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Jannah (جنة) is the Arabic word for "garden" and is used in Islam to refer to the eternal abode of bliss, or the specific Islamic conception of Heaven. It is also the place from where Adam and his wife Hawa (Eve) are said to have descended after eating from a tree forbidden to the them (the "tree of immortality"), thus inaugurating human history. Jannah is the foil to Jahannam (Hell), which is the eternal abode of torment. Both are said to coexist with the temporal world but will only be occupied by humans after the Day of Judgement.
Jannah is described as the eternal residence of Muslims, eventually including those who have first to be purged of their sins by spending a sentence in Jahannam.
The most recurrent, specific description of Jannah in Islamic scriptures is that that it contains "gardens under which rivers flow". Other details include the services of houris (heavenly virgins) and "young male servants (handsome) as Pearls well-guarded". Inhabitants will are also said in the Qur'an to have access to fruits, rivers of milk, mansions, and couches, as well as things prohibited for all Muslims on Earth, such as alcohol, and things prohibited for Muslim men in particular, such as silken garments and golden bracelets.
Descriptions in scripture
Houris (heavenly virgins)
"Gardens under which rivers flow"
The Qur'an repeatedly described heaven as comprising "Gardens from beneath which the rivers flow". Though not reflected in English translations, in every instance the definite article is used i.e. "the rivers". This is also noted by Tommaso Tesei, who has detailed how "sources confirm that during late antiquity it was widely held that paradise was a physical place situated on the other side of the ocean encircling the Earth. In accordance with this concept, it was generally assumed that the rivers flowing from paradise passed under this ocean to reach the inhabited part of the world." A notion of four rivers following a subterranean course from paradise into the inhabited world also occurs in contemporary near eastern and Syriac sources.
And give good tidings to those who believe and do righteous deeds that they will have gardens [in Paradise] beneath which rivers flow.
The concept also appears in numerous sahih hadiths about Muhammad's night journey which mention the Nile and Euphrates, for example:
I was raised to the Lote Tree and saw four rivers, two of which were coming out and two going in. Those which were coming out were the Nile and the Euphrates, and those which were going in were two rivers in paradise. Then I was given three bowls, one containing milk, and another containing honey, and a third containing wine. I took the bowl containing milk and drank it. It was said to me, "You and your followers will be on the right path (of Islam)."
Gardens are described as desirable:
Would one of you like to have a garden of palm trees and grapevines underneath which rivers flow in which he has from every fruit?
Gardens are more desirable than other things:
Beautified for people is the love of that which they desire - of women and sons, heaped-up sums of gold and silver, fine branded horses, and cattle and tilled land. That is the enjoyment of worldly life, but Allah has with Him the best return. Say, "Shall I inform you of [something] better than that? For those who fear Allah will be gardens in the presence of their Lord beneath which rivers flow, wherein they abide eternally, and purified spouses and approval from Allah .
The gardens are a reward:
Those - their reward is forgiveness from their Lord and gardens beneath which rivers flow [in Paradise], wherein they will abide eternally; and excellent is the reward of the [righteous] workers.
The best reward a man can get are gardens with rivers:
So those who emigrated or were evicted from their homes or were harmed in My cause or fought or were killed - I will surely remove from them their misdeeds, and I will surely admit them to gardens beneath which rivers flow as reward from Allah, and Allah has with Him the best reward.
The best things are gardens with rivers:
But those who feared their Lord will have gardens beneath which rivers flow, abiding eternally therein, as accommodation from Allah . And that which is with Allah is best for the righteous.
These are the limits [set by] Allah, and whoever obeys Allah and His Messenger will be admitted by Him to gardens [in Paradise] under which rivers flow, abiding eternally therein; and that is the great attainment.
But those who believe and do righteous deeds - We will admit them to gardens beneath which rivers flow, wherein they abide forever. For them therein are purified spouses, and We will admit them to deepening shade.
But the ones who believe and do righteous deeds - We will admit them to gardens beneath which rivers flow, wherein they will abide forever. [It is] the promise of Allah, [which is] truth, and who is more truthful than Allah in statement.
And Allah said, "I am with you. If you establish prayer and give zakah and believe in My messengers and support them and loan Allah a goodly loan, I will surely remove from you your misdeeds and admit you to gardens beneath which rivers flow. But whoever of you disbelieves after that has certainly strayed from the soundness of the way."
Good people will be rewarded with gardens with rivers:
So Allah rewarded them for what they said with gardens [in Paradise] beneath which rivers flow, wherein they abide eternally. And that is the reward of doers of good.
Good people will live in gardens forever:
Allah will say, "This is the Day when the truthful will benefit from their truthfulness." For them are gardens [in Paradise] beneath which rivers flow, wherein they will abide forever, Allah being pleased with them, and they with Him. That is the great attainment.
But those who believed and did righteous deeds - We charge no soul except [within] its capacity. Those are the companions of Paradise; they will abide therein eternally. And We will have removed whatever is within their breasts of resentment, [while] flowing beneath them are rivers. And they will say, "Praise to Allah, who has guided us to this; and we would never have been guided if Allah had not guided us. Certainly the messengers of our Lord had come with the truth." And they will be called, "This is Paradise, which you have been made to inherit for what you used to do."
Allah has promised good people gardens:
Allah has promised the believing men and believing women gardens beneath which rivers flow, wherein they abide eternally, and pleasant dwellings in gardens of perpetual residence; but approval from Allah is greater. It is that which is the great attainment.
Allah has prepared gardens for good people:
Allah has prepared for them gardens beneath which rivers flow, wherein they will abide eternally. That is the great attainment.
And the first forerunners [in the faith] among the Muhajireen and the Ansar and those who followed them with good conduct - Allah is pleased with them and they are pleased with Him, and He has prepared for them gardens beneath which rivers flow, wherein they will abide forever. That is the great attainment.
Indeed, those who have believed and done righteous deeds - their Lord will guide them because of their faith. Beneath them rivers will flow in the Gardens of Pleasure
Good people get gardens while bad people will get fire:
The example of Paradise, which the righteous have been promised, is [that] beneath it rivers flow. Its fruit is lasting, and its shade. That is the consequence for the righteous, and the consequence for the disbelievers is the Fire.
And those who believed and did righteous deeds will be admitted to gardens beneath which rivers flow, abiding eternally therein by permission of their Lord; and their greeting therein will be, "Peace!"
Gardens of perpetual residence, which they will enter, beneath which rivers flow. They will have therein whatever they wish. Thus does Allah reward the righteous
Non-Muslims challenged Muhammad to miraculously produce gardens and rivers, suggesting that these things were very strongly desired by the Quraysh:
And they say, "We will not believe you until you break open for us from the ground a spring. Or [until] you have a garden of palm tress and grapes and make rivers gush forth within them in force [and abundance]
Those will have gardens of perpetual residence; beneath them rivers will flow. They will be adorned therein with bracelets of gold and will wear green garments of fine silk and brocade, reclining therein on adorned couches. Excellent is the reward, and good is the resting place.
Gardens of perpetual residence beneath which rivers flow, wherein they abide eternally. And that is the reward of one who purifies himself.
Indeed, Allah will admit those who believe and do righteous deeds to gardens beneath which rivers flow. Indeed, Allah does what He intends.
Indeed, Allah will admit those who believe and do righteous deeds to gardens beneath which rivers flow. They will be adorned therein with bracelets of gold and pearl, and their garments therein will be silk.
Blessed is He who, if He willed, could have made for you [something] better than that - gardens beneath which rivers flow - and could make for you palaces.
And those who have believed and done righteous deeds - We will surely assign to them of Paradise [elevated] chambers beneath which rivers flow, wherein they abide eternally. Excellent is the reward of the [righteous] workers
But those who have feared their Lord - for them are chambers, above them chambers built high, beneath which rivers flow. [This is] the promise of Allah . Allah does not fail in [His] promise.
The Pharaoh boasted about his gardens and their rivers:
And Pharaoh called out among his people; he said, "O my people, does not the kingdom of Egypt belong to me, and these rivers flowing beneath me; then do you not see? Or am I [not] better than this one who is insignificant and hardly makes himself clear?
Indeed, Allah will admit those who have believed and done righteous deeds to gardens beneath which rivers flow, but those who disbelieve enjoy themselves and eat as grazing livestock eat, and the Fire will be a residence for them.
There will be not only regular rivers, but also for example, rivers of wine:
Is the description of Paradise, which the righteous are promised, wherein are rivers of water unaltered, rivers of milk the taste of which never changes, rivers of wine delicious to those who drink, and rivers of purified honey, in which they will have from all [kinds of] fruits and forgiveness from their Lord, like [that of] those who abide eternally in the Fire and are given to drink scalding water that will sever their intestines?
[And] that He may admit the believing men and the believing women to gardens beneath which rivers flow to abide therein eternally and remove from them their misdeeds - and ever is that, in the sight of Allah, a great attainment -
There is not upon the blind any guilt or upon the lame any guilt or upon the ill any guilt [for remaining behind]. And whoever obeys Allah and His Messenger - He will admit him to gardens beneath which rivers flow; but whoever turns away - He will punish him with a painful punishment.
If the Quran didn't say the same things over and over again it would be a much smaller book:
Indeed, the righteous will be among gardens and rivers,
On the Day you see the believing men and believing women, their light proceeding before them and on their right, [it will be said], "Your good tidings today are [of] gardens beneath which rivers flow, wherein you will abide eternally." That is what is the great attainment.
Those - He has decreed within their hearts faith and supported them with spirit from Him. And We will admit them to gardens beneath which rivers flow, wherein they abide eternally.
He will forgive for you your sins and admit you to gardens beneath which rivers flow and pleasant dwellings in gardens of perpetual residence. That is the great attainment.
And whoever believes in Allah and does righteousness - He will remove from him his misdeeds and admit him to gardens beneath which rivers flow, wherein they will abide forever. That is the great attainment.
And whoever believes in Allah and does righteousness - He will admit him into gardens beneath which rivers flow to abide therein forever. Allah will have perfected for him a provision.
O you who have believed, repent to Allah with sincere repentance. Perhaps your Lord will remove from you your misdeeds and admit you into gardens beneath which rivers flow [on] the Day when Allah will not disgrace the Prophet and those who believed with him.
Noah tried to make people believers by telling them that Allah will give them rain and rivers:
And said, 'Ask forgiveness of your Lord. Indeed, He is ever a Perpetual Forgiver. He will send [rain from] the sky upon you in [continuing] showers And give you increase in wealth and children and provide for you gardens and provide for you rivers. What is [the matter] with you that you do not attribute to Allah [due] grandeur
Indeed, those who have believed and done righteous deeds will have gardens beneath which rivers flow. That is the great attainment.
Their reward with Allah will be gardens of perpetual residence beneath which rivers flow, wherein they will abide forever
Islam's origin in one of the world's most arid regions in all likelihood accounts for the imagery that dominates the Qur'anic portrayal of paradise. One may wonder weather the Qur'an is able to maintain its purported universal import and appeal while focusing so heavily on images that allure primarily to the occupants of deserts.
- Quran 20:116-121
- B. Lewis; Ch. Pellat; J. Schacht, eds, (1991), "Djanna", Encyclopaedia of Islam, 3 H-Ir (New Edition [2nd] ed.), Leiden: E.J. Brill, pp. 447-452, ISBN 90 04 07026 5, 1991
- Quran 52:24
- Tesei, Tommaso. Some Cosmological Notions from Late Antiquity in Q 18:60–65: The Quran in Light of Its Cultural Context. Journal of the American Oriental Society, vol. 135, no. 1, American Oriental Society, 2015, pp. 19–32, https://doi.org/10.7817/jameroriesoci.135.1.19.