A children’s book may not be the best way to get an in-depth look at Islam, but it guarantees that everything will be expressed simply. My third blog entry, in this pause from describing my trip, concerns the third book I found in a bookstore entitled, “What is Jannah?” (As a side note, it is very difficult to read literature written by muslims about God because every time He is named they add apostrophes like, “glorified and exalted is He.” The flow of thought is interrupted each and every time – it is giving me a headache!
This book begins with a father (maybe?) asking a boy if he remembers reading about Adam and Eve and the beautiful Garden where they had everything they could ever want. The boy asks why God created beings who could do terrible things upon the Earth. God replys that everything that happens, whether it is good or bad, is part of God’s plan. (I have always had trouble with this idea. Christians will tell you this, too, but I think sinful persons carry out wickedness that has nothing to do with God’s plans. Rather, his plan is achieved in spite of wickedness.)
The father tells the boy that everyone who does his very best to obey God will have the chance to live forever in “Jannah” after God “brings all things to an end on the Last Day and then creates them again.” The child is then joined by another, a girl, and they ask what Jannah is, and the following pages cover the following ideas:
It is a Garden prepared for the righteous (Quar’an 3:133). They will live in the presence of God forever (Qur’an 9:21,22). People will be happy there and will have big mansions (Qur’an 9:72). The righteous will be invited in with a greeting of, “Enter in in peace and security” and all hurt in their hearts will be removed. (Qur’an 15:45-47). People will wear bracelets of gold, green garments of fine silk and heavy brocade, and will have raised thrones and comfy couches to lay on. (Qur’an 18:31) They will praise God who has removed all their sorrow, God who is all forgiving. God will forgive all their sins, and they will not have to experience either scorching heat or biting cold anymore.
I receive the mailings talking about the 29 virgins for men killed in jihad and sent directly to heaven. Indeed, I viewed one very creepy video of a slimy little mullah vividly explaining heaven, with the twenty-nine young women restored to virginity every morning so they are always ready and waiting for more sex. I wish to God I could remove that ugly vision from my mind! But this often-repeated image of heaven is an ugly vision, not the beautiful heaven that Muslims believe in. It is a great disservice to continually use this as a way to make fun of and criticize a belief system we know little about and understand even less.