The Muslim Paradise is called al-Jannah الجنة”the garden,” pl. jannat, in Arabic and Bihisht in Persian; the word al-Firdaus الفردوس, or Paradise, being restricted to one region in the celestial abodes of bliss. There are eight heavens or paradises mentioned in the Qur’an, and although they appear to be but eight different, names for the place of bliss, Muslim divines have held them to be eight different stages.
They are as follows (see Ghiyasu l-Lughah) :—
1. Jannatu ‘l-Khuld (Suratu ‘l-Furqan, xxv. 16,), The Garden of Eternity.
2. Daru ‘s-Salam (Suratu l-An’am, vi. 127), The Dwelling of Peace.
3. Daru ‘l-Qarar (Suratu ‘l-Mu’min, ii. 42). The Dwelling which abideth.
4. Jannatu ‘l-’Adn (Suratu ‘l-Bara’ah, ix. 73), The Gardens of Eden.
5. Jannatu ’1-Ma’wa (Suratu ‘s-Sajdan, xxxii. 19), The Gardens of Refuge.
6. Jannatu ‘n-Na’im (Suratu 1-Ma’idah, v. 70), The Gardens of Delight.
7. ‘Illiyun (Suratu ‘t-Tatfif, lxxxiii. 18).
8. Jannatu ‘l-Firdaus (Suratu ‘l-Kahf. xviii. 107), The Gardena of Paradise.
These eight stages are spoken of as eight doors in the Miskat, book ii. ch. i.)
The sensual delights of Muhammad’s Paradise are proverbial, and they must have exercised a considerable influence upon the minds of the people to whom he made known his mission: There are frequent allusions. to them in the Qur’an. The following are , specimen passages :—
Suratu ’1-Insan (lxxvi.), 12—22 :—” God hath rewarded their constancy, with Paradise, and silken robes, reclining therein on bridal couches; nought shall they know of’ sun or piercing cold; its shades shall close over them, and low shall its fruits hang down: and vessels of silver and goblets like flagons shall be borne round among them flagons of silver whose measure themselves shall mete. And there shall they be given to drink of the cup tempered with zanjabil (ginger) from the fount therein whose name is Salsabil (i.e. the softly flowing). Blooming youths go round among them. When thou loosest at them, thou wouldst deem them scattered pearls; and when thou seest this, thou wilt see delights and a vast kingdom; their clothing green silk robes kind rich brocade: with silver bracelets shall they be adorned: and drink of a pure beverage shall their Lord give them. This shall be your recompense.”
Suratu ‘l-Waqi’ah (lvi), 12—39 : “In garden of delight, a crowd of the former and a few of the later generations on inwrought couches reclining on them face to face,: blooming youths go round about them with goblets and ewers and a cup of flowing wins, their brows ache not from it, nor fails the sense: and with such fruits as shall please them best, and with flesh of such birds as they shall long for; and theirs shall the the Houris (Arabic hur), with huge dark eyes, like pearls hidden in their shells, in recompense for their labours past. No vain discourse shall they hear therein, nor charge of sin, but only cry ‘Peace’ Peace!…. Unfailing, unforbidden, and on lofty couches and of a rare creation have we made the Houris, and we have made them ever virgins, dear to their spouses and of equal age, for the people of the right hand, a crowd of the former, and a crowd of the later generations.”
Suratu ‘r-Rahman (lv.), 54—56: “On couches with linings of brocade shall they recline, and the fruit of the two gardens shall he within their easy reach. Therein shall he the damsels with retiring, glances, whom neither man nor jinn hath touched before them.”
Suratu ’1-Muhammad (xlvii.) 16, 17: “Therein are rivers of water which corrupt not; rivers of milk, whose taste changeth not; and rivers of wine, delicious to those who quaff it; and rivers of clarified honey: and therein are all kinds of fruit for them from their Lord.”
The description of the celestial regions and the enjoyments promised to the faithful are still more minutely given in the traditional sayings of the Prophet; see the Mishkat, book xxiii. ch. xiii.
Abu Musa relates that “the Apostle of God said, Verily there is a tent, for every Muslim in Paradise, it is made of one pearl, its interior empty, its breadth 60 kos, and in every corner of it will be his wives : and they shall not see one another. The Muslim shall love them alternately,” &c.
One of the attractions of Paradise is the river Kausar. [KAUSAR.] According to Anas, “the Apostle of God said, it is a river which God has given me in Paradise, its water is whiter than milk, and sweeter than honey, and on its waters are birds whose necks are like the necks of camels.”
The following is an instance of the way in which the Prophet endeavoured to suit his paradise to the tastes of the people :—
Abu Aiyub says, An Arab came to the Prophet and said, ‘O Apostle of God! I am fond of horses; are there any in Paradise?’ The Prophet replied, ‘if you are taken into Paradise, you will get a ruby horse, with two wings, and you will mount him, and be will carry you wherever you wish.”
Based on Hughes, Dictionary of Islam