}}}[31]:{{{1}}} In modern times, Yohei Matsuyama largely agrees with this interpretation.[35]:{{{1}}} According to Abu'l-Qasim Ishaq, children cannot be considered unbelievers, thus all of them go to paradise.[36]


Muʿtazila (Arabic: المعتزلة al-muʿtazilah) emphasized God's justice, free will, and human's responsibility for their actions. The "divine threat" (al-wa'id) and "divine promise" (al wa'd) became key tenets of the Mu'tazilites.[7]:{{{1}}} They stressed out, this is true for both Muslims and non-Muslims, therefore grave sinners, even among Muslims, might denied entry to paradise forever.[7]:{{{1}}} The only way for a grave sinner to be forgiven is by repentance (tawba). Peculiarly to the Mu'tazilites, God is obligated to forgive due to his justice then.[7]:{{{1}}} The Mu'tazilites stress on individual accountability and thus rejecting intercession (Shafa'a) on behalf of the prophet Muhammad.[7]:{{{1}}} Although controversial, many Mu'tazilites regard paradise and hell to be created only after Judgement Day. By that, they reject the commonly accepted idea that paradise and hell coexist with the contemporary world. This is because, they argue, paradise and hell only serve as places for reward and punishment, and would be useless if they had to exist now.[7]:{{{1}}}

Contemporary debate of non-Muslim fate

Modernist scholars Muhammad Abduh and Rashid Rida are rejecting the notion that the People of the Book are excluded from Jannah, with reference to Quran 4:123-124.[37] In Iran, People of the Book who were on the Iranian side during the Iran–Iraq War are regarded as martyrs, which is why the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei regularly visits the families of fallen Christian soldiers at Christmas,[38] and Iranian Jewish soldiers are honored and memorialized for their sacrifice.[39] Ghazali distinguished between the "saved" and "those who will attain success". Therefore, righteous non-Muslims will neither enter hell nor Jannah, but will stay in Araf.[40] The Fate of the unlearned is also a matter of dispute within Islamic theology.

Islam theologian Süleyman Ateş argues, Muslims had made the same mistake Jews and Christians made before by claiming Jannah is exclusive to Muslims only. Further he states, that those who believe in God without associating any partners with Him, believe in the hereafter without any doubt and do good and useful deeds can enter paradise, conditions several religions offer. He also refers to the Quran 5:66 that there are good and bad people among any religion, and even not all Muslims may enter paradise.[41]

Further those who regard Jannah as exclusively for Muslims argue, that Islam is the "completed" and "perfected" religion and it is necessary to believe in the whole teaching of God, the prophets and the angels that just can be done by a Muslim.[42]

Quranic names

Layers of Jannah

  • Firdaws – The Highest Gardens of Paradise (al-Kahf,[43] Al-Mu’minoon[44])
  • Dār al-maqāmah – The Home (Fāṭir[45])
  • Jannatul Aliyah (suras Haqqah, Ghashiyah)
  • Dār al-salām – Home of Peace (Yūnus,[46] Al-An'am[47])
  • Dār al-Ākhirah – The Home in the Hereafter (al-‘Ankabūt[48])
  • al-Jannah – This is the most commonly used term in the Quran and Hadith. (al-Baqarah,[49] Āl ‘Imran,[50][51])
  • Jannat al-ʿadn – Gardens of Everlasting Bliss (al-Tawbah:[52] 72, al-Ra‘d[53])
  • Jannat al-Khuld – The Eternal Gardens (al-Furqān[54])
  • Jannat al-Ma’wā – Garden of Abode (al-Najm[55])
  • Jannat al-Na‘īm – The Gardens of Delight (al-Mā’idah,[56] Yūnus,[57] al-Ḥajj[58])
  • Maq‘ad al-Ṣidq – Assembly of Truth (al-Qamar[59])
  • al-Maqām al-Amīn – The House of Security (al-Dukhān[60])

Doors of Jannah

According to hadith, there are eight doors of Jannah. Their names are as following:

  1. Bāb al-Ṣalāh: For those who were punctual in prayer
  2. Bāb al-Jihād: For those who took part in jihad
  3. Bāb al-Ṣadaqah: For those who gave charity more often
  4. Bāb al-Rayyān: For those who fasted (siyam)
  5. Bāb al-Ḥajj: For those participated in the annual pilgrimage
  6. Bāb al-Kāẓimīn al-Ghayẓ wa-al-‘Āfīn ‘an al-Nās: For those who withheld their anger and forgave others
  7. Bāb al-Aymān: For those who by virtue of their faith are saved from reckoning and chastisement
  8. Bāb al-Dhikr: For those who showed zeal in remembering Allah

Comparison with other religions

Comparison with Judaism

Jannah shares the name "Garden of the Righteous" with the Jewish concept of paradise. In addition, paradise in Judaism is described as a garden, much like the Garden of Eden, where people live and walk and dance with God and his angels, wear garments of light, and eat the fruit of the tree of life.[61] Like the feast of Jannah, Jewish eschatology describes the messiah holding a Seudat nissuin, called the Seudat Chiyat HaMatim, with the righteous of every nation at the end time.[62]

Comparison with Christianity

Jesus in the Gospels uses various images for heaven that are similarly found in Jannah: feast, mansion, throne, and paradise.[63] In Jannah, humans stay as humans. However, the Book of Revelation describes that in heaven Christ “will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body” (Philippians 3:21). God (Allah) does not reside in paradise or heaven. However, in Christianity, the new heavens and earth will be a place where God dwells with humans.

Vision of Don Bosco

In an alleged private revelation, John Bosco describes visiting a garden beautiful beyond description, with trees made of gemstones and mansions too great to describe. His guide tells him that he's in paradise.[64]

See also


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  43. Quran 18:107
  44. Quran 23:11
  45. Quran 35:35
  46. Quran 10:25
  47. Quran 6:127
  48. Quran 29:64
  49. Quran 2:35
  50. Quran 3:133
  51. Quran 5:72
  52. Quran 3:72
  53. Quran 13:23
  54. Quran 25:15
  55. Quran 53:15
  56. Quran 5:65
  57. Quran 10:9
  58. Quran 22:56
  59. Quran 54:55
  60. Quran 44:51
  61. "Gan Eden and Gehinnom". Jewfaq.org. http://www.jewfaq.org/olamhaba.htm#Gan. 
  62. Jewish Encyclopedia: Eschatology
  63. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1027
  64. Cassman Catechism: Saint John Bosco Vision of Heaven