How can it be justice for unbelievers to remain in Hell eternally? Why should torture in Hell be eternal? Why did Allah create Hell though His compassion is more than that of a mother?
Submitted by on Fri, 24/02/2017 - 16:10
Dear Brother / Sister,
It is mercy to give a person who deserves capital punishment a sentence of life imprisonment. In this respect, Hell, which means life imprisonment, is a mercy. Would a mother not accept to have the hand or arm of her child cut off in order to save his life? So, some things can be risked for a greater blessing. Besides, they are not children. Which mother will show mercy to an adult who wants to blemish his mother's honor?
Let us try to explain the issue with some questions and answers.
Question: The sin of unbelief of an unbeliever is limited; it persists a short time. It is not conformable with divine justiceand consistent with pre-eternal wisdom to give him an eternal punishment; divine mercy will not accept it.
Answer: It is established that unbelief perpetrated in finite time is, in six respects, a crime of infinite proportions:
Firstly: The person who dies an unbeliever will remain as such even if he lives to all eternity, for he has corrupted the very substance of his spirit. And his corrupted heart has the propensity to commit infinite crimes. Therefore, his eternal penalty is not contrary to justice.
Secondly: Even if unbelief occurs in finite time, it is an infinite crime and gives the lie to infinity; it denies the whole universe, which testifies to divine unity.
Thirdly: Unbelief is an endless crime since it is ingratitude for infinite bounties.
Fourthly: Unbelief is a crime against, the divine essence and attributes, which are infinite.
Fifthly: Human conscience is limited and finite in regard to its outer face, but by virtue of its reality the roots of its inner face spread and extend to eternity. Therefore, this conscience, which has infinite abilities, is dirtied by unbelief and dwindles away.
Sixthly: Although opposites stubbornly resist each other, they are similar in many instances. Thus, belief yields eternal flavors as fruits; and unbelief produces everlasting suffering and pain in the hereafter.
The conclusion deduced from these six aspects is that infinite punishment fits the infinite crime and is pure justice.
Another question regarding the issue: How can incarceration in Hell for an infinite duration in return for unbelief for a short duration be justice?
The Answer: Reckoning a year to be three hundred and sixty-five days, the law of justice requires for a one-minute murder, seven million eight hundred and eighty-four thousand minutes’ imprisonment. So, since one minute’s unbelief is like a thousand murders, according to the law of human justice, someone who lives a life of twenty years in unbelief and dies in that state deserves imprisonment for fifty-seven billion, two hundred and one thousand two hundred million years.
It is understood from this how conformable with divine justice is the verse “They will dwell therein forever.”
The reason for the connection between these two numbers, so far from one another, is this: Since murder and unbelief are destruction and aggression, they have an effect on others. A murder which takes one minute negates on average at least fifteen years of the victim’s life, so the murderer is imprisoned in their place. While since one minute of unbelief denies a thousand and one divine names and denigrates their inscriptions, violates the rights of the universe and denies its perfections, and gives the lie to innumerable evidences of divine unity and rejects their testimony, the unbeliever is cast down to the lowest of the low for more than a thousand years, and “dwells” in imprisonment. (Lem’alar, Yirmi Sekizinci Lem'a (Flashes, Twenty-Eighth Flash))
"Question: So, it is consistent with divine wisdom but how does compassion permit it?"
"The Answer: The unbelievers can be thought of only in terms of non-existence or existence in torment. If you think it over in your conscience you will understand that existence, even if in Hell, is a mercy and better than non-existence. For if you analyze it carefully you will see that non-existence is pure evil; indeed, non-existence is the source of all misfortunes and sins, whereas existence is pure good, even if in Hell. Therefore, the abode of the unbelievers is Hell and they will live there eternally.
"Although the unbelievers deserve it due to their own deeds, after paying the penalty for their actions, they will grow accustomed to it in a way and adapt to it. Their torture will be freed from the previous severity. There are signs in hadith that the unbelievers receive this divine mercy in return for their good deeds in this world." (İşaratü'l-İ’caz, p. 81)
It is understood from the questions and answers above that a person will remain in Hell infinitely due to the crime of unbelief he commits in this limited world life. It is impossible for a person to enter Paradise without belief. Under the light of the calculations above and taking into consideration the divine mercy, Badiuzzaman Said Nursi states based on hadiths that though the people who go to Hell will live there eternally, they will get used to fire. As for the explanation of this sentence, it can be done in three different ways.
1. We can learn from the following sacred hadith: “Sabaqat rahmati ala ghadabi”, (My mercy prevails over My wrath).” That is, Allah’s mercy will relieve this person after a while and he will get used to fire. That is, Allah will treat him with His mercy more than His wrath. For, as it is expressed above, he will receive divine mercy in return for the good deeds he did in the world.
A note regarding the issue:
While interpreting the verse “therein shall they abide forever”, Muhyiddin Arabi says that unbelievers will stay in Hell eternally but they will not receive torture in the same level eternally and that they will get rid of their previous torture by entering a lifestyle peculiar to Hell in the course of time. The following sentences included in Risale-i Nur Collection confirm the discovery of this great saint more or less:
“Although the unbelievers deserve it due to their own deeds, after paying the penalty for their actions, they will grow accustomed to fire in a way and adapt to it. Their torture will be freed from the previous severity.” (İşaratü’l-İ’caz, p. 81)
It is understood from the expression “their torture will be freed from the previous severity” that the torture will continue eternally but it will be less severe than the previous ones. Muhyiddin Arabi holds the view that torture will be replaced by a mean, low life and the unbeliever will stay in Hell eternally in this state.
The writer of Risale-i Nur Collection writes that there are "signs in hadith" about it at the end of his statement we quoted above. We do not have any knowledge about the text of the hadith mentioned there. However, there is a sacred hadith Muyyiddin Arabi often refers to while dealing with the issue; The hadith that Said Nursi also mentions is probably the same one:
“My mercy prevails over My wrath.”
2. The issue can be viewed from the viewpoint of divine justice. That is, this man - as it can be understood from the calculations above - will be punished and tortured because of the sins he committed. However, after these people, as Badiuzzaman Said Nursi puts it, are punished for their sins, Allah will make them accustomed to fire due to His justice.
3. Everything in the universe shows one name of Allah and is its mirror. In that case, it is possible for some of the names of Allah be manifest for the people in Hell. Allah’s name“Matin” (the Forceful One) may be manifest for them, making them fire resistant. Allah knows its nature. What we need to do is to believe and to take shelter in worshipping, asking for forgiveness and obedience in order to be saved from that horrible Hell.
Questions on Islam
- Why is a person who dies as an unbeliever (kafir) punished by staying in Hell eternally? Is it a just punishment?
- How should we answer those who allege that Paradise and Hell are not eternal, and that after a while (God forbid), Allah will feel bored and destroy Paradise and Hell?
- Is the creation of hell and the devil not contrary to the understanding of a perfect creator (Allah)?
- Third Truth: The proofs of wisdom and justice in this world and the indication of the names of Wise and Just to the hereafter.
- In what way is denying Allah regarded a boundless murder?
- First Remark: The universal needs of man; His ability in terms of good and evil; The power that he gains by being a slave of Allah. An explanation of the following verse; "Allah will change their evil into good."
- about predestination
- Heaven and Hell
- Is there salvation from hell? How should we understand verse 65 of the chapter of al-Furqan?