Both Islam and Christianity believe there is more to life after we die, however what that is and how we get there is very different.
The Islamic concept of heaven affects your Muslim friend’s life on every level. Therefore, it is important to know the differences between your beliefs and their beliefs to be able to talk about life after death.
Heaven according to the Bible
Throughout the books of the Bible, heaven is understood as being in the presence of God; an everlasting life where no darkness or evil is found.
The book of Revelation gives us insight into what it will be like. Here are a few:
In heaven there is no pain or tears-
“... God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.
” (Revelation 21:3-4 NASB
Heaven is beautiful- Revelation 21:18-27
describes heaven as a city with gold and precious stones everywhere.
We will be worshiping God in His presence forever-
“Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy; For all the nations will come and worship before You, For Your righteous acts have been revealed.” (Revelation 15:4 NASB
The Islamic heaven: What's it like?
Muslims do not use the word heaven but paradise, in Arabic it is “Janna.” This word is the same word used for the Garden of Eden in the Quran.
The Quran teaches that Janna is a physical place where a Muslim will recline, eat, drink wine, and have sex with many beautiful "Huras," (non-human virgins Allah created to reward men). The Quran describes it in Surah 52:17, 19, and 20:
“Surely the pious will be in Gardens and Bliss to them will be said: ‘Eat and drink ye, with profit and health, because of your (good) deeds.’ Reclining upon ranged settees. And we will marry them to wide-eyed huras. And We will supply them with fruits and flesh such as they crave for…”
The verses describing the rewards in Paradise are not gender specific to men over women, however people wonder what the rewards for women include. Many Muslim scholars and sources say that Muslim women will also receive great rewards, but they are not given the same polygamous privileges as men. If they were married, the woman will reside with her husband in paradise.
How to Get to Heaven: the Bible
Jesus Himself talked about Heaven when He was on the cross, telling the criminal on his side who believed in Him, “Today you shall be with Me in Paradise,” in Luke 23
Jesus promised His followers eternal life:
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16 NASB “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” John 3:36 NASB
How to get into Janna
The requirements for a Muslim to enter Janna are: for their good deeds to outweigh their bad deeds, to have practiced the Five Pillars of Islam, and to have lived a life honoring to Allah. But no Muslim is ever sure of their eternal destiny unless they die as a martyr for Islam or in the act of jihad
Apart from martyrs, every Muslim will have to pass over hell or through hell before they get into paradise. According to Surah 19:70-72
“And We truly know best who is most deserving of burning in it. There is none of you who will not pass over it. ˹This is˺ a decree your Lord must fulfill. Then We will deliver those who were devout, leaving the wrongdoers there on their knees.”
Eventually, those who were Muslims will be delivered out of hell (jahannam) after being punished for their sins, but for the sinners who are not Muslims, they will stay in hell forever.
How to talk about heaven with your Muslim friend
We are given assurance in Christ that our salvation and eternal life does not depend on our good works but on God's grace that reconciles us with Him when we repent and put our trust in Jesus Christ. Your Muslim friend lives under immense pressure to do enough good deeds to please Allah, but deep in their hearts they know that it is impossible to please him. Here are some questions to open up a conversation:
1. What do you believe will happen to you after you die?
2. Are you excited by what the Quran says about Janna?
3. Would you like to hear about the promise of heaven I have through my relationship with Jesus?
Meditate on this verse before you talk about this with your Muslim friend:
“For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray…But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us…so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” Titus 3:3-7