Life after death

Akhirah is the word Muslims use to refer to life after death. Belief in an afterlife encourages Muslims to take responsibility for their actions. They know God will hold them accountable and reward or punish them accordingly.

Akhirah explains humans’ existence on Earth, saying that life is a test from Allah. Importantly, though, Muslims believe that Allah will not test them beyond their limits.

The afterlife

After death, most Muslims believe that the soul will enter Barzakh, a state of waiting, until the Day of Judgement.

  • When a person dies, their soul is taken by Azra'il, the Angel of Death.
  • God sends two angels to question the waiting soul.
  • If the questions are answered correctly, the good soul then sleeps during Barzakh.
  • If the questions are not answered correctly, the soul is tormented by angels, known as punishment of the grave.
Depiction of Islamic beliefs about the afterlife “Akhirah” - what happens to the soul after the body dies.

Heaven and Hell

Heaven is described in the Qur’an as a beautiful garden. Jannah is Paradise, where those who have been good go. It is described in the Qur’an as “gardens of pleasure” (Qur’an 31:8).

Muslims believe they get to Paradise by living religiously, asking Allah for forgiveness and showing good actions in their life. These good actions will be rewarded on the Last Day. Therefore, obeying the rules set by Allah is of ultimate importance.

Muslims believe there are seven levels of Heaven, although “seven” is interpreted by some Muslims as simply “many”. Each Heaven is made of a different material, and a different prophet lives in each Heaven. The first Heaven is made of silver and is where Adam and Eve live. Abraham lives in the seventh Heaven in a place made of divine light.

Hell is described as a place of fire and torment. Jahannam is a place of scorching fire pits and boiling water, a place of physical and spiritual suffering. Vivid descriptions of hell are used in the Qur’an as a way to stop Muslims from participating in sin.

Muslims believe that they will be sent to Hell if they reject the teachings of the Qur’an or take no responsibility for their actions. Either of these would mean that they had failed Allah’s test.

Some Muslims believe that even the souls in Hell can eventually be sent to Paradise.

These beliefs give Muslims the motivation to follow the teachings in the Qur’an. They also give hope to those who suffer that there is something better to come in the future.


How is Heaven described in the Qur’an?

Gardens of pleasure.