The Fragrant Aromas of the Garden
Fragrant aromas are a gift that Allah has given us. In this world, the most beautiful scent only lasts a short time. The molecules of a particular scent evaporate into the air and our noses quickly become used to the scent; this limits the pleasure that we can obtain from a scent. But the duration of a scent can be as important as the immediate pleasure it gives. In his hadith the Prophet describes the delight that beautiful aromas from the Garden can give:
If one of the women of the Garden peeped into this world, she would illuminate and fill with fragrance everything between [heaven and earth]. (Sahih al-Bukhari; Imam Ghazzali, Ihya Ulum ad-Din, vol. 4)
In another hadith, the Messenger of Allah told us about the beautiful aromas of the food in the Garden:
… the best smelling and finest foods are produced. (Al-Hafiz ibn ad- Dayba ash-Shaybani, Taysir al-usul ila Jami al-usul, p. 448/3)
Aroma is an important element in the pleasure we derive from food. The pleasure we take from the scent of a cake in the oven comes from the aroma of the vanilla and the chocolate, for example, wafting through the air. In the same way, the pleasure we take from roasting meat, oranges, tomatoes or any other food is due to the aromas they exude. If we had no sense of smell we would not be able to distinguish the foods we eat in this particular fashion and we would not experience their tastes in quite the same way. From this point of view, smells are complementary to the pleasure we find in delicious tastes.
Another hadith mentions the beauty of the aromas of the Garden:
The north wind will blow and will scatter fragrance on their faces and on their clothes and add to their goodness and beauty. (Narrated by Anas, Sahih Muslim)
Another hadith speaks of plants that are known by their beautiful scents:
Henna [a dye and scent] is the chief scent of the Garden… When Allah created the Garden He filled it with the scent of sweet basil, and surrounded the sweet basil with the scent of henna… (Mukhtasar Tadhkirah al-Qurtubi, p. 342/619)
Basil, mentioned in the hadith, is one of the plants known for its beautiful scent. However, the scents we know in this world are only a pale reflection of those in the Garden, and Allah knows best.
All aromas in the Garden have been created as blessings to please the senses of the believers, and none of the unpleasant odours we often encounter in this world will be found there. Those foul odours remind people of the imperfections of this world and make them long for the Garden. There will be no such imperfections in the Garden and every place will be redolent of the sweet aromas that please the human spirit. In one of his hadith, the Prophet says the following of the Garden:
… its mortar is of strongly scented musk … (At-Tirmidhi)