With reference to your previous response on the topic: ‘What shall be the fate of children on the Day of Judgment’, I need to know your understanding about the following Hadith:
Narrated Ibn `Abbas:
Allah’s Messenger (saw) was asked about the children of Al-Mushrikun1. The Prophet (saw) replied, “Since Allah created them, He knows what sort of deeds they would have done.” (Bukhari, 2:465-O.B)
Before reading on with my response to your specific question, I would suggest that you should take another look at my earlier response regarding the fate of children on the Day of Judgment.
The Qur’an has unequivocally declared that on the Day of Judgment, every person shall face the consequences only of his actual deeds.
The referred narrative cannot be termed as one, which is accurately ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh) because of the fact that it does not corroborate with the clearly stated principle of ‘Punishment’ in the Qur’an2. Furthermore, there are a few other narratives ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh) according to which he said that all children (including those of the polytheists) die according to the nature upon which God has created them3. According to a narrative reported in the compilation of Bukhari, the Prophet (pbuh) is reported to have said:
فكل مولود مات على الفطرة، قال بعض المسلمين: يا رسول الله وأولاد المشركين؟ فقال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: وأولاد المشركين.
Each child dies according to the nature upon which God has created him. The narrator says that some of the Muslims asked: ‘Prophet of God, is this the case with the children of the polytheists as well?’ The Prophet (pbuh) replied: ‘[Yes.] The children of the polytheists as well.’
It is, in fact, because of such mutually contradictory narratives ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh) that there is a significant difference of opinion regarding the stated issue among Muslim scholars4.
The strangest among the narratives on this subject is the one cited by Ibn Abd al-Burr, in his commentary on the “Mu’atta” of Imam Maalik5. According to this narrative, Ayesha (ra) says that once Khadijah (ra) asked the Prophet (pbuh) regarding the fate of the children of the polytheists. At that time, the Prophet (pbuh) replied that they shall be in the company of their parents6. Some time later, I [i.e. Ayesha] asked the Prophet (pbuh) the same question, at which the Prophet (pbuh) replied that God shall decide about their fate, according to His knowledge of what they would have done in their mature days. After some time, when I once again asked the Prophet (pbuh) regarding the fate of such children on the Day of Judgment. At that time the verse ‘No one shall bear the burden of another’7 was revealed, after which the Prophet said that each child is born according to the nature upon which God has created him.
In view of the apparently contradictory information entailed in narratives ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh), it would obviously seem more prudent to base our opinion regarding the issue under consideration, on the clear principles stipulated in the Qur’an.
April 25, 2001
- i.e. the polytheists. [↩]
- It should be kept in mind that a person may be forgiven for his sins but he shall in no case be subjected to a punishment for something, which he has not actually done. [↩]
- i.e. he is on the right path. [↩]
- ‘Fath al-Bari’, the commentary on Sahih Bukhari, has mentioned at least ten different opinions on the subject, which various Muslim scholars hold to be correct. [↩]
- Al-Tamheed, Volume 18, Pg. 117. [↩]
- Obviously implying that they too shall be punished in hellfire. [↩]
- This verse can be found in Al-An`aam 6: 164, Al-Israa 17: 15, Faatir 35: 18, Al-Zumar 39: 7 and Al-Najm 53: 38. [↩]