"It (Hell) has seven gates, for each of those gates is a (special) class (of sinners) assigned. (Quran 15:44)
Imam As Sa’di mentions in his tafseer: “The gates of hell are structured one gate below the other descending, opposite the gates of paradise, which have one gate above the other ascending. The distance between each gate is 500 years prepared for Iblis and all of his followers."
The first gate: This gate is called Jahannam,
“They said (i.e. the hypocrites): “Don’t go out for war during the heat!” Say (i.e. Muhammad) the fire of Jahannam is even hotter if you only understood.” (Quran 9:81)
This gate is called Jahannam because the fire will scorch the faces of the men and women who enter it. Their faces will be sullen and glum. It will eat away at their flesh.
"Surely! Those who disbelieved in Our Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) We shall burn them in Fire. As often as their skins are roasted through, We shall change them for other skins that they may taste the punishment. Truly, Allah is Ever Most Powerful, All-Wise." (Quran 4:56)
Imam As Sa’di mentions in his tafseer: "This is in response to their obstinacy and resistance in the life of this world. Just as they continued to reject obedience to Allah and submission to Him, likewise the fire will continue to burn up their flesh and when it reaches the point of almost being obliterated, Allah will remove the old flesh and replace it with new flesh, a just recompense for their rebellion in this life.”
This is the lightest punishment that one can receive in hell.
The second gate: This gate is called Ladha’.
“There is no way out for them, except the Ladha (i.e. fierce blaze) will certainly scorch the inward organs and the outward flesh! It will invite everyone who turned away from following the truth, heedless of it and gathered wealth but refused to spend it in the cause of Allah…” (Ma’arij:15)
This level of hell is called Ladha because the fire will eat away at their body parts one by one, both internally and externally. It will invite those who abandoned Tawheed (i.e. Islamic monotheism) and turned away from that which the Prophet came with.
The third gate: This gate is called Saqar.
“We will throw him into the Saqar and what will make you know what Saqar is? It is a scorching fire, it spares nothing and leaves nothing behind it will shake them vehemently and over it are nineteen angels “ (Quran 74:26-30).
It is called Saqar because it will eat up the flesh of the human being and not his bones. But listen to what Allah mentioned about those who enter this particular level of hell:
“Those in paradise will ask the criminals what has landed you all in Saqar? They will say: “We were not of those who used to pray and we didn’t feed the poor and we used to talk vainly with those who talked vain talk and we used to deny the Day of Recompense until death came to us and we saw the reality of all that we denied” (Quran 74:40-47).
So there are a total of four things that they were guilty of, which ultimately landed them in this level of the hell fire:
- They did not offer salat (i.e. prayer) and the scholars also use this as a proof to show that abandoning the salat is Kufr (i.e. disbelief), and it also shows how serious it is because it was the first thing they mentioned out of all the offenses they were guilty of. In essence they refused to give Allah His right.
- They did not feed the poor. Meaning they refused to benefit the needy on all levels.
- They used to talk vainly with those who talk in vain. Meaning they used to indulge in falsehood and used it to argue unjustly against the truth.
- They used to deny and reject the Day of Recompense and this is the end result of delving into falsehood.
The fourth gate: This gate is called Al Hutamah.
“Nay they will be thrown into Al Hutamah (i.e. crushing fire). And what will make you know what Al Hutamah is? The fire of Allah kindled by men and stones which scorches the hearts. Surely it is vaulted over them in pillars widely extended.” (Quran 104:4-9)
It is called Al Hutamah because it will shatter the bones of the human being and burn the heart and other internal organs. The fire will start at his feet and burn all the way through until it reaches the heart.
“Indeed it (i.e. the hell fire) spits out sparks the size of mansions, as if they were yellow herds” (Quran 77:32-33)
The individual in the fire will turn completely black when the sparks ascend up and scorch their faces, hands and bodies. They will cry tears until their tear ducts are completely exhausted then they will cry blood and when the blood is completely exhausted they will cry pus until the pus is completely exhausted.
They will leave behind a pool so great that if a ship wanted to set sail on top of what they cried it would have no problem doing so.
The fifth gate: This particular gate is called Jaheem.
“Seize him and shackle him. Then roast him in Jaheem (i.e. hell fire) in chains that are seventy cubits long. This is because he did not believe in Allah, the Magnificent and he did not encourage the feeding of the poor.” (Quran 69:30-34)
This gate is called Jaheem because it is actually one big piece of hot coal that is bigger than the lowest heaven as we know it. And look at the crimes of the one who enters this particular gate:
- He did not have the correct belief in Allah. This is to correct the misunderstanding of those who deride having the correct aqeedah and make discouraging statements such as “Why do they spend so much time studying Aqeedah?” or “We can learn Tawheed in 10 minutes” or those who simply say: “I just believe in Allah” This is a very nonchalant approach towards the greatest right over us as human beings, which is the right of Allah (i.e. Tawheed) the right to be worshiped alone without any partners.
- They refused to give the creation their rights, which is the most important right after the right of Allah. He did not encourage the feeding of the poor.
The sixth gate: This gate is called Sa’eer.
“A group in paradise and a group in Sa’eer (i.e. the blazing fire)“ (Quran 42:7)
“And they will say: “If we had listened and used our intellect we would not be inhabitants of As Sa’eer (i.e. blazing fire). They confessed their sins but away with the companions of As Sa’eer” (Quran67:10-11)
This gate of hell is called As Sa’eer because it is constantly kindling, rather it has never ceased to kindle from the moment it was created. In it are 300 castles and in each castle there are 300 houses and in each house there are 300 types of punishments.
In this particular level of hell there are scorpions and snakes, ropes, chains and shackles. There is also something call the “Pit of Agony”, which is incomparable and unparalleled to any other type of punishment in hell. When the door of this pit is opened the people in the hell fire will grieve austerely.
The seventh gate: This gate is called Al Haawiyah.
“As for the one whose scales are light, then the Hawiyah will embrace him like a mother embraces her child. And what will make you know what Al Hawiyah is? It is a kindled fire burning hot.” (Quran 101:8-11)
This gate of hell is called Al Hawiyah because whoever enters this level of the hell fire will never come out. Notice Allah said that the fire will embrace him like a mother embraces her child. In this level of the hell fire there is a well that will let out a breeze of fire and when this breeze comes out it will be so hot and powerful that all of the fires in the other levels of hell will seek refuge in Allah from it.
In this level of the hell fire there is a mountain made of fire and the enemies of Allah will be laid on their faces on this mountain and their hands will be tied to their necks and their necks tied to their feet and over them will stand the Zabaaniyah, who are angels that guard this particular level of the hell fire.
“And We will call the Zabaaniyah (i.e. angels who guard the hell fire)…” (Quran 96:18)
The hands of the Zabaaniyah will be like iron and when they strike one of those in the hell fire one time with their hands they let out a scream so loud that both the Jinn and mankind can hear.