What is heaven? What does it look like? What do you do there? In a monthly series of articles, Daily News Egypt asks Egyptians from all walks of life what they expect of where they hope to spend eternity.
Ashraf, a middle-aged bawwab (porter) who lives in the hallway of a large colonial-style building off Ramses square, admits he has not thought deeply about heaven. To be fair, most people haven’t.
“You can eat whatever you want, whenever you want, he says after a long pause.
“And the weather in heaven is always moderate, just as God would have it. Ashraf believes that once in heaven – aside from a single meeting with one’s parents – people no longer associate with the family they had on earth. He will be aware that his loved ones are there, but he will not be permitted to see them – “It is God’s order.
Won’t he be sad?
“I will see things in heaven that will make me forget, he says.He believes that people are rewarded with a quality of afterlife – or level of heaven – according to their goodness on earth, and is adamant that the poor are given preferential treatment in heaven.
Saeed, a 48-year-old upholsterer sitting in a grubby ahwa (coffee shop) off Talaat Harb, enthusiastically agrees.
But Saeed maintains that even if someone is on a lower or higher level of heaven than a friend or a family member, God can help them contact one another. Still, like Ashraf, he points out that friends and family don’t generally associate in heaven.
The owner of the ahwa, Ragab, interjects with his belief that you do associate with your family in heaven, but you get to choose who they are.”If your family on earth are bad, God can grant you a new one in heaven. People are different in what they desire, so you get whatever you want.
Ragab adds that God provides each individual with angels to serve them and keep them company.
Among these angels, says Saeed, are beautiful women, or houris (heavenly maidens in Islam).
“They are like pearls, more profound than anything on earth. “There are no feelings of shame after lovemaking [with them]. All pleasure is more sublime.
Ragab adds that the body does not feel pain or weariness in heaven like it does on earth.
Although the Quran refers to heaven as a garden, Ragab and Saeed agree that they will be able to choose where they want to live once in heaven – whether by a beach, on a mountain or wherever – and that the scenery will be similar to that on earth, just more beautiful.
“Whatever you want it to be, that’s what it will be, says Ragab. “I don’t yet know what I will choose.
The two also agree that there is no discrimination between people over the color of their skin or their social class. Instead, the only differentiation will be between levels of heaven.
“And that, says Saeed, “is determined by how well you lead your life.
To give your idea of what heaven is, go to the group Heaven Project on Facebook.