Will All Muslims Go to Hell?

In one of his articles[1] Mr. Jochen Katz has pointed out a contradiction in Aal Imraan 3: 157 -- 158, 169, Al-Taubah 9: 111 and Maryam 19: 71.

Elaborating upon the contradiction in the stated verses, Mr. Katz writes:

According to Sura 19:71 every Muslim will go to Hell (for at least some time), while another passage states that those who die in Jihad will go to Paradise immediately.

Before analyzing the stated contradiction, I would first like to inform my readers that it is not merely the martyrs in the way of God, who have been promised complete immunity from hellfire, but, in fact, all the God-fearing believers have been promised to be kept in protection from the slightest of evil. Al-Zumar 39: 60 -- 61 declares:

And on the Day of Resurrection, you will see those, who blasphemed against God, their faces turned black -- Is not in the hellfire [a most suitable] abode for the arrogant? And God shall deliver the righteous with salvation, no harm shall [even] touch them, nor shall they grieve.

According to Al-Anbiyaa 21: 98 -- 103 the pious shall not only be saved from all evil, but shall be kept so far away from the burning fire that they shall not even hear the horrifying sounds of the growling fires. The verses read as:

You and whatever you worship except God shall be the fuel of hellfire, to which, all of you shall surely come -- had these truly been gods, they would not have reached this [end] -- all [burning] in it, forever. In it, for them shall be painful groans of anguish and in they shall be bereft of hearing. Indeed, those, for whom We have already promised the good, they shall be kept away from this [hellfire]. They shall not even hear the slightest sound of the growling fire; and they shall be among all that their souls shall desire, forever. They shall not be grieved by the great terror. And the angels shall receive them [saying]: 'This is the day, of which you were promised'.

It is clearly stated in the aforementioned verses that all pious, God-fearing and righteous people shall not be even touched or brought close to the encompassing flames of the hellfire. Thus, it is not merely the martyrs, but all those, who do not deserve to be thrown in the burning fires of hell, who shall remain completely immune from even the slightest of pains and tortures of hellfire.

Keeping the foregoing clarification in perspective, now let us take a close look at the relevant verses of Surah Maryam. The verses cited by Mr. Katz (verses 71 -- 72), with a few of its preceding verses are reproduced below:

And [yet, disregarding the power of God,] this [rejecting] man says: 'When I am dead, would I really be raised again?' Does this man not remember that before this, We created him, while he was nothing? Thus, by [the providence of] your Lord, indeed We shall gather them as well as [all] the devils and then We shall bring them forth, around the hellfire, squatting. Then, of each group, We shall separate the one, who was most obstinate in his rebellion against the Most Merciful. And We are indeed aware of those, who are most deserving of burning in it. And each one of you, shall surely come to this [fire]. This is a promise of your Lord, that must come to pass. Then, we shall save the righteous [from all suffering] and We shall abandon the wrong-doers in it, squatting.

In the context of the verse, it is quite clear that the words "Each one of you..." are addressed to the rejecters of the Prophet's call. The addressees of this verse are, in fact, the same people who are being warned and admonished in the immediately preceding verses. Thus, seen in the correct perspective, the referred verses of Surah Maryam are, more or less, similar in meaning to the cited verses of Surah Al-Anbiyaa. Thus, Al-Raaziy has also mentioned the foregoing opinion about the referred verse in his commentary. He writes:

Some of them are of the opinion that the addressees in this verse are the same rejecters, who are mentioned in the preceding verses. They are first addressed in the third  person and then admonished in the second person. The adherents of this opinion say: 'It is not correct to assume that the believers shall enter hellfire, on the basis of the following: Firstly, the Qur'an has declared in Al-Anbiyaa 21: 101 that "Indeed, those, for whom We have already promised the good, they shall be kept away from this hellfire", being 'kept away' from hellfire cannot be spoken for those who shall enter it. Secondly, the Qur'an says: "They shall not hear its slightest sound". Were they to enter the hellfire, the believers would then most certainly hear its sounds. And thirdly, the Qur'an says: "They [i.e. the believers] shall that day be secure from all panic".

As should be clear from the foregoing explanation, the Qur'an does not, at any instance, declare that the true believers shall be made to enter hellfire. Such an end is promised only for those whose arrogance and pride drove them to reject the truth even after having clearly recognized it.

© Copyright January 2001. All Rights Reserved with the Author

[1] The complete article may be accessed at: http://www.answering-islam.org/Quran/Contra/qi029.html