In the second part of the Meccan period we have vivid descriptions of hell
and its punishments. The inhabitants of hell are constantly tortured ; they are
dragged by the scalp and flung into the fire where boiling water will be forced
down their throats and garments of fire fitted on to them; they will be beaten
with iron maces and each time they try to escape they will be dragged back
again, with the words :
How wretched shall be the people of the left hand !
Amid scorching blasts and in scalding water,
And in the shadow of a black smoke
Not cool and horrid to behold. Sura Al-Waqi'ah (lvi) 41-3.
In the third period of the Meccan ministry the same fierce denunciations are
carried on, showing that up to its close this was the attitude of the Prophet
towards his opponents:
They hasten forward in fear; their heads upraised in supplication ; their
looks riveted 1 and their hearts a blank. Warn men, therefore, of the
day when the punishment shall overtake them, and when the evil doers shall say,
'O our Lord! respite us a little while ;'
And thou shalt see the wicked on that day linked together in chains ;
Their garments of pitch, and fire shall enwrap their faces. Sura Ibrahim (xiv)
Those who treat 'the Book' 2 and the message with which we have sent
our apostles, as a lie, shall know the truth hereafter,