Definition of "Jahannam"

Jahannam
Descriptions of hell (jahannam) in Islam always focus on fire, like this simulated fire in Liverpool, England in 2010. Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Jahannam is what Hell-Fire in called in Islam, described in the Quran as an afterlife of punishment and unhappiness. Wrongdoers and disbelievers will be punished with eternal fire and pain.

Jahannam comes from an Arabic word which has several meanings, including "a stern look," "darkness," and "storm cloud." Jahannam, therefore, is a place which is scary, dark, and unfriendly.

The Quran describes Jahannam using vivid imagery as a warning to those who disbelieve in God.

It is described severely as a blazing fire, fueled by "men and stones," with boiling water to drink, and poisonous food to eat that settles in the stomach like molten lead. People will beg to have more time, to return to earth and live again, so that they may correct themselves and believe in the truth of the afterlife. Allah says in the Quran that it will be too late for such people.

"For those who reject their Lord is the Penalty of Hell: and evil is (this) destination. When they are cast therein, they will hear the (terrible) drawing in of its breath even as it blazes forth, almost bursting with fury. Whenever a group is cast into it, its keeper shall ask them: Did there not come to you a warner?" (Qur'an 67:6-8).

"As to those who reject Faith: if they had everything on earth, and twice repeated, to give as ransom for the penalty of the Day of Judgment, it would never be accepted of them. Theirs would be a grievous penalty. Their wish will be to get out of the Fire, but never will they get out. Their penalty will be one that endures" (5:36-37).

Islam teaches that disbelievers will spend eternity in Jahannam, while believers who did wrong during their lives will "taste" of the punishment but will ultimately be forgiven by Allah the Most Merciful. People are judged only by Allah, and they find out their fate on a day known as Yawm Al-Qiyamah (the Day of Reckoning).

Pronunciation

jah-heh-nam

Also Known As

Hell, Hell-fire

Alternate Spellings

Jehennam

Examples

The Quran teaches that wrongdoers and disbelievers will be eternally punished by God in the Fire of Jahannam.