The Koran's Descriptions of Paradise and Hell As a Mark of Its Divine Inspiration


The Koran’s claim to be inimitable is its stated evidence of divine inspiration. Its poetry and prose is universally considered, even by non-Muslims, to be the greatest ever written in Arabic, and even back before I embraced Islam I recognized that the Koran’s poetry was the best I’d ever read, better even than Keats or Lange. The first time I ever heard the Koran’s poetry being recited in Arabic, it literally (and I do mean literally) took my breath away. Much has been said on the subject of the Koran's supernatural eloquence, but here I am going to discuss an aspect of it I never seem to see discussed, and also explain why and how the claim to supernatural eloquence in general works.

Naturally it is a matter of opinion what has higher literary quality than what, but the point of the Koran’s supernatural eloquence is significant objectively because it is only to be expected that it God exists and inspired a Book, the Book’s way of communicating would be precise and of maximum conveyance of meaning, that it would express its points in the most eloquent way possible--after all, one would hardly expect God to have a problem putting things into words. An onniscient Being, when trying to communicate with us, would quite naturally say everything with maxium efficiency and matchless powerful language. So if the Book really does speak with perfect eloquence, especially the kind that defines an entire language the way that the Koran did, then this is one of the marks of divine inspiration.

Much more than the topics discussed in this article contain that element, that mark of inspiration, but for now I’m just going to stick with the poetic descriptions of Paradise and hell. These are unquestionably the most intense and matchless descriptions of agony and ecstasy ever recorded in any language at any time. In fact, it isn’t even possible to describe more ideal rewards or punishments or describe them more powerfully. If you think otherwise, then by all means see if you can write more effective descriptions yourself. I think you will find that more powerful descriptions are not possible--and isn’ this what you would expect from a divine communicator?

Descriptions of Paradise

And view with one another, hastening to forgiveness from your Lord, and to a garden whose breadth is as the heavens and the earth, prepeared for the godfearing.

(The Koran Interpreted 3:133)

See, the inhabitants of Paradise today are busy in their rejoicing, they and they spouses, reclining upon couches in the shade; therein they have fruits, and they have all that they call for.

(The Koran Interpreted 36:55-57)

[The blessed] shall enter Paradise, therein provided without reckoning.

(The Koran Interpreted 40:40)

For [the blessed] await lofty chambers, above which are lofty chambers, underneath which rivers flow.

(The Koran Interpreted 39:20)

There shall be passed around them platters of gold, and cups, therein being whatever the souls desire, and the eyes delight in. And therein [the blessed] shall dwell forever.

(The Koran Interpreted 43:71)

They shall not taste therein of death, save the first death.

(The Koran Interpreted 44:54)

Therein they shall recline upon couches, therein they shall see neither sun nor bitter cold. Near them shall be its shades, and its clusters hung meekly down, and there shall be passed around them vessels of silver, and goblets of crystal, crystal of silver that they have measured very exactly. And therein they shall be given to drink a cup whose mixture is ginger, therein a fountain whose name is called Salsabil. Immortal youths shall go about them; when thou seest them, thou suppost them scattered pearls, when thou seest them thou seest bliss and a great kingdom. Upon them shall be green garments of silk and brocade; they are adorned with bracelets of silver, and their Lord shall give them ot drink of a pure draught.

(The Koran Interpreted 76:13-21)

[The foremost in the faith,] those are they brought nigh the Throne [of God], in the Gardens of Delight...upon close-wrought couches, reclining upon them, set face to facw, immortal youths going round about them with goblets, and ewers, and a cup from a spring (no brows throbbing, no intoxication), and such fruits as they shall choose, and such flesh of fowl as they desire, and wide-eyed houris as the likeness of hidden pearls, a recompense for that they laboured. Therein they shall hear no idle talk, no cause of sin, only the saying, “Peace, Peace!”

(The Koran Interpreted 56:11-26)

Surely for the godfearing awaits a place of security, gardens and vineyards and maidens with swelling breats, like of age, and a cup overflowing.

(The Koran Interpreted 78:31-34)

And there go round them youths [translated “menservants” by Pickthall], their own, as I fthey were hidden pearls.

(The Koran Interpreted 52:24)

Descriptions of Hell

Lo, the Tree of Ez-Zakkoum is the food of the guilty, like molten copper, bubbling in the belly as boiling water bubbles. “Take him, and thrust him into the midst of Hell, then pour over his head the chastisement of boiling water!”

(The Koran Interpreted 44:43-48)

[You damned] shall fill therewith your bellies [of the Tree of Ez-Zakkoum] and drink on top of that boiling water, lapping it down like thirsty camels.

(The Koran Interpreted 56:53-55)

[It will be said to the damned,] “Depart to that you cried was lies! Depart to a triple-massing shadow unshading against the blazing flame that shoots sparks like dry faggots, sparks like to golden herds.

(The Koran Interpreted 77:29-33)

“Take him, and fetter him, and then roast him in Hell, then in a chain of seventy cubits’ length insert him!”

(The Koran Interpreted 69:30-32)

Verily it is a furnace snatching away the scalp.

(The Koran Interpreted 70:15-16)

For [the damned] garments of fire shall be cut, and there shall be poured over their heads boiling water, whereby whatsoever is in their bellies and their skins shall be melted; for them await hooked iron rods; as often as they desire in their anguish to come fortj from it, they shall be restored into it, and: “Taste th chastisement of the burning!”

(The Koran Interpreted 22:19-22)