The delights or punishments after death described
Fatwa No: 31047

Question

Is there anyone now in Paradise or Hell?

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad, sallallaahu 'alyhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger.

After a person is born, they go through three stages of life: first, the worldly life; second, the life of Barzakh (the intervening period between death and the Day of Resurrection); third, the life of the Hereafter, which begins after coming of the Hour. Each life has its own nature, in terms of delights or punishments that a person experiences.

Quoting Ibn Al-Qayyim may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him Imaam As-Saffaareeni may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said that the worldly rules are to be applied mainly to one's body, and then to the soul. In the life of the Barzakh, the rules are to be applied primarily on the soul, and then to the body; and on the Day of Resurrection, both the body and the soul will genuinely experience delights or punishment.

This indicates the differences in the delights or punishments that a person experiences in each of these lives, which varies according to each person's deeds. Paradise and Hell have been created, and they never perish.

Haafith ibn Ahmad Al-Hakami may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said that Paradise and Hell are true and they exist and never perish.

Quranic and Prophetic texts indicate that man either enjoys delights or suffers punishment after death. Take, for example, the verse about the people of Pharaoh, which says (what means): {The Fire, they are exposed to it morning and evening. And the Day the Hour appears [it will be said], "Make the people of Pharaoh enter the severest punishment."} [Quran 40:46]

Ibn ‘Umar  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  them both, narrated from the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, that he said that after a person dies, he will see in the morning and evening his place in Paradise, if he is to be one of its dwellers, and his place in Hell if he is to be one of its dwellers. [Al-Bukhari]

The nature of the life of Barzakh dictates that such delights or punishment occurs primarily to the soul and then to the body. All relevant Hadeeths essentially indicate that the righteous believers enjoy the delights of Paradise, although not as they will be enjoying them in the Hereafter.

Evidence of this is the verse that says (what means): {And never think of those who have been killed in the cause of Allaah as dead. Rather, they are alive with their Lord, receiving provision.} [Quran 3:169]

Commenting on this verse, ‘Abdullah Ibn Mas’ood  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him narrates that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said that the souls of martyrs live in the bodies of green birds who have their nests in lanterns hung from the Throne of the Almighty. They wander in Paradise and then nestle in their lanterns. Then Allaah the Almighty looks at them and asks them what they desire…. [Muslim] 

This Hadeeth talks specifically about the delights of the martyrs.

Moreover, Ka‘b ibn Maalik  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him narrated that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said that the soul of the believer is in the form of a bird which rests on the trees of Paradise until Allaah The Almighty transforms it to its body on the day He resurrects it. [Ahmad. Al-'Arnaa'oot:  (Saheeh)]

Ibn Katheer, the Shaafi'i scholar may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said that this Hadeeth is a glad tiding for every Muslim - that their soul will fly in Paradise, eat from its fruits, see pleasures nd happiness in it and experience the honors that Allaah the Almighty has prepared. He added that the souls of martyrs are in a flock of green birds, looking like stars compared to the souls of other believers, and they fly by themselves.

Just as the righteous believers enjoy Paradise delights suitable for the Barzakh life, disbelievers and Muslim sinners also suffer from Hell punishment suitable for the Barzakh life. This is indicated by the above verses and Hadeeths.

Further evidence is narrated by Samurah ibn Jundub  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said that two angels came to him, and he accompanied them until they reached a man lying down and another throwing a huge rock at his head. When his head recovers once more, the man picks up the stone and does as he did the first time, and the process is repeated continuously.

Afterwards, they came across a man who had another man with a sharp tool (like a knife), and he cut him on one side, from his mouth, nostril and eye to his nape, then turned to the other side of his face and did the same. No sooner had he finished one side, than the other side healed and he repeated the action again.

Then, they came across a great fire, roaring with flames, in which there were naked men and women being tortured by the fire. When the flames reached them, they yelled and screamed.

They proceeded until they reached a river, whose water was as red as blood, where a man was swimming. As soon as he reached the river-bank he opened his mouth to another man who held a large number of stones, who placed them in the mouth of the man who was swimming, then he swam away again and repeated the same process.

Then, they reached a very ugly man who was kindling up and going around the fire.

Then, they reached a garden full of all kinds of trees, where there was a very tall man, whose head could not be seen due to his great height, who was surrounded by many children.

Then they reached an enormous garden, matchless in beauty and expanse, and two angels asked the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, to ascend to it. All of them ascended and reached a city built of gold and silver and upon reaching the city gates they asked for permission to enter, so they were admitted. They entered it and were met by men who were half beautiful and half ugly. The two angels ordered them to go down a river whose water was flowing and as white as milk. Upon doing so, their ugly halves turned as fine as the other ones and they became in the best form. The two angels told the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, that such gardens were the havens of perpetual residence, and that such an abode was his. Then he looked upwards and his eyes fell on a palace looking like a white cloud, and the angels told him that it was his residence. He supplicated for them and asked if he could enter, but they told him that he would enter it later.

The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, asked the two angels to explain to him the strange sights. They told him that the man whose head was repeatedly smashed was a person who learns the Quran but does not practice its instructions and does not perform the prescribed prayers.

The man who had his mouth, nostrils and eyes cut was a man who tells a great lie which is spread around. The naked men and women were the adulterers and adulteresses. The man who swam in the river and had stones thrown inside his mouth was the one who consumes usury. The ugly man who was kindling up the fire was the angel Maalik  may  Allaah  exalt  his  mention the keeper of Hell. The tall man who was in the garden surrounded by children was Ibraheem (Abraham)  may  Allaah  exalt  his  mention. These children were those who had died at a young age, including the children of disbelievers. Those who were half good and half ugly were persons who mingled good deeds with evil ones, whom Allaah The Almighty forgave. [Al-Bukhari]

Ibn Hajar the Shaafi'i scholar may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him mentioned that this Hadeeth includes evidence for the torture of some sinners in the life of the Barzakh.

Allaah Knows best.

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