“Jannah is surrounded by hardships and the Hell-Fire is surrounded by desires”: Sharh al-Nawawi

Imam Muslim begins the chapter of his Saheeh entitled, “The Book of Paradise, its Description, its Bounties and its Inhabitants” with the following hadeeth reported from Anas ibn Maalik and Abu Hurayrah that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:

حُفَّتِ الْجَنَّةُ بِالْمَكَارِهِ وَحُفَّتِ النَّارُ بِالشَّهَوَاتِ

“Jannah is surrounded by hardships and the Hell-Fire is surrounded by desires.”

[Muslim #2822, al-Tirmidhi #2559. Al-Bukhari also reported it with a different wording.]

Imam al-Nawawi, in his commentary on Saheeh Muslim, wrote the following on this hadeeth:

 قوله صلى الله عليه وسلم : ( حفت الجنة بالمكاره وحفت النار بالشهوات ) هكذا رواه مسلم ( حفت ) ووقع في البخاري ( حفت ) ووقع أيضا ( حجبت ) وكلاهما صحيح  .

His statement (ﷺ) “Jannah is surrounded by hardships and the Hell-Fire is surrounded by desires” – this is the narration of Muslim (with the word) “surrounded“. And ‘surrounded‘ is replaced in the narration of al-Bukhari with ‘veiled‘, and both of these wordings are authentic (saheeh).

قال العلماء : هذا من بديع الكلام وفصيحه وجوامعه التي أوتيها صلى الله عليه وسلم من التمثيل الحسن ، ومعناه : لا يوصل الجنة إلا بارتكاب المكاره ، والنار بالشهوات ، وكذلك هما محجوبتان بهما ، فمن هتك الحجاب وصل إلى المحجوب ، فهتك حجاب الجنة باقتحام المكاره ، وهتك حجاب النار بارتكاب الشهوات ، فأما المكاره فيدخل فيها الاجتهاد في العبادات ، والمواظبة عليها ، والصبر على مشاقها ، وكظم الغيظ ، والعفو والحلم والصدقة والإحسان إلى المسيء والصبر عن الشهوات ، ونحو ذلك .

The scholars said: This beautiful analogy is from the exquisite, eloquent and comprehensive speech which was bestowed on the prophet (ﷺ). It means that nothing will help you to reach al-Jannah except going through hardships, and nothing will lead you to the Hell-fire except whims and desires. Both are veiled as described, so whoever tears down the veil will reach what is hidden behind it. So the veil of al-Jannah is torn down by going through hardships, and the veil of the Hell-fire is torn down by giving in to whims and desires. And hardships include striving in ‘ibaadah (worship) and persevering upon that, and sabr in the face of hardships, and restraining one’s anger, forgiving and having long-suffering (hilm), giving voluntary charity, having ihsaan (excellent behavior) with those who mistreat you, having sabr against desires, and so on.

وأما الشهوات التي النار محفوفة بها ، فالظاهر أنها الشهوات المحرمة كالخمر والزنا والنظر إلى الأجنبية والغيبة واستعمال الملاهي ونحو ذلك .

And regarding the desires which surround the Hell-fire, and then it is clear that they are the forbidden desires such as intoxicants (khamr), illicit sexual relations (zinaa), gazing at non-mahram women, gossiping, playing musical instruments and so on.

وأما الشهوات المباحة فلا تدخل في هذه لكن يكره الإكثار منها مخافة أن يجر إلى المحرمة ، أو يقسي القلب ، أو يشغل عن الطاعات أو يحوج إلى الاعتناء بتحصيل الدنيا للصرف فيها ونحو ذلك

And as for the unregulated (mubaah) desires, then these are not included here, however it is disliked to indulge in them for fear that they will lead to the forbidden things, or harden the heart, of distract one from the acts of obedience, or feeling the need to focus on gathering up and spending from things of the dunya, and so on.

[Sharh al-Nawawi ‘alaa Muslim #2823]

This beneficial writing from Imam al-Nawawi was originally found through a quotation in the wonderful series of books on ‘Aqeedah/creed by Sheikh Dr. ‘Umar Sulayman al-Ashqar. This series of 8 books offers a thorough, well-researched and beneficial base of understanding for the ‘aqeedah of Ahl al-Sunnah w’al-Jamaa’, and can be found through its publishers here.

See also: “The entire dunya is a month of fasting for the muttaqeen”

See also: “Beautified for people is the love of what they desire”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

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One thought on ““Jannah is surrounded by hardships and the Hell-Fire is surrounded by desires”: Sharh al-Nawawi

  1. Pingback: “The entire dunya is a month of fasting for the muttaqeen” | Tulayhah

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