3. Hell - The Torments in Hell
Being Taken to Hell
Hell is the place, where the attributes of Allah, the al-Jabbar (the Compeller), the al-Qahhar (the Subduer) and al-Muntaqim (the Avenger) are manifested for all eternity. It is specially created to inflict suffering on unbelievers. In the Qur'an, hell is depicted as if it were a living being. This creature is full of rage at and hatred for unbelievers. Since the day it was created, it waits to take its revenge upon unbelievers. As related in the Qur'an, hell is "ceaselessly scorching the flesh." (Surat Al-Muddaththir: 29) When it encounters those who deny the religion, its rage intensifies. The creation of this fire serves a purpose; to inflict an unbearable torment. Indeed, it will carry out its duty and give the gravest of all pain.
After the judgment of unbelievers takes place in the Presence of Allah, they will take their Books from the left side. This is the moment they will be sent to hell for all eternity. For the unbelievers, there is no opportunity to escape. There will be billions of people, yet this huge crowd will not offer the unbelievers an opportunity to escape or to be ignored. No one can hide himself in this crowd. Everyone will come with a witness and one who drives the soul on. Allah states as follows:
The Trumpet will be blown. That is the Day of the Threat. Every soul will come along with one who drives it on, and one who testifies against it. One will say 'You were heedless of this, so We have stripped you of your covering and today your sight is sharp.' His inseparable comrade will say, 'My testimony is ready to hand.' (And it is said): 'Cast into hell every obdurate unbeliever, impeder of good, doubt-causing aggressor, who has set up another deity besides Allah. Hurl him into the terrible punishment.' (Surah Qaf: 20-26)
Unbelievers are driven towards this terrible place. As related in the Qur'an, they are driven "in divisions". However, on the way to hell, fear is inspired in the hearts of unbelievers. The horrible noise and roar of the fire is heard from a distance:
When they are flung into it, they will hear it gasping harshly as it seethes. It all but bursts with rage. Each time a group is flung into it, its custodians will question them: 'Did no warner come to you?' (Surat al-Mulk: 7-8)
In the 12th verse of Surah al- Furqan, it is revealed that "When it sees them coming from a long way off, they will hear it seething and rasping."
From the verses, it is obvious that when they are recreated, all unbelievers will understand what will befall them. They will remain all alone; no friends, relatives, or supporters will be there to help. Unbelievers will not have the strength to be arrogant and they will look with averted eyes. In the Qur'an their desperation is stated as follows:
You will see them as they are exposed to it, abject in their abasement, glancing around them furtively. Those who have faith will say, 'Truly the losers are those who lose themselves and their followers on the Day of Resurrection. The wrongdoers suffer an everlasting punishment.' (Surat ash-Shura: 45)
Entrance to Hell and the Gates of Hell
In the Qur'an the events the unbelievers will experience at the gates of hell are described as follows:
Those who are unbelievers will be driven to hell in companies and when they arrive there and its gates are opened its custodians will say to them, 'Did Messengers from yourselves not come to you, reciting your Lord's signs to you and warning you of the meeting on this Day of yours? 'They will say, 'Indeed they did, but the decree of punishment is justly carried out against the unbelievers.' They will be told, 'Enter the gates of hell and stay there timelessly, forever. How evil is the abode of the arrogant!' (Surat az-Zumar: 71-72)
For each one of the groups a special gate of hell is created. Depending upon the extent of their rebellion against Allah, people are subjected to a classification. Unbelievers are placed in their individual locations in hell according to the sins they have committed. It is stated thus in the Qur'an:
He will say, 'Enter the Fire together with the nations of jinn and men who have passed away before you.' Each time a nation enters, it will curse its sister nation, until, when they are all gathered together in it, the last of them will say to the first, 'Our Lord, those are the ones who misguided us, so give them a double punishment in the Fire.' He will say, 'Each will receive double. But you do not know it.' (Surat al-A'raf: 38)
In another verse in the Surat al-Hijr we are informed that hell will have seven different gates:
... Hell is the promised meeting-place for all of them. It has seven gates and each gate has its allotted share. (Surat al-Hijr: 43-44)
Those subjected to the severest torment will be the hypocrites. These are the people who behaved in this world as if they were believers, although they had no faith in their hearts. The place of the hypocrites in hell is stated in the Qur'an as follows:
The hypocrites are in the lowest level of the Fire. You will not find any one to help them. (Surat an-Nisa': 145)
Hell is full of hatred; its hunger for unbelievers can never be quenched. Despite the many unbelievers thrown into it, it asks for more:
On the Day He says to hell, 'Are you full? 'it will ask, 'Are there no more to come?' (Surah Qaf: 30)
Once hell catches, it keeps the unbeliever for all eternity. Allah describes hell in the Qur'an as follows:
I will roast him in hellfire. What will convey to you what hellfire is? It does not spare anyone and it does not ease up, ceaselessly scorching the flesh. (Surat al-Muddaththir: 26-29)
As seen in the verses, unbelievers will be "thrown" into hell. In another verse in Surat ash-Shu'ara, we are informed that they are " bundled " (Surat ash-Shu'ara: 94) into it.
An Endless Life Behind Locked Doors
As soon as unbelievers arrive in hell, the doors are locked behind them. Here, they see the most fearsome sights. They immediately understand that they will be "presented" to hell, the place where they will remain for all eternity. The closed doors indicate that there will be no salvation. Allah describes the state of unbelievers as follows:
And (as for) those who disbelieve in Our signs, they are the people of the left hand. On them is fire closed over. (Surat al-Balad: 19-20)
The torment in the Qur'an is described as "a severe punishment" (Surah Al 'Imran: 176), "a heavy doom" (Surah Al 'Imran: 4), and "a painful chastisement" (Surah Al 'Imran: 21). The descriptions of it are inadequate to give a full understanding of the punishment in hell. Being unable to suffer even minor burns in the world, man cannot grasp being exposed to fire for all eternity. What is more, the pain that a fire gives in the world does not stand comparison with the severe torture of hell. No pain can be similar to that of hell:
None punishes as He will punish on that day! None binds as He then will bind. (Surat al-Fajr: 25-26)
There is life in hell. Yet it is a life in which every moment is full of torture and anguish. In that life, every type of physical, mental and psychological torment, along with various types of torture and disgrace rage unchecked. To compare it to any distress in the world is impossible.
People in hell perceive pain through all five senses. Their eyes see disgusting and terrible images; their ears hear frightening screams, roars and cries; their noses fill with terrible and acrid smells; their tongues taste the most unbearable, vile tastes. They feel hell deep in their cells; this is a maddeningly severe pain that is difficult to imagine in this world. Their skin, their internal organs and their whole body are wracked and they writhe in pain.
The people of hell are very resistant to pain and they never die. Allah states in the Qur'an as "How steadfastly they will endure the Fire!" (Surat al-Baqara: 175) Their skins are mended as they burn; the same torture continues for all eternity; the intensity of torture never decreases. Allah says in the Qur'an: "Burn in the flames of hell. It makes no difference whether you bear it with patience, or not." (Surat at-Tur: 16)
No less than physical pain, mental pain is also severe in hell. People in hell have profound regrets, fall into hopelessness, feel desperate and spend ages in despair. Every corner, every place in hell is created to give mental suffering. The suffering is eternal; if it were to end after millions or billions years, even such a long-term possibility could arouse fervent hopes and remain a strong reason for happiness and joy. Yet, the eternity of torture will inspire a kind of hopelessness that cannot be compared to any similar feeling in this world.
As described in the verses of the Qur'an, hell is a place where extreme pain is experienced. It is narrow, noisy, smoky and gloomy, injecting feelings of insecurity into the human soul. It is a place characterized by disgusting smells, fires burning deep in the heart, nasty food and drink, garments of fire and liquid pitch. These are the basic characteristics of hell. There is a life going on in this terrible environment, however. They hear, talk and argue, and they try to escape from suffering. They burn in the fire, become thirsty and hungry, and feel regret. They are tormented by feelings of guilt. They want the pain to be relieved.
The people of hell live a life infinitely more debased than that of the animals in this dirty and disgusting environment. The only nourishment they have is the fruits of the bitter thorn and the tree of zaqqum (oleander). Their drink, on the other hand, is blood and pus. Meanwhile, fire engulfs them everywhere.
With skin rent, flesh burned, and blood splattering all over, they are chained and whipped. Hands tied to their necks, they are cast into the core of hell. Angels of punishment, in the meantime, place those who are guilty in beds of fire, with their covers also of fire. The coffins they are placed in are likewise covered with fire. Unbelievers constantly scream to be saved from such anguish. And in return, they often receive more humiliation and torture. They are left all alone.
These scenes will all come true. They are real. They are as real as our daily lives.
Those who make money, status, careers and other such material things the main goals of their lives and accordingly neglect the good pleasure of Allah; those who alter the commands of Allah in accordance with their own wishes and desires; those who interpret the Qur'an according to their own interests; those who go astray from the right path—in brief—all polytheists, unbelievers and hypocrites will abide in hell, except for those upon whom Allah bestows His mercy and forgiveness. This is the conclusive word of Allah and will certainly be borne out:
If We had so willed, We could certainly have brought every soul its true guidance: but the word from Me will come true, "I will fill hell with jinn and men all together." (Surat as-Sajda: 13)
These people are already destined for hell:
Many are the jinn and men we have made for hell: They have hearts with which they do not understand, eyes with which they do not see and ears with which they do not hear. They are like cattle - nay more misguided: for they are heedless (of warning). (Surat al-A'raf: 179)
The Torment of Fire
In this life of hell, one of the greatest torments is no doubt being exposed to fire. Unlike other forms of torture, fire leaves irreparable traces on the human body. As related in the Qur'an, it is a torment permeating the human body down to its cells. The people of hell are thrown into this "Raging Blaze" (Surat al-Ma'arij: 15). They burn in "a Searing Blaze" (Surat al-Furqan: 11) which is "a Fire which rages" (Surat al-Layl: 14). In Surat al-Qari'ah, it is said:
But as for him whose balance is light, his motherland is hellfire. And what will convey to you what that is? A raging Fire! (Surat al-Qari'a: 8-11)
From the verses, we understand that fire rages all over hell. In this pit, there is not a single place which remains protected against fire. Fire reaches every corner of hell. While being subjected to other forms of physical and spiritual tortures, the unbeliever is constantly in touch with fire. The hellfire is enormously big. In the Qur'an, analogies are drawn between the sparks of fire and "great sparks the size of castles" and "a herd of yellow camels" to describe the intensity and magnitude of the fire.
On that Day, woe to the deniers! Proceed to that which you denied! Proceed to a shadow which forks into three but gives no shade or protection from the flames, shooting up great sparks the size of castles, like a herd of yellow camels. (Surat al-Mursalat: 28-33)
Unbelievers devote all their energy to escaping the flames, but it is not allowed. As related in the 17th verse of Surat al-Ma'arij, it is a fire "which calls for all who drew back and turned away." In another verse the fate of the deniers is related thus:
But as for those who are deviators, their refuge is the Fire. Every time that they want to get out, they are put straight back into it again and they are told, 'Taste the punishment of the Fire, which you denied.' (Surat as-Sajda: 20)
The screams and sighs of those who are subjected to such torment can be heard all over. Just these terrifying screams and sighs are a special source of torment for unbelievers. This is related in the Qur'an thus:
There will be sighing for them. (Surat an-Anbiya': 100)
As for those who are wretched, they will be in the Fire, where they will sigh and gasp. (Surah Hud: 106)
Fire causes unbearable pain. Human beings are unable to endure even such pain as the flame of a match gives. However, any pain we experience in this world is insignificant as compared to that of hellfire. No one can be exposed to fire in the world over a long period of time. He either dies in 5-10 seconds or feels the pain for a limited period of time.
However, hellfire is horrible; it does not kill but only inflicts pain. People in hell will be subjected to a fire which will abide for all eternity, unless Allah wills otherwise. Knowing that this torment will never end will make hell's inmates fall into a state of utter hopelessness. They will feel desperate and experience a sense of total destruction.
A burned face is the most undesirable aspect of torment. That is because the face is important in being the part of the body which gives one a feeling of pride. It gives a person an identity and it is the most significant expression of what we call "I". Often, the features of being ugly or beautiful are attributed to the face. Upon seeing photographs of a person with a severe burn on his face, people shrink and immediately turn to Allah asking for protection for themselves against such a disaster. Nobody wants to be struck down by such misery. However, unbelievers are heedless of one important fact; they are gradually approaching a similar end, and an incredibly severe one. The pain of hellfire penetrates the entire human body. However, when the face is exposed to fire, it becomes an unbearable torture. Eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin, in brief, all sensory organs are located in this important part of the body. Any threat to the face, albeit minor, elicits a strong reflex response. In hell however, the face is scalded. In this way, the most vulnerable part of the body is injured the most severely. This torment is depicted in the following verses:
They will say on the Day their faces are rolled over in the Fire, 'If only we had obeyed Allah and obeyed the Messenger!' (Surat al-Ahzab: 66)
...wearing shirts of tar, their faces enveloped in the Fire. (Surah Ibrahim: 50)
The Fire will sear their faces, making them grimace horribly in it, their lips drawn back from their teeth. (Surat al-Mu'minun: 104)
The Firewood for Hellfire and Boiling Water
In the Qur'an, unbelievers are referred to as "firewood for hellfire". Their burning is dissimilar to the burning of any other thing in fire. Unbelievers themselves make up the fuel of the fire. This is related in the Qur'an thus:
The deviators will be firewood for hellfire. (Surat al-Jinn:15)
Wood the kindling for fire, burns longer than any other material and with a greater intensity. Likewise, unbelievers become the wood for this fire which they once upon a time denied. This fact is made manifest in the following verses:
You who have faith! Safeguard yourselves and those who are close to you from a Fire whose fuel is people and stones... (Surat at-Tahrim: 6)
As for those who are unbelievers, their wealth and children will not help them against Allah in any way. They are fuel for the Fire. (Surah Al 'Imran: 10)
You and what you worship besides Allah are fuel for hell. You will go down into it. (Surat al-Anbiya': 98)
As well as the people serving as wood, there is also real wood to kindle the fire. Yet, this is another source of torment. Unbelievers, who used to be very close in the world,— husband and wife, for instance—carry wood for each other's fire. Abu Lahab and his wife are given as an example in the Qur'an:
Ruin to the hands of Abu Lahab and ruin to him! His wealth has not helped him nor anything he has earned. He will burn in a Flaming Fire. And so will his wife, the firewood-carrier, with a rope of twisted fiber round her neck. (Surat al-Masad: 1-5)
This is the break-up of all bonds in this world. Unbelievers, who used to say that they were very much in love and rebelled against Allah together, build the fires of one another in hell. One's spouse, close relatives and all one's intimate friends will become enemies. Treachery will know no bounds.
Skin, one of the vital organs stretched all over the human body, and hardly a few millimeters in thickness, makes one perceive the outer world by the sense of touch. All vital parts of body like the face, hands, arms, legs—the organs to which one attaches the utmost importance—are covered by skin. Owing to its sensitivity, the human skin can become a major source of pain. It is especially vulnerable to fire and boiling liquids. Fire scorches the skin, boiling water scalds it. Scalding water wracks the skin completely; hardly a piece of skin remains unhurt. The thin skin first swells and then becomes inflamed, inflicting a severe pain. Neither physical charm, material wealth, strength, nor fame, in brief, nothing renders a person resistant to the injury done by scalding water. As related in the Qur'an, "...they will have scalding water to drink and a painful punishment because they were unbelievers." (Surat al-An'am:70) In Surat al-Waqi'a, it is said:
And if he is one of the misguided deniers, there is the hospitality of scalding water and roasting in the Blazing Fire. This is indeed the Truth of Certainty. (Surat al-Waqi'a: 92-95)
In another Surah, this form of torment for unbelievers is described as follows:
Seize him and drag him bodily into the middle of the Blazing Fire. Then pour the punishment of boiling water on his head.' 'Taste that! You are the mighty one, the noble one! This is the very thing you used to doubt.' (Surat ad-Dukhan: 47-50)
These aside, there are other forms of anguish inflicted by fire. Branding is one of them; people of hell are branded with red-hot metals. However, these metals are actually the possessions unbelievers ascribed as partners to Allah in the world:
...As for those who hoard up gold and silver and do not spend it in the Way of Allah, give them the news of a painful punishment. The Day will surely come when they are heated up in the fire of hell and their foreheads, sides and backs are branded with it: 'This is what you hoarded for yourselves, so taste what you were hoarding!' (Surat at-Tawba: 34-35)
Other Forms of Torment
Contrary to the received wisdom, hell is not merely a place where the people of hell will be exposed to fire. The people of hell are also engulfed by other physical and psychological torments.
Various methods and equipment are employed to subject someone to torture in this world. People are often crippled or sometimes die of the pain. Those who survive become mentally distorted. Yet, the fact remains that the techniques employed for torture in this world are incomparably simpler than those of hell. The people of hell will undergo very different and severe tortures. In the case of a person who is electrocuted, the electricity given as well as the vulnerability of man to electricity are both created by Allah. Many other unknown sources of pain and the weaknesses of man all form part of Allah's perfect knowledge. Accordingly, Allah will inflict the most severe of all tortures. This is the law of Allah, the al-Qahhar (the Subduer).
As stated in the Qur'an, in hell, there is misery everywhere. There is no avoidance of torment; it engulfs the people of hell from all sides. They can neither fend off the torment nor avoid it. The situation they are in is related in the Qur'an as follows:
They ask you to hasten the punishment, but hell already encircles the unbelievers. (Surat al-Ankabut: 54-55)
Besides, there are other sources of suffering in hell. These are enumerated in the Qur'an as follows:
Hell, where they will roast. What an evil resting-place! This! So let them taste it - boiling water and scalding pus, and other such torments. (Surah Sad: 56-58)
In the Qur'an the various kinds of torments in hell are alluded. Surely, Allah has the power to create many other forms of torments for the wrongdoers beyond one's imagination.
Hotness, Darkness, Smoke and Narrowness
Narrow, hot and dirty places are the most troublesome to be in for any individual in this world. Humidity and heat cause a feeling of suffocation; breathing, an essential function of body, is rendered difficult by high levels of humidity. Not being able to breathe causes intense weariness; the breast constricts. Even shade does not provide any relief in very hot weather and humidity. An unseen yet thick encompassing layer of air becomes suffocating. Even the levels of temperature and humidity in luxury saunas are difficult to tolerate. Unable to withstand intense steam for only ten minutes, a person locked in a sauna faints in a short while. A longer stay means death.
This stifling atmosphere dominates hell. Man, who takes elaborate precautions against becoming over-heated in this world, feels desperate in hell. Hell is hotter than any desert and dirtier and more oppressive than any place imaginable. Heat penetrates the human body; it is felt deep within the cells. For unbelievers, there is no possibility of relief or of cooling down there. In the Qur'an, the situation of the people of hell is depicted as follows:
And the Companions of the Left: what of the Companions of the Left? They shall dwell amid searing blasts and scalding water and the murk of thick black smoke, providing no coolness and no pleasure. (Surat al-Waqi'a: 41-44)
On that Day, woe to the deniers! Proceed to that which you denied! Proceed to a shadow which forks into three but gives no shade or protection from the flames. (Surat al-Mursalat: 28-31)
In such a dense atmosphere, being confined to a narrow place proves to be another form of torment. This punishment for the unbelievers is described in Surat al-Furqan as follows:
When they are flung into a narrow place in it, shackled together in chains, they will cry out there for destruction. 'Do not cry out today for just one destruction, cry out for many destructions!' (Surat al-Furqan: 13-14)
Being locked in a narrow place is really hard and depressive for a person. Solitary confinement is one of the severest punishments for prisoners. Being stuck in a car for hours after an accident or remaining locked in the wreckage of an earthquake-ravaged city is considered to be among the gravest disasters. However, such examples are insignificant beside their counterparts in hell. After all, someone trapped among the rubble either loses consciousness and dies, or is rescued alive after some time. In both cases, the pain lasts for a certain period of time.
This does not hold true for hell, however. There is no end to the pain in hell and thus no hope. In a dirty, stuffy, gloomy atmosphere with smoke filling the air, the unbeliever, hands tied to his neck and cast into a small room, is afflicted with anguish. He struggles, strives for salvation, but to no avail. He cannot even move. Ultimately, he begs to be allowed to disappear, as stated in the verse, and wishes only that he were dead. This request is simply returned. In that narrow hole he is confined in, he remains for months, years and may be for hundreds of years. A growing trouble fills his heart, while he begs thousands of times for his own disappearance. Once "saved," he will not taste salvation, but will encounter another face of hell.
Food, Drinks and Garments
The world abounds in countless varieties of delicious and nutritious food. Each one is a blessing from Allah. Various kinds of meat, fruits and vegetables with innumerable colors, tastes and odors, dairy products, honey and many other nutrients produced by animals and spices, had all been created specially and generously given for the service of man by the time this world was created. Moreover, the human senses have been created in such a way as to perceive all these delicious tastes. By the inspiration of Allah, man has an appetite for dainty food, while he is disgusted at rotten and nasty food, pus and so on. This is another inspiration by Allah.
Favors, far greater than the ones in this world, are kept prepared in paradise, and from them believers will derive the benefit for all eternity. This is the gift of Allah, the One Who gives blessings and prosperity. The people of hell, on the other hand, in retribution for the wicked deeds they engaged in in this world, are kept distant from the favors of Allah, the ar-Razzaq, (Surat ash-Shuara: 19) so that all they encounter is torment. The end they will face in the hereafter is related in the Qur'an as follows:
On the Day when those who were unbelievers are exposed to the Fire, (it will be said): 'You dissipated the good things you had in your worldly life and enjoyed yourself in so doing. So today you are being repaid with the punishment of humiliation for being arrogant on the earth without any right and for being deviators.' (Surat al-Ahqaf: 20)
There shall be no further favors for them. Even meeting the most essential needs turns out to be a torment. Allah has created food specially as a source of suffering. The only edible things are the fruits of the bitter thorn and the tree of zaqqum, which neither nourish nor satiate. They only give pain, tearing apart mouth, throat and stomach and giving off a disgusting taste and odor. In the Qur'an, we find descriptions of both the glorious beauties and the delicious food peculiar to paradise as well as the unendurable food of the people of hell:
Is that better by way of hospitality or the tree of Zaqqum which We have made to be an ordeal for the wrongdoers? It is a tree that emerges in the depths of the Blazing Fire. Its fruits are just like the heads of devils. They will eat from it and fill their bellies with it. (Surat as-Saffat: 62-66)
They have no food but a bitter thorny bush which neither nourishes nor satisfies. (Surat al-Ghashiyah: 6-7)
The people of hell, being rebellious and ungrateful to Allah, deserve such a requital. As a punishment, they encounter due "hospitality." In Surat al-Waqi'a, this is related as follows:
Before that they were living in luxury, persisting in immense wrongdoing and saying, 'When we are dead and turned to dust and bones, shall we then be raised again or our forefathers, the earlier peoples?' Say: 'The earlier and the later peoples will certainly all be gathered on an appointed day. Then you, you misguided people, you deniers, will eat from the tree of Zaqqum, filling your stomachs with it and drink scalding water on top of it, slurping like thirst-crazed camels. This will be their fare on the Day of Judgment!' (Surat al-Waqi'a: 45-56)
In the world, one occasionally suffers from a severe sore throat or a stomach ache. However, in hell, the unbelievers suffer from the severest of all these pains. The food unbelievers are entitled to eat chokes them. If they can ever manage to swallow, it seethes in the belly like molten brass (Surat ad-Dukhan: 44). It never satiates. This being the case, the people of hell suffer an everlasting, horrible hunger.
The people of hell feel hunger so intensely that, despite trying countless times, they cannot help but eat the fruits of the bitter thorn, which make them writhe in pain. Then they rush to the boiling water. Yet, this water can never be digested. As stated in the verse above, they slurp like thirst-crazed camels. To make this suffering even more severe, unbelievers are driven to hell thirsty. (Surah Maryam: 86)
Another disgusting drink of the people of hell is pus. This fluid is known in medicine as the most offensive odor. In another verse, it is related that pus is served with boiling water, so as to make the unbeliever taste the obscene taste of pus and perceive the torment of boiling water with all his senses.
Despite their being disgusting and unbearable, that unbelievers still drink them to meet their needs shows their craving for drink. Once they taste this torment, they run to another. This also lasts for all eternity. Due to a never-ending thirst, the people of hell writhe in affliction. This is related in the Qur'an thus:
Not tasting any coolness there or any drink, except for boiling water and scalding pus—a fitting recompense. (Surat an-Naba': 24-26)
Therefore here today he has no friend nor any food except exuding pus which no one will eat except those who were in error.' (Surat al-Haqqa: 35-37)
Unbelievers struggle to swallow this mixture, but to no avail. Blood and pus choke them yet they never manage to die:
And beyond him is hell where he will be given pus to drink. He gulps at it but can hardly swallow it down. Death comes at him from every side, but he does not die. And beyond him is relentless punishment. (Surah Ibrahim: 16-17)
In this desperate situation, by means of a special dialogue, dwellers of hell see the people of paradise. They witness the wonderful favors the people of paradise enjoy. This enormously adds to their torment. Meanwhile, the people of hell plead for some of their provisions. But this is a futile supplication. Their supplication is stated in the Surat al-A'raf as follows:
The Companions of the Fire will call out to the Companions of the Garden, 'Throw down some water to us or some of what Allah has given you as provision.' They will say, 'Allah has forbidden them to the unbelievers. (Surat al-A'raf: 50)
Aside from the provisions, the garments of the people of hell are also specially created for them. Human skin is a sensitive tissue; even touching a hot stove or an iron for a second gives an unbearable pain. In such a case, the afflicted person suffers for days, his wound becomes inflamed and swells. hell, however, abounds in garments hotter than molten iron which turn into a flame which blankets the skin and viciously burns:
...Those who are unbelievers will have garments of fire cut out for them... (Surat al-Hajj: 19)
...wearing shirts of tar, their faces enveloped in the Fire. (Surah Ibrahim: 50)
They will have hell as a resting-place and covering layers on top of them. That is how We repay wrongdoers. (Surat al-A'raf: 41)
Angels of Punishment
There will not be a single soul to provide aid to the people of hell. No soul will be able to save them from it. More importantly Allah will not help them or talk to them forever. Being abandoned will give them a bitter feeling of loneliness. Of the wrongdoer Allah says in the Qur'an: "Therefore, here today, he has no friend" (Surat al-Haqqa: 35). Among them, there will be only "angels of punishment", who will inflict perpetual torture and suffering. These are extremely stern, merciless, terrifying guards against the unbelievers, bearing the sole responsibility for inflicting severe torture on the people of hell. The sole purpose of their existence is to take revenge upon those who rebel against Allah, and they discharge their responsibility with due care and attention. Allah states in the Qur'an thus:
You who have faith! Safeguard yourselves and those who are close to you from a Fire whose fuel is people and stones. Harsh, terrible angels are in charge of it who do not disobey Allah in respect of any order He gives them and carry out what they are ordered to do. (Surat at-Tahrim: 6)
No indeed! If he does not desist, We will grab him by the forelock, his lying, sinful forelock. Let him call his attendants; We will call the Guards of hell! No indeed! Do not obey him, but prostrate yourself and draw near. (Surat al-'Alaq: 15-18)
These angels of punishment related in the Qur'an are the manifestations of Allah's wrath and rage for the unbelievers. They subject the people of hell to the severest, and most terrifying and degrading tortures.
The angels of punishment administer the punishment in the way unbelievers deserve. These angels, the main manifestation of Allah's justice, are the holy beings who perform this duty with great pleasure and in a manner submissive to Allah.