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"And whoever desires the Hereafter and strives for it as he ought to
strive and he is a believer; (as for) these, their striving shall surely
be accepted." [17:19]

Recently I took a trip to see my Dad, who happens to be a non-
Muslim, in order for him to meet the latest addition to our family,
and in order for me to yet again try to convince him that he should
accept Islam. While I was there, however, I found out something
about him that I never knew before. My father is a workaholic. This
man works seven days a week, sometimes 10-to-12 hours a day. The
saddest part being, that his labor is all for nothing, for Allah says,

"(These are) they whose labor is lost in this world's life and they
think that they are well-versed in skill of the work of hands."

Now, even though the situation with my Dad threw me for a loop, it
really got me thinking. How many of us, Muslims, are in the very
same predicament as my father? How many of us are working hard
for the life of this world, at the cost of the Hereafter? How many of
us are putting in 40-plus hours a week at our jobs, and other
recreational activities, while putting in only the smallest amounts
of time when it comes to our Deen? Allah, subhanahu wa ta'ala,
says that truly Man shall earn what he strives for. The question
now is what are we truly striving and working for?

Maybe it's because at the end of the week, we are rewarded with
something tangible for our efforts, a check we can see and touch.
The Hereafter, although being equally as real, is at the same time,
mystifying and ethereal in its nature. It's a delayed gratification,
which makes it harder to earn. Our wages for our efforts in the
deen will not be paid in full until we exit the life of this world. For
Allah says, "Every soul shall have a taste of death: And only on the
Day of Judgment shall you be paid your full recompense. Only he
who is saved far from the Fire and admitted to the Garden will have
attained the object (of Life). For the life of this world is but goods
and chattels of deception." [3:185]

Our final destination is the life of the Hereafter. Where we end up,
Jannah (Paradise) or Jahannam (Hell-fire) depends on what we
worked towards in this life. Paradise is the aim and the hope of
every Muslim. But like trying to attain any goal, in order to achieve
success, one must have a well-defined plan, and it must be
implemented to be successful. Allah says,
"O you who believe! Be careful of (your duty to) Allah and seek
means of nearness to Him and strive hard in His way that you may
be successful." [5:35]

To prepare for our journey, we need to find out what our
destination is like; who are its people, and most importantly, how
to get there.

The Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, told us that within
Paradise are things that no eyes have ever seen, nor ears have ever
heard, and that things in it are beyond our imagination and
comprehension, but we all have our own personal ideas of what
eternal bliss would probably be like. I remember a few years ago, I
overheard my niece and my nephew discussing the landscape, and
the privileges of living in Jannah. My nephew was telling my niece
that in Jannah, they would be able to eat all the candy that they
wanted and that there would be streams of chocolate and trees of
ice cream. I always tell people, that Paradise for me, would be
being able to eat all the cheesecake and chocolate that I wanted,
without gaining a pound. But what Allah has in store for the
believers is so much more than this. He, in His Book, and through
His Messenger, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, has given us a clear
picture of our goal, so that we can keep it in front of us at all times.
By keeping our eyes on the prize, no matter our hardships in this
worldly life, we can strive that much harder to attain it.

Allah says, "And whoever desires the Hereafter and strives for it as
he ought to strive and he is a believer; (as for) these, their striving
shall surely be accepted." [17:19]

Allah has also described Paradise in many places in the Qur'an, so
let us now take a look at what He has in store for the believers.

Description in the Qur'an of Paradise

"The description of Paradise which the Muttaqoon have been
promised is that in it are rivers of water, the taste and smell of
which are never changed. Rivers of milk the taste of which will
remain unchanged. Rivers of wine that will be delicious to those
who drink from it and rivers of clear, pure honey. For them will be
every kind of fruit and forgiveness form their Lord." [47:15]

"And their recompense shall be Paradise, and silken garments,
because they were patient. Reclining on raised thrones, they will
see there neither the excessive heat of the sun, nor the excessive
bitter cold, (as in Paradise there is no sun and no moon). The shade
will be close upon them, and bunches of fruit will hang low within
their reach. Vessels of silver and cups of crystal will be passed
around amongst them, crystal-clear, made of silver. They will
determine the measure of them according to their wishes. They will
be given a cup (of wine) mixed with Zanjabeel, and a fountain
called Salsabeel. Around them will (serve) boys of perpetual youth.
If you see them, you would think they are scattered pearls. When
you look there (in Paradise) you will see a delight (that cannot be
imagined), and a Great Dominion. Their garments will be of fine
green silk and gold embroidery. They will be adorned with
bracelets of silver, and their Lord will give them a pure drink."

"And those foremost (In Tawheed and obedience to Allah and His
Messenger in this life) will be foremost (in Paradise). They will be
those nearest to Allah in the Gardens of Delight. A multitude of
those (the foremost) will be from the first generation (who
embraced Islam) and a few of those (the foremost) will be from the
later (generations). They will be reclining, face to face, on thrones
woven with gold and precious stones. They will be served by
immortal boys, with cups and jugs, and a glass from the flowing
wine, from which they will have neither any headache, nor any
intoxication. They will have fruit from which they may choose, and
the flesh of fowls that they desire. There will be Houris with wide,
lovely eyes (as wives for the pious), like preserved pearls, a reward
for deeds that they used to do. They will hear no vain or sinful
speech (like backbiting, etc.) but only the saying of: Salam, Salam,
(greetings of peace). And those on the Right Hand, who will be
those on the Right Hand? They will be among thorn-less lote-trees
among Talh (banana trees) with fruits piled one above another, in
long-extended shade, by constantly flowing water, and fruit in
plenty, whose season is not limited, and their supply will not be cut
off. They will be on couches or thrones raised high. Verily, We have
created for them (maidens) of equal age, loving (their husbands
only). For those on the Right Hand." [56:10-38]

"Verily, the dwellers of Paradise that Day, will be busy in joyful
things. They and their wives will be in pleasant shade, reclining on
thrones. They will have therein fruits (of all kinds), and all that
they will ask for. (It will be said to them): "Salamun" (Peace be on
you), a Word from the Lord, Most Merciful." [36:55-58]

Can you imagine?

Wearing the finest silk clothing and sitting on chairs made of gold
and precious stones? Those who disbelieve in the words of Allah,
say that this is all a fairy-tale, made up by a would-be prophet. But
we know, that Allah is the Truthful and that His Messenger,
sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, spoke only what was revealed to from
the Most Truthful. And even though Allah describes Paradise for us
in the Qur'an, He still says, "So no soul knows the delights of the
eyes which is hidden for them; a reward for what they did." [32:17]

Apart from the Qur'anic descriptions of Paradise, the Prophet
Muhammad, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, would often describe
Paradise to his companions. His descriptions were often so vivid
and moving, that many-a-companion would hurriedly rush
towards it. This was the case, as Anas narrated that the Messenger
of Allah, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, and his companions
proceeded towards Badr and arrived there before the disbelievers
(of Makkah). When the disbelievers arrived, the Messenger of
Allah said, "None of you should step forward ahead of me to do
anything." Then the disbelievers advanced (towards us), and the
Messenger of Allah, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said, "Rise to
enter Paradise whose width is equal to the Heavens and the
Earth." Umayr Ibnul Humam al-Ansari asked, "O Messenger of
Allah, is Paradise equal in width to the heavens and the earth?"
He, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said, "Yes." Umayr said,
"Bak'hin! Bak'hin!" (An Arabic word denoting excitement and
astonishment) The Messenger of Allah, sallallahu alayhe wa
sallam, asked him, "What made you say these words: Bak'hin,
Bak'hin?" He said, "Messenger of Allah, nothing but the desire to
be amongst its residents." He, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said,
"You are surely among its residents." He then took some dates
form his bag and began to eat them. Then he said, "If I were to live
until I had eaten all of the dates, indeed this life would be too
long." Anas then said, "He threw away the remaining dates he
had with him. He then fought (the disbelievers) until he was
killed." (Muslim)

What words could have inspired Umair and others like him to long
for, and to pay the ultimate price for a place in Paradise? Let's now
take a look at what the Messenger of Allah, had to say about

Description of Paradise in the Hadeeth

Abu Sa'eed Al-Khudri narrated that the Messenger of Allah,
sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said, "The people of Paradise will look
at the dwellers of lofty mansions (i.e. a superior place in
Paradise) in the same way as one looks at a brilliant star, far
away in the East or in the West of the horizon. This is because of
their superiority over one another (in reward)." One of the people
asked, "O Allah's Messenger, are these lofty mansions for the
Prophets which no one else can reach?"

The Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, replied, "No! By Allah,
in whose Hands is my life, these are for men who believe in Allah
and also believe in the Messenger." (Bukhari and Muslim)

Abu Musa al-Ash'ari narrated that the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe
wa sallam, said, "Verily, for the believers in Paradise, are tents
made of a single hollow pear. The length of which would be sixty
miles long from all sides, their wives being therein. The believer
will go around them (i.e., visit them) and they will not be able to
see each other." (Sahih al-Jami)

Abu Hurairah said that the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu alayhe
wa sallam, said, "There is not a tree in Paradise, except that its
trunk is made of gold." (Sahih al-Jami)
Anas ibn Malik narrated that the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa
sallam, said, "Verily in Paradise there is a market in which (the
inhabitants of Paradise) will come to every Friday. The North
wind will blow and scatter fragrances on their faces and on their
clothes. This will add to their beauty and their attractiveness.
They will then go back to their families after having an added
luster to their beauty and their attractiveness. Their families will
say to them, 'By Allah you have been increased in beauty and
loveliness after leaving us,' and they will say, 'By Allah you too
have increased in beauty and attractiveness after us.'" (Muslim)

Jabir ibn Abdullah narrated that the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu
alayhe wa sallam, said, "(I saw in a dream that) I entered
Paradise, and behold, there was a palace built of gold. I asked,
'Whose is this palace?' They (the angels) replied, 'For a man from
the Quraysh.' So I thought it might be I, so I asked, 'And who is
he?' They said, 'Umar Ibnul Khattab.' Nothing stopped me form
entering it except your Ghirah (sense of honor)." Umar said, "My
Ghirah would never be offended by you, O Messenger of Allah."
(Bukhari and Muslim)

Anas ibn Malik said that Allah's Apostle sallallahu alayhe wa
sallam, said, "I entered Paradise and found myself by a river, by
its edges were tents of pearls. Then I tapped with my hands where
the water was running, and there was then a beautiful smell of
Musk. I asked, 'What is this O Gabriel?' He said, 'This is Kawthar
(river in Paradise) which Allah has given to you.'" (Sahih al-Jami)

Who Are the People of Paradise?

We could go on and on, for the ahadeeth are vast in numbers,
about the Prophet's descriptions of Paradise. But a place that has
houses built with gold and silver bricks: where its dirt is made of
rubies and sapphires and its inhabitants wear only the finest silk
garments, sounds like a pretty exclusive neighborhood to me. Who
are these people who will be allowed to live in this enchanting
place? The Jews say the Jews. The Christians say the Christians.
But Allah says, "And they say: 'None shall enter Paradise unless he
be a Jew or a Christian.' Those are their (vain) desires. Say,
'Produce your proof if you are truthful.' " [2:111]

He also says, "(Namely) those whose lives the angels take in a state
of purity, saying (to them), 'Peace be on you, enter you the Garden,
because of (the good) which you did (in the world).' " [16:32]

Always in the Qur'an when Allah mentions those who will attain
Paradise, He mentions the believers, not the Muslims. He,
subhanahu wa ta'ala, says,

"Indeed the Muttaqoon will be amongst the Gardens and water-
springs." [15:45]
He also says,

"Verily, the Muttaqoon will be in a place of security, among
Gardens and Springs, dressed in fine silk and (also) in thick silk,
facing each other. This is how it shall be, and We shall marry them
to Houris with wide, lovely eyes. They will request therein for every
kind of fruit in peace and security." [44:51-55]

So who are the believers and how do we become one of them? Allah
says, "They believe in Allah and the Last Day, and they enjoin what
is right and forbid the wrong and they strive with one another in
hastening to good deeds, and those are among the good." [3:114]

He, subhanahu wa ta'ala, also says of the believers, "But the
Apostle and those who believe with him strive hard with their
property and their persons; and these it is who shall have the good
things and these it is who shall be successful." [9:88]

He goes on to say, "Allah has purchased of the believers their
persons and their goods; for theirs (in return) is the Garden (of
Paradise): they fight in His cause, and slay and are slain: a promise
binding on Him in truth, through the Law, the Gospel, and the
Qur'an: and who is more faithful to his covenant than Allah? Then
rejoice in the bargain, which you have concluded: that is the
achievement supreme." [9:111]

Of the believers, He also says, "But those who have faith and work
righteousness, they are companions of the Garden: Therein shall
they abide (forever)." [2:82]

O slaves of Allah know that being among this illustrious group of
people who will live in this place of tranquillity and bliss is not
something easily attained. Allah says,

"Or do you think that you shall enter the Garden (of bliss) without
such (trials) as came to those who passed away before you? They
encountered suffering and adversity, and were so shaken in spirit
that even the Apostle and those of faith who were with him cried,
'When (will come) the help of Allah?' Ah! Verily, the help of Allah is
(always) near!" [2:214]

What Allah and His Messenger, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, convey
to us is that the people of Paradise are the God-conscious, and the
God-fearing. Not everyone, who says, Lord, Lord, will enter the
Kingdom of Heaven, just as not everyone who professes the
Shahadah, will enter Paradise.

Only those who fear Allah as He ought to be feared, and are
motivated by that fear to do acts of righteousness will attain
success. The one who is conscious of His Lord, in every aspect of
his life, and turns to Him in true submission, will have purchased
for himself safety and security on a day, when there will be none,
except with Allah. He does not cause a soul to suffer fear twice, the
fear of Him in this world, and the fear on The Day of Judgment.
About this, the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam,
said, "Allah says, 'I do not combine for my servants two states of
fear, or two states of safety. So if he feels safe from Me in this world
I will cause him to fear on The Day of Judgment, and if he fears Me
in the world, I will cause him to be safe on The Day of Judgment.'
" (Sahih al-Jami)

It is important, therefore, that Muslims know the characters of
those who will be the inheritors of Paradise. But it is unfortunate
that many of today's Muslims understand that it is enough for one
to pronounce the Shahadah by his tongue for him to be entitled to
enter Paradise regardless of whether he lived according to Islam or
not! But the Shahadah means and requires more than the mere
utterance of it. Actually this fact is one of the most mentioned
aspects of Islam in the Qur'an and Sunnah. The essence of Eman is
deed. Deeds of the heart and deeds of the tongue and other body
parts. Deeds that are to be continued till one leaves this world. That
was the reason why the Arabs of Makkah refused to pronounce it.
They fully appreciated its implication. They knew it concerned
authority and understood that they had to govern their deeds and
lives with it. Yet many of those who repeat it today lead life styles
that do not resemble those described in the Qur'an and practiced
by the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, and his companions.
The Qur'an warns us that deeds are the basis on which we are to be
judged, not only the utterance of the Shahadah, "It is not by your
wishes nor the wishes of the People of the Book: whoever does
wrong shall be punished for it, and he will find none other than
Allah as a protector or helper." [4:123]

So entering Paradise requires that we live as believers and die as
Muslims. That takes knowledge, dedication and determination to
see it through to its completion. The fist step is belief in Allah and
His Messenger, and the flip side to that is leaving all acts of shirk;
this means directing all acts of ibadah to none but Allah,
subhanahu wa ta'ala, whether it be wearing talismans, supplicating
to others than Allah or simply showing off. The next step is obeying
Allah and His Messenger, avoiding bid'ah and innovations, and
carrying out all compulsory acts of worship that He has prescribed.
Once we are steadfast and regular in what we must do, we can then
proceed to the next level of eman and worship, by doing the things
that we have been encouraged to do. By increasing out acts of
worship, and remembrance of Allah we will leave off sin and help
safeguard ourselves from a Fire, the fuel of which is men and

We Should Also Strive to:
Protect our minds from thoughts, which are evil, because evil
actions begin with evil thoughts.

Protect our eyes by lowering our gazes and not looking at
forbidden things.

Protect our ears from lewd or evil speech where there is sin. We
should also avoid listening to lies, gossip, music, slander, or

Protect our tongues by saying always what is correct and true, and
keeping it moist with the remembrance of Allah, and keeping away
from backbiting and other evil speech.

Protect our stomachs by eating the halal and keeping away from
the haram. We should beware of eating usury, carrion, and swine
or drinking intoxicants or taking drugs.

Protect our hands from taking what does not belong to us, or from
doing harm to another Muslim.

Protect our legs from taking us to evil and corruption and an
ultimate doom.

Protect our private parts from unlawful sexual intercourse.

Protect our wealth by not squandering it or holding on to it too

Protect our oaths, witnesses and trusts by not breaching or
breaking a contract or pledge knowingly. We should not exceed our
agreements, testify to falsehood or break our trusts.

Protect our families and children by keeping them away from the
things that may be harmful and that may corrupt their minds and
their souls.

Now, it is true that only Allah knows who the believers are, but that
should not stop us from striving to be among their numbers. For
the believers will have eternal bliss and complete success, because
of the things that they did in this life. Allah says,

"So no soul knows the delight of the eyes which is hidden for them;
a reward for what they did." [32:17]

We now stand at the start of the race, so let us run forward quickly
to the finish line, where the gates of Paradise will be open for those
who strive as they should. The Messenger of Allah, sallallahu
alayhe wa sallam, who said, "Paradise is surrounded by hardship
and the Hellfire is surround by wishes and desires," has described
the road to eternal bliss." (Sahih al-Jami)
Despite this, Allah and His Messenger have left breadcrumbs along
the path, for us to follow to make our journey easier. All roads may
lead to Rome, but not all paths lead to Allah and His Paradise. We
must plan our journey by using only the road map given to us by
Allah and His Messenger, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam.

Ways That Lead To Paradise:

Belief and Righteous Deeds are two of the best routes to Jannah
(Paradise). The door of righteous deeds is wide and the ways of
obtaining rewards are vast, as Allah says, "And those who believe
and do good deeds they are the inhabitants of Paradise, in it they
shall abide." [2:82]

Taqwa is the fear of the Most Merciful, and acting in accordance
with the Qur'an and the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah,
sallallahu alayhe wa sallam. That is, hoping for the reward of Allah
and avoiding disobedience of His Guidance and fearing His
Punishment. For Allah says, "Surely those of taqwa shall be in the
midst of Gardens and fountains." [15:45]

The Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, also said, "The most
common thing which leads people to Paradise is taqwa of Allah
and good conduct, and the most common thing which leads
people to the Hell Fire is the mouth and the private parts."

Obedience of Allah and His Messenger is a sure way to Paradise.
Allah, subhanahu wa ta'ala, says, "And whoever obeys Allah and
His Messenger, He will cause him to enter Gardens beneath which
rivers flow, and whoever turns back, He will chastise him with a
painful chastisement." [48:17]

Allah's Messenger, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, also said, "All of
my followers will enter Paradise except those who refuse." It was
asked, "O Messenger of Allah, who would refuse?" He said, "He
who obeys me enters Paradise and he who disobeys me has
refused." (Bukhari)

Fighting in the Path of Allah with one's goods and soul. For Allah
says, "O you who believe, shall I lead you to a merchandise which
may deliver you from a painful chastisement? You shall believe in
Allah and His Messenger, and struggle hard in Allah's Cause with
your property and your lives; that is better for you, if you but knew!
He will forgive you your sins and cause you to enter Gardens
beneath which rivers flow, and goodly dwellings in Gardens of
perpetuity; that is the mighty achievement." [61:10-12]

Repentance erases what came before it as the Prophet, sallallahu
alayhe wa sallam, said, "The one who repents form sin is like the
one who never sinned." (Sahih Al-Jami) And Allah says, "Except
such as repent and believe and do good, these shall enter the
Garden, and they shall not be dealt with unjustly in any way."

There are countless other means, from building a mosque to
seeking Islamic knowledge to obeying our husbands and raising
righteous children. All it takes is our time and sincere efforts. With
all that Allah has described, it may seem daunting to us at times,
that we will ever make it. Eman rises and falls, and with it our good
deeds. But we should never lose hope in Allah, for the only one who
loses hope in Allah is the one who disbelieves. So even though we
may feel that we are at the bottom of the pile, the Prophet,
sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, gives us hope. He said, "Mousa,
alayhes salam, asked his Lord, 'Who amongst the inhabitants of
Paradise will be the lowest in rank?' He, subhanahu wa ta'ala,
said, 'He is a man who will come after the people have entered
Paradise and it will be said to him: Enter Paradise.' He will say,
'How my Lord? Indeed, the people have settled in their
apartments and taken their shares.' It will be asked of him,
'Would you be pleased if there was a kingdom for you like the
kingdoms of the earth?' He will say, 'I would be pleased, my Lord.'
He will say, 'And for you is the like of that,and the like of it, and
the like of it.' He will say at the fifth time, 'I am pleased, my Lord.'
He will say, 'This is for you and ten times like it, and for you is
what you desire for yourself and what is pleasurable to your eye.'
He will say, "I am pleased my Lord." (Muslim)

This is what Allah has for the least among us. But despite all the
glorious castles, the beautiful clothes and mates we will posses,
inshaAllah, He still has in store for the believers the greatest honor
awaiting them in Paradise. Suhaib ibn Sinan narrated that the
Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said, "When the inmates of
Paradise enter Paradise and the inmates of Hellfire will enter
Hell, the announcer will say, 'O people of Paradise, verily you
have a promise with Allah and He wishes to fulfill His promise to
you.' They will ask, 'What is His promise? Has He not made our
balances heavy (with good deed), whitened our faces, admitted us
into Paradise, and delivered us from the Hellfire?' Then the screen
will be removed and they will look towards Him. By Allah He will
not give them a thing more beloved to them and more comforting
to their eyes, than the gaze of Himself." (Sahih al-Jami)

We were created in Paradise, we came out of it and we will
inshaAllah go back to it. It is our destination and we shall reach it.
But we have to do what Allah has asked us to do, for Paradise is not
cheap. The price is true eman that is shown in obedience to Allah
according to the sunnah of his Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa
sallam. The companions understood that. Their efforts were all for
the life of the Hereafter and they gave only what was necessary to
this worldly life. As Muslims, everything we do, can be, and should
be worship of Allah. Whether we're working at the office to provide
for our families; cooking a meal; raising our children, or simply
resting, through remembrance of Allah and supplication, we can
transform these earthly necessities into fruits that will bear for us
in the life of the Hereafter. So let us keep our eyes on the prize, and
strive hard for it, for Allah says, "And (as for) those who strive
hard for Us, We will most certainly guide them in Our ways; and
Allah is most surely with the doers of good." [29:69]