A place like we have never seen. A place we can hardly imagine. A place of no sadness, no hardships, no heartache. Eternal bliss. A place that we crave and that craves us. Allah subahanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) has blessed us with a gift beyond measure that makes every struggle we have ever had to endure worthwhile.
Paradise is the ultimate achievement, the epitome of success and the greatest of rewards. Allah (swt) rewards His obedient servants with Paradise—a reward we only earn through His Mercy. The Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him) said: “No one of you will be saved because of his deeds.” They (the Companions) said: “Not even you, O Messenger of Allah?” He said: “Not even me, unless Allah bestows mercy upon me,” (Bukhari).
While the translation of this narration says, “unless Allah bestows mercy upon me,” the Arabic word has a deeper meaning. “Yataghamadani” literally means “to completely submerge me.”1 It gives the meaning of envelopment, engulfment, covering and immersing. Paradise is so magnificent that we can only enter it if Allah (swt) drowns us in His Mercy.
In a prophetic narration, Allah (swt) said to Paradise, “You are My Mercy which I bestow on whoever I wish of My servants,” (Bukhari).
On the Day of Judgment, Allah (swt) will bring Jannah in the presence of the Believers. He (swt) says, “And Paradise will be brought near to the righteous, not far,” (Qur’an, 50:31). After enduring the hardships of this worldly life and the grave, then seeing the horrors of the Day of Judgment, Allah (swt) eases the hearts of the Believers by bringing their final destination close to them before they enter it.2 Imagine you are a traveler on a long and arduous journey. When you come closer and closer to your destination, you forget the hardships you’ve endured because your end is in sight. Now imagine the state of the Believers at this time—instead of walking to jannah on their own, jannah will come to them!
Jannah is beyond our imagination. The Messenger ﷺ narrated that Allah (swt) said, “I have prepared for My righteous slaves that which no eye has seen, no ear has heard and has never crossed the mind of any human being.” The gardens, fruits, mansions, drinks, trees and rivers of Paradise are not like those we see now; rather they only share a similar name. Jannah is far greater than anything our minds can ever envision. It is beyond our wildest dreams.
Jannah, Al-Firdaws, ‘Adn, and Dar al-Salaam
Jannah in itself has many names, signifying its utmost importance. Simply by looking at the meanings of a few of these names our hearts become attached to our hopeful abode, knowing that if this is the beauty that exists within each of her names, what then of the actuality of jannah?
The most well-known name of jannah is jannah itself. It appears more than 50 times in the Qur’an.
Allah (swt) says:
“And as for those who were [destined to be] prosperous, they will be in al-jannah [Paradise], abiding therein as long as the heavens and the earth endure, except what your Lord should will – a bestowal uninterrupted.” (Qur’an, 11:108)
The root of this word has several meanings. Of them are:
- To be hidden. The name for a fetus is known as “jinan” because it is hidden in its mother’s womb. Also, from this root is “jinn” because they are a hidden creation.
- A garden with many trees and vegetation.
Allah (swt) has hidden jannah from us in this world, but we still believe in it. It motivates us more to strive for it. When a gift is described to us before we see it, it excites us more and makes us happier when we finally receive it. Allah (swt) and His Messenger ﷺ have given us beautiful descriptions of jannah to motivate us to do good deeds and to make it more special when we enter it, insha’ Allah (God willing).
The next name, al-firdaws, is the name of the highest place in jannah. The Prophet ﷺ said, “When you ask Allah (for something), ask for al-firdaws which is the best and highest part of Paradise,” (Bukhari).
It is used in two places in the Qur’an, one of which is this verse in Surah Kahf (Chapter of the Cave): “Indeed, those who have believed and done righteous deeds – they will have al-Firdaws [the Gardens of Paradise] as a lodging, wherein they abide eternally. They will not desire from it any transfer.” (Qur’an, 18:107-108)
The word firdaws is said to be of a non-Arabic origin, literally meaning vastness. The scholars give multiple meanings and descriptions of firdaws: a combined meaning of a trellised garden, specifically with grapevines, as well as fruits and vegetation of all kinds.3
The fact that Paradise is a garden is emphasized with both of these names highlighting the beauty that gardens have. Nowadays, the mere sight of greenery, flowers and trees brings about calmness and tranquility to the heart. Paradise is a place full of green trees, beautiful flowers, and trellised gardens. Not only beautiful in appearance, but also beautiful in the emotions it triggers.
Another name of jannah is `adn. `Adn is known as the proper name of Paradise, and included within the name is a meaning of many gardens – jannat. Jannah is not just one big garden; it also contains many, many gardens within it. Allah (swt) says, “[Therein are] jannat `adn [gardens of perpetual residence] which the Most Merciful has promised His servants in the unseen. Indeed, His promise has ever been coming,” (Qur’an, 19:61).
`Adn literally means a place of residence. A word from the same root, ma`din, means a place that people stay in during summer and winter. `Adn also refers specifically to the middle of a garden where rivers meet, producing more trees and vegetation around it. Again, we see the characteristic of gardens and vegetation within this name of Paradise.
Jannah is also called dar al-salaam:
“And Allah invites to dar al-salaam [the Home of Peace] and guides whom He wills to a straight path.” (Qur’an, 10:25)
In another verse, Allah (swt) says about the Righteous, “For them will be dar al-salaam with their Lord,” (Qur’an, 6:127).
Al-Salaam is one of the Majestic Names of Allah (swt). It has two meanings: the One free of all faults and deficiencies (The Perfection) and the Giver of Peace and Security.4 From these similar meanings, jannah is called dar al-salaam because it is a place free of all grief, death, worries, tensions, fatigues, enmities, and hatred; and it is a place of safety. It is also called dar al-salaam because Allah (swt), Al-Salaam, will greet its inhabitants as they enter. He (swt) says, “[…] their greeting therein will be, ‘Peace,’” (Qur’an 10:10). Similarly, the Angels will also greet them: “And the angels will enter upon them from every gate, [saying], ‘Peace be upon you [assalaamu `alaykum] for what you patiently endured. And excellent is the final home,’” (Qur’an, 13:23-24).
Yet another meaning of dar al-salaam is that it is a place where its speech is salaam—meaning free of all negative and evil talk. As Allah (swt) describes, “They will not hear therein ill speech or commission of sin – Only a saying: ‘Peace, peace,’” (Qur’an, 56:25-26).
It is dar al-salaam because there will be no enmity nor hatred among the inhabitants of Paradise. The Prophet ﷺ said, “They will neither have differences nor hatred amongst themselves; their hearts will be as if one heart,” (Bukhari). Allah (swt) says, “And We will remove whatever is in their breasts of resentment, [so they will be] brothers, on thrones facing each other,” (Qur’an, 15:47).
Allah (swt) says about the Believer who dies in a good state, “Then [the angels will say], “Peace for you; [you are] from the companions of the right,” (Qur’an, 56:91). The believer will have salaam (peace): they will leave this worldly life in a good state, with the Angels giving them glad tidings of Paradise, protection from the Fire, and the ultimate pleasure of their Lord.