A Cold Area (Zamharīr) in Jahannam

It may come as a surprise to many that Jahannam also has a cold area. The following is more than enough to convince us of this phenomenon:

Sayyiduna Abu Hurayrah رضي الله عنه reported that Rasulullah صلى الله عليه وسلم said,

“Jahannam complained to its Lord saying: ‘Oh my Lord, parts within me have devoured each other.’ So Allah allowed it two breaths: one in the summer and the other in the winter. Therefore the extreme heat that you experience (on earth) is caused by the heat of Jahannam, and the severe cold too is due to the zamharīr. (the extremely cold section of Jahannam).” (Sahīh Bukhārī 537, Sahīh Muslim 617)

The following Sahābah, Tābi’ūn, and ‘Ulama have affirmed this cold spot of Jahannam:

  • ‘Abdullah b. ‘Abbas [1] (Sifāt al-Nār of Ibn Abi al-Dunya, pg.101)
  • Mujāhid [2] (Sifāt al-Nār of Ibn Abi al-Dunya, pg.101)
  • ‘Ikrimah [3] (al-Takhwīf min al-Nār, pg. 81)
  • Ka’b al-Ahbār [4] (al-Hilyah of Abu Nu’aym vol.5, pg.406)
  • ‘Abd al-Malik b. ‘Umayr [5] (Sifāt al-Nār, pg.100)
  • Zubayd al-Yāmi [6] (al-Takhwīf min al-Nār, pg. 81)

All of the above, besides the first Sahābi, are Tābi’ūn.

  • Hāfiż Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali has a dedicated chapter “The Extreme Cold of Jahannam” in his book al-Takwīf min al-Nār, pgs. 80-81.
  • ‘Allāmah Badruddīn al-‘Aynī has stated in his commentary of Sahīh Bukhāri, “There is no reason to reject this ‘cold spot’ of Jahannam.”
  • al-‘Aynī also said, “Matters of the Hereafter should not be analyzed with the experiences of this world. (Umdat al-Qāri vol.4, pg. 33) [7]
  • Hāfiż Ibn Hajr has also mentioned a similar discussion in his commentary of Bukhāri titled Fath al-Bāri hadith 537. [8]
  • Mulla ‘Ali al-Qāri in Mirqāt al-Mafātīh hadith 591. [9]

A Brief Explanation of the Hadith

“In very hot weather delay the Zuhr prayer till it becomes (a bit) cooler…”

The reason for this directive is so that there could be more people attending the Zuhr salah if it is offered in the cooler period, as compared to if it was offered in the extreme heat.

Many Fuqāha (jurists) have understood an overriding principle from the above Hadith (and its likes) that the time for the congregational salāh will be adjusted within its permissible timings to suit a larger congregation.

“…because the severity of heat is from the raging of the Hellfire.”

This part is further explained by Rasulullah صلى الله عليه وسلم in the next few sentences:

“The fire of Hell complained to its Lord saying: O Lord! My parts are eating (destroying) one another.”

Regarding the “complaint” of Jahannam, was it verbal or was it an understood complaint?

Several Muhaddithūn (Hadith scholars) have written that since nothing is out of the Power of Allah تعالى, this can be understood as a verbal complaint for which Almighty Allah would have given Jahannam the ability to speak.

“So Allah allowed it two breaths, one in the winter and the other in the summer.”

These are two breaths that Allah تعالى allows Jahannam to exhale. One is in the summer, and through this exhaling the heat of the world is obviously dramatically affected, and as a result the heat within Jahannam is lowered.

The breath in the winter is understood in two ways. One group of classical Hadith commentators have accepted this on its apparent meaning. That is: when Jahannam exhales in the winter, it exhales from a cold region within Jahannam. Therefore this cold that emerges from there affects the climate in the world proportionately.

The writer concurs with this explanation.

(Fath al-Bāri, Hadith 537 and ‘Umdat al-Qāri, Hadith 537)

Another group of Hadith commentators state that this breath in the winter is actually inhaling rather than exhaling. They state that Jahannam actually inhales air from our atmosphere during our winter, thereby draining it from its heat and leaving us in the cold.

(Fath al-Mulhim vol.4, pg.328, Hadith 1408)

This also explains the last part of the Hadith in question:

“The breath in the summer is at the time when you feel the severest heat and the breath in the winter is at the time when you feel the severest cold.”

And Allah تعالى knows best

Du’ā During Cold Weather

The cold weather of winter should remind one of the “burning cold” of Jahannam. Sayyiduna Ibn ‘Abbas رضي الله عنهما says:

“The inmates of Jahannam will ask to be rescued from the excruciating heat of Jahannam. An icy cold wind will be blown upon them, which will cause their bones to ache after which they will beg for heat again.” (Latā’if al-Ma`ārif)

Rasulullah صلى الله عليه وسلم is reported to have said, “When a person recites the following supplication, Allah تعالى says to Jahannam, ‘Indeed, a servant of mine has sought refuge in Me from you, bear testimony that I have granted him salvation from you.’”

لَا إلٰهَ اِلَّا الله، مَا أَشَدَّ بَرْدَ هٰذَا الْيَوْمِ، اللهُمَّ أَجِرْنِي مِنْ زَمْهَرِيرِ جَهَنَّمَ

Lā ilāha illa Allahu, mā ashadda barda hāzhā al-yawm, Allahumma ajirnī min zamharīri jahannam.

Translation: “There is no deity besides Allah. How severe is the cold of today! Oh Allah, save us from the extreme cold of Jahannam.”

The Sahābah رضي الله عنهم then asked, “What is zamharīr?”

Rasulullah صلى الله عليه وسلم replied, “A cold area in Jahannam in which a disbeliever will be placed, and [due to the extreme freeze] his body parts will break off.”

This Du’ā is recorded by the following Imāms of Hadith:

  • Ibn al-Sunnī (‘Amal Al-Yawmi wa al-Laylah Hadith 306)
  • Abū Nu’aym in his ‘Amal al-Yawmi wa al-Laylah
  • Bayhaqī (al-Asmā wa al-Sifāt)
    • The chain of narrators is [slightly] weak, (al-Maqāsid al-Hasanah, Hadith 1283) but suitable for practice.
  • Imam Hākim has mentioned that it is perfectly correct to recite those Du’ās that are reported in weak Hadiths. See al-Mustadrak vol.1, pg.490.
  • Hāfiż Ibn Taymiyyah has also stated the permissibility of reciting Du’ās and dhikrs that have been reported with a weak chain. (Majmū’ al-Fatāwa vol.18, pg.65-67)
  • Hāfiż Ibn Hajr has said the same as well. (Natā’ij al-Afkār vol.5, pg.291)

By Mawlana Muhammad Abasoomar