Q: How many heavens and hells are there? How do these levels differentiate?
A: Praise be to Allaah
With regard to numbers, there is one Hell and one Paradise, but each of them has degrees and levels. Paradise is sometimes mentioned in the plural in the Sunnah, but this does not mean that there are several types of Paradise; rather this is indicative of its greatness and the various degrees and levels in it, or it is indicative of the greatness of the reward of the one who enters it, as it says in the hadeeth of Anas ibn Maalik that Umm al-Rubayyi’ bint al-Bara’ , who was the mother of Haarithah ibn Suraaqah, came to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and said: O Prophet of Allaah, will you not tell me about Haarithah?” – who had been killed at the battle of Badr by a stray arrow. “If he is in Paradise I will bear it with patience but if it is otherwise then I shall weep long and hard for him.” He said: “O Umm Haarithah, there are gardens in Paradise – according to another report: many gardens – and your son has attained the highest Firdaws.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 2809.
The levels of Hell differ according to the extent of their inhabitants’ kufr in this world. The hypocrites will be in the lowest level of Hell, as our Lord has told us (interpretation of the meaning):
“Verily, the hypocrites will be in the lowest depth (grade) of the Fire; no helper will you find for them” [al-Nisa’ 4:145]
…May Allah give us a better understanding & guide us to accept the truth