Are Non Muslims Going to Hell According to the Holy Qur’an?

“Surely, those who believe , those who are the Jews and the Sabians and the Christians, – whosoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, and works righteousness, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.” (Holy Qur’an 5:69)

”Verily! Those who believe and those who are Jews and Christians, and Sabians, whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day and do righteous good deeds shall have their reward with their Lord, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.” (Holy Qur’an 2:62)

They do blaspheme who say: “Allah is Christ the son of Mary.” But said Christ: “O Children of Israel! worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord.” Whoever joins other gods with Allah,- Allah will forbid him the garden, and the Fire will be his abode. There will for the wrong-doers be no one to help.” (Holy Qur’an 5:72)

“Indeed, those who ungrateful-kafaru and die while they are ungrateful-kuffarun– upon them will be the curse of Allah and of the angels and the people, all together.” (Holy Qur’an 2:161)

“Whoever is guided is only guided for the benefit of his own soul. And whoever errs only errs against it. And no bearer of burdens will bear the burden of another. And never would We punish until We sent a messenger.” (Holy Qur’an 17:15)

For We assuredly sent among every People an Messenger, (with the Command), “Serve Allah, and eschew Evil”: of the People were some whom Allah guided, and some on whom error became inevitably (established). So travel through the earth, and see what was the end of those who denied (the Truth).” (Holy Qur’an 16:36)

“Have they not traveled through the earth and observed how was the end of those before them? They were greater than them in power, and they plowed the earth and built it up more than they have built it up, and their messengers came to them with clear evidences. And Allah would not have wronged them, but they were wronging themselves.” (Holy Qur’an 30:9)

Surely, the religion with Allah is Islam. Those who were given the Scripture did not differ except after what the knowledge had come to them through transgression among themselves. Allah will be swift in reckoning with those who deny His revelations.If they dispute with you, say, I have submitted my whole being to Allah and so have those who follow me. And ask those who have been given the Book, as well as the unlettered, Do you submit yourselves to Allah in the same way? If they submit themselves to Him, they are on the right path; but if they turn away, your duty is only to convey the message. Allah is observant of all His servants.” (Holy Qur’an 3:19-20)

We as Muslims take the Holy Qur’an in total.  We look at verses with in their immediate context as well as look at verses in light of other verses.  This helps give us an over all picture of what Allah (swt) is conveying to us.

There are usually two extreme views among the Muslims.  I don’t think any of them find support in the Holy Qur’an.

The first view is that anyone who has not heard of the message of Islam will automatically go to paradise.  -Those who didn’t hear about Islam will automatically gain paradise.

The second view is that anyone who has not heard of the message of Islam will automatically go to hell.  All non-Muslims will automatically burn in hellfire.

Addressing the first view:

First, Allah (swt) has already told us that a messenger has been sent to everyone.

For We assuredly sent among every People an Messenger.” (Holy Qur’an 16:36)

Second, logically speaking to say that everyone who has not heard of the message of Islam clearly will automatically enter paradise would make Islam some type of curse. Wouldn’t it be better to not hear about Islam and enter into paradise without doubt than to enter Islam and have that chance drastically reduced?

So let’s think this through. According to Islamic tradition some 124,000 prophets were sent to mankind.  There is a period of purity and clarity in the message and teaching and than a period of distortion and corruption.

During the period of purity and clarity people are judged on the basis of either having rejected or accepted the message.  During the period of distortion and corruption the people are judged based upon the lives that they have led.

“And when it is said to them, “Follow what Allah has revealed,” they say, “Rather, we will follow that upon which we found our fathers.” Even if Satan was inviting them to the punishment of the Blaze?” (Holy Qur’an 31:21)

This verse is crystal clear that during the period of distortion and corruption or when no messenger was sent it was still likely for Satan to suggest things to their base selves that would lead them to hellfire.

“On a Day when their tongues, their hands and their feet will bear witness against them as to what they used to do.” (Holy Qur’an 24:24)

This is a very powerful verse. It is not possible to punish people who do not what is lawful and prohibited as it concerns diet and many indigenous people in the past as well as present have no concept that nudity does not equate to shame.  How to properly perform prayers etc…

However, every where one travels on this Earth there is certainly an understanding of selfishness, injustice, cruelty and malice towards others. One’s own consciousness is witness against his/her self.

“And the earth shines bright with the light of her Lord, and the Book is set up, and the prophets and the witnesses are brought, and it is judged between them with truth, and they are not wronged.And every soul shall be paid back fully what it has done, and He knows best what they do.” (Holy Qur’an 39:70)

“And We will set up a just balance on the day of resurrection, so no soul shall be dealt with unjustly in the least; and though there be the weight of a grain of mustard seed, (yet) will We bring it, and sufficient are We to take account.” (Holy Qur’an 21:47)

So these verses are sufficient to prove that.

  1. Allah has sent a messenger to every people.
  2. In the event of a period of corruption and distortion the people will still be judged based upon what they have done.
  3. In the event of a period of corruption and distortion or no messenger received that Satan could still suggest to people to do vile acts of injustice, selfishness and cruelty etc..

Conclusion: Guidance is a blessing and not a curse. It increases the probability of entering into the paradise.

“Not equal are the blind and the seeing man, those who believe and do deeds of righteousness, and the wrong-doer. Little do you reflect.” (Holy Qur’an 40:58)

Addressing the second view:

The following verses of the Holy Qur’an are often quoted to support the second view.

Examination of (Holy Qur’an chapter 3:85- 91)

The main thrust of the argument is in verse 85, however what happens is that the verses is taken out of context and people do not continue to read the verses after verse 85

“And whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers. How shall Allah guide a people who disbelieved after their belief and after they bore witness that the Messenger (Muhammed) is true and after clear proofs had come unto them? And Allah guides not the people who are unjust. They are those whose recompense is that on them rest the curse of Allah, of the angels, and of all mankind. They will abide therein (Hell).l Neither will their torment be lightened, nor will it be delayed or postponed. Except for those who repent after that and do righteous deeds.

Verily, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. Verily, those who disbelieved after their Belief and then went on increasing in their disbelief  – never will their repentance be accepted . And they are those who are astray. Verily, those who disbelieved, and died while they were disbelievers, the (whole) earth full of gold will not be accepted from anyone of them even if they offered it as a ransom. For them is a painful torment and they will have no helpers.”

First point.

It is very clear in the context that those people Allah mention going to hell in verse 85 are those who disbelieved after their belief . This verse is addressing apostate Muslims. Because the only people who could believe that Muhammed (saw) is a messenger are Muslims.

The context of these verses categorically states that it is in reference to the Muslim who leave Islam that they will be a loser.

Second point.

Notice the part that says, clear proofs had come unto them.” Now obviously there are millions of people on this planet who have not even heard a clear message of Islam.

If we claim as we always do on our media programs that our religion is the most misunderstood than it becomes readily apparent that these same people cannot turn around and latch on to the proclamation that the non Muslims will go to hell simply on the basis of being ‘Non-Muslims‘. Although they can still go to hell for many other reasons. Obviously ‘clear proofs’ have not reached such people.

Third point

With all the doom and gloom mentioned the context itself says, “ Except for those who repent after that.” 

That alone shows that verse 85 has a context that too many people ignore.

Conclusion: The verses above have nothing to do with non-Muslims. It is talking about Muslims who reject Islam. It is talking about apostates and that their reward in the hereafter is hellfire.

The verses that establish that Islam is the religion before Allah (swt)are the following:

Surely, the religion with Allah is Islam. Those who were given the Scripture did not differ except after what the knowledge had come to them through transgression among themselves. Allah will be swift in reckoning with those who deny His revelations.If they dispute with you, say, I have submitted my whole being to Allah and so have those who follow me. And ask those who have been given the Book, as well as the unlettered, Do you submit yourselves to Allah in the same way? If they submit themselves to Him, they are on the right path; but if they turn away, your duty is only to convey the message. Allah is observant of all His servants.” (Holy Qur’an 3:19-20)

I remember sitting in a mosque one day in Indianapolis, Indiana and a man just became a Muslim. May Allah bless his heart and soul.  The first thing on his mind was his mother.

He asked the Imam the following, “If my mother dies and she is not a Muslim will she go to hell”? The Imam looked at the man and responded without hesitation unequivocally “yes“!

I thought wow how insensitive can one get!

Verily, those who conceal the clear proofs, evidence and guidance, which We have sent down, after We have made it clear for the people in the Book, they are the ones cursed by Allah and cursed by those who curse.Except those who repent and do righteous deeds, and openly declare (the truth which they concealed). These, I will accept their repentance. And I am the One Who accepts repentance, the Most Merciful.(Qur’an 2:159-160)

We see very clearly from this verse that Islam is an evidenced based way of life.

We as Muslims can not or should not make statements of certainty about our faith without being prepared to bring forth a proof, argument or an evidence of that claim. I did not say there are not differences of opinion. I simply am saying that anyone who makes a claim should have some basis for it.

Otherwise if you have no foundation upon which you make a case than anyone can say anything.

And We never punish until We have sent a Messenger”  (Holy Qur’an Chapter 17:15)

How fair and just is our Lord and Creator? Subhan’Allah! (Glory be to Allah!)

Again this problem also comes about because of two huge theological errors not supported by the Holy Qur’an.

1 Many Muslims believe that just because we are a Muslim or wear the title of ‘Muslim’ that we will be guaranteed paradise.

2 Non-Muslims are all Kafir and thus are going to hell.

Addressing the first point. 

“O you who believe! Fear Allah as He should be feared, and die not except in a state of being Muslim.” (Holy Qur’an 3:102)

status and station and condition 

People can die as a dentist, or a lawyer. You can die single or married. These are all status.  You could also die while swimming, driving a car or sleeping.  These are all states one could die in. You could die healthy or sick. These are all conditions.

So what Allah is asking us to die in a state of being Muslim.

There is a whole article written that rejects this claim that just because one is a Muslim they will eventually enter paradise.

https://primaquran.wordpress.com/2019/11/15/the-position-of-the-ibadi-school-on-muslims-who-commit-major-sins/

Addressing the second point. 

Is it not true that all Non Muslims are Kafir/Kufr?

Answer: The term Kafir is derived from an Arabic word kaf faa raa that is usually translated into English as “infidel” or “unbeliever.”

The word kāfir is the active participle of the Semitic root K-F-R “to cover“. As a pre-Islamic term it described farmers burying seeds in the ground, covering them with soil while planting. Thus, the word kāfir implies the meaning “a person who hides or covers”.

Use of the word kufr in the Qur’an to support the above assertion.

Know that the life of this world is but amusement and diversion and adornment and boasting to one another and competition in increase of wealth and children – like the example of a rain whose plant growth pleases the tillers (kuffara) ; then it dries and you see it turned yellow; then it becomes  debris. And in the Hereafter is severe punishment and forgiveness from Allah and approval. And what is the worldly life except the enjoyment of delusion. (Holy Qur’an 57:20)

Another meaning of kafir is to be ungrateful to show ingratitude.

“And when your Lord made it known: If you are grateful (shakartum), I would certainly give to you more, and if you are ungrateful (kafartum) ,  then My torment will be severe. (Holy Qur’an 14:7)

So here Allah (swt) contrasted gratefulness with kafar (ungrateful). He also again warned us that his ‘torment will be severe‘ for those who are ungrateful.

“How is it you are ungrateful (takfurūna) to Allah? You had been lifeless, then, He gave you life. again, He will cause you to die. Again, He will give you life. And, again, you are returned to Him.” (Holy Qur’an 2:28)

“So when they ride in the ships they call upon Allah, being sincerely obedient to Him, but when He brings them safely to the land, lo! they associate others (yush’rikūna) with Him; being ungrateful (liyakfuru) for what We gave them. So let them take joy for soon they will know!” (Holy Qur’an 29:65-66)

So with all these verses in mind, it should be known that in the Ibadi school we understand Kufr -as a denial of truth, covering up the truth, and ingratitude-either by one’s actions or inaction.

So in our view anyone who associates a partner with Allah swt is a kafir-one who is ungrateful.

However, those Muslims who commit the major sins are also in a state of kufr ni’mah and if they do not repent and reform themselves before they die they will be in hellfire forever.

Here is another passage of the Holy Qur’an that is often misquoted.

“Say you, Who reject faith I worship not that you worship. And nor you worship that I worship. And I shall not worship what you worship. And nor shall you worship what I worship.For you, your way of life. And for me my way of life.” (Holy Qur’an chapter 109:1-6)

Question for Muslims:


How do you reject something that has never been presented to you? Or how do you reject something that has not been presented to you with clear proofs, evidences, arguments?

I think some Muslims need to rethink some of the more widely held opinions. Of course this blog has a comments section and I open to being refuted. In fact if a fellow Muslim believes I am spreading false information about the faith it becomes an obligation upon them to refute and correct my errant ways.

How do we understand the following verses of the Holy Qur’an?

“Surely, those who believe , those who are the Jews and the Sabians and the Christians, – whosoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, and works righteousness, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.” (Holy Qur’an 5:69)

”Verily! Those who believe and those who are Jews and Christians, and Sabians, whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day and do righteous good deeds shall have their reward with their Lord, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.” (Holy Qur’an 2:62)

These verses must certainly be in response to those people who had questions concerning believers who were upon the message of purity and clarity and did not deviate from the teachings of those messengers who taught Islam.

Because even if they are remnants of believers of those messengers it now becomes an obligation upon them to follow the latest and last of the Messengers.

For example as a Muslim I cannot enter into Islam and reject Jesus and John as prophets.  Nor could I reject Moses as a prophet either. So for those people under any name there were conditions given:

First point. The belief in Allah.  whoever believes in Allah

So let us think about that. This does not include the belief in many gods or polytheism. This is important because there are people who have good intentions but very bad theology. Omnism, Universalism and some forms of Perennialism are examples of this.

In many cases those who hold these views are the very theological tyrants they accuse those of us who uphold our faith traditions to be.

Often they will blur the lines between faith traditions. For example I know many Hindus who do not want their faith to be identified with monotheism or watered down to make it a part of the ‘Abrahamic Tradition‘.  To force monotheistic theological views on their tradition is not only a gross misrepresentation of their tradition but a total disregard for it.

The second point. The belief in the Last Day. and the Last Day

So let us think about that. As these text above are often used by inter faith conferences to play on the phrases, ‘Sabians‘ and ‘whoever‘. There are obviously other traditions in this world that do not believe in the ‘last day‘. They believe in endless cycles of birth and death or as another tradition believes the cycle continues until one reaches nirvana and escapes this cycle.  It’s only a disrespect of such traditions and not allowing them to define their beliefs on their own terms that one would desperately try and turn the ‘last day‘ into ‘the day one enters nirvana‘.

The Third point. Does righteous good deeds.

The fourth point. Does not die in kufr ni’ama- a state of ingratitude, doing major sins without the expiation or repentance.

The fifth point. They did not hear a clear explanation of the message of Islam in it’s current manifestation and than reject it.

The reason why these two verses above cannot be taken in general are due to the following:

They do blaspheme who say: “Allah is Christ the son of Mary.” But said Christ: “O Children of Israel! worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord.” Whoever joins other gods with Allah,- Allah will forbid him the garden, and the Fire will be his abode. There will for the wrong-doers be no one to help.” (Holy Qur’an 5:72)

Certainly a great many Christians hold this view. So the above verses need to be understood in the context of what 5:72 is saying above.

Next the verse says: “Whoever joins other gods with Allah,-Allah will forbid him the garden and the Fire will be his abode.” -This verse certainly rules out polytheism or any belief in multiple deities.

Next the following verse makes it clear what is acceptable before Allah.

Surely, the religion with Allah is Islam. Those who were given the Scripture did not differ except after what the knowledge had come to them through transgression among themselves. Allah will be swift in reckoning with those who deny His revelations.If they dispute with you, say, I have submitted my whole being to Allah and so have those who follow me. And ask those who have been given the Book, as well as the unlettered, Do you submit yourselves to Allah in the same way? If they submit themselves to Him, they are on the right path; but if they turn away, your duty is only to convey the message. Allah is observant of all His servants.” (Holy Qur’an 3:19-20)

  1. The religion with Allah is Islam.
  2. Allah is swift in dealing with those who deny his revelations-Qur’an included.
  3. Do you submit yourselves to Allah in the same way? If they submit themselves to Him, they are on the right path.

Some years ago in (2011) at the request of a beloved friend and brother of mine (Tim Alden)  I went to visit a  Rifa’i Shaykh* on his death bed in Singapore. I went there with Tim and the Singapore ambassador to Kuwait (Zainul Abidin bin Mohamed Rasheed)  and another brother, I cannot recall his name.

The sheikh had a translator an Arab brother who’s name was (believe it or not) Bilal,  who translated from his Jordanian Arabic.  “I am now on my death bed so ask me to make any supplication on your behalf to Allah and I will do so.” the Shaykh said.

The first brother asked the Shaykh if Allah would make us teachers and examples to other people.  The Shaykh than made the supplication.

Than was my turn, and when he took my hand the luminescence in the room increased. The man continued to translate. The Shaykh said, “You have allot of fear in you”.  He continued to press his hand on my heart and than he said, “You are a good man”.  The translator pressed me, “Ask the Shaykh what you wish from your Lord.”

So than I asked the Shaykh “That Allah would let me die as a Muslim.”   The blessed Shaykh than asked Allah on my behalf.

*Note* Rifa’i is the name of one of many Sufi spiritual orders.

Conclusion:

This article could have easily been titled,  ‘Are All Non Muslims going to hell”.    The problem is that when we deal in absolutes we tend to make absolute judgments on the other.

I am sure there are people who are not Muslim that are going to hell. However, I am not going to believe this is simply because of their being Non Muslim. I believe it is because of the lifestyle they choose to live.  I also believe that there are people who call themselves ‘Muslim’ who will be going to hell. Again because of the lifestyle they choose to live and the way they choose to treat other people.

I believe this entry has shown the fallacy in believing that just because a person has not heard of Islam it means a free pass into paradise. I also believe that this entry has shown the fallacy of believing that just because a person is a non-Muslim that they will automatically be going to hellfire.

and Allah knows best.

“He singles out for His mercy whoever He wills. His grace is boundless.”  (Holy Qur’an 3:74)

2 Comments

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2 responses to “Are Non Muslims Going to Hell According to the Holy Qur’an?

  1. Omer

    Very thought provoking. Thanks much.

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