Definition of "Jannah"

The Afterlife, Jannah, and Islam

Flowers Blooming In Garden
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"Jannah"—also known as paradise or garden in Islam—is described in the Quran as an eternal afterlife of peace and bliss, where the faithful and righteous are rewarded. The Quran says the righteous will be restful in the presence of God, in "gardens beneath which rivers flow." The word "Jannah" comes from an Arabic word that means "to cover or hide something." Heaven, therefore, is a place that is unseen to us. Jannah is the final destination in the afterlife for good and faithful Muslims.

Key Takeaways: Definition of Jannah

  • Jannah is the Muslim concept of heaven or paradise, where good and faithful Muslims go after Judgment Day.
  • Jannah is a beautiful, peaceful garden where water flows and abundant food and drink is served to the dead and their families. 
  • Jannah has eight gates, the names of which are associated with righteous deeds. 
  • Jannah has multiple levels, in which the dead reside and commune with prophets and angels. 

Jannah has eight gates or doors, through which Muslims can enter after their resurrection on Judgment Day; and it has multiple levels, in which good Muslims reside and commune with angels and prophets.

Quran Definition of Jannah

According to the Quran, Jannah is paradise, a garden of everlasting bliss and the home of peace. Allah determines when people die, and they stay in their graves until the Day of Judgment, when they are resurrected and brought to Allah to be judged on how well they lived their lives on earth. If they have lived well, they go to one of the levels of heaven; if not they go to hell (Jahannam).

Jannah is "…a beautiful place of final return—a garden of eternity whose doors will always be open to them." (Quran 38:49–50)
People who enter Jannah "…will say, ‘Praise be to Allah who has removed from us (all) sorrow, for our Lord is indeed Oft-Forgiving, appreciative; who has settled us in the house of lasting residence out of His bounty. No toil nor sense of weariness shall touch us therein.'" (Quran 35:34–35)
In Jannah "…are rivers of water, the taste, and smell of which are never changed. Rivers of milk the taste of which will remain unchanged. Rivers of wine that will be delicious to those who drink from it and rivers of clear, pure honey. For them will be every kind of fruit and forgiveness from their Lord." (Quran 47:15)

What Does Heaven Look Like for Muslims?

According to the Quran, for Muslims, Jannah is a peaceful, lovely place, where there is no sense of possible injury and no fatigue and Muslims are never asked to leave. Muslims in paradise wear gold, pearls, diamonds, and garments made of the finest silk, and they recline on raised thrones. In Jannah, there is no pain, sorrow or death—there is only joy, happiness and pleasure. It is this garden of paradise—where the trees are without thorns, where flowers and fruits are piled on top of each other, where clear and cool water flows constantly, and where companions have big, beautiful, lustrous eyes—that Allah promises the righteous.

There is no quarreling or drunkenness in Jannah—but there are four rivers named Saihan, Jaihan, Furat, and Nil. There are large mountains made of musk and valleys made of pearls and rubies.

The Eight Gates of Jannah

To enter one of the eight doors of Jannah in Islam, Muslims are required to perform righteous deeds, be truthful, search for knowledge, fear the most merciful, go to mosque every morning and afternoon, be free of arrogance as well as the spoils of war and debt, repeat the call to prayer sincerely and from the heart, build a mosque, be repentant and raise righteous children. The eight gates are:

  • Baab As-Salaat: For those who were punctual in and focused on prayer. 
  • Baab Al-Jihad: For those who died in defense of Islam (jihad).
  • Baab As-Sadaqah: For those who frequently gave to charity.
  • Baab Ar-Rayyaan: For those who observed fasting during and beyond Ramadan.
  • Baab Al-Hajj: For those who participated in the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca.
  • Baab Al-Kaazimeen Al-Ghaiz Wal Aafina Anin Naas: For those who suppress or control their anger and forgave others. 
  • Baab Al-Iman: For those who had sincere faith and trust in Allah and strived to follow his commands.
  • Baab Al-Dhikr: For those who showed zeal in remembering God.

The Levels of Jannah

There are many levels of heaven, the number, order, and character of which are much discussed by the tafsir (commentary) and hadith scholars. Some say Jannah has 100 levels; others that there is no limit to the levels; and some say their number is equal to the number of verses in the Quran (6,236). 

"Paradise has one hundred grades which Allah has reserved for the fighters in His cause, and the distance between each of the two grades is like the distance between the sky and the earth. So when you ask Allah, ask for Al Firdaus, for it is the best and highest part of Paradise." (Hadith scholar Muhammad al-Bukhari)

Ib'n Masud, a frequent contributor to the Sunnah Muakada website, has compiled the commentary of many of the hadith scholars, and produced a list of eight levels, listed below from the lowest level of heaven (Mawa) to the highest (Firdous)—although Firdous is also said to be in the "middle," scholars interpret that to mean "most central."

  1. Jannatul Mawa: a place to take refuge, the abode for the martyred.
  2. Darul Maqaam: the essential place, the safe place, where weariness does not exist.
  3. Darul Salaam: the home of peace and safety, where speech is free of all negative and evil talk, open to those who Allah wills to a straight path.
  4. Darul Khuld: the eternal, everlasting home which is open to those who ward off evil.
  5. Jannat-ul-Adan: the Garden of Eden.
  6. Jannat-ul-Naeem: where one can live a properous and peaceful life, living in wealth, welfare, and blessings.
  7. Jannat-ul-Kasif: the garden of the revealer.
  8. Jannat-ul-Firdous: a place of vastness, a trellised garden with grapevines and other fruits and vegetables, open to those have believed and done righteous deeds.

Muhammad's Visit to Jannah

Although it is not accepted by every Islamic scholar, according to the biography of Muhammad written by Ibn-Ishaq (702–768 CE), while he was living, Muhammad visited Allah, by passing through each of the seven levels of heaven accompanied by the angel Gabriel. While Muhammad was in Jerusalem, a ladder was brought to him, and he climbed the ladder until he reached the first gate of heaven. There the gate-keeper asked "Has he received a mission?" to which Gabriel answered in the affirmative. In each level, the same question is asked, Gabriel always answers in the affirmative, and Muhammad meets and is greeted by the prophets who reside there. 

Each of the seven heavens is said to be composed of a different material, and different Islamic prophets are resident in each.

  • The first heaven is made of silver and is the home of Adam and Eve, and the angels of each star. 
  • The second heaven is made of gold and the home of John the Baptist and Jesus. 
  • The third heaven is made of pearls and other dazzling stones: Joseph and Azrael are resident there. 
  • The fourth heaven is made of white gold and Enoch and the Angel of Tears resides there. 
  • The fifth heaven is made of silver: Aaron and the Avenging Angel hold court over this heaven. 
  • The sixth heaven is made of garnets and rubies: Moses can be found here. 
  • The seventh heaven is the highest and last, composed of a divine light incomprehensible to the mortal man. Abraham is a resident of the seventh heaven.

Finally, Abraham takes Muhammad into Paradise where he was admitted to the presence of Allah, who tells Muhammad to recite 50 prayers each day, after which Muhammad returns to earth.

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