The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “The month of Ramaḍān has come to you, a blessed month… In it the the gates of Hell-fire are closed…” (Nasā’ī).

As we approach the end of Ramaḍān, let us ask ourselves: how has our fasting been throughout this month? Did we protect our fasts from backbiting, lying and looking at ḥarām? The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “Fasting is a shield from the Hell-fire” (Tirmidhī). By fasting as we truly should (abstaining from sins and following our desires), fasting becomes a means of protection from the Hell-fire.

Let us ask ourselves: have our names been added to the list of those whom Allah has freed from the Hell-fire? The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “Indeed Allah has freed slaves (from Hell) every day and night (in Ramaḍān)…” (Aḥmad).

Similarly, as we have increased in our recitation of the Qur’ān throughout this month, has reciting the verses of Jahannam increased our yaqīn (conviction) in it? Let us increase our fear of Jahannam and become determined to stay away from what leads to it by reviewing and reflecting on the descriptions of Jahannam mentioned by Allah and His beloved ﷺ.

A Terrifying Entrance

As the evildoers will be dragged on their faces towards Jahannam, they will hear it fuming and roaring. They will be roughly shoved through the gates of Jahannam. Unlike the people of Jannah, who will enter it happily and with radiant faces, the people of Jahannam will be utterly miserable, with dark hearts and glum faces.

As they enter and witness their punishment, they will forget all the joy they enjoyed in the world. It will be as though they had never experienced any happiness in the world.

Even the keepers of Jahannam will be terrifying. They will be harsh and stern, with tough physiques. The leader of the keepers is an angel named Mālik who has the most repulsive appearance.

Jahannam’s doors will be tightly locked — those who enter will not be able to come out, unless Allah wills otherwise.

Burning Blazes

Jahannam will be roaring with gigantic and fierce flames. The heat of Jahannam will be so intense, such that different parts of it will crush one another, and will crush its inhabitants.

The fire of Jahannam is sixty-nine times hotter than the fire of this world. If you have ever experienced a burn, you will know how painful it is. Imagine your whole body being roasted in a fire sixty-nine times hotter. With the passage of time, the fire of Jahannam will not diminish or be extinguished.

Jahannam is monstrously huge. Allah (ʿazza wa jall) says, “(Remind them of) the Day We will ask Hell, ‘Are you filled up?’ And it will respond, ‘Are there any more?’” (50:30). On the Day of Judgement, Jahannam will be brought with seventy thousand reins: every rein will be steered by seventy thousand angels who will drag it.

Jahannam is extremely steep: if a stone was to be thrown into it, it would take seventy years for it to reach the bottom. Allahu Akbar! Can you imagine how big it is?

The inhabitants of Jahannam will be fully enveloped in layers of fire. There will be no opening or window, no possible chance to escape or to catch a moment of relief. In Jahannam, there is no cool breeze which offers a moment of respite. Instead, there is a “scorching wind” and the “shade” will be black smoke, which will be “neither cool nor refreshing” (56:44). The types of punishment and torment in Jahannam will vary. There will also be parts of Jahannam which will be freezing cold.

Eternal Misery

Jahannam will be dark, bleak and miserable. Full of scorpions and snakes, it will have nothing good to offer. Its inhabitants will be constantly wailing and screaming for help. They will scream, “Our Lord, take us out (from here), and we will act righteously, not in the way we have been doing before” (35:37). But it will be too late. They will even try to seek the intercession of the keepers of Jahannam. They will beg them: “Pray to your Lord to lighten the torment for us for one day!” (40:49).

When their request won’t be fulfilled, and they will lose hope of having their punishment reduced, they will seek death. They will call out to Mālik, the Keeper of Hell: “O Mālik! Let your Lord do away with us” (43:77). But even that request will not be fulfilled.

Jahannam is eternal. When the people of Jahannam will have entered it, death will be brought in the form of a ram and slaughtered in between Jannah and Jahannam. Then a caller will announce, “People of Jannah, no more death! People of the Fire, no more death!” Whilst this will only increase the happiness of the people of Jannah, it will only increase the sorrow of the inhabitants of Jahannam.

A Petrifying Prison

Jahannam is the worst prison you can think of. With shackles around their necks and chains on their legs, the people of Jahannam “will be dragged into the scalding water after which they will be thrown into the Fire as fuel” (40: 71-2). They will be humiliated and their faces will be gloomy, dull and disfigured. The least punished inhabitant of Jahannam will wear a pair of shoes made of fire which will cause his brain to boil.

Allah (ʿazza wa jall) says, “It is Allah’s kindled Fire, that will peep into the hearts” (104:6-7). This means that when people are put into the Hell-fire, it will devour every limb and organ of the body until it reaches their heart, but the person will not die. In this world, fire kills the person even before reaching the heart. In Jahannam, however, the person will experience the torture of the burning of the heart while alive.

Just like Jannah, Jahannam too has levels. The deepest and most horrific level is reserved for the hypocrites: those who openly professed Islam, but caused much damage to the Ummah with their disbelief and deeply-entrenched hatred for the dīn.

The people of Jahannam will be repulsive. Their bodies will grow in size, so that they feel more of the punishment. Just the molar tooth of the disbeliever will be similar in size to the Mount Uḥud.

Allah (ʿazza wa jall) says, “The Fire will scorch their faces and their lips will be twisted in pain” (23:104).

Every time the skins of the disbelievers will burn off, Allah will replace them with new skins, so that they can continuously feel the punishment of the burning fire.

Their garments will be of melted copper and their faces will be covered with fire. The clothes, beds and blankets of the people of Jahannam will be made of fire. Allah says, “…As for the disbelievers, garments of Fire will be tailored for them and boiling water will be poured over their heads, whereby everything in their bellies, as well as the skins, will be melted. And awaiting them are hooked rods of iron. Whenever they try to escape from Hell—out of anguish—they will be forced back into it, (and will be told), ‘Taste the torment of burning!’” (22:19-22).

Food & Drink

Under intense torment, the people of Jahannam will beg and scream for help. They will experience excruciating pangs of hunger and thirst, and will beg to be fed and given drink. But what they will receive will only compound their suffering.

The food they will be given will be bitter, smell foul and will choke them. They will be fed poisonous thorny plants which will not satisfy their hunger.

They will eat from Zaqqūm, a terrifying tree which springs out of the bottom of Jahannam. Its fruits will be like molten metal and will burn their insides. It is revolting and truly horrendous.

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “If a single drop of Zaqqūm was to be dropped into this world, it would ruin the food of its inhabitants. So how will it be for the person who has no other food except it (i.e. Zaqqūm)?” (Ibn Mājah).

Once they’ve eaten, they will start to feel thirsty. They will then be given scalding water to drink. They won’t just have a sip, stand back and stop because it is burning their insides. Rather, they will drink and drink like “camels suffering from the disease of overthirst” (56:55). Not only will it burn their insides, but it will also disfigure their faces.

The people of Jahannam will also drink the discharges of dirty wounds, blood and pus. They will drink it with much difficulty and won’t be able to swallow it down their throats. It will taste and smell foul. The Prophet ﷺ told us that Allah will make the one who consumed intoxicants in this world drink from the sweat of the people of Jahannam (Muslim).

Too Late

The people of Jahannam will be gripped with regret. They will beg Allah to be given one more chance: to be sent back to the world so that they can do righteous deeds. Allah (ʿazza wa jall) says, “The day their faces will be rolled on the fire, they will say, ‘Oh, would that we had obeyed Allah and obeyed the Messenger!’” (33:66).

But it will be too late.

For us, however, whilst we are still breathing, it is not too late. We still have a chance.

Let us strive to become the true servants of al-Raḥmān (The All-Merciful), in Ramaḍān and outside of Ramaḍān. And let us always beg Him as they begged Him:

رَبَّنَا اصْرِفْ عَنَّا عَذَابَ جَهَـنَّمَ ​ۖ اِنَّ عَذَابَهَا كَانَ غَرَامًا. اِنَّهَا سَآءَتْ مُسْتَقَرًّا وَّمُقَامًا‏

“Our Lord, turn away from us the punishment of Hell-fire. Indeed, its punishment is endless. Indeed, it is an evil residence and abode” (25:65-6).

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