Pleasures of this world are tangible and present, while delights of Paradise are unseen promises. People are readily influenced by what they can instantly see and know. It is hard for them to forgo something that is in front of them for the sake of something that is in the future, so how much harder is it if the promise will not be attained until after death?
Almighty Allah drew a comparison between worldly pleasures and the joys of Paradise and explained that the delights of Paradise are far superior to this world’s pleasures. Allah speaks at length denouncing this world and extolling the virtues of the hereafter to encourage humans to strive hard for success in the next world.
Many verses in the Qur’an dismiss this world of instant, evanescent pleasures and state that the rewards of Almighty Allah are far better. For example, Almighty Allah says,
(But as to those who are careful of (their duty to) their Lord, they shall have gardens beneath which rivers flow, abiding in them — a gift from the presence of Allah, and that which is with Allah is best for the righteous.) (Aal `Imran 3:198)
(And do not stretch your eyes after that with which We have provided different classes of them, (of) the splendor of this world’s life, that We may thereby try them, and the sustenance (given) by your Lord is better and more abiding.) (Ta-Ha 20:131)
(Beautified for humankind is love of the joys (that come) from women and offspring and stored-up heaps of gold and silver and horses branded (with their mark) and cattle and land. That is comfort of the life of this world, and Allah — with Him is a more excellent abode. Say, “Shall I inform you of something better than that? For those who keep from evil, with their Lord are Gardens underneath which rivers flow wherein they will abide, and pure mates and contentment from Allah, and Allah is Seer of the servants.) (Aal `Imran 3:14–15)
There are many reasons why the delights of Paradise are superior to the pleasures of this world. We will discuss this topic in detail.
Fleeting Worldly Pleasures
Almighty Allah says,
(Say, “The provision of this world is short, and the hereafter is better for those who guard (against evil), and you shall not be wronged the husk of a date stone.”) (An-Nisaa’ 4:77)
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) illustrated the inferiority and fleeting nature of the pleasures of this world in comparison with the delights of Paradise:
“By Allah, in comparison with the hereafter, this world is nothing more than [the example of] someone of you who puts their finger in the sea [and he gestured with his forefinger]: Let them see how much water they would retrieve.” (Muslim)
A finger dipped in the sea would not even pick up one drop; this is how little this world is worth when compared with the hereafter.
Because the pleasures of this world are so insignificant, Almighty Allah rebukes those who prefer the pleasures of this world to the joys of the hereafter:
(O you who believe, what ails you that when it is said unto you, “Go forth in the way of Allah,” you are bowed down to the ground with heaviness? Are you contented with this world’s life instead of the hereafter? But the provision of the life of this world is but little in the hereafter.) (At-Tawbah 9:38)
Quality of Life in Paradise
The cloths, jewels, palaces, food, and drink of the people of Paradise will be far superior to those of this world’s life. There is in fact no room for comparison, as even the smallest space in Paradise is better than this world and all its pleasures. On the authority of Abu Hurairah, Al-Bukhari and Muslim narrated that the Messenger of Allah said,
“In Paradise, the space taken by a whip is better than this world and everything in it.”
According to another narration by Al-Bukhari and Muslim on the authority of Abu Hurairah, the Prophet said,
“In Paradise, the space taken by the bow of anyone of you is better than all that the sun overwhelms.”
The comparison between the women of Paradise and the women of earth serves to demonstrate the superiority of that which is in Paradise. On the authority of Anas, Al-Bukhari reported that the Messenger of Allah said,
“If a woman of the people of Paradise were to look at this earth, she would light up everything in between and fill it with her fragrance; the veil on her head is better than this world and all that is in it.”
No Impurities or Disappointments
In this world’s life, eating and drinking result in the need for excretion, which is accompanied with unpleasant odors. Those who drink wine in this world lose their minds. Women in this world menstruate and give birth, which are sources of pain and hurt.
On the other hand, Paradise is free from all of these discomforts: Its people do not urinate, defecate, spit, or suffer from catarrh. The wine of Paradise is described by its Creator as follows:
(White, delicious to those who drink. There shall be no trouble in it, and they shall not be exhausted therewith.) (As-Saffat 37:46–47)
The water of Paradise does not become brackish, and the milk never changes in flavor. Almighty Allah says,
(A similitude of the Garden that those guarding (against evil) are promised — Therein are rivers of water unpolluted and rivers of milk whereof the flavor changes not.) (Muhammad 47:15)
The women of Paradise are pure and free from menstruation, nifas (postnatal bleeding), and all other impurities suffered by women in this world. Almighty Allah says,
(And there for them are pure mates, and there for ever they abide.) (Al-Baqarah 2:25)
The hearts of the people of Paradise will be pure. Their speech will be good and their deeds righteous. There will be no hurtful, offensive, or provocative talk, for Paradise is free from all worthless words and deeds:
(There they pass from hand to hand a cup wherein is neither vanity nor cause of sin.) (At-Tur 52:23)
The only talk that is heard there is the good, sincere, and pure talk. It is free from all shameful shortcomings of worldly talk:
(They shall not hear therein any vain words or lying.) (An-Naba’ 78:35)
(They shall not hear therein any vain discourse, but only “Peace.”) (Maryam 19:62)
Paradise is the abode of purity and peace:
(There they hear no vain speaking nor recrimination — only the saying, “Peace! Peace!”) (Al-Waqi`ah 56:25–26)
After being saved from Hellfire, the people of Paradise will be detained on a bridge between Paradise and Hell. There they will be purified by settling any quarrels that may be still outstanding among them. Then they may enter Paradise with pure hearts and souls, free from any resentment, envy, or other negative worldly emotions.
Al-Bukhari and Muslim reported that the people of Paradise will enter it without hatred or resentment among them; their hearts will be one, and they will glorify Almighty Allah morning and evening. Almighty Allah says,
(And We will root out whatever of rancor is in their breasts — (they shall be) as brethren, on raised couches, face to face.) (Al-Hijr 15:47)
Ibn `Abbas and `Ali ibn Abi Talib reported that when the people of Paradise enter it, they drink from one spring, and Allah removes any hostility or hatred from their hearts; then they drink from another spring, and their faces become pure and bright. This is probably what is meant by the following verse:
(And their Lord shall make them drink a pure drink.) (Al-Insan 76:21)
Eternal Joys of Paradise
Almighty Allah calls the pleasures of this world temporary conveniences. They are enjoyed for a short while, and then they come to an end. Meanwhile, the joys of Paradise never cease. Almighty Allah says,
(That which you have wastes away, and that which Allah has remains.) (An-Nahl 16:96)
([It is said to the righteous], “Truly this is Our provision; it shall never waste away.”) (Saad 38:54)
(A similitude of the Garden that is promised unto those who keep their duty (to Allah) — Underneath it rivers flow; its food is everlasting and its shade.) (Ar-Ra`d 13:35)
Almighty Allah gives us an example of how quickly this world will pass away:
(And set forth to them the similitude of the life of this world as water that We send down from the sky, so the vegetation of the earth mingles with it and then becomes dry twigs that the winds scatter, and Allah is the holder of power over all things. Wealth and children are an adornment of the life of this world, but the good deeds that endure are better in your Lord’s sight for reward and better in expectation.) (Al-Kahf 18:45–46)
Allah likens this life to rain, which falls from the sky and causes plants to grow, flower, and bear fruit. This lasts for only a short time before these plants are shriveled and easily blown away by the wind.
Such are the luxuries of this life: youth, wealth, children, land, etc. All of these pass away: Youth fades, health and vitality turn into sickness and senescence, and wealth and children are likely to perish. A person may be taken from his or her family and wealth, but the “wealth” of Paradise never vanishes. Almighty Allah says,
(And it is said to those who guard (against evil), “What is it that your Lord has revealed?” They say, “Good.” For those who do good in this world is good, and certainly the abode of the hereafter is better, and certainly most excellent is the abode of those who guard (against evil). The Gardens of Eden — they shall enter them; rivers flow beneath them; they shall have in them what they please. Thus does Allah reward those who guard (against evil).) (An-Nahl 16:30–31)
Regret of the People of Hellfire
Almighty Allah says,
(Every soul shall taste of death, and you shall be paid your reward in full only on the Day of Resurrection; then whoever is removed far away from the fire and is made to enter the Garden is indeed triumphant, and the life of this world is nothing but a provision of vanities.) (Aal `Imran 3:185)
After reading these verses and living with their meanings, how would anyone spare Paradise for the sake of worldly pleasures? Ramadan is when we should all give up this world’s pleasures and be ready for the delights of Paradise.
Ibn Majah and Ibn Hibban narrated a beautiful hadith in which the Prophet said,
“Who is rolling up his [or her] sleeves for Paradise? Paradise has no like; by the Lord of the Ka`bah, it is a shinning light; a swaying basil; a constructed palace; a running river; many ripe fruits; a comely, beautiful wife; and many enduring garments, in affluence and bloom and in raised, beautiful, and sound dwellings.
The companions said, “We are ready to roll up our sleeves for it, O Messenger of Allah.” The Prophet said, “Say, ‘in sha’ Allah [Allah willing].'”
So, are you going to roll up your sleeves for Paradise?
By `Umar S. Al-Ashqar
Taken from the author’s book “Paradise and Hell in the Light of the Qur’an and Sunnah“, published by International Islamic Publishing House (IIPH), 2003.
Dr. `Umar S. Al-Ashqar is a professor of Shari`ah at the University of Jordan and the author of the Islamic Creed series.