The Quran (or Koran) -- the holy book for Muslims -- doesn't hide the fact that hell is a prominent place in Islamic belief. Descriptions of hell and the suffering of those who go there are graphic and generous in details. The punishments experienced in the Islamic version of hell are both physical and emotional.
Islam teaches that those who go to hell are those who do not believe in Allah, the Islamic God, and who rebel against Allah's laws or reject his messengers, such as the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Everyone's fate, say Muslims, will be determined on Judgment Day. Furthermore, those who die before Judgment Day and who did not show themselves faithful to Allah before death will be sent to hell. The duration of someone's life is his only chance to gain Allah's favor and avoid the punishments in hell.
Muslims believe that the suffering in hell is intense. The toughest part of hell, evidently, will be enduring the punishment of fire. Another punishment will involve scalding water poured onto the head so that the skin and internal organs melt. The suffering will be continuous. The Quran, at Surah (or Verse) 4:56, says that the melted or burned skin will be renewed so that the punished experience repeatedly the process of being burned. On their way to hell, people will be dragged on their faces.
Muslims believe that the unfaithful in hell will also be punished emotionally. They believe that the physical suffering in hell will be so severe that the punished will forget all sense of pleasure they enjoyed on the earth. Muslims also believe that the torture of hell will cause people to lose their minds to the point that they will offer to exchange anything -- even their own families -- for a release from the pain. But they will not be able to. The Islamic hell is designed to perpetually humiliate and torture the punished.
Duration and Degree
Anyone who goes to hell will remain there forever, according to the Quran. The fifth Surah in the Quran states: "[The punished] would desire to go forth from the fire, and they shall not go forth from it, and they shall have a lasting punishment." Muslims also believe that while the suffering in hell will be continuous and everlasting, the severity will vary from person to person. For example, some, because their unfaithfulness wasn't as brazen, will feel fire only up to their ankles. And others will feel it up to their knees, waists or necks.
- The Religion of Islam: A Description of Hellfire - An Introduction
- The Religion of Islam: A Description of Hellfire - The Horrors of Hell II
- The Religion of Islam: A Description of Hellfire - The Horrors of Hell I
- University of Michigan: Koran - Surah 4:56
- The Religion of Islam: Salvation From Hellfire
- University of Michigan: Koran - Surah 5:37
- Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images News/Getty Images