These two groups [the believers and the unbelievers] are in dispute about their Lord. As for those that disbelieve, garments of fire have been cut out for them; boiling water shall be poured down over their heads, causing (not only) their skins but all that is in their bellies as well to melt away. There shall be maces of iron to lash them. Whenever they try, in their anguish, to escape from Hell, they will be driven back into it, [and shall be told]: ‘Do now taste the torment of burning fire.’

(Al-Qur’ān – 22:19-22)

The groups that contend about God are numerous. Nevertheless, these ayaat divide them into two broad categories. One consists of those who believe in God and His Messenger ﷺ. The other consists of those who reject the truth and embrace unbelief. The essence of this latter attitude remains one and the same no matter how numerous the disagreements among the exponents of such an attitude are, or the extent to which the different versions of unbelief vary from one to another.

Here, something which is inevitably bound to happen in the future has been described in the past tense. This in order to emphasise its inevitability; to give the impression as if it is something that has already taken place. The ayah mentions that the guilty ones shall be ‘secured in chains’, and ‘their garments shall be black as if made out of pitch, and the flames of the fire shall cover their faces.’

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