Rebuttal to Sam Shamoun and Jochen Katz's Article "Quran Contradiction: Will people stay in Hell forever, or not?"

By

 

Bassam Zawadi

 

 

Their article could be found here.

 

Shamoun and Katz try to argue that there are Qur'anic verses and hadith that teach that disbelievers will not burn in hell for eternity. Before I go on to refute their arguments, I will briefly provide the clear evidence that proves that people who are sent to paradise and hell will abide there for eternity.

 

As for whether the disbelievers will be in hell for eternity, this is explicitly clear in the Qur'an:

 

Surah 10:52

 

Then it will be said to them who wronged themselves: "Taste you the everlasting torment! Are you recompensed (aught) save what you used to earn?"

 

The Arabic word khuld used in the verse could only mean eternity. On page 254 of Hans-Wehr's dictionary we read:

 

Kuld: infinite duration, endless time, perpetuity, eternity

 

Allah also makes it very clear that He will not forgive or display His mercy to disbelievers:

 

Surah 4:48

 

Verily, Allh forgives not that partners should be set up with Him (in worship), but He forgives except that (anything else) to whom He wills; and whoever sets up partners with Allh in worship, he has indeed invented a tremendous sin

 

Surah 29:23

 

And those who disbelieve in the Ayt of Allh and the Meeting with Him, it is they who have no hope of My Mercy: and it is they who will have a painful torment

 

Tafsir Al Jalalayn states:

 

And those who disbelieve in God's signs and the encounter with Him, namely, the Qur'ān and the Resurrection [respectively], they have despaired of My mercy, that is, [of attaining] My Paradise, and for those there shall be a painful chastisement. (Tafsir Al Jalalayn, Commentary on Surah 29:23, Source)

 

Imam Qurtubi states:

 

:

 

 

"Have no hope of My Mercy" that is from Paradise. (Abu 'Abdullah Al-Qurtubi, Tasfir al Jami' li-ahkam al-Qur'an, Commentary on Surah 29:23, Source)

 

 

Also Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) made it clear that the people of hell would stay in hell forever and people of paradise would stay in paradise forever:

 

Saheeh Bukhari

 

Volume 8, Book 76, Number 552:

 

Narrated Ibn 'Umar:

 

The Prophet; said, "The people of Paradise will enter Paradise, and the people of the (Hell) Fire will enter the (Hell) Fire: then a call-maker will get up (and make an announcement) among them, 'O the people of the (Hell) Fire! No death anymore ! And O people of Paradise! No death (anymore) but Eternity."

 

Volume 8, Book 76, Number 553:

 

Narrated Abu Huraira:

 

The Prophet said, " It will be said to the people of Paradise, 'O people of Paradise! Eternity (for you) and no death,' and to the people of the Fire, 'O people of the Fire, eternity (for you) and no death!"

 

Saheeh Muslim

 

Book 040, Number 6827:

 

Abu Sa'id reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: Death would be brought on the Day of Resurrection. in the form of a white-coloured ram. Abu Kuraib made this addition: Then it would be made to stand between the Paradise and the Hell. So far as the rest of the hadith is concerned there is perfect agreement (between the two narrators) and it would be said to the inmates of Paradise: Do you recognise this? They would raise up their necks and look towards it and say: Yes, ' it is death. Then it would be said to the inmates of Hell-Fire.. Do you recognise this? And they would raise up their necks and look and say: Yes, it is death. Then command would be given for slaughtering that and then it would be said: O inmates of Paradise,, there is an everlasting life for you and no death. And then (addressing) to the inmates of the Hell-Fire, it would be said: 0 inmates of Hell-Fire, there is an everlasting living for you and no death. Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) then recited this verse pointing with his hand to this (material) world:" Warn them, this Day of dismay, and when their affairs would be decided and they would be un- mindful and they believe not" (xix. 39).

 

Book 040, Number 6829:

 

Abdullah reported that Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: Allah would admit the inmates of Paradise into Paradise and the inmates of Hell into Hell. Then the announcer would stand between them and say: O inmates of Paradise, there is no death for you, O inmates of Hell, there is no death for you. You would live for ever therein.

 

Thus, we see that Islam clearly teaches that disbelievers will go to hell for eternity and that the believers, who once have entered paradise, would also abide there for eternity.

 

Now we will move on to refuting the arguments of Shamoun and Katz.

 

 

They said:

There are other texts, however, that say people may not abide in hell or paradise forever, but for as long as Allah wills or for the duration of heaven and earth:

One day will He gather them all together, (and say): "O ye assembly of Jinns! Much (toll) did ye take of men." Their friends amongst men will say: "Our Lord! we made profit from each other: but (alas!) we reached our term - which thou didst appoint for us." He will say: "The Fire be your dwelling-place: you will dwell therein for ever, except as God willeth." for thy Lord is full of wisdom and knowledge. S. 6:128

Those who are wretched shall be in the Fire: There will be for them therein (nothing but) the heaving of sighs and sobs: They will dwell therein for all the time that the heavens and the earth endure, except as thy Lord willeth: for thy Lord is the (sure) accomplisher of what He planneth. And those who are blessed shall be in the Garden: They will dwell therein so long for all the time that the heavens and the earth endure, except as thy Lord willeth: a gift without break. S. 11:106-108

The expression "except as God willeth" indicates that IF God wills he may terminate the stay in hell for (some) people, but it is not stated clearly whether it is actually his will to do so for some people, let alone whether he wills to do this for all people.

My Response:

 

Imam Tabari in his commentary states:

 

} : , .

 

 

"Except what Allah wills", means except what Allah wills from the time when they resurrect from their graves until their destiny in hell. That time span is the exception that Allah made from their eternal demise in the fire. (Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, Jami' al-bayan fi ta'wil al-Qur'an, Commentary on Surah 6:128, Source)  

 

 

Imam Qurtubi has it in his commentary:

 

: , .

 

  : , .

 

  :

 

 

Al Zajjaj said: This goes back to the Day of Judgment; they are in hell for eternity except what Allah wills from the time they resurrect from their graves and the time they spend during the Judgment Day.

 

And it is said that the exception applies to the fire, meaning except what Allah wills from punishing you with something else instead of fire at certain times.

 

And Ibn Abbaas said: The exception only applies to the people of faith. (Abu 'Abdullah Al-Qurtubi, Tasfir al Jami' li-ahkam al-Qur'an, Commentary on Surah 6:128, Source)  

 

 

; : " " , " " ;

 

 

The exception is only for those believing sinners who will be taken out of the fire after spending some time in it. Therefore, Allah's statement "Those who are wretched" is general and applies to disbelievers and sinners, and the exception is from "dwell therein"


This is said by Qatadah, Al Dahhaak, Abu Sinaan and others.
(Abu 'Abdullah Al-Qurtubi, Tasfir al Jami' li-ahkam al-Qur'an, Commentary on Surah 11:107, Source)  

 

 

Tafsir Al Jalalayn states:

 

'The Fire is your lodging, your abode, to abide therein' - except what God wills, of those times when they will exit from it in order to drink boiling water, which is located outside it, as God, exalted be He, has said: Then they shall return to the Hell-fire [Q. 37:68]; (Tafsir Al Jalalayn, Commentary on Surah 6:128, Source)

 

 

Imam az-Zamakhshari states:

 

{ ٰ ٱ } ѡ

 

"You will dwell therein for ever, except as God willeth" this means that they will suffer the punishment of the fire for all eternity, except what Allah wills from the times where they will be shifted from the punishment of the fire to the punishment of Al Zamhareer, for it is narrated that they will enter a valley that has Al Zamhareer. (az-Zamakhshari, Al Kashaaf, Commentary on Surah 6:128, Source)

 

 

Al Zamhareer is a punishment that is in Hell. Instead of punishing the person with intense heat it is actually a punishment with intense cold. Imam Nawawi in his commentary on Saheeh Muslim states:

 

:

 

The scholars have said that Al Zamhareer is intense cold. (Imam Nawawi, Sharh Saheeh Muslim, Kitab: Al Masaajid wa Mawaadi' Al Salah, Bab: Istihbaab Al Ibraad bil Zhahr fi Shiddat Al Harr Liman Madaa Ela Jamaa'ah, Commentary on Hadith no. 979, Source)

 

The punishment of Al Zamhareer is verified by a Hadeeth in Musnad Ahmad, Hadith no.  7397 (Arabic Source) and has been declared authentic by Shaykh Al Arna'ut (Volume 11, page 8). The concept of Al Zamhareer is also found in Saheeh Muslim, Book 004, Number 1292.

 

Thus, we see that we have a number of possible answers to this argument.

 

One possible answer is that the phrase "except what Allah wills" refer to the time span from the time that the disbelievers resurrect from their grave until the time they enter the gates of hell. This answer seems convincing since the context of the verse shows that Allah is speaking to them on the Day of Judgment.

 

Another possible answer is that the phrase "except what Allah wills" only refers to those Muslim sinners and not the disbelievers.

 

Another possible answer is that the phrase "except what Allah wills" refers to the time where Allah will not punish the disbelievers with fire, but with cold (i.e. Al Zamhareer). This makes sense since the verse says "The Fire be your dwelling-place" and does not say "Hell be your dwelling-place", since the fire is only one of the punishments that hell has to offer.

 

Thus, so far we have not seen Shamoun and Katz proving that disbelievers will only be in hell temporarily.

 

They said:

Regarding the phrase, "for all the time that the heavens and the earth endure", there are several aspects that need to be pondered. Are heaven and earth eternal, or will they perish? If heaven and earth are eternal (according to Islam), these verses imply that the dwelling in hell will be eternal as well (except if God wills otherwise for some). If the heavens and the earth are not eternal, i.e. they will be destroyed at a certain time, then these verses merely say that these people will stay in hell or paradise (at least) as long as heaven and earth exist (unless God's will is to terminate their stay earlier). These statements only define a lower limit for the length of time of their stay in hell. It does not say that they will leave hell at the point in time when heaven and earth end. They might continue to stay in hell afterwards, if paradise and hell are somewhere outside of the heavens and the earth. On the other hand, if paradise and hell are part of the heavens and the earth, they will cease to exist with them, but where will their inhabitants go to afterwards?

Notice, also, that the same expression, "for all the time that the heavens and the earth endure", is used not only in reference to the stay in hell but also in reference to the stay in the garden/paradise. If we are to conclude from this passage that the term in hell is limited, does this not equally mean that the term in paradise is limited as well?

In other words, if Muslims insist that the believers will stay in paradise forever then nothing in these verses suggests other people will not stay in hell forever. These verses open up only the possibility that the period in hell (and paradise) may be limited, but they do not give a definite promise or conclusive statement in that regard.

My Response:

 

Tafsir Al Jalalayn argues that "except what Allah wills" implies that Allah will add to the duration of the heavens and the earth and since the Qur'an clearly states that this duration is eternity, this means that Allah will add eternity to the duration:

 

abiding therein for as long as the heavens and the earth endure, that is, [for] the length of the duration of both in this world, except, other than, what your Lord may will, in the way of adding to the duration of these two, such that it [their abiding] becomes indefinite: meaning that they will abide therein forever. Truly your Lord is Doer of what He desires. (Tafsir Al Jalalayn, Commentary on Surah 11:107, Source)

 

 

Ibn Kathir in his commentary quotes Imam Al Tabari who states that the phrase "as long as the heavens and the earth endure" linguistically implies eternity:

Imam Abu Ja`far bin Jarir said, "It was from the customs of the Arabs that when they wanted to describe something that would last forever, they would say, `This is as enduring as the heavens and the earth.' Or, `It will last as until the night and day separate.' They would say, `As long as talkers at night continue to chat.' They meant by these statements the condition of eternity. Therefore, Allah addressed them in a manner that they were familiar with among themselves. Thus, He said,

[ ]

(They will dwell therein for all the time that the heavens and the earth endure,) (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Source)

Ibn Kathir continues:

The literal meaning is also intended with; "for all the time that the heavens and the earth endure.'' This is due to the fact that there will be heavens and earth in the life of the next world, just as Allah said,

[ ]

(On the Day when the earth will be changed to another earth and so will be the heavens.) [14:48] For this reason, Al-Hasan Al-Basri said concerning the statement of Allah,

[ ]

(the heavens and the earth endure.) "Allah is referring to a heaven other than this heaven (which we see now) and an earth other than this earth. That (new) heaven and earth will be eternal.'' Concerning Allah's statement,

[ ]

(except as your Lord wills. Verily, your Lord is the doer of whatsoever He intends.) This is similar to His statement,

[ ]

(The Fire be your dwelling place, you will dwell therein forever, except as Allah may will. Certainly your Lord is All-Wise, All-Knowing.) [6:128] It has been said that the exception mentioned in this verse refers to the disobedient among the people of Tawhid. It is these whom Allah will bring out of the Fire by the intercession of the interceders. Those who will be allowed to intercede are the angels, the Prophets and the believers. They will intercede even on behalf of those who committed major sins. Then, the generous mercy of Allah will remove from the Fire those who have never done any good, except for saying La ilaha illallah one day of their life. This has been mentioned in numerous authentic reports from the Messenger of Allah , including narrations from Anas bin Malik, Jabir bin `Abdullah, Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri, Abu Hurayrah and other Companions. No one remains in the Fire after this final intercession, except those who will remain there forever without escape. This is the opinion held by many of the scholars, both past and present, concerning the explanation of this verse.

[ ]   

(108. And those who are blessed, they will be in Paradise, abiding therein for all the time that the heavens and the earth endure, except as your Lord wills: a gift without an end.) (Ibid.)

 

Ibn Kathir elaborates further:

The Condition of the Happy People and their Destination

Allah, the Exalted, says,

[ ]

(And those who are blessed.) These are the followers of the Messengers.

[ ]

(they will be in Paradise,) This means that their final abode will be Paradise.

[ ]

(abiding therein for all the time) This means that they will remain there forever.

[ ]

(that the heavens and the earth endure, except as your Lord wills:) The meaning of the exception that is made here is that the condition of eternal pleasure that they will experience therein is something that is not mandatory by itself. Rather, it is something that is dependent upon the will of Allah. Unto Him belongs the favor of immortality upon them. For this reason they are inspired to glorify and praise Him, just as they are inspired to breathe. Ad-Dahhak and Al-Hasan Al-Basri both said, "It is about the right of the disobedient people of Tawhid who were in the Fire and then brought out of it.'' Then Allah finished this statement by saying,

[ ]

(a gift without an end.) This means that it will never be cut off. This has been mentioned by Mujahid, Ibn `Abbas, Abu Al-`Aliyah and others. This has been mentioned so that the suspicious person will not doubt after the mention of the will of Allah. Someone may think that the mention of Allah's will here means that the pleasure of Paradise may end or change. To the contrary, it has been decreed that this pleasure will truly be forever and will never end. Likewise, Allah has clarified here that the eternal torment of the people of the Fire in Hell also is due to His will. He explains that He punishes them due to His justness and wisdom. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Source)

 

It's funny how Shamoun and Katz often cite Ibn Kathir in their articles, but this time decided to ignore his commentary because it devastates the crux of their argument.

 

It is also funny to note that Shamoun and Katz later on into their article cite Maulana Ali who refutes their argument regarding eternity in Paradise:

 

The two expressions are similar; those in Hell and those in Paradise abide, each in his place, as long as the heavens and the earth endure, with an exception added in each case - except as thy Lord pleases - showing that they may be taken out of that condition. But the concluding statements are different. In the case of Paradise, the idea that those in it will be taken out of it, if God pleases, is immediately followed by the statement that it is a gift that shall never be cut off, showing that they shall not be taken out of Paradise; while in the case of Hell, the idea that those in it will be taken out is confirmed by the concluding statement, that God does as He intends.

 

They said:

Here is a passage that seems to be more definite in limiting the time of hell, and thus more clearly in contradiction to the first block of verses:

[On that Day,] verily, hell will lie in wait [for those who deny the truth] - a goal for all who are wont to transgress the bounds of what is right! In it shall they remain for a long time. S. 78:21-23 Asad

The late Muslim scholar and translator Muhammad Asad noted that the Arabic word for "long time" does not mean forever:

12 I.e., not forever, since the term huqb or hiqbah (of which ahqab is the plural) denotes no more than "a period of time" or "a long time" (Jawhari) - according to some authorities, "eighty years", according to others, "a year" or simply "years" (Asas, Qamus, Lisan al-Arab, etc.). But however one defines this term, it is obvious that it signifies a limited period of time, and not eternity: and this is in tune with many indications in the Qur'an to the effect that the suffering described as "hell" is not eternal (see note 114 on the last paragraph of 6:128), as well as with several authentic sayings of the Prophet (e.g., the one quoted in note 10 on 40:12). (The Message of the Qur'an; source; bold and underline emphasis ours)

My Response:

Asad's translation is misleading. It is true that hiqbah (singular) denotes a limited time, however it does not necessarily follow that ahqab (plural) also denotes a limited time as well. The appropriate translation for the verse should be:

Pickthall

They will abide therein for ages.

Yusuf Ali

They will dwell therein for ages.

Hilali-Khan

They will abide therein for ages,

Shakir

Living therein for ages.

Sher Ali

Who will tarry therein for ages.

Khalifa

They stay in it for ages.

Arberry

therein to tarry for ages,

Palmer

to tarry therein for ages.

Rodwell

To abide therein ages;

Sale

who shall remain therein for ages:

Now the question we need to ask our selves is how long does "ages" last?

Ibn Kathir in his commentary has it:

Ibn Jarir also recorded from Sallim that he heard Al-Hasan being asked about Allah s statement,

[ ]

(They will abide therein Ahqab) "In reference to Ahqab, it has no specific amount of time other than its general meaning of eternity in the Hellfire. However, they have mentioned that the Huqb is seventy years, and every day of it is like one thousand years according to your reckoning (in this life).'' Sa`id reported from Qatadah that he said, "Allah says,

[ ]

(They will abide therein Ahqab.) (78:23) And it is that which has no end to it. Whenever one era comes to an end, a new era follows it. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Source)

 

Imam Qurtubi in his commentary states:

 

, ,

 

: ; , . ; . . : , ; : " . . "

 

 

 

They are in the fire as long as the epochs (Ahqaab) last, and they don't cut off.  As one epoch passes away, another one comes.

 

And it is said that Epochs (Ahqaab) were mentioned instead of days because epochs would instill more terror into the hearts of the people because it indicates perpetuity and the meaning is close. And this perpetuity is for those polytheists. And it is possible that this verse only refers to those sinners that come out of the fire after epochs. And it is said that the epochs only refer to the time when they drink boiling water and dirty wound discharges, so when that finishes they will go through another series of epochs of punishments. And for this Allah said "They will abide therein for ages. Nothing cool shall they taste therein, nor any drink. Except boiling water, and dirty wound discharges." (Abu 'Abdullah Al-Qurtubi, Tasfir al Jami' li-ahkam al-Qur'an, Commentary on Surah 78:23, Source)  

 

Tafsir Al Jalalayn states:

 

to remain (lābithīna is an implied circumstantial qualifier, in other words, their remaining therein will be decreed [to be]) therein for ages, for endless epochs (ahqāb is the plural of huqb), (Tafsir Al Jalalayn, Commentary on Surah 78:23, Source)

 

Imam az-Zamakhshari states:

 

 

 

ȡ ɡ ǡ

 

: ɡ : .

 

Epoch (haqb) after epoch. As every epoch passes away another one follows right after it with no end. The verse wouldn't have used epoch (haqb) unless it wanted to imply perpetuity and the etymology bears witness to that.

 

And it is said that the epoch lasts eighty years. It could also be meant to imply that the disbelievers won't have coolness or drink except boiling water and dirty wound discharges. So after this series of epochs another series of epochs will come with a different punishment. (az-Zamakhshari, Al Kashaaf, Commentary on Surah 78:23, Source)

 

 

Also refer to the commentary on Imam Tabari.

 

 

So as we can see, the term "ages" does not have to imply a limited time. Rather it means "age after age" and since the Qur'an elsewhere clearly states that the punishment is for eternity we could easily understand this verse as implying that "age after age" will be perpetual.

 

If one insists that "ages" has to denote a limited amount of time then that is okay, since the context of the verse could be used to explain that this limited amount of time would be for the specific punishment of drinking boiling water and dirty wound discharges (Surah 78:23-25).

 

We are this far into the article and still haven't seen a convincing argument from Shamoun and Katz (and don't get your hopes up that they will).

 

They said:

Asad isn't alone since the late Maulana Muhammad Ali of the Ahmadiyya sect argued along similar lines concerning the temporal nature of hell:

Another consideration which shows that this chastisement is of a remedial nature, is that, according to the Qur'an and the Sayings of the Prophet, all those who are in Hell, shall ultimately, when they are fit for a new life, be released from it. This is a point on which great misunderstanding prevails even among Muslim theologians [sic]. They make a distinction between the Muslim sinners and the non-Muslim sinners, holding that all Muslim sinners shall be ultimately taken out of hell, but not the non-Muslim sinners. Neither the Qur'an nor the Tradition uphold this view. There are two words khulud and abad used in connection with abiding in Hell or Paradise, and both these words, while, no doubt, indicating eternity, also bear the significance of a long time. Not only do all authorities on Arabic lexicography agree on this, but the use of these words in the Qur'an also makes it quite clear. The word khulu has been freely used regarding the chastisement in Hell of Muslim as well as of non-Muslim sinners. One example of its use for Muslim sinners is that after stating law of inheritance, it is said: "These are Allah's limits; and. whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger and goes beyond His limits, He causes him to enter fire, to abide in it (khalidin), and for him is an abasing chastisement" (4 : 13, 14). Here clearly Muslim sinners are spoken of, and yet their abiding in Hell is expressed by the word khulud.

Take the other word abad. This word occurs thrice in the Qur'an, in connection with the abiding of sinners in Hell. Ordinarily, it is taken as meaning for ever or eternally, but that it sometimes signifies only a long time, is abundantly clear from the fact that both its dual and plural forms are in use. Raghib says that this is owing to the fact that the word is, in that case, used to express a part of time. And explaining its verb form ta'abbada, he says it signifies the thing existed for abad, and is taken to mean what remains for a long time. Thus a long time, as the significance of abad, is fully recognized in Arabic lexicography. That in the case of those in Hell, it signifies a long time and not for ever, is clear from the fact that the abiding in Hell of even the unbelievers is elsewhere stated to be for ahqab, which is the plural of huqbah, meaning a year or many years (LA.)., or eighty years (R.). At all events it indicates a definite period of time, and hence serves as a clear indication that even abad, in the case of abiding in Hell, means a long time.

The two words khulud and abad, which are generally construed as leading to an eternity of Hell, being thus disposed of, the verses which are generally adduced in support of the idea that those in Hell shall for ever and ever suffer its endless tortures may be considered: "Thus will Allah show them their deeds to be intense regret to them, and they will not escape from the fire" (2 : 167). "Those who disbelieve, even if they had all that is in the earth, and the like of it with it, to ransom themselves with it from the chastisement of the Day of Resurrection, it would not be accepted from them and theirs is a painful chastisement. They would desire to come forth from the fire, and they will not come forth from it, and theirs is a lasting chastisement" (5 : 36, 37). "Whenever they desire to go forth from it, from grief, they are turned back into it" (22 : 22). "And as for those who transgress, their refuge is the Fire. Whenever they desire to go forth from it they are brought back into it, and it is said to them, Taste the chastisement of the Fire, which you called a lie" (32 : 20).

These verses are self-explanatory. Those in Hell shall desire to escape from it but shall not be able to do so; even if they could offer the whole earth as a ransom, they would not be able to get out. The evil consequences of sin cannot be avoided, howsoever one may desire, and even so is the fire of Hell. None can escape from it. But not a word is there in any of these verses to show that God will not take them out of it, or that the tortures of Hell are endless. They only show that every sinner must suffer the consequences of what he has done, and he cannot escape them; but that he may be set free when he has undergone the necessary chastisement, or that God may, of His boundless mercy, deliver the sinners when He pleases, is not denied here. (Ali, The Religion of Islam [The Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha'at Islam (Lahore) U.S.A., Eighth Edition 2005], Chapter VI. Life After Death, Remedial nature of Hell, pp. 231-233)

The Arabic lexicons support Ali's conclusions in that they do say that the word doesn't necessarily refer to perpetuity but can mean a long time. Note, for instance, how the following lexical source defines abad:

Alif-Ba-Dal = he remained/stayed, abode, dwelt constantly/permanently, to render perpetual, time (in an absolute sense), LONG TIME, endless/eternal/forever, unlimited/indivisible, lasting/everlasting, unsocial/unfamiliar, never (when used in negative construction).

abad n.m. 2:95, 4:57, 4:122, 4:169, 5:24, 5:119, 9:22, 9:83, 9:84, 9:100, 9:108, 18:3, 18:20, 18:35, 18:57, 24:4, 24:17, 24:21, 33:53, 33:65, 48:12, 59:11, 60:4, 62:7, 64:9, 65:11, 72:23, 98:8

Lane's Lexicon, Volume 1, pages: 41 42 (Project Root List; source; capital and underline emphasis ours)

The late Maulana also used Q. 6:128 and 11:106-108 to prove that the Arabic term abad doesn't necessarily mean that hell will last forever:

Even if abad is taken to mean eternity, the abiding in Hell, according to the Qur'an, must cease at some time, because a limit is placed on it by the addition of the words except as Allah pleases (ila ma sha'a Allah) which clearly indicate the ultimate deliverance of those in Hell. The following two verses may be noted in this connection: "He will say, The Fire is your abode - you shall abide therein, except as Allah pleases. Surely thy Lord is Wise, Knowing" (6 : 129). "Then as to those who are unhappy, they will be in the fire; for them will be sighing and groaning - abiding therein so long as the heavens and the earth endure, except as thy Lord pleases. Surely thy Lord is the mighty Doer of what He intends."

 

My Response:

 

Shaykh Jalal Abualrub refuting Osama Abdullah's old belief regarding the punishment of hell being temporary stated:

 

For instance, Osama is now seeking what he thinks is a new meaning for 'abada', so as to refute the Quran which clearly states that the dwellers of the Hell-Fire will remain in it for eternity.  This is what some Muslims do these days: they first embrace an idea and then search for proof of it in the Quran, instead of forming their ideas and practices according to the limits set in the Quran and Sunnah.  Well, Osama, since you are a scholar in the Quran, how come you do not know that 'abada' alone does not necessarily mean 'for eternity'?

 

If we are to follow Osama's idea that 'abada' in the context of Hell means that Hell will exist for a limited time, then, Paradise will also exist for a limited time, since Allah said, {But those who believe and do deeds of righteousness, We shall admit them to Gardens under which rivers flow, abiding therein abada}; [4:57]. 

 

Because Osama has a profound ignorance both in Arabic and in Islam, he does not even realize that the key word to refer to, to assert the never-ending existence of Paradise and Hell, is 'Khalideen', where 'Khuld', means, 'eternity'.  Osama thinks that by using 'abada' he can prove that Hell will one day become empty.  'Abada' does not necessarily mean 'eternity', unlike 'Khuld': {Then Shaitn (Satan) whispered to him, saying: "O, Adam! Shall I lead you to the Tree of Khuld (Eternity) and to a kingdom that will never waste away?"}; [20:120].  Satan convinced Adam that the key to 'a kingdom that will never waste away' is earned through eating from the 'Tree of Khuld'.  Thus, 'Khuld' pertains to eternity.  In contrast, 'abada', does not necessarily mean 'for eternity', but may also mean 'for a limited time'. (Shaykh Jalal Abualrub, The Art of Deception: Part 1, Source)

 

Indeed the key word is "Khalideen", which implies eternity.

 

Maulana Ali tries to argue that this word could be used for Muslims as well and he referred to Surah 4:14 as an example. However, the verse is speaking about an eternal punishment. It is speaking about those who knowingly condemn the ruling of Allah and His Messenger. Such a person is indeed a kaafir. (Refer to Imam Tabari's commentary on Surah 4:14 here)

 

I am willing to admit that sometimes the Qur'an might use this word in reference to Muslims, however whenever there are verses where isolated by themselves are ambiguous (i.e. they could either imply eternity or a specified limited time), this issue is already cleared up by other Qur'anic verses and statements of the Prophet (since one of his tasks is to teach us the Qur'an, see 3:164 & 16:64) as I have showed in the beginning of this article. Hence, when we take all the Qur'anic verses and hadith together and let them explain each other we come to the conclusion that these verses are indeed speaking about the punishment of hell being eternal. The context of the verse is always essential. Context will always tell you whether the word khaalideena would imply eternity or not.

 

I would also have to say that Maulana Ali is stretching his interpretation of Surah 5:37, which clearly states that the disbelievers will not come out of hell. He is trying to interpret the verse as saying that the disbelievers will never get out of the "limited in time" punishment in hell. However, this is far fetched and it violates the plain reading of the text. Furthermore, the end of the verse makes it clear that the punishment is permanent and eternal:

 

They would desire to go forth from the fire, and they shall not go forth from it, and they shall have a lasting (muqeem) punishment

 

The Arabic word muqeem implies that the punishment is permanent and will not go away.

 

Imam Qurtubi says:

 

 

" "

 

"Muqeem", it means that it is fixed and permanent. It won't evanesce or switch. (Abu 'Abdullah Al-Qurtubi, Tasfir al Jami' li-ahkam al-Qur'an, Commentary on Surah 5:37, Source)  

 

 

Imam Tabari concurs:

 

 

They have a punishment that is fixed and permanent. It won't disappear from them and it won't move away ever. (Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, Jami' al-bayan fi ta'wil al-Qur'an, Commentary on Surah 5:37, Source)  

 

Tafsir Al Jalalayn and Ibn Kathir say the same thing.

 

 

They said:

The following Quranic reference provides additional attestation that Allah will eventually take some (many?) people out of hell:

It is the inevitable decree of your Lord that every one of you will be taken to hell. We will save the pious ones from the hell fire and leave the unjust people therein in crowded groups. S. 19:71-72 Muhammad Sarwar

A.J. Arberry's translation reads:

No 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 these that were God-fearing; and the evildoers We shall leave there, hobbling on their knees.

And here are two additional versions:

There is not one of you who shall not pass through the confines of Hell. N. J. Dawood

No one is there of you who shall not go down unto it. J. M. Rodwell

Thus, Allah will deliver from hell certain individuals who were pious which provides support that at least some (perhaps even many) will not suffer eternal torment.

My Response:

 

Shamoun and Katz said it themselves:

Thus, Allah will deliver from hell certain individuals who were pious which provides support that at least some (perhaps even many) will not suffer eternal torment.

Indeed, these verses are not referring to the disbelievers. According to Islam the disbelievers are not pious one bit. These verses only refer to the sinning Muslims undergoing temporary punishment (more on this below).

 

They said:

There is another Quran passage which speaks of people being removed from the fire so as to enter paradise:

Every soul will taste of death. And ye will be paid on the Day of Resurrection only that which ye have fairly earned. Whoso is removed from the Fire and is made to enter paradise, he indeed is triumphant. The life of this world is but comfort of illusion. S. 3:185 Pickthall

Notice how the version of Shakir renders the verse:

Every soul shall taste of death, and you shall only be paid fully your reward on the resurrection day; then whoever is removed far away from the fire and is made to enter the garden he indeed has attained the object; and the life of this world is nothing but a provision of vanities. Shakir

Both the ahadith and Islamic commentaries also support this point. For instance, a commentary attributed to Ibn Abbas explains Q. 11:107-108 this way:

(Abiding there) they will stay in the Fire forever (so long as the heavens and the earth endure) for as long as the heavens and the earth remain, from the moment they were created until the moment they lapse (save for that which thy Lord willeth) and your Lord has willed that they will abide in the Fire forever; it is also said: those who are damned will abide therein forever for as long as the heavens, the earth and the children of Adam subsist, except those whom Allah wills to change from damnation to felicity by His saying: (Allah effaceth what He will, and establishes [13:39]); it is also said that this means: they will abide in the Fire for as long as the heavens and the earth subsist: the heaven of the Fire and the earth of the Fire unless Allah wills to get the people who believed in Allah's divine Oneness out of it, those whose wretchedness was caused by a sin less than disbelief. Allah will enter these into Paradise because of their pure faith. (Lo! thy Lord is Doer of what He will) as He will. (Tanwr al-Miqbs min Tafsr Ibn 'Abbs; source; bold and italic emphasis ours)

(And as for those who will be glad) those who were decreed to be felicitous ((that day) they will be in the Garden, abiding there) in Paradise (so long as the heavens and the earth endure save for that which thy Lord willeth) when He wills to turn them from felicity to damnation due to His saying (Allah effaceth what He will, and establishes [13:39]); it is also said: they will abide in Paradise for as long as the heavens and the earth subsist: the heaven of Paradise and the earth of Paradise unless Allah wills to torment some people before making them enter Paradise, such that He puts them first in Hell and then gets them out of it and puts them in Paradise, to abide therein forever: (a gift) a reward for them (unfailing) undiminished and uninterrupted. The Quran also alludes to the fact that everyone enters hell, and only the faithful will come out; (Tanwr al-Miqbs min Tafsr Ibn 'Abbs; source; bold and italic emphasis ours)

Muhammad is reported to have made the following comments concerning people exiting hell:

Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri:

Allah's Apostle said, "When the people of Paradise have entered Paradise, and the people of the Fire have entered the Fire, Allah will say, 'Take out (of the Fire) whoever has got faith equal to a mustard seed in his heart.' They will come out, and by that time they would have burnt and became like coal, and then they will be thrown into the river of Al-Hayyat (life) and they will spring up just as a seed grows on the bank of a rainwater stream." The Prophet said, "Don't you see that the germinating seed comes out yellow and twisted?" (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 76, Number 565)

And:

Narrated Anas:
The Prophet said, "Some people who will be scorched by Hell (Fire) as a punishment for sins they have committed, and then Allah will admit them into Paradise by the grant of His Mercy. These people will be called, 'Al-Jahannamiyyin' (the people of Hell)." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 93,
Number 542)

Again:

. We, the companions of the Prophet said, "O Allah's Apostle! What is the bridge?"

He said, "It is a slippery (bridge) on which there are clamps and (hooks like) a thorny seed that is wide at one side and narrow at the other and has thorns with bent ends. Such a thorny seed is found in Najd and is called As-Sa'dan. Some of the believers will cross the bridge as quickly as the wink of an eye, some others as quick as lightning, a strong wind, fast horses or she-camels. So some will be safe without any harm; some will be safe after receiving some scratches, and some will fall down into Hell (Fire). The last person will cross by being dragged (over the bridge)." The Prophet said, "You (Muslims) cannot be more pressing in claiming from me a right that has been clearly proved to be yours than the believers in interceding with Almighty for their (Muslim) brothers on that Day, when they see themselves safe.

"They will say, 'O Allah! (Save) our brothers (for they) used to pray with us, fast with us and also do good deeds with us.' Allah will say, 'Go and take out (of Hell) anyone in whose heart you find faith equal to the weight of one (gold) Dinar.' Allah will forbid the Fire to burn the faces of those sinners. They will go to them and find some of them in Hell (Fire) up to their feet, and some up to the middle of their legs. So they will take out those whom they will recognize and then they will return, and Allah will say (to them), 'Go and take out (of Hell) anyone in whose heart you find faith equal to the weight of one half Dinar.' They will take out whomever they will recognize and return, and then Allah will say, 'Go and take out (of Hell) anyone in whose heart you find faith equal to the weight of an atom (or a smallest ant),' and so they will take out all those whom they will recognize." Abu Sa'id said: If you do not believe me then read the Holy Verse:--

'Surely! Allah wrongs not even of the weight of an atom (or a smallest ant) but if there is any good (done) He doubles it.' (4.40) The Prophet added, "Then the prophets and Angels and the believers will intercede, and (last of all) the Almighty (Allah) will say, 'Now remains My Intercession.' He will then hold a handful of the Fire from which He will take out some people whose bodies have been burnt, and they will be thrown into a river at the entrance of Paradise, called the water of life.

They will grow on its banks, as a seed carried by the torrent grows. You have noticed how it grows beside a rock or beside a tree, and how the side facing the sun is usually green while the side facing the shade is white. Those people will come out (of the River of Life) like pearls, and they will have (golden) necklaces, and then they will enter Paradise whereupon the people of Paradise will say, 'These are the people emancipated by the Beneficent. He has admitted them into Paradise without them having done any good deeds and without sending forth any good (for themselves).' Then it will be said to them, 'For you is what you have seen and its equivalent as well.'" (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 93, Number 532s)

My Response:

 

These above narrations only apply to Muslims. They don't apply to disbelievers.

 

The Prophet (peace be upon him) distinguished between those who will be in hell permanently and temporarily (he didn't say everyone will suffer temporarily):

 

Saheeh Muslim

 

Book 001, Number 0357:

 

It is reported by Abu Sa'id that the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: The (permanent) inhabitants of the Fire are those who are doomed to it, and verily they would neither die nor live in it (al-Qur'an, xx. 47; lxxxvii. 13). But the people whom the Fire would afflict (temporarily) on account of their sins, or so said (the narrator)" on account of their misdeeds," He would cause them to die till they would be turned into charcoal. Then they would be granted intercession and would be brought in groups and would be spread on the rivers of Paradise and then it would be said: O inhabitants of Paradise, pour water over them; then they would sprout forth like the sprouting of seed in the silt carried by flood. A man among the people said: (It appears) as if the Messenger of Allah lived in the steppe.

 

The following hadith will make this point extremely clear:

 

Saheeh Muslim

 

Book 001, Number 0349:

 

.When Allah would finish judging His bondsmen and because of His mercy decide to take out of Hell such people as He pleases. He would command the angels to bring out those who had not associated anything with Allah; to whom Allah decided to show mercy. those who would say: There is no god but Allah. They (the angels) would recognise them in the Fire by the marks of prostration, for Hell-fire will devour everything (limb) of the sons of Adam except the marks of prostration. Allah has forbidden the fire to consume the marks of prostration. They will be taken out of the Fire having been burnt, and the water of life would be poured over them, and they will sprout as seed does In the silt carried by flood.

 

Notice that the condition for bringing out those people from the hellfire is that they didn't' associate anything with Allah. This will clearly rule out all disbelievers.

 

The next hadith states:

 

Saheeh Muslim

 

Book 001, Number 0355:

 

Abu Sa'id al-Khudri reported: Verily the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: Allah will admit into Paradise those deserving of Paradise, and He will admit whom He wishes out of His Mercy, and admit those condemned to Hell into the Fire (of Hell). He would then say: See, he whom you find having as much faith in his heart as a grain of mustard, bring him out. They will then be brought out burned and turned to charcoal, and would be cast into the river of life, and they would sprout aj does a seed in the silt carried away by flood. Have you not seen that it comes out yellow (fresh) and intertwined?

 

Book 001, Number 0367:

 

Then the stage of intercession would come, and they (who are permitted to intercede) would intercede, till he who had declared:" There is no god but Allah" and had in his heart virtue of the weight of a barley grain would come out of the Fire. They would be then brought in the courtyard of Paradise and the inhabitants of Paradise would begin to sprinkle water over them till they would sprout like the sprouting of a thing in flood water, and their burns would disappear. They would ask their Lord till they would be granted (the bounties) of the world and with it ten more besides it.

 

Notice that those whom Allah will bestow His mercy upon are those that have at least a grain of mustard of faith, but disbelievers have no faith at all. Thus, they can't be from among those whom Allah will bestow His mercy upon and take out of hellfire.

 

Allah also makes it clear in the Qu'ran that He won't bestow His mercy upon the disbelievers:

 

Surah 29:23

 

And those who disbelieve in the Ayt of Allh and the Meeting with Him, it is they who have no hope of My Mercy: and it is they who will have a painful torment

 

Tafsir Al Jalalayn states:

 

And those who disbelieve in God's signs and the encounter with Him, namely, the Qur'ān and the Resurrection [respectively], they have despaired of My mercy, that is, [of attaining] My Paradise, and for those there shall be a painful chastisement. (Tafsir Al Jalalayn, Commentary on Surah 29:23, Source)

 

Imam Qurtubi states:

 

:

 

 

"Have no hope of My Mercy" that is from Paradise. (Abu 'Abdullah Al-Qurtubi, Tasfir al Jami' li-ahkam al-Qur'an, Commentary on Surah 29:23, Source)

 

It is certain that the above hadith do not apply to disbelievers.

 

Even the hadiths that Shamoun and Katz cite make this clear. For instance, they cite Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 93, Number 532s. Shamoun and Katz don't pay careful attention to the part of the hadith, which states:

 

"They will say, 'O Allah! (Save) our brothers (for they) used to pray with us, fast with us and also do good deeds with us.' Allah will say, 'Go and take out (of Hell) anyone in whose heart you find faith equal to the weight of one (gold) Dinar.' Allah will forbid the Fire to burn the faces of those sinners.

 

The hadith is speaking about how Allah would take out of hell those Muslims with weak faith, it is not speaking about disbelievers.

 

They said:

Moreover, the Quran expressly says that the guilty, those astray etc. enter hell:

Whoever comes to his Lord (being) guilty, for him is surely hell; he shall not die therein, nor shall he live. S. 20:74 Shakir

As a side comment, the inhabitants of hell are said to be neither dead nor alive! So what are they, zombies?

My Response:

 

Imam Qurtubi states:

 

. : : ,

 

 

It is said that the soul of the disbeliever is stuck in his larynx as Allah All Mighty said that he won't die with it (i.e. the soul) leaving or live with its settling. (Abu 'Abdullah Al-Qurtubi, Tasfir al Jami' li-ahkam al-Qur'an, Commentary on Surah 20:74, Source)  

 

 

Tafsir Al Jalalayn states:

 

God, exalted be He, says: Truly whoever comes to his Lord a criminal, a disbeliever, like Pharaoh, for him there shall be Hell wherein he shall neither die, and thus find rest, nor live, a life of any benefit to him. (Tafsir Al Jalalayn, Commentary on Surah 20:74, Source)

 

They said:

Yet the following citation emphatically warns that such persons who disobey their messenger will abide in hell forever!

"Unless I proclaim what I receive from God and His Messages: for any that disobey God and His Apostle, - for them is Hell: they shall dwell therein for ever." S. 72:23

Again, if such individuals were to spend eternity in hell then how could Allah take them out from there? Doesn't this make it pretty obvious that the Quran contains more problems than it does answers?

My Response:

 

Shamoun and Katz need to make up their minds. The verse says khalideena feeha abada, yet earlier in their article they cite Maulana Ali who argues that this does not necessarily imply eternity.

 

It seems like Shamoun and Katz would like the verse to refer to eternity when it helps their case and vice versa. Talk about double standards.

 

In regards to 72:73, the context of the verse denotes that this refers to disobeying Allah and His Messenger in regards to Tawheed and acceptance of Islam. (Refer to Tafsir Al Jalalayn, Tabari & Qurtubi)

 

 

 

In conclusion, Islam clearly teaches that

 

-          Disbelievers will burn in hell for eternity

-          Some believers will enter hell temporarily

-          Once the believers enter paradise, they will abide in it for eternity

 

 

Shamoun and Katz have failed to refute any of the above assertions and have instead relied on poor scholarship to try to support their case.

 

 

 

 

 

Return to Refuting Sam Shamoun

 

Return to Homepage

 

click here to view site

HomeWhat's new?IslamChristianityRefutations LanguagesMultimediaE BooksLinksContact Me