Every believer is aware of the existence of Jannah and Jahannam, for there are numerous verses and countless authentic reports that mention their existence. Allāh said:
وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ أُولَٰئِكَ أَصْحَابُ الْجَنَّةِ ۖ
“Those who believe and do righteous deeds are Jannah’s inhabitants.”
He also said:
وَلِلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا بِرَبِّهِمْ عَذَابُ جَهَنَّمَ ۖ
“Those who disbelieve in their Lord will face Jahannam’s punishment.”
Similarly, most believers are aware of Jahannam’s raging fire which was prepared for the transgressors. Allāh said:
وَمَن يَعْصِ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ فَإِنَّ لَهُ نَارَ جَهَنَّمَ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا أَبَدًا
“Whoever disobeys Allāh and His Messenger (ﷺ) will reside in Hell forever burning in the hellfire.”
Allāh also said:
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا مِنْ أَهْلِ الْكِتَابِ وَالْمُشْرِكِينَ فِي نَارِ جَهَنَّمَ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا
“Certainly, those who disbelieve from the people of the book and the polytheists will reside in Hell forever burning in the hellfire.” [al-Bayyinah, 98:6]
The heat that Jahannam’s fire generates is so intense that mankind will never experience such intense heat from any worldly fire.
The Messenger (ﷺ) said: “The worldly fire’s intensity is only one seventieth the intensity of the fire of Hell.”
The Prophet (ﷺ) also mentioned another peculiar characteristic about the hellfire. He (ﷺ) said: “The fire complained to its Lord saying: ‘O Lord, some parts of mine have consumed the others,’ so it was allowed to take two exhalations, one exhalation in winter and the other one in summer. That is why you experience extreme heat in the summer and extreme cold in the winter.” (Reported by al-Bukhārī (538) and Muslim (185) with this exact wording)
In another version of this Ḥadīth, the Prophet (ﷺ) said:
The fire complained to its Lord saying: “O Lord, some parts of mine have consumed the others,” so it was allowed to take two exhalations, one exhalation in winter and the other one in summer. The extreme cold you experience is from the extreme cold of the fire, and the extreme heat you experience is from the heat of the fire. (Reported by Ibn Mājah (4319) with this exact wording, and Shaykh al-Albānī graded it authentic.)
Therefore, the hellfire also generates extreme cold which Allāh also uses to punish the transgressors.
Some scholars say that this bitter cold was mentioned in Allāh’s statement:
لَّا يَذُوقُونَ فِيهَا بَرْدًا وَلَا شَرَابًا ﴿٢٤﴾ إِلَّا حَمِيمًا وَغَسَّاقًا
“They will never feel cool in Jahannam, nor will they ever consume any thirst quenching beverages. They will only be allowed to drink boiling water and experience ghassāq [i.e. bitter cold].”
The aforementioned Ḥadīth does not contradict the first part of Allāh’s statement:
لَّا يَذُوقُونَ فِيهَا بَرْدًا وَلَا شَرَابًا
“They will never feel cool in Jahannam, nor will they ever consume any thirst quenching beverages.”
This verse does not negate the existence of extremely cold temperatures in Jahannam; it only negates the existence of any temperatures that may cause Jahannam’s inhabitants to feel cool. Since coolness causes comfort, and Jahannam’s inhabitants are prohibited from feeling comfortable, since Jahannam is a place of punishment for the transgressors, Jahannam’s inhabitants will never be allowed to feel cool.
The existence of extreme cold in Jahannam may cause some confusion, as it is known that extreme heat and extreme cold are opposite extremities, so how can they exist simultaneously? Some scholars say Jahannam’s fire does not generate these extreme temperatures simultaneously as it is known that fire only generates heat; rather, Jahannam has extremely hot places—whose heat is generated by the fire—and extremely cold places. They further justify this view saying Jahannam has multiple levels, some of which are deeper than others as Allāh—the Exalted—said:
إِنَّ الْمُنَافِقِينَ فِي الدَّرْكِ الْأَسْفَلِ مِنَ النَّارِ
“Indeed, the hypocrites will reside in the deepest parts of the fire.”
Therefore, both temperatures can exist simultaneously in Jahannam based on this view. As a result, these scholars say Jahannam complained, even though the Ḥadīth mentioned specifically: “the fire complained”. They say the expression: “the Fire” is frequently used to mean Jahannam, and that Allāh already confirmed in the Qurʾān that Jahannam speaks. He—the Most High—said:
يَوْمَ نَقُولُ لِجَهَنَّمَ هَلِ امْتَلَأْتِ وَتَقُولُ هَلْ مِن مَّزِيدٍ
“We will say to Jahannam on that Day: ‘Are you filled?’ Jahannam will say: ‘Is there anyone else?’”
Others say the fire itself complained, since Allāh is capable of making any one of his many creations speak, like Jahannam. Allāh said:
وَقَالُوا لِجُلُودِهِمْ لِمَ شَهِدتُّمْ عَلَيْنَا ۖ قَالُوا أَنطَقَنَا اللَّهُ الَّذِي أَنطَقَ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ
“They will say to their skin: ‘Why have you testified against us?’ Their skins will respond: ‘Allāh, who has the ability to make anything speak, made us speak.’”
Furthermore, these scholars say Jahanam’s fire generates both extreme heat and extreme cold, even though it is known that fire only generates heat. This view is more accurate. While the statement: “fire only generates heat” is true for worldly fires, we cannot compare the hellfire to any worldly fires, and the fact that the hellfire is seventy times hotter than any imaginable worldly fire supports this. Utilising this type of analogy and intellectual argument here is wrong because the knowledge of the hellfire is from ʿilm al-ghayb (the unseen); therefore, we must adhere rigidly to the text, and the aforementioned Ḥadīth states that Jahanaam’s fire emits both extreme heat and extreme cold. Consequently, these scholars say Allāh allows Jahannam to rid itself of some of the fire’s intense heat in the summer, as He allows Jahannam to rid itself of some of the fire’s bitter cold in the winter. This is the correct interpretation of this Ḥadīth.
Conversely, Allāh negated the existence of any discomforting and extreme temperatures in Jannah, since Jannah’s inhabitants were promised a luxurious and comfortable life. Allāh said about Jannah’s inhabitants:
مُّتَّكِئِينَ فِيهَا عَلَى الْأَرَائِكِ ۖ لَا يَرَوْنَ فِيهَا شَمْسًا وَلَا زَمْهَرِيرًا
“They will be reclining in Jannah on raised thrones. They will never feel the excessive heat of the sun, nor will they ever experience the bitter cold.”
May Allāh grant us Jannah and protect us from Jahannam’s extreme temperatures and its many other punishments.
Written by: Musa Shaleem Mohammed