None but God only knows the unseen.
Say: Knowledge is only with God. (67:26)
Hell is reported in some Prophetic traditions to exist under the earth. The earth, through its yearly movement draws a large cycle which will be the place of mustering after the resurrection. This implies that Hell is under the orbit of the earth. The reason why it cannot be seen is that it consists of fire which gives no light, and accordingly is veiled. In the cycle around which the earth revolves many creatures exist though we cannot see them because they emit no light. In the same way as the moon becomes invisible when it is hidden from the light of the sun, so such spheres and creatures as emit no light cannot be seen, even though they are in front of our eyes.
There are two Hells, one minor, the other major. The minor Hell is under the earth or in its center. As geology teaches us, heat increases by one degree centigrade for every 33 meters towards the center of the earth. This means that, at the center of the earth, there is a temperature of 200,000˚C, given that the radius of the earth is six thousand kilometers. This is in agreement with a Prophetic tradition concerning the subject.
The minor Hell is employed to fulfill in this world and the intermediate one, many of the major Hell’s functions. It will be expanded into the major Hell in the other world. As the earth will empty out its contents into the place of mustering, which will be built in the orbit of the earth’s annual movement, so, too, it will transfer the minor Hell to the major one at the command of God. What caused some leading figures of the Mu’tazilite school to form the wrong opinion, namely that Hell would be created later, is that Hell has not yet been fully expanded so as to contain all its future contents. Besides, the stations of the other world are veiled from us so that, in order to see them, we would have to either have eyes as penetrating as star-light or to diminish the universe into small enough areas. The major Hell however, as implied in some Prophetic sayings, has some sort of relation with this world. Intense summer heat, for instance, is described as ‘coming from the heat of Hell’.
Though we can neither see the major Hell with our eyes nor comprehend it with the mind’s eye, we can nevertheless glimpse something of its nature through (the telescope of) the Divine Name, the All-Wise:
The major Hell appears to have deputed to the minor one, which is in the center of the earth, certain of its functions. The sovereignty of an Omnipotent One of majesty, a Wise One of perfection, Who owns the absolute power of the commanding words Be! and it is, has bound the moon to the earth, and the earth to the sun with perfect wisdom and order, and set the sun, together with its satellites, moving, according to a theory, towards the “sun of the suns” with a speed almost as great as the speed of the earth’s revolution around the sun. He has also made the stars, which may be likened to the electric lamps people hang up to adorn special occasions, as luminous evidences for the sovereignty of His Lordship and the greatness of His Power. It is not impossible for such a power and wisdom to make the major Hell function as the source of the ‘heat and fire’ of the stars which look to the heaven of the other world and to illuminate them with the light of Paradise. He is also able to make some sections of Hell a place of torment and a dungeon for people who deserve it. It is also not impossible for the power of the Majestic, All-Wise Creator, who makes a fruit-stone the size of a thumbnail contain a tree, to make the minor Hell encapsulate the major one until an appointed time.
In conclusion, Paradise and Hell are two fruits growing on the tip of a branch extending from the tree of creation far into eternity. They are two opposite outcomes of the chain of being. The places of these outcomes are on opposite ends of the chain, the degraded one on the lower end, and the luminous, sublime one on the upper.
Paradise and Hell are also two storerooms of the flow of worldly events and the spiritual products of the earth. One of these storerooms, which is being filled with evil products, is below while its opposite is above. They are also two pools, where two streams of beings are emptied, one carrying the wicked and foul ones while the other carries the good and pure. Paradise is the place where the Divine favor and mercy manifest themselves. And Hell is the place where the wrath and awe of God are exhibited. The Gracious, All-Merciful One, Who is the All-Majestic and All-Omnipotent, manifests Himself (through His Names and Attributes) wherever He wishes.
The existence of Paradise and Hell was clearly argued in the Tenth and Twenty-ninth Words. We would like to add here only that the existence of the fruit is as evident as that of the branch, the results as that of the chain, the storeroom as that of the products, the pool as that of the stream, and the place of manifestation as that of mercy and wrath.
This article has been adapted from Risale- i Nur Collection.