Monday, November 16, 2009

There is no “heaven” and “hell” in the Quran.

This will definitely come as an even greater shock but this is also true. There is no “heaven” and “hell” in the Quran. The idea of a “heaven” and a “hell” have been prevalent but only among some groups like the judeo-christians. Large swathes of humanity do not have this idea in their belief systems. The Buddhist based civilizations (China, Korea, Japan) and the Hindus do not have any idea of heaven and hell. That is almost half the human race. We cannot simply dismiss the intellect of half the human race.

The idea of a heaven and hell is obviously a control mechanism which comes in handy to keep believers in line. Smart beggars disguising themselves as ‘religious people’ found it useful to frighten the masses with burning hellfire if they did not listen to them. Those who listened to them, accompanied by donations in the box, would be promised the delights and promises of heaven. The 72 virgins promised to the Muslim suicide bombers all over the world are just evolutions of the same idea. The underlying falsehood remains the same.

The Quran does not support the idea of a “heaven” or “hell”. When we study the Quran, it is important to pay attention to how particular words are used throughout the text. This is a book which claims to provide guidance for all of humanity, hence by necessity it must be very carefully written. Indeed it is an extremely well written book and God the Author has chosen His words carefully.

Here is a verse from Surah Al Baqarah:

2:26 Inna Allaha laa yas tahyee an yadriba mathalan maa baoodatan famaa fawqa-haa fa amma-llatheena aamanoo faya’lamoona annahu al haqqu min rabbihim wa amma-al latheena kafaroo faya’ qooloona matha araada-Allaahu bi hatha mathalan yu’dillu bihi katheeran wa yahdee bihi katheeran wamaa yu’dillu bihi illa al fasiqeena.

2:26 GOD does not shy away from citing any kind of allegory, from the tiny mosquito and greater. As for those who believe, they know that it is the truth from their Lord. As for those who disbelieve, they say, "What did GOD mean by such an allegory?" He misleads many thereby, and guides many thereby. But He never misleads thereby except the wicked.

This is a very important verse because other verses in the Quran are directly related to this verse. This verse 2:26 lays the ground rule that in the Quran, God also teaches by using examples or allegories. The keyword here is mathalan which means example or allegory.

Lets look at a few verses from the Quran which have this word mathalan or allegory.

[24:35] GOD is the light of the skies and the earth. The allegory (mathalu) of His light is that of a concave mirror behind a lamp that is placed inside a glass container. The glass container is like a bright, pearl-like star. The fuel thereof is supplied from a blessed oil-producing tree, that is neither eastern, nor western. Its oil is almost self-radiating; needs no fire to ignite it. Light upon light. GOD guides to His light whoever wills (to be guided). GOD thus cites the parables for the people. GOD is fully aware of all things.

It does not mean here that God is the actual light (like a torchlight or street lamp) of the skies and the earth. The Sufis and other deviants confuse this particular verse and make much about the ‘spiritual light of God’. God is not a spirit and there is no such thing as spirituality either.

This verse is a clear example of an allegory. It is not real. We have to use our imagination. We have to imagine a bright lamp, solidly built in clear glass which is dependable that throws useful illumination so that we can see in the dark. That gives us an idea of what is God’s guidance. It does not mean that God actually shines a torchlight at anyone or that His “light” actually comes from a lamp behind a glass set in a niche in a wall somewhere in the “heavens”.

Here is another example:

[29:41] The allegory (mathalu) of those who accept other masters beside GOD is that of the spider and her home; the flimsiest of all homes is the home of the spider, if they only knew.

This is an allegory or example. Again here we must use our imagination. The scientists say that pound for pound the silk in the spider’s web is stronger than steel. This means that if we can make a spider’s web from equally thin and silky strands of steel, the ‘steel’ web will just disintegrate in the wind. But despite being so strong, the actual fact is that when there are strong winds the spider webs do get damaged. The web is made of really thin strands of silk. So indeed the spider lives in a very flimsy home.

Extending the allegory, it means that those who take for masters other than God are putting themselves at great risk too. Their safety and their existence become very precarious – just like living in a spider web. A flimsy and unpredictable fate. These are allegorical descriptions only but we get the idea.

The idea of a “heaven” and “hell” is also taken from the Bible. These are Biblical ideas. The Quran does not mention a heaven or hell. The Quran mentions ‘jannah’ which literally means a garden. The ‘naar’ mentioned in the Quran means fire and it implies torment, hardship and difficulty. We will see this shortly.

Here is another verse that also talks about an allegory or mathalu. This verse also requires us to use our imagination.

[47:15] The allegory (mathalu) of jannah (the garden) that is promised for the righteous is this: it has rivers of unpolluted water, and rivers of fresh milk, and rivers of wine - delicious for the drinkers - and rivers of strained honey. They have all kinds of fruits therein, and forgiveness from their Lord. (Are they better) or those who abide forever in the hellfire, and drink hellish water that tears up their intestines?

Note carefully that this veres uses the word mathalu or allegory. It is illogical and impossible to have actual “rivers” of fresh milk. Or rivers of honey or wine. Even in the Biblical “heaven” one cannot possibly have an actual river flowing with milk, honey or wine. Where would one stop to drink it – from a heavenly ferry boat? We can only imagine rivers of wine, honey and milk. It simply means a state of plenty, ease and comfort. It can never be real.

People who are righteous, who work hard and are productive will get to enjoy a comfortable life. Their life becomes like an allegorical garden (jannah) with rivers of goodness and plenty. This is therefore descriptive of a life here on earth. There is no “heaven” beyond the skies somewhere in Outer Space.

The final part of 47:15 says ‘they have all kinds of fruits therein, and forgiveness from their Lord’. Again fruits grow on earth. There are no “heavenly” fruits.

Lets look at 2:25 in the Quran which again describes fruits in the garden.

2:25 Give good news to those who believe and lead a righteous life that they will have gardens (jannatin) with flowing streams. When provided with a provision of fruits therein, they will say, "This is what was provided for us previously." Indeed they are given the same. They will have pure spouses therein, and they abide therein forever.

2:25 does not refer to a “heaven” beyond the skies in Outer Space. It refers to people who believe and lead a righteous life who will be given gardens with flowing streams. They will harvest fruits which they have seen before – meaning these are earthly fruits and not “heavenly” fruits. Again this is an allegorical description only. It means plenty, ease and comfort. Here on earth. There is no such thing as a “heaven” in Outer Space.

Please note that the following verse is 2:26 which I have already quoted above, where God speaks about using allegories (mathalan) to teach us something. The context of 2:25 continues into 2:26 meaning the description of a Garden (Jannah) with flowing streams, fruits, rivers of honey, wine and milk are all allegorical descriptions of plenty and ease.

There is no real “heaven” in Outer Space with an actual river of honey or actual river of wine.

Here is one more verse which uses the word allegory or mathalu:

13:35 The allegory (mathalu) of the Garden (Jannah), which is promised for the righteous, is flowing streams, inexhaustible provisions, and cool shade. Such is the destiny for those who observe righteousness, while the destiny for the disbelievers is Hell.

Again streams, provisions and cool shade are all allegorical. A life of plenty. There is no actual “heaven” somewhere in Outer Space with provisions and cool shade. That is more akin to the imaginary animation in Hollywood cartoons and movies meant to excite children.

People who observe righteousness will enjoy a comfortable life. Around the world today we see that people who use common sense, technology, logic and are productive are the ones who enjoy comfortable lives.

The advanced countries of the world (both in the East and the West) are already enjoying their Garden or Jannah. Their supermarkets have rivers of milk, wine and honey on sale. Their people live in comfortable homes and enjoy shade and warmth. This is the Jannah or Garden that is promised to those who work righteousness. These are also the believers. These are the real Muslims. I will explain this in more detail later.

We will also need to look at the word Naar (Fire) which is traditionally taken as “hell”. Hell is a Biblical term. The Naar of the Quran simply refers to tribulation, hardship and calamity in this world that we live in. It is not a real “hell” somewhere beyond the skies in Outer Space.

Here is an interesting verse which proves again that the jannah (garden) and the naar (tribulation, hardship) are indeed here on earth.

7:50 The dwellers of the naar (fire) will call on the dwellers of the garden (jannah): "Let some of your water, or some of GOD's provisions to you flow towards us." They will say, "GOD has forbidden them for the disbelievers."

The people who are in incessant hardship (the dwellers of the naar) will ask the people who are in plenty (the dwellers of the jannah) to give them some water and some provisions.

Obviously then the naar (fire) and the jannah (garden) are next door neighbours close enough for the dwellers of “hell” to ask their neighbours to actually pass cups of water over the neighborhood fence. How can this be? Wont the “fires of hell” singe the people of “heaven” if they are so close to the “hell fire”? And what sort of pleasurable “heaven” would it be to see your neighbors burning in “hell” all the time right next door?

This verse only makes sense if the jannah (garden) and the naar (fire) are here on earth. The jannah and the naar represent the condition of our being.

Some people live in ease and plenty (jannah) while others live in misery (naar). Indeed since ages, access to clean drinking water has been an issue and a matter of survival – but usually in those countries which suffer huge overdoses of religion and acute shortages of common sense. The so called Islamic countries fall in this category quite eminently. Hence even the simple routines of daily life often become a struggle for existence.

To conclude, the descriptions of jannah and naar in the Quran are all allegories only or mathalu. They are not real. Jannah and naar refer to a condition of our being. Jannah and naar are not the heaven and hell respectively of the Bible. There is no such thing. It is no point telling someone ‘Go to hell’. There is no such thing.