Paradise Part 4:The State of the People of Paradise in this World
Paradise Part 4:The State of the People of Paradise in this World
The Qur'an promises believers the joy of an endless reward and eternal happiness. But one point often escapes attention: This good news, extending in endless time and into endless beauty, has already started for believers in this world, for since they have been promised Paradise in the world to come, they will be blessed in this world by Allah's grace and generosity. The Qur'an also says that believers who do good works will be given a good life in this world as well:
Anyone who acts rightly, male or female, being a believer, We will give them a good life and We will recompense them according to the best of what they did. (Surat an-Nahl: 97)
In several places, the Qur'an proclaims that the good news announced in the verse above will be enjoyed by all sincere believers, the Prophets being the foremost among believers. For example, our Prophet (saas), who was given the good tidings of the highest ranks of Paradise in the Qur'an, was someone whom Allah made rich in this life: "Did He not find you impoverished and enrich you?" (Surat ad-Duha, 8). In addition, the Qur'an mentions the riches and possessions given to Prophets Dawud (as), Sulayman (as), Ibrahim (as), and Dhu'l Qarnayn (as) several times.
Giving blessings and beauty in this world as a reward and encouragement, as well as an indication to sincere believers of our Lord's grace and favor, is one of Allah's unchanging laws. Since wealth, splendor, and beauty are Paradise's most basic characteristics, Allah creates similar blessings here to remind His chosen servants of Paradise and to increase their ardor and desire to attain it. Therefore, just as unbelievers already begin their eternal anguish in this world, sincere believers begin to see the eternal beauty promised to them.
Believers live far from every spiritual anxiety and sorrow, because they remain in the awareness of Allah, Who created them, and so conform to His commands and prohibitions; because they live according to Islam, the religion that Allah was pleased to choose for humanity; and, most importantly, because they nurture hope and great expectations for the life to come. Above all, our Lord's assistance and support is with them, for: "Allah sent down His serenity on His Messenger and on the believers" (Surat at-Tawba, 26). Believers find a sense of comfort in the knowledge that Allah sees them in every prayer they observe, in every faithful work they perform, and in everything they do, both great and small, to gain His good pleasure. In addition, they also know that angels record their deeds in books and that they will be rewarded in the afterlife for what they have done. This is the sense of security that comes from their knowledge that Allah supports them with unseen hosts and angels, that they have a "succession of angels in front of them and behind them, in order to "guard them by Allah's command" (Surat ar-Ra'd, 11), that they will overcome the challenges they will face in Allah's way, and that they always have the joyful promise of Paradise. So, sincere believers, according to what Allah revealed to the angels, will never be overcome with fear or excitement, for: "I am with you, so make those who have faith firm" (Surat an-Anfal, 12).
The Qur'an says that believers are "those who say: 'Our Lord is Allah,' and then go straight" (Surah Fussilat, 30). The angels descend on them and say: "Do not fear and do not grieve, but receive the glad tidings of Paradise you have been promised" (Surah Fussilat, 30). It also says that believers know that Allah "imposes on no self any more than it can bear" (Surat al-A'raf, 42).
They have a firm belief in destiny and that Allah makes and accomplishes everything. Thus they accept everything that happens to them as being from Allah, as the following verse says: "Nothing can happen to us except what Allah has ordained for us" (Surat at-Tawba, 51). Since they seek to please Allah, saying: "Allah is enough for us and the Best of Guardians" (Surah Al 'Imran, 173-174), no evil thing will touch them.
But because this world is a place of testing, believers will face difficulties, such as hunger, illness, and sleeplessness, an accident or material loss. They may go through even more difficulties and trials, such as those of poverty and constraint, as indicated in the following verse:
Or did you suppose that you would enter Paradise without facing the same as those who came before you? Poverty and illness afflicted them, and they were shaken to the point that the Messenger and those who had faith with him said: "When is Allah's help coming?" Be assured that Allah's help is very near. (Surat al-Baqara, 214)
Such trials did not sway the Prophets and the believers from their firm faith in our Lord, or from their determination to put the Qur'an's verses into practice. At the end of the verse, Allah promises believers that His assistance is already very near to them. In another verse, He states that:
Allah will give security, in their victorious Safe Haven, to those who had fear. No evil will touch them, and they will know no sorrow. (Surat az-Zumar, 61)
All believers know that difficulties are created to test their faith, and that if they are patient and submissive, these difficulties will be great opportunities for them to mature spiritually. In addition, these trials will become the source of their eternal reward in the afterlife. For this reason, they will submit to these difficulties and retain their well-being, happiness, or joy. These anxieties will not upset their spiritual balance or adversely affect their perception or determination. In fact, their enthusiasm will continue to grow, because they know that they will receive the reward for their patience and submission in His Presence.
For unbelievers, the situation is just the opposite. Those who deny the Qur'an suffer spiritual anguish in addition to the physical pain that they endure in this earthly life. The fear, sorrow, hopelessness, tension, pessimism, and other negative feelings that they experience here are just the beginning of the anguish they will suffer in Hell. Allah describes these people in the following verse:
When Allah desires to guide someone, He expands his breast to Islam. When He desires to misguide someone, He makes his breast narrow and constricted, as if he were climbing up into the sky. That is how Allah defiles those who do not believe. (Surat al-An'am, 125)
Allah reveals that He wills to forgive the sins and errors of those who stand in awe and reverence of His Glory, that He will reward His faithful and repentant servants with the finest blessings in this earthly life, and that they will find favor with Him. As we read in the Qur'an:
Ask your Lord for forgiveness, and then turn toward Him in repentance. He will let you enjoy a good life until a specified time, and will give His Favor to all who merit it. But if you turn your backs, I fear for you the punishment of a Mighty Day. (Surah Hud, 3)
In other words, seeking Allah's forgiveness and turning to Him in repentance are duties enjoined upon all faithful Muslims. These attitudes show that believers are aware of how helpless and weak they are before Allah, for they know their errors and shortcomings and are aware that they can make mistakes. Therefore, they desire Allah's mercy. As our Lord has said, He rewards such people here for their fine morality and gives them a good life until they die. In another verse, He describes the believers' earthly life in this way:
When those who have fear of Allah are asked, "What has your Lord sent down?" their reply is, "Good!" There is good in this world for those who do good, and the abode of the hereafter is even better. How wonderful is the abode of those who guard against evil. (Surat an-Nahl, 30)
When all of this life's beauties are compared with the land to come, they become completely valueless. Therefore, if a goal is to be chosen, it can only be the life of the world to come. Allah increases the blessings of those believers who, already in this world, have set their hearts on the life to come.
In their prayers, believers pray for the world to come and ask Allah for blessings and good in this life. Examples of such prayers are given in the following verses:
When you have completed your rites, remember Allah as you used to remember your forefathers - or even more. Some people say: "Our Lord, give us good in this world." They will have no share in the hereafter. Others say: "Our Lord, give us good in this world and good in the hereafter, and safeguard us from the punishment of the Fire." They will have a good share from what they have earned. Allah is swift at reckoning. (Surat al-Baqara, 200-202)
In the Qur'an, those faithful servants of Allah who sincerely believe in Him are said to be made heirs of this world. Surely His promise is true and will come to pass. One verse states:
Allah has promised those of you who believe and do right actions that He will make them successors in the land, as He made those before them successors; (that He) will firmly establish for them their religion (Islam), which He is pleased to give them; and, in place of their fear, security. "They worship Me, not associating anything with Me." As for those who do not believe after that, such people are deviators. (Surat an-Nur, 55)