What does the Prophet (pbuh) mean by this hadith: "Paradise is surrounded with things that are not pleasant to the soul and Hell is surrounded with things that are pleasant to the soul"? Will you explain it?

Details of the Question
What does the Prophet (pbuh) mean by this hadith: "Paradise is surrounded with things that are not pleasant to the soul and Hell is surrounded with things that are pleasant to the soul"? Will you explain it?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Author: Mehmet Paksu

God Almighty placed a pleasure for the soul in each sin and placed troubles and hardships in worshipping due to the necessity of the testing. However, after those small troubles and hardships in the beginning comes ease that satisfies the spirit and the heart.

Due to its nature, the soul tends to commit sins and keeps away from worshipping that necessitates patience with troubles. Despite the pleasures in the beginning, the sins and forbidden things bring about material and spiritual agonies later; despite the small troubles and hardships in the beginning in worshipping, ease and tranquility follow. Therefore, the pleasures in sins are defined as “poisonous honey”. (2)

That issue is indicated in the hadith that you mention.

Imam Nawawi, a hadith scholar, likens this surrounding to a curtain. That is, one can reach Paradise after passing through a curtain consisting of things that the soul hates like worshipping, obedience, hardships, effort and hard work. Similarly, Hell is surrounded with a curtain that consists of the pleasures of the sins that the soul like, and the sins like disobedience, alcohol and gambling. One can reach Hell by committing them and tearing the curtain. (3)

The following hadith is another way of expressing that reality: “The world is a prison for the believer and Paradise for the unbeliever.” (4). It is definite that the world is a prison for the believer compared to his eternal bliss in Paradise and the world is Paradise for the unbeliever compared to his eternal torture in Hell. (5) In fact, the believer takes pleasure from this world more than the unbeliever in terms of his heart and mind. The thought of eternal non-existence that often forces the minds of the believers reduces the pleasures that they take from the bounties of the world to nothing. (6)

The following is stated in Mesnevi-i Nuriye:

The flavors, pleasures and decorations of the world are like Hell if we do not recognize our Creator and Lord. (7)

The grave that is awaiting you and that you move toward rapidly will not accept the decorated and tasty things of the world as gifts because what is regarded as beautiful by the people of the world is regarded as ugly there. (8)

Therefore, we should not pursue the ephemeral beauties that are pleasant to our souls but that our spirit and heart do not like if we want to attain the pleasure of Allah and paradise and be away from Hell.   

References:

1. The hadith mentioned in the question is in Tirmidhi, Jannah, 31.

2. Meyve Risalesi, p. 25; Mesnevi-i Nuriye, p. 118.

3. ibid.

4. Muslim, Jannah, 1.

5. Tirmidhi Zuhd, 56.

6. Lem`alar. p. 201.

7.Mesnevi-i Nuriye p, 98

8. ibid p, 118

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