Description of Hell in the Quran

All Muslims hope to spend their eternal lives in Heaven (jannah), but many will fall short. Disbelievers and evil-doers face another destination: Hell-Fire (jahannam). The Quran contains many warnings and descriptions of the severity of this eternal punishment.

Blazing Fire

Fire on the water
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The consistent description of Hell in the Quran is as a blazing fire which is fueled by "men and stones." It is thus often called "hell-fire."

"...fear the Fire whose fuel is men and stones,- which is prepared for those who reject Faith" (2:24).
"...Enough is Hell for a burning fire. Those who reject Our Signs, We shall soon cast into the Fire... For Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise" (4:55-56).
"But he whose balance (of good deeds) is found to be light, will have his home in a (bottomless) Pit. And what will explain to you what this is? A Fire blazing fiercely!" (101:8-11).

Cursed by Allah

Allah script outside Eski Cami (The Old Mosque) in Edirne, Turkey.
Nevit Dilmen / Wikimedia Commons / GNU Free Documentation

The worst punishment for disbelievers and wrongdoers will be the realization that they have failed. They did not heed Allah's guidance and warnings, and thus have earned His wrath. The Arabic word, jahannam, means "a dark storm" or "a stern expression." Both exemplify the seriousness of this punishment. The Quran says:

"Those who reject Faith, and die rejecting,- on them is Allah's curse, and the curse of angels, and of all mankind. They will abide therein: Their penalty will not be lightened, nor will they receive respite" (2:161-162).
"They are (men) whom Allah hath cursed: And those whom Allah Hath cursed, thou wilt find, have no one to help" (4:52).

Boiling Water

Boiling water
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Normally water brings relief and puts out a fire. The water in Hell, though, is different.

"...Those who deny (their Lord), for them will be cut out a garment of Fire. Over their heads will be poured out boiling water. With it will be scalded what is within their bodies, as well as (their) skins. In addition there will be maces of iron (to punish) them. Every time they wish to get away therefrom, from anguish, they will be forced back, and (it will be said), "Taste the Penalty of Burning!" (22:19-22).
"In front of such a one is Hell, and he is given, for drink, boiling fetid water" (14:16).
"In its midst and in the midst of boiling hot water will they wander round!" (55:44).

Tree of Zaqqum

Locked Gates guard entry to the Alnwick Garden Poison Garden
The Alnwick Garden

Whereas the rewards of Heaven include plentiful, fresh fruits and milk, the inhabitants of Hell will eat from the Tree of Zaqqum. The Quran describes it:

"Is that the better entertainment or the Tree of Zaqqum? For We have truly made it (as) a trial for the wrong-doers. It is a tree that springs out of the bottom of Hell-Fire. The shoots of its fruit-stalks are like the heads of devils. Truly they will eat thereof and fill their bellies therewith. Then on top of that they will be given a mixture made of boiling water. Then shall their return be to the (Blazing) Fire" (37:62-68).
"Verily, the tree of deadly fruit will be the food of the sinful. Like molten lead will it boil in the belly, like the boiling of burning despair" (44:43-46).

No Second Chances

A person is silhouetted against the fires of a volcano
KapohoKine Adventures

When they are dragged into Hell-Fire, many people will instantly regret the choices they made in their lives and will beg for another chance. The Quran warns such people:

"And those who followed would say: 'If only We had one more chance...' Thus will Allah show them (the fruits of) their deeds as (nothing but) regrets. Nor will there be a way for them out of the Fire" (2:167)
"As to those who reject Faith: if they had everything on earth, and twice repeated, to give as ransom for the penalty of the Day of Judgment, it would never be accepted of them. Theirs would be a grievous penalty. Their wish will be to get out of the Fire, but never will they get out. Their penalty will be one that endures" (5:36-37).
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Huda. "Description of Hell in the Quran." Learn Religions, Aug. 27, 2020, Huda. (2020, August 27). Description of Hell in the Quran. Retrieved from Huda. "Description of Hell in the Quran." Learn Religions. (accessed June 1, 2023).