What is the true Islamic concept of the blessings of Heaven?


A lady wrote to Hazrat Amirul Momineen, Khalifatul Masih Vaa stating that some liberal, so-called feminist women raised the allegation against Islam that the Quran and ahadith had promised men blessings in Paradise such as wine, various kinds of food and women, but anyone who indulged in the same things in this world was considered wicked. Similarly, they alleged that these promises were only for men and there was no such promise for whatever women did in this world. The lady then requested a detailed reply. 

Huzooraa, in a letter dated 22 March 2021, gave the following reply: 

“The fact of the matter is that such allegations stem from total ignorance of the most beautiful teachings of Islam. Of course, the opponents of Islam raise such allegations because they do not know the teachings of Islam, but the sad and painful aspect of this is that such allegations also arise in the hearts of many Muslims. That is so because they are Muslims in name only, who do not consider it necessary to attain religious education as outlined in the Quran and hadith. The material world dominates their hearts and minds in such a way that they squander their entire lives pursuing its lustre while completely ignoring the true purpose and objective of life that is the worship of God. They try to look at the most sacred and pure blessings of the Hereafter in the same tainted mirror of worldly life. 

“Where, on the one hand, the blessings of Heaven have been described in the Holy Quran, using the names of various earthly things by way of similitudes, on the other hand, these blessings have also been declared free of any impurity or negative aspect. Hence, the Holy Quran has described the different types of pure wines found in Paradise with several names and properties; they give rise to rationality, vitality and divine love; they are fragrant, aromatic and pure; those who drink them rejoice in indescribable spiritual ‘intoxication’. Hence, it states in Surah as-Saffat: 

يُطَافُ‭ ‬عَلَيۡهِمۡ‭ ‬بِكَاۡسٍ‭ ‬مِّنۡ‭ ‬مَّعِيۡنٍۭ‭ ‬۔‭ ‬بَيۡضَآءَ‭ ‬لَذَّةٍ‭ ‬لِّلشّٰرِبِيۡنَ‭ ‬۔‭ ‬لَا‭ ‬فِيۡهَا‭ ‬غَوۡلٌ‭ ‬وَّ‭ ‬لَا‭ ‬هُمۡ‭ ‬عَنۡهَا‭ ‬يُنۡزَفُوۡنَ

‘They will be served round with a cup from a flowing fountain, [sparkling] white, delicious to the drinkers, wherein there will be no intoxication, nor will they be exhausted thereby.’ (Surah al-Saffat, Ch.37: V.46-48) 

“It is stated in Surah al-Waqi‘ah: 

يَطُوۡفُ عَلَيۡهِمۡ وِلۡدَانٌ مُّخَلَّدُوۡنَ ۔ بِاَكۡوَابٍ وَّ اَبَارِيۡقَ ۬ۙ وَ كَاۡسٍ مِّنۡ مَّعِيۡنٍ ۔ لَّا يُصَدَّعُوۡنَ عَنۡهَا وَ لَا يُنۡزِفُوۡنَ

‘There will wait on them youths, who will not age, carrying goblets and ewers and cups filled out of a flowing spring – No headache will they get therefrom, nor will they be intoxicated.’ (Surah al-Waqi‘ah, Ch.56: V.18-20) 

“Surah al-Dahr states: 

اِنَّ‭ ‬الۡاَبۡرَارَ‭ ‬يَشۡرَبُوۡنَ‭ ‬مِنۡ‭ ‬كَاۡسٍ‭ ‬كَانَ‭ ‬مِزَاجُهَا‭ ‬كَافُوۡرًا

‘But the virtuous drink of a cup, tempered with camphor.’ (Surah al-Dahr, Ch.76: V.6)

وَ‭ ‬يُسۡقَوۡنَ‭ ‬فِيۡهَا‭ ‬كَاۡسًا‭ ‬كَانَ‭ ‬مِزَاجُهَا‭ ‬زَنۡجَبِيۡلًا

‘And therein will they be given to drink a cup tempered with ginger.’ (Surah al-Dahr, Ch.76: V.18)

وَ‭ ‬سَقٰهُمۡ‭ ‬رَبُّهُمۡ‭ ‬شَرَابًا‭ ‬طَهُوۡرًا

‘And their Lord will give them to drink a pure beverage.’ (Surah al-Dahr, Ch.76: V.22)

Surah al-Mutaffifin states: 

يُسۡقَوۡنَ مِنۡ رَّحِيۡقٍ مَّخۡتُوۡمٍ ۔ خِتٰمُهٗ مِسۡكٌ وَ فِيۡ ذٰلِكَ فَلۡيَتَنَافَسِ الۡمُتَنَافِسُوۡنَ ۔ وَ مِزَاجُهٗ مِنۡ تَسۡنِيۡمٍ ۔ عَيۡنًا يَّشۡرَبُ بِهَا الۡمُقَرَّبُوۡنَ

‘They will be given to drink of a pure beverage, sealed. The sealing of it will be [with] musk – for this let the aspirants aspire – and it will be tempered with [the water of] Tasnim, a spring of which the chosen ones will drink.’ (Surah al-Mutaffifin, Ch.83: V.26-29) 

“The Promised Messiahas, while explaining the essence of the blessings of Paradise, states: 

‘Cups of pure wine that will be as pure as the pure water [zulal] will be given to the people of Paradise. The wine will be free from all evil properties that may cause headaches or inebriation or intoxication. One will not hear any vain or sinful talk in Heaven, but the word of salutation, ‘Peace, peace’, will be heard from everywhere which is a sign of mercy, love and delight […] 

‘Now, it is evident from all these verses that the heavenly wine does not bear any resemblance or similarity with the wines of this world. It is rather the opposite and contrary to these wines in all its properties. Moreover, nowhere in the Holy Quran is it mentioned that that wine will be made from grapes or jaggery or babul bark or any other such earthly substance. In fact, it has been repeatedly stated in God’s Word that the real essence of this wine will be the love and the recognising of the Divine which the believer takes with him from this world. 

‘As for the question as to how a spiritual matter would be seen as wine, this is one of the mysteries of God Almighty which is revealed through revelations to those who recognise God [arifeen]. Wise people reach its reality through other signs and traces.’ (Surma Chashm-e-Arya, Ruhani Khazain Vol. 2, pp. 156-157)

“In the same way, while clearly describing the purity of the couples found in Paradise, Allah the Exalted states in the Holy Quran that they will be very pure and virtuous companions who will be kept hidden in well-guarded pavilions like precious pearls. No jinn or human would have so much as touched them before. Most importantly, it is stated وَ‭ ‬زَوَّجۡنَاهُمۡ‭ ‬بِحُوۡرٍ‭ ‬عِينۡ i.e. ‘We shall marry those people of the Paradise to the most beautiful companions.’ (Surah al-Tur, Ch.52: V.21)

“Thus, Heaven is not just a place of merrymaking but an extremely precious place of spirituality. Although the blessings of Heaven are named after earthly things, they refer to spiritual blessings, not to physical ones. Its example is like that of a wealthy man who told a scholar that he possessed abundant wealth. The scholar, pointing to his library, said that he had a greater treasure than him. His reply did not mean that the books were stuffed with money. He, rather, meant, ‘I have something more beneficial than what you call a treasure or wealth.’ 

“Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra, while responding to a similar allegation, writes in Tafsir-e-Kabir:

‘First of all, it is worth remembering that the Holy Quran has clearly stated that comprehending the rewards of the Hereafter was beyond human intellect. Thus, it is not correct to compare the life of this world with the life of the Hereafter. The Holy Quran says:

فَلَا تَعْلَمُ نَفْسٌ مَا اُُخْفِيَ لَهُمْ مِنْ قُرَّةِ اَعْيُنٍ جَزَآءً بِمَا كانُوْا يَعْمَلُوْنَ

“And no soul knows what joy of the eyes is kept hidden for them, as a reward […].” (Surah al-Sajdah, Ch.32: V.18)

‘This shows that whatever has been said about Paradise in the Holy Quran is in allegorical language and it is not correct to deduce from it the meaning that is derived from similar words in this world […] By stating that believers will have Gardens with shady trees, streams, non-perishable milk, water that does not rot, honey that is free of any wax or impurity and non-intoxicating wine that rather purifies the heart, the Holy Quran has replied to their allegation in the following manner: 

‘The things that you consider to be blessings are inferior to the rewards that the true believers will receive. The water of the rivers, which you consider as a blessing, can rot. Believers will have such rivers, whose water will not rot. The orchards which you consider a blessing are not the real blessings. The real blessings are the orchards that will never perish and which will be given to the believers. Believers do not need the wine that you consider a blessing. This wine is filthy and such that it obscures the mind. God will give the believers the wine that will sharpen the intellect and increase the purity. In the honey of which you are proud, there is an impurity. The companions whom you are proud of, are filthy instead of being a blessing. Allah the Exalted will give the believers such companions who will be pure. The fruits of which you are proud always run out. The believers will get fruits that will never run out and they will be given to them as and when desired. 

‘This topic is so clear that anyone who considers it without prejudice can understand its meaning and find its subtle hints. However, there is no cure whatsoever for those who are prejudiced or ignorant […] In short, the gardens, the rivers, the fruits, the milk, the honey and the wine mentioned in the Holy Quran are very different from the gardens, rivers and fruits of this world. The milk, the honey and the wine of the Hereafter are very different from the milk, the honey and the wine of this world. The Holy Quran has itself explained these matters in such a way that to doubt it after that is merely an expression of prejudice. And since these expressions have also been used in the previous scriptures, there is nothing in these verses that people should find difficult to understand.’ (Tafsir-e-Kabir, Vol.1, pp. 241-246)

“Moreover, the earthly names of the blessings of the Hereafter are also given to make people understand and to attract them towards them. This is so because religion is for all kinds of people. So, things that are difficult for people to understand, need to be described in such a way that they can be understood by people of all levels and so that people from all walks of life can benefit from them. 

“Given this point of wisdom, the Holy Quran has used such words for the blessings of the Hereafter which are a source of consolation for all kinds of people according to their intellect and status. Furthermore, the disbelievers used to taunt the Muslims by saying, ‘They are deprived of all kinds of bounties and they also want to deprive us of all of them.’ Therefore, to help their minds perceive the blessings of the Hereafter, Allah the Exalted gave them the names of the earthly things which they considered as blessings and by using the names of these same things, He told them that the believers will also get all these blessings. Otherwise, in the Quran and hadith, it has been clearly stated that there will be blessings in Paradise which no eye has ever seen, no ear has ever heard and no human heart has ever perceived. However, only those pious and righteous people, who, although live on this earth, but forgo these worldly luxuries and rise high spiritually, will be given a taste of these blessings in this very world. Later, when these people will find those blessings in Heaven with their absolute properties, they will openly cry out: 

هٰذَا‭ ‬الَّذِيۡ‭ ‬رُزِقۡنَا‭ ‬مِنۡ‭ ‬قَبۡلُ

‘This is the provision from which we have been given before.’ (Surah al-Baqarah, Ch.2: V.26)

“The Promised Messiahas, while describing this reality of the Hereafter, states: 

‘God has said: 

فَلَا تَعْلَمُ نَفْسٌ مَا أُخْفِيَ لَهُمْ مِنْ قُرَّةِ أَعْيُنٍ

‘[“And no soul knows what joy of the eyes is kept hidden for them” (Surah al-Sajdah, Ch. 32, V. 18)] 

‘That is, no virtuous one knows what bliss is kept hidden from him, as a reward for that which he used to do. 

‘Thus, God has described all those bounties as hidden, the like of which is not to be found in this world. It is obvious that the bounties of this world are not hidden from us and we are familiar with milk, pomegranates and grapes etc. which we eat here. This shows that the bounties of the next life are something else and have nothing in common with the bounties of this life, except the name. He who conceives of the conditions of Paradise in the terms of the conditions of this life has not the least understanding of the Holy Quran. 

‘In interpreting the verse that we have just cited, our lord and master, the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, has said that Heaven and its bounties are such as no eye has seen, nor has any ear heard, nor have they been conceived by the mind of man; whereas we see the bounties of this world and hear of them and their thought also passes through our minds. 

‘Now when God and His Messenger describe them as something strange, we would depart altogether from the Holy Quran if we were to imagine that in Heaven we shall be given the same milk which is obtained in this life from cows and buffaloes, as if herds of milch cattle would be kept in Heaven and there will be numerous beehives in the trees of Heaven from which angels will procure honey and pour it into streams. 

‘Have these concepts any relationship with the teaching that says that those bounties have never been witnessed in this world, and that they illumine the souls and foster our understanding of God and provide spiritual nourishment? They are described in physical terms but we are told that their source is the soul and its righteousness.’ (Islami Usool Ki Philosophy, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 10, pp. 397-398)

“Huzooras further states: 

‘The reality of the Islamic Paradise is that it is a reflection of the faith and actions of a person in this life and is not something that will be bestowed upon a person from outside. A person’s paradise is developed inside him and everyone’s paradise is his faith and his righteous actions, the delight of which begins to be tasted in this very life and one perceives the hidden gardens and streams of faith and righteous action which will become concretely manifest in the Hereafter. God’s holy teaching instructs us that pure, perfect and firm faith in God, His attributes and His designs, is a beautiful garden of fruit trees, and righteous actions are the streams that irrigate the garden.’ (Islami Usool Ki Philosophy, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 10, p. 390)

“As far as this part of your question is concerned, whether only men are promised rewards in the Hereafter, excluding women, this question also arises as a result of a lack of knowledge of Islamic teachings. 

“In countless places in the Quran and Hadith, where virtuous men have been declared the inheritors of these rewards, virtuous women have also been declared as being entitled to the same rewards. Hence, it states: 

وَمَنْ يَعْمَلْ مِنَ الصَّالِحَاتِ مِنْ ذَكَرٍ أَوْ أُنْثَى وَهُوَ مُؤْمِنٌ فَأُولَئِكَ يَدْخُلُونَ الْجَنَّةَ وَلَا يُظْلَمُونَ نَقِيرًا

‘But whoso does good works, whether male or female, and is a believer, such shall enter Heaven, and shall not be wronged even [as much as] the little hollow in the back of a date-stone.’ (Surah an-Nisa, Ch. 4, V. 125)

“Likewise, it states: 

مَنْ عَمِلَ سَيِّئَةً فَلَا يُجْزَى إِلَّا مِثْلَهَا وَمَنْ عَمِلَ صَالِحًا مِنْ ذَكَرٍ أَوْ أُنْثَى وَهُوَ مُؤْمِنٌ فَأُولَئِكَ يَدْخُلُونَ الْجَنَّةَ يُرْزَقُونَ فِيهَا بِغَيْرِ حِسَابٍ

‘Whoso does evil will be requited only with the like of it; but whoso does good, whether male or female, and is a believer – these will enter the Garden; they will be provided therein without measure.’ (Surah al-Mu‘min, Ch.40: V.41)

“Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra, while explaining this matter, stated: 

‘There is no doubt that previous nations proposed laws for men, but they did not mention women’s rights anywhere. The Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, was the first to teach that just as men have rights over women, so do also women have rights over men.

وَلَهُنَّ مِثْلُ الَّذِي عَلَيْهِنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوْفِ

‘[“And they (the women) have rights similar to those (of men) over them in equity.” (Surah al-Baqarah, Ch. 2, V. 229)]

‘Thus, just as men have rights over women, so do also women have many rights which men ought to fulfil. Then, he opened the ways for the advancement of women in every sphere of life: He declared them the owners of their properties. He took care of their feelings and emotions. He took care of their education. He commanded that their spiritual training [tarbiyat] be undertaken. Then it was declared that just as there are infinite levels of advancement for men in Heaven, so also the doors of infinite development are open for women in Heaven.’ (Friday Sermon, 26 November 1937, Al Fazl, 4 December 1937, p. 5)

“On another occasion, Huzoorra said:

‘Study the Holy Quran from beginning to end. In all issues, commandments and rewards, both men and women are mentioned. For example, if righteous men are mentioned at some place, then righteous women are also mentioned next to them. If worshipping men are mentioned at some place, then worshipping women are also mentioned next to them. If it is mentioned that men will go to Heaven, then it is also mentioned next to it that women will also enter Heaven. If a man has virtues of an excellent order and he is placed in a high station in Heaven, then his wife, whose virtues may not be suitable for that station, will nevertheless be kept in the same position because of her husband. 

‘Similarly, if a woman has virtues of an excellent order and she is placed in a high station in Heaven, then her husband, whose virtues may be of a lower order, will nevertheless be kept in the same position because of her.’ (Address delivered on 31 July 1950, Al Fazl Rabwah, 14 November 1962, p. 4)

“While speaking to ladies during various Jalsas [annual conventions], I have also addressed the topic of the responsibilities of women in Islam and their rights in this world and the rewards they will receive in the Hereafter. During the Jalsa Salana Germany of 2019, I also addressed the ladies on this topic. Have a look at that too.”

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