Are All Muslims Going To Enter Hell?

 

By

 

Bassam Zawadi

 

 

Acknowledgement: Much gratitude to Shaykh Jalal Abu Al Rub for his valuable consultation.

 

 

Does Islam teach that all Muslims are going to enter hell just as some missionaries like Sam Shamoun (*,*,*) claim? This issue will be explored and investigated in this article.

 

Allah says:

 

Surah 19:71-72

 

Pickthall

There is not one of you but shall approach it. That is a fixed ordinance of thy Lord. Then We shall rescue those who kept from evil, and leave the evil-doers crouching there.

Yusuf Ali

Not one of you but will pass over it: this is, with thy Lord, a Decree which must be accomplished. But We shall save those who guarded against evil, and We shall leave the wrong-doers therein, (humbled) to their knees.

Hilali-Khan

There is not one of you but will pass over it (Hell); this is with your Lord; a Decree which must be accomplished. Then We shall save those who use to fear Allah and were dutiful to Him. And We shall leave the Zalimun (polytheists and wrongdoers, etc.) therein (humbled) to their knees (in Hell).

Shakir

And there is not one of you but shall come to it; this is an unavoidable decree of your Lord. And We will deliver those who guarded (against evil), and We will leave the unjust therein on their knees.

Sher Ali

And there is not one of you but will come to it. This is an absolute decree of thy Lord. And WE shall save the righteous, and shall leave the wrongdoers therein, on their knees.

Arberry

Not one of you there is, but he shall go down to it; that for thy Lord is a thing decreed, determined. Then We shall deliver those that were godfearing; and the evildoers We shall leave there, hobbling on their knees.

Palmer

There is not one of you who will not go down to it,- that is settled and decided by thy Lord. Then we will save those who fear us; but we will leave the evildoers therein on their knees.

Rodwell

No one is there of you who shall not go down unto it - This is a settled decree with thy Lord - Then will we deliver those who had the fear of God, and the wicked will we leave in it on their knees.

Sale

There shall be none of you but shall descend into the same [hell]: [This] is an established decree upon thy Lord. Afterwards we will deliver those who shall have been pious, but we will leave the ungodly therein on their knees.

 

As we could see from the above there is a difference of opinion on how to translate the word waariduha. There are three common opinions in regards to how one should interpret this verse.

 

First Opinion: The verse is stating that all people including believers would enter hell

This is the opinion of several scholars and a number of the companions. We could see one of the companions being reported in Musnad Ahmad as stating that this verse is referring to "entering". (The chain is Saheeh according to hadith scholar Ahmad Shakir, Volume 6, no. 84, Source)

 

However those who hold to this position would say that even though the righteous believers (not those sinful ones who would be punished temporarily) would enter hell, they shall not feel pain. This is because the fire would be cool and safe to them just as it was for Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him), for that is what the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said. (Al Bayhaqi said the isnad to this hadeeth is Hasan in his Shu'b Al-Eemaan, Volume 1, page 282; Al-Mundhiri said the men in the chain are trustworthy in his Al-Targheeb wal-Tarheeb, Volume 4, page 317; Ibn Katheer said the hadeeth is hasan in his Al-Bidaayah Wal-Nihaayah, Volume 2, page 93; Al-Haithami said the men in the chain are trustworthy in his Majma' Al-Zawaaid, Volume 10, no. 363; Al-Haithami Al-Makki in his Al-Zawaajir, Volume 2, page 247 said that the isnaad is Hasan) However, Shaykh Al-Albani has rightly declared this narration to be weak in his Silsila Al-Ahaadeeth Al-Da'eefa, no. 4761 due to the presence of an unknown narrator in the chain. (Source)

 

Also, this opinion is weak since it contradicts authentic hadeeths, which state that there would be those who would not enter hell. An example is the following hadeeth:

 

Saheeh Muslim

 

Book 031, Number 6089:

Jabir reported that a slave of Hatib came to Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) complaining against Hatib and said: Hatib will definitely go to Hell. (But) Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: You tell a lie; he would not get into that for he had taken part in Badr and in (the expedition of) Hudaibiya.

 

 

The above citation demonstrates that there are those who would not enter hell, so how could it be that the Qur'anic verse is stating otherwise?

 

However, this opinion of "entering" could possibly be correct depending on one's intention. This will be clarified as we continue reading on.

 

 

Second Opinion: The verse is only speaking about disbelievers and not believers

 

Those who adhere to this opinion would base this on Qur'anic verses such as:

 

            Surah 21:98-103

 

Surely you (O mushrikin) and your deities that you worship besides Allah shall be the fuel of hell; therein you shall all enter (waridoona). If those deities would have been true gods, they would not have gotten there; but there they shall abide forever. In there, sobbing will be their lot, and they will not be able to hear anything else. Certainly those for whom the good reward from Us has preceded them will be kept far away from it. They shall not hear even its slightest sound, and they shall dwell forever in the midst of whatever their souls desire. The time of Great Terror (Day of Judgement) will not grieve them, and the angels will receive them with greetings: "This is your Day that you were promised."

These scholars would argue that there would be those who would be kept away from hell while at the same time understanding the word waariduha in Surah 19 to mean "entering". Furthermore the verse states that they won't even hear its slightest sound and if all Muslims were to enter hell then they would have heard its sound.

 

However, this opinion is weak since it contradicts authentic hadeeths, which state that even believers would do wurood to hell.

 

Third And Strongest Opinion: The verse is stating that all people would pass by hell and be exposed to it

 

Scholars (for example see Al-Tha'labi's commentary on Surah 27:8) who held this opinion said that waarid could mean to "see" or "come close to" according to certain verses in the Qur'an (12:19; 28:23) and could thus be linguistically and accurately applied to Surah 19:71 as well.


Let's take the example of Surah 28:23:

 

And when he came unto the water of Midian he found there a whole tribe of men

 

Walamma warada maa madyana wajada AAalayhi ommatan mina alnnasi

 

This verse is talking about the water source, which was a well (and the same example extends to a spring). Musa warada the water of Midian i.e., reached the side of the well, which is above the actual well where the water is (this is why they need ropes and a bucket to lift the water).  He did not enter into the water, but he was standing on the piece of land that is above the mouth of the well which is below the earth, since it is a hole.  So, he did wurud, but in this case it meant that he was standing on the piece of land above the well. 

The same reasoning is in regards to the sirat (i.e. the bridge to cross over hell). It is above (on the upper borders) of Hell, but in this case the size of the sirat is far less in comparison to hell. So people who cross above Hell do wurud in the way one does a well, but are able to see with their eyes the horror of hell beneath their feet especially since the size of hell is unimaginably gigantic.  Those who do not find its torment, i.e., they do not get tormented by it, they are Mub`adun (taken away) from it as stated in Surah 21:101, i.e., there is a distance (bu`d) between them and hell. Just as one walks on the piece of land above a well, he does wurud to it (to its borders), but he is also away from it (i.e. does not enter the well itself).  So the believers will be walking on the sirat, which is at the upper border of hell, doing wurud of it without entering it (except for those Muslim sinners who are to be punished temporarily) and they will not hear the crushing sound of its burning and winds as stated in Surah 21:102, but still they will be able to see its tip. This is affirmed in the authentic hadeeths where we read that people would be crossing the bridge (sirat) and MIGHT be snatched and dragged into hell OR NOT, while some of them wouldn't be snatched. (Saheeh Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 76, Number 577; Saheeh Muslim, Book 001, Number 0349).

 

The next step is determining those who are leaving the vicinity (i.e. sudur). There are those who would be leaving the vicinity, while the rest would stay. The Prophet (peace be upon him) in an authentic hadeeth reported by Al-Tirmidhi said:

 

            أن ‏ ‏عبد الله بن مسعود ‏ ‏حدثهم قال ‏

‏قال رسول الله ‏ ‏صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ ‏يرد ‏ ‏الناس النار ثم ‏ ‏يصدرون ‏ ‏منها بأعمالهم فأولهم كلمح البرق ثم كالريح ثم ‏ ‏كحضر ‏ ‏الفرس ثم كالراكب في ‏ ‏رحله ‏ ‏ثم كشد الرجل ثم كمشيه

 

Abdullah ibn Mas'ud said:


Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) said, Mankind will yarid (i.e. do wurood) the fire and then depart from it because of their deeds, the first of them like a flash of lighting, the next like the wind, the next like a horse's gallop, the next like one riding on his pack-saddle, the next like a man's running, the next like his walking."

 

This hadeeth demonstrates how there will be people who would leave the vicinity of hell due to their righteous deeds, while some would remain in hell. Similarly, when there is a spring, and this is also obvious as an example, one does not actually go into the middle of the spring itself, but at the shore - making wurud - then when he is done fulfilling his need he makes sudur, i.e., he leaves its vicinity without actually entering it.

The sirat is placed above hell like its roof and the roof of the house is part of it, so if one is lifted to the roof without having to go inside the house and go up the stairs, he is still technically inside the house. He sees it bigger than him under his feet, but he does not necessarily know what the people in the rooms of the house are doing or what they are facing or feel what they are feeling. So the sirat is above hell on the top of its border and the wurud and sudur is done by walking on the sirat. One may technically claim that the sirat is in hell, for just as Shaykh Al-Albani said:

 

المرور على الصراط هو دخول في النار

 

Crossing on sirat is entering into the fire. (Source)

 

So if one wants to claim that entering hell means crossing the sirat, which is above hell and could technically be argued to be in hell, then that is okay. However, to claim that entering hell is to go deep inside into hell then this is contrary to the evidence.

We also need to ask ourselves what the purpose of the sirat is if all people will still go inside the fire?  The purpose of the sirat is that the people who are not going to be burned walk on the sirat above the fire in order to be able to see its horrors and be shielded from being burned in it because they are on the sirat and will pass it very quickly.

Further evidence that not everyone would enter hell is the following hadeeth:

Saheeh Muslim

 

Book 031, Number 6090:

 

Umm Mubashshir reported that she heard Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) as saying in presence of Hafsa: God willing, the people of the Tree would never enter the fire of Hell one amongst those who owed allegiance under that. She said: Allah's Messenger, why not? He scolded her. Hafsa said: And there is none amongst you but shall have to pass over that (narrow Bridge). Thereupon Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) said: Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, has said: We would rescue those persons who are God-conscious and we would leave the tyrants to their fate there (xix. 72).

 

Notice that the Prophet (peace be upon him) explicitly said that there would be those who would not enter hell. Hafsa appealed to the Qur'anic verse in question as an objection. Clearly she appeared to have understood the verse as referring to "entering". However, the Prophet (peace be upon him) quickly clarified there would be those who would be saved.

This makes complete sense in light of the hadeeth we just cited, which states that there would be those who cross the sirat with some being snatched down into hell, while others wouldn't be snatched down into hell.

However, there is one hadeeth which some of the scholars have used to prove that the Qur'anic verse is speaking about actually entering into hell from Saheeh Bukhari:

 

            Volume 8, Book 78, Number 650

 

Narrated Abu Huraira:

Allah's Apostle said, Any Muslim who has lost three of his children will not be touched by the Fire except that which will render Allah's oath fulfilled.

 

The phrase "except that which will render Allah's oath fulfilled" according to the majority of scholars is in reference to Allah's promise that everyone would do wurood to hell.

 

Another version of this hadith found in Saheeh Bukhari as well states:

 

Volume 2, Book 23, Number 342:

 

Narrated Abu Huraira:

 

The Prophet said, "No Muslim whose three children died will go to the Fire except for Allah's oath"

 

So here we find that the first version states "touched by the Fire", which in Arabic transliterates to tamussuhu al naar, while the other version states "go to the fire", which in Arabic transliterates to yaliju al naar. The root derivative of yaliju is wulooj, which most commonly refers to entry.

 

Now if both of these phrases are indeed connected to Allah's oath then they must be understood in light of wurood in the Qu'ranic verse. However, some proponents of the view that the Qur'an is speaking about people entering hell argue that tamussuhu al naar and yaliju al naar supports their position since they linguistically mean direct contact with and entering into the fire. However, is that necessarily the case?

 

In regards to the "touched by the Fire" narration, the great Maliki scholar Ibn Abdul Barr says:

 

 

المسيس حقيقته في اللغة المباشرة وقد يحتمل على الاتساع أن يكون القرب

 

 

Feeling according to the language literally means direct contact and it's possible to extend it to mean nearness. (Ibn Abdul Barr, Al-Tamheed, Volume 6, page 353)

 

 

So as we could see, linguistically speaking "feeling" does not necessarily have to imply actual physical touching and could indicate nearness, which is in perfect harmony with the position that we have been laying out so far. Even in the English language we don't necessarily understand "feeling" as physical contract. One may feel the presence of something through intuitive awareness. One may experience the feeling of the fire by being close to it and seeing it for instance.

 

So that means that we could understand this hadith as saying that one who lost his three children would not experience the feeling of hell unless Allah's oath of having it occur was fulfilled, though I personally don't favor this position.

 

As for the second version, which states "go to the fire", Ibn Hajar states that one of the opinions of the meaning of wulooj is:

 

فالمراد بالولوج الورود وهو المرور على النار

 

The meaning of wulooj is wurood and that is passing by the fire. (Ibn Hajar Al-Asqalani, Fathul Bari, Volume 3, page 119)

 

Badr al-Din al-'Ayni in his commentary on Saheeh Bukhari cites Al-Khattabi as saying:

 

أي لا يدخل النار ليعاقبه بها ولكنه يجوز عليها فلا يكون ذلك إلا بقدر ما يبر الله به قسمه والقسم مضمر

 

 

One [who is destined to be saved from hell] will not enter the fire in order to be punished in it; rather he would cross over it. This will not happen except by the decree of Allah's loyalty to His oath and the oath is implied [This (passing over hell) will only last to the extent of Allah fulfilling His oath (that all shall pass over hell); the oath is implied (i.e., not explicit)]. (Badr al-Din al-'Ayni, 'Umdat Al-Qaari', Volume 12, page 190)

 

 

Just in case one states that this is an act of desperation and violates the definition of yalij, let's take a look at this narration:

 

أنس بن مالك ‏ ‏قال

 

‏قال رسول الله ‏ ‏صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ ‏لا ‏ ‏يلج ‏ ‏حائط ‏ ‏القدس ‏ ‏مدمن الخمر ولا العاق لوالديه ولا ‏ ‏المنان ‏ ‏عطاءه

 

 

Anas ibn Malik said:

 

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: They will not yalij the walls of Quds (i.e. paradise) those who are addicted to alcohol, disobedient to their parents or brag about their generosity. (Musnad Ahmad, Hadith no. 12881; The word Quds technically means "blessed area", however we know that this is referring to paradise due to other narrations that we have such as the one narrated by Al-Bazzar, which states لا يلج جنات الفردوس "he will not enter the gardens of Firdaws". Also see Shaykh Al-Albani, Silsila Al-Ahaadeeth Al-Saheeha, hadith no. 2161.)

 

Now obviously here yalij does not literally mean that one would enter inside the walls of paradise, but that one would pass through them into paradise. Shaykh Al-Albani declared the chain of this narration to be weak in his Silsila Al-Ahaadeeth Al-Saheeha, hadith no. 673, however said that it has a supporting witness from an authentic chain in Ibn Khuzayma's book Kitab Al-Tawheed.

 

However, the authenticity of this narration isn't really what is important here. What is important is to see that it is grammatically possible to use the word yalij to mean "pass by".

 

So this means that we could understand the hadith as saying that one who lost his three children would not pass by (over) hell unless Allah's oath of having it done so was fulfilled, though I again personally don't favor this position.

 

Scholars have had several ways of understanding this narration speaking about Allah's oath.

 

Ibn Abdul Barr said:

 

وقد يحتمل أن يكون قوله صلى الله عليه و سلم ( ( الا تحلة القسم ) ) استثناء منقطعا بمعنى لكن تحلة القسم وهذا معروف في اللغة وإذا كان ذلك كذلك فقوله لن تمسه النار إلا تحلة القسم أي لا تمسه النار أصلا كلاما تاما ثم ابتدأ الا تحلة القسم أي لكن تحلة القسم لا بد منها في قول الله عز و جل وان منكم إلا واردها وهي الجواز على الصراط أو الرؤية

 

And it is possible that the Prophet's statement "except that which will render the oath fulfilled" is an interrupted exception [i.e., it does not happen to begin with]. this is something known in the language. If that is the case then his statement "will not be touched by the fire except that which will render the oath fulfilled" means that the fire won't even touch him. Then he began another statement with the phrase "except that which will render the oath fulfilled" meaning that however the fulfillment of the oath is something that is bound to occur according to Allah's statement wa inn minkum illa waariduha and it pertains to crossing over on the sirat or seeing it (i.e. of hell). (Ibn Abdul Barr, Al-Tamheed, Volume 6, page 361)

 

 

In light of this (and this is the position that I favor) we could understand the hadith as saying that one who lost his three children wouldn't feel the fire or enter into the fire at all (abiding by the literal meaning of tamassuhu and yaliju). However, Allah's oath that everyone would do wurood to hell must be fulfilled. Allah's promise of wurood as we said is referring to crossing over hell on the sirat and this is strongly supported by the following narration:

 

من مات له ثلاثة من الولد لم يبلغوا الحنث لم يرد النار إلا عابر سبيل

 

Whoever dies leaving [behind] three children who haven't reached the age of puberty wouldn't yarid the fire except as a passerby (i.e. crossing the sirat just as the narrator of this hadith clarified). (Al-Mundhiri in his Al-Targheeb wal-Tarheeb, Volume 3, no. 120 said that the isnad is okay and that it has a lot of supporting witnesses; Shaykh Al-Albani said that the hadeeth is hasan in his Saheeh Al-Targheeb, no. 2001)

 

 

Some opined that the phrase "except that which will render the oath fulfilled" is just a linguistic method of expression emphasizing the lack of severity of the whole ordeal. Al-Alusi states:

 

فكأنه قيل : لم ير النار إلا قليلا لأن الله تعالى أخبر بورود كل أحد إياها ولا بد من وقوع ما أخبر به ولولا ذلك لجاز أن لا يراها أصلا .

 

It is as if it is said: He won't see the fire except for a while, because Allah All Mighty said that everyone would do wurood to it (i.e. the fire) and that is something inevitable. If it wasn't for that, it would have been possible for him [one who is not destined to enter hell] to not see it [hell] at all. (Al-Alusi, Rooh Al-Ma'aani, Volume 12, page 43; Also see Imam Al-Subki, Tabaqaat Al-Shafi'ya, Volume 2, page 117 & Shaykh Muhammad Ameen Al-Shanqeeti, Adwaa' Al-Bayaan, Volume 4, page 39)

 

 

Furthermore, it's possible to interpret the oath as meaning that there would be people crossing the bridge and then get snatched into hell if their deeds are not good enough. That is a promise that would be fulfilled. There are certain people who could possibly avoid crossing the bridge and not get snatched into hell, however if they don't meet Allah's requirement they could end up crossing it and then getting snatched down into hell.

 

Finally, one may ask what the whole point of the sirat is. If there are people who are bound to enter paradise and not go into hell at all, then why doesn't Allah just automatically put these Muslims in paradise without having them become exposed to hell by passing over it and seeing it?

 

The answer is simple really; it brings the Muslims more joy and satisfaction that they have made the right decisions in this life for avoiding hell. It also gives them the relief that they were so craving for knowing that they have finished the whole trial and judgment ordeal. After they pass over hell, they would appreciate Allah even more for shielding them with His mercy from being punished in hell.

 

In conclusion, we have examined the different opinions surrounding this topic and we have demonstrated that the strongest opinion is that waariduha in the verse refers to crossing over hell on the sirat. If one wishes to say that Muslims would enter hell with the intended meaning that since the sirat is over hell and could technically be considered inside of it, then this is valid. However, we have found the opinion that "entering" hell with the actual meaning that one would be inside of it in the same sense as the kuffar (despite not being harmed by the fire) is indeed a weak opinion and doesn't fit in with the authentic hadeeth that we have cited.

 

 

 

 

 

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