One such form will be that people will see each other from where they are, as it has been reported in Mu’atta of Imam Malik on the authority of a narration from Abu Said al-Khudri radhiAllahu anhu that the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said,
“The inmates of Paradise will see those in the strata above them like you see stars in the physical world.”
Also there will be yet another form when visits will be made to the strata where they are, as Ibn Jarir has reported on the authority of a narration from Rabi that the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam while explaining this ayah said, “Those of the strata above will come down to those of the strata below to meet and sit with them.”
It is also possible that those of the strata below have the permission to visit and meet those of the higher strata, as the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam has, on the basis of the ayah, given many people the glad tidings of being with him in the Paradise.
It appears in Saheeh Muslim that Kaab ibn Aslami radhiAllahu ‘anhu used to spend nights in the company of the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. At the time of Tahajjud on one of such nights, Kaab Aslami brought water for wudu, the miswak and other things he might need at that time.
The Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, quite pleased with him said, “Is there anything I can do for you? Go ahead, ask.”
Kaab Aslami said, “I wish to have your company in Paradise.”
He said, “Anything else?”
Kaab said, “Nothing else.”
Thereupon, the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said,
“If you want to be with me in Paradise then help me by taking upon yourself the doing of plenty of prostrations.”
The elegant prophetic expression means that ‘your wish shall be granted, but you can also help me in this by offering plenty of sujood [prostrations] that is, plenty of voluntary prayers [nawafil].
According to the Musnad of Ahmad, a man to the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and said,“Ya Rasoolullah, I have testified that there is none worthy of worship other than Allah, and that you are the true Messenger of Allah, and I dutifully perform the five prescribed prayers every day, pay the Zakah due on me and fast during the month of Ramadan.”
Hearing this, the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “Anyone who dies in this state will be with the prophets, the siddiqeen, and the shuhada – only if he does not disobey his parents.”
Similarly, there is another hadeeth from Tirmidhi in which the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam is reported to have said,
“The businessman who is truthful and trusty will be with the prophet and the siddiqeen and the shuhada.”
Love is the Sine Qua Non of Nearness
The blessed company of the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam can be acquired by loving him. this is conclusively proved by what has been reported in Saheeh al-Bukhari on the authority of many uninterrupted chains of narrations from a large body of the Companions of the Prophet radhiAllahu ‘anhum that he, on being asked as to what will be the status of a person who does belong to a group emotionally but fails to achieve the standards of deeds set by it, said (on the Day of Judgment) everyone will be with the ones whom he loves.
Anas radhiAllahu ‘anhu says that the Companions were never so pleased with anything else in this mortal world as they were when they heard this hadeeth, because it gave them the most wonderful news, a delightful prophecy indeed, that those who love the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam will be with their master on the plains of Resurrection and in the gardens of Paradise. Make Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala make us of them, aameen.