“Allah will give every Muslim a Jew or a Christian on the Day of Judgment and say, ‘That is your rescue from Hell.’” How should this hadith be understood?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

According to what is reported from Abu Musa al-Ash’ari, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said,

“Allah will give every Muslim a Jew or a Christian on the Day of Judgment and say, ‘That is your rescue from Hell.’(Muslim, Tawba 49)

In another narration of Muslim from Abu Musa, the Prophet (pbuh) said,

“Some Muslims will come with as heavy sins as a mountain on the Day of Judgment and Allah will forgive them.” (Muslim, Tawba 51)

At first glance, it is understood from the hadith that Jews and Christians or unbelievers will suffer instead of Muslims. However, it is not appropriate because our Lord states the following:

 “No bearer of burdens can bear the burden of another.” (see al-An’am, 6/164; al-Isra 17/15; Fatir, 35/18; az-Zumar, 39/7; an-Najm, 53/38)

Thus, He states that only the one who commits the crime will suffer the penalty. In that case, how should we understand the narration above?

It is stated in another hadith narrated by Abu Hurayra (see Ibn Majah, Zuhd 39) that “everybody has a place in both Paradise and Hell”. Therefore, when a Muslim enters Paradise, an unbeliever fills his place in Hell. On the other hand, Allah declared that He would fill Hell, and He determined a number for it. When unbelievers enter Hell due to their unbelief and fill it, they become the ransom (rescue) of Muslims in a sense. In fact, they enter Hell not to suffer instead of Muslims but to suffer the penalty for their own unbelief. That means a kind of ransom for Muslims who are freed from Hell.

The following possibility comes to mind so that the hadith will be understood correctly: Some Muslims will follow a bad trail and path opened by unbelievers and commit sins. However, since they become a means of their evil, those unbelievers who blaze that trail will also be burdened with a sin. When Allah forgives Muslims on the Day of Judgment, the unbelievers will also be punished in Hell for the sins due to misleading the Muslims.

We also find it useful to remind you the following: There are views stating that those who are unaware of Islam cannot be held responsible. Accordingly, the Jews or Christians mentioned in the question are those who do not believe in Islam though they know about it.

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