The Stages of the Hell
Source: Ain-al-Hayat, By: Allama Muhammad Baqir Majlisi
In is narrated in a tradition that there is a valley in the Hell by the name of Ghassaq. There are 330 palaces in this valley. Every palace has 300 rooms. Every room has 40 corners. At every corner in the rooms there is a snake that has 330 scorpions in its belly. Every scorpion has 330 pouches of venom. This venom is so lethal that if a drop falls in the Hell, the inhabitants there would all perish!
It is narrated that there are seven stages of the Hell. The first stage is Jaheem. If the inmates stand on the rocks here, their brains would start boiling with the heat radiated from the stones. The second stage of the Hell is Lathaa. Allah tells about this stage that it has excessive gravitational pull. It will pull the limbs of the hypocrites towards it. It will pull people towards itself who had been denying the Truth, had been unfairly amassing wealth and not giving to others their rights.
The third stage of the Hell is Saqar. This is a fire that will not spare any flesh, skin, veins and bones. They will all be rendered to soot. From this soot Allah will again create bodies. There will emanate such a flame from this stage that it will render all the infidels black. There are 19 angels who are the Muwakkil or keepers of this stage of the Hell. The fourth stage of the Hell is Hutma. From here come flames as high as the ceilings of the houses. The flames would resemble camels of yellow color travelling with the wind. Whoever is consigned to the flames, would be instantly consumed by them. It would be turned into a material like the collyrium. Allah will bring back the person to life once again and the flames would once again consume him. The fifth stage of the Hell is Hawia. The people will plead with the keeper of this stage for help. He will give to them a fiery pot full of puss to eat. With the heat of the pot, the skins of their faces would peel off and fall into the pots.
Allah has therefore said, “For the cruel people we have readied a fire which will surround them from all sides. If they complain of thirst, they will be given water, which will resemble molten copper. When brought near their faces, it will scald them. It will be very bad water.”
For the people of the Hell there is a place of rest called Mohl. It is a type of fire. Mohl will be put into Hawia and it will keep descending for seventy thousand years in the fire. The skin that burns will be formed again, and this will be a continuous process. The sixth stage of the Hell is Saeer. This stage has 300 curtains of fire. With every curtain there are three hundred palaces of fire. There are 300 rooms in each of the palaces. In every room three hundred types or Retribution will be devised. Snakes, scorpions and chains of fire will be there in plenty.
Therefore, Allah says, “We have prepared for the infidels collars and chains.”
The seventh stage of the Hell is having a well. When its mouth is opened, innumerable flames would emerge from it. This is the most difficult of the stages of the Hell. There is a mount at the center of this stage called Sa’uud. It is a mountain of copper and a canal of molten copper flows around it. This is the place of maximum retribution in the Hell.
Imam Musa al-Kadhim (as) narrates that Saqar is a valley in the Hell. From the day it has been created by Allah, it has never once ‘breathed’. If it breathes equal to the hole in a needle, it would burn the entire population of living beings on the earth. The inmates of Hell are scared of its heat. There is a mount in this valley that awes the people of the Hell because of its extreme heat and foul smell. There is a passage in this mountain and the passage has a pit that is replete with putrid dirt and its stench is obnoxious even to the inmates of the passage. In the pit there is a snake that emanates extremely foul smell. In the belly of the snake there are seven caskets.
Bin Abbas narrates that two Jews came to Amir’ul-Mu’mineen ‘Ali (as) and asked him where the Heaven and the Hell are located. Amir’ul-Mu’mineen ‘Ali (as) replied that the Heaven is in the sky and the Hell is on the Earth.
Imam Ja’far As-Sadiq (as) was asked about the meaning of Falaq. He replied that Falaq is one of the hottest part of the Hell.
It is narrated from Imam Ja’far As-Sadiq (as) that the Prophet of Allah (S) had said: On the way to Me’raj I heard a horrendous sound. I felt scared and asked Jibrael about the sound. Jibrael replied, “O Muhammad (as)! This is the sound of a stone that was hurled from the corner of the Hell seventy years ago. Today It has reached the bottom of the Hell. The sound has come from the same stone.” Ever since then, no one saw the Prophet (S) laughing.
The Prophet (S) then added: When I reached the first sky, the angels greeted me happily. But there was one angel who had a terrifying appearance. He too greeted me. He, however, was not as pleasant and happy as the other angels. I asked Jibrael, “How is this angel that looking at him gives one the scare!” Jibrael said, “O Muhammad (S)! We the angels too are scared of looking at his face. His name of Malik the Keeper of the Hell. The day Allah gave him the charge of the Hell, and thereafter, he has never laughed. His anger at the inmates of the Hell keeps increasing by the day.
Allah will order him to take revenge on the people of the Hell. O Muhammad (S)! If ever Malik smiled, he would certainly have done so seeing you!” The Prophet (S) said, “I greeted him and he gave me the tiding of Heaven for me. I told to Jibrael,’ The angels obey your orders. Do ask him to show the Hell to me!’ Malik therefore took aside the curtain of the Hell and exposed a portion of it. Flames came from the Hell reaching almost up to the sky! The sound and fury scared me and I asked Jibrael to order putting back of the curtain on the Hell. No sooner the curtain was put, the flames disappeared.”
It has been narrated in the traditions that the Verse of the Holy Book saying, ‘Raiment of fire have been readied for the infidels’ has been revealed with reference to Bani Omayyad. They will be surrounded so profusely by the Hellfire that it would appear as if they are wearing the garments of fire. Their lower lips would droop up to their navels. The upper lips would touch the tops of their heads. Allah then adds, “Put on them such scalding water that it burns their intestines and the innards. Fiery maces are in readiness for them. When they try to escape from the Hell, they will be beaten with the maces to force them retrace their steps back into the Hell. They will then be told, ‘Taste the retribution of the Hellfire for your evil deeds!’”
It is narrated in the traditions that those maces are so heavy that even if all the men and jinn together try, they would not be able to move them.
It is narrated that Amir’ul-Mu’mineen ‘Ali (as) has said for the sinners Naqaba has been prepared for them in the Hellfire. Their limbs will be bound with chains and they will be made to wear rings round their necks. They will be made to wear dresses of molten copper. They will be given cloaks of fire to wear. They will be totally deprived of cool breeze. Hardships shall be ever fresh for them. Neither their life will end nor will there be any diminution in the retribution faced by them. They will plead with Malice for mercy. He will reply, “This retribution for you shall remain in perpetuity. It will never diminish!”
Imam Ja’far As-Sadiq (as) narrates that the Hell has a place that is so horrible that the inmates are scared to be there. That place will be for all the tyrants and the enemies of the Ahl-ul-Bayt. The easiest place in the Hell will be where the river of fire is located. The inmates will have slippers of fire in their feet. The heat of these slippers would boil the brains of the wearers like the food cooking in a pan. These persons would think that their retribution is the maximum. In fact, this punishment is lighter when compared with that meted out to the other inmates of the Hell.
The Prophet of Allah (S) has said, “If there are a hundred thousand persons in the mosque and amongst them is an inmate of the Hell; then the entire concourse would be burnt and not one would survive!” Then the Prophet (S) continued, “In the Hell there are snakes equal in circumference to the neck of a camel. If a snake bites a person, he would be restless with pain for forty years. In the Hell there are similarly venomous scorpions.”
Abdullah bin Abbas narrates that the Hell has seven doors. At every door there are seventy thousand hills. Every hill has seventy thousand ravines. Every ravine has seventy thousand crevices. Every crevice has seventy thousand rooms. There are seventy thousand snakes in every room. Every snake will be equal in length to the distance traveled in three days. The snake has teeth as big as the date. These snakes would adhere to the flesh of the inmates of the Hell. When they try to run away from the snakes, they would fall into the canal of the Hell and keep falling down for forty years.
Imam Ja’far As-Sadiq (as) has said that Allah has not created any human being for whom He has not apportioned a place either in the Heaven or the Hell. When the inmates of the Heaven and those of the Hell reach their destination a herald would announce to the inmates of the Heaven to look at the Hell. They will get scared and worried. One angel would say, “O people of the Heaven! If you had been disobedient to Allah, your predicament too would have been the same!” Then the inmates of the Hell would be called by the herald, “Look at the comforts and conveniences of the inmates of the Heaven!” Then he would add, “O unfortunate folk! If you were obedient to Allah, you too would have enjoyed all the privileges of the Heaven!”
Imam Musa al-Kadhim (as) has said that the Hell has seven stages. The last stage has seven caskets. One of the caskets has five persons from the times of the past Prophets (S) and two from the time of the Prophet of Islam (S) who have not professed faith in Allah.
Imam Ja’far As-Sadiq (as) narrates that Allah has provided every individual a place in the Heaven or the Hell. The herald would ask the inmates of the Heaven to look at the inmates of the Hell. Finding them restless and suffering in the Hellfire, they will hear the herald calling: If you were disobedient to Allah, your predicament too would have been the same! Then the inmates of the Hell would be called by the herald to look at the people of the Heaven. Observing the luxuries and comforts of the people of the Heaven, the inmates of Hell would start crying and lamenting. The Herald would add, “If you too were, doing good deeds, you would have enjoyed the same comforts now!”
Imam Ja’far As-Sadiq (as) narrates that when the inmates of the Heaven and the Hell go to their respective destinations, a herald would announce, “O people! Will you recognize Death if it comes before you?” They will all reply in unison that they would not be able to recognize Death! The Death would appear in the space between the Heaven and the Hell in the shape of a sheep with black and white skin. The Herald would say, “Look! This is the Death!” Then with Allah’s orders the sheep would be slaughtered. Then the herald would announce, “O people of the Heaven and the Hell! Remain in the places allotted to you! Now there will be no death for you!”
The Prophet said, “O Abu Dharr! Heaven is the place from where if a woman looks at the earth, the entire earth would glitter with the reflection of the radiant face like it reflects when there is the full moon!”
Imam Ja’far As-Sadiq (as) said: Heaven is the place the fragrance of which is spread over a distance equal to the distance traveled in a thousand years. Every mu’min in the Heaven is provided so well that if he invites all the men and the jinns, they would be completely sated and an equal quantity of the victuals would remain with him! The inmates of the Heaven would get all the bounties of the Heaven and every individual would get eight hundred virgins, four thousand non-virgins and two Hoor-il-Een!