Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Inferno

A common problem among Muslims and Christians nowadays is the prevalent notion of Hell-fire and its denizens. Who are the infidels? Who are the ones condemned to fill the infernal belly of the Hearth? It seems everyone is quick to paint the other as those marked by the netherworld. But, is the reality actually so black and white?

God has given us enough intellect to understand His Will, hasn't He? Therefore, the people deserving of Hell are fairly obvious such as the likes of Hitler and Stalin, blatantly evil people. We believe our God is a Merciful God. If you can look at someone and say, "He/She seems like a nice person, I can't imagine God putting him/her in Hell" then what makes you think a God more merciful than you will do it?

'Umar ibn al-Khattab reported that there were brought some prisoners to the Prophet Muhammad among whom there was also a woman, who was searching for someone and when she found a child among the prisoners, she took hold of it, pressed it against her bosom and provided it suckle. Thereupon the Prophet asked:
Do you think this woman could ever throw her child in the Fire?
We answered:
By God, so far as it lies in her power, she would never throw the child in Fire. 
Then, the Prophet said:
God is more kind to His servants than this woman is to her child.
[Sahih Muslim, Book 37, Hadith 6635]

God realizes we are imperfect. He doesn't punish us just because we masturbated once in our life or something silly like that. In Islam, we have a story about a murderer who, after committing ninety-nine murders, realizes he was going to Hell for his crimes and wanted to be forgiven so he went to a priest of a mosque who told him that there was no hope for salvation for the murderer. So the murderer, realizing he was going to Hell anyway, murdered the priest too as his hundredth victim.

Afterwards, overcome with remorse, he set for the Holy Land to seek forgiveness but died along the way. When the angels came to reap his soul, they debated whether they should take his soul to Heaven or Hell. God, then, intervened and ordered them to measure the distance between his corpse and his house and then between his corpse and the Holy Land. If he was found closer to the Holy Land, the angels were ordered to take him to Heaven and if he was found closer to his home then the angels were ordered to take him to Hell.

He was, in truth, closer to his home because he had just set out but God, being the Master of Time and Space, bent the fabric of reality so his body appeared closer to the Holy Land and he was saved. This was because the man was repentant and prepared to journey for the sake of forgiveness so God forgave him simply because he was conscious enough to realize he was a sinner and in need of God's Mercy.

In other words, God is not a machine with preset protocols where if you don't fit a certain criteria, you are not accepted by Him. God created us and knows we are tempted to sin. He doesn't punish us simply because we trip along the way, such a God would not be a Merciful God. Hell is reserved for those who are arrogant in sin thinking themselves beyond the need for God's Mercy and Grace.

To explain it simply, God does not turn anyone away from Salvation. Those who end up in Hell chose the place for themselves by saying they don't need Mercy and Salvation. They are above the requirement to plead for forgiveness. They think they are perfect, superior to everyone else, even to God Himself and they rather choose to be in Hell than be remorseful. By realizing that you have sinned you're already exempted from that list. So don't worry about it.

— Fahim Ferdous Promi

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