Jannah: The Ultimate Reward
What do you do when you think of death? If you’re anything like me, you quickly push the thought out of your head. We often plan ahead for things such as retirement by saving up and investing our money, and we prepare for a career by going to school. Yet, most of us rarely think about death, even though it is the one thing in life that is guaranteed to us. Even when we do think about death, we think of it negatively by reflecting upon what we are going to leave behind. More often than not, we do not realize that there are positive aspects to death as well, such as the promise of Jannah ( Paradise) to all believers.
The entire process of judgment begins immediately after death. The experiences of those who were pious and those who were not are completely different. For example, the Qur’an says that, at the time of death, the pious will have their souls gently drawn out, while the wicked will have their souls torn out. Everybody who is to enter Paradise will be shown their place in Hell—had they not believed—so that they will be thankful. Likewise, those to enter Hell will be shown their place in Paradise had they believed so that they will be remorseful. Also, the graves of the pious will be spacious, while the graves of the disbelievers will be small and cramped, such that a person’s ribs will be pushed together so that they overlap one another. Finally, angels will question the deceased person in his grave and will ask him about his life and how he spent his time.
On the Day of Judgment, each person will be judged according to his deeds. Allah says in the Qur’an: “That Day will every soul be requited for what it earned; no injustice will there be that Day, for Allah is Swift in taking account” (40:17). Some people will go to Jannah, and some will go to Hell. However, some of those that go to Hell will eventually be taken out and placed in Heaven. The Prophet (saws) said in a hadith, “When the people of Paradise have entered Paradise, and the people of the Fire have entered the Fire, Allah will say, ‘Take out (of the Fire) whoever has got faith equal to a mustard seed in his heart.’ They will come out, and by that time, they would be burnt and become like coal, and then they will be thrown into the River of Al-Hayyat (Life) and they will spring up just as a seed grows on the bank of a rainwater stream. Don’t you see that the germinating seed comes out yellow and twisted?”
The reward for the pious is the ultimate of rewards, Jannah. Allah says, “If any do deeds of righteousness—be they male or female—and have faith, they will enter Heaven and not the least injustice will be done to them” (4:124). Jannah has been described beautifully in the Qur’an as having numerous trees, and an abundance of water, fruit, and shade. People will live therein forever, because no one will die, and they will live in lofty mansions and sit on thrones.
In stark contrast, the life of this world is full of illusion and deceit. Allah warns in the Qur’an, “Know ye (all) that the life of this world is but play and amusement pomp and mutual boasting and multiplying (in rivalry) among yourselves riches and children” (57:20). That does not suggest that we all abandon our current lives, run away to the mountains, find ourselves a nice cave, and read the Qur’an for the rest of our days. Being nice to others is a form of worship. Being honest in our dealings and work and abstaining from lying is a form of worship. Being steadfast in our prayers is also a form of worship. Live one day at a time, and make the most of each day. In addition, it helps to remember Allah’s assurance that “if anyone does evil or wrongs his own soul but afterwards seeks Allah’s forgiveness, he will find Allah Oft-Forgiving Most Merciful” (4:110). God willing, when we die, may we be granted the reward of living in Jannah forever. Ameen. ̹