There has been recent discussion about the fact whether Christians and Jews will be going to heaven along with Muslims (insha’Allah).
The argument is such: Christians and Jews who are isolated from Islam have the possibility to go to heaven but those who have been exposed to Islam do not. Also certain verses in the Qur’an concerning Christians and Jews going to heaven have been nullified by later verses.
Could you please comment on this because it does not make sense considering what I have read in the Qur’an?
The Qur’an has very strongly negated the idea that the Jannah or the bliss in the life hereafter – the Paradise – is the right of any particular religious group or creed. Whether one ascribes to the Muslim or to any other belief, the criteria for success in the hereafter is going to be his true faith in the Almighty and in the Day of reckoning.
According to the Qur’anic view about life each individual, who lives on the face of this earth is being tested by the Almighty. Whether born to Muslim or Jewish or Christian parents, each individual is being tested for his honest and unbiased search for and surrender to the Truth, as he sees and understands it. To go through this test, God has bestowed upon us the sense and the intellect to judge right from wrong.
A close look at our general attitude towards religion and religious beliefs shows that we normally go through life with the beliefs that we inherit from our parents. If we are born in a Muslim family, there is a greater chance that we shall remain Muslims through out our lives. The same holds true in other cases as well. But unfortunately, this passive belief shall have absolutely no importance on the Day of Judgment. Whether we attended the Sunday Church or the Friday Congregation shall only have a secondary importance. The first thing that would be judged is whether the individual truly searched for the Truth or not and then, whether he lived his life in accordance with that Truth or not.
In the light of the above explanation, in my opinion, success in the hereafter is not dependent on ascribing to any one or the other group. It is basically dependent on my attitude towards searching for and submitting to the Truth. Thus, those Christians and Jews, who, without any prejudice, had searched for the Truth and had submitted to it, shall be among those who are successful in the hereafter. While those who called themselves Muslims in this world, might fail in the hereafter on the account that they did not seriously and without any bias, seek the Truth or that even after knowing the Truth, did not submit to it or lived their lives in accordance with it.
This is the general principle of success and/or failure in the test of the life of this world. Thus, the criterion of success or failure is one that depends purely on the internal mechanism of the human soul and intellect. Because we cannot say that a particular person has rejected Islam (or whatever we hold to be the Truth) after being thoroughly convinced that Islam is the divine truth, we therefore, cannot pass a judgment regarding his success or failure in the hereafter. It is only the Omniscient1 God who really knows whether a person rejected after being truly convinced of the Truth or whether his rejection was because of some misunderstanding or some unanswered questions in his mind, regarding that Truth. On the day of reckoning, God shall give His decision on the basis of His absolute knowledge about the reasons of the rejection of the individuals.
According to the Qur’an, when a messenger of God (Rasu’l as distinct from Nab’i) is sent towards a people, he removes all doubts that lie in people’s minds regarding the Truth. He answers all their questions. Truth becomes evidently distinct from falsehood. Those who accept his message, accept it with full knowledge of what is right and what is wrong; and those who reject his message, reject it after gaining full knowledge that it is the Truth that they are rejecting. It is because of this particular position of the messengers (Rasu’l) of God that it becomes evident that those who are rejecting his call are rejecting the Truth, and those who are accepting his call are submitting to the Truth. The former are thus bound to be thrown in the hellfire and the latter are promised the everlasting bliss of paradise. Therefore the Jews and Christians who lived during the life of the Prophet (pbuh) and yet did not accept his message are doomed to the severe punishment of hellfire. We, even with our limited knowledge know about this fact, because if, as the Muslims hold, Mohammad (pbuh) was a true messenger of God, then those Jews and Christians who lived during the life of the Prophet (pbuh) knowingly rejected the Truth. They shall have no excuse for their rejection. It is these Jews and Christians that are sure to be doomed.
As far as the Jews and Christians of other times and places are concerned, they are subjected to the same test in the life of this world, as everyone else including the Muslims. If they submit to whatever they truly believe to be the Truth and live their lives in accordance with that Truth, they shall be successful. The case of the Muslims is not any different.
20th May 1998
- that is ‘All Knowing’ [↩]