A breath of Jahannum

By Asma bint Shameem

Last week, it was extremely cold….cold beyond imagination.
It was so cold, they said these were temperatures we haven’t seen in more than a decade.
Pipes froze and burst, many people lost electricity and some even died.
There was ice everywhere…ice on the cars, ice on the trees, ice on the on the grass.
When the arctic wind blew, it cut through to the bone. It hit across the face and numbed whatever it touched.

And as I felt the chilling effects of these below-freezing temperatures, I thought of Jahannum.

Yes, Jahannum.

Now, why would I remember Jahannum, one might ask, in this Siberian weather?

Isn’t Jahannum fiery, burning and hot?

Yes. But, although Jahannum is a place known for its unimaginable heat, scorching blazes and sweltering fires, there are also places within it that are extremely cold, frigid and chilling.
So frigid are these places that it would burn and scorch and torture a person just as the severest fire would and worse.

And this extreme state of coldness in Jahannum is called Zamhareer.


The state of the Hell of Zamhareer is a suffering of extreme coldness, of blizzards and freeze for the people who will enter Jahannum. (May Allaah protect us from it).
Yet its coldness is not a pleasure or a relief to the sinners.
Rather it is a severe punishment and burning torture which no one would ever be able to bear.

Ibnul Qayyim said about the following Ayah:

“Nothing cool shall they taste therein, nor any drink. Except boiling water, and Ghasaaqaa” [Al Naba: 24-25]

It is Zamhareer, it burns them with its extreme cold just as it burns them with its heat. It was also stated by Mujaahid and Muqaatil that it is the peak of coldness. (Badaa’i al Fawaa-id)

Allaah mentions this Zamhareer when he talks about the rewards of the people of Jannah and how they are saved from its cold torture, its extreme frigidity and biting frost.

”They will recline on thrones. They will not see the excessive heat of the sun, nor the extreme bitterness of cold (Zamhareera).” (Surah Insan:13)

And the Prophet (Sal Allaahu Alaiyhi wa Sallam) said:

“The Fire says: ‘Master, some of me eats other parts, so grant me a breath (respite).’ Thus (the Fire) was granted a breath in the summer and a breath in the winter. So whatever you find of bitter cold or Zamhareer, thus it is from a breath of Jahannum, and whatever you find of heat or Haruur, thus it is from a breath of Jahannum”. (Muslim)

So what did the righteous people do when they experienced extreme cold winters and low temperatures?
They remembered this hadeeth and asked Allaah to protect them from Jahannum and its bitter cold as well as its severe heat.

Ibn Rajab said: “And from the virtues of winter is that it reminds one of the extreme cold of Hell and pushes one to seek refuge from it…

Zubayd al-Yami woke up one night to pray. So, he walked towards the bowl of water that he would wash up from and put his hand it to find the water so cold that it was almost frozen. This reminded him of the extreme cold in Hell, and he did not remove his hand from the bowl until he later awoke and his servant came to find him like this. His servant said: “What are you doing, sir? Why didn’t you pray at night as you usually do? Why are you sitting here like this?” He replied: “I put my hand in this bowl and touched the cold water, and was reminded of the extreme cold of Hell. By Allah, I did not feel the severity of its coolness until you came just now. So, go and don’t tell anyone about this until I die.” And nobody knew of this incident until he had died, may Allah have Mercy on him.”

So when winter comes along and the arctic wind blows and temperatures drop, use it as a reminder for the Aakhirah. When your fingers and toes are so cold and numb, that you can no longer feel them and when your shake and shiver in the frigid weather, remember Zamhareer and its bitter coldness.
These winds, these extremes of temperatures, this ice and snow are signs amongst the signs of Allaah. They are reminders of our life to come and of the Aakhirah.

So seek refuge in Allaah from Jahannum and its heat and its coldness. Do all you can to stay away from it and do all you can to protect yourself from it. And never forget the Day when you will stand in front of Him and give account of all that you said and did.

The famous worshipper Raabi’ah said:

“I have never heard the adhaan except that I remember the caller who will announce the Day of Resurrection, and I never see the falling snow except that I imagine the flying pages of the records of peoples deeds (on that day), and I never see swarms of locusts except that I think about the Great Gathering on the Last Day.”
(Sifah Al-Safwah)

And Sufyan ibn Uyaynah said that Ibrahim at-Taymee said:

“I imagined myself in the Hellfire with its iron chains and blazing fire eating from Zaqqoom (a tree in hell with exceedingly bitter fruit), and drinking from its Zamhareer (a bitterly cold drink), so I said “O my soul what do you long for?” It replied “To return to the world and perform a righteous action by which I will be saved form this punishment”. I also imagined myself in Paradise with its Hoori dressed in silken garments (of Paradise) with gold embroidery.
I said “O my soul! What do you long for?”
It said “To return to the world and perform a righteous action by which this reward will increase.” So I said to myself “You are in the world and (surrounded by) aspirations”.

O Allaah, we seek Your refuge from the torment of Jahannum, from its Zamhareer (coldness) as well as Haruur (heat). Ameen.