This article will provide a detailed description of hell as found in the Qurʾān. A previous article provides a description of Paradise. Hell is a real place that is prepared for those who reject the truth after it became apparent to them and do evil deeds. Just like the pleasures of paradise are real and experienced with the body, so is the suffering of hell. However, the pain of hell can only be compared to any pain in this world. Because the description of hell is abundant in the Qurʾān, this article will allow the Qurʾān to speak for itself. It will consist of quoting verses that provide certain descriptions of hell. There remains plenty more details in the teachings of the Prophet peace be upon him, but this article will be limited to the Qurʾān.

Names of Hell in the Qurʾān

Jahannam: This name implies a deep pit. Jahīm: A blazing fire. Saʿīr: An ignited or kindled fire. Saqar: It is given this name because of the intensity of its heat. Laẓā: blazing flames. Hāwīya: a deep drop, like someone being dropped from the top to the bottom of a deep place. Ḥuṭama: Debris and broken pieces, because it crushes and breaks everything that is thrown into it.

Eternal Nature of Hell

Hell is an eternal abode for most who enter it. A minority of Muslim scholars hold that hell will eventually end, but a majority maintain that it is eternal. Several verses in the Qurʾān describe hell as eternal:

They will long to leave the Fire, but never will they leave there from; and theirs will be a lasting torment. (Quran 5:37).

…And they will never leave of the Fire. (Quran 2:167).

Surely, those who disbelieve and did wrong; God will not forgive them, nor will He guide them to any way except the way of Hell, to dwell therein forever. (Quran 4:168-169).

Surely, God has cursed the disbelievers, and has prepared for them a flaming Fire wherein they will abide forever. (Quran 33:64).

And whosoever disobeys God and His Messenger, then surely, for him is the fire of Hell, he shall dwell therein forever. (Quran 72:23).

Surely, the gates of the Heaven will not be opened for those who deny Our revelations and treat them with arrogance; their admission into paradise will be as impossible as the passing of a camel through the eye of a needle. That is how We shall reward the criminals. Hell shall be their bed and flames shall be their covering. That is how We shall reward the wrongdoers.(Qurʾān 7:40-41).

Gates of Hell

The unbelievers will be led to Hell in crowds until, when they arrive there, its gates will be opened (Qurʾān 39: 71) And verily, Hell is the promised abode for them all. It has seven gates: to each of those gates is a specific class of sinners assigned. (Quran 15: 43-44).

To them will be said, ‘Enter you the gates of Hell to dwell therein. And how evil is this abode of the arrogant.’ (Quran 39: 72).

But those who reject Our signs are the companions of the left hand – on them will be fire vaulted over. (Quran 90:19-20).

Food of Hell

The food of the people of hell is described as only increasing in torment. It does not provide nourishment nor does it relieve hunger.

No food will there be for them except from a bitter, thorny plant which neither nourishes nor avails against hunger. (Quran 88:6-7).

There is a special tree in hell called zaqūm that people will it from. This tree is rooted at the bottom of hell and its branches are described as being similar to the heads of devils.

Indeed, the tree of zaqūm is food for the sinful, like murky oil, it boils within bellies, like the boiling of scalding water. (Quran 44:43-46).

Is Paradise better as an abode or the tree of zaqūm?  Indeed, We have made it a torment for the wrongdoers.  Indeed, it is a tree issuing from the bottom of the Hellfire, its emerging fruit as if it was heads of the devils.  And, indeed, they will eat from it and fill with it their bellies.  Then, indeed, they will have after it a mixture of scalding water.  Then, indeed, their return will be to the Hellfire. (Quran 37:62-68).

Then indeed you, O those astray (who are) deniers, will be eating from trees of zaqūm and filling with it your bellies, and drinking on top of it from scalding water, and will drink as the drinking of thirsty camels.  That is their hospitality on the Day of Recompense. (Quran 56:51-56).