Understanding Islam

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The Concept of Hell and Eternal Punishment: Islam & Jehovah's Witness


Thanks for your services to increase the awareness. I had a get together with some of my christian friends (Jehova's Wittness) the other day and we were sharing our understanding of life after death, rewards and punishments. Please make me aware of true concept of Hell and God's wrath on non-beleivers according to Quran and Sunnah. His case was that certain HE is God of mercy and not eternal punishment and I was explaining that what should be dealing with a person who have spend his whole life in luxury of sin and died without any accountability? He ought to questioned or answerable to GOD. I think they believe in eternal death after death. I understood his point of GOD being GOD of mercy and not of anger. One point he brought was "Do I will burn my kids forever, if they have disobeyed me?". Being a Muslim, I have firm belief on judgement day and afterwords but to explain it another person requires more knowldge. Please advise me some material on this topic, so I can provide him with some evidence from Quran about punishment being physical and not symbolic. Will be waiting on your reply

Question from United States of America

There are several issues to consider if the Jehovah's Witnesses beliefs are kept in mind. Firstly, according to them they believe that there is no eternal punishment and that the dead become "non-existent." As such they do not believe in the concepts of Heaven or Hell as places of reward and punishment just that people turn to dust and no longer are. With that enter a few problems such as God's mercy. If God will turn everyone to dust regardless of what they have done on earth then what mercy or justice does God really have? If everyone turns to dust what purpose was it for God to set up this entire existence so that its end would be non-existence? These two points are critical to such a belief, however, an even more important question arises that relates to Jesus. If one is to believe that humanity eventually ends up in nothingness then for what purpose did Jesus die for? He died to atone what if in the end it would not matter anyway because there is no consequence?

Secondly, even their own translation[1] of the Bible refers to punishment and a fiery end:

If, then, your hand or your foot is making you stumble, cut it off and throw it away from you; it is finer for you to enter into life maimed or lame than to be thrown with two hands or two feet into the everlasting fire. - Matthew 18:8 (NWT)

And these will depart into everlasting cutting-off, but the righteous ones into everlasting life." - Matthew 25:46 (NWT)

However, whoever blasphemes against the holy spirit has no forgiveness forever, but is guilty of everlasting sin." - Mark 3:29 (NWT)

However, I say to YOU that everyone who continues wrathful with his brother will be accountable to the court of justice; but whoever addresses his brother with an unspeakable word of contempt will be accountable to the Supreme Court; whereas whoever says, 'You despicable fool!' will be liable to the fiery Geƒ¢¢â€š¬¢hen´na. - Matthew 5:22 (NWT)

The verses above all clearly and categorically mention an eternal punishment. It is clear that the "Supreme Court" is what people will be tried by for what they have done in their lives. What other purpose would there be for a trial? This, then, is followed by a query as to the fiery place called "Gehen'na." Though this is a historical place it later became the description for the underworld or hell. There are numerous Biblical passages that refer to this place of condemnation which gives it a clear explanation. Considering the preceding points and questions one can see that the concept of death as being non-existence without punishment is simply not Biblically supported. An important thing to keep in mind is to recognize that God is Ever-Merciful and it is upon His Wise Judgment to decide what reward or punishment a person deserves. It is a bit lofty for man to place himself on a level to know what would be fair and unfair for God to do. Hell, a place of utter torment, is an uncomfortable idea to many people but if man was truly just and merciful he would realize that Hell is an outcome of the human condition. It is the abode of the evil, after all what would Hell be without evil people?

I hope I have clarified the issue.

God knows best.

Ronnie Hassan
June 24, 2005

[1] New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures as provided on http://www.watchtower.org/bible/index.htm

Answer published by Ronnie Hassan