My contention has been that for the vast majority of Muslims and Islamic teachers and scholars, Hell is a very real place whose inhabitants can expect the most appalling torture imaginable (Allah being all-powerful and all-knowing can, after all, create the ultimate in pain)
I visited iERA (Islamic Education and Research Association) to see if they could help clarify matters. The founding member and chairman of iERA, Abdurraheem Green, is apparently in no doubt.
Here are some highlights of a lecture he has given on more than one occasion...(Please don't read if you have a weak stomach)
"Hell is a place where Allah will burn the skins of the people and then will recreate their skins and burn the skins again so that the people will taste the punishment. It is a place of heat, a place of pain, a place of suffering. The people will cry in agony [...] for a drink and they will be given a drink. It will be a boiling water that will scald their faces and burn their insides. And they will drink from a river that is made of the puss that flows out from the wounds of the people in the hell-fire. [...] The smallest punishment will be their brain will boil."And so it goes on and on, the speaker seemingly taking great delight in the details.
This is not a metaphor for the iERA.
Nor, as far as I can tell, is it anything other than a terrifyingly real threat for most scholars, imams or Muslims the world over.