One of my main objections to believing in Allah is His dementedly sadistic threat that however good a life you lead, whatever good deeds you may have done, however altruistic and selfless you may have been... if you fail to believe in Him He will send you to Hell where He will roast the skin off your back for an eternity. (For my money, that in itself negates any claim to being taken seriously, let alone worshiped.)
But how accurate is this interpretation of the infamous verse, reproduced below?
Verily, those who disbelieve (in the religion of Islam, the Qur’aan and Prophet Muhammad) from among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) and Al-Mushrikoon will abide in the fire of Hell. They are the worst of creatures”
Are we being perhaps a little literal? Surely Allah can't be so cold-hearted, can he? (I know, I know...but let's give Him the benefit of the doubt for the time being)
So let's ask the experts. Or rather, let's look at what the experts have said in answer to a poor confused and worried Muslim who put this very question to Islam Question and Answers.
Is it true that all the kuffaar, even if their morals are good and they do not harm anyone, will enter Hell? If the answer is yes, then what about non-Muslim children and those who had no choice but to be born kaafirs?.This is what their expert immam said to reassure the poor believer (my bolding):
Praise be to Allaah.So if we haven't heard the message of the Prophet we might escape Hell? Aren't all those who carry out Dawah (spreading the message of Islam) like our friends at iERA doing us a tremendous disservice then? For once we've heard them, we no longer have that particular get-out clause: "Sorry, Allah - but no-one told me about Islam and I have spent all my life working for a charity and spend my free time as a voluntary worker in a children's cancer ward - so can I come into Paradise, please?" "Ah, but what about those fellas at iERA who stopped you in the street in 2012 whom you told to get lost? It's the fiery pit for you, my son!"
You should note that all the kaafirs who hear the message of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and do not enter Islam will go to Hell.
Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):So basically we're being told here that because we are so ill-mannered as to not thank Allah, our punishment is eternal torment of the most hideous kind. I'll just say that again. Endless torture for not saying thank you. If you follow Islam you are worshiping a God who is happy to torture people for ever because they didn't say thank you...Please, please correct me if I'm wrong here.
“Verily, those who disbelieve (in the religion of Islam, the Qur’aan and Prophet Muhammad) from among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) and Al-Mushrikoon will abide in the fire of Hell. They are the worst of creatures”
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “By the One in Whose hand is my soul, no one of this nation, Jew or Christian, hears of me then dies without having believed in that with which I was sent, but he will be one of the people of the Fire.” Narrated by Muslim, 153.
The point is not whether their morals are good, rather the point is whether they submit to Allaah and obey his commands. Do you not see the Magians [Zoroastrians] or the Buddhists, for example, who worship fire or idols instead of Allaah, and they do not worship Allaah or submit to Him alone, and the Christians who say that God has a son, and other mushriks (those who associate others with Allaah). They are being ill-mannered towards Allaah, and insulting and reviling Him. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Allaah says, ‘The son of Adam denied Me and he had no right to do so. And he reviled Me and he had no right to do so. As for his denying Me, it is his saying: He will not remake me as He made me at first - and the initial creation [of him] is no easier for Me than remaking him. As for his reviling Me, it is his saying: Allaah has taken to Himself a son, while I am the One, the Everlasting Refuge. I begot not nor was I begotten, and there is none comparable to Me.’” Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 4974.
So how can their morals be good when they are so ill-mannered towards Allaah, even though Allaah has given them hearing and sight, and has made everything easy for them, and has sent His Messengers to them and revealed His Books to them, and bestowed His blessings upon them, so it is His right that they should thank Him and not be ungrateful to Him or disbelieve in Him. If they do not do that then they deserve His punishment and wrath. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“and your Lord treats no one with injustice”
And what about the children that the poor Muslim was so concerned about?
With regard to the situation of their children who die when still young, Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn Baaz was asked about that and he said:Well I can't imagine non-Muslim parents wishing their child should be buried in a Muslim graveyard anyway, so let's press on...
If one who is not yet accountable dies among kaafir parents, then he comes under the same rulings as them in this world, so he should not be washed and the funeral prayer should not be offered for him, and he should not be buried in the Muslim graveyard.
But in the Hereafter his case is referred to Allaah. It was narrated in a saheeh report that when the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was asked about the children of the mushrikeen he said: “Allaah knows best what they would have done.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 1384. [...]Majmoo’ Fataawa wa Maqaalaat Mutanawwi’ah, 3/163-164.
What? "Allah knows best what they would have done"?? What happened to free will then? Again, let's take some time to examine what this poor Muslim is being asked to accept as part of his religion. Children will be judged on a life that they haven't lived and, if found wanting, will be roasted for ever.
I believe this applies only to kaafir children, because my Muslim friend was keen to tell me that in Islam all children who die automatically go to Heaven. Looks like he was wrong on that one.
A note on the word kaafir: I remember my Muslim friend being upset when I light-heartedly signed one of my mails to him, your kaafir friend.
He patiently explained to me the exact meaning of the term as one who hides. In other words, a kaafir is not simply a non-believer but an active non-believer, that's to say one who has heard the revelation and hides the truth from himself. I find this a difficult concept to grasp, I'm afraid. This whole blog is about studying the so-called miraculous signs provided by Allah. None stands up to proper scrutiny. Therefore those of us who study and reject must surely be termed kaafirs.
Note: My capitalisation of the pronouns referring to Allah does not denote respect or belief. I did it purely to avoid confusion.