The Beauty of the Dwellings of the Garden
Palaces and mansions are among the most beautiful residences in the world. When people describe the beauty of these residences, they always mention, for example, their views, valuable furnishings, beautiful décor, columns, and gilded woodwork.
In the verses of the Qur’an that speak of the Garden, Allah often mentions such dwellings that are pleasing to human beings: mansions, palaces and pavilions. These dwellings are rare in this world, but they are numerous and in perfect and splendid condition in the Garden and Allah’s beloved slaves will live in them.
Some of the hadith in which the wealth and abundance of these dwellings are described are as follows:
We asked: “What is the Garden made of?” The Prophet said: “A brick of gold and a brick of silver, its mortar is of strongly scented musk, its stones are pearls and emeralds, and its soil is of saffron. Those who enter it will be in affluent circumstances and will not be destitute, they will live for ever and not die, their garments will not wear out, and their youth will not pass away.” (Narrated by Abu Hurayra, at-Tirmidhi)
The walls of the Garden are built of bricks of gold and silver, its dust of saffron… (Imam Ghazzali, Ihya Ulum ad- Din, vol. 4)
The hadith point out that the dwellings of the Garden are made from the most valuable materials, and, instead of common gravel and pebbles, there will be pearls and rubies.
The Mansions of the Garden:
No matter how beautiful the things of this world may be, inevitably they have many imperfections. The most beautiful mansion in this world cannot compare in beauty to a mansion in the Garden. Above all, time has a destructive effect on all worldly beauty. For example, if a mansion is unused and is abandoned, it will fall into decay. Its furnishings will age and become mouldy from moisture and damp and begin to rot. The resilience of their fabrics will decrease over time and their colours will fade. The furnishings will become covered with layers of dust and there will be spiders’ webs everywhere. In the course of time, such a beautiful dwelling will become unliveable. But the dwellings of the Garden are not subject to all these imperfections or to the destructive ravages of time. When the Qur’an describes these mansions of the Garden, it says that rivers flow beneath them and that they are built on high and secure places:
As for those who have iman and do right actions, We will lodge them in lofty chambers in the Garden, with rivers flowing under them, remaining in them timelessly, for ever. How excellent is the reward of those who act. (Surat al-‘Ankabut: 58)
It is not your wealth or your children that will bring you near to Us – only in the case of people who have iman and act rightly; such people will have a double recompense for what they did. They will be safe from all harm in the High Halls of the Garden. (Surah Saba’: 37)
Every detail in the description of the Garden speaks to every period of time and appeals to everyone. Rubies, emeralds, pearls and other precious stones are rare and valuable and everyone appreciates them. For this reason, that the mansions are made of these stones is an important indication of their priceless value.
Among these stones, the reddish transparent ruby is the rarest precious stone in the world. The shiny, smooth, round pearl has an extraordinary aesthetic beauty. Its formation is very special. Over time, a little grain of sand inside an oyster irritates the soft inward of the oyster which covers it with calcium carbonate until it eventually becomes a thing of striking beauty. Of course, these descriptions and comparisons with regard to the Garden are examples taken from the conditions pertaining in this world. These comparisons are necessary as a means to broaden our horizons and for us to think about the Garden. But the beautiful things of the Garden will be much more magnificent than the jewels of this world.
Everything in the Garden has been created to be as pleasant as possible. The Prophet says the following about the mansions in the Garden:
In the garden there is a tent of pearls, whose width is sixty miles, in each corner of which the believer will have a wife whom the others will not see. (Sahih al-Bukhari)
Another thing that adds to the beauty of these mansions is the splendid setting in which they are located. For example, as we see in many descriptions, some mansions are surrounded by greenery and stand over or near water.
In addition, there is another characteristic of these mansions in the Garden:
There are mansions made of emeralds and jewels. (Imam Ghazzali, Ihya Ulum ad-Din [The Revival of the Sciences of the Deen]
Everything has been created in the Garden according to what people desire and nothing they wish to see is withheld from their eyes. Allah reveals this in the Qur’an:
… They will have there all that their hearts desire and their eyes find delight in… (Surat az-Zukhruf: 71)
Cities in the Garden:
There is a river known as “Rayyan” in the Garden. A city of coral has been built upon it. It has seventy thousand gates of gold and silver. (Ahmad Diya ad-Din al-Kamushkhanawi, Ramuz al-Ahadith, vol. 2, p. 326/4)
In the above hadith, our Prophet tells of gold and silver, the symbols of splendid wealth and art. Because both these metals are brilliant, resilient, easy to shape and difficult to find they have held an important place throughout history. There is only as much as 0.004 grams of gold in a ton of earth; the amount per ton obtained in gold mines, however, varies between 6 and 12 grams. Therefore, to obtain a gold plate, tons of rocks must be refined. The fact that gold is hard to obtain and is rarer than other metals in the world increases its value greatly. And this shiny, resilient and easy to shape metal has also a strong aesthetic appeal to people.
The aesthetic and artistic value of gold makes it the metal of choice in the production of fine works of art. Many of the things we find rich and extravagant are either made of gold or decorated with it. In the adornment of objects, in bookbinding, calligraphy, miniatures and illumination, gold is indispensable. The lavish use of gold in the dwellings described in the hadith is a blessing that people find pleasing. In this world, people see gold often in the form of ingots; once in a while they come across a few gold-plated objects and accessories and perhaps even palaces with excessive use of gold such as in gilt columns. All these things are amazing to those of us who are accustomed to seeing only a few pieces of jewellery made of gold. This being the case, we cannot easily imagine a skyscraper or a mansion, a villa or a summer house made purely of gold. Just the idea that there may be such things gives pleasure and excitement to the human spirit. The hadith we have quoted previously tells us that the buildings in the Garden are made of gold and silver bricks. This increases the beauty of the already splendid houses in the Garden and makes them even more magnificent.
[It is built of] one brick of gold and one brick of silver, its mortar is of strongly scented musk, its stones are pearls and emeralds, and its soil is of saffron… (Narrated by Abu Hurayra, at-Tirmidhi)
In the hadith below, another aspect of the splendour of the Garden is emphasised by reference to a gold pillar:
In the Garden there is a gold pillar with cities of beryl [a bright, green precious stone resembling emerald] on it, and these shine like stars in the Garden… (Ahmad Diya ad-Din al-Kamushkhanawi, Ramuz al-Ahadith, vol. 1, p. 125/6)
Another interesting aspect of the above hadith is the high elevation of the cities. Certainly in this world a highly elevated city is to be preferred because of the view and refreshing climate. When we consider that these cities are in the splendid setting of the Garden, we can better understand to what extent these dwellings will be pleasing to the human spirit. These dwellings spoken of in the hadith – cities on pillars – have a parallel in the verses of the Qur’an that tell us about high-ceilinged halls built one above the other:
But those who have taqwa of their Lord will have high-ceilinged Halls, and more such Halls built one above the other, and rivers flowing under them. That is Allah’s promise. Allah does not break His promise. (Surat az-Zumar: 20)
When we think of life in a city, first of all, many problems come to mind. Traffic, health, communication, air pollution, infrastructure, water, electricity, telephones and security have become matters that people have to struggle with. Many professions have even come into existence to mitigate these problems and help people lead more untroubled and ordered lives. The reasons for such problems will be eradicated in the Garden and there is no possibility that such conditions could ever exist in the cities there.
The Qur’an tells us that the climate of the Garden will be the most pleasant and comfortable for the human spirit: “…they will experience there neither burning sun nor bitter cold.”(Surat al-Insan: 13) For this reason, there will be no need for heating systems or air conditioning. As we will see in the following chapters, communication will be no problem in the Garden. Allah knows the truth.
When the buildings of the Garden are mentioned in the hadith, the Prophet says that their mortar will be a sweet-smelling material called musk. We can see that all the blessings that Allah has created in the Garden appeal to all our senses. A sweet aroma is a wonderful blessing for human beings. The scent of roses, carnations, lilies, hyacinths, lilacs, acacia and pine trees are all gifts of Allah to human beings. In addition, these wonderful smells have a pleasing effect on the human spirit. Nothing in this world will be able to compare with the aromas of the Garden and people will enjoy all their unexpected subtleties. The fact that the mortar of the buildings is composed of musk is one of the best examples of this. This is only one of the wonderful things that Allah has created for believers in the Garden.
The Palaces of the Garden:
In one hadith, the palaces of the Garden are mentioned:
In the Garden, there are palaces built of emeralds and jewels and in each building there will be 70 rooms of red colour and in each room 70 sub-rooms of green colour and in each sub-room there will be one throne… There will be 70 dining cloths in each room and 70 kinds of food on each dining cloth. There will be seven servants in each room… (Imam Ghazzali, Ihya Ulum ad-Din, vol. 4)
We are told that the palaces of the Garden are made of the most precious stones, that they are decorated in the most beautiful and pleasing manner and that they are full of blessings. Believers who are not content with the life of this world and who are not deceived by the attractions of this transitory world will be blessed in the Hereafter with real gifts that are perfect and everlasting. Because they have had a pure iman, and have willingly made serious effort toward the attainment of the Garden, they will have true delight forever in its beautiful dwellings. As well as containing every luxury and splendid wealth, this environment will be a pure and noble place where the people of the Garden always remember Allah and give Him heartfelt thanks. In the Qur’an, Allah tells us that the people of the Garden live there in continual thankfulness and happiness:
They will say, “Praise be to Allah Who has fulfilled His promise to us and made us the inheritors of this land, letting us settle in the Garden wherever we want. How excellent is the wage of those who work!” (Surat az- Zumar: 74)
The Cool Pavilions of the Garden:
Many hadith describe the tents that are among the dwellings of the Garden. Some of these hadith are as follows:
A tent [in the Garden] is like a hollow pearl, thirty miles in height and in every corner of the tent, a believer will have a wife who cannot be seen by the others. (Narrated by Abu Musa al- Ash’ari; Sahih al-Bukhari, vol. 4, hadith no: 466)
In the Garden the believer will have a tent made of a single hollow pearl, whose width will be sixty miles. The believer will have wives in it, and he will go to each of them with out any of them seeing each other. (Narrated by Abu Bakr ibn Abdullah ibn Qais, Sahih Muslim, vol. 4, hadith no: 2838)
The least of the people of the Garden in rank is the one who will have eighty thousand servants and seventy two wives, and for whom will be set up a dome of pearls, aquamarine and rubies similar in dimensions to the distance between Jabiyah and San’a. (Abu Sa’id al-Khudri, at-Tirmidhi)
Everything in the Garden has been created in the most perfect way and the pavilions are as comfortable as possible to give pleasure, comfort and relaxation to believers. The Messenger of Allah tells us that these pavilions are extraordinarily capacious and made of precious jewels. In the hadith we are told that those who belong to the people of the Garden live a wonderful life with their families and friends within broad and lofty pearl. Certainly this is a wonder from the incomparable creative power and artistry of our Lord. A person who lives within the countless deficiencies, imperfections and restrictions of this world is delighted just to imagine such beauty. This splendour together with the numbers of servants there will be in these tents of the Garden made of emeralds and rubies is an announcement of glad tidings for those who work in this world in the hope of pleasing Allah, obtaining His mercy and entering the Garden.
The Markets of the Garden:
Markets are places where people are able to acquire the goods they need. In them there are all kinds of food and other articles. People go to these places looking forward to eating good food, trying different tastes, buying stylish clothes and appliances to make their work easier; they buy things they like which they think will make them comfortable. So, if people enjoy this blessing even a little in this world, Allah will make it perfect in the Garden. The markets in the Garden, with their countless variety of blessings and their sights that create a pleasing sense of abundance, appeal to the desires of the people of the Garden. In addition, in the Garden many kinds of inconveniences associated with worldly markets will disappear. For example, when people go through markets in this world, they quickly become weary even though they enjoy themselves. Most people do not have as much time as they would like to go around in them. Besides those few people who have enough money to buy what they want, most people cannot purchase everything they desire and there are many who cannot afford to buy even what they need. As long as they can pay the price they can select what they want from the abundance. But if they cannot afford it, they must be content only with browsing in these places. However, the Messenger of Allah tells us that people can have as much as they want of everything in the markets of the Garden. There, it will not be a matter of shopping; everyone will be able to have whatever he likes. There will be a variety of blessings in these markets that people have never seen or even imagined before. In His great kindness, Allah will give everyone what they desire and no one will want for anything.
This situation is described in the hadith:
So we will come to a market surrounded by angels in which there is that which eyes have never seen the like of, the ears have never heard and which has never occurred to human hearts. That which we desire will be carried to us, and nothing will be sold in it or bought. In that market the people of the Garden will meet each other, so that a man of high rank will come forward and meet those who are lesser than himself [and none of them will be low people] and the clothes he has on will amaze and delight him. Before he ceases speaking, an even finer raiment will appear upon him. That is because it is not fitting for anyone to sorrow in it. (Narrated by Abu Hurayra, Sunan Ibn Majah; at-Tirmidhi) There is in the Garden a market wherein there will be no buying and selling, but forms of men and women. So when a man wishes a form, he will enter into it. (Narrated by Ali, at-Tirmidhi)
Another blessing mentioned in the hadith is the physical features of men and women. To be able to change one’s style at will and to appear wearing different fashions is something that many people in this world dream about. Most people would like to have a beautiful, healthy and unblemished face and body. From birth, people have been given a certain hair colour, iris colour, facial features, skin tone, and height and body type. However, in the Garden there is no worldly sense of monotony from the existence of one kind of beauty; a person’s looks change when and however he may desire, as in this hadith containing the transformation of the man’s clothing in an instance. This is another blessing.
In another hadith, we are told about the pleasant social life in the markets of the Garden where believers sit in beautiful, fragrant, comfortable places, and meet and converse with one another:
It is certain that there are such markets in the Garden in which no goods are exchanged. When the inmates of the Garden arrive there, they will recline on fresh and bright pearly earth of musk. They will meet with each other as they did in this world. They will talk of how they were in this world and how they worshipped our Lord, of how they enlivened the nights in prayer, of how they fasted during the day, of the wealth and poverty of the world, of death… and of how they are the people of the Garden. (Mukhtasar Tadhkirah al-Qurtubi, p. 326/565)