(Continued from Part 1, Part 2 & Part 3)

In my previous post, Pondering The ‘Afterlife’ (Part 3 – ‘Hell’ and Various Christian Interpretations Of It), I discussed various Christian schools of thought with regard to ‘Hell’ and what they think happens to the damned after they die.

Today I discuss the concept of ‘Hell’ in Islam.

How is ‘Hell’ understood in Islam? According to Wikipedia:

  • Muslims believe in jahannam (which is related to the Hebrew word gehinnom and resembles the versions of Hell in Christianity). In the Qur’an, the holy book of Islam, there are literal descriptions of the condemned in a fiery Hell, as contrasted to the garden-like Paradise (jannah) enjoyed by righteous believers.
  • In addition, Heaven and Hell are split into many different levels depending on the actions perpetrated in life, where punishment is given depending on the level of evil done in life, and good is separated into other levels depending on how well one followed God while alive. The gate of Hell is guarded by Maalik who is the leader of the angels assigned as the guards of hell also known as Zabaaniyah. The Quran states that the fuel of Hellfire is rocks/stones (idols) and human beings.

According to islamicinformation.net:

Islam teaches that Hell is a real place prepared by God for those who do not believe in Him, rebel against His laws, and reject His messengers. Hell is an actual place, not a mere state of mind or a spiritual entity. The horrors, pain, anguish, and punishment are all real, but different in nature than their earthly counterparts. Hell is the ultimate humiliation and loss, and nothing is worse than it.

Here are a few Qur’anic passages that describe ‘Hell’:

  • “Soon I will cast him into Hell Fire. And what will explain to you what is Hellfire? Nothing does it allow to endure, and nothing does it leave alone! Darkening and changing the color of man! Over it are nineteen (angels as keepers of Hell).” (Qur’an 74:26-30)
  • “Surely, the disbelievers will be in the torment of Hell to abide therein forever. (The torment) will not be lightened for them, and they will be plunged into destruction with deep regrets, sorrows and in despair therein. We wronged them not, but they were the wrongdoers. And they will cry: ‘O Malik! Let your Lord make an end of us’ He will say: ‘Surely, you shall abide forever.’ Indeed We have brought the truth to you, but most of you have a hatred for the truth” (Qur’an 43:74-78)
  • “Take him, and fetter him, and then roast him in Hell, then in a chain of seventy cubits’ length insert him!” (Qur’an 69:30-32)
  • “..then fear the Fire, whose fuel is men and stones, prepared for the disbelievers.” (Qur’an 2:24)
  • “For the damned garments of fire shall be cut, and there shall be poured over their heads boiling water, whereby whatsoever is in their bellies and their skins shall be melted; for them await hooked iron rods; as often as they desire in their anguish to come forth from it, they shall be restored into it, and: ‘Taste the chastisement of the burning!’” (Qur’an 22:19-22)

According to Islam, who will be sent to ‘Hell’? 

  • If you believe in only part of the Scripture, you will suffer in this life and go to Hell in the next. (Qur’an 2:85)
  • Jews are the greediest of all humankind. They’d like to live 1000 years. But they are going to Hell. (Qur’an 2:96)
  • Those who fail in their duty to Allah are proud and sinful. They will all go to Hell. (Qur’an 2:206)
  • Those who disbelieve shall be overcome and gathered unto Hell. (Qur’an 3:12)
  • Those who brag about doing good will go to Hell. (Qur’an 3:188)
  • Disbelievers will go to Hell. (Qur’an 3:196)
  • Don’t steal from orphans (or Allah will burn you forever in Hell). (Qur’an 4:10)
  • Believers who kill believers will face the awful doom of Hell. (Qur’an 4:93)
  • Those who oppose the messenger and become unbelievers will go to Hell. (Qur’an 4:115)
  • Allah will gather hypocrites and disbelievers into Hell. (Qur’an 4:140)
  • Disbelievers are the rightful owners of Hell. (Qur’an 5:10)
  • Christians will be burned in the Fire. (Qur’an 5:72)

A comprehensive list of ‘sins’ that get you sent to ‘Hell’, according to Islam, can be found here.

It is believed, in Islam, that Muslim sinners that have been sent to ‘Hell’ (i.e. adherents of Islam who unfortunately didn’t ‘make the grade’, as it were) will be pardoned by ‘God’ at some point, and allowed entry into ‘Paradise’. This somewhat resembles the Catholic concept of purgatory.

The description of ‘Hell’ as described in the Qur’an is indeed horrific, much worse than any description of it that can be found in the Christian bible. It is interesting to ponder whether Christians lose sleep over the prospect of spending an eternity in this ‘Hell’ as described in the Qur’an.

Of course, as an atheist, I don’t believe in an afterlife; nor do I believe there is a ‘Heaven’, let alone a ‘Hell’. The prospect of going to a ‘Hell’ is therefore not something I worry about because I have no reason to believe such a place exists in the first place.

Other posts in this series: