"They will have Gardens of Eden with rivers flowing under them. They will be adorned in them with bracelets made of gold..." (Surat al-Kahf: 31)
The Abundant Wealth of the Garden
In non-religious societies, wealth has always been the symbol of power and respect and it has been among the major goals that people strive for throughout their lives. One of the reasons for this is that people without faith believe that they will only be truly happy if they are wealthy. They think that they can only secure their possessions and achieve comfort, ease and the beautiful things they like in this way. For this reason, they spend their whole lives amassing property and possessions, saving money and making the right investments. They worry that their possessions will be used up and so they do not make use of them, they avoid spending money at all costs and do everything they can to preserve their wealth.
But in the life of this world, a person’s wealth will not bring him the pleasure he expects no matter how hard he works for it. It may give him comfort in some ways, but in this flawed and imperfect world wealth is also flawed and imperfect. The Arabic word dunya (world) is derived from the word dani which means “low, inferior, simple, worthless.”
A reason why Allah created the world flawed, and as a transitory place is to allow people to appreciate better the good things of the Garden. For example, if a person who has lived in poverty since childhood is invited to a home with magnificent furniture and priceless works of art, decorated with precious stones, and is offered rare foods to eat, he would be struck by the beauty of the place. Doubtless, this person’s delight would be much greater than that of someone who has lived in such an environment since childhood. Our position in this world is similar to that of a person brought up in poverty and want. But even the world’s wealthiest person is poor in comparison to the riches of the Garden. And, in this world, a person can never attain this true wealth. Even the richest person in the world will finally be wrapped in a few metres of cloth or put into a coffin and buried in the ground, leaving all his wealth behind. Allah tells us in the Qur’an that the blessings of the world are transitory:
The metaphor of the life of the world is that of water which We send down from the sky, and which then mingles with the plants of the earth to provide food for both people and animals. Then, when the earth is at its loveliest and takes on its fairest guise and its people think they have it under their control, Our command comes upon it by night or day and We reduce it to dried-out stubble, as though it had not been flourishing just the day before! In this way We make Our Signs clear for people who reflect. (Surah Yunus: 24)
The wealth of the Garden, unlike the wealth of this world, is an everlasting wealth that people will experience in their hearts and with their bodies and senses, without worrying that it will ever come to an end. This verse in the Qur’an tells us about the beautiful wealth of the Garden: “Seeing them, you see delight and a great kingdom.” (Surat al-Insan: 20)
The wealth of the Garden is a harmony containing the artistry of Allah’s endless bounty and dazzling splendour. All of this beauty is presented in such a way as to fulfil the believers’ passions and desires, because it is only when wealth is turned into beauty in this way that it can give meaning to the human spirit.
In the following pages several hadith are included illustrating how beautiful it is to dwell in the Garden and we will describe its wealth at the same time. The beauty of these places, apart from their aesthetic qualities, comes from the value of the materials used to decorate them. In a hadith, our Prophet replied to someone who asked about what materials the Garden is built from:
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)
The wealth promised to the people of the Garden is limitless; it is in abundance, and there is no worry that it will ever be used up.
The Treasures of the Garden:
These treasures mentioned earlier in the hadith emphasise the splendour of the Garden. When thinking about this, we should remember that it is a creation of Allah Whose possessions are limitless and He gives them to those of His slaves whom He wills. And in case we think of those treasures in entirely material terms, our Prophet reminds us in these words:
“Shall I not guide you to one of the treasures of the Garden?” I said: “Yes, Messenger of Allah!” Thereupon he said, “La hawla wa la quwwata illa billah – There is no change of a condition nor power except by Allah.” (Narrated by Abu Musa (r.a.), Sahih al-Bukhari; Sahih Muslim)
Here he tells us of a treasure of an entirely different nature, the tremendous remembrance of Allah.
Worldly wealth, like all other things that human beings possess, is transitory and will come to an end. No matter how rich a person is, their existence is limited to a few decades. Human life cannot go beyond this limitation. In their pursuit of wealth, which constitutes one of the major goals of people without faith in this world, they get caught up in shortlived worldly ambitions.
As for those who believe and do right actions - We impose on no self any more than it can bear - they are the Companions of the Garden, remaining in it timelessly, for ever.(Surat al-A'raf: 42)
However great wealth is, it can be evaluated if that is required and expressed in numerical terms. However, the beautiful things of the Garden are beyond any price and Allah offers them free of charge to those of His slaves with whom He is pleased. In the Qur’an, Allah reveals the blessings of the Garden in this verse; “This is Our provision which will never run out.” (Surah Sad: 54) And in the verse “[fruits] never failing, unrestricted,” (Surat al-Waqi‘a: 33) He reveals that the food in the Garden has the same quality. As Allah has said, the blessings of the Garden cannot be used up or diminished; they are given continually to its people. The treasures of the Garden are certainly among the blessings that Allah will offer to His slaves. Allah, Who possesses all things, will offer these treasures in the Garden without charge for all eternity to His chosen slaves.
The Abundance of Possessions in the Garden:
In the Garden, wealth and possessions are abundant and free. Our Prophet says the following about the abundance of the Garden:
The one with the lowest rank from among the inhabitants of the Garden will be that person who will be able to see his gardens, wives, luxuries, servants and things of enjoyment to the distance of one thousand years… (Narrated by Ibn Umar, at-Tirmidhi)
If as much of what is in the Garden as could be carried by a fingernail were to appear, the space between the cardinal points of the heavens and the earth would be adorned on account of it. If a man of the inhabitants of the Garden were to look down and his bracelets were to appear, his light would obliterate the light of the sun just as the sun obliterates the light of the stars. (Narrated by Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas, at- Tirmidhi)
As these hadith point out, even a small portion of the blessings of the Garden is enormous when measured according to worldly standards. This abundance is emphasised in one of the above hadith when he says that the bracelets are more brilliant than the sun.
Precious Stones and Metals
In the Qur’an, Allah reveals that there are luxurious items, various jewels and precious stones in the Garden. “[They are] on sumptuous woven couches” (Surat al-Wa‘qia: 15) ve “They will enter Gardens of Eden where they will be adorned with gold bracelets and pearls.” (Surah Fatir: 33) These jewels that are mentioned in the Qur’an and in the hadith in relation to the Garden have been expressions throughout human history of wealth and splendour. Everyone appreciates these adornments of diamonds, pearls, rubies, gold and silver, and takes pleasure in seeing things decorated with them.
They will have Gardens of Eden with rivers flowing under them. They will be adorned in them with bracelets made of gold and wear green garments made of the finest silk and rich brocade, reclining there on couches under canopies. What an excellent reward! What a wonderful repose!(Surat al-Kahf: 31)
There are some hadith, such as those below that mention pearls as a blessing of the Garden:
Those who dwell in the Garden of Eternity will wear crowns encrusted with pearls, the radiance of the smallest of which will illuminate the space separating the east from the west! (At-Tirmidhi)
‘Abd-Allah ibn ‘Amr said: “I heard the Messenger of Allah saying that the [Yemeni] Corner and the Station [of Ibrahim] are two of the precious stones of the Garden, whose light has been extinguished by Allah. If He had not extinguished their light, it would illuminate everything between the east and the west.” (At-Tirmidhi, 804)
Pearls are a good example of the rare value of the blessings of the Garden. Divers must go down several times into the dangerous depths of the sea to bring them up, and this adornment is found in only a few of the many oysters that are collected. Besides its beauty, what gives value to this little object is, as we said above, the effort required to obtain it and its great rarity.
Much time, effort and expense is required in this world to obtain the pearl, but they are abundant in the world to come. The fact that such a rare and valuable object of beauty is plentiful will doubtless produce a particular excitement in the human spirit. Moreover, the blessings of the Garden revealed in the Qur’an will have a beauty that is beyond our capacity to imagine. The hadith mention a pearl that illuminates everything between East and West, but we cannot completely picture the brilliance and splendour of such a pearl in our minds.