Posted by: Dawud Israel | November 10, 2017

Journey of the Muslim: The Smart Guide to Jannah

I recall reading the book Lives of Man by Imam al-Haddad. What sets this book apart is it describes stage by stage what each person will go through from life to death to afterlife to eternity.

In tribute to this unique book, I wanted to create a more detailed, concise and above all practical guide to the Akhira from works that are similar to Lives of Man. Not every Muslim has time to read 800 pages on the akhira and pinpoint the scattered nuggets of guidance. So here I have pointed out each landmark and listed acts that can be done to save oneself from difficulties to be faced in the journey to the Afterlife, through the Afterlife and to reach the highest levels of Jannah. Basically, this is meant to be an action plan for planning your Afterlife. I intended this as an article, but I have printed it off for myself as my own guide.

I reverse what most traditional books do action -> result, I am showing result -> action for various needs we will have at various stages in our Akhira. Much of what I will write will come from writings of al-Ghazali’s Kitab Dhikr al-Mawt wa-ma ba’dahu (Remembrance of Death and the Afterlife) and his Durra al-Fakhira, Imam al-Haddad’s Lives of Man, Imam al-Qurtubi’s Tadhkhirah fi ahwal al-mawt wal akhira (Remembrance of Affairs of Death and Afterlife), Imam Sha’rani’s Lawahiq al-Anwar, Mufti Usmani’s Easy Good Deeds and other notes from various bayans. I will try and cite full ahadith, but many I refer to are well-known and easily found online.

Most of us are interested in the religion for worldly purposes. We want wazaif and duas to solve all our worldly problems, which we will not even recall a year from now. But our otherworldly problems become neglected. And furthermore, do we want Allah? Shaykh Samer al-Nass quoted Sari as-Saqati saying, “Mankind is 10,000 people all who say they love Allah. When the dunya was created 9,000 left Allah, then when Hell was created 900 of the remained 1,000 left Allah, then when Heaven was created 90 of the remaining 100 left Allah. Only 10 remain loving Allah.”

A Life of Tawfiq

When we are in our mother’s wombs, our mother’s spiritual state affects us. When we are raised it must be consuming halal, around Islamic books and masajid. When we are in our teens we sort out our iman and yaqin and begin to experience spiritual experiences. When we are in our old age, from 50 to 70 years old according to Ibn al-Jawzi, grey hairs show up and the hadith says, ‘for someone whose hair turns grey while a Muslim, it becomes light for him.’ (Lives of Man, p. 26)

There is a beautiful hadith Imam al-Haddad mentions in his book on life stages from Shaykh Ahmad ibn Ali ibn Abi’l Qasim al-Yamani’s 40 hadith on forgiveness of sins via Anas ibn Malik:

The Messenger of God ﷺ, said: ‘For a newborn child until he reaches the age of discretion, his good deeds are written to the credit of his parents, while his bad deeds are written neither against him nor against his parents. Once he reaches the age of discretion and the pen begins to write his acts, God the Exalted issues His command to the two angels who accompany him and guard and counsel him. When he reaches 40 years in Islam, God gives him security from three things: madness, leprosy, vitiligo. When he reaches 50, God makes the reckoning lighter. When he reaches 60, God grants him to revert to Him as pleases Him. When he reaches 70, the inhabitants of Heaven love him. When he reaches 80, God records his good acts and is lenient with his bad ones. When he reaches 90, God forgives him his bygone sins and those to come, allows him to intercede on behalf of the people of his family, and he becomes God’s prisoner on the earth. Then, should he be returned to the worst age, so that after having had knowledge he knows nothing, God continues to record as good acts for him those which he used to do when he was well, and if he commits an evil act it is not recorded. (Lives of Man, p. 39)

Achieving a Pious Death 

Remembering death is a major source of motivation. Imam al-Suddi commented on surah Mulk, v. 2 [He] who created death and life to test you [as to] which of you is best in deed – and He is the Exalted in Might, the Forgiving, “This means which of you recalls death most frequently, and treats it with the greatest fear and attention.”  (Kitab Dhikr al-Mawt). Muslims are adamant to worship on the 15th of Sha’ban despite the arguments against doing so because this is the night when the angel of death is informed of whom will die that year.
The Prophetﷺ said: ‘Watch for three signs in the dying man. If his forehead sweats, his eyes shed tears and his lips become dry, then the mercy of Allah has descended upon him. But if he should choke like a man being strangled, and if his colour should turn to red, and if he should foam at the mouth, then this is the punishment of Allah descending upon him.’  (Durra al-Fakhira, p. 25)

The pangs of death are very painful as the hadith in Kitab Dhikr al-Mawt say it is is ‘equal to three hundred blows with a sword’ and each individual artery will experience the pain of death. When the soul leaves the body, it is the size of a bee. (Durra al-Fakhira, p. 25)

Action: Pangs of death can be relieved by recitation of Surah al-Yasin for the dying person as reported in at-Tabarani. But we do not know if this will eliminate all the pain but it may ease the departure of the soul as Imam al-Haddad says. It is important to instruct the dying person to say La ilaha ilallah Muhammadur Rasulullah ﷺ continually at the verge of death.

The only other way to circumvent pangs of death is to achieve the death of the martyr (shaheed) who experiences death with the mere pain of a bee sting. We would love to die as shaheed but there is too much violence in our world today, such that the true mujahid is hard to differentiate from the khawarij. If you live as a minority then you are enjoined to live peacefully as the Muslim emigrants to Abyssinia did under a Christian king Najashi.

However there are other ways to get the rank of shaheed.

A’isha (radiallahu anha) said, “O Messenger of Allah! Shall anyone be resurrected with the martyrs?” The Prophet  said, “Yes. He who remembers death twenty times in the day and the night.” (Lives of Man, p. 31)

Imam al-Sha’rani in Lawahiq al-Anwar has listed many ways of having the death of a shaheed through exercising sabr. All are from the decree of Allah but I have underlined the items that are actions one can do:

  1. Death from plague
  2. Death from drowning
  3. Death from pneumonia
  4. Death from stomach illness
  5. Death from being burnt alive 
  6. Crushed underneath a wall (i.e like a airplane crash)
  7. Die giving birth or before marriage
  8. Death while traveling
  9. Death from suffering tuberculosis 
  10. Death from falling off a transport
  11. Death from epilepsy
  12. Death from fever which is the most beloved of all illnesses because affects the whole body and sabr in whole body.
  13. If killed protecting one’s wealth
  14. If killed protecting one’s self
  15. If killed from protecting one’s family
  16. If killed protecting other people
  17. Death from divine love
  18. Death from an animal of prey
  19. If die while being oppressed and imprisoned
  20. If beaten to death by oppressor
  21. Death from a vicious animal
  22. Death while in search of animal
  23. Live life as mu’addhin
  24. Live life of a trustworthy businessman meaning while operating a business one is amin sadiq – then one is resurrected amongst ambiya
  25. If death from nausea and vomiting on a ship
  26. If raise kids according to Islam and Sunnah and feed them only halal
  27. If make the dua for death 25x everyday Allahumma barik fil mawti wa fima ba’dal mawt – Oh Allah! Bless me at the time of my death and after my death
  28. If regularly Perform the chast / ishraq /duha salah, which is 20 minutes after sunrise. Imam Sha’rani says no evil jinn will come to that person. (the name of this prayer is debated )
  29. If one fast 3 days every month – like the moonlit nights known as ayam al-beed
  30. If one never misses witr while traveling or at home
  31. If revive or act on a Sunnah receive the reward of 100 martyr
  32. If one recites 40 times during an illness La illaha illah subhanaka inni kuntu minal dhalimin
  33. If someone is not a fighter but ties horses for a Muslim army on Muslim border/camps and die during an enemies attack
  34. If recite Surah al-Yasin every night
  35. If one dies in a state of wudhu
  36. If one recites salawat ala an-Nabi ﷺ, at least 100 time daily. One is likely to see Nabi ﷺ just before death and get talqin from Nabi ﷺ
  37. If one makes dua for death as a shaheed 
    1. A man who sincerely asks God for martyrdom shall be granted the status of a martyr even if he dies in his bed. (Muslim 1909, Tirmidhi 1653)
  38. If one dies on a Friday (i.e Thursday maghrib to Friday maghrib). This person is also protected from the punishment of the grave.
  39. If one regularly recites 3 times in the morning  the adkhar, Audhubillahi as-Samiyal Aleem min as-shaytanir rajeem + last 3 ayahs of surah al-Hashr and dies during the day. Also 70,000 angels make istighfar for the person who does this until the evening. 

Furthermore, Imam al-Haddad mentions a hadith, “Someone whose death coincides with the close of Ramadan enters the Garden, and someone whose death coincides with the close of Arafat enters the Garden, and someone whose death coincides with the close of his charity enters the Garden.” (Lives of Man, p. 40)

Internment into the Grave

A janaza is made for the forgiveness of the deceased (mayyit). It is said if 40 people gather for salah, then one of them is definitely a wali. And if the deceased (mayyit) is pious and those praying his janaza are not pious, then those praying for the deceased will be forgiven.

When we enter the grave we are given talqin, the answers to the questions Munkar and Nakir ask us. They will ask us about our Lord, our religion and about the man who was sent amongst us – namely the Prophet ﷺ. The common dhikr said every morning / evening: Raditu billahi rabba wa bil-Islama deen wa Muhammadan Nabiya ﷺ could be an easy response to this. To read more on talqin see here.

Action: Many ulema have said if we recite an abundance of salawat ala al-Nabi ﷺ then he  will come and assist us and give us the talqin himself ﷺ.

When someone dies we should say after Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’oon and the dua,  Allahumma j’al kitabahu fi illiyin, wa’ktubhu indaka min al-muhsinin, wa’akhlufhu fi ahlihi fil-ghabirin, waghfir lana wa-lahu ya rabb al-alamin – “O Allah! Places his records in Illiyin, record him as a man of excellence (muhsin), provide a successor for him in caring for his family in the dunya and forgive us and him, O Lord of the worlds.” (Lives of Man, p. 41)

Reciting Qur’an over graves and giving the reward to the dead is also encouraged. Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal saw during a funeral a blind man who recited the Qur’an by a graveside. Imam Ahmad initially called it an innovation but then changed his mind after hearing of Ibn Umar requesting the same. There are two narrations in Kitab Dhikr al-Mawt of Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal encouraging recitation of Surah al-Baqara and in the second narration of al-Fatiha, al-Falaq, an-Nas and al-Ikhlas, “Make the reward of all this over to the people of the cemetery for it will reach them.”  (Kitab Dhikr al-Mawt, p.117)  

Praying for the dead is a good act and it is amongst the wisdoms of why we Muslims are brothers and a community. If we each were to try and enter Jannah on our own merit without help from our Muslim brothers and sisters, we would all fail. But if we all work and assist each other, pray for each other and send each other rewards, then we will be able to succeed. A hadith encourages us to ‘insure’ each other by having a good opinion of each others, “You are God’s witnesses on earth, those whom you praise will be thus.” (Lives of Man, p. 41) A hadith states, ‘Were it not for the living the dead would have been destroyed,’ and ‘My Nation is a nation covered with mercy. Its members enter their graves with sins like unto the mountain, and leave their grave having been forgiven because the living have asked forgiveness for the dead.’ Amongst the most helpful of acts for the dead is reciting and donating 11 times Surah al-Ikhlas. (Lives of Man, p. 45-46).

According to Shaykh Samer al-Nass, the soul is taken very quickly to heaven or turned back from there to spend life in the grave next to its dead body. The life of the grave involves punishment, visitation by people, most slumber in their grave until resurrection, or the righteous who go up to Heaven on birds after 2-3 months or the spirits of the dead are given freedom to roam if they are awliya. Also in the grave one is given a preview of where they are destined to end up – either Heaven or Hell. Not as well known is the fact the dead are informed of the deeds of their living friends and family (Imam al-Ghazali has 3 narrations on this, Kitab Dhikr al-Mawt, p. 114-115) just as the Prophet ﷺ  is shown the deeds of the believers and prays for them. The reverse is also possible, the living can see the state of the dead in dreams. It is also encouraged to visit the dead on Fridays but very few Muslims ever practice this.

Hadith: Whosoever visits the grave of one or both of his parents every Friday shall be forgiven his sins, and shall be inscribed as having been faithful to them. (Kitab Dhikr al-Mawt)

Muhammad ibn Wasi’ was in the habit of visiting graves on Fridays. When asked why he did not postpone his visits until Monday he replied, “I have heard that the dead are aware of those that visit them on Friday, and on the preceding and succeeding days also.” This is because of the excellence of Friday. (Kitab Dhikr al-Mawt, p. 115)

Escaping the Punishment of grave

One’s deeds come back to them in the grave in various forms and they can see into Jannah or glimpse into Jahannam.

Said Ka’b [al-Ahbar], ‘When the righteous bondsman is laid in his tomb he is surrounded by his righteous acts, such as his prayer, his fasting, his pilgrimage, his engagement in the Holy War, and the charity he used to distribute. Then the Angels of Chastisement approach him from the direction of his feet, but are told by Prayer, “Get back from him, you have no authority over him, for upon those [feet] he stood in me at length for the sake of God.” Then they approach him from  the direction of his head, but Fasting says, “You have no authority over him, for in the world’s abode he thirsted at length for the sake of God.” Next they draw near to him from the direction of his trunk, but Pilgrimage and Holy War say, “Get back from him for he exhausted himself and wearied his body when he accomplished the Pilgrimage and the Holy War for the sake of God; no authority do you have over him.” Then they approach him from the direction of his hands, but Charity says, “Back! Retreat from my master, for how many an act of charity issued from those two hands to fall in to the hand of God (Exalted is He!), while he acted only for His sake; no authority, do you have over him.” Then he shall be told, “Rejoice! Good you have been in life and in death!” Next, the Angels of Mercy come, and spread a heavenly cloth and resting-place out for him, and his grave is widened around him for as far as the eye can see. A candle is brought from Heaven, and from it he has light until God resurrects him from his grave.’  (Kitab Dhikr al-Mawt, p. 134) 

Said Abu Hurayra, “When the deceased is set in his grave he is approached and surrounded by his righteous works. When they draw near him from the direction of his head his recitation of the Qur’an comes forward, and when they approach him from the direction of his feet there comes his standing (in night prayers). And when they approach him from the direction of his hands these speak out, saying, “By God! It was his custom to stretch us forth in charity and in supplication; no authority do you have over him.” When they come to him from the direction of his mouth, his commemoration of God and his fasting appear. Likewise, Prayer and Fortitude stand at one side, and each declares, “As for me, if I behold any shortcoming I will stand by him.” (Kitab Dhikr al-Mawt, p. 146) 

Action: One must also be careful of urine spilling onto their clothing and careful of slander. I recall Shaykh Abdur-Raheem Limbada saying some ulema who have kashf have reported mortgages are a major cause of punishment in the grave.

Action: Surah al-Mulk which is also called al-Mani’a (the saver) every night wards of the punishment of the grave.

Action: Reciting the ayah La ilaha ilallah al-Malik al-Haqq al-Mubeen 100 times a day also protects from punishment of the grave and provides rizq, according to a hadith in ad-Daylami mentioned by Imam al-Sha’rani.

Action: Imam Ibn al-Qayyim has said doing hisab (accounting all of one’s days’ actions) before sleeping and making tawba for one’s sins makes one more likely to die in a state of repentance.

ActionImam Sha’rani also mentions salah without wudhu and walking by an oppressed person (madhlum) and not helping them leads to punishment of the grave. 

Also as stated previously, the person who dies on Thursday night/Friday is also protected from the punishment of the grave in addition to being resurrected with the signs of a shaheed.

Resurrection

Imam al-Haddad says, resurrection will occur after 2 trumpet blasts from Israfil. We will be re-assembled from the coccyx bone. The tip of it is like a seed for the human being and humans will be recreated from it due to a divine rain called al-Hayawan (which I imagine is probably much like the fabled Elixir of Eternal youth, as we will live eternally henceforth, in bliss or in agony). Imam al-Haddad mentions people will come accompanied by or transmogrified by their sins, as blinded, as animals, chewing their tongues, or amputated. (Lives of Man, p. 57) Everybody will be resurrected naked but Imam Ghazali mentions some hadith that state, “Take great care in clothing your dead, for my community will be raised in their shrouds, while the rest of the nations are naked.” (Durra al-Fakhira, p. 76)

How to prepare for Yawm al-Qiyamah & Waiting on the Plains of Mahshar

Yawm al-Qiyama has upward of 80 names as listed by Imam al-Ghazali. The Earth will be transformed into a new land which Muslims call the Plains of Mahshar or the Concourse. The heavens, sun, moon, and star will vanish. The Plains of Mahshar is said to be in Syria and will be off-white colour like pure flour for 300 years to 50,000 years. Some say for the righteous it will be shortened to the length of time between between noon and afternoon salat, or time to pray the fardh salat (Musnad Ahmad III:75; Lives of Man, p. 61) but for the sinners it will be 50,000 years long. Some people will ride, some will walk and some will walk on their faces (which has different interpretations). (Kitab Dhikr al-Mawt, p.179) One hadith says believers will ride camels that represent their deeds, where 2 to 10 people will be on a camel sharing their ride due to a shortage of good deeds journeying to their judgment. The sun will be 1 mile from our head and we will sweat profusely, up to our ankles or legs or chest or head and seek shade.

Action: The hadith of those 7 individual who will be in the shade of Allah on Yawm al-Qiyama mentioned in al-Bukhari and al-Muslim:

  1. a just ruler;
  2. a youth who grew up in the worship of Allah;
    1. Ibn al-Jawzi says youth is from 15 to 35 years old so take heart if you are under 35.
  3. a man whose heart is attached to the mosques;
  4. two men who love each other for Allah’s sake, meeting for that and parting upon that;
  5. a man who is called by a woman of beauty and position [for illegal intercourse], but be says: ‘I fear Allah’;
  6. a man who gives in charity and hides it, such that his justify hand does not know what his right hand gives in charity;
  7. and a man who remembered Allah in private and so his eyes shed tears.

Action: “Those who attend the mosque at dark (i.e. Isha & Fajr) will find a shade on the Day of Judgment when no shade is to be found.” (Ibn Majah)

Action: “The believer’s shade on the Day of Resurrection will be his charity.” (al-Tirmidhi)

Action: “If anyone would like Allah to save him from the hardships of the Day of Resurrection, he should give more time to his debtor who is short of money, or remit his debt altogether.” (Sahih al-Muslim)

Action:  “He who brings to life the nights of the two Eids and the night of mid-Sha’ban, his heart will not die on the day when hearts shall die.” (al-Mundhiri)

Action: Imam al-Ghazali says those known for repentance like Fudayl ibn Iyad will have light perspiration or sweat up to their ankles.  (Durra al-Fakhira, p. 88)

Action: Imam al-Ghazali says that any sweat not spent in some effort for God’s sake like the sweating in Hajj, fasting, tahajjud, fulfilling the needs of Muslims would make one perspire more and sweating from obedience will make this day easier. (Kitab Dhikr al-Mawt, p. 181) 

Hadith also mention children who died before puberty will give their Muslim parents water to drink during this heat.

Hisab (Accounting) by Allah Subhana wa ta’ala

Once the Judgment will begin, Allah will judge our life taking account our sins, good deeds and each of our blessings as mentioned in the tafsir of surah al-Takathur. This will not be easy. Some say it will happen very quickly in 24 hours. Imam al-Awza’i says we will see our whole life before us, which sounds much like a movie. Hasan al-Basri says our deeds will be hung around our necks. The Qur’an tell us our limbs will bear testimony to our actions. More narrations speak to Scales weighing deeds and Scrolls detailing one’s life and whether one receives the Scrolls in his right hand or left hand. Surah al-Inshiqaq v. 7-8 tells us those who are given their scrolls in their right hand are given an easy reckoning.

We will be asked particularly 4 questions relating to – 1) lifespan and how it was spent, 2) youth and how it was spent, 3) where we earned our money, how it was spent and 4) what we did with our religious knowledge. This is congruent to the hadith in Bukhari and Muslim of the womb where the angel writes 4 things, the child’s apportioned provision, his lifespan, his deed and whether he will end up as wretched or joyful.

And as they teach us at every masjid, our prayers (salah) will be the first deed we will be questioned about. Imam Sha’rani mentions expenditure on your family will be the first deed weighed on the Scales. The weighing will not be of solely quantity of deeds however. Imam al-Qurtubi mentions the words of Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri who said, “Though some people will have come with deeds which are enormous as Mount Tihama, they will still be of no weight in the Balance.” (Tadhkhira, p. 108) Thus the utter importance of ikhlas. Besides ikhlas is a connection and closeness to Rasulullah ﷺ  because there is a saying that a single sajda of one sahabi is more weighty in the sight of Allah than the amal of the whole ummah for 950 years continuously.

Being called to account for all the blessings we enjoyed by the Omnipotent and All-Knowing poses a big problem, as even the Qur’an says, we cannot even enumerate the blessings of Allah. (Surah Nahl, v. 18)  How then will we enumerate and analyze and review our own selves in our blessings we experienced? The more blessings we experienced the more we will be called to account for them. This is why the poor are said to be more virtuous in the Next world because they have little to account for. Those with more deeds will find ease but those with equal good deeds and bad deeds will stand on A’raf between Jannah and Jahannam until Allah’s Mercy comes to them and they enter Jannah.

Here are some more ways to pass this stage.

Action: There is a hadith mentioned by Shaykh Ibrahim Osi-Efa on the meaning of Yawm al-Din, “Do, and as you do, you will be treated,” which means if you do not take people to account, pointing out their good actions and bad actions, then Allah will, insha’Allah, not take you to account.

Action: The best dua to make for an easy hisab is the one narrated in al-Hakim Allahumma hasibni hisabun yasira and Imam Malik’s favorite dua Allahumma sattar awrati wa man rawati so that Allah edits your book of deeds and covers your sins and does not expose them to everybody on the Day of Judgment.

Action: “Whosoever conceals the faults of a believer shall have his own faults concealed by God on the Day of Arising.” (Ibn Majah)

Action: The interceding surahs mentioned in the ahadith will be of great aid, namely surah as-Sajda, surah al-Mulk, surah al-Baqara and surah Ale-Imran. Likewise, reciting Qur’an at night and fasting can intercede. They will inshaAllah act as your lawyers and advocates in the Divine Court as their intercession is approved by Allah subhana wa ta’ala.

Action: Avoid positions of leadership because their accounting will take longer than if you had no leadership. Abdullah Ibn Umar saw his father Sayyidina Umar ibn al-Khattab in a dream 12 years after his death and he said, “My accounting has just finished now (i.e. after 12 years). If it weren’t for Allah’s Mercy the throne of Umar would have collapsed (i.e been dire).”

What to do for Hisab (Reckoning) by Muslims

At this stage or after passing the Sirat, we will also have to account for injustices we inflicted upon fellow believers.

Abu Sa’id al Khudri reported Allah’s Messenger as saying: “When the believers pass safely over (the bridge across) Hell, they will be stopped at a bridge between Hell and Paradise where they will retaliate against one another for the injustices done among them in the world, and when they are purified of all their sins, they will be admitted to Paradise. By Him in Whose hands the life of Muhammadﷺ is, everybody will recognize his dwelling in Paradise better than he recognizes his dwelling in this world.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Fath Al-Bari)

At this point, one’s good deeds will go to the one they wronged as compensation until one runs out of good deeds to offset. Once that happens then the person takes on the sins of the person they wronged as compensation until they are cast into Jahannam for expiation. How can one get around this scenario?

Action: Fasting is one of the ways to avoid this for Imam Sufyan ibn Uyaynah says commenting on the hadith in Sahih al-Bukhari, “Fasting is Mine and I will reward it,” and the hadith in Sahih al-Muslim “All the good deeds of the son of Adam are multiplied (10 times to 700 times), except for fasting,” that “On the Day of Resurrection, Allah the Almighty will take His slave to account and compensate for his wrongdoings from his deeds till nothing remains except fasting. Then, Allah will settle on the slave’s behalf the rest of his wrongdoings and admit the slave to Paradise because of fasting.” Habib Umar bin Hafiz explains that this means the if the fast was accepted by Allah, then He will place it in His protection such that even if on the Day of Judgment this person has due upon himself from others then Allah will tell them to take from his other good deeds but not from the accepted fast because “it is Mine.” Then Allah will assign a reward value to the fasting until it compensates the believers and enters them into Jannah.

Action: Another way Imam al-Ghazali mentions to get around this is to keep many good deeds secret so none will know of them on the Day of Judgment. In doing secret deeds, one may become beloved to Allah and the wrongs of others may be turned aside. (Kitab Dhikr al-Mawt, p. 203)

Action: If you find yourself destined to Jahannam, then remember the story of the man who on Yawm al-Qiyama will have equal good deeds and bad deeds and need only one good deed. A man will say to him, “I am going to Jahannam anyways, so take this good deed I have.” Because of that Allah will forgive them both and send them to Jannah. Another narration in al-Hakim mentions 2 believers, one whom will retaliate on another believer but no good deeds remain so he says let him take my burden (of sins). Allah ta’ala then shows him what Jannah looks like and says it belongs to the one who pays its price which is something this believer possesses. “Your forgiveness of your brother,” then they both enter Jannah and this made Rasulullahﷺ laugh and he recited surah 8, v.1. (Kitab Dhikr al-Mawt, p. 203) Likewise a similar narration is mentioned in Durra al-Fakhira regarding a son who said uff to his father and is destined to Hellfire, but his father is also destined to Hellfire so he asks Allah to take on his fathers sins and they are bought admitted to Jannah due to this Afterlife act of filial piety.

Achieving No Hisab (Reckoning) 

There are famous hadith of the 70,000 (or more) who will enter Jannah without reckoning (hisab) through the Right Hand Gate (al-Ayman). “… Allah Says to the Prophetﷺ, “O Muhammad! Let those of your followers who have no accounts, enter through the gate of al-Ayman, (a gate of the gates of Paradise that lies on the right); and they will share the other gates with the people.” (Kitab Dhikr al-Mawt, p. 214) These people are the only ones who will enter through this gate and they will enter Jannah first. They are described as not cauterising (Shah Waliullah says cauterising drives away angels), don’t use charms (ruqya), or take omens from birds (augury) and put their trust in Allah. Imam al-Haddad says these are the sabiqun. Ukasha ibn Mahsin was a Sahabi who was one of them because he asked Rasulullah ﷺ to make dua to be one of them. Ukasha was also known to have kissed the blessed Seal of the Prophet ﷺ and was given a stick that the Prophetﷺ transformed into a sword for battle. Another hadith mentions the 70,000 was multiplied so each one was given another 70,000 totalling in 4.9 billion who enter Jannah without reckoning, “O my Lord, and shall my nation reach such a multitude? and He (Allah subhana wa ta’ala) replied, “I shall make up the number for you with the nomads.” (Tabarani, Mujam al-Awsat; al-Hakim al-Tirmidhi 84; see Kitab Dhikr al-Mawt, p. 259)

Action: Shaykh Ibrahim Osi-Efa mentions the Hamadun, those who praise Allah in every situation are from amongst these 70,000. I believe he may have taken this from Imam al-Ghazali who says, “Another party is composed of those with not a single transgression to their discredit. A voice calls out, saying, ‘Let those who did praise God abundantly in every state arise!’ and they stand up and hasten to Heaven. Then this is done with regard to the people who used to stand in the night vigil (tahajjud) and then with those whom no worldly commerce or sale distracted from the remembrance of God! A voice calls out to them saying, ‘Joy, never to be followed by any sorrow!'” The other groups Imam al-Ghazali then lists are those who had no good deeds at all and those with mixed good deeds and bad deeds. (Kitab Dhikr al-Mawt, p. 195) Imam al-Qurtubi also mentions something similar attributing it Ibn Abbas via Ibn al-Mubarak: the groups who advance to Paradise were those who praised Allah at all times, those who made tahajjud and spent charity, and those who were not distracted by trade and commerce from the dhikr of Allah and regular prayer and zakat. (Tadhkira, p.140-141)

Action: Another way of entering with reckoning Imam al-Ghazali mentions is to do hisab of one’s sins and righting wrongs done to others, “He should set their hearts at rest so that when he dies not a single injustice or obligation will remain to his discredit. Such a man will enter Heaven without reckoning.”

Action: There is another hadith in Tirmidhi that mentions the Prophet ﷺ will shake the door-rings of Heaven and enter with the poverty-stricken believers, which suggests the poor will be ahead of the rich in entering Jannah first (i.e without account). Another hadith mentions the first to reach the Hawd (the Pool) will be the ‘poor amongst the Muhajirun who will be wild-haired, dusty clothed and do not marry women of pleasure and no doors ever open for them.’ (Kitab Dhikr al-Mawt, p. 218)

Action: Abu Hurayra said the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “Whoever meets the expense of a couple’s marriage from his own wealth for the sake of God shall be summoned from every gate of Heaven…” (Bukhari and Muslim, Zakat chapter; Kitab Dhikr al-Mawt, p. 235) And we can hope that Ayman is not excluded from this hadith.

Action: Jarir ibn Abdullah said, “The man whose good deeds outweigh his sins on the Day of Arising shall enter Heaven without reckoning. The man whose good deeds match his sins shall receive a lenient judgment, and shall then enter Heaven. The Intercession of Allah’s Apostle ﷺ is only for the man that ruined himself and burdened his back.” (Kitab Dhikr al-Mawt, p. 255)

How to Cross the Sirat

In order to enter Jannah one will need to cross the Sirat (bridge) over Jahannam. On this razor sharp bridge will be huge thorns that will trip one up and cut them until they plunge into Jahannam. The first to cross after the Prophet ﷺ will be the poor amongst the Muhajirun.

 

What the sa’adan thorns on the Sirat will look like according to the hadith

 

Some narrations suggest there being 2 Sirats – the other Sirat passed by each Nabi (from our Nabi ﷺ until Nuh) and their ummah, of which disbelievers of their ummahs will be made blind and plunge into Hellfire then the Prophets will go with their righteous with angels guiding them until they reach the Throne of Allah. Other narrations from Imam al-Qurtubi also mention al-Aqaba as a steep mountain between paradise and hell that will be crossed through good deeds as described in surah al-Balad.

Crossing the Sirat depends on everybody’s light (nur). A narration in al-Hakim says Allah will grant the believers a light in proportion to their works, some like a mountain, some like a date-palm, to the smallest which is light only his big toe, which goes out and come back to light. The light is used in the darkness to cross the Sirat and see the way forward. Some will cross the Sirat in the twinkling of an eye; some like lightning, a falling star, a running horse or walking. The one with the light in his big toe will go crawling on his face and hands and feet until he reaches the end of the Sirat and praises Allah. 

From the things I have heard ulema say that will help in crossing the Sirat are the following:

Action: Abundant salawat ala al-Nabi will help pass Sirat quickly and rescue those who slip as if a helping hand.

Action: Love of mosques will aid on passing the Sirat according to Imam al-Sha’rani.

Action: Imam al-Haddad mentions trustworthiness and kinship bond (silat ar-rahm) will stand by the Bridge. (Lives of Man, p. 63)

Action: The dua in surah at-Tahrim, v. 8 is what those who enter Jannah will recite, asking Allah for forgiveness and to perfect their light: Rabbana atmim lana nurana waghfirlana inaka ala kulli shayin qadir.

Action: A hadith in ad-Daylami reports you will not slip on the Sirat if you love Ahl al-Bayt.

Action: Help the oppressed: “Whoever walks with one who has been wronged until he establishes his rights, Allah will make his feet firm on the Sirat on the Day when feet slip.” (Ibn Abi’l-Dunya)

Amal and Akhira

I used to find it confusing as to what specifically entails entry into Jannah and salvation from Jahannam. I found this saying in one of Mufti Abdur-Rahman ibn Yusuf’s talks and it all made sense:

“Being saved from Jahannam is from Allah’s forgiveness, entry into Jannah is from Allah’s Mercy, and your place and rank in Jannah is from your good deeds.” ~Sufyan at-Thawri

So you should think in this way

  • Allah’s Forgiveness (maghfira) = Freedom from Jahannam
  • Allah’s Mercy (rahma) = Entry into Jannah
  • Good deeds (amal) = Assigned rank in Jannah

So for example, hadith that being in the first row in salah or in eating suhur are rewarded with mercy, which is connected to entry to Jannah. Hadith about forgiven (minor) sins for reciting certain dua / adhkar entail with them hope of freedom from Jahannam.

“The people of heaven and the people of hell all do good things. The question is who avoids bad things.”
—Ibn al-Qayyim 

The most invaluable thing we can have before Allah is not our deeds, but our absence of sins. Imam al-Qurtubi says of the al-bulh, who will be the majority of people of Jannah, they are those who don’t know sin. In our age, we know many sins even if we don’t do them.

The hadith of kafarat darajat is also relevant here (see video below).

Action: Kafarat (expiation of sins): wudhu completed beyond the limit (cold night), walking to jama’at prayer and wait for one salah after another.

Action: Darajat (ascending ranks): feed people, spread salam and do tahajjud prayers.

This grows more complicated because Allah’s forgiveness manifests differently in what he does with our sins, even to the extent of replacing our sins with good deeds. The first 3 levels of forgiveness are forgiving sins but not forgetting them. Allah puts a veil between sins and Him: 1) al-Ghaffir = hide sins from humans in this world; 2) al-Ghaffur = hide sins from angels, forgive regardless of size, shield from consequences of sin, covers sins in Hereafter; 3) al-Ghaffar = continually forgiving over and over; 4) al-Afuww = forgive bad deeds, obliterates them and forget bad deeds (erases from memory); 5) al-Haleem = transform bad deeds into good deeds in the Hereafter.  (See this video)

Escaping Jahannam

According to Ibn Abbas, Jahannam will be created by oceans boiling until its converted to fire, then the sun and moon will be joined together and thrown into Hell which will become the greater Jahannam of Allah. (Tadhkira, p. 151). Jahannam will have a mountain called Yahmum (Black Smoke) which will be the only source shade in Jahannam. There will be a valley in Hell called Mawbiq or it will be a river of melting fire surrounded by snakes at its edges or a valley of pus and blood that will separate the people of disbelief and people of faith in Jahannam. Other valleys in Jahannam will be Wa’il where those who always start evil reside and Ghayya and Bols where the arrogant will drink the liquid discharge of the dwellers of Hell and al-Aqaba. (Tadhkira, p. 161-2) Some of the surprising people of Hellfire will be the ostentatious reciters of Qur’an, the martyrs who sought fame, a man who exhorted to good but never did the good deeds and exhorted to avoid sins but committed sins.

The hadith narrations and teaching grow more numerous when it comes to ways to be saved from Jahannam and ways to enter Jannah. All Muslims will be granted entry into Jannah wa la bada heen, even if after a while spent in Jahannam being purified of their sins. The Muslims that enter Jahannam experience the least punishment like the burning of coal on their feet or sandals of fire by which their brains will boil. Eventually, those who remembered Allah or feared Him even once will be rescued by the Intercession (shafa’a) of the Prophet ﷺ. Those believers with a dinar or a half-dinar or even an ant’s weight of good will be rescued. After angels, prophets and believers intercede, Allah Himself will intercede and will take up ‘a handful’ (and only Allah knows what a ‘handful’ with Him is) of those believers who never did one good deed and they are rescued brought back from being cinders to Heaven. This will happen because people of other faiths will take the place of the Muslims rescued from Hellfire.

However, the munafiqin, the Muslim who professed Islam but are not Muslim, are in the lowest parts of Jahannam (daark al-asfalin). It is important to note, Allah doesn’t punish in Jahannam, but the angels punish and this is from Allah’s Mercy. The ulema say if Allah were to punish the people of Jahannam then the punishment would be even worse and unrestricted. To understand the nature of Jahannam, ulema say the nafs is a branch of Jahannam, and like Jahannam, it is never satisfied and ultimately the blameworthy nafs returns to Jahannam. The only thing that satisfies Jahannam is the dhikr of Allah and likewise the only thing that satisfies the nafs is dhikr.

In Jahannam bodies will be enlarged to cause more painful punishment. Sins will become forms and punishments for the denizens of Hell. There will be a tree named Zaqqum which will provide torturous food to the denizens of Hell. Their are many sins mentioned in relation to Jahannam that are particularly damning for believers. Amongst the ones singled out in hadith are: pride, killing someone who Muslims have a treaty with, severing the bonds of kinship with ones relatives, and failing to pay zakat is mentioned as a particularly grievous punishment. It is related by Imam al-Zarqani that there will be individuals who memorized the Qur’an but will enter Hellfire. Before they enter it, Allah will remove any memory they had of Sayyidina Muhammad ﷺ. Then Jibril will come and remind them of his name, and when they invoke it the fire will cease to touch them.

Saving Actions:

  1. Ibn Abbas (ra) narrated that the Prophet ﷺ said: “(There are) two eyes that the Fire will never touch, the eye that wept from fear of Allah and the eye that stood guard in the night in Allah’s path.”
  2. Asking for protection from Jahannam 3 times Allahumma ajirni minan-nar and be granted Jannah Allahumma nasaluka al-Jannah then Jannah and Jahannam intercede and ask Allah for the same for you. (Tirmidhi, Tadhkira, p. 144).
  3. I’tikaaf creates 7 mountains and ditches between a person and Jahannam the distance of heaven and earth.
  4. Fast for one day for Allah’s sake is separated from Jahannam by a journey of 70 years. (Tirmidhi, Tadhkira, p. 146).
  5. If you reach 70 years of life as a Muslm with grey hairs then you are saved from Jahannam
  6. Ramadhan: Abu Saeed al-Khudree (ra) relates that Rasulullah ﷺ said: “During each day and night of Ramadhan, Allah sets free many people from Jahannam, and during each day and night, at least one dua for every Muslim is certainly accepted.” (al-Bazzar, Musnad Ahmad). Another hadith says there is no hour of Ramadhan, except Allah frees 6,000 people from hellfire (ie 24 hour). 
  7. The Amal of Hajj are associated with forgiveness, which is associated in turn with salvation from Hellfire.
  8. “He who prays in congregation from start to finish for forty days is given two titles of privilege. The first is salvation from hell. The second is distancing himself/herself from hypocrisy.” (Muslim, Tirmidhi)
  9. There is a hadith in al-Tirmidhi’s chapter on Jahannam, about two people who will be removed from Jahannam but then be ordered to return to Jahannam. One of them says to Allah, “I had feared the evil consequence of sin, and wished never again to expose myself to Your Displeasure.” The other says to Allah, “My good opinion of You convinced me that You would never send me back after having delivered me.” And then Allah orders them to be taken to Jannah.

Stories of those who were Saved

There are various reports in Imam al-Ghazali’s Kitab Dhikr al-Mawt (p.159-169) of the righteous who appear in dreams and inform of what deeds saved them. I want to list them:

  1. Yusuf ibn al-Husayn (disciple of Dhun-Nun al-Misri) was forgiven because he did not mingle seriousness with jest (this could be a vague description of the seriousness of his ibada).
  2. Abd Allah al-Zarrad (a early Baghdadi muhaddith) was forgiveness for every sin he confessed and sweated for the one sin he didn’t confess.
  3. Sufyan ibn Uyayna (the famous muhaddith) saw one of his brethren who said Allah forgave him for every sin for which he implored forgiveness but did not forgive those he did not ask forgiveness for.
  4. Zurara ibn Abi Awfa (qadhi and muhaddith of Basra who is said to have died leading salat out of fear from an ayah of Qur’an) said in a dream satisfaction (al-rid’a) and brief hopes proved best for his Afterlife.
  5. Zubayda (wife of Harun al-Rashid who built the road from Iraq to Mecca and Madina) was seen in a dream and was saved because of the reward only for the intention she had in building the road.
  6. Imam al-Junayd in a dream said, “Those allusions (isharat) have perished and htose expressions have passed away; I had obtained nothing but two rakas which it had been my custom to pray at night.” Its worth mentioning Imam al-Junayd would pray at least 150 nawafil rakat a day.
  7. Being grief-stricken is mentioned as being a sign of piety by Abu Bakr al-Kattani and the second highest ranks in Jannah by al-Awza’i in a dream.
  8. Sufyan al-Thawri (one of the 8 ascetics of the Tabi’in) was seen flying from tree to tree by Sufyan ibn Uyayna in a dream and advised him to reduce the number of dealings with people. In another dream he was seen reciting poetry on his tahajjud prayer and crying in the night as a cause of his high rank. Another narration says he attained his rank through scrupulousness and there were others like Ali ibn Asim (the muhaddith) who were even higher in rank than him, “He can scarcely be seen, save in the way one might see a traveling star.”
  9. Imam Malik was forgiven because of words Uthman ibn Affan would say when he saw a funeral, “Glory be to the Alive, Who perishes not!”
  10. Shibli (disciple of Imam Junayd) despaired after Allah disputed with him and then he encompassed him in His Mercy.
  11. Sahl al-Su’luki (Shafi’i jurist and teacher of al-Hakim) was seen in a dream and said his spiritual states did not save him, but he was forgiven because of his answering certain questions of the common Muslims.
  12. Waraqa ibn Bishr al-Hadrami was seen in a dream and said, “Weeping from the fear of God” was the most valuable action.
  13. Utba al-Ghulam (an ascetic and colleague of Hasan al-Basri) entered Heaven because of a prayer he wrote that was kept in the house of one of his companions.
  14. Yahya ibn Akhtham al-Qadi was seen in a dream and he said, I said to Allah, “My God and my Lord! Mu’ammar told me from al-Zuhri from Urwa from Aisha who was told it from the Prophet ﷺ from Jibril and from You, “I am reluctant to punish an old person who has matured in Islam.” Then Allah smiled and pardoned him.  (Durra al-Fakhira, p. 28)
  15. Ibn Nubata was also seen in a dream and he was eloquent. He praised Allah eloquently and was forgiven. (Durra al-Fakhira, p. 30)
  16. Mansur ibn Ammar was also seen in a dream. “What have you brought to Me O Mansur?” I replied, “360 pilgrimages.” Allah replied, “I do not accept any of them.” Likewise occurred with his 360 recitations of Qur’an and 60 years of fasting. “What have you brought to me, O Mansur?” I then replied, ‘I have brought to You Yourself!’ And He said to me, Glory be to Him, ‘Now you have come unto Me. Go, for I forgive you.'” (Durra al-Fakhira, p. 31)

It is worth pondering how such pious people struggled to be saved in the Akhira and how it was diverse unexpected and even minuscule acts of righteousness that saved them. It may also be these were the Muslims of the early times who were evaluated more harshly then the Muslims of latter times.

Entry into Jannah

In total, 30 sahabas were guaranteed Jannah by Rasulullah ﷺ. To understand Jannah in any way in this world is impossible. Shaykh Hamza Maqbul describes this world as static on a television screen and the next world will be like HD (Hi-Definition). The writer Hasan Le Gai Eaton says in this world we have 5 senses, but in the next world we may have 50 or 500 senses.

Most of the people of Jannah are described in the Qur’an as having Qalbun saleem which means sincere clean hearts, free of pride, jealousy and hatred. This is supported by hadith that describe people of Jannah as having hearts like those of birds (Sahih Muslim) which means their hearts are overwhelmed by fear of Allah. Other ahadith mention the majority of people of Jannah being al-bulh, which Imam al-Qurtubi interprets as simple people who always entertain good thoughts about others or who don’t know sin.

There are at least 40 actions by which one can enter Jannah and Shaykh al-Ghumari has explained them in his book Tamam al-Minnah bibayan al-Khisal al-Mujibah li al-Jannah (partial text translation). There was a SeekersHub course taught on these but it has since vanished. I did, however, manage to save a list of the chapters of this book / lesson plan as it is very useful. I will list them briefly. 

  1. The loaning of a doe for her milk
  2. Removing that which is harmful from the road
  3. Giving drink to an animal
  4. Visiting the ill
  5. Visiting a Muslim brother
  6. Commanding with right and forbidding from evil
  7. Advising the financially inapt (yaṣna‘ liakhraq)
  8. Assisting the oppressed
  9. Responding to a greeting
  10. Following a janazah
  11. Accepting an invitation
  12. Responding to one who sneezes
  13. Starting the greeting
  14. Giving advice
  15. Removing harm from the Masjid
  16. Smiling to the face of a Muslim
  17. Guiding one who is lost
  18. Guiding one with weak eyesight
  19. Prohibiting from wrong
  20. Sharing water
  21. Raising your voice so that one with a hearing deficiency may hear
  22. Guiding the blind
  23. Directing one in need towards his need
  24. Aiding the weak
  25. Assisting someone to mount his animal
  26. Reconciling between two people
  27. Beautiful speech
  28. Articulating the intention of the inarticulate
  29. Giving water to drink
  30. Providing additional cordage to one inadequately supplied
  31. Gifting someone a shoelace
  32. Comforting one experiencing grief
  33. Being easy in trade and judgment
  34. Granting respite to your debtor
  35. Overlooking minor shortages in payment
  36. Covering the faults of a believer
  37. Consoling a Muslim male or female
  38. The hadith of greeting, feeding, joining family ties & performing the tahajjud prayer
  39. The hadith of setting free a slave, lending of a doe for her milk, reconnecting severed family ties, feeding the needy, commanding with good and prohibiting from evil and controlling the tongue.
  40. The hadith of Abu Bakr who combined between fasting, feeding the poor, following a funeral and visiting the ill all in one day, or in another narration combining between visiting the ill, attending a funeral, fasting, attending the Friday congregation and setting free a slave in a day.
  41. Praying in a remote venue
  42. Eating halal, following a path of righteousness, refraining from harming anyone.
  43. The 5 pillars worshiping Allah, establishing prayer, paying zakah, fasting Ramadan and joining family ties.
  44. Praying the 5 obligatory prayers, fasting the month of Ramadan, paying zakah, abstaining from the seven major sins and in a narration 9 major sins.
  45. Preserving your prayer, zakah, trust, private parts, stomach and tongue.
  46. Building a masjid
  47. A just ruler, a soft-natured and compassionate individual towards all relatives and Muslims and a chaste individual that provides for his family.
  48. Voluntary calling the Adhan for 12 years
  49. Calling Adhan with conviction.
  50. Responding to the Adhan.
  51. The prayer after wudhu (salat al-wudhu)
  52. Attending prayer at the masjid in the early hours of morning and evening.
  53. Praying 12 raka’at of the rawatib (supererogatory prayers before and after the obligatory prayers)
  54. Praying Fajr and Asr (al-Bardan)
  55. Loving Surah al-Ikhlas
  56. Recitation of the master formula of seeking forgiveness (sayyid al-istighfar)
  57. Recitation of a specific prayers before sleeping and when waking up.

There are more and more ways to enter Jannah I have in my notes:

  1. Man kala la illaha illalah dakhala al-jannah – “Whoever says la illaha illalah will go to Jannah.” 
    1. Wahb bin Munabbih was once asked, “Is not La ilaha illa’llah the key to the Garden?” “Yes indeed,” he replied. “However, every key must have teeth to be able to open the door. Among these teeth are a tongue free of lying and backbiting; a humble heart free of envy, treachery, and forbidden and dubious things; and limbs engaged in service and pure from sins.”
    2. “Anyone who says La ilaha illa’llah with sincere single-heartedness shall enter the Garden.” He was asked, “O Messenger of God, what does sincere single-heartedness consist of?” And he answered, “It restrains him from the things which God has forbidden.”
  2. “The Garden is the obligatory reward of anyone at whose hands someone becomes a Muslim.” (Tabarani in Kabir (786); Awsat (3456); Saghir (439))
  3. A parent patiently bearing a child’s death
    1. “Whoever buries three children, Allah will forbid the (Hell) Fire for him.” (Sahih, Tabarani in Al-Kabeer)
    2. “There are no two Muslim parents whose three children die before reaching puberty except that Allah will enter them into Paradise due to His mercy to the children. It will be said to them, ‘Enter the Paradise,’ so they will say, ‘Not until our parents enter first.’ It will be said, ‘Enter the Paradise you and your parents.’ (Musnad Ahmad and An-Nasa’i)
    3. “Whoever remains content and patient after the death of three of his offspring will enter Jannah.” A woman said, “What about two?” The Prophet ﷺ said, “And two.” (Sahih, An-Nasa’i and Ibn Hibban)
    4. Another hadith mentions they will hold their parents garment and follow their parents until they enter Jannah (Sahih Muslim; Tadhkira, p. 231-2)
    5. “The woman who suffers from post-natal bleeding will have her child dragging her on the Day of Judgment to Paradise.” (Musnad Abu Dawud Tayalisi; Tadhkira, p.232)
    6. The Prophet ﷺ told a man from the Ansar about his son who had just died, “Won’t you be satisfied when you come to any of the gates of Paradise and find him there to open it for you?” His family asked: “To him alone or to all of us?” The Prophet ﷺ answered, “To all of you.” (Abu Dawud Tayalisi; Tadhkira, p.232)
  4. Whoever says: “I am pleased with Allah as my Rabb, and with Islam as my Deen, and with Muhammad ﷺ as my Prophet, Jannah would be mandatory for him. (Sunan Abu Dawud)
  5. “Whoever asks Allah for Jannah three times, Jannah will say: “O Allah, enter him into Jannah.”’ (Jami` at-Tirmidhi)
  6. “Allah has Ninety Nine Names, one hundred minus one, and whoever believes in their meanings and acts accordingly, will enter Jannah.” (Sahih al-Bukhari)
  7. “Whoever takes a path in search of knowledge, Allah will make easy for him the path to Jannah.” (Jami` at-Tirmidhi)
  8. “Anyone whose soul leaves his body and he is free of three things, will enter Jannah: Arrogance, stealing from the spoils of war, and debt.” (Sunan Ibn Majah)
  9. “The performance of Umrah is an expiation for the sins committed between it and the previous Umrah; and the reward of Hajj Mabrur (i.e., one accepted) is nothing but Jannah.” (Sahih al-Bukhari)
  10. “A body that has been nourished through the unlawful will not enter into Paradise” (Bayhaqi in his Shu’ab al-Iman).

Those who harm their neighbors will be barred from Jannah. Jannah is also said to be the reward for a father who loves the name Muhammad ﷺ and names his son Muhammad ﷺ. The son too will be in Jannah. Jannah is also said to be the reward of someone who does the ghusl for 7 Muslim corpses. Jannah is also said to be the reward for those who are immersed in the majalis of dhikr. Salat al-awwabin gives one a palace in Jannah, tasbihat for trees in Jannah and beginning something good to be given Tubba in Jannah.

The believers enter Jannah through separate Gates like different border points, like ports of entry, that will be very far apart. They will enter through that gate associated with the deed they practiced most upon. Imam Ibn Hajr al-Asqalani has said it may be that they enter through another set of Gates after entering through the main gate. 8 gates of Jannah are well-known and Imam al-Qurtubi mentions a hadith that says there could be as many as 16 gates (Tadhkira, p.195).

These are the gates I have come across:

  1. Bab as-salat (those who prayed much)
  2. Bab al-jihad (those who fought for sake of Allah)
  3. Bad al-sadaqa (charitable)
  4. Bab al-rayyan (those who fasted much)
  5. Bab al-hajj (those who did much hajj)
  6. Bab al-kadhimeenal ghayz wa’l afina-nas (for those who swallow their anger and pardoned people)
  7. Bab al-ayman (gate of the right-hand for those who enter Jannah without reckoning (hisab) and can enter through any gate)
  8. Bab al-dhikr (those who do excessive dhikr)
  9. Bab al-farrah (gate of happiness for those who make children happy that Habib al-Kazim mentioned)
  10. Bab al-infaaq (a gate Habib al-Kazim mentioned for charity)
  11. Bab as-surur (gate of joy, for guiding people and acts that brought Joy to Allah, Awliya and Nabi ﷺ that Habib al-Kazim mentioned)
  12. Bab ar-rayhan (another gate Habib al-Kazim mentioned, I believe, in connection to women)

I have seen online other names of Gates, namely Bab al-Ilm (the learned), Bab al-Razeen (satisfied persons), and Bab al-Tawba (repentant) but I don’t know the source of that information. Bab al-Tawba (repentance) however seems to be likely for those who have very little good deeds except for repentance. Another hadith says the ‘widest gate to presence of Allah is gate of good suspicion of Allah and narrowest of gate to presence of Allah is bad suspicion of Allah.’

Promoting your Position in Jannah

If we are blessed to enter Jannah (may Allah grant us all Jannah) we will have gone through the punishment of the grave for eons, the Resurrection, standing on the Mahshar for 50,000 years, the hisab by Allah and by the Muslims and passing the Sirat, perhaps even spending some purgatory time in Jahannam. At this point the believer will have had much of his good deeds depleted and may barely enter Jannah, so don’t underestimate how hard it can be to get into Jannah!

Their are at least 3 duas the believers will say when they enter Jannah mentioned in the Qur’an, namely those in surah 7:43, 35:34-35 and 39:74.

Imam Sha’rani says you enter Jannah in the order you came to salat al-Jumuah. And when you see Allah on Fridays in Jannah you will be closest to Him based on how early you came to Jumuah prayer. So you want to enter Jannah sooner rather than later. But most Friday prayers are early filled even up to 2 hours before the adhan.

Action: I suggest going to a small obscure masjid on jumuah with low attendance so you can be the first person in the first row.

Once a person enters Jannah the place where that believer will reside eternally will be based on their rank of good deeds, which likely may have diminished up to this point. It is said the ranks will be based on Qur’an ayat or the number of ayat namely 6,236 ranks. One scholar has said between each rank there are 100 subdivisions so there may be 623,600 ranks. Most people understand the hadith in Riyadhus-Saliheen, “Recite and ascend (in ranks) as you used to recite when you were in the world. Your rank will be at the last Ayah you recite,” to refer to only memorization of the Qur’an (huffaz or hamalat al-Qur’an) but Shaykh Haroon Hanif explained (in his Ramadhan talk this year) that it refers to ayahs recited in this world. And so he said, there will be people who did not memorize the Qur’an who will have a higher rank than those who memorized the Qur’an. The ayahs they recited will come to them on their own. The more popular view however is it refers only to the memorizers of Qur’an who acted according to the Qur’an.

People will not excrete or urinate but relieve themselves by sweating. There will be singing (sama) in Jannah, horses of ruby, couches that travel to and fro, clothing will come from fruits and tree, people who will be hairless and 33 years of age, children who will be born and raised in 1 hour if they wish and an expanse that will seem to never end. People who drank wine, wore silk or drank from vessels of gold and silver and never repented from doing such will be deprived of enjoying these pleasures in the Next Life. Habib al-Kazim said the Rivers of Jannah interchange from wine and honey like how the colors of a rainbow has multiple colors and the rivers are neither on the ground or in trenches. The narrations differ in description perhaps because after Jannah is created, it may continue to expand endlessly so no description is fully accurate. And in a hadith, it is said the pleasure of Allah and never being angry with the people of Paradise is greater than the pleasures of Jannah that satisfy its inhabitants, so may Allah grant us His Pleasure and save us from His Wrath. (Tadhkira, p. 224).

Some say the different names of parts of Paradise are not actual different names of those places, but just refer to the same Paradise. The highest positions of Jannah will be al-Firdaus al-A’la which is a mountain in Paradise from which the rivers flow (Tafsir al-Qurtubi) and above it is the Throne of Allah. It is said Firdaus is the middle part of Paradise. Other hadith (in al-Bukhari, Book of Tawhid) suggest the highest place will Jannat al-Adn (Garden of Eden) where ‘all that shall prevent them from viewing their Lord shall be His Cloak of Glory.’ Imam al-Qurtubi and Hakim al-Tirmidhi say the highest positions are also said to be those in Illiyun, the People of the Chambers (ghurafa) near the Throne of Allah. I recall hearing the ghurafa being explained in a khutbah like how we have well-polished waxed sports cars that shine in bright showrooms. People will see those in the ranks above them as how we see the distant stars. Another hadith explains darajat alulaa (Surah Taha, v.75) is described as being the place where Abu Bakr (ra) and Umar (ra) will reside or even higher and it is fair to say Abu Bakr and Umar will be near Rasulullah ﷺ. The Qur’anic categories of muqarrabun and sabiqun will be the closest to Allah, and yet others say the siddiqin then the shuhada who will roam under the Throne of Allah in green birds and perch in chandeliers. Shaykh Faraz Rabbani said the sabiqun are said to be those who were foremost in all their deeds, sincerity and consistency from the first 50 Muslims who believed at Dar al-Arqam or before the Fath of Mecca or the first generations of Muslims. The sabiqun are also explained as those whose say good, leave useless and idle speech, nor hear useless and idle speech and only hear good speech, and lastly, are at peace with Allah and Allah’s creation. Ibn Abbas and Abu Musa al-Ashari said, the nearest to Allah will be those described in surah ar-Rahman as But for he who has feared the position of his Lord are two gardens. The siddiqin are explained by Shaykh Ibrahim Osi-Efa to be those who do every single good deed. Abdal Hakim Murad explains in his Commentary on the 11th Contentions, the siddiqin as those truthful ones who are content with the divine decree because verses 17:80 and 54:55 connect divine presence to sidq. He also says siddiqin are those who have victory in intentions and prayers.

It may be that the highest part will not be the best part of Paradise that is closest to Allah. If Firdaws is in the middle and that is where Rasulullah ﷺ is then that is the most virtuous. It is hard to understand the geology and physics of Jannah and as Ibn Abbas has said, ‘Nothing of this world is in the Next except the names.’

Suhba with the Nabi ﷺ

Nabi ﷺ will be in al-Firdaws al-A’la which is the centre of Paradise. All Muslims will be able to reach al-Firdaws. Habib al-Kazim says Nabi ﷺ and his family will be in al-Wasila which is the highest part of al-Firdaws.

Various Actions have been recommended that tell us how to achieve eternal companionship with Nabi ﷺ in the Next Life.

  1. “I and the one who sponsors an orphan will be in Paradise like these two,” and he gestured with his two fingers, meaning the forefinger and the middle finger.” (Tirmidhi)
  2. “Whoever raises two girls then I and he will enter Jannah like these two (Prophet indicated with his two fingers).” (Jami` at-Tirmidhi)
    1. Imam Ahmad relates from Abdullah ibn Abbas who reports that the Prophet ﷺ said, “The person from my ummah who loses two infants will enter straight into Paradise.” Aisha enquired, “What about the one who loses one child?” The Prophet ﷺ replied, “One who loses one child will also go straight into Paradise.” She further asked, “What of those who have not lost any children?” He replied: “I shall precede my ummah and make arrangements for them (in the Hereafter), as they have never been afflicted with a calamity greater than my death.” This hadith was mentioned by Shaykh Yusuf Motala in his book Manifestation Of Prophet’s Beauty.
  3. There is a hadith I heard in a talk, “You have a place with me as long as you don’t have a place with yourself.”
  4. Seeing in a dream state as there are 3 narrations on seeing Rasulullah ﷺ that suggest it as a preview of things to come:
    1. man ra-ani fil manam faqad ra-ani – “One who sees me in a dream he has surely seen me.”
    2. man ra-ani fil manam faqad ra-a alhaqq – “One who sees me in a dream has surely seen the truth.”
    3. man ra-ani fil manam faqad fasayarani – “One who sees me in a dream shall see me soon.”

Gaining the Beatific Vision of Allah (Ziyada of Allah subhana wa ta’ala)

Really all this journey is about is achieving the Beatific Vision, to see the Noble Wajh (Face) of Allah. All that has been previously mentioned is as if a checklist to reach this point because nothing will be comparable to it and nothing will be more beloved than this. The majority of the people of Jannah will see Allah every Friday, whereas the Elect in the highest ranks will see Allah twice a day.

Mujahid said, “The lowliest of Heaven’s people shall travel a thousand years in his kingdom, beholding its farthest parts just as he beholds its nearest, while the highest is him that shall gaze upon his Lord morning and night.” (Kitab Dhikr al-Mawt, p.249)

We have bishara (gladtidings) of 2 pious individuals who are in this lofty state. It is hard to come by this information, especially in English. Abdullah ibn al-Mubarak is amongst those who comes before Allah ta’ala twice every day. (Kitab Dhikr al-Mawt, p. 164) And it is worth reflecting and researching on the life of Abdullah ibn al-Mubarak who was the Nasih (advicer) of this ummah, muhaddith, one who alternated each year between defending the Muslim borders and performing Hajj, who made dua to live rich and die poor, and who enjoined people to not tell of his deeds until he died. Another individual who we have gladtidings of is Ma’ruf al-Karkhi who stares at Allah without blinking until the Day of Resurrection because he worshiped Allah only out of desire for Allah, not out of desire for Jannah or fear of Jahannam.

Their is one hadith in Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud and Tirmidhi that mentions we will see Allah just as you behold this moon and then it says, ‘therefore if you are able to pray before the sun rises and before it sets, then do so.’ This hadith suggests a connection between Asr and Fajr, 2 prayers, to seeing Allah subhana wa ta’ala. Perhaps those in the highest ranks will see Allah at Fajr and Asr time daily. I try and feel as if I am seeing Allah in my salah at those times. Allahu alam.

Action: “Those who are pleased to meet God, God is pleased to meet them, and those who dislike to meet God, God dislikes to meet them.”

Shortcuts to Heaven 

So many Muslims do khayr and adkhar but what can you do to set yourself apart from all the Muslims and pious and righteous Muslims? I think of all the actions these are the most worthwhile for Muslims in the West:

  1. Tahajjud
  2. Fasting
  3. Spread hidaya and Islamic knowledge, which is the longest lasting form of sadaqa jariya
  4. Teach Qur’an as the Hadith says it is best
  5. Build a masajid for every prayer in it would be a sadaqa
  6. Akhlaaq and high moral character which will out weigh prayer and fasting
  7. Anything that calls or demands a selfless sacrifice of any kind as this is what all these deeds have in common

Lastly, Imam adh-Dhahabi says, we find in a hadith: “Whoever perseveres in the prescribed prayers, Allah Almighty will grant him five honours: 1. He will release him from straitened circumstances, 2. Protect him from the punishment of the grave, 3. give him his book (of deeds) in his right hand, 4. let him pass over the Sirat (The Bridge over hellfire) like lightning, 5. and admit him to Paradise without reckoning.”

One must wonder stage by stage, our deeds will appear in our grave, on the Scales, before our Lord, as compensation for our sins, help us across the Sirat and in ascending Jannah. Will they diminish throughout all this? Perhaps not, or perhaps if they do diminish, what remains of them will be like a soul or spirit of our deeds that will endure through the journey of the Akhira. I like to think this ruh of our amal is our niyyah (intentions), the stronger and purer our intentions, the further our deeds will carry us along from the grave to Jannah.

Salawat ala al-Nabi is a major shortcut as it appears at various points of the Akhira. A hadith Imam Sha’rani states, ‘whoever sends 100x salawat will be saved from nifaq, free from hellfire and resurrected from martyrs. Another hadith Imam Sha’rani states, whoever sends 1000x salawat daily he won’t die until he sees his maqam in Jannah. Imam Sha’rani also mentions ‘whoever says Allahumma salli ala sayyidina Muhammadan wa anzil hul maqadal muqaraba indaka yawmil qiyama it will be wajib for Rasulullah ﷺ to intercede for him.’  

Intercession and Intervening before the Divine

Before entering Jannah and after the Sirat or alternatively, before the weighing of deeds and crossing the Sirat will be the Hawd of Rasulullah ﷺ, for his words were, “And our meeting will be at the Hawd.” Imam al-Haddad says both are possible and it is hoped it is before the weighing of deeds so he ﷺ can intercede for us sooner rather than later and assist us.  A hadith states that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ would meet Anas at the Sirat and if not there, then at the Scales, then at the Hawd, “I shall be found nowhere but at these three places.” (Lives of Man, p. 65)

Qadi ‘Iyad mentioned in Ikmal al-mu’lim: The Prophet ﷺ shall have five forms of major intercession. The first form will be for granting the people respite from the agony of the lengthy standing on the Judgment Plains. The second form will deliver people to Paradise without reckoning. The third form will be reserved for those who deserve the Hellfire. The fourth form will be for those believers who are subjected to the divine threat (and he will take them out [of Hell]). And the fifth form will be for an increase in ranks in Paradise. Imam al-Ghazali says Adam will intercede for 110 million of his progeny so we can only imagine how much more our Prophetﷺ will intercede for!

Action: Abu Hurayra related the Messenger of God ﷺ related, he asked the Messenger of Allah ﷺ who would be the most blessed with his intercession on the Day of Rising, and he replied: ‘The people most blessed with my intercession shall be those who said la ilaha illallah, sincerely and without being prompted.’ (Lives of Man, p. 65)

Action: “Whosoever visits me in Medina seeking thereby a reward from God, for him shall I intercede and bear witness on the Day of Arising.” (Kitab Dhikr al-Mawt)

Action: Imam al-Ghazali says one can intercede for others if they never despise any human creature for any could be a saint and never underestimating a sin or never belittling any good deed. (Kitab Dhikr al-Mawt, p. 210)

Action: The previously stated hadith above mentions reaching 90 years in age as a Muslim allows one to intercede for others.

Action: Another famous hadith is those who memorized and recited the Qur’an and observed the limits of halal and haram will enter Jannah and intercede for 10 family members who were destined for Hellfire.

Action: A hadith in Musnad Abu Ya’la mentions the people in Heaven and Hell will look at one another and the one in Hell who gave the other water to drink will ask for intercession and Allah will grant that intercession and he will be removed from Hell. (Kitab Dhikr al-Mawt, p. 215)

Action: Doing good deeds in groups. The people of Heaven will intercede for those believers who deserve to enter Hell but who had done them favours in the world and had fasted, prayed and done Hajj with them. They will go into Jahannam and rescue those believers they recognize. (Tadhkira, p.119, p.123) It is also said in a hadith in Sahih al-Bukhari that Allah will admit into Jannah those whom are praised by 4 pious people or 3 or even 2, thus it is speak well of the deceased when they pass (Tadhkira, p.132).

Finally after everybody has interceded and no one is left, we find the hadith of the Handfuls where Allah Himself will intercede and take a handful of those who had never done any good and had been reduced to ashes in Jahannam. They will be reborn and grow like seeds in a river in Jannah until they enter Jannah. The people of Jannah will know these newcomers as al-jahannamiyin. (Tadhkira, p. 121-122) Other hadith in Tirmidhi and Ibn Maja mention there being 3 Handfuls and we can not fathom what a Handful is, whether it is Allah’s Hand (and we say this bila kayf – without howness) or if it means a Handful of Allah as we say the Camel of Allah or House of Allah, Allahu alam, but we do know that this will be immense!

Further reading:

Order of Events in the Afterlife

Subhana kallahumma wa bihamdika ash-haduana la illaha illa Ant astaghfiruka wa atubu ilayk, ameen.


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