As Muslims, we’ve all heard about Hellfire at least once in our lifetime. The descriptions of Hell in the Quran and Sunnah are vivid and detailed. While reading these reminders, we must nudge ourselves to strive to be safe from the Hellfire and do deeds that place us as far away as possible from this treacherous abode.
HELLFIRE IN THE NOBLE QURAN
Allah repeatedly mentions that hell is an abode of blazing fire that would destroy anything that comes near it. Men and stones will be used to fuel the fire. This is a grim reminder to people to obey Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him).
Allah says in the Quran:
“…fear the Fire whose fuel is men and stones,- which is prepared for those who reject Faith” (Quran, 2:24)
It only gets worse!
The punishment of hellfire would only get worse with each passing day, making it unbearable for the people inside. Allah says that He has cursed the inhabitants of Hell, so not only would they be suffering from the punishment of Hell but would also have to deal with Allah’s curse and rejection.
“Those who reject Faith, and die rejecting,- on them is Allah’s curse, and the curse of angels, and of all mankind. They will abide therein: Their penalty will not be lightened, nor will they receive respite.” (Quran, 2:161-162)
Food and drink:
When the inhabitants are already reeling under the extreme heat and burns from fire, they will go searching for something that can quench their thirst and ease their suffering. However, they will only be given boiling water to drink from, which will cut through their internal organs when consumed.
“In front of such a one is Hell, and he is given, for drink, boiling water.” (Quran, 14:16)
When the inhabitants of hellfire go searching for food and water, they will be greeted by Zaqqum (a tree known to be ferocious and unforgiving),
“Is that the better entertainment or the Tree of Zaqqum? For We have truly made it (as) a trial for the wrong-doers. It is a tree that springs out of the bottom of Hell-Fire. 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 a mixture made of boiling water. Then shall their return be to the (Blazing) Fire.” (Quran, 37:62-68)
Their clothes will be garments made from fire. These garments would burn their skin and cut through their flesh.
“…Those who deny (their Lord), for them will be cut out a garment of Fire. Over their heads will be poured out boiling water. With it will be scalded what is within their bodies, as well as (their) skins. In addition there will be maces of iron (to punish) them. Every time they wish to get away there from, from anguish, they will be forced back, and (it will be said), “Taste the Penalty of Burning!” (Quran, 22:19-22)
Gates Of Hellfire
The Quran mentions seven gates of Hellfire. The gates are vaulted with fire from all sides, making them look like they are on fire.
“But those who reject Our signs are the companions of the left hand – on them will be fire vaulted over.” [Quran, 90: 19-20]
The phrase “on them will be fire vaulted over” indicates that the gates of Hell will be closed and locked, imprisoning the inmates from inside.
“And verily, Hell is the promised abode for them all. It has seven gates: to each of those gates is a specific class of sinners assigned.” (Quran 15: 43-44)
Different levels of Jahannam:
Just as Paradise has different levels with Jannatul Firdous being the highest level, Hellfire too is divided into different levels. The bottom most part of Hellfire holding the worst punishment is reserved for the hypocrites.
- The First Gate:
This gate is called Jahannam, as Allah mentions in many verses in the Qur’an.
“They said (i.e. the hypocrites): “Don’t go out for war during the heat!” Say (i.e. Muhammad) the fire of Jahannam is even hotter if you only understood.” (Quran Surah Tawbah: 81)
This gate is called Jahannam because the fire will scorch the faces of the men and women who enter it. Their faces will be sullen and glum. It will eat away at their flesh.
- The Second Gate: This Gate is called Ladha’:
This level of hell is called “Ladha” because the fire will eat away at their body parts one by one, both internally and externally. It will invite those who abandoned Tawheed (i.e. Islamic monotheism) and turned away from that which the Prophet (peace be upon him) came with.
“There is no way out for them, except the Ladha (i.e. Fierce Blaze) will certainly scorch the inward organs and the outward flesh! It will invite everyone who turned away from following the truth, heedless of it and gathered wealth but refused to spend it in the cause of Allah…” (Quran, Ma’arij:15)
- The Third Gate: This gate is called Saqar:
It is called Saqar because it will eat up the flesh of the human being and not his bones.
Allah says in the Quran that those in Paradise will ask those in Hellfire:
“What put you into Saqar?
They will say, “We were not of those who prayed,
Nor did we used to feed the poor.
And we used to enter into vain discourse with those who engaged [in it],
And we used to deny the Day of Recompense.” (Quran, Muddathir 42-46)
- The Fourth Gate: This gate is called Al Hutamah:
It is called Al Hutamah, because it will shatter the bones of the human being while also burn the heart and other internal organs. The fire will start at his feet and burn all the way through until it reaches the heart.
“No! He will surely be thrown into the Crusher. And what can make you know what is the Crusher? It is the fire of Allah, [eternally] fueled, Which mounts directed at the hearts. Indeed, Hellfire will be closed down upon them. In extended columns.” (Quran, Humazah 4-9)
- The Fifth Gate: This particular gate is called Jaheem:
This gate is called Jaheem because it is one big piece of hot coal bigger than the lowest heaven as we know it.
Allah says in the Quran:
“Then into Hellfire drive him. Then into a chain whose length is seventy cubits insert him.” Indeed, he did not used to believe in Allah, the Most Great, Nor did he encourage the feeding of the poor…” (Quran, Al Haqqah 31-35)
- The Sixth Gate: This gate is called Sa’eer:
This gate of Hell is called As Sa’eer because it is constantly kindling. It has never ceased to kindle from the moment it was created.
“And they will say, “If only we had been listening or reasoning, we would not be among the companions of the Blaze.” And they will admit their sin, so [it is] alienation for the companions of the Blaze.” (Quran, Mulk 10-11)
- The Seventh Gate: This gate is called Al Haawiyah:
Allah says in the Quran:
“His refuge will be an abyss. And what can make you know what that is? It is a Fire, intensely hot. (Quran, Al Qariah 9-11)
Who will enter Hellfire?
Let us have a look at some reasons for people being punished with this horrifying abode.
- Disbelievers: Those who disbelieve in Allah and his Messenger (peace be upon him) have been warned repeatedly in the Quran about the blazing fire, which they will abide in forever.
- Those who don’t follow the right Aqeedah: Understanding and following tawheed is of utmost importance, one that is incumbent upon every Muslim. Those who follow false Aqeedah, and innovate when it comes to Islam, will be punished with Hellfire.
- Those who refused to pray: People who do not offer Salah (i.e. prayer) have been specifically singled out to be of those who will inhabit Hellfire.
- Those who don’t feed the hungry: These people did not feed the poor and refused to help the needy. Allah warns such people of dire consequences in the Hereafter.
- Those who indulge in vain talk: As seen in the above descriptions of Hellfire, Allah SWT says that those who indulge in vain speech will be severely punished in Hellfire. This includes indulging in falsehood and arguing unjustly against the truth.
- Those who reject the Day of Judgment: Those who don’t believe in the Day of Recompense and go about committing evil because they believe they will not be accounted for what they do, will directly land in Hellfire.
How can we save ourselves from Hellfire?
Hellfire is frightening but a grim reality to remind us to strive on the straight path. Do not be misled by Shaytan and his army. Let us look at how we can save ourselves and our loved ones from Hellfire:
- Establish Tawheed: Believing in Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him) includes believing and following all the commandments and prohibitions set forth by Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him). There are Muslims who follow some commandments while reject the others because they find it easier to follow some and deny others. This behavior not only carries a huge punishment but will also make it a reason for people to enter Hellfire. Remember, there is no pick and choose in Islam. When we enter Islam, we must enter and submit to it entirely.
- Believe in Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him): There are people who say they will follow what Allah commanded but sometimes, have a hard time following the Sunnah of prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). It is absolutely vital for us to follow the teachings of our Prophet (peace be upon him) in order to stay close to Allah, and stay away from Hellfire.
- Feed the hungry and help the poor: Charity is one of the five pillars of Islam and is mentioned repeatedly in the Quran. Those who have been blessed with wealth and money should be in the forefront when it comes to helping those less fortunate than them. Hoarding on to wealth, looking down upon the poor and needy, mocking or ridiculing them and refusing to help them financially or otherwise when they are completely able to do so will have serious consequences in the Hereafter. Therefore, whenever we are presented with an opportunity to help someone, we must rush to relieve them of their hardship, so that Allah relieves us of our difficulties in this world and the Next.
- Prayer: Prayer and charity have been mentioned side by side in several places in the Quran. Allah repeatedly reminds us to pray, and establish our prayers. This means we must pray on time, pray with an attentive heart, and focus on Salah when we stand on our prayer mats. Missing our prayers on purpose, delaying them without any valid excuse and not making up for missed prayers carry severe punishments in this life and the next. If our prayers are found to be incomplete on the Day of Judgment, going to Hellfire is highly likely.
These are just some of the many examples that can lead a man into Hellfire. Constantly staying close to Allah SWT by following His commandments and staying away from evil deeds are crucial in helping us ease our pathway to Paradise.
May Allah make us of those who worship Him in the best possible manner and safeguard us from the punishment of Hellfire, Ameen!