Off Hell

A notable Sufi mystic once remarked that fruits and flowers in heaven derive sweetness & odor from the heat of the hellfire. More you think on the above punch line and you discover new dimensions to the topic of heaven and hell or in other words on reward & punishment which are very much a part of this life..

There are different ways we can decipher the above deep mystical expression. For instance, a self-made person after going through the rough of life when finally achieves success and reaches a level of excellence there lie beauty in every good deed he performs. This beauty mostly reflects

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the hardship he goes through in earlier life.

Another way of examining the above philosophy is to translate and compare the temptations of tasty fruits and attractive flowers with the undesirable fire of hell. Since we know that human psyche is more inclined to explore the ‘cause’ rather the ‘effect’, so naturally If hellfire is the cause of sweet taste and smell then theoretically a human mind should be more tilted towards understanding fire rather than fruits and flowers.

Perhaps we can expound upon the concept in a way through a parable. Once there was a Sufi master who was fond of smoking ‘huqqa’ (an oriental tobacco pipe) after dinner. His disciple, who had by then also made a considerable progress in the way of Sufism, used to prepare huqqa after dinner without fail.

One day after dinner, the Sufi waits for a considerable time for huqqa which does not reach his bedside. He calls his disciple and asks him why huqqa has not been made available to him. The disciple informs him that he could not prepare huqqa as there is no fire in the house..

As a consequence, the Sufi master instructs the disciple to ask the neighbors if they have fire. After sometime the disciple returns empty handed and informs his master that there is no fire at the neighbors place either. The Sufi directs his disciple to search for fire in the town. Same thing happens again that the disciple returns unsuccessful and informs to his master that there is no fire in the entire town. By then, Sufi master loses patience and tells the disciple to go to hell and some fire for his huqqa from the hellfire, if it is not available anywhere on earth.

Since the disciple is also a Sufi so he feels no problem in obeying the unusual command of his master. When the disciple reaches hell he finds no fire there too. Bewildered he asks an angel as to why there is no fire in the hell. The angel replies to him that no fire exists in hell, rather who so ever will come to hell will bring along his own fire with him. Clearly the impurity of soul is here referred to as the fire of hell in the world of conscience.

A renowned Urdu poet Mirza Ghalib says that:

Humko maaloom hai jannat ki haqeeqat lekin,

dil ke khush rakhne ko ‘Ghalib’ ye khayaal achcha hai.

(I know the truth about heaven but, Ghalib muses; it is a good idea to keep the heart happy)

Commentators have a habit of interpreting only the outward meaning of the verses of Ghalib. In the above famous lines, Ghalib highlights the limitation of human faculties and imagination as he clearly indicates that the real heaven is far superior in beauty and magnificence as compared to the one described. He says however, the picture portrayed of heaven is still awesome by any standards.

A great Sufi Shaikh Ibn-e-Arabi holds that ‘shari’ah’ is a framework devised to lay a basis or criteria for reward or punishment on the Day of Judgment.

There is a belief that people may be treated exactly

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the way they treat fellow human beings, in their life, on the Day of Judgment. A person who accepts apology of a fellow being might be spared and a person who treats fellow beings gently may be treated in a gentle manner on the judgment day.

There is also a tale attributed to a female saint Rabia Basri that one day she was carrying water bucket in one hand and torch in the other. Someone asked her the reason; she said with the water she wanted to extinguish the flames of hell and with torch set fire to heaven, so that people who perform good deeds only in view of either the lust for heaven or fear of hell should not do that and get to the real spirit behind the concept of obedience to Lord Almighty.

  6 comments for “Off Hell

    Shaikh M. Ali
    August 22, 2011 at 12:11 am

    Thanks for sharing this piece. It is interesting to note that you do have a Sufi inclination. I would recommend that you should read ‘The Sufi’ by Idries Shah which is a wonderful book on Sufism.

    August 22, 2011 at 3:44 am

    I have already read ‘The Sufi.’ Thanks for recommending it to me, may be I should go through it once again…

      Shaikh M. Ali
      August 23, 2011 at 2:19 am

      Good. You seem to be quite up to date on the subject! I have ‘Parliament of the Birds’ by Farid uddin Attar, Bayazid Bastami’s works, Mansur Hallaj’s biography and Dhu un Nun Misri’s works on my future reading list.

        August 23, 2011 at 8:51 am

        Very interesting… Farid uddin Attar has introduced the world to the notable Sufis, Hazrat Bayazid introduced the concept of annihilation ‘fana’ I have read about him, Mansur remained disciple of Hazrat Junaid Baghdadi for some time and his controversial statement ‘Anna ul Haq’ put a lot of color to the Sufi lore, Hazrat Dhul Nun Misri and Hazrat Junaid Baghdadi shared almost the same era, in fact it is believed that both were present at the time of hanging of Hazrat Mansur Hallaj – I have read Hazrat Mansur Hallaj’s amazing biography – his passion to dive into the difficult part of the ocean – to grasp infinitum…

        August 23, 2011 at 8:56 am

        I recommend to please read the works of Hazrat Ibn-e-Arabi, Hazrat Ghazali, Hazrat Najib uddin Kubra & Hazrat Soharawardi particularly about the concept of ‘Ishraq’ or illumination school of thought… Data Sarkar’s book ‘Kashf ul Mahjoub’ – a wonderful resource indeed…

    September 27, 2012 at 8:09 am

    awesome bhaii really nyc keep it up

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