Will non-muslims go to hell? What is the fate of non-Muslims in Islam? Do good non-muslims go to Jahannam? These are commonly asked questions.
As a quick answer, we have created the following flow chart to summarise what the Ijma (Consensus) of the Ulemas say with regards to this. However, regardless of such a flow chart, at the end of the day Allah SWT with his infinite wisdom, justice, and mercy is the one that decides and may have exceptions.
The Main Premise is that God is the most Just/Fair
Before even questioning the fate of Non-Muslims, or even Muslims for that matter, we have to understand that in Islam, God (Allah SWT) mentions that he is the Al-Hakeem (the most just). Nothing can be fairer than the Judgement of Allah SWT.
God mentions in the Quran:
And fear a Day when you will be returned to Allah. Then every soul will be compensated for what it earned, and they will not be treated unjustly. (Quran 2:281)
‘How is it that Allah will throw good non-muslims to Hell Fire?’. This question is invalid as it makes a hidden assumption that Allah SWT is unfair. Read further to see why.
There will be exceptions for Non-muslims who have not heard and convinced with Islam
God mentions in the Quran:
We do not punish until We send a MessengerThe Holy Quran 17:15
From this verse alone, it is compelling evidence that God will not punish anyone that did not receive the message of Islam.
A great scholar of Islam, Imam Ghazali RA, has mentioned an exception for non-muslims who hears a distorted message of Islam. In today’s time, this can be due to:
- The media showing Islam as barbaric and violent.
- The only Muslims that a person knows showed a negative image of Islam.
According to Imam Ghazali in his book “Faysal al tariqa, Majmu‘a rasa’il al Imam al Ghazali, 3.96”, he me mention that such people are excused until they had an opportunity to learn the undistorted truth about Islam.
Such people are excused until they had an opportunity to learn the undistorted truth about IslamImam Ghazali, “Faysal al tariqa, Majmu‘a rasa’il al Imam al Ghazali, 3.96
Non-Muslims may be subjected to a specific test in the Day Judgement
There is a possibility that Non-Muslims who did not receive the message of Islam or were not convinced on Islam is the true religion (due to distortions) will be subjected to some form of test on the Day of Judgement.
This can be substantiated in the following Sahih Hadith:
Narrated by Al-Aswad ibn Saree, who reported that the Prophet SAW said: There are four (who will protest) to Allaah on the Day of Resurrection: the deaf man who never heard anything, the insane man, the very old man, and the man who died during the Fatrah (the time between the time of Eesaa and Muhammad SAW). The deaf man will say: Ya Allah, Islam came but I never heard anything. The insane man will say: Ya Allah, Islam came but the children ran after me and threw stones at me. The very old man will say: Ya Allah, Islam came but I did not understand anything. The man who died during the Fatrah will say: Ya Allah, no Messenger from You came to me. He will accept their promises of obedience, then word will be sent to them to enter the Fire. By the One in Whose hand is the soul of Muhammad, if they enter it, it will be cool and safe for them.
Scholars have interpreted the phrase ‘He will accept their promises of obedience, then word will be sent to them to enter the Fire‘ to mean that the person will be subjected to a special test in the Hereafter.
The second phrase ‘By the One in Whose hand is the soul of Muhammad, if they enter it, it will be cool and safe for them’ is a metaphor that should they be successful in these tests, they will be saved from the fire of Hell.
Non-Muslims who live a carefree life without ever seeking God will not attain salvation
In Islam, we believe that it is a Fitrah (nature) of the Human being to seek god. Meaning that if a person does not seek god, his soul will feel restless. However, despite all these warnings, if not even a moment in his life did he try to seek god, such a person will not obtain salvation.
Such a person will not obtain salvation if not even a moment in his life did he tried to seek God
This can be substantiated in a Saheeh (Authentic) Hadith by Aisha RA as follows:
Aisha RA asked the Prophet SAW: “O Messenger of Allah, during the Jaahiliyyah Ibn Jud’an used to uphold the ties of kinship and feed the poor. Will that be any avail to him?” He said, “No, that will not be of any avail to him, because he never said ‘O Lord, forgive me my sins on the Day of Judgement.” (Sahih Muslim, 214).