Life is a test, and the test ends upon death. Every little atom of good and evil one performs in his or her lifetime is recorded in their book of deeds which will be presented to them on the Day of Judgement and every soul will be held accountable for their actions. When one dies, he or she will remain in the grave waiting to be resurrected. While in the grave, the deceased souls that deserve to go to Hell will experience some suffering in the grave whereas the deceased souls that are bound for Paradise will experience peace while they wait for the Day of resurrection.
When the hour comes, God will raise every dead person including the Jinn (supernatural creatures) to judge them according to their deeds. God is The Judge, The Arbitrator who will Judge, recompense, reward and punish his creation. Whereas God is Most-Forgiving, he is also Just. If one's good deeds outweigh his bad deeds, he will enter Paradise and be amongst the successful. As for the one that his bad deeds outweigh his good deeds, he will enter the Hellfire. One of the most fundamental aspects of Islam is the purpose of life is to save oneself from the punishment of the Hell Fire and to enter Paradise eternally.
"Every soul will taste death, and you will only be given your [full] compensation on the Day of Resurrection. So he who is drawn away from the Fire and admitted to Paradise has attained [his desire]. And what is the life of this world except for the enjoyment of delusion" (Quran 3:185)
Believing and accepting the reality of the Last Day, Judgement Day, Paradise and the Hellfire is a component of the six pillars of Iman (Faith) in which every Muslim must believe and accept to become a Muslim. There are many references to the Hell Fire throughout the Holy Quran.
The ones in the Hell Fire will suffer tremendously both physically and spiritually. The pain, the horrors, the anguish, the hardship, the humiliation, the restlessness, and all forms of punishments of the Hellfire cannot be imagined nor perceived, nor grasped by the human finite mind. Not everyone in the hell Fire will suffer the same. The gravity of one's sin will distinguish the severity of one's suffering.
Allah the exalted prepares the Hell Fire for those who do not believe in Him, believe in Gods other than Allah, rebel against God's Religion and Laws, and reject God's Message and Messengers. The Hellfire is also prepared for sinners, criminals, murders, tyrants, hypocrites, the proud and arrogant, the stubborn, and the unjust, and all forms of evil people.
"Do they not know that whoever opposes Allah and His Messenger - that for him is the Fire of Hell, wherein he will abide eternally? That is the great disgrace" (Quran 9:63)
Islam states one's salvation is based one's faith in Allah, His Messenger, good deeds, and God's Mercy. As part of the Justice of God the Almighty, He punishes no one or any group of people until He has sent them a Messenger relaying his Message and warning the people. It is the nature of God that he treats no one unjustly or unfairly.
"…And never would We punish until We sent a messenger" (Quran 17:15)
Of the biggest suffering the unbelievers and the evildoers will face is when they come into the realization on the Day of Judgment that they did not follow God's Message nor His Guidance and have failed, thus earning God's Wrath. Many of the dwellers of the Hellfire will instantly regret the choices they made in their lives and will beg for another chance. The Quran states:
And those who followed would say: ‘If only We had one more chance, we would clear ourselves of them, as they have cleared themselves of us’ Thus, will Allah show them (The fruits of) their deeds as (nothing but) regrets. Nor will there be a way for them out of the Fire” (Quran 2:167)
The Quran shares a dialogue that will take place between the dwellers of the Hellfire and the Angel Gate Keeper of the Hell.
“It almost explodes in rage. Whenever a group is thrown into it, its keepers will ask them, ‘Did there not come to you a warner?' They will reply: 'Yes indeed; a Warner did come to us, but we rejected him and said, 'Allah never sent down any (Message): You are but lost in a great delusion!' 'And they will add: 'Had we but listened [to those warnings], or [at least] used our own reason, we would not [now] be among those who are destined for the blazing flame!' They will then confess their sins: but far will be (Forgiveness) from the Companions of the Blazing Fire!” (Quran 67:8-10)
However, no matter how much the sinners beg for forgiveness, it would be too late. The intensity of the Fire will be so terrifying that people will disown their closest and most beloved people in their lives on the Day of Judgement and flee from them on this great Day.
"But when there comes the Deafening Blast. On the Day a man will flee from his brother. And his mother and his father. And his wife and his children. For every man, that Day, will be a matter adequate for him" (Quran 33-37)
Man will give up everything he holds dearest to him to save himself from the Hellfire.
They will be shown each other. The criminal will wish that he could be ransomed from the punishment of that Day by his children. And his wife and his brother. And his nearest kindred who shelter him. And whoever is on Earth entirely [so] then it could save him" (Quran 70:14)
A quick dip in the Hellfire will have a person forgetting about all the pleasures he or she had in their lifetime. Our Prophet narrated: 'One of the people of Hell who found the most pleasure in the life of this world will be brought forth on the Day of Resurrection and will be dipped into the Fire of Hell. Then he will be asked, 'O son of Adam, have you ever seen anything good?' Have you ever enjoyed any pleasure?' He will say, 'No, by God, O Lord.’
Whereas there are a minority of scholars that state the Hell Fire is not eternal, most Islamic scholars' state that the polytheist and unbelievers will reside in the Hell Fire forever and that the Hell Fire is eternal for most people that enter it.
"Indeed, Allah has cursed the disbelievers and prepared for them a Blaze. Abiding therein forever, they will not find a protector or a helper" (Quran 33:64-65)
God, the Almighty created the Hell Fire and Paradise before mankind. Hell is so deep that if one were to drop a stone into it, it would take seventy years for that stone to hit its bottom. The Hellfire is black and dark as night.
The Hell Fire has various levels of severity and punishment according to the extent of disbelief and sins of those being punished in it. The lower the level of the Fire, the greater the intensity and punishment one suffers. Our Prophet narrated the lightest punishment of the Hellfire will be a man under the arch of whose feet will be placed a smoldering ember, and his brains will boil because of it. As for the most severe punishment in the Hellfire, it will go to the hypocrites, as God states in His Book:
"Indeed, the hypocrites will be in the lowest depths of the Fire - and never will you find for them a helper" (Quran 4:145)
The Hell Fire has Seven Gates in which its inhabitants will enter. Each gate deals with a specific group or category of sinners and each gate contain different torture and punishments. The distance between each gate is equal to the length of seventy years. Before the inhabitants of Hell enter, they will stand before the gate feeling the heat in terror. They will be shoved and piled thru the first gate until it fills, then the rest will be stacked and shoved into the second gate until it fills, and so on.
The Hell Fire has nineteen Angels who are led by the Chief Keeper of the Hellfire named Angel Malik who has never smiled since he was created. Angel Malik and the Angels of the Hellfire are very severe, harsh, and stern who would never disobey God's commandments.
After the inhabitants of the Hellfire enter, its gates will be shut and there will be no hope of escape for the dwellers of the Hellfire. The dwellers of the Hellfire will beg and plea to Angel Malik to let them out and he will respond 'Be quiet, surely, you shall abide forever!' The Angels of the Hellfire will have wipes made of iron which will whip the inhabitants in it. The dwellers of Hellfire will bear animosity and hate amongst other inhabitants of the Hellfire.
"Indeed, the criminals will be in the punishment of Hell, abiding eternally. (The torment) will not be lightened for them, and they will be plunged into destruction with deep regrets, sorrows and in despair therein. And We did not wrong them, but it was they who were the wrongdoers. And they will call, ‘O Malik, let your Lord put an end to us!’ He will say, ‘Indeed, you will remain. We had certainly brought you the truth, but most of you, to the truth, were averse.’ (Quran 43:-74-78)
As for the Believers who practiced Tawheed (monotheism) and believed in the Prophet that was sent to them from God but lived a sinful life, they will be his punished in the Hell Fire for a length that commensurate the level of their sins. Then they would be brought out of it and eventually sent to Paradise. Some of them will be taken out of the Hell Fire with the intercession of their Prophets, some by the intercession of righteous individuals, and some will be taken out solely by the Mercy of God, the Most Merciful.
The Hell Fire has different names with different descriptions that are mentioned in the Islamic tradition. Amongst the names of the Hell Fire are:
Jaheem because of its blazing Fire
Jahannam because of the depth of its pit
Laẓā because of its blazing flames
Sa'eer because it is kindled and ignited
Saqar because of the intensity of its heat
Hatamah because it breaks and crushes anything into debris that is thrown into it
Haawiyah because whoever is thrown into it, is thrown from the top to the deep bottom of its chasm or abyss.
The dwellers of the Hellfire will be made huge, so every part of their body can feel the punishment. A person's molar tooth will be as big as Mount Uhud (a Mountain in the city of Medina). The distance between the shoulders of the dwellers of Hell will be equivalent to three days of walking.
The Fire that exists and burns in this world we live in is 1/70th of the severity and intensity of the Hellfire in the Hereafter. The Fire kindled by the Almighty will burn the skin of its inhabitants and every time their skin gets roasted; their skin will melt to their feet and God the Almighty will replace their burnt skin with a new one to be burnt again and the process will keep on repeating so they may taste the punishment. Other forms of punishment include super-heated scalding burring oil which will be poured on their heads in which will melt away and liquefy their internal organs. The inhabitants of the Hellfire will be in chains and shackles which will be tied around their necks and feet.
"Indeed, We have prepared for the disbelievers chains and shackles and a blaze" (Quran 76:4)
The clothing in the Hellfire will be garments of Fire tailored for them with copper so they will boil inside.
And you will see the criminals that Day bound together in shackles, their garments of liquid pitch and their faces covered by the Fire" (Quran 14:49-50)
The Quran references three types of food in the Hellfire which in fact worsen a sinner's torment when consumed. The food and drink of the Hellfire do not provide nourishment, nor does it relieve hunger nor thirst. The dwellers of the Hellfire will experience intense thirst only to have hot boiling water mixed with puss given to them. Water so hot and intense, if a drop of it touches a mountain of this world today, it would turn it to dust.
Amongst the food of the dwellers of the Hellfire is the tree of Zaqqum in the lowest level of Hell. Its branches are described like heads of devils. Its vicious fruits severely burn the insides of a sinner's stomach. If a drop of its juice lands on Earth, it will poison the whole Earth and everything it contains.
God the Almighty, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate, did not create the Hellfire to just throw people in it nor does he want to. In fact, God asks a rhetorical question in the Holy Koran stating:
"What can Allah gain by your punishment, if you are grateful and believe? And ever is Allah Appreciative and Knowing" (Quran 4:147)
God will get nothing from punishing anyone and he wants reasons not do it. In fact, God states in Holy Quran that He created mankind and Jinn to worship Him, glorify Him, and exalt Him, as He is the Only One worthy of worship, and he states in another verse, from his end, He created mankind so He can show them His Mercy:
"Except whom your Lord has given mercy, and for that He created them...." (Quran 11:119)
One needs to realize that he is a slave, and that God is his Master and one cannot question Him nor His authority nor do they have any right to. A Master can be just and kind or can be unjust and unkind. Allah, the Exalted, is an All-Merciful Master. If one accepts that he is Allah's slave and submits to Him fully, he or she will find that God is The Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful. Only when one submits to His Master, does one find his life become easier and better.
Why would God want to punish an individual when He created him or her with love and mercy in the first place? God wants to warn his servants about Hell now, so one can fix themselves and avoid it to their best of ability. It is best to be informed about the Hellfire now and to recognize its severity, harshness, and how gruesome its punishment is in detail then it is to come across it in the Hereafter unprepared and not knowing. That is a Mercy as God the Almighty could have chosen not to warn one beforehand of the consequences of one’s actions.
While God is All-Merciful, He is Also All-Just. He states in the Quran:
"Indeed, Allah does not do injustice, [even] as much as an atom's weight..." (Quran 4:40)
If one commits murder or oppresses an individual, God may punish that person to serve justice to the person killed or oppressed or to serve justice to the family members. God states every soul shall receive their full compensation for the good and evil deeds they commit on the Day of Judgement.
If God allows the oppressors to oppress without punishing them, it would encourage people to oppress and to commit evil which would spread corruption even further. The fear of punishment prevents some people from committing evil. God has also stated he will surely forgive any soul that repents from their sin as He is Extremely Forgiving and Extremely Loving.
There are certain individuals that want to blame God for Hell because they do not want to fix their act, face reality, or be held accountable for their actions. It's important to realize, whether you believe and accept in God and the Hellfire or not, it will not change the reality that God and the Hellfire do exist, and you will soon find out.
"O, you who have believed, protect yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is people and stones…" (Quran 66:6)