Monday, May 18, 2009
Bismillah ar-Rahman ar-Raheem
A lecture delivered by Sheikh Anwar al-Awlaki
Bismillah ar-Rahman ar-Raheem
Alhamdulillah Wa Salatu Wa Salaamu Ala Sayyidina Muhammad Wa Ala Alihi Wa
Sahbihi Wa Salim
A'udhu Billahi Minash-shaytanir-Rajeem
I will start with a brief comparison between Jannah and Dunya because our problem is Dunya
that is what is keeping us away from Jannah. So let’s put them on the scale and see which one
outweighs the other. There are four areas of comparison.
Number one is Quantity; the quantity in Dunya and in Akhirah. Allah aza wa jal says:
(Surah An-Nisa 4:77)
The enjoyment of this world is very little and Akhirah is everlasting. So in terms of the quantity
of what you get in Dunya compared to the quantity of what you get in Jannah; there is no
comparison. In fact, this might be the right time to talk about the lowest level in Jannah.
RasulAllah sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam tells us the story of this man who spent a long time in
hellfire burning in there. You could even call it eternity he has been there for a very long time.
Allah aza wa jal admitted him to leave, to get out of hellfire. So this man comes out of Jahannam
and he is in this waste land between Jahannam and Jannah. So there is this territory between
Jahannam and Jannah that is desolate, it is a waste land.
So this man is in the middle of this nowhere and he is so happy that he is there. Even though
there is nothing in there to be happy with. But he said TabarakAllahu; he is blessing Allah aza
wa jal and praising Allah aza wa jal for saving him out of Jahannam even though he is in this
waste land but it is better than Jahannam. In other words, the understanding that I get from his
statement in this hadith is that he was happy to be there, that is good enough for him.
But then RasulAllah sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam says this man will see a tree in the horizon. So
there’s actually nothing in this land and all that is sticking out of it is a tree far away in the
horizon. RasulAllah sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam says this man will say O Allah can you please
allow me to go next to that tree so that I can eat from its fruits and drink from its water, because
since there is a tree there must be some water.
Allah aza wa jal will say O son of Adam what will make me know that you won’t ask me for
something else. This man will say O Allah I promise you that I am not going to ask for anything
else all that I want is to go next to that tree. Because he has been asking Allah in Jahannam to
get him out and Allah granted him that dua, and now he wants to get to this tree. So Allah aza wa
jal allows him to go next to that tree. So he is sitting there and he is very happy now that he is
eating from the fruits of this tree.
RasulAllah sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam says Allah will allow him to see another tree in the
horizon that is bigger and looks better. So this man will say O Allah I ask you to please allow me
to go next to that tree. Allah aza wa jal will tell him O son of Adam didn’t you promise me that
you are not going to ask for anything else. This man said O Allah this is the last time I am not
going to ask for anything else, just allow me to go there please. Allah aza wa jal allows him to go
to that tree and this is the second tree.
While he sees a bigger tree, again he would break his promise and say O Allah please allow me
to go there. And Allah aza wa jal will tell him again O son of Adam didn’t you promise me not
to ask for anything else. He will say O Allah that is it. And this hadith is sahih, it is in Muslim.
You might be wondering how would Allah aza wa jal keep on responding to the wishes of this
man, I mean how merciful was Allah aza wa jal. He would go to the third tree and he is sitting
Why are the trees growing? Why are the trees getting bigger? Because he is getting closer to
what? To Jannah. So even though this land is outside of Jannah, Jannah is so blessed that the
blessing is even getting out of it. And now the trees are growing even though it is very close to
So he is under this third tree. But now way in the horizon he can see a fourth tree right next to
the gates of paradise. He will say O Allah I want to go there please O Allah just let me go there.
So Allah aza wa jal will allow him to go to this fourth tree.
RasulAllah sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam says now under that tree he is able to hear the voices of
the people of Jannah and he is able to listen to their enjoyment and fun. You can even tell how
happy the people of Jannah are by listening to their voices. Listening to the noise that is coming
out of Jannah, even though it is far away but it is sufficient to tell how much fun is going in
RasulAllah sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam says and this man is seeing something that he has no
patience to deal with. And now he is saying O Allah just allow me to go in the gate. Now he has
made it to Jannah he just wants to sneak through. But then Allah aza wa jal will tell him O son of
Adam what will please you, would you be happy if I give you equivalent of the earth and
everything in it. This world and everything in it. He will say O Allah that’s enough for me. Yes I
would be pleased.
In one narration it says that Allah aza wa jal will tell him O my servant I will give you double
that. I will give you three times the earth and everything in it, four times. When Allah aza wa jal
says five times the earth and everything in it this man will try to stop Allah aza wa jal, O Allah
that’s enough, that’s enough, that’s enough. Allah aza wa jal will then say O my servant I will
give you ten times the world and everything in it and then I will give you whatever will please
your heart and satisfy your eyes.
And in another narration Allah aza wa jal will tell him I will give you the earth and everything in
it. And then Allah will tell him and ask whatever you want. Ask from me right now whatever
you want. So this man will ask. He will keep on asking and asking until he runs out of wishes.
RasulAllah sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam says and Allah will remind him with some other things.
O my servant why don’t you ask for this and that. And Allah aza wa jal will keep on reminding
him. And then Allah aza wa jal will tell him all of that which you ask for I will double it for you.
This is the lowest level in Jannah.
Now let’s start with the beginning because we can’t deal with the rest. It is becoming too
astronomical for us to deal with. So let’s just start with the world and everything in it. Because
then you are going to have to measure everything in light years. Just the world and everything in
You are living here in the UK. You know how expensive property is in London. And you have a
home that is enough for a bird and that is a quarter of a million to purchase if it is in prime areas.
It’s so expensive even though it’s raining everyday. At least in San Diego we used to pay a
premium for the weather. Here in London you are paying all of this money for what? And you
would have someone having this apartment and it is worth £300,000 or something. And they are
very happy they think that this is the top of the world; I mean I own a property in Central
London. And that person is working so hard, is neglecting religious duties just to purchase a
house or purchase this apartment. Very small piece of land.
No one owns all of London. Let alone owning all of England or all of the British Isles. And no
one will ever own Europe or the whole world. It just won’t happen. No matter how skilled you
are. No matter how blessed your Rizq (sustenance) is. No matter how hard you work. You are
just not going to make it. So it’s not possible in Dunya but it’s possible in Akhirah. Why not
shoot for the guaranteed? The lowest level of Jannah is equivalent to the earth multiplied by ten,
that’s the lowest. In terms of quantity. Now we are not dealing with quality yet, that’s the next
point. Here we are dealing with quantity; it is ten times the earth and everything in it. So this is
how superior Jannah is to Dunya. That’s number one: Quantity.
Number two: Quality. So we dealt with the quantity part. Let’s look at the quality part.
RasulAllah sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam says in a hadith Mutafaq Alayh (agreed upon by the
scholars). Saut is a whip, a stick; one foot by a few inches that’s it. RasulAllah sallallahu 'alayhi
wa sallam says the area occupied by that stick in Jannah is better than the world and everything
in it. So a property in Jannah, which is one foot by one inch, is more worthy than the world and
everything in it. And again the hadith of RasulAllah sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam were the scarf
on top of this women in Jannah is better than the world and everything in it. If you have ten
times the world and that small piece of land is better than the world; that is why I am saying we
are dealing with astronomical figures you can’t even talk about it. It’s beyond our
comprehension. So in terms of quality Jannah is much better.
And then number three. There are certain pleasures that do exist in Dunya and there are pleasures
in Jannah. But the difference between the two is that everything in Jannah is pure, whilst every
pleasure that exists in Dunya is contaminated. You can never have pure pleasure in Dunya. Allah
aza wa jal has made Dunya in a way that you get a sample of both. You get a sample of pleasure
and a sample of pain. So that you will get a glimpse of what it is like in Jannah and what it is
like in Jahannam.
So for example it’s rare to find somebody who never felt the pain of burning of fire. Almost
every one of us one moment in time have felt that pain whether it is boiling oil or it is a flame.
But I wonder if there is anyone in here who has never experienced that sensation of burning. Is
there anyone who didn’t feel it? At one point of time you must have hurt yourselves in a way that
would give you an experience of how it feels to burn. So Allah aza wa jal is giving you a glimpse
of what it is Jahannam. And then RasulAllah sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam tells you that the naar
of Jahannam is seventy times the naar of Dunya.
And then Allah aza wa jal allows you to enjoy food in Dunya. You enjoy happiness. You enjoy
some other pleasures that are available in this Dunya, to get a glimpse of how it is in Jannah but
it is not the real thing, why? Because it is contaminated. This earth is not good enough to be a
reward for the believer and it is not bad enough to be a punishment for the sinner. It is
somewhere in between.
So the pleasures of Dunya are contaminated, there is nothing pure. Take for example food. Yes
you enjoy eating, you prefer certain dishes. But if you think about the process of eating and all of
the impurity that it contains. First of all you can’t have a lot of food because then it is detrimental
to your health. Plus even in one sitting you can’t have much of it because you are full that is it
you can’t have anymore. But in Jannah you can have as much as you want. Also here in Dunya,
the ones who can afford all of the good food are the ones who cannot eat it, they have high blood
pressure, they have cholesterol they have all of these problems. And the ones who cannot afford
and can eat it, cannot get it.
And then the whole process of eating and drinking if you think about it just imagine for a
moment that the entire digestive tract was made transparent. So now you are eating food you
have a mouthful. And you are chewing that food. And it is transparent and people can see it and
they are seeing this food mixing with saliva and then they see it being swallowed like a ball. And
then they see how it is mixed with all of the digestive fluids in your stomach and how it is
In addition to being transparent there are some pores for the exact smell that exists in there to
come out so it has sight and also the other sense of smelling. Would you ever eat with anybody
else? Would you ever join in a part or respond to an invitation? How could you handle food if
you have seen right in front of your eyes what is happening to it? Would you ever enjoy a meal
in your life? It’s gruesome; however, all of this is masked for us to at least be able to eat.
If you also think about the process of reproduction, which is a very pleasurable thing for people
and that is why it is leading towards so many sins because of the pleasure involved in that
process between man and woman. Ibn ul Jawzee, he says if one thinks about what happens
during that process they wouldn’t do it. They wouldn’t get involved in anything relating to it
because if you think about what is happening it is a very gross procedure without getting into
anymore more graphic details, but I think you get the point and this is supposed to be one of the
pleasures of ad-Dunya.
You have wealth it comes with some problems. Everything in Dunya. Health; one day you are
going to become ill. Young; one day you are going to become old. You have free time now
tomorrow you are busy. There is no pure enjoyment in Dunya. It is all contaminated while in
Jannah it is a hundred percent pure. The food that you eat will come out as musk there is no
urination, no defecating.
And RasulAllah sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam says about al-hoor al-‘ayn and the women in Jannah
they don’t go through the menstrual period. As man and woman all of the bodily fluid that we
have are different in Akhirah, they are going to be different in Jannah.
For the rivers if water remains stagnant it changes in colour and taste.
Allah aza wa jal says:
The water never changes.
Milk if it’s set for a long time it changes.
The taste never changes.
(Surah Muhammad 47:15)
Asl (honey) is purified. The wine does not make you drunk. It does not cause you any headache
and all of the problems of alcohol in Dunya. So in Jannah everything is pure, it is pure
The fourth comparison is Time. How much time can you enjoy yourself in Dunya and how much
time in Akhirah. As I just mentioned you could be staring at your wife for forty years. In Dunya,
forty years is your life time. So Dunya is temporary. What you have is temporary and what Allah
has is permanent.
You can live a hundred years in Dunya. In Akhirah it is eternal life. Again an easy mathematical
equation; the ratio of Dunya to Akhirah is a hundred divided by infinity and the answer is zero,
that is Dunya. Therefore it is really insanity to prefer Dunya over Akhirah. For a Muslim who
knows about this Haqq (truth) how could you afford to live like somebody who doesn’t?
Someone who knows the truth about Jannah and knows the truth about Jahannam. How could
your life be equal to the one who does not know this? It doesn’t make sense at all. So let’s wake
up and let’s strive for Jannah and seek refuge in Allah from Jahannam.
There are a few other issues to cover. Who is the first one to enter into Jannah? RasulAllah
sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam says I will come to the gates of paradise and they are closed and I
will knock on those gates. And the gatekeeper will say who are you? I will say I am Muhammad
sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam. The gatekeeper will say I was given instructions not to open for
anyone before you.
The gatekeeper is waiting next to the gate right now and he will not open the gates for any one
but Muhammad sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam. He was given clear orders to open for Muhammad
sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam.
And who is the first one to enter from this ummah? RasulAllah sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam says
in a hadith by Abu Dawud. RasulAllah sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam says Jibrael came to me and
grabbed my hand and took me to the gates of paradise and told me that these are the gates your
ummah are going to come through. Abu Bakr as-Siddiq said O RasulAllah I wish that I was there
with you. RasulAllah sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam says O Abu Bakr you are going to be the first
one of my ummah to enter through that gate. You are going to be the first one to walk through
So the first one to enter into Jannah is RasulAllah sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam followed by the
Anbiya of Allah aza wa jal and then it will be Abu Bakr as-Siddiq radhiAllahu anhu.
There will be a special group of people who will enter into Jannah without going through al-
Hisaab, the account. Basically they are going through the back doors and everybody else is being
held throughout the processions of the Day of Judgment. And these people are going to be
escorted straight to the gates of Jannah and will enter before everybody else. What is the number
of this group? Seventy thousand.
The story of this, RasulAllah sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam said that I was shown the Day of
Judgment. So I saw a nabi coming with a group of followers. And then I saw another nabi with
ten followers. And I saw another nabi with five followers. And I saw a nabi with two followers.
And a nabi with one follower. Imagine this, a nabi; a prophet of Allah striving all of their lives,
calling to La Illaaha Ill Allah and in the end they only have one follower. It is very difficult.
Because we get motivated when we see the fruits of our efforts, but when you see that everything
you are doing is going towards a dead end, it is very difficult for you to go on. But the Anbiya of
Allah had this determination.
Nuh alayhi sallam for nine hundred and fifty years is giving dawah to the same people and he
never gave up. So a nabi will come on the Day of Judgment with one follower. RasulAllah
sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam said I saw some Anbiya alone. No followers whatsoever.
And then RasulAllah sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam said and then I saw an ummah, huge nation.
And I told Jibrael this must be my ummah. Jibrael said no that is not your ummah that is the
ummah of Musa alayhi sallam. So the largest ummah after the ummah of Muhammad sallallahu
'alayhi wa sallam is the ummah of Bani Israel, the children of Israel.
And then RasulAllah sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam said Jibrael told me to look at the horizon, so I
saw people covering the horizon and then he told me to look at the other side and I saw people
covering the horizon, they are covering the mountains and the valleys all over. He said I was
very impressed by the way they look. Jibrael said this is your ummah. And along with them
seventy thousand will enter into Jannah without going through the reckoning.
Now RasulAllah sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam asked for more. In Musnad Imam Ahmad, there is a
hadith, RasulAllah sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam said I asked for more. Allah aza wa jal gave me
with everyone of these seventy thousand, seventy thousand and then three handfuls of Allah to
go along with that. So seventy thousand multiplied by seventy thousand is 4.9 billion. It is going
to be a large number who will enter into Jannah. Now every one of these seventy thousand will
make Shafa'a for seventy thousand and that is how they will enter into Jannah.
In another hadith that says that Fuqara al-Muhajireen; the poor among the Muhajireen are going
to be the first to enter into Jannah, how come? Well the gatekeepers had the same question.
When these Fuqara al-Muhajireen want to walk into Jannah the gatekeepers will stop them.
They will say how come you made it so early. These Muhajireen will say why are we going to be
held accountable when we were carrying our swords on our shoulders and we were fighting in
the sake of Allah until we died. In other words, they didn’t have any businesses; they didn’t have
any wealth to be asked about.
See, two of the major questions that you will be asked on the Day of Judgment is your wealth;
how did you make it? And how did you spend it? Somebody who doesn’t have wealth will not
have to go through that. So these Muhajireen who are poor will make it so fast because there is
not much to ask them about. They spent their life fesabilillah, fighting for Allah aza wa jal. So
they will make it very early on. Now this not to say that the fuqara; the poor are always better
than the rich. This is talking about something specific. It is talking about the timing of entering
into Jannah. They will make it five hundred years before the rich. But when the rich come in
some of them could be in a higher level than these poor.
So the level in which you will be placed in Jannah is based on different factors than the timing of
entering Jannah. So a person who enters Jannah early might end up being in a lower level and
somebody who comes in late might end up being in a higher level. It is just a matter of how long
it will take to go through your account.
Another point, Jannah is not a payment for your actions. You have to keep that in mind. You are
not buying Jannah with your deeds because whatever you do is not worth an inch of Jannah. It is
mentioned in a story, we will mention the story for the benefit of it not necessarily the accuracy
of the narration.
There was somebody from Bani Israel on the Day of Judgment. He will see all of his good deeds,
a huge amount of good deeds. And then he will be asked. Do you want to enter Jannah according
to your deeds or through the mercy of Allah? He will say I want to enter Jannah through my
deeds. Because he has a big amount of good deeds.
So the angels will be instructed to place all his good deeds on one side of the scale and his eyes
on the other side. And he’s eyes would outweigh everything else that he did. How come? If you
think about it these eyes are with you twenty four hours a day. While your ibadah is less than that
because no matter what you do you are going to commit sins, you are going slack, right? But the
blessing of seeing is with you all the time. So with all of your worship you are not even able to
keep up with paying the bills for your eyes. Let alone for your ears. For your mind. For your
health. For your wealth and everything else that Allah has given you.
So RasulAllah sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam says no one will enter Jannah with their deeds. They
said even you RasulAllah. He sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam said even me unless Allah will have
mercy on me. So no one will enter Jannah except through the mercy of Allah aza wa jal. It is not
a payment for what you did. Because what you did will not even purchase for you a small piece
of land in there.
Next point: regarding our sisters, some issues regarding women. Sometimes when we talk about
al-hoor al-‘ayn, sisters feel jealous. Married sisters will say how comes now my husband will get
two al-hoor al-‘ayn. I was able to guard him in this Dunya and prevented him from getting
married and now here he gets into Jannah and he has two other wives. Without getting into a
detailed explanation of this, to make it simple, in Jannah you will get whatever you want.
Everyone will be satisfied in Jannah. You will be satisfied, man or woman. You will be happy
and it cannot get better for you.
The feeling that you will have in Jannah is that you have the maximum and there is nothing that
could make it better. So the sister needs to be assured that in Jannah there is nothing that she
could request that would make it better for her. Allah aza wa jal will make her happy. That is for
men and women. You will get whatever you want.
Another issue regarding a married couple; your wife in Dunya is your wife in Jannah. Now if the
man passes away before the wife and she marries someone else what will happen in Jannah?
There are two opinions. One opinion is that the wife will get to choose between her husbands in
Dunya. The other opinion which is the stronger opinion that the wife will marry her last husband.
And the reason why I say it is the stronger opinion; Abu Darda radhiAllahu anhu, when he was
passing away he told his wife if you want to be my wife in Jannah then don’t marry anybody
after me because I heard RasulAllah sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam say that the wife will marry her
The last point: no matter how much we describe Jannah, no matter how much we talk about it, no
matter how much you try to imagine it you will not be able to realise the real thing. RasulAllah
sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam, after he gave a detailed explanation of Jannah he said in Jannah are
things an eye has never seen and an ear has never heard of and a mind cannot imagine. So
RasulAllah sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam was telling the Sahabah that after all of this description I
have given you, you will not be able to fathom the real thing. It is beyond your imagination. How
come? Your mind is only capable of imagining things that you can relate to in Dunya. You start
your life with a blank memory as a child. And then you gain information through the five senses,
your eyes, your ears, you collect information.
So you can find that an infant; everything is new to them. They are staring at everything around
them. Sometimes you would find that something very trivial would catch their attention. Why?
Because everything is new for them. That’s how they build up their database. And we are limited
with our experiences. We can only think about things we can relate to in Dunya.
There is this experiment that was done on a tribe that never saw snow. There is a tribe
somewhere in the forest, they never experienced snow. So some anthropologists tried to explain
snow, what snow is to this tribe. And after all of their explanation when they presented them
with real snow they did not recognise it. Why? Because their database does not include anything
similar to it. So no matter how hard you try to think about Jannah, it is going to be very far away
from the reality. RasulAllah sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam is just trying to bring it closer to you.
But the colours, the texture, the sights, the voices you will hear in there are entirely different.
RasulAllah sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam says that your wives in Jannah will sing for you in a
voice that was never heard before, nobody has ever heard. So Jannah is an entirely different
We ask Allah subhana wa ta’aala to grant us Jannah Ameen.
Nasrullah aza wa jal
Allahumma inni as'alukal jannata wa ma kharraba ilaiha min qawlin wa 'amal, wa na'udhu bika
minan naar wa ma kharraba ilaiha min qawlin wa 'amal
O Allah! I seek from You the Jannah (Paradise) and any such deed or word which may bring me
closer to Jannah. I seek refuge from You from the Hell-fire and from any such deed or word
which may bring me closer to the Hell-fire
Wa Sallallahu Ala Sayyidina Muhammad Wa Ala Alihi Wa Sahbihi Wa Salim
Subhanaka Allahumma wa bihamdika ash-hadu an laa Illaaha illaa anta astaghfiruka wa atoobu
How perfect You are O Allah, and I praise You. I bear witness that none has the right to be
worshipped except You. I seek Your forgiveness and turn to You in repentance
Transcribed by Niyaa for www.an-najwa.com