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Index / Religions / Afterlife /
Hebrew: she'ol; gehinom
Arabic: jahannam

1. Zoroastrianism
2. Judaism
3. Christianity
4. Islam
5. Alevism
6. Ahl-e Haqq
7. Yazidism
8. Ismailism
9. Druze religion
10. Baha'i
Dead religions
11. Ancient Egyptian Religion
12. Mesopotamian religions
13. Canaanite and Phoenician religions
14. Hittite religion

19th century artistic representation of Hell, by Gustave Doré.
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19th century artistic representation of Hell, by Gustave Doré.

Religious concept with several religions, relating largely to what awaits enemies and opponents of a religion, non-believers and others after death, or upon a day of judgment.
The concept goes deep back in the history of religions, and is one which has great impact even in modern religions.
The nature of Hell varies between religious systems, from emptiness and isolation to torture. Hell can even in some cases be a pleasant place, yet lacking the qualities of Paradise.

The Zoroastrian Hell is freezing and ill-smelling. Souls falling into it suffer torment and chastisement until the Resurrection.
The many whose good and evil deeds are equal stay in "The Place of the Mixed", "Hame-staga-n", where they suffer from both heat and cold.

In Judaism, Hell was known as Gehenna or Gehinnom, the place or state where evil human beings were punished. The are several descriptions of Gehenna, how punishments were measured out.
Even souls destined for Paradise may have to pass through Gehenna as punishment for their actions for durations of up to 12 months.
Until the 3rd and 2nd centuries BCE, the central realm for the dead was Sheol, the underworld. It was a place of neither pain nor pleasure, punishment nor reward, but at least an existence without the earthly problems. With Isaiah 14:15 a dimension to Sheol is introduced, when he promises the King of Babylon that he will descend to the deepest depth of Sheol.

In early Christianity there were several places considered Hell, from the pleasant limbo of the unbaptized, through all those awaiting Judgment Day, culminating in the place where Satan lashes out punishment upon all those dying without repenting their sins.
A central theological question to Hell, is the duration. Some early writern, like Origen, suggested that the duration in Hell measured the sins of the individual, so that each would eventually be purified to be restored to enter Paradise. This doctrine was rejected by the Second Council of Constantinople in 553, which established for good the faith in an eternal Hell. Still, this idea has been challenged numerous times through Christian history, as well as the actual nature of Hell.

In Islam, hell is called Jahannam, and is descriptions of it are derived very much from Zoroastrianism and Christianity.
The soul of the deceased has to pass a narrow bridge to reach paradise, a task impossible for the damned. Those falling from the bridge end in Jahannam.

Alevism has no concept of neither a hell nor a paradise.

Ahl-e Haqq
On the Last Judgment, Ahl-e Haqq teaches that bad souls will be destroyed.

One of the cental angels in Yazidism, Malak Ta'us, cried for 7,000 years filling 7 jars that were used to extinguish the fire in hell. Therefore, there is no hell in Yazidism.

In Isma'ilism has no hell, rather unjust souls will have to return to earth for reincarnation.

Druze religion
In Druze religion punishment for unjust souls is to be sent back to earth by reincarnation. Eventually, there is a hell, which is just spiritual, the punishment being the longing to unity with God.

Baha'i has no hell, rahter unjust souls will suffer in being distant from God.

Ancient Egyptian Religion
Ancient Egyptian religion had no hell. Following the final judgment, unjust souls were destroyed by the demonic goddess, Ammut.

Mesopotamian religions
In both Sumerian religion and Babylonian and Assyrian religion there appears not to have been any form of hell in the afterlife.

Canaanite and Phoenician religions
In Canaanite and Phoenician religions dead humans could have some form of existence in the afterlife, provided that their families came with sacrifices to the grave, thereby providing the dead with nutrition. Dying unloved or without family, the deceased would suffer or perish. This could be considered a form of hell.

Hittite religion
In Hittite religion the there was little difference between the expected afterlife for the good and the bad; the promise was an existence as spirits in the underworld.

By Tore Kjeilen