The Qur’an, on Hell (Plus a Note on Dating)

The Qur’an, on Hell (Plus a Note on Dating) January 4, 2018


Muhammad visits Hell
Muhammad visiting Hell (15th-century Persian ms.; Wikimedia CC public domain)


From the manuscript that I’m working on for my forthcoming book on Islam for a Latter-day Saint readership:


The ultimate destination of the damned is described in the Qur’an with highly picturesque language. Hell is a place of raging and roar­ing fire, of towering columns of destroying flame, and of scorching winds that drive pitch-black smoke across a blighted landscape. The souls of the unrighteous are prevented from escaping by fetters (hammered out of the very wealth that they lusted after on earth) that bind them to their place of punishment. Still subject to hunger and thirst, they are offered only food that chokes—including a hor­rific fruit that is said to look like devils’ heads—and a drink as hot as molten brass. “Yet you shall drink it as the thirsty camel drinks.”[1] The unrighteous rich are singled out for special mention.

Proclaim a woeful punishment to those that hoard up gold and silver and do not spend it in God’s cause. The day will surely come when their treasures shall be heated in the fire of Hell, and their foreheads, sides, and backs branded with them. Their tor­mentors will say to them: “These are the riches which you hoarded. Taste then the punishment which is your due.”[2]

However, it is not only the miserly who have reason to fear. None of the unrighteous will have an easy or pleasant time in the Qur’anic hell. The situation of the sinful soul will be desperate there, yet will have no hope. Of the sinner, the Qur’an says that “death comes upon him from every side, yet he cannot die.”[3] (One thinks of the inscription over the gate of hell in Dante’s Inferno, written in early fourteenth-century Italy: “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”)[4] “Those that deny Our revelations We will burn in Hell-fire,” God is quoted as saying. “No sooner will their skins be consumed than We shall give them other skins, so that they may truly


[1] Representative passages concerning Hell include 3:180; 14:16-17; 18:29; 25:12;

37:62- 74; 38:55-59; 44:43-50; 56:41-56; 73:12-13; 104:4-9.

[2] 9:34 35.

[3] 14:17.

[4] Dante, Inferno, Canto III, line 9: Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’entrate.




Here is a pair of Islam-related articles that some out there might find of interest:


“Are Islam and Evolution Compatible?  The question is controversial and hotly debated.”


“How America Is Transforming Islam: Being young and Muslim in the U.S. means navigating multiple identities. Nothing shows that more than falling in love.”


Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment