In the life of this world, human beings are responsible for overcoming the impulses and appetites of their nafs (selves) and living their lives to please Allah. To do this we have been given a very short lifespan of sixty or seventy years on average. After the life of this world is over, Allah has created an endless and perfect life for His slaves who have won His favour. In comparison to that timeless existence, life in this world lasts only as long as the blink of an eye. The faithful slaves are those who have shown steadfastness and determination in living according to the genuine knowledge of the unity of Allah without association of partners to Him and in obedience to Allah and His Messenger. They will obtain a great reward in the world to come: the eternal life of the Garden. Doubtless the favour, mercy and love of our Lord for His slaves are a great joy for them.
Allah has created each person with a spirit that takes pleasure in and yearns for the best and finest things in life, because those beautiful things reflect the wonders of the Garden in the Unseen. From the first moment that someone has begun to understand the meaning of life, a person feels a constant desire to attain perfection. He is always in search of the blessings that this life has to offer. But no matter how strong his desire and no matter how hard he works to attain these good things, he will never find the perfection he is looking for in the world. This is because Allah has created the life of this world imperfect and unfulfilling.
There are many reasons why Allah has created the world in this way. As Allah tells us in the Qur’an, His creation is flawless. “He is Allah – the Creator, the Maker, the Giver of Form. To Him belong the Most Beautiful Names. Everything in the heavens and earth glorifies Him. He is the Almighty, the All- Wise.” (Surat al-Hashr: 24) Our Lord’s power is infinite and He can create what He wants. Therefore, there is a purpose in the defects of the world: Allah wants people to know that the Garden exists and to work towards it with eagerness and sincerity.
Allah has created human character such that we can only be at ease in the Garden and the desires of the heart can only be fulfilled there. Many verses of the Qur’an make this clear. Allah says in it that the real life is the life of the Garden and, therefore, every effort should be expended to attain this abode of endless good and beauty. Some verses of the Qur‘an on this subject are as follows:
The life of this world is nothing but a game and a diversion. The abode of the akhira – that is truly Life if they only knew. (Surat al-‘Ankabut: 64)
The truly good will be in perfect bliss on couches gazing in wonder. You will recognise in their faces the radiance of delight. They are given the choicest sealed wine to drink, whose seal is musk – let people with aspiration aspire to that! (Surat al- Mutaffifin: 22-26)
Allah expands provision to anyone He wills and restricts it. They rejoice in the life of this world. Yet the life of this world, compared to the akhira, is only fleeting enjoyment. (Surat ar-Ra’d: 26)
They will have there everything they want and with Us there is still more. (Surah Qaf: 35)
In one hadith, our Prophet gives an example to show what a great blessing the Garden is for human beings compared to the life of this world:
A space in the Garden equal to the distance between the middle and the end of a bow will be better than all that upon which the sun rises and sets. (Sahih al- Bukhari; Sahih Muslim)
Even if a person has no knowledge of this, he can easily understand it when he thinks of the imperfection of this world and the yearning he feels within himself for good things. Allah has created many proofs to show people that the life of this world is not the true life. Starting with the body itself, one is confronted almost every day with the imperfections of this world. You may come face to face with sickness, injury or even death because of the slightest accident. A great part of life must be spent compensating for the weakness of the body. But in spite of all these efforts, the body wastes away as the years pass. Beautiful flowers, like the human body, also fade with time; the most colourful and pleasing roses, tulips and violets wither and die. The tastiest and freshest looking fruit and vegetables become stale and inedible in a very short time. The most magnificent houses, and the finest automobiles and other material possessions grow old, break down and become useless with time.
These things are just a few of the imperfections that a person has to deal with in this world and are enough to make a person understand that this world is not the place he longs for.
In the face of all this imperfection, a person, in his heart of hearts, wants to live in a world where perfection is never-ending. He longs for a world where there is no illness, death, war, conflict, evil, anxiety or imperfection. With this in mind, he looks for ways to establish a life within the parameters of this world that is happy and carefree. However, Allah tells us in the Qur’an that this kind of life can only be had in the Garden. What human beings must do to attain the Garden is very simple: live in a way that is pleasing to Allah. Then, if Allah wills, they will find a perfect and endless life happy beyond all that they could desire or imagine.
Allah says much in the Qur’an about the blessings of the Garden because He wants people to understand that everything they are looking for, longing for and everything they love is in the Garden. In the following chapters of this book we will look at verses of the Qur’an and hadith of our Prophet to see the perfect blessings that our Lord has prepared for us.
One of the purposes of this book is to remind people that the real life is not in this world, but in the Garden, and what our hearts desire is not here but there. Even if you have never considered it before, this book will help you to understand that the longing you feel for perfection can only be fulfilled in the life of the Garden.
Another purpose of this book is to move our readers to consider the incomparable beauty of the Garden and the never-ending pleasure that will be the believers’. The verses of the Qur’an and the hadith of our Prophet tell us about blessings of the Garden that many people have perhaps never thought about before. An understanding of the splendour of the Garden, its limitless blessings and the good life that will be lived there will increase people’s longing for the Garden and make us strive harder to attain it. This book may be a means to help people take pleasure in their resolve to do such good works that they may be worthy of Allah’s endless mercy and His incomparable blessings.
Of course, our capacity to grasp the descriptions of the Garden throughout this book are limited by the limitations of the human mind. Indeed, the perfection and beauty announced by Allah in the Qur’an and described in the hadith of our Prophet are too great for a human being to conceive of with his intellect. One can only begin to understand the beauty of the Garden by comparing it with blessings one knows in this life. The beauty of the blessings that our Lord has prepared there for His faithful slaves will truly be understood only in the Hereafter (akhira). The pleasure they will give to the human spirit can only be tasted there. The reason for this is that Allah has vouchsafed these blessings and good things only to His slaves who have faith. He has withheld the blessings of the Garden from those who reject Him. In the Qur’an we are told that those who do not enter the Garden will experience a deep longing for it in the Hereafter and that their lives there will be full of sorrow. They will long for the Garden and will wish in eternal sorrow that they had entered it. Of course, they were aware in this life of the existence of the Garden and its beauty, but they ignored it. They focused all their attention on this world thinking they could satisfy the longing of their hearts in this life.
It is hoped that what is written in this book will be a means whereby people caught up in serious error may understand that real life will be lived only in the Hereafter, and thus they will spend their lives striving to win the favour of the Lord. It will, we hope, increase the pleasure and determination of people with faith as well as their longing to attain the Garden; it will lead them to strive to do good works so that they may be slaves beloved by Allah.