The Heights

Surah 7 (Al-A’raf/The Heights): 45-47

45. The inhabitants of the Garden will call out to the inhabitants of the Fire: ‘We have found that which our Lord promised us to be true. Have you found that which your Lord promised to be true?

They will respond: ‘Yes’.

Thereupon a herald shall proclaim in their midst: ‘The curse of God be upon the wrongdoers’.

46. And there shall be a veil between them. And upon the heights are men who know all by their marks. They will call out to the inhabitants of the Garden: ‘Peace be upon you’. They will not have entered it, though they hope.

47. And when their eyes turn towards the inhabitants of the Fire, they will say: ‘Our Lord, place us not among the wrongdoing people’.


Surah 7 (The Heights) takes its name from an area of high ground that serves as a division between Heaven and Hell. The Qur’an does not state who it is who will occupy this place. It has been suggested that it may be those people whose evil and good deeds are finely balanced, by Muslims who have committed no major sins but who have been negligent in performing their religious obligations, or possibly those lacking moral responsibility such as the very young or mentally ill.


G. The Eschatology of the Qur’an
Based upon Marifetname, Ibramhim Hakka , 1753



As depicted in {7.45-47}, those on the Heights still hope to enter Paradise but fear the Hellfire, both of which destinations are visible to them, and with whose occupants they can hold conversations. These verses suggest that their state of limbo may be temporary, but whether it is so for all, the purpose of any waiting period and the individuals’ eventual destination are all left undisclosed.


The route to Paradise

A popular Islamic image that emerges from the hadith of the route to Paradise after death, is that of the Bridge of Sirat (literally ‘street’ from the Latin ‘strata’). This is said to pass over the Hellfire, and to be ‘as thin as a hair and as sharp as a sword’, and it must be traversed in order to reach the Gardens .

It is a slippery (bridge) on which there are hooks like a thorny plant that is wide at one side and narrow at the other and has thorns with bent ends ….

Some of the believers will cross the bridge as quickly as the wink of an eye, some others as quick as lightning, a strong wind, fast horses or she-camels.

So some will be safe without any harm; some will be safe after receiving some scratches, and some will fall down into Hell.

The last person will cross by being dragged over the bridge.


For those who make it to the far side, there is a final ordeal to be undergone process before one may make one’s way to the Gardens: the Day of Mutual Dispossession. This is mentioned without any elaboration in {64.9}, but a hadith explains it as a settling of old scores:

When the believers pass safely over (the bridge across) Hell, they will be stopped at a bridge in between Hell and Paradise where they will retaliate upon each other for the injustices done among them in the world,

When they get purified of all their sins, they will be admitted into Paradise .


Somewhere along this route, the believers will encounter al-Kawthar (‘the Abundance’),{108.1}. This is popularly imagined as a body of water, said to be a river or pond granted to Muhammad in Paradise, having ‘banks are gold and it flows over pearls and rubies, its scent finer than musk and its water sweeter than honey and whiter than milk’ at which the saved will be permitted to refresh themselves before finally entering the Gardens.