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Radley Rex B. Dizon | 3 AB IS | IS163.


Jannah: Eschatology according to Islam and Christianity

Everything has its own limits. Each of us, as creations of an ultimate being above us, has
its own specific dates of end here in this world. Plants die. Animals die. A loaf of bread has its
own expiration date. Humans are not exempted to this kind of phenomenon. And the mere fact
that we are unable to discover when it will happen and what lies after it creates a bizarre feeling
within us. It can either be fear, nervousness or happiness. It depends on the perspective of the
As we are exposed to these different kinds of approach, it is important to learn what we
are to expect in the afterlife. The topic of Eschatology caters to this need as the said concept,
according to Merriam-Webster, concerns the branch of theology concerned with the final events
in the history of the world or of humankind, with the term originating from the Greeks,
eschatos, which means last.
In order to deeply understand the concept, we divide the issue into
three main points: Hope, Judgment, and Heaven and Hell. Hope refers to ones longing for
something that should exist after life. On the other hand, Judgment, or the last judgment, speaks
of the divine beings final verdict on the state of life of oneself. Concepts of Heaven and Hell
refer to the results after the divine beings judgment of ones soul. The discussion will be more
fruitful as we incorporate ideas from Muslim and Christian perspectives, by comparing and
contrasting their view on these topics.

Merriam-Webster, s.v. Eschatology, (accessed
February 08, 2014).
Eschatology in Islam and Christianity presents very deep histories regarding their
discussions with the said term. Islamic studies on Eschatology roots back from the Koran, which
speaks clearly of death, end of the world and resurrection, and the Hadith, the sayings and
preaches of Muhammad, which supports the said topics from the Koran. Several Muslim
scholars have highlighted such topics related. Muslim philosophers Ibn Rushd, or most
commonly known as Averroes and Suhrawardi, were the early contributors of research on life
after death, and writers J.I. Smith and Y.Y. Haddad provided a broad overview.

On the other hand, Christian studies on Eschatology are found early during the period of
the Israelites. Although there is limited specific discussion from them, their eschatology is seen
through their view on the future where events throughout history will be transformed, not
transcended. Their present situation is seen to be corrupted in the future, and God will redeem
His people.
Then came a point in history where people seek for hope as their world is tarnished,
therefore asks for a divine intervention that would restore their state of lives.
Islamic Eschatology revolves around the concept of Tauhid, which refers to the oneness
of God or Allah. It tackles the idea that everything in this world is connected to the creator. As
the master and owner of this world, He is responsible for everything that happens with His
creations, and one interesting point here is the fact that he creates and ends things. There is a
point where everything is created, but there comes a particular point in time when things should
end. And this brings us to our curiosity whether when will life end. It can be imagined that this
life we have is like a cycle, and we are just waiting for the end of that period.

Jerry Walls, The Oxford Handbook of Eschatology (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), 132-150.
In relation to the Tauhid, it is also important to note one of the five pillars or tenets of
Islam the Shahadah, or the declaration that there is no god except Allah. Together with the
ninety-nine (99) names of Allah in Islam, specifically Ar-Rahim (the merciful) and Al-Akhir (the
last)(57:3), we see that unity exists between Allah and His creations, and there is perfection in
everything He created.
Meaning, He has a plan for us, even at the end of time.
This brings us to mans desire to know when end will come. According to the Quran,
only Allah knows when the hour will come (33:63) and the prophet Muhammad does not have
any knowledge of it (6:57). Since there is no clear date of the last judgment, we may tend to ask
ourselves, what happens when we die and the last judgment has not come yet? The Quran
replies as those who die will not notice the time between death and judgment (10:45).
Despite the inability for us to know the exact date, Muslims have designed signs that
will estimate whether the end is near. It is divided into two groups: the Major signs and the
Minor signs. The Major signs, as indicated, speak of the greater events that Muslims should
await, such as the coming of the Muslim Anti-Christ (Ad-Dajjal), or the return of the Muslim
Jesus (Isa al-Maseeh) or most importantly, the coming of the Muslim Savior/Messiah figure (al-
. The al-Mahdi is the most significant sign as it will be the one that will save us from
great suffering that all creation will experience. He is considered as the grand Khalifa, or the
supreme leader or vice-regent for Allah in this world, as he will lead all religions in restoring the
Caliphate (Khilafa).
This implies that there will come a time where the earth will experience a
great destruction in our state of living, and the Mahdi will come to correct these mistakes and
lead the people back to the perfect state. In clearing this destruction, the Mahdi must defeat the

Joel Richardson, Antichrist: Islam's Awaited Messiah (Enumclaw: Pleasant Word, 2006), 1,
ge&q=islamic%20eschatology&f=false (accessed February 08, 2014).
Dajjal, or the Anti-Christ. The Anti-Christ is the primary human agent of Satan who will cause
destruction and immorality with the people.
The bible has a similar view of the Dajjal and,
described in the book of Daniel where Daniel converses with an angel, see him as a political
leader who controls a greater part of the kingdoms here on earth. As Mahdi battles with Dajjal,
he will require help from Jesus as he will aid the Muslims and the non-Muslims and lead them to
prayer. Jesus will then establish the Islamic Shariah Law for all.
But as we figure the efforts of the Mahdi and Jesus, we see that Jesus is somehow inferior
compared to the Mahdi. He is regarded as the greater human being seeing that his help is more of
a human interaction, while the Mahdi aids the people as a different kind of being. This brings the
fact that Jesus is only one of the prophets of Islam, compared to the Christian world where he is
the son of God.
Meanwhile, on the Christian perspective, as followers of Jesus Christ, we are presented
with His life his human life and his resurrection. We believe in the afterlife because of Christs
revelation to us. He was all-human as he lived with His people and all-God as he entered into His
Kingdom after His persecution and sufferings. As He died for us, he showed that there is
resurrection after death, therefore equating Christs Parousia, or His second coming to the
resurrection of the dead (CCC 1001). We are witnesses to His transfiguration and we have now a
concrete indication of the presence of life.
We are also presented of the life after death in the book of Revelation. It basically
describes the revelation or the second coming of Jesus Christ. The book narrates the apocalyptic
events that will transpire in the end days (apocalypse came from the Greek term apokalypsis,
which means revelation). Although there are stories from the Old Testament that deals with
apocalypses (e.g. Daniel 7-12, Isaiah 24-27, Zechariah 9-14, Joel 3-4), the book of Revelations is

more concrete and detailed. It is more devoted to the future, compared to the narration in the
book of Daniel where it is told through Daniels dream. Similar to the Islamic interpretations, the
book tells us of the battle between good and evil, particularly between God and Satan, or to be
more specific, Jesus Christ and Satan.
Several figures appear in their battle, such as angels and a
beast, which is similar to the four beasts presented in Daniel 7.
As we discuss the collective situations during the end days, we now proceed to an
individualistic point of view on death. Considering the fact that there is really life after death, we
can now say that life is composed of two main parts: the dunya or the life on this world (human
life) and the akhira or the after life. The dunya relates to the activities done by an individual in
his stay here on earth up until the time of his physical death. It also includes the time spend from
the hour of his death and the hour of judgment.
On the other hand, akhira refers to the soul state
of being in the hereafter. Between the dunya and the akhira exists the barzakh or the barrier
between the two states of being. It is previously said that there is a particular period between the
death of a human person and the hour of judgment. Here, it is the barzakh that caters to that
period. This is a clear indication that humans, in a Islamic perspective, have only one life, and
Muslims will have to wait for that barrier, the barzakh, to open in order to reach the next life.
The barzakh also serves as a place for them to reflect and repent for their sins.
As the Day of Judgment or Resurrection (qiyamah) comes, man should be concerned
with his or her actions from her previous life, the dunya, since it will be the basis for his or her
fate in the afterlife. The Quran notes that every detail of ones action is written in their
scriptures or book of deeds (54:52, 54:53). Going back to the concept of Tauhid, man, as vice-

Gilbert Desrosiers, An Introduction to Revelation (London: Bloomsbury, 2005), 1.
Jane Smith and Yvonne Haddad, The Islamic Understanding of Death and Resurrection (New York: State
University of New York, 1981), 1-30.
regents of Allah, is accountable for everything that he does. His actions should be according to
the responsibilities given to him. Thus, the morality of ones actions is the key indicator whether
he or she goes to Jannah (heaven) or Jahannam (hell)
The call for man to enter to a greater state of being in his afterlife is to obey Allah and
avoid sin. It is important to note the grave sins (kabair) that one should avoid. Sins such as
associating anything with Allah, murder and not praying, give weight to ones status in last
. Included also are the lesser sins (saghair). It is also interesting to note that Islam
mentions shirk, or the practice of polytheism, as the greatest sin.

On the other hand, in an individual perspective of a Christian, death is the end of human
life. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) speaks of death as the culmination of mans
journey on earth and his looming everlasting life (CCC 998). And this roots from the Christians
belief on the holy trinity: God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We are then reminded of
life as a cycle wherein we came from God and He created us in flesh. And then, we end up again
in His Kingdom.
Thus, we can say that life consists of two parts, human life and afterlife, and death is the
barrier to that said stages. As death is achieved, the person proceeds with his life through his
soul. The soul is separated from the human body and reunites with other souls and their Creator
(CCC 997). The soul is considered as another form of body, but in a spiritual form.
But not all souls will be saved and advance to Gods Kingdom. According to the CCC,
those who will rise to the heavens are "those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and
those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment." (CCC 998). As the Day of Judgment
approaches, Christ will come again and affirms the souls retribution. The fate of the souls will

The Major Sins - Al-Kaba'ir, (accessed February 08, 2014)
Jane Smith and Yvonne Haddad, The Islamic Understanding of Death and Resurrection (New York: State
University of New York, 1981), 1-30.
be decided according to his or her actions on earth, whether he or she has loved God through
mans actions to Him and His creations.
The fate of the soul is limited to three possible options; either it will go to heaven, stay in
purgatory or enter hell. As heaven consists of souls who have done good in their stay on earth,
purgatory serves as purification of souls who are fit for eternal salvation but still needs time to
achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven. (CCC 1030). Hell, on the other hand,
consists of souls who have sinned against God and His creations. Although God does not
predetermine who will go to hell, fate in hell requires a person to wilfully deny oneself to the
love of God.
Heaven and Hell
Obviously, the end of afterlife for each one of us is to enter heaven and avoid hell. In
Islam, the subject on heaven and hell, or Jannah and Jahannam, is interesting such that it gives
us a detailed account of what to expect if we enter these states. Jannah, an Arabic term, is
equivalent to the concept of heaven in Christianity, which means to cover or hide something
As heaven is something unseen or unclear to man, Jannah is indeed the paradise that awaits us.
Jahannam, on the other hand, is defined as darkness or hell-fire
Islam is very specific in their description of paradise as it presents Muslims with concrete
benefits of what they can attain in their afterlife. The Quran speaks of paradise as something
pleasurable (3:15, 5:119). After a Muslim lived a life of good deeds, he is guaranteed of a life
full of pleasures and peace as he will be greeted by the angels at the entrance (7:43, 13:23-24,

Christine Huda Dodge, Definition of 'Jannah', February 07, 2014, accessed February 07, 2014,
Christine Huda Dodge, Definition of 'Jahannam', February 07, 2014, accessed February 07, 2014,
They are presented with a beautiful garden, and there, they meet other righteous
people who are also admitted (9:72; 13:23-24, 4:69). Food and drinks are also part of their
everlasting life as they are given with abundance of food in order to celebrate their glorious past
human lives (41:31-32, 69:24).
Jannah also contains doors or gates, signifying ones way of entering paradise according
to his life. These consist of: Baab as-Salaat (those who focused on prayers, or salat), Baab al-
Jihad (those who have died in Jihad), Baab as-Sadaqah (those who frequently participate in
charity), Baab ar-Rayyaan (those who constantly observed fasting), Baab al-Hajj (those who
participated in Hajj), Baab al-Kaazimeen Al-Ghaiz Wal Aafina Anin Naas (those who managed
to control anger and forgive), Baab al-Iman (those who have sincere faith in Allah), and Baab al-
Dhikr (those who constantly remembered Allah)
Jahannam, meanwhile, is also described in detail by the Quran. As a way of punishment
from Allah, disbelievers are threatened with consequences of their wrongdoings. Hell is viewed
as a place full of suffering due to the presence of fire and heat. The Quran is specific on it as
those who reject...shall soon cast into the Fire
The water in Jahannah is also presented in
detail as those who deny (their Lord)...over their heads will be poured out boiling water

While those who are in paradise will receive a bountiful of food, wrongdoers are given the Tree
of Zaqqum which produces fruits that will greaten their suffering (37:62-68, 44:43-46). With
suffering in their hands, Allah assures that no second chance will be given to them, and they will
remain there forever (5: 36-37).

Christine Huda Dodge, Description of Heaven in the Quran, February 07, 2014, accessed February 07, 2014,
Christine Huda Dodge, Doors of Jannah - Gates of Paradise in Islam, February 07, 2014, accessed February 07,
Quran 4:56
Quran 22:19
In Christianity, the subject of Heaven and Hell is broad such that it is presented with
minimal details. The CCC mentions heaven as a state wherein we encounter God, face-to-face
(CCC 1023). Man is accompanied by the Holy Trinity, together with the Virgin Mary, the angels
and the other faithful (CCC 1024). With that, man is, once again, reunited with Christ and all of
his desires and happiness will be ultimately fulfilled. Thus, everlasting life is accomplished. All
in all, heaven is the culmination of Gods perfection.
Hell, on the other hand, consists of souls who completely refused to be converted and
denied God. These souls are thrown into the fires of hell and will receive eternal punishment
(CCC 1035).
Overall, the facts of afterlife present to us a challenge in our human lives. The two
religions tell us that our fate in the afterlife lies within our actions right now. We are now
encouraged to pursue a life of good deeds in order to enter paradise. It pushes us, not to look at
faith and moral actions as requirement, but wholeheartedly dedicate our lives in this attitude.
Hence, we will experience the perfection and happiness that we long for throughout these years.

Desrosiers, Gilbert. An Introduction to Revelation. London: Bloomsbury, 2005.
Smith, Jane, and Yvonne Haddad. The Islamic Understanding of Death and Resurrection. New
York: State University of New York, 1981.
Walls, Jerry. The Oxford Handbook of Eschatology. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008.

Richardson, Joel Antichrist: Islam's Awaited Messiah. Enumclaw: Pleasant Word, 2006.
Accessed February 08, 2014.

The Major Sins - Al-Kaba'ir. February 08, 2014. Accessed February 08, 2014.
Huda Dodge, Christine. Definition of 'Jahannam'. February 07, 2014. Accessed February 07,
Huda Dodge, Christine. Definition of 'Jannah'. February 07, 2014. Accessed February 07,
Huda Dodge, Christine. Description of Heaven in the Quran. February 07, 2014. Accessed
February 07, 2014.
Huda Dodge, Christine. Description of Hell in the Quran. February 07, 2014. Accessed
February 07, 2014.