IT is extremely agonizing to see someone we love in terrible pain or distress. It is even worse to experience it ourselves, be it physical discomfort of illness or injury or mental turmoil of depression and despair. Mental or physical difficulties are part of the trials and punishments of the life of this world, as they put those who are experiencing them in tremendous pain, because the sufferer does not know when relief will come – or if it will come at all.
One light at the end of the tunnel that a believer hopes for during such difficult calamities, though, is that he will be compensated for them in the Akhirah (the Hereafter), and that soon, relief will come in the form of respite or death. These two slivers of hope provide inner strength.
When one starts to read the Noble Qur’an with understanding for the first time, one is shocked at the graphic details it has of the punishments in the Hereafter. The tone of Allah’s words at some places clearly gives away His wrath at the disbelievers for repeatedly rejecting His signs and continuing with their transgressions.
The most striking aspect about the punishments of the Akhirah is that they will be more intense and eternal. The hope for relief in the form of imminent recovery or death will be completely absent. On top of that, the torture and pain will be magnified due to despair, humiliation, sorrow and regret.
Burning is the only kind of torture that can engulf a person’s complete body in extreme excruciation at the same time. Rarely does any other form of pain exist, which can inflict the entire body simultaneously. Also, the skin’s pain receptors continue to feel immense pain of burning until the skin is completely destroyed. A terrifying verse in the Qu’ran says that in the Hell Fire, no sooner will the skin be destroyed (and hence, the pain gone), will fresh new skin take its place, so that the pain of burning continues.
Severe hunger and thirst,
horrible food and drink
Ask any poor person in this world, what a torment hunger and thirst is. Indeed, many malnourished and destitute people hope for death in order to be free from the shackles of living in hand-to-mouth poverty. At the other end, fine dining and eating exquisite food is one of the most delightful joys of this worldly life.
In the Hell Fire, hunger and thirst will peak to such an extent, that the dwellers of the Fire will gobble up even the most dreadful ‘food and drink’ because of it: the pus of wounds, thorns, boiling water, and the tree of “Zaqqoom” – a food like molten lead that will boil the insides of their bellies.
Disfigurement of faces
A person’s face is his unique identity that sets him apart from the rest of Allah’s creation. It is what everyone else notices first; what he or she focusses on during conversation and social interaction.
In the Hell Fire, Allah will cause the transgressors’ humiliation by disfiguring their faces. This will be done by scalding their faces with boiling hot water like molten brass (Qur’an 18:29), or by burning with fire so that the lips are displaced to form a grotesque grin (Qur’an 23:104).
Iron rods and chains
In this world, prisons and other law enforcement bodies use different forms of pain-inflicting torture. Convicts and inmates are bound in chains in order to restrict their movement. In the Hell Fire, harsh and stern angels will brandish massive iron rods (Qur’an 22:21) for hitting the inmates of the Fire, who will be bound with shackles and chains, with nooses around their necks (Qur’an 40:71 and 76:4).
Beds and clothes of fire
In the life of this world, any kind of physical ailment, fatigue, injury, or mental distress leads the sufferer to their bed/mattress in order to rest, recuperate and eventually recover. Beds are the primary furnishings inside hospitals, asylums and hospices. In the Hell Fire, though, there will be no hope of rest or relief from the punishments. Even the beds or mattresses will be made of fire (Qur’an 7:41), and clothes made of tar (14:50) or also of fire (22:19).
Some “skeptics” of Islam arrogantly opine that the torments of Hell are inhuman and too horrendous to be true. Actually, the truth is not that the punishment is too great to bear, but rather, that the One being disobeyed is the Greatest, and therefore, continued transgression against His commands – despite having numerous chances to repent, reform and return to the Right Path of Tauheed (monotheism) and submission during the life of this world – warrants nothing less than the most severe of punishments.
It is sad how the proponents of worldly justice encourage the capital punishment or execution of those convicted criminals who have committed heinous crimes against innocent people, not considering this “barbaric”, “violent” or “inhuman”. Yet they criticize the punishments of the Akhirah and question why Allah is not more “merciful” to those who spend their entire lives denying the truth after it becomes apparent to them, and disobeying the One who gave them everything?
We seek refuge with Allah from the unrelenting torments of the Hell Fire, the diversity, intensity and permanence of which will surpass that of any other kind of pain or torture that anyone can experience in this fleeting, temporary life.
– Saudi Gazette