(1) The Punishment of the People of Hell Will Vary in Degree
As Hell has various levels, in some of which the torment and horror are greater than in others, so the people of Hell will be given different levels of punishment. According to a hadith narrated by Muslim and Ahmad from Samurah, the Prophet (saw) said, concerning the people of Hell: “There are some whom the Fire will take up to their ankles, others up to their knees, others up to their waists, and others up to their collarbones”. According to another report, “up to their necks” (Muslim in Kitaab al-Jannah wa Sifaat Na’imihaa, Baab Shiddat Harr an-Naar, 4/2185)

The Messenger of Allah (saw) has told us about those who will receive the lightest punishment in Hell. al-Bukhaari reports from al-Nu’maan ibn Basheer who said:

“I heard the Messenger of Allah (saw) say, “The person who will have the least punishment among the people of Hell on the Day of Resurrection will be a man under the arch of whose feet will be placed a smoldering ember, and his brains will boil because of it.”

In another report also narrated by al-Bukhaari from an-Nu’maan ibn Basheer, the Prophet (saw) said, “The person who will have the least punishment among the people of Hell on the Day of Resurrection will be a man under the arch of whose feet will be placed two smoldering embers, because of which his brains will boil as water boils in a mirjal [copper vessel] or qumqum [narrow-necked vessel].” (al-Bukhaari in Sahih, Kitaab ar-Raqaaq, Baab Sifaat al-Jannah wan-Naar, Fath al-Baari, 11/417, and Muslim in his Sahih, Kitaab al-Imaan, 1/196, no. 363)

According to a report narrated from an-Nu’man ibn Basheer by Muslim, the Prophet (saw) said: The person who will have the least punishment among the people of Hell on the Day of Resurrection is a man who will be given shoes and laces of fire, because of which his brains will boil like water in a mirjal (copper vessel). He will not think that anyone could be more severely punished than himself, yet he will be the one with the lightest punishment”. (Sahih Muslim, Kitaab al-Imaan, 1/196, no. 364; Muslim also reports from Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri in the same chapter, no. 361)

al-Bukhaari and Muslim both narrate from Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri that he heard the Messenger of Allah (saw) say when his uncle Abu Taalib was mentioned: “Maybe my intercession will help him on the Day of Resurrection, so that he may be put in a shallow part of Hell, with fire reaching to his ankles and causing his brain to boil”. (al-Bukhaari in Kitaab ar-Riqaaq, Baab Sifaat al-Jannah wan-Naar, Fath al-Baari, 11/417 and Muslim in Kitaab al-Imaam, Baab Shifa’at an-Nabi (saw), ‘Ali ibn Abi Taalib, 1/195, hadith no. 360)

Many aayaat confirm the different levels of punishment that will be given to the people of Hell:

“The hypocrites will be in the lowest depths of the Fire..” (4:145)

“..and [the Sentence will be] on the Day that Judgement will be established [it will be said to the angels]: “Cast the people of Pharaoh into the severest Penalty!” (40:46)

“Those who reject Allah and hinder [men] from the Path of Allah, for them will We add Penalty to penalty, for that they used to spread mischief [or corruption]”. (16:88)

al-Qurtubi said, “This topic indicates that the kufr of the person who simply disbelieves is not like the kufr of a person who oppresses, disbelieves, rebels, and disobeys. There is no doubt that the kuffaar will suffer different levels of punishment in hell, as is known from the Qur’an and Sunnah. We know for certain that the punishment of those who oppressed and killed the Prophets and Muslims and spread corruption and disbelief on earth, will not be the same as the punishment of those who simply disbelieved, but treated the Prophets and Muslims well. Do you not see Abu Taalib, how the Prophet (Saw) will bring him up to a shallow level of Hell, because he helped him, protected him, and treated him well? The hadith narrated by Muslim from Samurah may be interpreted as referring to the kuffaar, as there is a hadith about Abu Taalib, or it may be interpreted as referring to those monotheists who will be punished”. (at-Tadhkirah, p. 409)

Ibn Rajab said, “Know that the different levels of punishment suffered by the people of Hell will be according to the levels of their deeds for which they entered Hell”. Then he quotes the evidence for that, such as the words of Ibn ‘Abbaas, “The punishment of those who were extreme in their disbelief and spread corruption on earth, calling others to kufr, will not be like the punishment of those who did not do such things”. Then Ibn Rajab says, “Similarly, the punishments of the monotheists in Hell will be at different levels, according to their deeds. The punishment of those who were guilty of major sins (kabaa’ir) will not be like that of those who were guilty of minor sins (saghaa’ir). The punishment may be reduced for some of them because of other good deeds, or for whatever reason Allah (swt) wills. Hence some of them may die in the Fire”. (at-Takhweef min an-Naar, p. 142-143)

(2) Roasting of the Skin
The Fire of the Almighty will burn the skin of the kuffaar. The skin is the site of sensation, where the pain of burning is felt, and for this reason, Allah (swt) will replace the burnt skin with a new one, to be burnt anew, and this will be repeated endlessly:

“Those who reject Our Signs, We shall soon cast them into the Fire. As often as their skins are roasted through, We shall change them for fresh skins, that they may taste the penalty. For Allah is Exalted in Power, All-Wise” (4:56)

(3) Melting
One of the kinds of torment will be the pouring of al-Hameem over their heads. al-Hameem is ultra-heated water; because of its extreme heat, it will melt their innards and everything inside:

“… then as for those who disbelieve, garments of fire will be cut out for them, boiling water will be poured down over their heads. With it will melt or vanish away what is within their bellies, as well as [their] skins”. (22:19-20)

at-Tirmidhi reported from Abu Hurayrah (ra) that the Prophet (saw) said:
“al-Hameem will be poured on their heads and will dissolve through until it reaches their sides and all their innards will drop out until it comes out of his feet, and everything is melted, then he will be restored as he was.” He (at-Tirmidhi) said, “It is a sahih ghareeb hasan hadith”. (at-Takhweef min an-Naar, p.145, Jaami’ al-Usool, 10/540)

(4) Scorching (the face).
The noblest and most dignified part of a person is the face, hence the Prophet (saw) forbade us to strike the face. One of the ways in which Allah (swt) will humiliate the people of Hell is by gathering them on their faces, blind, deaf, and dumb, on the Day of Resurrection:

“..We shall gather them together prone on their faces, blind, dumb, and deaf; their abode will be Hell; every time it shows abatement, We shall increase for them the Fierceness of the Fire”. (17:97)

Then they will be thrown on their faces in the Fire:

“And if any do evil, their faces will be thrown headlong into the Fire; “Do you receive a reward other than that which you have earned by your deeds?” (27:90)

The Fire will burn and cover their faces forever, with no barrier between them and it:

“If only the unbelievers knew [the time] when they will not be able to ward off the Fire from their faces, nor yet from their backs, and [when] no help can reach them!” (21:39)

“The Fire will burn their faces and they will therein grin, with their lips displaced” (23:104)

“Their garments of liquid pitch, and their faces covered with fire”. (14:50)

“Is then one who has to fear the brunt of the penalty on the Day of Judgement [and receive it on] his face, [like one guarded therefrom]?” (39:24)

Look at this horrific scene that makes one shudder!

“The Day that their faces will be turned upside down in the Fire, they will say, “Woe to us! Would that we had obeyed Allah and obeyed the Messenger.” (33:66)

Do you not see that just as meat and fish are turned over when they are cooked, so their faces will be turned over in the Fire of Hell. We seek refuge with Allah (swt) from the punishment of the people of Hell.

(5) Dragging
Another of the painful torments that the Kuffaar will suffer is being dragged on their faces into Hell:

“Truly those in sin are the ones straying in mind, and mad. The Day they will be dragged through the Fire on their faces [they will hear]: “Taste the touch of Hell.” (54:47-48)

Their pain at being dragged will be increased by the fact that they will be tied up in chains and fetters:

“…But soon shall they know – when the yokes [shall be] round their necks and the chains, they shall be dragged along, in the boiling fetid fluid, then shall they be burned”. (40:70-72)

Qataadah said, “They will be dragged once in the Fire, and once in al-Hameem.” (Ibn Rajab, at-Takhweef min an-Naar, p.147)

(6) Blackening of the faces.
Allah (swt) will blacken the faces of the people of Hell in the Hereafter:

“On the Day when some faces will be [lit up with] white and some faces will be [in the gloom of] black; to those who faces will be black [it will be said]: “Did you reject Faith after accepting it? Taste then the penalty for rejecting Faith”. (3:106)

This is intense blackness as if the darkness of night had covered their faces

“But those who have earned evil will have a reward of like evil, and ignominy will cover their faces. No defender will they have from [the wrath of] Allah. Their faces will be covered, as it were, with pieces from the darkness of night. They are Companions [or dwellers] of the Fire, they will abide therein [for aye!] (10:27)

(7) The Fire Will Surround the Kuffaar
The people of Hell are the Kuffaar whose sins and disobedience surround them, leaving no hasanah for them. Allah (SWT) said, in response to the Jews who claimed that the Fire would only touch them for a certain length of time:

“Nay, those who seek gain in evil and are girt round by their sins – they are companions [or dwellers] of the Fire; therein shall they abide [forever]” (2:81)

No one will be in such a state unless he is a kaafir and a mushrik. Siddeeq Hasan Khan says, “What is referred to here by evil deeds is a certain type of deed, the reasons for which should be overwhelming, with no way out or means of achieving hasanah. Eternity in Hell is for the kuffaar and mushrikeen, so evil and sin in this aayah has to be interpreted as meaning kufr and shirk. Thus the arguments of the Mu’tazilah and Khawaarij are shown to be false by the proven mutawaatir reports that state that the sinners among the monotheists will eventually be brought forth from Hell.”

Sins and evil deeds surround the Kuffaar like a bracelet around the wrist, so their punishment should fit their crimes. Hence the Fire will surround the Kuffaar on all sides, as Allah (swt) says:

“There will be a bed of Hell [Fire] and over them coverings [of Hellfire]” (7:41)

The “bed” is what comes under them, and the “coverings” are what come over them. What is meant is that fires will surround them from above and below, as Allah (swt) says:

“On the Day when the torment [Hellfire] shall cover them from above them and from underneath their feet” (29:55)

“They shall have coverings of Fire above them, and coverings of Fire beneath them”. (39:16)

Some of the Salaf interpreted the “Bed” (al-Mihaad) as meaning a mattress and the “cover” (al-Ghawaash) as being a blanket (Tafseer Ibn Katheer, 3/168)

The “surrounding” may be interpreted in another way, which is that Hell will have a wall to surround the kuffaar so that they will never be able to get out or escape from it, as Allah (SWT) says:

“..Verily We have prepared for the wrongdoers a Fire whose [smoke and flames] like the walls and roof of a tent, will hem them in; If they implore relief, they will be granted water like melted brass, that will scald their faces. How dreadful the drink! How uncomfortable a couch to recline on!” (18:29)

(8) The Fire Will Leap Up Over Their Hearts
We have already explained that the physical bodies of the people of Hell will be made huge in size. In spite of that, the Fire will penetrate their bodies until it reaches their innermost depths:

“Soon will I cast him into Hellfire! And what will explain to you what Hellfire is? Naught does it permit to endure, and naught does it leave alone, Darkening and changing the color of man!” (74:26-29)

Some of the Salaf said concerning the phrase, “naught does it leave alone” that it meant, “it eats bones and flesh and brains and does not leave anything untouched” (Ibn Rajab, at-Takhweef min an-Naar, p.146)

Allah (SWT) says: “By no means! He will be sure to be thrown into that which Breaks to Pieces. And what will explain to you what that which Breaks to Pieces is? [It is] the Fire of the [wrath of] Allah, kindled [to a blaze], that which mourns [right] to the hearts”. (104:4-6)

Muhammad ibn Ka’b al-Qurtubee said, “The Fire eats into him until it reaches his heart, then his body will be created anew. It was reported that when Thaabit al-Bananee read this aayah, he said, “The Fire will burn them until it reaches their hearts, while they are still alive; this is how great their suffering is!” Then he wept.” (at-Takhweef min an-Naar, p.146)

(9) Their entrails will be spilled out in the Fire
al-Bukhaari and Muslim report from Usaamah ibn Zayd that the Prophet (saw) said: “A man will be brought forth on the Day of Resurrection and thrown into the Fire. Then his entrails will be spilled out into the Fire, and he will be forced to walk around and around like a donkey on a treadmill. The people of Hell will gather around him and say, “O So-and-so, what is wrong with you? Did you not enjoin us to do good and forbid us to do evil?” He will say, “I used to order you to do good, but I did not do it, and I used to forbid you to do evil, but I used to do it.” Then he will walk around and around like a donkey in a treadmill” (al-Bukhaari and Muslim, Mishkaat al-Masaabeeh, 2/642, hadith no. 5139)

One of the people whose entrails will be spilled out in Hell is ‘Amr ibn Lahay who was the first to change the religion of the Arabs. The Prophet (saw) saw him dragging his own entrails in Hell. Muslim reports from Jaabir ibn Abdullaah that the Prophet (saw) said, “I saw ‘Amr ibn ‘Aamir al-Khuza’ee dragging his own entrails in Hell, and he was the first one to introduce as-Saa’ibah (a she-camel turned loose for free pasture for the sake of idols, upon which nothing was allowed to be carried”. (Mishkaat al-Masaabeeh, 2/642)

(10) The Chains, Fetters and Hammers of the People of Hell
Allah (swt) has promised that the people of Hell will have chains fetters and hammers in the Fire:

“For the Rejecters We have prepared iron chains, yokes and a blazing Fire”. (76:4)

“With Us are fetters [to bind them] and a Fire [to burn them] and a food that chokes, and a penalty grievous”. (73:12-13)

The yokes will be placed around their necks:

“…We shall put yokes on the necks of the unbelievers. It would only be a requital for their ill [or evil] deeds”. (34:33)