In the book entitled Paradise: Living in God’s Neighbourhood, Maulana Wahiduddin Khan writes that Paradise is another name for eternal life in the neighbourhood of God (66:11). In the world before death, which for man is a partial introduction to Paradise, man lives in the neighbourhood of God at the level of mind and feeling. After death in the Hereafter, his living in the world of God—eternal Paradise—will be a reality, where one can find Paradise in the perfect sense.
In the present world those people are being selected who in respect to their virtues or character are worthy of being lodged in the neighbourhood of God. Their thinking, activities, feelings, behaviour and dealings must all pass the ethical criterion which is required to become God’s neighbour. It is only people such as these who will be selected for this honour. This selection will be based on the records kept by the angels of man’s deeds.
Man is potentially like an ore. Machines are made from steel but it requires a long industrial process to produce it. Iron ore has first to undergo a long process of being heated in a blast furnace, and only then can steel be produced. Even then the metal has to go through various stages before it can take the form of machines.
The same is true of human beings. Man is born with great potential. But to turn nature’s potential into actuality, he has to undergo various difficult stages in life. It is by going through these stages that man is able to develop himself intellectually and become a mature person. Without undergoing the processes of hard struggle, no one can become a man of high calibre which makes him deserving of Paradise.