Question 25: What is the meaning of the narration from the Messenger of Allah pbuhap and from the Imams pbut, “This world is a prison for the believer” ?
Answer: It has also been narrated from them pbut, “Prayer is an ascension for the believer.” [Kanz al-‘Ummal, vol. 7, p. 279.] So this believer is the same as that believer [from the above narration], and the believer here is not one who just believes in Islam and the allegiance (Wilaya).
So the believer for whom this world becomes a prison, constricted and of limitless pain, and it does not end except by exiting it through death; is the believer who ascends during his prayers to the seven skies. Thus he is one of those who adopted Remembrance (of Allah) instead of this world. And this believer who ascended toward the seven skies, strived hard and achieved those praised ranks, is also the one whose soul swims freely in the second, third and fourth sky… how can his attachment to this materialistic body and his confinement in it not be a prison for him?
Moreover, this physical world is a heated tinplate above Hellfire, as well as the veil of Hellfire. It is a crumbling cliff which along with the human, could collapse at any moment to throw him into hellfire, with darkness one on top of the other. Therefore, Hellfire and this physical world are like the distance of two bows or closer. The Almighty said,
⸨“They urge you to hasten the punishment. And indeed, Hell will be encompassing of the disbelievers”⸩ Surat al-Ankaboot (The Spider) 29:54.
Then how can the proximity of the believer’s soul to it [this physical world], because of its confinement within the body, not be a prison for him and a constriction beyond all constrictions, after he knew that it is a proximity to hellfire and to the darkness which are one on top of the other? This believer feels intense constriction, and a suffocation which does not end except by his soul’s release and the soul achieving freedom after passing the test. As well as exiting this world with a sound heart and with fortune in the absolute seventh sky, which is the Sky of the Intellect and those brought near. The Almighty said in describing the condition of death in regards to the human,
⸨And if he was of those brought near to Allah, Then [for him is] rest and bounty and a garden of pleasure.⸩ Surat al-Wāqiah (The Inevitable) 56:88-89.
Meaning that the condition of those ones is rest at the instant of death. Rest, bounty, and a garden of pleasure. So there is no torment and no pain during death. Rather there will be rest, happiness and joy in the separation from this (human) body which was always a dark constrictive prison for this pure and blessed soul.
The Allegories – volume 2
 Imam al-Sadiq (A.S) said, ‘The world is the prison of the believer, the grave is his fortress and Paradise is his final abode. The world is the Paradise of the disbeliever, the grave is his prison and the Fire is his final abode.’ [Al-Khisal, p. 108, no. 74]