My colleague Fran Leap, a thoughtful and wise explorer of intellect and the human heart as related to the divine, describes her experience as a Christian coming to know a very different holy text– one that comes from an aural rather than scriptural tradition.
The Qur’an longs to convince its hearers of the fragile and temporary nature of human life on earth, and of the eternal significance of the life to come. Every tiny fleeting moment of good and every tiny fleeting moment of ill is recorded and will be revealed to each of us at the Day of Reckoning. Woe to those whose balance sheet comes up short; the torments the Qur’an describes for them in Jahannam are worthy of Dante’s Inferno.
But for those who heed its word, by practicing generosity, caring for the poor, and praying, the reward is a banquet in the garden of paradise with rivers of pure water, of milk, of honey, and of wine. The descriptions of paradise include reunion with family members and beautiful companions; handsome attendants will serve the blessed, seated on cushions reclining at the meal. These attendants, by the way, are both female and male, and their modesty is clear.