Heaven and Hell
Submitted by on Mon, 29/12/2008 - 10:44
Dear Brother / Sister,
We will try to answer your question from the Risale-i Nur Collection, The Words written by Badiuzzaman Said Nursi
The Twenty-Eighth Word
[This Word is about Paradise and consists of two Stations. The First indicates some of the subtle wonders of Paradise. However, it does not prove the existence of Paradise, since this has been proved in most brilliant fashion with the twelve decisive Truths in the Tenth Word and with the most firm and clear consecutive arguments in Arabic which form the basis and summary of the Tenth Word and form the Second Station of this Word. This Station rather discusses a number of the aspects of Paradise which have been the cause of criticism, and of question and answer. If Divine assistance is forthcoming, a great Word will later be written about that mighty truth. God willing.]
In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
And give glad tidings to those who believe and act righteously that their's shall be gardens beneath which flow rivers. Everytime they are fed with fruits therefrom, they will say: " Why, this is what we were fed with before." For they will be given things in similitude. And they shall have therein spouses pure, and shall abide there for ever.
The brief answers to a number of questions about eternal Paradise.
The descriptions of the verses of the Qur'an about Paradise, which are more beautiful than Paradise, more lovely than the Houris, and sweeter than the water of Selsebil, leave nothing to be said about it so that anyone should say it. However, in order to bring closer to the understanding those shining, pre-eternal, post-eternal, elevated and exquisite verses, we shall mention a number of steps, and, as samples of that Qur'anic Paradise, a number of fine points which are like samples of its flowers. We shall point to these through five allusive questions and answers. Indeed, Paradise is the means to all spiritual and non-physical pleasures, and so too it is the means to all physical pleasures.
QUESTION: What connection with eternity and Paradise has faulty, deficient, changing, unstable, and suffering corporeality? Since the spirit has elevated pleasures, that is sufficient. Why is bodily resurrection necessary for bodily pleasures?
THE ANSWER: Because, just as in relation to water, air, and light, earth is dense and dark, but since it is the source and means of all the varieties of Divine artefacts, in meaning it rises above the other elements, and just as in regard to the mystery of its comprehensiveness and on condition it is purified, the human soul, which is also dense, rises above all the other human subtle faculties, so too corporeality is the richest and most comprehensive and all-embracing mirror to the manifestation of the Divine Names. All the tools and instruments for measuring the contents of the treasuries of Mercy and reckoning their balance are in corporeality. For example, if the sense of taste in the tongue was not the source for scales to the number of the sorts of foods and their pleasures, it could not experience each and recognize them, and taste and measure them. Also, the instruments for experiencing and knowing the manifestations of most of the Divine Names, and tasting and recognizing them, are again in corporeality. And the faculties for experiencing the most various and infinitely different pleasures are also in corporeality.
Since, as is proved in the Eleventh Word, it is understood clearly from the disposition of the universe and man's comprehensiveness that the universe's Maker wants to make known all the treasuries of His Mercy, and all the manifestations of His Names, and to make experienced all the varieties of His bounties, for sure, the abode of bliss, which is a mighty pool formed from the flood of the universe and a great exhibition of the textiles woven on the loom of the universe and an everlasting store of the crops produced in the arable field of this world, will resemble the universe to a degree. And it will preserve all its fundaments, both corporeal and spiritual. And its All-Wise Maker, the Most Compassionate One, will give as recompense for the duties of the physical tools and instruments, pleasures worthy of them; and to His servants, as a wage and as a reward for the particular worship of each. Otherwise a situation would occur that was contrary to His wisdom, justice, and mercy, which is in no way fitting for the Beauty of His Mercy and Perfection of His Justice, and in no way compatible with it.
QUESTION: If a body is living, its parts are constantly being formed and dissolved; it is doomed to extinction and cannot be eternal. And eating and drinking are for the perpetuation of the individual, and sexual relations are for the perpetuation of the species. These are fundamental to this world, but there is no need for them in the world of eternity and hereafter. So why have they taken their place as the greatest pleasures of Paradise?
THE ANSWER: Firstly, the bodies of living creatures being doomed to extinction and death in this world arises from an imbalance in what is taken in and what is expended. From childhood until maturity much is taken in, and after this what is expended increases; the balance is spoilt, and so the body dies. In the world of eternity, however, the particles of the body remain constant and are not subject to formation and dissolution, or else the balance remains constant. [In this world, the bodies of humans and animals are like guest-houses, barracks, and schools for particles. The lifeless particles enter them and acquire worthiness to be particles for the everlasting realm, which is living and they then leave them. In the hereafter, however, according to the verse, The Abode of the Hereafter, that is life indeed, the light of life is general. There is no necessity for that travelling, drill, and instruction in order to be illuminated. Particles will remain constant as old timers.] Like a closed circle or perpetual motion, the body of the living creature becomes eternal together with the functioning of the machine of bodily life for pleasure. Although in this world eating and drinking and sexual relations arise from need and perform a function, various delights and pleasures have been left within them as an immediate wage for the duty performed, which are superior to other pleasures. Since in this abode of sorrows eating and sexual relations are the means to this many wonderful and various pleasures, for sure, in Paradise, which is the abode of pleasure and bliss, those pleasures will take on a most exalted form, and adding to them as pleasure the recompense of the duties pertaining to the hereafter performed here and adding also the worldly need in the form of an agreeable, otherworldly appetite, they will become an all-embracing, living source of pleasure worthy of Paradise and suitable to eternity. Indeed, according to the meaning of the verse,
And what is the life of this world but amusement and play? But indeed the Abode of the Hereafter, that is life indeed,
substances, matters, which are inanimate, and without consciousness and life in the abode of this world, there, are living and conscious. Like human beings and animals here, the trees and stones there will understand commands and carry them out. If you tell a tree to bring you such-and-such a fruit, it will bring it. And if you tell such-and-such a stone to come, it will come. Since stones and trees will take on an elevated form to this degree, it surely necessitates that, together with preserving their bodily realities, eating, drinking, and sexual relations also will take on a form higher than their worldly form, higher to the degree that Paradise is higher than this world.
QUESTION: According to the meaning of:
Everyone will be together with those he loves,
in Paradise, friend will be together with friend. So, a love for the sake of God is born in a simple nomad in one minute's conversation with the Prophet (PBUH), through which he has to be at the Prophet (Upon whom be blessings and peace)'s side in Paradise. But how can the effulgence of the Most Noble Prophet (PBUH), who receives limitless effulgence, be united with that of a simple nomad?
THE ANSWER: We shall point to this elevated truth with a comparison. For example, a magnificent personage set up a vast banquet and finely-adorned spectacle in a fine and splendid garden, and he prepared it in such a way that it included all the delicious foods that the sense of taste can experience, and all the fine things that please the sense of sight, and all the wonders that amuse the faculty of imagination, and so on; he included in it everything that would gratify and give pleasure to all the external and inner senses. Now, there were two friends and they went together to the banquet. They sat at a table in a pavillion. But the sense of taste of one of them was very limited, so he received only minor pleasure. His eyes could see only a little, and he had no sense of smell, and he could not understand the wondrous arts nor comprehend the marvels. In relation to his capacity, he could only benefit from and take pleasure at a thousandth or even a millionth of that beautiful place. The other man however had developed his outer and inner senses, his mind, heart, emotions, and subtle faculties so perfectly and to such a degree that, although he was next to his friend, he could perceive and experience all the subtleties and beauties and marvels and fine things in the exhibition, and receive their different pleasures.
Since this confused, sorrowful, and narrow world is thus, and although the greatest and the least are together, the difference between them is as great as from the ground to the Pleiades, for sure, in Paradise, the realm of bliss and eternity, while friend is together with friend, each will receive his share from the table of the Most Merciful and Compassionate One in accordance with his capacity and to the degree of his abilities. Even if the Paradises in which they are found are different, it will not be an obstacle to their being together. For although the eight levels of Paradise are one above the other, the roof of all of them is the Sublime Throne. If there are walled circles round a conical mountain, one within the other and one above the other from its foot to the summit, the circles are one over the other and look to one another, but do not prevent each other seeing the sun. So too there are various narrations of Hadiths indicating that the Paradises are in a manner close to this.
QUESTION: It is said in Hadiths: "Although the Houris are clothed in seventy garments, the marrow of their leg-bones may be seen." What does this mean? What sort of meaning can it have? What sort of beauty is this?
THE ANSWER: Its meaning is most beautiful and its beauty is most lovely. It is like this: in this world, which is ugly, inanimate, lifeless, and for the most part just a husk, beauty and loveliness only appear beautiful to the eye, and so long as familiarity is not an obstacle, that is sufficient. Whereas in Paradise, which is beautiful, living, brilliant, and entirely the essence without the husk and the kernel without the shell, like the eye, all man's senses and subtle faculties will want to receive their different pleasures and various delights from the Houris, the gentle sex, and from the women of this world, who will be like Houris and even more beautiful. That is to say, the Hadith indicates that from the beauty of the top garment to the marrow in the bone, each will be the means of pleasure to a sense and a subtle faculty. Yes, by saying, "The Houris wear seventy garments and the marrow of their leg-bones can be seen," the Hadith points out that however many senses, feeling, powers, and faculties man has which are enamoured of beauty, worship pleasure, are captivated by ornament, and yearn for loveliness, the Houris comprise every sort of adornment and exquisite loveliness, physical and spiritual and immaterial, which will please and satisfy all of them, and gratify and make happy each of them.
That is to say, since the Houris are of seventy of the varieties of the adornment of Paradise, and not of one sort, as they are clothed in garments which do not conceal one another, they display from their beings and selves and bodies, perhaps more than seventy of the different sorts of its beauty and loveliness. They demonstrate the truth indicated by the verse:
There will be there all that the souls could desire and all that the eyes could delight in.
Moreover, the Hadith indicates that since in Paradise there are no unnecessary, extraneous, waste-matters, the people of Paradise will not excrete waste after eating and drinking. Since in this lowly world, trees, the most ordinary of living beings, do not excrete despite taking in much nourishment, why should not the people of Paradise, who are the highest class of life, not excrete waste?
QUESTION: It says in Hadiths: "Some of the people of Paradise are given a place as large as the world, and thousands of palaces and hundreds of thousands of Houris are bestowed on them." What need has a single person of all these things, what necessity is there for them? How can this be and what does it mean?
THE ANSWER: If man was only a lifeless being, or was only a vegetable creature consisting of a stomach, or consisted only of a limited, heavy, temporary, and simple corporeality or animal body, he could not own many palaces and Houris, or be fit for them. But man is such a comprehensive miracle of power that even in this transitory world and brief life, if he is given the rule of all the world and its wealth and pleasures, in regard to the need of some of his subtle faculties which have not developed here, and even his ambition, he cannot be satisfied. Whereas, that a person possessing an infinite capacity in an eternal abode of bliss who knocks on the door of an infinite mercy with the hand of infinite desires and the tongue of infinite needs will receive the Divine bounties described in Hadiths, is reasonable, right, and true. We shall observe this elevated truth through the telescope of a comparison. It is as follows:
Although, like this valley garden,5 each of these gardens and vineyards of Barla has a different owner, each bird, each sparrow, each honey-bee in Barla, who possesses with regard to food only a handful of grain, may say: "All the gardens and orchards of Barla are my pleasant places of promenading and recreation." Each may take possession of Barla and include it in his property. Others sharing it does not infringe its rule. Also, a man who is a true human being may say: "My Creator made this world a house for me. The sun is my lamp, the stars my electric lights. The face of the earth is my resting-place spread with flowered carpets." And he offers thanks to God. The other creatures sharing it does not negate this statement of his. On the contrary, the creatures adorn his house and are like its decorations. And so, if in regard to his humanity, man in this narrow brief world - and even a bird - claims a sort of power of disposal over such a vast sphere and receives such a vast bounty, how can it be deemed unlikely that he is given the ownership of a property stretching a distance of five hundred years in a broad and eternal abode of bliss?
Moreover, just as in this dense and dark narrow world the sun is present in the same way at the same moment in numerous mirrors, so too, as is proved in the Sixteenth Word, a luminous being may be present in many places in the same way at the same moment. For example, Gabriel (Upon whom be peace) being on a thousand stars at the same moment, and at the Divine Throne, and in the presence of the Prophet (PBUH), and in the Divine Presence; and the Prophet Muhammed (Upon whom be blessings and peace) meeting with most of the righteous of his community at the resurrection of the dead at the same moment and appearing in this world in innumerable places at the same moment; and a strange group of the saints known as abdal, appearing at the same time in many places; and ordinary people sometimes carrying out as much as a year's work in one minute in a dream and observing this; and everyone being in contact with and concerned with numerous places at the same moment in regard to heart, spirit, and imagination – all these are well-known and may be witnessed. And so, most certainly, in Paradise, which is luminous, unrestricted, broad, and eternal, the people of Paradise, whose bodies are of the strength and lightness of the spirit and of the swiftness of imagination, being in hundreds of thousands of places at the same time, and conversing with hundreds of thousands of Houris, and receiving pleasure in hundreds of thousands of ways, is fitting for that eternal Paradise, that infinite mercy, and as told by the Bringer of Sure News (PBUH), is reality and the truth. Nevertheless, these vast truths cannot be weighed on the scales of our tiny minds.
This tiny mind cannot perceive the true meanings,
For such a scale cannot bear such a weight.
Glory be unto to You! We have no knowledge save that which You have taught us; indeed, You are All-Knowing, All-Wise.
O our Sustainer! Do not call us to task if we forget or fall into error.7
O God! Grant blessings to Your beloved, who opened the doors of Paradise through being Your beloved and through his prayers, and You confirmed its opening for his community due to their benedictions for him, on him be blessings and peace.
O God! Enter us into Paradise among the righteous, through the intercession of Your beloved, the chosen one. Amen.
* * *
A Short Addendum to the Word On Paradise
As is proved in the Second and Eighth Words, belief bears the seed of a sort of Paradise, while unbelief conceals the seed of a sort of Hell. Just as unbelief is a seed of Hell, so too, Hell is one of its fruits. Just as unbelief is the cause of Hell being entered, so too it is the cause of Hell's existence and creation. For if an insignificant ruler of small dignity, small pride, and small loftiness is told impudently by some unmannerly person: "You may not punish me and you cannot", for sure, if there is no prison in that place, the ruler will have one built for him and will throw him in it. However, by denying Hell, the unbeliever is giving the lie to One of infinite dignity, pride, and glory, Who is most great and infinitely Powerful, and is accusing Him of impotence, lying, and powerlessness; he is severely insulting His dignity and offending His pride in awesome manner. He is rebelliously causing affront to His Glory. Certainly, to suppose the impossible, there was no reason for Hell's existence, it would be created for unbelief, which comprises denial and ascribing impotence to this degree, and such an unbeliever would be cast into it.
Our Sustainer! You did not create that in vain. Glory be unto You! Save us from the penalty of the Fire!
(Badiuzzaman Said Nursi- Risale-i Nur Collection, The Words)
Questions on Islam
- Can the spouses continue their lives in the world similarly in the hereafter?
- The Twenty-Eight Word: Answers to a number of questions about Paradise. Do material pleasures along with the pleasure of marriage exist in Paradise?
- In the Paradise houris (houri: A nymph in the form of a beautiful virgin supposed to dwell in Paradise for the enjoyment of the faithful) will be given to men. What about the marital status of women in the Hereafter?
- Does Sexual Life exist in Paradise?
- Will the Quran be read in Paradise? What will Paradise be like?
- Will Houris be uniform or in different forms in Paradise?
- Will everybody be the same in Paradise? Will there be degrees of beauty?
- How will marriage be in Paradise?
- Third Stopping-Place: The point of views of the people of misguidance and the people of guidance on the worldly life.
- Fourth Point: It is related to the Day of Judgement and Gathering Place.