Al-Jannah wal An-Nâr – The Paradise and the Hellfire [4/12]


The Vast Number of People in Hell

Many texts indicate the large numbers of the children of Adam will enter Hell, and the few who will enter Paradise. Allâh (swt) says:

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“Yet no faith will the greater part of mankind have, however ardently you
desire it.” (12:103)

An indication of the large numbers of kuffâr and mushrikîn who rejected the
call of the Messengers is the fact that the Prophets will come on the Day of
Resurrection some with a small group (of less than ten), others with one or
two and some with no followers at all. Muslim reports from Ibn ‘Abbâs that
the Prophet ﷺ said:

“I was shown the nations and I saw a Prophet accompanied by a small group,
another accompanied by one or tow men, and another with no companions at
all..” (Sahîh Muslim, 1/198, no.220)

Many texts indicate that nine hundred and ninety-nine out of every thousand
of the children of Adam will enter Hell, and only one (in a thousand) will
enter Paradise.

Al-Bukhâri narrates from Abû Sa’îd that the Prophet ﷺ said:

will say, “O Adam!” Adam will reply, “I respond to Your call, I am
obedient to Your commands, and all good is in Your hands.” Then Allâh (swt)
will say to Adam, “Send forth the people of the Fire”. Adam will say, “How
many are the people of the Fire?!” Allâh (swt) will say, “Out of every
thousand, take nine hundred and ninety-nine”.
At that time, children’s hair
will turn grey and every pregnant female will spontaneously abort and you
will see the people looking as if they are drunk, although they are not, but
Allâh’s punishment will be most severe”.

This speech distressed his Companions and they said,

Messenger of Allâh ﷺ, who amongst us will be that man (one in a
thousand)?” He said, “Be of good cheer: the thousand will be from
Ya’juj and Ma’juj (Gog and Magog) and the one will be from among you”.

Then he said, “By Him in Whose hand is my soul, I hope that you will be
one third of the people of Paradise.”
We praised and glorified Allâh
(swt) and then he said, “By Him in Whose Hand is my soul, I hope that
you will be half of the people of paradise, as you are among the nations
like a white hair on the hide of a black bull or a round hairless spot
on the foreleg of a donkey”.
(al-Bukhâri, Kitâb ar-Raqâq, Bâb Qawl
Allâh Azza wa jalla, innâ zalzalat al-Sâ’ah, Shay’un ‘Adhîm, Fath
al-Bâri, 11/388; see also Tafsîr Ibn Kathîr, 4/610, Musnad Ahmad

It might be asked: how can we reconcile between these hadîth and the report
from Abû Hurayrah in Sahîh al-Bukhârî, in which the Prophet ﷺ said that
Allâh (swt) said to Aadam (‘alayhis-salâm) –

“Send forth [into Hell]
ninety-nine out of every hundred [of your descendants]”.

It is obvious that these reports do not contradict the other Sahîh reports that we have quoted above, because these figures are referring to different groups. The hadîth
that mention a ratio of nine hundred and ninety-nine may be interpreted as
referring to all the progeny of Aadam, whilst the hadîth of al-Bukhârî that
mentions a ratio of ninety-nine may be interpreted as referring to the
progeny of Aadam excluding Ya’juj and Ma’juj.

This reconciliation is more likely to be correct – as Ibn Hajar suggests – because Ya’juj and Ma’juj are mentioned in the hadîth of Abû Sa’îd whereas they are not mentioned in the hadîth of Abû Hurayrah. It may be said that the first hadîth refers to all
of creation, so the ratio of people admitted to Hell when all nations are
taken into account is 999 in every thousand. The latter hadîth of
al-Bukhârî explains the ratio of people who will enter Hell from this ummah

Ibn Hajar (said)

“This interpretation is supported by the words of
the Sahabah in the hadîth of Abû Hurayrah (ra): “If ninety-nine out of every
hundred are taken from us, what will be left of us?” This division of people
could happen twice: once involving all the nations, when one in a thousand
will enter Paradise, and a second time involving this ummah alone, when ten
out of every thousand will enter Paradise”. (Fath al-Bâri, 11/390).

The Wisdom Behind There Being So Many People In Hell

The reason why there will be so many people in Hell is not that the truth
failed to reach them all, wherever or whenever they lived. Allâh does not
blame anyone whom His call did not reach:

“..Nor would We punish with Our Wrath until We had sent a Messenger [to give
warning].” (17:15)

“..And there never was a people, without a Warner having lived among them [in
the past]”. (35:24)

The reason behind it is the fact that those who responded to the Messengers
were few in number, while those who disbelieved were great. Furthermore,
many of those who responded were not pure and sincere in faith.

In his book, at-Takhwîf min an-Nâr, Ibn Rajab discussed the reason why so
few people will enter Paradise and so many will enter Hell:

“These hadîth
and other similar reports prove that most of the children of Aadam will enter
Hell, and that the followers of the Messengers are few in number when
compared to the rest of mankind. Those who did not follow the Messengers
will enter Hell, except for those whom the Message did not reach, or who
could not understand it because of the garbled form in which they heard it.
Many of those who claim to be followers of the Messengers are in fact
adhering to a distorted religion and an altered book, and they too will be
among the people of Hell, ” as Allâh (swt) says:

“…But those of the sects that reject it [the Qur’ân] the Fire will be
their promised meeting-place” (11:17)

As for those who claim to follow the Book and Law of Allâh (swt) the true
religion, many of them will also enter Hell. These are the Munâfiqûn (the
hypocrites) who will be in the lowest level of the Fire. Many of those who
claim to follow it openly and in secret will be tested by ambiguities and
doubts – these are the misguided inventors and followers of bid’ah
(reprehensible innovations, heresies). Several hadîth have been narrated
which state that the ummah will split into seventy-odd sects, all of which
will be in the Hell except for one. Many people will also be tested with
forbidden desires for which the promised punishment is Hellfire, although in
this case it is not necessarily an eternal punishment. No one from this
ummah will be saved from the Fire, or deserve the absolute promise of
Paradise, apart from the one sect or group, who follow the example and
practice of the Prophet ﷺ and his Companions openly and in secret, and
are saved from the temptation and trials of desires and doubts. Such are
very few indeed, especially in latter times”. (at-Takhwîf min an-Nâr, Ibn
Rajab, p.214)

The main reason why so many follow their desires is that the love of such
things is deeply rooted in the human psyche:

“Fair in the eyes of men is the love of things they covet: women and
children; heaved-up hoards of gold and silver [wealth]; horses branded [for
blood and excellence]; and [wealth of] cattle and well-tilled land. Such are
the possessions of this world’s life..” (3:14)

Many people want to fulfill these desires in whatever way they wish, without
paying attention to the revealed laws of Allâh (swt), and by adhering to the
customs of their forefathers in ways that contradict these laws:

“Just in the same way, whenever We sent a Warner before you [Muhammad] to any
people, the wealthy ones among them said: “We found our fathers following a
certain religion, and we will certainly follow in their footsteps”. [The
Warner] said: “What! Even if I brought you better guidance than that which
you found your fathers following?” They said, “For us, we deny that you
[Prophets] are sent [on a mission at all]”. (43:23-24)

Loving the ways of one’s forefathers to the point of sanctifying them is a
disease which many nations are suffering from, and its effects on the
deeply-rooted desires of men are no less, if it is not counted as a desire in

At-Tirmidhi, Abû Dawûd, and an-Nasâ’î report from Abû Hurayrah (ra) that
the messenger of Allâh ﷺ said,

“When Allâh (swt) created Hell, He told
Jibrîl, “Go and look at it.” Jibrîl went and looked at it, and when he
came back he said, “By Your Glory, I fear that no-one who hears of it will
enter it”. So He surrounded it with desires, and said, “Go and look at it.”
Jibrîl went and looked at it, and when he came back, he said, “By Your
Glory, I fear that there will be no-one left who does not enter it”. (the
version narrated by an-Nasâ’î adds the words,“and at what I have prepared
for its inhabitants in it”.
) [Jâmi al-Usûl, 10/250, # 8068. at-Tirmidhi
described it as sahîh hasan].

Al-Bukhârî and Muslim narrated from Abû Hurayrah that the Prophet ﷺ

“Hell is veiled in desires and Paradise is veiled in hardships”.

Siddîq Hasan Khan said,

“What is meant by desires is the things that people
want and enjoy”.

Al-Qurtubî said,

“Desires are all those things that people
like and towards which they are inclined, and surrounding a thing means
placing something all around it, so that it cannot be reached without going
through it”. (Yaqadhat uli al-I’tibar, p.220)

Most of Those Who Enter Hell Will be Women

Most of the sinners amongst the monotheists who enter Hell will be women, as it
is reported in as-Sahîhayn, via Ibn ‘Abbâs: in the khutbah given during a
solar eclipse, the Prophet ﷺ said,

“I saw Hell and I saw that most of its
inhabitants were women”.

Al-Bukhârî and Muslim report from Abû Sa’îd al-Khudri that the Prophet
ﷺ said,

“O women give in charity, for I have seen that you form the
majority of the people of Hell.”

They asked,“Why is that so, O Messenger of
Allâh ﷺ?”

He said,

“Because you curse too much and are ungrateful for
good treatment”.

Al-Bukhârî and Muslim report from Usâmah ibn Zayd that the Prophet ﷺ

“I stood at the gate of Hell, and saw that most of those who entered
were women”.

Muslim reports from ‘Imrân ibn Husayn (ra) that the Prophet ﷺ said,

of the inhabitants of paradise are women”.

This does not contradict the fact that every man in Paradise will have more
than one wife. What is referred to by the women who will be the majority of
the inhabitants of Hell is women who are descendants of Aadam: the
inhabitants of Paradise will have many wives from among al-Hûr al-‘Iyn.

“Women will be few among the inhabitants of Paradise because in most cases
they prefer the immediate pleasures of this life, as they are less wise and
unable to keep the Hereafter in mind. They are too weak to strive and
prepare themselves for it, and are more inclined towards this world. In
spite of all this, they are the strongest factor in this world that distracts
men from the Hereafter, because men are inclined to desire them and they are
not concerned with the Hereafter. They are quick to follow those who call
them to deviate from Islâm, and reluctant to follow those pious people who
cal them to the Hereafter, and righteous deeds”. (al-Qurtubî, at-Tadhkirah,

In spite of all this, there are many righteous women among them, who stay
within the limits set by Allâh (swt), adhere to His laws, and obey Allâh
(swt) and His Messenger. Many of these women will enter Paradise, and many
of them excel over men in their faith and righteous deeds.

The Huge Size of the People of Hell

When the People of Hell enter the Fire they will be huge in size, in a form
that none can comprehend, except the One Who Created them. According to a
hadîth narrated by Abû Hurayrah, the Messenger of Allâh ﷺ said:

“The distance between the shoulders of the Kâfir in Hell will be like three
day’s travelling for a fast rider” (Muslim, 4/290)

Abû Hurayrah reported that the Messenger of Allâh ﷺ said:

“The molar of the kâfir or the eye-tooth of the kâfir, will be like Uhud,
and the thickness of his skin will be like a journey of three (days)”.
(Muslim, 4/2189, at-Tirmidhi, al-Hâkim, Ibn Mâjah and Ahmad)

Zayd ibn Arqam said,

“The man who is destined for Hell will become huge in
preparation for it, so that one of his molars will be as big as Mount Uhud”.

This is narrated by Ahmad, who attributes it to the Prophet ﷺ but Zayd
did not state that he heard it from the Prophet ﷺ. (Silsilat al-Ahadîth
as-Sahihah, 4/131, al-Albâni said its isnâd is sahîh according to Ibn
Mâjah and Ahmad)

Abû Hurayrah reported that the Prophet ﷺ said:

“The kâfir’s skin will be forty-two cubits thick and his molar will be like
Uhud and the space he occupies will be as wide as the distance between Makkah
and Madinah.” (at-Tirmidhi) (Mishkât al-Masâbîh 3/103, sahîih hasan)

Abû Hurayrah (ra) reported that the Prophet ﷺ said:

“The molar of the kâfir on the Day of Resurrection will be like Uhud, and
the thickness of his skin will be seventy cubits. His upper arm will be like
al-Bayda’, his thigh will be like Warqân and the space he occupies will be
like the distance between me and ar-Rabdhah” (al-Hâkim and Ahmad – Silsilah
al-Ahadîth as-Sahihah, 4/94. al-Baydâ` could be the name of a mountain or it
may refer to the well-known city in Morocco)

This increasing of the kâfir’s body size will increase his suffering and
torment. Commenting on the hadîth narrated by Muslim on this subject,
an-Nawawi said,

“All of this is in order to intensify the suffering, and all
of this is possible for Allâh (swt). We must believe in it, because the
truthful (Prophet) has told us about it” [Sharh an-Nawawi ‘alâ Muslim,

Ibn Kathîr in a comment on these hadîth said,

“So that their
punishment and suffering may be more severe, as Allâh (swt) the Severe in
punishment says:

“…that they may taste the Penalty”. (4:46)

[Ibn Kathîr, an-Nihayah, 2/139]

The Food, Drink and Clothing of the People of Hell

The food of the people of Hell is ad-Darî and az-Zaqqum, and their drink is
al-Hamîm, al-Ghaslîn and al-Ghassâq.

Allâh (swt) says:

“No food will there be for them but a bitter Darî obnoxious thorny plant,
which will neither nourish nor satisfy hunger”. (88:6-7)

Ad-Darî is a thorny plant know as ash-Shubruq that grows in the Hijâz. Ibn
‘Abbâs said,

“It is a low-growing thorny plant; when it grows tall it is
called darî”.

Qatâdah said,

“It is one of the very worst types of good”
(Ibn Rajab, at-Takhwîf min an-Nâr, p.115).

This food of the people of Hell will be of no benefit whatsoever to them, and they will not enjoy it in the least; this is one of the forms of punishment that they will suffer. Allâh (swt) says:

“Verily the tree of Zaqqum will be the food of the sinful, like molten brass,
it will boil in their insides, like the boiling of scalding water.”

The Tree of Zaqqum is described in another âyah:

“Is that [Paradise] the better entertainment or the tree of Zaqqum [a
horrible tree in Hell]? For We have truly made it [as] a trial for the
wrongdoers. For it is a tree that springs out of the bottom of Hellfire, The
shoots of its fruit-stalks are like the heads of devils; Truly they will eat
thereof and fill their bellies therewith. Then on top of that they will be
given to drink a mixture made of boiling water. Then, shall their return by
to the blazing Fire of Hell”. (37:62-68)

Elsewhere in the Qur’ân, Allâh (swt) says:

“Then, will you truly – O you that go wrong, and treat [Truth] as Falsehood]!
You will surely taste of the tree of Zaqqum. Then you will fill your
insides therewith, and drink
boiling water on top of it. Indeed you will drink like diseased camels
raging with thirst! Such will be their entertainment on the Day of Requital!

What we may understand from these âyât is that this tree is a repulsive
tree, whose roots go deep into the bottom of Hell, and whose branches stretch
forth all over. Its fruits are so ugly that they are likened to the heads of
devils, so that everyone may easily understand just how ugly they are, even
though they have never seen them. Although this tree is so vile and
obnoxious, the people of Hell will become so hungry that they will have no
choice but to eat from it until they are full. When they have filled their
bellies, this food will start to churn like boiling oil, which will cause a
great deal of suffering to them. At that point they will rush to drink
al-Hamîm, which is an extremely hot water, and they will drink it like
camels that drink and drink but their thirst is never quenched because of
some disease. Then it will tear their innards:

“..[they] will be given to drink, boiling water, so that it cuts up their
bowels [to pieces]” (47:15)

This is the hospitality that will be offered to them on that awesome Day. May
Allâh (swt) protect us from this by His Grace and Mercy.

When the people of Hell eat this vile food of ad-Darî and az-Zaqqum, they
will choke because of its foulness:

“Verily with Us are fetters [to bind them] and a raging Fire [to burn them],
And a food that chokes and a Penalty grievous”. (73:12-13)

The food that makes people choke is the food that sticks in the throat.

The Prophet ﷺ portrayed for us the ugly and terrifying nature of

“If one drop from az-Zaqqum were to land on this world, the people of earth
and all their means of sustenance would be destroyed. So how must it be for
the one who must eat it?” It was reported by at-Tirmidhi, who said, it is a
sahîh hasan hadîth. [Mishkât al-Masâbîh, 3/105, narrated by Ibn ‘Abbâs]

Another kind of food that will be eaten by the people of Hell is al-Ghaslîn.
Allâh (swt) says:

“So no friend has he here this Day, Nor has he any food except corruption [or
filth] from the washing of wounds [al-Ghaslîn], which none do eat but those
in sin”. (69:35-37)

“Yea, such! – Then shall they taste it – a boiling fluid and a fluid dark,
murky, intensely cold [ghassâq]! And other penalties of a similar kind – to
match them!” (38:57-58)

Al-Ghaslîn and al-Ghassâq mean the same thing, which is the festering pus
that oozes out of the skin of the people of Hell. It was suggested that it
refers to the offensive discharge that flows from the private parts of
adulterous women, and the decaying skin and flesh of the kuffâr.
al-Qurtubî said,

“It is the juice of the people of Hell” [Yaqhadhat uli
al-I’tibâr, p. 86]

Allâh tells us that al-Ghaslîn is just one of many similarly obnoxious

The drink of the people of Hell will be al-Hamîm. Allâh (swt) says:

“…and if they implore relief, they will be granted water like melted brass
that will scald their faces. How dreadful the drink! How uncomfortable a
couch to recline on!” (18:29)

“…and he will be made to drink boiling, festering water. He will sip it
unwillingly, and he will find great difficulty in swallowing it..” (14:16-17)

These âyât mention four kinds of drink that the people of Hell have to

(1) al-Hamîm: an extremely hot water.

As Allâh says:

“In its midst and in the midst of the boiling hot water will
they wander round!” (55:44)

This was explained as being ultra-hot water. And Allâh (swt) says:

will be given to drink from a boiling hot spring.” (88:5)

(2) al-Ghassâq: as discussed above.

(3) al-Sadîd (pus): what flows from the flesh and skin of the Kâfir.
Muslim reports from Jâbir that the Prophet ﷺ said,

“Anyone who drinks
intoxicants will be made to drink the mud of khabâl”.

They asked,

“O Messenger of Allâh, what is the mud of khabâl?”

He said,

“The sweat of the people of Hell”,


“the juice of the people of Hell”.

(4) al-Muhl: according to the hadîth of Abû Sa’îd al-Khudri narrated by
Ahmad and at-Tirmidhi the Prophet ﷺ said:

“It is like boiling oil, and when it is brought near a person’s face, the
skin of the face falls off into it”.

Ibn ‘Abbâs said,

“It is like very
thick oil”.

Some of the sinners will be fed the burning coals of Hell as an appropriate

“Those who unjustly eat up the property of orphans, eat us a Fire into their
own bellies, and they will soon be enduring a blazing Fire!” (4:10)

“Those who conceal Allâh’s revelations in the Book, and purchase for them a
miserable profit – swallow into themselves naught but Fire..” (2:174)

As for the dress of the people of Hell, Allâh (swt) has told us that
garments of fire will be tailor-made for them, as it says in the Qur’ân:

“..But for those who deny [their Rabb] for them will be cut out a garment of
Fire; over their heads will be poured out boiling water” (22:19)

When Ibrâhîm at-Taymi recited this Aayah he used to say,

“Glory by to
Allâh, Who has created garments out of fire” (at-Takhwîf min an-Nâr,

Allâh (swt) says,

“And you will see the sinners that Day bound together in
fetters. Their garments of liquid pitch and their faces covered with Fire”.

This pitch or tar is melted copper. According to a hadîth narrated by Muslim
from Abû Mâlik al-Ash’ari, the Prophet ﷺ said,

“The woman who wails for
the dead, if she does not repent before she dies, she will be resurrected on
the Day of Resurrection, wearing a shirt of tar and a shield of scabs.”

Ibn Mâjah reported this with the wording,

“The woman who wails over the dead,
who does not repent before she dies, Allâh (swt) will cut out for her a
garment of tar and a shield of scabs”.

(NOTE: If you want to build a strong and powerful relationship with Allah, check out Islamia TV, where you can watch Islamic speakers from across the globe deliver inspiring and motivational courses. Learn more at

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