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Will all Muslims go to hell?

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Missionaries often like to claim that the Qur’an says all Muslims will go to hell. There is one Missionary/ Christian polemic who bases a significant portion of his writings on this argument. Sam Shamoun not only thinks that the Qur’an says this[1][2], he also claims the Qur’an contradicts itself about this particular verse[3], it reads:

And not one of you but shall pass over it: it is for thy Lord an ordinance decreed.

There are two opinions on this verse, namely:

  1. The believers and disbelievers will go across a bridge above the fire, the disbelievers will fall in (thus the bridge is the entry to the fire), and the believers will cross without punishment.
  2. The believers and disbelievers may have to enter the fire, but the believers will walk away without damage, as Abraham [alayhi as salaam] walked away from the fire of Nimrod without any mark, pain, or suffering.

 

Muslims are also aware that according to Sunni sources [4][5], Muslims who have less good deeds than bad, may be sent to the fire to pay for their sins, upon which they will then be allowed to enter paradise, there acceptance into heaven is dependant upon their levels of ‘Iman (faith):

Then it will be said, ‘O Muhammad, raise your head and speak, for you will be listened to; and ask, for your will be granted (your request); and intercede, for your intercession will be accepted.’ I will say, ‘O Lord, my followers! My followers!’ And then it will be said, ‘Go and take out of Hell (Fire) all those who have faith in their hearts, equal to the weight of a barley grain.’ I will go and do so and return to praise Him with the same praises, and fall down (prostrate) before Him. Then it will be said, ‘O Muhammad, raise your head and speak, for you will be listened to, and ask, for you will be granted (your request); and intercede, for your intercession will be accepted.’ I will say, ‘O Lord, my followers! My followers!’ It will be said, ‘Go and take out of it all those who have faith in their hearts equal to the weight of a small ant or a mustard seed.’ I will go and do so and return to praise Him with the same praises, and fall down in prostration before Him. It will be said, ‘O, Muhammad, raise your head and speak, for you will be listened to, and ask, for you will be granted (your request); and intercede, for your intercession will be accepted.’ I will say, ‘O Lord, my followers!’ Then He will say, ‘Go and take out (all those) in whose hearts there is faith even to the lightest, lightest mustard seed. (Take them) out of the Fire.’ I will go and do so.”‘

From this, we understand that Muslims, even with a mustard’s seed of ‘Iman will be allowed into paradise due to the intercession of the Prophet Muhammad [sallalahu alayhi wa sallam]. Sam Shamoun however, concludes otherwise:

These traditions demonstrate the plausibility of interpreting 19:71 to mean that every Muslim will enter hell. After all, if Allah allows bad Muslims to enter hell and then come out due to Muhammad’s intercession, then he can also allow good Muslims to enter there as well. More importantly, these hadiths do not necessarily state that Muhammad is interceding simply for bad Muslims.

Unfortunately, Shamoun’s logic betrays his arguments. These ahadith demonstrate the opposite of Sam’s claim, you will notice that the ahadith specifically mentions the level of ‘Iman of which those people in the fire possess. What happens to those with a higher level of ‘Iman? The level of ‘Iman for which those Muslims entered the fire, was equal or less than to the first mentioned criteria: a grain of barley, other narrations mention the weight of a dinar. Therefore Sam’s argument is debunked by simply understanding the hadith. Does Sam believe that Muslims with a barley’s grain of faith, are not bad Muslims? Logic contradicts Sam’s claim. Up to this point, what can we conclude?

  1. Some Muslims will not enter hell (the will cross the entrance – the bridge across hell), the fire will not burn them while they cross into heaven.
  2. Some Muslims will enter hell, these are essentially weak Muslims who have sinned, the minimum criteria is considered to have a barley grain’s worth of ‘Iman.

Sam is therefore proposing a gross generalization, in his mind he thinks that if a hadith or ayah says some Muslims go to hell, that it means all Muslims go to hell. He is essentially forcing his understanding upon the sources which directly claim otherwise as I have duly demonstrated. We will now read what some of the commentators of the Qur’an have to say:

Ibn Kathir [6] says in his Tafsir:

Ibn Jarir reported from `Abdullah that he said concerning Allah’s statement,

 (There is not one of you but will pass over it.) “The bridge over Hell is like the sharp edge of a sword. The first group to cross it will pass like a flash of lightning. The second group will pass like the wind. The third group will pass like the fastest horse. The fourth group will pass like the fastest cow. Then, the rest will pass while the angels will be saying, `O Allah save them, save them.’ ” This narration has supporting narrations similar to it from the Prophet in the Two Sahihs and other collections as well. These narrations have been related by Anas, Abu Sa`id, Abu Hurayrah, Jabir and other Companions, may Allah be pleased with them all. Ahmad also recorded that Umm Mubashshar, the wife of Zayd bin Harithah, said, “The Messenger of Allah was in the house of Hafsah when he said,

 (No one who was present at the battles of Badr and Hudaybiyyah (of the Muslims) will enter into the Hellfire.) Then, Hafsah said, “Doesn’t Allah say,

 (There is not one of you but will pass over it (Hell);) The Messenger of Allah replied by reciting,

 (Then We shall save those who had Taqwa.) In the Two Sahihs there is a Hadith reported from Az-Zuhri, from Sa`id from Abu Hurayrah that the Messenger of Allah said,

 (No one of the Muslims who has had three children, who all died, will be touched by the Hellfire, except for an oath that must be fulfilled.) `Abdur-Rahman bin Zayd bin Aslam commented on Allah’s statement,

 (There is not one of you but will pass over it;) “The passing of the Muslims (over the Hellfire) means their passing over a bridge that is over it. But the passing of the idolators over the Hellfire refers to their admission to the Fire.” As-Suddi reported from Murrah, from Ibn Mas`ud, that he said concerning Allah’s statement,

 (this is with your Lord; a Hatman decree.) “An oath that must be fulfilled.” Mujahid said, “Hatman means preordainment.” Ibn Jurayj said the same. Concerning Allah’s statement,

 (Then We shall save those who had Taqwa. ) When all of the creatures passed over the Hellfire, and those disbelievers and the disobedient people who are destined to fall into it because of their disobedience, Allah will save the believers and the righteous people from it because of their deeds. Therefore, their passing over the bridge and their speed will be based upon their deeds that they did in this life. Then, the believers who performed major sins will be allowed intercession. The angels, the Prophets and the believers will all intercede. Thus, a large number of the sinners will be allowed to come out of Hell. The fire will have devoured much of their bodies, except the places of prostration on their faces. Their removal from the Hellfire will be due to the faith in their hearts. The first to come out will be he who has the weight of a Dinar of faith in his heart. Then, whoever has the next least amount after him. Then, whoever is next to that after him, and so forth. This will continue until the one who has the tiniest hint of faith in his heart, equal to the weight of an atom. Then, Allah will take out of the Fire whoever said “La ilaha illallah,” even one day of his entire life, even if he never performed any good deed. After this, no one will remain in the Hellfire, except those it is obligatory upon to remain in the Hellfire forever. This has been reported in many authentic Hadiths from the Messenger of Allah.

Mufti Shafi Uthmani [alayhi rahma] says in his Tafsir [7]:

This means that everybody – be he a believer or an infidel – will go across Hell. However, this does not mean that they would go to stay in it; they would only go across it. But even if the word means “entry, then the pious believers on entry into Hell will feel no discomfort because its fires will cool down and will do no harm to them. Sayyidna Abu Sumayya has related that The Holy Prophet once said that:

“Everybody whether he is a pious man or a sinner will initially enter Hell, but for the pious believers the fire will cool down just as the fire of Namrud cooled down when Sayyidna Ibrahim (A.S) was cast into it. Thereafter, the believers will be taken to Paradise.”

Tanwir al Miqbas min Tafsir Ibn ‘Abbas [8]:

(There is not one of you but shall approach it) there is not a single one of you, to the exclusion of prophets and messengers, save that he will enter it, i.e. hell. (That is a fixed ordinance of your Lord) it is a decree that must necessarily take place.

Author’s comments: This tafsir takes the second view as presented above in Maar’iful Qur’an, that if the believers do enter, no harm will come to them. 

Tafsir al Qurtubiand Tafsir at Tabari were also referenced by Sam Shamoun, but they also hold on to the second opinion as indicated in Tafsir Maar’iful Qur’an. Commenting on these tafsirs, Shaykh Gibril says [9]:

Yes, it is the madhhab of al-Hasan al-Basri, Qatada and a group of the lexicographers, strengthened by certain authentic hadiths, that the “wurud” mentioned in verse 19:71 does not denote “entering” (which is the madhhab of Ibn `Abbas and is related from him and other Companions, yet none of the 23 English translations I consulted dared translate it this way) but either “crossing over”, in order to agree with the hadith of the believers crossing the bridge over hellfire at various speeds, some like light and others slower, or “coming into sight of and approaching”.

Others said the verse refers only to the disbelievers; others said the entering of the believers is not antithetical to their safety from the greater harm therein. The Holy Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, himself explained the verse: “All people shall ‘yariduha’, then they shall be blocked from it by their works”, as narrated in the Musnad of Imam Ahmad and the Sunan of Imam al-Tirmidhi, Allah have mercy on them. The “then” can mean that they enter it first, and it can mean that they come into sight of it only, and Allah knows best.

Al-Qurtubi discussed this in his Tafsir and, more at length, in al-Tadhkira. Shaykh Muhammad al-Amin al-Shinqiti gave a magisterial treatment to this controversial issue in his great Tafsir entitled Adwa’ al-Bayan fi Idah al-Qur’an bil-Qur’an (4:436-443). In his view the Quranic context most frequently provided by other verses mentioning such wurud confirms Ibn `Abbas’s position that the meaning here is “to enter.” At the very least some will enter it, as evinced by the countless authentic hadiths on intercession, by means of which they shall be brought out in droves, and this very verse was used by Ibn `Abbas, Allah be well-pleased with him and his father, as a proof for the doctrine of Ahl al-Sunna against the Khariji Nafi` b. al-Azraq, since Kharijis believe once in, never out. The angels’ dua on that day is: “Allahumma sallim, sallim!” (grant safety) on behalf of the believers, for which we ask here and hereafter.

Summary:

Based on this, we can conclude the following -

  1. Some will cross over the bridge over the fire quickly into heaven.
  2. Some will have difficulty crossing the bridge and may approach the fire where they will not be burned by it.
  3. Some will enter the fire, be burned for a while and based on their level of ‘Iman are removed from it and enter heaven.
  4. Some will enter into it and never leave {disbelievers}.

An Alleged Contradiction:

I’m not sure if Sam Shamoun knows what the word ‘contradiction’ meant, but it is evident from his usage in the aforementioned article that he does not truly understand the meaning of the world. He claims that Qur’an 3:192 means the following:

“According to the Quran, entering the fire is a sign of a person being shamed, humiliated, disgraced by Allah. Since the Quran says that Muslims shall enter hell, this means that Allah has decreed that all Muslims must experience shame, humiliation, and disgrace!

Note the implications here:

         Entering hell is a sign of disgrace, humiliation and shame.

         Allah has decreed that all Muslims will enter hell.

         Therefore, all Muslims will be disgraced, humiliated and shamed by Allah.

Allah obviously delights in humiliating his followers since he has decreed their descent into hell.”

It is strange that he only partially quoted the verse, and unlike the other verses, he did not quote a tafsir/ commentary in this case. The verse actually says [10]:

Our Lord verily whomsoever Thou makest to enter into the Fire, him Thou hast surely humiliated and for the wrong-doers there shall be no helpers.

Rather, the context of the verse is removed by the deceptive misquote by Sam Shamoun (which is expected of him). The entering of the fire as referred to in the above verse, is contextualized by the verse preceding it which reads [11]:

Those who remember Allah when standing, sitting, and on their sides, and contemplate upon the creation of the heavens and the earth (saying:) ‘Lord, You have not created these in falsehood. Exaltations to You! Guard us against the punishment of the Fire

Therefore the context is that those who will enter into the fire for punishment, will be disgraced and humiliated and those who were not entered for punishment, i.e. going over the bridge (recall: the bridge is the entrance as from the bridge you either fall into the fire or cross into heaven), will not be burned from the fire. In fact Sam made a grave error in judgment, he jumped to Qur’an 66:7-8 which reads according to Sam’s article[12]:

“… the Day that God will not permit to be humiliated the Prophet and those who believe with him… Y. Ali”

If he had stuck with a thorough reading of 3:192 and onwards, he would not have need to invent a contradiction, for the verses after it state [13]:

Our Lord, give us what You promised us by Your Messengers, and do not abase us on the Day of Resurrection. You do not break Your promise‘. And indeed their Lord answers them: ‘I do not waste the labor of any that labors among you, male or female you are from each other. And those who emigrated, and were expelled from their houses, those who suffered hurt in My way, and fought, and were killed those I shall surely acquit of their evil deeds, and I shall admit them to Gardens underneath which rivers flow’ A reward from Allah, and Allah with Him is the best reward.

According to the context of the verse, God will surely save them from humiliation by forgiving them of their sins and allowing them to enter into the heaven. Thus they are the people who will cross over the bridge into heaven. If Sam had stuck with the continuing of the verses, he would not have forced his incorrect understanding upon them. Sadly, this is the deception that missionaries like him must employ to appease his Lord. To rework and correct Sam’s argument, the true argument can thus be laid out as such:

         Entering and being punishedby the fires of hell is a sign of disgrace humiliation and shame.

         Some Muslims will be disgraced because of their evil sins and bad deeds by the punishment of hell.

         Therefore those evil Muslims will be shamed but eventually forgiven and sent to heaven.

 

wa Allaahu ‘Alam.

[1] – “Will All Muslims Go to Hell”, Qur’an Contradiction, Sam Shamoun.
[2] – “The Quran on Muslims Entering Hell”, Sam Shamoun.[3] – Qur’an 19:71.
[4] – Sahih al Bukhari, Book #93, Hadith #601. Sahih al Muslim (Ibid), Book #1, Hadith #377. Hadith Qudsi #36.
[5] – According to the Interpretation of Shaykh Salih al Munajjid, Islamqa. It is a must read in understanding this topic.
[6] – “Qur’an 19:71-72“, Tafsir Ibn Kathir, by Imam Ibn Kathir [alayhi rahma].
[7] – “Qur’an 19:71“, Tafsir Mar’iful Qur’aan, by Mufti Shafi Uthmani [alayhi rahma].
[8] – “Qur’an 19:71“, Tanwir al Miqbas min Tafsir ibn Abbas, allegedly by Ibn ‘Abbas [radi allahu anhu].
[9] – “Will the Believer Enter the Fire or Just See It?“, Seeker’s Guidance, Shaykh Gibril.
[10] – Qur’an 3:192.
[11] – Qur’an 3:191.
[12] - ”The Quran on Muslims Entering Hell”, Sam Shamoun.
[13] – Qur’an 3:194-195.

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