Is Hell Just?

Whether eternal punishment in Hell (may Allah save us from it) is just.

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بسم الله الرحمٰن الرحيم، وصلوات الله وسلامه على أشرف المرسلين

In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

One of the more controversial ideas, in some circles, is that God will punish wrong-doers with eternal damnation in Hell. In this blog post, I will first explain why it is Allah’s right to reward and punish, and we are in no position to question His judgement. I will then talk about the Islamic theory of salvation and how to attain it. Finally, I’ll answer the question: why will good people who were non-believers in God go to Hell?

Preface: Hell, does it even exist?

Obviously, a sizable number of people do not believe that Hell even exists. The purpose of this post is not to prove or disprove the existence of Heaven/Hell because the post would become too long in that case. I’m just talking about whether or not it is just. Long story short: yes, Hell is real; if you want to discuss this further just leave a comment below.

Defining Justice

Those who claim that Hell is unjust are making a claim about justice. But who gets to decide what justice even is? Humans have come up with innumerable definitions of justice throughout the millennia, and will continue to do so. In any case, a human-made definition of justice cannot be used to “judge” God, which is what people who claim Hell is unjust do. It’s unjust according to their particular set of beliefs. Which are man-made and probably false anyway.

However, there are certain aspects of morality that humans share across cultural and temporal lines. One of them is the idea of reciprocity. You go to work, you get paid. You do a favor for someone, you get thanked. Et cetera. Most humans would agree that if you do a favor for someone and they don’t even say “Thank you,” then that’s pretty rude on the part of that person.

Compensation for God’s Favors

Allah said in the Qur’an: “If you should count the favors of Allah, you cannot enumerate them” (14.34 and 16.18). In other words, Allah’s blessings on us are literally infinite. Every molecule of air you have breathed your whole life is a blessing; every beat of your heart is a blessing; every cell in your body is a blessing; everything bad that could have happened to you but didn’t is a blessing; and the list goes on and on and on. Yes, it’s literally infinite.

We can only thank God for a finite number of these favors. An infinite number minus a finite number is still an infinite one. Even if we were to be recompensed a very, very small amount of Hellfire for not thanking and praising God for each one of these, it would still entail an eternity in Hell.

You might be thinking: doesn’t this mean everyone should go to hell? Theoretically, yes. If Allah (SWT) were to throw all of humanity into Hellfire, it would be 100% justified. It’s only through His mercy that He kept the door of salvation open.

Salvation in Islam

I don’t want to go into too much detail here, but there are two prerequisites for salvation in Islam: iman (faith) and good deeds. Those who have both will enter Paradise, In Sha Allah (God willing). Those with iman but too few good deeds, or too many evil deeds, may go to Hellfire for some time. Those who have no iman at all, regardless of their deeds, may end up in Hellfire indefinitely. And Allah knows best.

One question that frequently comes up is: what about people who have no iman, but do good deeds? For example: a polytheist who gives a lot to charity, or an atheist who strives for justice?

My answer to this: everyone is judged according to their intentions. People, Muslims included, should constantly be asking themselves: with what intention am I doing what I’m doing? The true believer will always work for the sake of Allah. If they’re feeding a poor person, they’re doing it for God, not the poor person. This is how Allah described them in the Qur’an:

And they give food in spite of love for it to the needy, the orphan, and the captive; (saying) “We feed you only for the countenance of Allah. We wish not from you reward or gratitude. Indeed, We fear from our Lord a Day austere and distressful.” So Allah will protect them from the evil of that Day and give them radiance and happiness. [76.8-11]

Only work done solely for the sake of God will benefit us on the Day of Judgement. The people who we help today will not be able to help us on that Day. This also applies to Muslims who commit riyaa – doing acts of worship for other than the sake of Allah.

Conclusion

Some people might still not be satisfied, saying that the punishment described in the Qur’an is “too harsh” or “excessive.” What I would say to them is this: listen, you can sit here and complain about how “harsh” it is all day if you want. That won’t change anything. Allah has described everything that might happen to us, in exact detail, if we don’t follow what He has revealed. And He also calls Himself the “Most Merciful, Most Compassionate,” and has told us what will happen if we follow His religion. So what are you waiting for? It’s time to be a grateful servant and dedicate your life to the sake of God.

Salaam,

~ Yousuf

10 June 2015


Update: I’ve learned some new information that I have been reflecting upon, so I decided to update the post.

Almost everyone, regardless of their religious or political beliefs, considers themselves to be a good person. But every single one of us has an utter disregard for other life forms. Consider the following: on average, the human body breathes in 860,000 micro-organisms every day, many of which are murdered by the body’s immune system. We’re all killers

The difference in power and intelligence between the human being and a microbe is smaller than the difference between the human being and God, the creator of the universe. So if God is unjust for putting people in Hell, or allowing suffering to happen on Earth, then remember this next time you take a breath: you’re committing a genocide.

~ Yousuf

17 June 2015

The Diversity of Religion

Humans follow many diverse religions, each of which claims to be the truth. What’s the best explanation for this?

بسم الله الرحمٰن الرحيم، وصلوات الله وسلامه على أشرف المرسلين

In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

Human beings follow many, many religions, and each one claims to be the truth. Obviously, these claims to absolute truth are, for the most part, irreconcilable. Christianity and Hinduism can’t be true at the same time. Same for Islam and Zoroastrianism. Either there is one God, or many deities, or none. The mutual exclusivity of the world’s religions (and for the purposes of this post I’ll count atheism/agnosticism as a “religion” even though they’re technically not) should be quite clear to most people, hopefully.

So how do we explain this diversity? Continue reading “The Diversity of Religion”

Review: Signature in the Cell by Stephen Meyer

My review of “Signature in the Cell,” which argues for intelligent design as the best explanation for the origin of life.

بسم الله الرحمٰن الرحيم، وصلوات الله وسلامه على أشرف المرسلين

In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

I recently finished reading a book titled Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design by Stephen Meyer. I got it from the library, but you can view it on Amazon here if you need to. I liked the book a lot but I’ll try to be as objective as possible in this review.

Continue reading “Review: Signature in the Cell by Stephen Meyer”

Chance, probability and the origin of life

Calculating the probability that a protein – a molecule essential to life – could have formed by chance.

بسم الله الرحمٰن الرحيم، وصلوات الله وسلامه على أشرف المرسلين

In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

I’m currently reading a book called Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design by Stephen C. Meyer. The book makes lots of well-argued points as well as convincing rebuttals of Darwinist arguments. I plan on writing a detailed review of the book after finishing it, In Sha Allah (God willing). For now, I want to focus on one particular aspect of the book that I found quite intriguing: the probability of life arising out of chance. Continue reading “Chance, probability and the origin of life”

David Berlinski on the God of the Gaps

David Berlinski smartly deals with the “god-of-the-gaps” fallacy.

بسم الله الرحمٰن الرحيم، وصلوات الله وسلامه على أشرف المرسلين

In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

I previously quoted David Berlinski here, but as I am currently reading a book about Intelligent Design (which is often accused of employing the god-of-the-gaps fallacy) I decided to quote him again. This is a good one so make sure you read it carefully. Like before, the source is his book titled The Devil’s Delusion. And in case you are wondering: “Wotan” was a pagan deity who is no longer believed in or worshiped.

Scientific atheism is not an undertaking that has cherished rhetorical inventiveness. It has one brilliant insult to its credit, and that is the description of intelligent design as “creationism in a cheap tuxedo.” I do not know who coined the phrase, but whoever it was, chapeau. By the same token, it has only one stock character in repertoire, and that is the God of the Gaps. Unlike the God of Old, who ruled irritably over everything, the God of the Gaps rules over gaps in argument or evidence. He is a presiding God, to be sure, but one with limited administrative functions. With gaps in view, He undertakes his very specialized activity of incarnating Himself as a stopgap. If He is resentful at the limitations in scope afforded by His narrow specialization, He is, scientific atheists assume, grateful to have any work at all.

When the gaps are all filled, He will join Wotan in Valhalla.

As a rhetorical contrivance, the God of the Gaps makes his effect contingent on a specific assumption: that whatever the gaps, they will in the course of scientific research be filled. It is an assumption both intellectually primitive and morally abhorrent—primitive because it reflects a phlegmatic absence of curiosity, and abhorrent because it assigns to our intellectual future a degree of authority alien to human experience. Western science has proceeded by filling gaps, but in filling them, it has created gaps all over again. The process is inexhaustible. Einstein created the special theory of relativity to accommodate certain anomalies in the interpretation of Clerk Maxwell’s theory of the electromagnetic field. Special relativity led directly to general relativity. But general relativity is inconsistent with quantum mechanics, the largest visions of the physical world alien to one another. Understanding has improved, but within the physical sciences, anomalies have grown great, and what is more, anomalies have grown great because understanding has improved.

The God of the Gaps? I am prepared with the best of them to revile and denounce him. It is easy enough to do just that, one reason that so many scientists are doing it. But why not say with equal authority that for all we know, it is the God of Old who continues to preside over the bent world with His accustomed fearful majesty, and that He has chosen to reveal Himself by drawing the curtain on His own magnificence at precisely the place in which general relativity and quantum mechanics should have met but do not touch? Whether gaps in the manifold of our understanding reveal nothing more than the God of the Gaps or nothing less than the God of Old is hardly a matter open to rational debate.

Well said.

~ Yousuf

29 November 2014

Does science lead to objective truth?

Are scientific theories objective truths about the universe, or just the creation of human minds?

بسم الله الرحمٰن الرحيم، وصلوات الله وسلامه على أشرف المرسلين

In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, a well-known and respected physicist, published this tweet a few days ago:

No doubt, he is referring to scientific discoveries when he talks about “objective truths.” But does he have any rational justification for asserting that? Continue reading “Does science lead to objective truth?”

My Response to Jerry Coyne

Jerry Coyne demonstrates his appalling ignorance of religion in general and Islam in particular.

Bismillah was-salaatu was-salaamu ‘ala Rasoolillah.

Jerry Coyne wrote an article, published on his blog as well as in the New Republic, in which he claimed that it’s wrong to claim that ISIS is not Islamic. The title of the piece was: “If ISIS Is Not Islamic, then the Inquisition Was Not Catholic.” He claims that both ISIS atrocities and the Inquisition are examples of crimes carried out in the name of religion, and so if we argue that ISIS is not truly Islamic we’d have to claim that the Inquisition was not truly Catholic. However, the piece is full of logical fallacies (and factual errors: such as his claim that the Qur’an calls for killing apostates) as articles by “New” Atheists usually are, so I’ll respond to his main claim here:

  1. There is a such thing as “true” religion. Perhaps Jerry Coyne and his fellow atheists see the world (specifically: moral values) in subjective and changing terms. But religion deals with absolute Truths. Coyne himself acknowledges this when he criticizes religion for promoting “dogma.”
  2. The Inquisition was sanctioned and carried out by the official Catholic Church. ISIS has been condemned by every major Muslim institution throughout the globe. Coyne’s comparison of the two is a false equivocation.
  3. Muslims have been fighting against ISIS for almost a year now. Thousands of Muslims have lost their lives trying to stop ISIS. Just because it wasn’t on the news, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. For more info, see: this, this, and this. Also, a June 2014 report (link – AR) by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights estimated that 2,764 Syrian rebels alone had died, up to that point, fighting against ISIS. That doesn’t even include Kurds and Shi’ites, who are also Muslim, and it’s probably even higher by now. There have also been thousands of civilian casualties, vast majority Muslim.
  4. How many Catholics lost their lives trying to stop the Inquisition?

So I think we can safely conclude that while the Inquisition was indeed “Catholic,” ISIS is certainly not Islamic.

Salaam,

Yousuf


Update: Musa Furber has some excellent comments about Coyne’s article in this Facebook thread as well: https://www.facebook.com/musafurber/posts/833924539981748.