Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Islam’s Bad News versus the Good News of Jesus Christ Pt. 1

Sam Shamoun

Of the three so-called Abrahamic faiths, Islam happens to be the only one which guarantees that every single individual will necessarily enter into hell, with absolutely no guarantee that a person will ever come out from there:

Man says, 'What, when I am dead shall I then be brought forth alive?' Will not man remember that We created him aforetime, when he was nothing? Now, by thy Lord, We shall surely muster them, and the Satans, then We shall parade them about Gehenna hobbling on their knees. Then We shall pluck forth from every party whichever of them was the most hardened in disdain of the All-merciful; then We shall know very well those most deserving to burn there. 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. S. 19:66-72 Arberry

The readers should be able to spot the immediate problem here. There is no Muslim who can ever be confident enough to know for certain whether s/he has been god-fearing enough, which is why no Muslim can ever have the assurance that Allah shall deliver him/her from hell.  

This explains why we find reports, which highlight the great emotional anguish and psychological turmoil that Muhammad’s personal companions underwent as a result of this passage:

According to Ibn Humayd – Salamah – Muhammad b. Ishaq – Muhammad b. Ja‘far b. al-Zubayr – ‘Urwah b. al-Zubayr, who said: The Messenger of God sent his expedition to Mu’tah in Jumada I of the year 8. He put Zayd b. Harithah in command of the men and said, "If Zayd b. Harithah is killed, Ja‘far b. Abi Talib shall be in command of the men; if Ja‘far is killed, ‘Abdallah b. Rawahah shall be in command… When ‘Abdallah b. Rawahah said goodbye with the other commanders of the Messenger of God who were doing so, HE WEPT. They said to him, "What is making you weep, Ibn Rawahah?" He said, "By God, I have no love of this world or excessive love for you, but I heard the Messenger of God recite a verse from the Book of God THAT MENTIONED THE FIRE [of Hell] - ‘Not one of you there is, but he shall go down to it; that for thy Lord is a thing decreed, determined’ – AND I DO NOT KNOW HOW I CAN COME OUT AFTER GOING DOWN." The Muslims said, "May God accompany you, defend you, and bring you back to us in good health."… (The History of Al-Tabari: The Victory of Islam, translated by Michael Fishbein (State University of New York Press (SUNY), Albany, NY 1997), Volume VIII (8), pp. 152-153; bold and capital emphasis ours)


Also narrated by Abdul-Razak, narrated by Ibn Ayena, narrated by Ismail Ibn Abu Khalid, narrated by Qais Ibn Abu Hazem who said that Abdallah Ibn Rawaha placed his head on his wife’s lap AND BEGAN TO WEEP, so his wife began to weep also. So he asked her, “Why are you weeping?” She responded, “I saw you weeping and so I started to weep.” He said, “I remembered the saying of Allah – who is glorified and exalted – ‘Not one of you but will pass through it’ (Q. 19:71), AND I DON’T KNOW IF I WILL BE SAVED FROM IT OR NOT.” In another narration it adds the phrase, ‘he said this while he was ill.’

Also narrated by Ibn Jarir, narrated by Abu Kurayb, narrated by Ibn Yaman, narrated by Malik Ibn Maghul, narrated by Ibn Ishaq who said, “Whenever Abu Maysarah would lie down on his bed he would say, ‘I WISH MY MOTHER HAD NEVER BORE ME.’ AND THEN HE WOULD BEGIN TO WEEP. When asked why he was weeping he would respond, ‘WE WERE TOLD THAT WE WOULD ENTER HELL, BUT WE WEREN’T TOLD THAT WE WOULD EXIT FROM IT.’”

Also narrated by Abdallah Ibn Al-Mubarak, narrated by Al-Hassan Al-Basri who said, “A man said to his brother, ‘Have you been told that you shall enter hell?’ The brother answered ‘YES.’ He then asked, ‘Have you also been told that you shall exit from it?’ The brother responded ‘NO.’ So he asked, ‘Then why the laughter?’ The brother responded, ‘I have not seen a person laugh until he joined Allah.’” (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Arabic version of Q. 19:71)

These Muslims knew that the grammar and language of the text meant that all of them would inevitably enter into the fires of hell, without knowing for certain if they would ever be taken out from there.

In fact, not even Muhammad was assured of his own salvation as is demonstrated in the following passage,

Say: 'I am not an innovation among the Messengers, and I know not what shall be done with me or with you. I only follow what is revealed to me; I am only a clear warner.' S. 46:9

And narrations,

Narrated 'Um al-'Ala:
An Ansari woman who gave the pledge of allegiance to the Prophet that the Ansar drew lots concerning the dwelling of the Emigrants. 'Uthman bin Maz'un was decided to dwell with them (i.e. Um al-'Ala's family), 'Uthman fell ill and I nursed him till he died, and we covered him with his clothes. Then the Prophet came to us and I (addressing the dead body) said, "O Abu As-Sa'ib, may Allah's Mercy be on you! I bear witness that Allah has honored you." On that the Prophet said, "How do you know that Allah has honored him?" I replied, "I do not know. May my father and my mother be sacrificed for you, O Allah's Apostle! But who else is worthy of it (if not 'Uthman)?" He said, "As to him, by Allah, death has overtaken him, and I hope the best for him. By Allah, though I am the Apostle of Allah, yet I do not know what Allah will do to me," By Allah, I will never assert the piety of anyone after him. That made me sad, and when I slept I saw in a dream a flowing stream for 'Uthman bin Maz'un. I went to Allah's Apostle and told him of it. He remarked, "That symbolizes his (good) deeds." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 5, Book 58, Number 266)

Narrated Abu Huraira:
When Allah revealed the Verse: "Warn your nearest kinsmen," Allah's Apostle got up and said, "O people of Quraish (or said similar words)! Buy (i.e. save) yourselves (from the Hellfire) as I cannot save you from Allah's Punishment; O Bani Abd Manaf! I cannot save you from Allah's Punishment, O Safiya, the Aunt of Allah's Apostle! I cannot save you from Allah's Punishment; O Fatima bint Muhammad! Ask me anything from my wealth, but I cannot save you from Allah's Punishment." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 51, Number 16

Moreover, Muhammad was not only expressly told that he would die like the rest,

Surely you shall die and they (too) shall surely die. Then surely on the day of resurrection you will contend one with another before your Lord. S. 39:30-31 Shakir

His own deity was also constantly threatening to kill and torture him in hell if he ever failed to relay the message or succumbed to the enticements of the pagans:

Indeed they were near to seducing thee from that We revealed to thee, that thou mightest forge against Us another, and then they would surely have taken thee as a friend; and had We not confirmed thee, surely thou wert near to inclining unto them a very little; then would We have let thee taste the double of life and the double of death; and then thou wouldst have found none to help thee against Us. S. 17:73-75

Say: 'Is it other than God you bid me serve, you ignorant ones?' It has been revealed to thee, and to those before thee, 'If thou associatest other gods with God, thy work shall surely fail and thou wilt be among the losers.' S. 39:65

Had he invented against Us any sayings, We would have seized him by the right hand, then We would surely have cut his life-vein and not one of you could have defended him. S. 69:44-47

This should greatly trouble Muslims since if their own prophet and exemplar, the man whom they are commanded to imitate,

You have had a good example in God's Messenger for whosoever hopes for God and the Last Day, and remembers God oft. S. 33:21

Didn’t know what Allah would do with him, what hope do they have of ever escaping the everlasting tortures and wrath of their deity?

Thus, Islam is the only religion that we are aware of which preaches such bad news, since it is the only faith that we know which claims that everyone will definitely enter into hell with no guarantee that they will ever be taken out.

Links to a number of articles dealing with the above quoted passages in more detail are given at the end of Part 2.

With the foregoing in perspective we are ready to proceed to the second part of our discussion to examine the one true faith which guarantees good news for all who adhere to it.