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الجحيم: Hellfire & The Scary Look

Asalamoalaykum warahmatullah,

Mothers have this special way of controlling their children. They give them ‘that’ look and almost in a split-second a hyper bouncy child freezes to a halt and melts in his position to the ground.

On a serious note:

Allah SWT uses the word  ٱلۡجَحِيمِ for the Hell-fire in the Quraan. In English, this particular word has been translated as

  • blazing fire by Dr. Mohsin and Yusuf Ali,
  • Hellfire by Sahih International, Pickthal and Dr. Ghali,
  • and flaming fire by Shakir.

Interestingly, the English language cannot fully encompass the scary meaning within this word. Not a surprise now, is it?

The word  ٱلۡجَحِيمِ has been used 26 times in the Quraan. Two examples are as follows:

(1) Surat’l Baqarah, 2:119

إِنَّآ أَرۡسَلۡنَـٰكَ بِٱلۡحَقِّ بَشِيرً۬ا وَنَذِيرً۬ا‌ۖ وَلَا تُسۡـَٔلُ عَنۡ أَصۡحَـٰبِ ٱلۡجَحِيمِ

Verily, We have sent you (O Muhammad Peace be upon him ) with the truth (Islâm), a bringer of glad tidings (for those who believe in what you brought, that they will enter Paradise) and a warner. And you will not be asked about the dwellers of the blazing Fire.

(2) Surat An-Naaziat, 79:37-39

فَأَمَّا مَن طَغَىٰ . وَءَاثَرَ ٱلۡحَيَوٰةَ ٱلدُّنۡيَا . فَإِنَّ ٱلۡجَحِيمَ هِىَ ٱلۡمَأۡوَىٰ

Then, for him who transgressed all bounds (in disbelief, oppression and evil deeds of disobedience to Allâh).  And preferred the life of this world (by following his evil desires and lusts),Verily, his abode will be Hell-fire.


The root word for the word ٱلۡجَحِيمِ  is:

From this root word, two other words can be derived:



jaHam: it is described as the staring of a lion. The kind of stare when a lion’s eyes are transfixed on its prey.



ajHam: It is used to describe a person who is red-eyed (this colour comes about when a person is very angry and/or has high fever).


Understanding ٱلۡجَحِيمِ

Combining the above meanings and using it to understand what  الجحيم means, one could imagine Hellfire as following

–> the intensity of heat within it (red-eyed person)

  • Abu Hurairah (radiAllahu anhu) narrated: “When Allah’s Messenger salallahu alayhi wasalam said, ‘Your ordinary fire is one of the 70 potions of the Hellfire,’ someone commented, ‘O Messenger of Allah, would it  ordinary fire) not be sufficient (to burn the wrongdoers)?’ At that, Allah’s Messenger salallahu alayhi wasalam said, ‘The Hellfire has 69 more portions than ordinary (worldly) fire, and all of them are as hot as this (worldly fire).’” [Sahih al-Bukhari]
  • Ibn Umar (radiAllahu anhu) narrated that the Prophet salallahu alayhi wasalam said: “Fever is from the breath of the Hellfire; so cool it with water.” [Sahih al-Bukhari]
  • Abu Hurairah (radiAllahu anhu) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) said:“The Hellfire complained to its Lord, saying, ‘O my Lord, my different parts eat each other up.’ So Allah allowed it to take two breaths – one in the winter and the other in the summer. This is [the cause of] the severe heat and the bitter cold you experience.’”[Sahih al-Bukhari]

–> the predatory nature of Hellfire as if its lying in wait for the companions of Hellfire

إِنَّ جَهَنَّمَ كَانَتۡ مِرۡصَادً۬ا . لِّلطَّـٰغِينَ مَـَٔابً۬

Indeed, Hell has been lying in wait.For the transgressors, a place of return.

[Surat An-Naba, 78:21-22]

I’m sure many of us have seen documentaries on National Geographic, Animal Planet and the like in which the predator (usually the lion) hides and stares at its prey, ready to pounce on it and attack it. The fierce look is enough to tremble one’s heart and if a human does end up being in such a situation for real, then he will easily accept defeat.

The Hellfire, brothers and sisters, with its extreme heat and predatory nature, has been prepared for the criminals. While most of us do not want to give this another thought but some Muslims will absolutely have to spend some time in the Hell-fire. May Allah SWT protect us from such a fate.Ameen. And so every time our lowly Nafs urges us to do wrong or prevents us from doing a good deed even if its a Nafl-deed, then we must remind ourselves of the Hellfire ٱلۡجَحِيمِ.


There are many duaas from the Quraan so one can look for those but there’s a special one about which it is said by Rasulalah salalahu ‘alayhi wasalam: “Allah will spare whoever says this four times in the morning or evening from the fire of Hell” [Abu Dawood, was also reported in Bukhari]


Allahumma inni asbahtu ush-hiduka, wa ushidu hamalata `arshika, wa mala’ikataka, wa jamee`a khalqik, annaka Ant Allah, la ilaha illa Ant, wahdaka la shareeka lak, wa anna Muhammadan `abduka wa rasuluka (when saying this in the evening, say “Allahuma inniamsaytu” instead of “asbahtu.”


“O Allah, verily I have reached the morning and call on You, the bearers of Your throne, Your angels, and all of Your creation to witness that You are Allah, none has the right to be worshipped except You, alone, without partner and that Muhammad is Your Servant and Messenger.”


[Reference: Arabic-English Dictionary Of Qur’anic Usage, pp.156, From: my notes for Suratul Baqarah, verse # 119]


Enlighten the Ummah

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