Sijjin (Arabic: سِجِّين lit. Netherworld, Underworld, Chthonian World) is in Islamic belief either a prison, vehement torment or straitened circumstances at the bottom of Jahannam or hell, below the earth (compare Greek Tartarus),[1][2]: 166  or, according to a different interpretation, a register for the damned or record of the wicked,[3] which is mentioned in Quran 83:7.[4] Sijjin is also considered to be a place for the souls of unbelievers until resurrection.[2]: 21 

The idea that there is a hell underneath earth's surface roots in the Quran, which speaks about "seven earths" (65:12), while describing hell as a subterranean pit, divided into seven compartments.[2]: 166  Thus, many Muslim authors coincided hell with layers of the earth with sijjin at the bottom.[2]: 166  For the lowest layer of hell, the term al-asfal is used too.[2]: 42  The antithesis of Sijjin is Illiyin.


The word as an adjective means "vehement" or "intense" and is derived from the root S-J-N (س ج ن) related to gaoling or imprisonment. The Arabic word for prison sijn (Arabic: سِجْن), along with verbs from the root, appears several times in Surah Yūsuf in relation to the account of Joseph in prison.[5]

A similar-sounding word (but of unrelated etymology from Byzantine Greek σιγίλλιον sigíllion via Classical Syriac), sijill (Arabic: سِّجِلّ) appears in a verse (21:104) and is translated as "scroll". Some exegetes who interpret the word sijjīn as a register for the damned or a book listing the names of the sinful draw a connection between the two words.


Sunni IslamEdit

Tabari reports essentially two different opinions regarding the meaning of Sijjin in his Tafsir:

  • It is a book containing the evil deeds of the sinners: "their works are in a book in the lowest earth."
  • A prison for the damned: "it is the seventh lowest earth, in which Satan (Iblis) is chained, and in it are the souls (arwah) of the infidels (kufar).[6]

Shia traditionEdit

According to some Shia traditions, the enemies of Ahl al-Bayt are created from the earth of Sijjin.[7]

Sufi cosmologyEdit

According to al-Ghazali otherworld (akhira) is a dream like realm unfolding its existence postmortem.[2]: 187  In his work The Incoherence of the Philosophers, he explains that this doesn't lower the deceased experience of the afterlife, but they perceive pleasure and pain like when they were alive.[2]: 187  According to The Alchemy of Happiness, sijjin will be a manifestation of the earthly life, presented to those who pursued worldy matters instead of religious bliss. The earthly world turns out to be a prison, and Their bodily desires manifest as chains binding them to the earthly world, which turns out to be a prison (sijjin), surrounded by tempations they gave in, embodied by devils (shayāṭīn).[8]

According to Annemarie Schimmel, traditional Sufi leaders linked the seven gates of hell each to a specific sin.[2]: 241  This image of an ethical hell often associates each sin with a specific body part. Al-Futuhat al-Makkiyya, written between 1203 and 1240 by Ibn Arabi, visualises this idea, correlating each layer of hell to one specific body part, sijjin being the gravest: jahannam – feet, al-jahim – genitals, al-sa'ir – belly, saqar – hands, laza – tongue, al-hutama – ears, sijjin – eyes.[2]: 242 

In popular cultureEdit

The Turkish horror film series Siccîn is named after this Islamic term.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Abdul-Rahman, Muhammad Saed (2018). Tafsir Ibn Kathir Part 30 of 30: An Nabaa 001 To An Nas 006. Muhammad Saed Abdul-Rahman. p. 75. Retrieved 3 October 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Lange, Christian (2016). Paradise and Hell in Islamic Traditions. Cambridge United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-50637-3.
  3. ^ Imani, Sayyid Kamal Faqih (4 November 2015). An Enlightening Commentary Into the Light of the Holy Qur'an. Tehran, Iran: Imam Ali Foundation. ISBN 9781519112446. Retrieved 3 October 2019.
  4. ^ (83:7–9)
  5. ^ "The Quranic Arabic Corpus - Quran Dictionary". Retrieved 3 October 2019.
  6. ^ "موقع التفير الكبير".
  7. ^ Mohammad Ali Amir-Moezzi The Divine Guide in Early Shi'ism: The Sources of Esotericism in Islam SUNY Press 2016 ISBN 978-0-791-49479-0 page 166
  8. ^ Al Ghazali The Exlixir of Bliss Eugen Diederichs Verlag p. 50