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Tuesday, February 08, 2005

The stairway to Paradise

The stairway to Paradise:

What is the stairway to Paradise?
What should we do to enter Paradise?
Most of us must be wondering what does Paradise look like?
What sorts of pleasure are there?
It is beyond human imagination.

So let's do our part in life; obey Allah and His Messenger (PBUH), and win Allah's satisfaction, for by His mercy we can enter the Eternal Paradise.Allah says in the Qur'an:"And give good news (O Mohammad) to those who believe and do good deeds, that they will have gardens (Paradise) in which rivers flow.... (Qur'an 2:25)Allah also encourages us to win his forgiveness and look forward to Paradise as he says in the Qur'an:"Race one with another for forgiveness from your Lord and for Paradise, whose width is as the width of the heavens and the earth, which has been prepared for those who believe in God and His messengers.... (Qur'an 57:21)Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) told us that the lowest in rank among the dwellers of Paradise will have ten times the like of this world, and he or she will have whatever he or she desires and ten times like it.Also, Prophet Mohammad said (PBUH):"A space in Paradise equivalent to the size of a foot would be better than the world and what is in it."He (PBUH) also said:"In Paradise there are things which no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no human mind has thought of."Once you enter Paradise, you will live a very happy life without sickness, pain, sadness, or death; Allah will be pleased with you; and you will live there forever.Allah says:"But those who believe and do good deeds, We will admit them to gardens (Paradise) in which rivers flow, lasting in them forever.... " (Qur'an, 4:57)Now what should we do to enter Paradise? What are the deeds that lead one to Paradise?People who will enter Paradise are those who believe in Allah and His Messengers, those who avoid wrong doings and fear Allah and the Day of Resurrection. On the other hand, those who associate others with Allah, or disbelieve in Him, or deny any of the principles of faith, will not be allowed to enter Paradise. Their destination will be Hellfire.Allah has stated in many verses in the Qur'an that the people of Paradise are the believers who do righteous deeds. For example: Allah says:"And give glad tidings to those who believe and do righteous good deeds that for them will be Gardens under which rivers flow. Every time they will be provided with fruits there from, they will say: 'This is what we were provided with before,' and they will be given things in resemblance [i.e. in the same form but different in taste] and they shall have therein purified mates as wives, and they will abide therein forever." (Qur'an 2:25)Also Allah says:"Allah has promised to the believers - men and women - Gardens under which rivers flow to dwell therein forever, and beautiful mansions in Gardens of 'Eden. But the greatest bliss is the Good Pleasure of Allah. That is the supreme success." (Qur'an 9:72)In some places the Qur'an states that people will deserve Paradise for their achievements in faith and righteous deeds:Believers may earn Paradise through their faith and Islam:"My worshippers! Today no fear shall be on you, nor shall you grieve. Those who believed in Our Revelations and they were Muslim; "Enter the Garden, you and your spouses, in rejoicing". (Qur'an 43:68-70)Or they may earn Paradise because they were sincere in their devotion to Allah:"Save the chosen slaves of Allah, For them there will be a known provision [in Paradise], Fruits, and they shall be honoured, In the Gardens of delight." (Qur'an 37:40-43)Or for the strength of their relationship with Allah and how close they are to Allah, their longing for Him and worship of Him:"Only those who believe in our ayat (signs, proofs, verses) who, when they are reminded of them fall down prostrate, and glorify the Praises of their 'Rabb' (Lord) and they are in fear and hope, and they spend [charity in Allah's Cause] out of what We have bestowed on them." (Qur'an 32:15-16)Also people may enter Paradise as a result of their patience and reliance on Allah:"And those who believe and do righteous good deeds, to them We shall surely give lofty dwellings in Paradise, underneath which rivers flow, to live therein forever. Excellent is the reward of the workers, those who are patient and put their trust [only] in their 'Rabb' (Allah)."(Qur'an 29: 58-59)Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) has told us about three great deeds through which a person may earn Paradise. 'Ayyad ibn Himar al-Mujashi'i narrated that Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) said one day in his Khutbah (sermon):"The people of Paradise are three: a ruler who is fair and just; a man who is compassionate and gentle towards every relative and Muslim; and a man with a large family who is proud and does not beg."

Is reaching Paradise easy?
Paradise is very high, and ascending to lofty places takes a great deal of effort. To reach Paradise you have to walk through a road full of difficulties; a way that is full of things that go against human wishes and inclinations. This needs strong determination and willpower.In a Hadith narrated by Bukhari and Muslim from Abu Hurayrah, Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) said:"Hell has been veiled with desires, and Paradise has been veiled with hardships."An-Nisa'i, Tirmidhi and Abu Dawud report from Abu Hurayrah that Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) said:"When Allah created Paradise, He told Jibril, 'Go and look at it.' So he went and looked at it, then he came back and said: 'By Your Glory, no one will hear of it but he will enter it.' So He surrounded it with hardships and said, 'Go and look at it.' So he went and looked at it, then came back and said: 'By Your Glory, I fear that no one will enter it.'"An-Nawawi commented on the first Hadith: "This is an example of the beautiful, eloquent and concise speech of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), in which he gives a beautiful analogy. It means that nothing will help you to reach Paradise except going through hardships, and nothing will lead you to Hell but whims and desires. Both are veiled as described, and whoever tears down the veil will reach what was hidden behind it. The veil of Paradise is torn down by going through hardships, and the veil of Hell is torn down by giving in to whims and desires. Hardship includes striving consistently and patiently in worship, restraining one's anger, forgiving, being patient, giving in charity, being kind to those who mistreat you, resisting physical desires etc."Thus, Paradise is worth sacrificing wordly pleasure, so try to pull back your whims and desires, be strong, and remember the eternal pleasure you'll enjoy in Paradise. Put up with hardships for in Paradise there will be no place for grieve or sadness, it's a place for happiness and peacefulness.


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