Concept Of Paradise In Islam

Concept Of Paradise In IslamWhat drives us? What makes us do the things we do? What makes us happy?
Many people will answer maximizing pleasure and minimizing pain is the ultimate key to human happiness.
If so, how come people can be happy while in pain and unhappy while experiencing pleasure? If pleasure is not the only motivating force that drives us, what does? What desires must we fulfill to live a happy life?
For most of those who see happiness in the carnal, rather than the spiritual, it is pretty basic: desire to avoid pain and anxiety, desire to spend time with relatives, desire to eat, desire for sexual gratification, desire for companionship, and desire for recognition to name a few.
Life for such can be toilsome, provoking the plain query; what is it really aiming for? In their quest for happiness, all too often people fall short of achieving any kind of inner peace. We think that by always reaching higher and accomplishing more - more money, a better body, the perfect mate - we will automatically be happy. That is an illusion. People get caught up in chasing the materialistic dream under the illusion money can buy happiness until they discover the limits of materialism. Impressing the neighbors and envy of possessions leaves us devoid of passion and depth in our lives, leading to the Modern Man's Paradox: Spiritual hunger in an age of plenty.

What is the paradox? Simply put, it is this: As members of certain materialistic societies have grown richer, they have grown less content with their lives. No society in the history of the world has ever enjoyed the standard of living known today in these societies: Incomes are up, prices are stable, unemployment is down, life expectancy is rising; they enjoy more freedom and opportunity than ever before. Even their poor live well by world standards. Yet in America, for example, since 1960, the divorce rate has doubled, teen suicide has tripled, violent crime has quadrupled, the prison population has quintupled, and some estimates put the incidence of depression in the year 2000 at ten times what it was in the year 1900. Our bellies may be filled, but we are left spiritually hungry.

To find out what really drives human behavior, two kinds of happiness must be distinguished: feel-good happiness and value-based happiness. Feel-good happiness is sensation-based pleasure. When we joke around or eat our favorite food, we experience feel-good happiness. This type of happiness rarely lasts longer than a few hours at a time.

Value-based happiness is a sense that our lives have meaning and fulfill the larger purpose of our existence by connecting us to Allah. It represents a spiritual source of satisfaction, stemming from our deeper purpose and values. Living a God-conscious life rooted in the values of the Quran and Sunnah, a Muslim is driven - beyond sensual pleasures - by the desire to make it to Paradise and to be safe from Hell after death.

Islamic values that take a person towards Paradise and away from Hell are the most significant factors in motivating a Muslim's behavior and in contributing to his or her sense of happiness. The desire to achieve Paradise in the afterlife puts the meaning back into life, superseding all other desires, to bring a sense of direction. An empty lifestyle focused on wealth, possessions, drugs, alcohol, and sex is replaced with the hope of making it to Paradise, a sense of connection with God's creation, and a life of devotion to Allah instead of wealth and possessions. A person is focused on pleasing Allah even at the cost of our fellow human beings' disapproval. One must remember that the jewel of Paradise is veiled by hardships.

To be happy, wake up from materialistic dreams and realize that nothing save Allah alone is capable of satisfying man!

Ultimate satisfaction will be in reaching our ultimate goal – Paradise, not in this world, where we are like travelers and strangers. Paradise is not God's residence, or a spiritual state where one becomes a part of God, as some mistakenly think. Paradise is a spiritual and sensual residence of pleasure in which all one's senses will be gratified to the fullest. It is an abode of manifold enjoyments for the faithful, its dwellers will not feel the least pain or sadness. A place where every aspiration will be finally realized.

Islamic Gardens

Jannah (a beautiful garden) has historically inspired beauty, something which can be clearly seen in the beautiful gardens which were present throughout the Muslim world, such as those in Persia, Spain, and India, typically designed as a sort of escape or peaceful seclusion from the outside world. Waterworks and fountains were a common inclusion in Muslim gardens for their free flowing beauty and soothing sound. Artificial decorative elements were used in Muslim gardens as well, including the making of carpet-like parterres, and artificial trees and flowers made of precious metals and gemstones.

For generations of Muslims, these gardens represented a kind of sacred art, the aim of which was to draw the visitor closer to God. Today, the Muslim gardens on earth are like shadows of the true Paradise. These gardens serve as reminders to mankind of the heavenly abode to which the righteous will return.

Shade is provided by canopies and pavilions. Emphasis is placed on creating a space that indulges all the senses. Fragrance is a common feature of Muslim gardens, and herbs were potted up to fulfill this role. The decking provides a space for teaching and relaxing. Muslim gardens never contain statues, carved stone fountains with figures, or representational sculptures. Islam does not allow the use of such images. Some Muslim gardens are so famed for their beauty that people come from far and wide to enjoy their tranquility. Among them are the Alhambra Palace garden in Granada, Spain, the Jag Mandir Palace garden in India and the Major Elle residence garden in Marrakech, Morocco.

The lush gardens created by Muslims are man-made inspirations for an earthly Paradise. A secret haven secluded from the outside world; a place of tranquility, meditation, reflection, and prayer. A modest prelude for what it is to come for believers in the Hereafter.

The Joys of Paradise

Those who enter Paradise will do so in their most perfect, beautiful form. Their hearts will be one. They will neither spit, nor blow their noses, or defecate. They will remain young forever, strong and potent without the inconveniences of body hair.

The worldly pleasures pretty much fade in the face of heavenly delights. The pleasures of this world are fleeting and short-lived, for '...short is the enjoyment of this world,' whereas the joys of Paradise will be unending, as '...the provision is eternal.'

The fine clothes, delicious foods, soothing drinks, ornate jewels, and grand palaces in Paradise are far superior to what is in this world. The 'real estate' of Paradise is described by the Prophet to be better than the whole world!

Paradise is free of any pollutants, foul odors, pain, or discomfort. The hearts and speech will be pure. No one will be offended or insulted.

The delicious, ripe fruits of Paradise will be within easy reach, ready for its residents to pick whatever fruit one desires. Any food or drink will be available on demand. Paradise has seas of water, wine, milk, and honey from which rivers will flow out. You simply take your pick! It has fountains scented with camphor and ginger, and shady valleys. The wine will not cause hangovers. It is "delight for those who drink", bringing neither drunkenness[1] nor rousing folly or quarrelling.

The inhabitants of Paradise will be served in gold and silver goblets and dishes. Their finest silk clothes will be decorated with gold, silver, and pearls...better than any man-made garment! The scent of Musk will emanate from their bodies.. Their palaces will distinguished by refined elegance and be fully furnished. They will be able to sit and recline in their gardens. The beautiful bright colored couches will be lined with silk brocade. Eye catching cushions and splendid carpets will add style and luxury. A cozy place most people can simply dream of in this world, and tranquil spot away from distractions; peaceful, comfortable, and richly decorated.

The faithful, who 'will be served by immortal youths, with cups, and jugs, and a glass from the flowing wine;' exquisite banquets served in priceless vessels.

The faithful will visit one another and reunite with family and friends who made it to Paradise. All wishes will be fulfilled, some in the strangest ways. The Messenger of Allah said :

"If the believer in Paradise wishes for a child, it will be conceived and delivered, and will grow to the desired age in an instant." (Al-Tirmidhi)

Naturally, running after worldly pleasures at the cost of heavenly delights will be a cause of much sorrow for people who will enter Hell.

Spouses & Intimacy in Paradise

Just as some people can't perceive colors, so we may be soul-blind and soul-deaf. The soul's yearnings simply don't get through to consciousness; or if they do, we try to numb ourselves to them with medications or frenzied activities. The resulting alienation within our very hearts bears its own loneliness. The soul wants to be attached and involved, because it is through such intimacy that it is nourished, initiated, and deepened. The faithful will enjoy earthly and heavenly spouses in Paradise to satisfy the soul's cravings for companionship and intimacy. All the urgencies of the soul – the feeling of longing, the ache of desire for a beautiful, compatible partner, and the urgency to visit old friends – will be met. The select will rejoice in the company of the parents, spouses and children who were believers.

The faithful will be clothed in the richest silks and brocades, and adorned with bracelets of gold and silver, and crowns set with pearls, and will make use of silken carpets, couches, and pillows. In order to enjoy all these pleasures, Allah will grant them perpetual youth, beauty, and vigor. There is a hadeeth which states that they will enter Paradise "aged thirty-three years." It is the most perfect age at which one is most able to enjoy physical pleasures, and the age at which one's health and strength are most perfect. It is proven from the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) they "will never lose their youth."

The faithful will enter Paradise in the best and most perfect condition in all senses. They will remain young forever, their eternal delight will be unending, and they will live a life of unspoiled joy.

The faithful will enjoy specially crafted maidens, or houris, of Paradise, created not of clay, as in the case of mortal women, but of pure musk, and free from all natural impurities, defects, and inconveniences. They will be beautiful, modest, and secluded from public view in pavilions of hollow pearls. Thus the body will have its share of gratification.

Vision of Allah

In heaven the faithful will see Allah, clearly and distinctly. Here on earth we "see" Him but indirectly through the mirror of creation.

In Paradise, no creature will stand between Allah and the faithful who will delight in His glimpse. The most wonderful melody of all will be the voice of Allah greeting the select.

Since in beholding Allah face to face the faithful will find perfect happiness and ultimate delight, the vision may be called "beatific". The joy of looking at Him will be greater than any other joy of Paradise, the rivers, palaces, tents of pearl, the pure spouses or the food and drink. All other joys will pale in comparison to the joy of looking at the most beautiful Face of Allah.

He says:
"Some faces that Day shall be radiant looking at their Lord." (Quran 75:22-23)

So the faces of the faithful will also radiate and become beautiful with His Light.

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said:

"When the people of Paradise enter Paradise, Allah will say, 'Do you want anything more?' They will say, 'Have You not brightened our faces, admitted us to Paradise and saved us from Hell?' Then the veil will be lifted and they will not have seen anything more dear to them than looking upon their Lord, may He be glorified and exalted. This is what is meant by 'even more.'" Then he recited the verse:

"For those who have done good is the best reward and even more (i.e. having the honor of glancing at the Countenance of Allah)" (Quran 10:26)

Once you know that the people of Paradise will not be given anything dearer than looking upon the Face of their Lord, imagine the deprivation of the sinners described by Allah:

"Nay! Surely, they (evil doers) will be veiled from seeing their Lord that Day" (Quran 83:15)

People said: "O Messenger of Allah, will we see our Lord on the Day of Resurrection?" The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him), said: "Do you doubt that you see the moon on the night when it is full?" They said, "No, O Messenger of Allah." He said, 'Do you doubt that you see the sun when there is no cloud?" They said, "No, O Messenger of Allah." He said, "You will see Him likewise..."

Let us pray to Allah to keep us steadfast in this life and to grant us Paradise from His mercy in the life to come and to grant us His vision.

[1] Non-intoxicating, as mentioned in Quran 56:19. There will be no need for intoxication in Paradise, as we will be in the highest state of pleasure.