The Qur’an states that on the Day of Judgment, the Earth will essentially be leveled and bodies will be flung out of their graves. It is also stated that our earthly remains will have their bones clothed with flesh again and then Judgment will begin.
Elsewhere the Qur’an speaks of Paradise having been already prepared for the believers, which suggests that it is not here on Earth. How do the believers get from Earth to Paradise? Of course Allah (swt) knows best.
A short answer to your question follows:
You have stated that: “Elsewhere the Qur’an speaks of Paradise having been already prepared for the believers, which suggests it is not here on Earth”. Although you have not given the reference of the verse from which you have derived this statement, but I believe that it is primarily on the basis of the verses in which the preparation of paradise has been referred in the past tense (as in Al-Baqarah 2: 24, for hellfire; Aal-Imraan 3: 131, for hellfire; Aal-Imraan 3: 133, for paradise; and Al-Hadeed 57: 21 for paradise).
With reference to the meaning of these verses, it should be kept in mind that in the classical Arabic language, such a past tense does not necessarily mean the event has already taken place but it can also mean that the event so referred is bound to happen. In other words, it is the unchangeable decision of Allah that such is going to happen and therefore, although the event is to happen in future, yet it is referred to as already having taken place.
As far as the mode of transfer of the believers to paradise or the rejecters to hellfire is concerned, it seems that we do not have adequate information to answer these questions.
I hope my clarification shall help in understanding these verses.
28th July 1999