The Surroundings of Heaven and Hell

PROF G R MALIK

A highly significant hadith reported by Abu Daud and Tirmidhi reads:
“When Allah created the Paradise He asked Gabriel to go and take a look at it. Gabriel did so and returned to say, ‘By Your Glory O Lord, no one shall ever be there who hears of it and would not like to enter it.’ Then Allah encompassed the Paradise with unpleasant things and asked Gabriel to revisit it. Gabriel did so and came back to report, ‘By Your Glory O Lord, I fear that none may enter it.’ Similarly when Allah created the Hell He sent Gabriel to have a look and Gabriel returned and said, ‘By Your Glory O Lord, no one who hears of it shall ever think of entering it.’ Then Allah encompassed Hell with pleasures (of flesh) and temptations and allurements and asked Gabriel to look at it again. Gabriel did so and came back to exclaim, ‘By Your Glory O Lord, I fear that none may be there who would not like to enter it.’”
From the Islamic point of view man is on trial in this earthly life. Two courses are open to him. He can either choose to surrender to his carnal desires and consider their fulfilment to be his supreme success. Alternatively he can subject the desires of flesh to his spiritual yearnings, fulfil his physical needs in order to maintain his existence and devote his existence to the realization of the spiritual potential latent in him. The Quran in Surah al-Balad calls this second choice ‘aqabah (the steep path).
The fact is that giving in to pleasures of flesh is like rolling oneself deliberately downhill which is easy and effortless but ends in a hideous ravine. On the other hand the path of spiritual ascent is always a tough uphill climb although its ultimate end is triumph and glory. To illustrate this truth the above-quoted hadith uses a parable which may be a fact because the matter belongs to the realm of the Unseen.
What the hadith presents in the form of a parable appears as a direct statement in Quran’s surah al-Nazi‘at:
Then for him who transgresses limits and prefers (the pleasures of) earthly life, his abode shall be the Hell. But for him who fears standing before his Lord and restrains himself from falling into (the trap of) desires, his abode shall be Paradise. (79:37-41)   

Lastupdate on : Thu, 4 Jul 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 4 Jul 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 5 Jul 2013 00:00:00 IST




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