What does firdaws mean? How is it mentioned in the verses of the Quran and hadiths?

The Details of the Question

- What does firdaws mean? What is the origin of the word? How is it mentioned in the verses of the Quran and hadiths?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Firdaws lexically means large garden where there are all kinds of trees especially grapevines. Its plural form is faradis.

In literature, firdaws is used for green gardens where there are a lot of trees, especially grapevines.

Various views are put forward about the origin of the word firdaws in the Islamic resources. It is claimed that it is of Arabic, Greek or Persian origin.

There is a view stating that firdaws is used in the sense of “garden” only in Damascus and hence it was transferred to Arabic afterwards but it is also stated that Arabs knew that word in the past since it is mentioned in a couplet written by the poet Hassan b. Thabit as “jinan minal-firdaws” (Diwan, p. 339).

That the word mufardas derived from the same root meaning “arbored” exists in Arabic shows that firdaws is a word that has been used in Arabic for a long time though it is a foreign word.

Firdaws is also mentioned as the name of some places around Yamama and Damascus in some resources. (Lisanul-ʿArab, “frds” item.; Ibn Qayyim al-Jawvziyya, p. 144-145)

Fakhruddin ar-Razi states that firdaws is an Abyssinian word (Mafatiḥul-Ghayb, XXIII, 82); some scholars hold the view that it is of Assyrian origin. (Ibn Habib as-Sulami, p. 21)

The word firdaws is mentioned twice in the Quran: one in the phrase “jannatul-firdaws” (al-Kahf 18/107) and the other as “firdaws” (al-Mu’minun 23/11).

It is stated in those verses that those who believe and do good deeds will enter gardens of firdaws and that those who act in awe in prayers, avoid unnecessary things, give zakah, protect their chastity, take care of the things entrusted to them, keep their promises and perform prayers regularly will deserve firdaws.  

The word firdaws is also used in various hadiths attributed to the Prophet (pbuh) and in which Paradise (heaven) is mentioned.

According to what is stated in those hadiths, firdaws

is the middle of Paradise, the highest and most valuable region of Paradise and it is under the Throne. There are four gardens of firdaws, which is a region where rivers of Paradise gush forth; the objects and decorations are made of gold in two of them and of silver in the other two.

In the hadiths in question, the Prophet (pbuh) advised his Companions to want gardens of firdaws from Allah and gave Umm Haritha, whose son became a martyr, the glad tiding that her son entered the most valuable garden of firdaws. (Bukhari, Tawid, 22, Jihad, 4, 14, Maghazi, 9; Musnad, II, 335; III, 124, 197, 210; IV, 416; V, 241, 316; Tirmidhi, Sifatul-Janna, 4; Ibn Majah, Zuhd, 39; Darimi, Riqaq, 101)

It is stated in hadith resources that when the Messenger of Allah died, his daughter Fatima wept by saying, “My dad, whose place is garden of firdaws”. (Musnad, III, 197; Bukhari, “Maghazi”, 83)

It is stated in a narration reported by Ibn Qayyim al-Jawvziyya as mawquf that firdaws is one of the beings created by the divine power Himself. (adil-Arwa, p. 90)

Muhyiddin Ibnul-Arabi places firdaws in the second place after adn in the list of the places of Paradise. (see Sha‘rani, p. 170, 176)

It is possible to put together the explanations made about firdaws by the Islamic scholars based the information mentioned in the Quran and hadiths, and the interpretations of the Companions in two main points:

Firstly: The word firdaws is a noun expressing the whole Paradise because though it is a masculine word, a feminine pronoun is used in the Quran for firdaws. (al-Muminun 23/11) It shows that it is used for the word Paradise.

In addition, it is stated at the beginning of the chapter of al-Muminun that those who perform prayers, give zakah, protect their chastity and take care of the things entrusted to them will be inheritors of firdaws and that they will remain there forever. It is stated in the chapter of al-Maarij that those who have the above-mentioned characteristics will be entertained in Paradise (70/22-35). Those verses indicate that firdaws means the whole Paradise. (Qurtubi, p. 525)

Secondly: Firdaws is the name of the regions of Paradise that form the middle of Paradise, the highest and most valuable part of Paradise; prophets and saints will live there. For, it is stated in the hadiths that there are for gardens of firdaws and it is clearly stated that firdaws is the most valuable region of Paradise.

It is also stated in some verses that those who fear their Lord by thinking that they will enter into the presence of the Lord will be given two more gardens along with two gardens. It shows that not all regions of Paradise are the same, that there are different levels of Paradise and that firdaws forms the most valuable part of it. (Hakim at-Tirmizi, p. 129; Qurtubi, p. 518)

According to the conclusions to be drawn from various verses of the Quran and hadiths, the rewards of the believers who will attain bliss in the hereafter will not be the same; similarly, the gardens where they will live will not be equal in terms of quality.

References:

Lisanul-ʿArab, “frds” item.;
Hassan b. Thabit, Diwan (published by. Sayyid Hanafi Hasanayn), Cairo 1983, p. 339;
Ibn Habib as-Sulami, Wa
ful-Firdaws, Beirut 1987, p. 21;
Tabari, Jami
ʿul-Bayan (Bulaq), XVI, 29-30;
Hakim at-Tirmidhi, Nawadirul-U
sul, Istanbul 1293, p. 129;
Zamakhşari, al-Kashshaf (Cairo), III, 27;
Ibnul-Jawzi, Zadul-Masir, V, 199-200;
Fakhruddin ar-Razi, Mafati
ul-Ghayb, XI, 175; XXI, 175; XXIII, 82;
Qurtubi, at-Tadhkira, Cairo 1405/1985, p. 518, 525;
Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya,
adil-Arwah (published by Yusuf Ali Budaywi), Beirut 1411/1991, p. 84-85, 90, 144-145;
Ibn Kathir, an-Nihaya (published by Muhammad Ahmad Abdulaziz), Beirut 1408/1988, II, 270-271;Sha‘rani, al-Yawaqit wal-Jawahir, Cairo 1317
Beirut, nd. (Darul-Ma‘rifa), p. 170, 176.
(see TDV İslam Ansiklopedisi, Firdaws item)

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