‘There are eight gates for Paradise..” said the most praised and exalted Prophet.
The sacred tradition of Islam transmits that there are eight gates of paradise or the walled garden of eden. In the classical tafsir of Fakhr al-Din al-Razi called, Tafsir al-Kabir (The Large Commentary, also known as Mafatih al-Ghayb, Keys to the Unknown) the eight gates of paradise is explained using the verses of the opening chapter, al-Fatiha.
"Al-Hamndu Lil-lahi" (All Perpetual Praise for Allah) has eight alphabets, the number of the gates of Paradise is also eight, therefore he who recites these eight alphabets out of purity of heart does deserve (the opening of) the eight gates of Paradise.
Regarding the eight gates the above Sufi Infographic enumerate their name and corresponding verses.
Gate 1: Gate of Criterion
Al-Razi says, "Know that indeed there are eight gates for Paradise, and in the rank (Maqam) that you reach after reciting: I take refuge in Allah from the Sahytan the outcast ('Auzu Billahi)... one gate of the eight gates of Paradise opens for you, that is the Gate of Ma’refa (Divine Gnosis)."
The statement in full is A'uzu billahi minash shaitanir rajim, is called Ta'awwudh, and it means: “I seek refuge in Allah from the rejected Satan,” or alternatively on the level of expansive and deeper meaning it means, "I seek refuge in Allah from the Archetype of all illusion, deception and negativity." This is the first gate because the journey of seeker begins by developing the distinction between the right and wrong, good and evil, light from darkness - for the two are not the same. This is the distinction between Allah and gharyrullah, Real and the unreal, Creator and the created.
Gate 2: Gate of Remembrance
Al-Razi says, "A second gate is that of al-Dhikr (Remembrance) as you are reciting ‘Bismil-lahir Rahmanir Rahim (In the Name of Allah, the Universally Merciful, the Singularly Compassionate)’.
Once the first gate of distinction between right and wrong, good and evil, real and unreal is crossed, one approach the threshold of remembering the Real. Thus the second gate is the Gate of Remembrance. When unreal is recognized from the real, it is only natural that one would like to be occupied with the Real and free himself, herself more and more from all that is unreal, ephemeral and temporal. For it is said, "the one who knows Allah, finds everything else trivial."
The symbol of uttering the formula, Bimillahir Rahmanir Rahim before every action is precisely an indicator that every action is sanctified by the invocation and remembrance of God.
Gate 3: Gate of Gratitude
The third Gate is that of Shukr (Gratitude) after reciting ‘Al-Hamdu Lil-Lahi Rabbil Alamin.’
This is a very important Gate, for from here onwards the journey of the preliminary seeker start to become more luminous. A person may pray many many times in his, her life uttering the formula, Al-Hamndu Lil-lahi Rabbil Aalamin, 'All Perpetual Praise is for Allah, Lord of the Worlds' - yet if he or she does not get what it means to be grateful, to be a person of Shukr, then he, she has failed to harvest the fruit of the sacred formula: Al-Hamdu Lil-Lahi Rabbil Alamin. It is also cure of many psycho-spiritual sickness.
Gate 4: Gate of Hope
The fourth gate is that of Hope when you recite ‘Ar-Rahmanir Rahim’.
It is called the Gate of Hope for it invokes the greatest hope there is, the infinite merciful quality of God. Allah reveals Himself as the servant holds Him in his, her heart.
Gate 5: Gate of Recognizing Divine Authority
The fifth Gate is that of Fear when you recite ‘Maliki Yaumid-Din’.
This is the Gate of Recognizing the Divine Authority as Sole Authority, as the Owner of the Day of Resurrection and Recompense. The Day of Judgment is when the Authority is entirely in God's hand, it is the total manifestation of the Kingdom and the owner of the Kingdom when the entire creation
Gate 6: Gate of Servitude
The sixth Gate is that of Purity born out of the Ma’refa (Divine Gnosis) of ‘Ubudiat (Servitude) and Rububiat (Divinity) in your reciting ‘Iyyaka Na’budu Wa Iyyaka Nasta’inu’.
I have renamed this gate as Gate of Servitude in short. The statement ‘Iyyaka Na’budu Wa Iyyaka Nasta’in’ means, "Only You (O God) do we worship and only You do we ask for help." This is the perpetual return to the recognition that only God is worthy of worship and God alone is worthy of helping the creation. This is the crux of religion for we as human being surrounded and distracted by millions of distraction and delusion often forget the Real and to Whom is due all submission, all servitude and all beseeching.
Those who recognize this, have already advanced much in their way towards Gnosis of Servitude and Divinity.
Gate 7: Gate of Intimacy
The seventh Gate is that of Du’a (Invocation) in your reciting ‘Ihdinas Siratal Mustaqim’ (Lead us on the Straight Path).
This Gate I have renamed as Gate of Intimacy because du'a is a function of the heart and it is the intimate conversation of the creation, of the friend, of the lover with the Creator Lord, with the Supreme Friend, with the Beloved. The request to the Supreme Lord to guide is also an indicator of trust for guidance.
The Prophet said (du'a) invocation is brain of worship. The fruit of worship is when the worshiper attains intimacy with the Invoked.
Gate 8: Gate of Following the friends of God
The eight gate is that of‘Iqtidā’ (Emulation or following the example) of the good and pure souls, and of seeking guidance through their nur (Divine Light) and that is in your reciting of ‘Siratal La-Dhina…’
The last verse of Fatiha reads as: "Sirata allazeena anAAamta AAalayhim, Ghayri almaghdoobi AAalayhim wala addalleen" which means 'The path of those on whom You have bestowed (Your) blessings, those who have not incurred (Your) displeasure, and those who have not gone astray.'
What Al-Razi calls as Gate of Emulating or Following the Example, is renamed on the above infographic as Gate of Following the friends of God. This is because those who are examples for guidance and worthy of following their footsteps are those luminous beings who are the Messengers, the Prophets, the Special Ones who all shared one common characteristics that is their intimacy and friendship with the Divine to the highest degree.
As the Chishti sufi saying goes, "A dervish is a friend of God and a friend of a friend is a friend. So why not be a friend of a dervish?"
The prerequisite of emulating someone is to love or lovingly accept that person and loving a person prerequisites that one has to know that person. So the flow diagram would be as follow:
So the last Gate of following the friends of God or the lovers of God can only be approached with sincerity if we: A.) know them, and B.) love them - else its an empty word.
May God save us from such calamity of empty words devoid of their haqiqa and disconnected from the heart. As our exalted and most praised Master made supplication to His Lord, "O Allah, I seek your protection from useless knowledge, from a heart which is not disposed to acknowledge you, from insatiable desire, from a prayer which is not answered and I seek Your protection from all the four said evils." May God help us know the Gates of the Garden, and give us capacity to approach them and also open the Doors of the Gates of Paradise for us, both here and in the Kingdom to come.
These are some illumination on the Eight Gates of Paradise and what is referred to in Surat Sad (38) verse 50. Jannati AAadnin mufattahatan lahumu al-abwab - ‘The Gardens of Eden with opened gates for them’. For the Gardens of Divine Gnosis have been opened by these spiritual keys, and this does Isharat (Point) to what happens during the Salat (Prayer) of Spiritual Mi’raj (Ascension- like that of the Prophet to the Heavens). And Allah knows the best.
Those who were conscious of their Lord (ittaqaw Rabbahum) will be led to Paradise in groups until, when they reach it while its gates have been opened and its keepers say, "Peace be upon you; you have become pure; so enter it to abide eternally therein".
- The Qur'an 39:73
This is a reminder. And indeed, for the righteous (muttaqin) is a good place of return.
Gardens of eternal abode, whose Gates will be opened to them. - The Qur'an 38:49-50
Those who fulfill the Covenant of Allah and break them. And those who unite that which Allah has ordered to be united (such as ties of relatives, relations of marriage) and fear their Lord and dread the evil of their accounting. And those who are patient, seeking the countenance of their Lord, and establish prayer and spend from what We have provided for them secretly and publicly and prevent evil with good - theirs will be the sequel of the (heavenly) abode: Gardens of Eden; they will enter them with whoever were righteous among their fathers, their spouses and their descendants. And the angels will enter upon them from every Gate, (saying), "Peace be upon you for what you patiently endured. And excellent is the final Abode."
- The Qur'an 13:20-24
* The above post is inspired from Eight Gates - part of translation of al-Tafsir al- Kabir by Fakhr al-Din al-Razi, translated by Dara O. Shayda and Dr. Hind Rifai as shared on Untired with Loving.
Further Resources made available on Razi's Work via Untired with Loving
* Razi: Al-‘Isti’āzat (The Sanctuary)
* The Wonders of Qur'an by Fakhred-din Razi
* Things that Allah used as symbols for Tauhid (Divine Oneness) by Fakhred-din Rāzi
* Qaba Qausain (Measure of two arcs) by Razi
* Rāzi: The Keys for The Unseen
* Razi on Hamd / Praise