Can it be regarded as justice for Allah to send a good atheist to the same hell as other oppressors (zalims)?

The Details of the Question

- Why will an atheist who does good deeds go to the same hell as bad people?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

It would be an incomplete understanding to understand zulm (oppression, wrongdoing) as harming people or living beings only. Zulm means not giving something its due or putting something away from its rightful place. Therefore, attributing the quality of divinity to someone other than Allah, associating partners with Him or denying the deity of Allah is the biggest zulm. It is regarded as justice for atheists who commit this zulm to go to Hell.

Almighty Allah states the following in the Quran:

“... False worship is indeed the highest wrong-doing (zulm).” (Luqman, 31/13)

Thus, He describes false worship (shirk, polytheism) as a big zulm.

Shirk (polytheism) means rebellion against a universal law to which the heavens, the earth and everything in them, matter and life surrender unavoidably.

The reason why shirk is zulm is not only because it is a violation, slander and insult related to Allah’s rights. Shirk is also a great insult and violation related to the rights of the universe and all creatures. The first purpose of the universe is to introduce Allah to people and to prove the reality of oneness. Although all beings serve based on this purpose, man’s ignoring and denying this main purpose is, in a sense, to underestimate the actions and duties of every being, from atoms to planets, and is a violation of their rights. Denial, which seems simple, is a very big and cruel act in terms of its consequence.

Calling a child an “illegitimate child” means insult, cruelty, debasement, disrespect for him and his parents and relatives, and violation of their rights. That this slandering person is humane and appears to be doing good deeds does not eliminate this slander and insult. Similarly, denying Allah, who is the owner of thousands of names such as the Owner, Possessor, Creator, and Sustainer of all beings in the universe, is even greater oppression, insult and disrespect than it.

A person who commits polytheism breaks his ties with Allah, and falls into a state of disobedience without worship and being unaware of the purpose of his creation.

Everything glorifies Allah, but man performs the most perfect form of this glorification. Angels also meditate on the divine works in this universe, but man performs the most advanced level of this meditation.

The opposite of worship is rebellion (disobedience). If a person does not walk in the way of Allah’s consent, it means he follows the path of rebellion. Rebellion is “the denial of the perfection of the universe” because the rebellious person is also a fruit of the tree of the universe, and he makes a whole tree serve his own rebellion. Showing the way to a person who does not worship is not regarded as perfection for the sun; cleaning the blood of such a person is not regarded as perfection for the air. Similarly, carrying such a person on its back day and night cannot be regarded as perfection for the earth.

When all the beings put at the disposal of man and all the feelings and organs bestowed upon him are considered in this sense, it will be understood better that abandoning worship means not seeing the perfection of this magnificent universe and covering it with heedlessness.

That is to say, everything is programmed to introduce Allah and to make Him loved. Going out of this program and attributing some things to some causes means polytheism and zulm and it is not forgivable. Allah does not allow His divine purposes, which are expected from the universe, to be attributed to helpless and weak causes and does not allow them to be distorted. Therefore, He makes Himself known and proclaims Himself with great force and dignity above everything in the universe. He also punishes those who ignore or deny this proclamation with an eternal torment.

For example, the name Razzaq (Sustainer) provides the sustenance of all living beings in the universe with perfect harmony and meticulousness. Man needs to read the manifestations of this name, learn the meaning and decree of the name Razzaq first, and then attribute them to Allah, who is the owner and source of this name; however, he does not recognize the name or the Sacred Personality of Allah, who is behind this name by attributing all the sustenance to causes and dividing among them. This ignorance and denial mean both violation of the rights of the name Razzaq and disrespect to Allah, who is the owner of that name.

Another point is this: A public lawsuit is filed in a court along with the crime because the court is a common area of ​​people. Similarly, unbelief and polytheism are not only crimes that target the dignity and majesty of Allah, but also a violation of the rights of all beings; therefore, Allah takes all these rights into consideration while punishing the unbeliever and judges him accordingly.

If the helmsman does not perform his duty on a ship where a thousand people work and the ship runs aground, when the owner of the ship punishes the helmsman, he punishes the helmsman also for the rights of the other crew of the ship. The helmsman has no right to say, “I turned a simple wheel; why do you blame me so much?” Maybe turning the wheel to the right is a simple action, but the big ship sinks with its crew as a result of it. So, the importance is not based on the simplicity of the action, but the greatness of the result caused by it.

The universe is like a big ship. Innumerable creatures, apart from humans fulfill their duties in it. Man is like the helmsman of the ship of the universe in terms of his nature. If he abandons his duty of belief and worship, he will have insulted and demeaned the entire crew of the ship of the universe. In that case, Allah, who is the owner of the ship of the universe, will punish this oppression done to both Himself and the crew of the ship. 

To sum up, the main purpose of the creation of the beings and the reason for their existence to continue is Allah’s desire to introduce Himself to humans with all His names and attributes and to make Himself known. The greatest duty of man is to know Him with belief and to love Him with worship in return for His desire to be known and loved. While the wheels of the huge universe serve the belief and worship of man, his abandoning this duty with unbelief and heresy is both a violation of the rights of the universe and an insult to the names of Allah, who works as the main actor behind the universe.

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