My respected brothers and sisters in Islam,
Our final destination - is the life of the Hereafter.
Where we end up, whether it be Jannah (Paradise) or Jahannam (Hell) depends on what we worked towards in this life.
Paradise is the aim and the hope of every Muslim. But like trying to attain any goal, in order to achieve success, one must have a well-defined plan, and it must be implemented to be successful.
Allah says in the Qur'an:
"O you who believe! Be careful of (your duty to) Allah and seek means of nearness to Him and strive hard in His way that you may be successful." (Surah 5: Ayat 35)
To prepare for our journey, we need to find out what our destination is like; who are its people, and most importantly, how to get there.
The Prophet SAW, told us that within Paradise are things that no eyes have ever seen, nor ears have ever heard, and that things in it are beyond our imagination and comprehension. Nevertheless, we all have our own personal ideas of what eternal bliss would probably be like. The ultimate truth is - what Allah has in store for the believers is so much more than this. Allah SWT in His Book, and through His Messenger, Nabi Muhammad SAW, has given us a clear picture of our goal, so that we can keep it in front of us at all times. By keeping our eyes on the prize, no matter whatever our hardships are in this temporary worldly life, we can live to strive much harder for what is more and most superior. Everlasting.
Allah has promised in the Qur'an:
"And whoever desires the Hereafter and strives for it as he ought to strive and he is a believer; (as for) these, their striving shall surely be accepted." (Surah 17: Ayat 19)
Allah has also described Paradise in many places in the Qur'an. So let us now take a look at what Allah has in store for the believers.
"A similitude of the Garden which those who keep their duty (to Allah) are promised - are rivers of water, the taste and smell of which are never changed. Rivers of milk - the taste of which will remain unchanged. Rivers of wine - that will be delicious to those who drink from it and rivers of clear, pure honey. For them will be every kind of fruit and forgiveness from their Lord." (Surah 47: Ayat 15)
And further Allah SWT describes in the Qur'an:
"And their recompense shall be Paradise, and silken garments, because they were patient. Reclining on raised thrones, they will see there neither the excessive heat of the sun, nor the excessive bitter cold, (as in Paradise there is no sun and no moon). The shade will be close upon them, and bunches of fruit will hang low within their reach. Vessels of silver and cups of crystal will be passed around amongst them, crystal-clear, made of silver. They will determine the measure of them according to their wishes. They will be given a cup (of wine) mixed with Zanjabeel, and a fountain called Salsabeel. Around them will (serve) boys of perpetual youth. If you see them, you would think they are scattered pearls. When you look there (in Paradise) you will see a delight (that can not be imagined), and a Great Dominion. Their garments will be of fine green silk and gold embroidery. They will be adorned with bracelets of silver, and their Lord will give them a pure drink." (Surah 76: Ayats 12 to 21)
Further mentioned in the Qur'an:
"And those foremost (In Tauhid and obedience to Allah and His Messenger in this worldly life) will be foremost (in Paradise). They will be those nearest to Allah in the Gardens of Delight. A multitude of those (the foremost) will be from the first generation (who embraced Islam) and a few of those (the foremost) will be from the later (generations). They will be reclining, face to face, on thrones woven with gold and precious stones. They will be served by immortal boys, with cups and jugs, and a glass from the flowing wine, from which they will have neither any headache, nor any intoxication. They will have fruit from which they may choose, and the flesh of fowls that they desire. There will be Houris with wide, lovely eyes (as wives for the pious), like preserved pearls, a reward for deeds that they used to do. They will hear no vain or sinful speech (like backbiting, etc.) but only the saying of: Salam, Salam, (greetings of peace).
And those on the Right Hand, who will be those on the Right Hand? They will be among thorn-less lote-trees among Talh (banana trees) with fruits piled one above another, in long-extended shade, by constantly flowing water, and fruit in plenty, whose season is not limited, and their supply will not be cut off. They will be on couches or thrones raised high. Verily, We have created for them (maidens) of equal age, loving (their husbands only). For those on the Right Hand." (Surah 56: Ayats 10 to 38)
Allah SWT has promised in the Qur'an:
"Verily, the dwellers of Paradise that Day, will be busy in joyful things. They and their wives will be in pleasant shade, reclining on thrones. They will have therein fruits (of all kinds), and all that they will ask for. (It will be said to them): "Salamun" (Peace be on you), a Word from the Lord, Most Merciful." (Surah 36: Ayats 55 to 58)
Can we imagine? Is it absolutely imaginable, that is to say our imaginations have effected our Imaan and life for the better? Wearing the finest silk clothing and sitting on chairs made of gold and precious stones? Those who disbelieve in the words of Allah, say that this is all a fairy-tale, made up by a would-be prophet (na'udzubillah).
But we know, that Allah is the Truthful and that His Messenger, Muhammad SAW, spoke only what was revealed to him (SAW) from the Most Truthful.
And even though Allah describes Paradise for us in the Qur'an, LET US REMEMBER THIS:
Allah SWT still says about Paradise in the Qur'an:
"So no soul knows the delights of the eyes which is hidden for them; a reward for what they did." (Surah 32: Ayat 17)
Apart from the Qur'anic descriptions of Paradise, the Prophet Muhammad SAW himself would often describe Paradise to his companions.
His (SAW) descriptions were oftentimes so vivid and moving, that many-a-companion would hurriedly rush towards it.
This was the case, as Anas narrated that the Messenger of Allah SAW and his (SAW) Companions RA proceeded towards Badr (prior to the Battle of Badr) and arrived there before the disbelievers (of Makkah).
When the disbelievers arrived, the Messenger of Allah (SAW) said:
"None of you should step forward ahead of me to do anything."
Then the disbelievers advanced (towards us), and the Messenger of Allah (SAW) said:
"Rise to enter Paradise whose width is equal to the Heavens and the Earth."
Umayr Ibnul Humam Al-Ansari (RA) asked:
"O Messenger of Allah, is Paradise equal in width to the heavens and the earth?"
He (SAW) said:
Umayr (RA) said, "Bak'hin! Bak'hin!" (An Arabic word denoting excitement and astonishment)
The Messenger of Allah (SAW) asked him:
"What made you say these words: Bak'hin, Bak'hin?"
He (Umayr RA) said:
"Messenger of Allah, nothing but the desire to be amongst its residents."
He (SAW) said:
"You are surely among its residents."
He (Umayr RA) then took some dates form his bag and began to eat them.
Then he said:
"If I were to live until I had eaten all of these dates, indeed this life would be too long."
Anas RA then said:
"He (Umayr RA) threw away the remaining dates he had with him. He then fought (the disbelievers) until he was killed."
(The above episode is narrated by Muslim)