We believe that those people who believe in the oneness of God and in the last prophet only they will eventually be forgiven by God. But most of us are Muslims only because we were born in Muslim families i.e. by chance not by choice. I am quite sure that had we been born in India or America or elsewhere, we would have taken up that religion and the chances of converting to Islam would be pretty dim. We are lucky enough to be born in a Muslim family.
The crux of the matter is that a person is molded according to his surroundings and he adopts those values and religion, which are inculcated in him. Then don’t you think that those who although are not Muslims because they are not born in Muslim families but are very pious in their lives should be forgiven? If they are not, wouldn’t it be injustice with them?
This question really pinches me that despite all our bad deeds, we will eventually be forgiven by the Almighty just because we recite the KALIMA1, while a person who has been very good to other people and has led a very pious life will be sent to hell, just because he was not born in a Muslim family.
Waiting for your answer
Your question pertains to the criteria of success in the hereafter.
Success in the hereafter does not depend on whether the world knew me as a Muslim or a non-Muslim. It is whether I really was a “Muslim” or a “non-Muslim”. A “Muslim” is a person who truly submits to the will of God.
What one believes in largely depends on what he thinks and knows to be true. And that in turn, would depend on his knowledge and exposure. An honest person, who with all his honesty searched for and submitted to God’s will, is a true Muslim. And only that “Muslim” qualifies for Jannah2.
Yes, I do agree that we, Muslims(?) have a certain advantage if we approach the issue from the perspective you have mentioned in your letter. However, this advantage, places a very big responsibility on our shoulders too. Now, a Muslim is also responsible for showing the right path to those who have gone astray3. If we do not fulfill our responsibility, it maybe that the so-called Muslim are collectively held responsible for those who went astray, just because the Muslims, as a group, did not fulfill their responsibility.
Who knows, when the curtain is ultimately raised on the Day of Judgment, many whom we thought and knew as Muslims, are amongst the Kaafirs… just because of their attitude of infidelity…. and many of those whom we knew as non-Muslims are found among the Muslims, just because of their true submission to (whatever they honestly thought to be) the will of God.
The Day of Judgment would be a day of absolute justice. No one will be able to object regarding the ultimate justice done by God. No one will be punished, because he lacked knowledge.
There are two basic qualities that will be judged:
- Whether one really searched for the truth; and
- Whether one submitted to what he believed was true.
On the other hand, two qualities are bound to doom a person:
- His carelessness and arrogance in his search for the truth; and
- His arrogance in submitting to the truth.
Now, my friend, you can surely see that from this perspective, Muslims and non-Muslims stand on the same grounds. We, as Muslims do not have any advantage, besides the one, which puts a heavy responsibility on our shoulders. While the non-Muslims do not have any disadvantage, besides the one, for which they may be given a lot of allowance.
30th August 1997
- i.e. pronounce the words of declaring the oneness of God and the belief in the prophethood of Mohammed (pbuh). [↩]
- Paradise. [↩]
- This does not mean that he should start preaching and teaching the non-Muslims. The Qur’an tells us that this is not the responsibility of Muslim individuals, it is rather the responsibility of the Muslim community, in general. [↩]