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It says in the quran that some people will abide in hell forever and never die. My understanding of justice is that the punishment should fit the crime. What crimes could someone possibly commit to deserve hell forever?

Answered according to Hanafi Fiqh by Askimam.org

An eye for an eye?

It says in the quran that some people will abide in hell forever and never die. My understanding of justice is that the punishment should fit the crime. What crimes could someone possibly commit to deserve hell forever? Someone like Hitler may have killed 6 million people but it is still a finite amount. How would an infinite punishment be justified?

On the flip side what good could anyone do to deserve heaven forever? In 70 years of life you can only do finite amount of good even considering sadqua jaar’ia (sawaab after you die in form of charity or childrens dua) Is Allah rewarding the good people over what is justifiable at the expense of the bad people?

 

Answer

In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Assalaamu `alaykum waRahmatullahi Wabarakatuh

In answer to your query of “what crimes could someone possibly commit to deserve hell forever,” you should understand that there are only two crimes that dictate eternal damnation. One is kufr and the other shirk; the latter being more specific form of the former. For every other crime or sin, Allah Ta’ala will forgive the person on condition that he or she is a believer. Allah Ta‘ala states in the Holy Qur’ān,

] إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يَغْفِرُ أَنْ يُشْرَكَ بِهِ وَيَغْفِرُ مَا دُونَ ذَلِكَ لِمَنْ يَشَاءُ [

“Verily, Allah will not forgive partners being ascribed to him but He will forgive anything less than that for whomsoever He wishes”

 

] إِنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا وَمَاتُوا وَهُمْ كُفَّارٌ أُولَئِكَ عَلَيْهِمْ لَعْنَةُ اللَّهِ وَالْمَلَائِكَةِ وَالنَّاسِ أَجْمَعِينَ (161) خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا لَا يُخَفَّفُ عَنْهُمُ الْعَذَابُ وَلَا هُمْ يُنْظَرُونَ [

“Those who disbelieve and pass away as disbelievers; the curse of Allah, the angels and mankind altogether will be upon them. The will abide therein (hell) eternally; neither will the punishment be lightened for them nor will they be given any respite.”

Allāmah Suyūtī, who Allāmah al-Atāsī subsequently quotes in his commentary on al-Majallah, has mentioned a maxim that states that a person’s intention has a great role to play in issuing juristic verdicts. They quote the following Ahādīth of Rasūlullah صلى الله عليه و سلم :

“(The reward of) Actions are based on one’s intentions” and “The intention of a believer is better than his actions”.

Based on this maxim and purport of the Ahādīth, Allāmah Suyūtī states, “verily a believer will eternally remain in heaven despite the fact that he obeys (worships) Allah only for the duration of his life because his intention is that if were to live eternally, he would persist as a believer forever. Therefore, he will be rewarded for that with eternal paradise. Similarly, a disbeliever will abide permanently in the fire despite the fact that he disobeys Allah only for the duration of his life because he intends disbelief for as long as he lives.”

 

و في اشباه السيوطي : و قد قيل في  قوله صلى الله عليه و سلم : نية المؤمن خير من عمله  أن المؤمن يخلد في الجنة و إن أطاع الله مدة حياته فقط لأن نيته أنه لو في أبد الآباد لاستمر على الإيمان فجوزي على ذلك بالخلود في الجنة كما أن الكافر يخلد في النار و إن لم يعص الله إلا مدة حياته فقط لأن نيته الكفر ما عاش (شرح المجلة للاتاسي ج 1 ص 15 , رشيدية)

It is important to bear in mind however, that this is not the underlying reason why Allah bestows the believers with eternal paradise and disbelievers with eternal damnation; this is merely one rationale (hikmah) provided by the ‘Ulamā on this issue. The real reason is the decree and order of Allah Ta‘ala as mentioned in Ayāt quoted above. As Muslims, we believe in Allah Ta‘ala, His promises and His Sifāt (attributes). Allah Ta‘ala is al-Hakīm (the most-Wise) and al-Adl (the most-Just). Our feeble minds cannot fathom the supreme and endless wisdom and knowledge of Allah Ta‘alā and His actions. Allah’s knowledge and wisdom are infinite and our frail minds are limited and finite. How can it be possible then to encompass the infinite wisdom of Allah with a finite and frail scale, namely, the understanding of man? We should whole-heartedly submit to His decree and affirm His promises by the mere fact that it was sounded in the Holy Qur’ān as is the demand of īmān and ‘abdiyyah (servitude) and not attempt to rationalize and justify everything. We are not judges over Allah’s actions; Allah is the Ahkam al-Hakimīn (the supreme Judge) over our actions. We should spend less time trying to justify Allah’s actions and spend our time justifying our own, as we will be the one’s judged, not Allah.

And Allah knows best

Wassalam u Alaikum

Ml. Yusuf bin Yaqub,
Student Darul Iftaa

Checked and Approved by:

Mufti Ebrahim Desai
Darul Iftaa, Madrassah In’aamiyyah


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