Jul 06, 2018 08:46 UTC

In the Name of God, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate, Salaam and welcome to our weekly program "Path towards Enlightenment" in which we present you a fluent and easy-to-understand explanation of the ayahs of the holy Qur’an. We start from where we left you last week and here are ayahs 62 and 63 of Surah Saffaat:

“Is this a better hospitality, or the Zaqqūm tree?”

“Indeed We have made it a punishment for the wrongdoers.”

Last week we focused on the eternal bliss of Paradise for the virtuous who will know neither any discomfort nor boredom, and by the Grace of God, will be able to see the miserable condition of the denizens of Hell and talk to them by comparing divine rewards with divine punishment – as specified in the ayah that we recited to you now, which contrasts the types of hospitality.

It is clear that the tyrants, the sinners and wrongdoers who had disobeyed God, oppressed others and died in the state of sin and disbelief, will have a blazing food in the Hereafter. In other words, after stating the pleasant and worthy bounties of Paradise, the ayahs under discussion refer to the painful and grievous chastisement of the Hell. It is implicitly asked whether these eternal and pleasant bounties with which the people of Paradise are entertained are better or the Tree of Zaqqum.

As for the Arabic word “Zaqqum”, according to the philologists, it is the name of a plant which has some small leaves that are bitter with bad smell. It grows in the land of Tehamah and polytheists were acquainted with it. It is said that this plant has a sap that when it reaches the body of a person, it swells. Ragheb Isfahani in his famous work “Mufradaat al-Qur’an” says that Zaqqum is any kind of hateful food for the people of Hell.

Then, in the next ayah, referring to some qualities of this plant, the holy Qur’an says: “Indeed We have made it a punishment for the wrongdoers.”

From these ayahs we learn that:

  1. We should strive to do good things in life and abstain from sins, otherwise we will meet a terrible fate in afterlife.  
  2. In contrast to the bliss and blessings of paradise, the sinners in hell experience bitter torments including the detestable food they are given to eat – a far cry from the luxuries they had enjoyed in the transient life of the mortal world, by acquiring ill-begotten wealth, by oppressing others and by denying people their rights.

Now we listen to ayahs 64 to 66 of Surah Saffaat:

 “Indeed it is a tree that emerges from the depths of hell”

“Its spathes are as if they were devils’ heads”

“Indeed they will eat from it and gorge with it their bellies”

These ayahs describe Zaqqum tree, saying that it emerges from the depths of hell. According to other ayahs of the holy Qur’an, such as ayahs 43 to 46 of Surah Dukhan, Zaqqum is a type of plant or tree which grows amidst the burning fire of the hell and the denizens of hell are fed its bitter fruit. It is natural that the plants that passes through the fire, not water, has a burning effect, and its eating increases the sufferings. In addition to the bad smell and bad taste of this plant, the holy Qur'an has likened it to the ugly and terrible head of a demon.

From these ayahs we learn that:

  1. It is the Will of God that makes a plant grow in the blazing fire of hell, without water or air.
  2. Those who disobey God and lead a life of sins and unbelief end up in hell.

Now we listen to ayahs 67 and 68 of Surah Saffaat:

“Indeed, on top of that they will take a solution of scalding water.”

“Then indeed their retreat will be toward hell.”

It is natural that eating the fruit of the Zaqqum tree brings thirst, and these ayahs meant to say: Those who eat of the Zaqqum tree, are given scalding water to drink, which will increase their internal torment.

From the next ayah it is clear that entry into Hell requires stages. Therefore, what was said after the Zaqqum tree and the drinking of scalding waters, was merely the torrid and torturous reception of the sinners before their being cast into Hell, such as the reception of guests when entering the joyous ceremony. If the manner of reception before entering the inferno is this, how will they be treated in Hell?

From these ayahs we learn that:

  1. Like the People of Paradise, the denizens of hell eat and drink, but they are given unwholesome and torturous food that only increases their torments.
  2. Those who, in the world, fill their stomachs with haram or unlawfully earned income without paying attention to the commandments of Allah, will suffer the consequences in afterlife.
  3.  Those who had denied Resurrection and mocked at the message of the Prophets will face lasting punishment in afterlife.