Will Muslims Enter Hell?

An Analysis of the Conflicting Hadith Reports

Sam Shamoun

This is intended as a supplement to the following discussion and responses which focus on the Quran’s assertion in 19:71-72 that all Muslims will enter hell:


In these articles we provided specific statements from both the Quran and the ahadith which expressly say that Muslims will have to spend time in hell. We also quoted other Islamic sayings which emphatically deny that Muslims will enter hell-fire, thereby providing conclusive evidence that the Islamic source material is contradicting itself regarding this point.

In this current paper we resume our analysis of the hadith literature to see whether Muhammad and/or his companions held to contradictory views regarding the fate of Muslims, i.e. does Allah send Muslims to hell or does he save them from it.

According to at least two "sound" reports Muhammad taught that Allah would forbid any Muslim who confesses that there is no god save the Islamic deity from entering and being harmed by the fires of hell:

Narrated 'Utban bin Malik Al-Ansari:

who was one of the men of the tribe of Bani Salim: Allah's Apostle came to me and said, "If anybody comes on the Day of Resurrection who has said: La ilaha illallah, sincerely, with the intention to win Allah's Pleasure, Allah will make the Hell-Fire forbidden for him." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 76, Number 431)

It is narrated on the authority of Sunabihi that he went to Ubada b. Samit when he was about to die. I burst into tears. Upon this he said to me: Allow me some time (so that I may talk with you). Why do you weep? By Allah, if I am asked to bear witness, I would certainly testify for you (that you are a believer). Should I be asked to intercede, I would certainly intercede for you, and if I have the power, I would certainly do good to you, and then observed: By Allah, never did I hear anything from the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) which could have been a source of benefit to you and then not conveyed it to you except this single hadith that I intend to narrate to you today, since I am going to breathe my last. I heard the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) say: He who testifies that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah, Allah would prohibit the fire of Hell for him. (Sahih Muslim, Book 001, Number 0045)

Note carefully what is being said: Hell-fire is strictly forbidden for every Muslim who dies affirming the Islamic confession of faith, otherwise known as the Shahadah ("testimony" or "witness") and/or Kalima ("creed").

At the same time, there are other so-called sound narrations which speak of Allah taking out of hell those Muslims who died believing in and confessing the Islamic creed!

… Anas then said, "Muhammad talked to us saying, ‘On the Day of Resurrection the people will surge with each other like waves, and then they will come to Adam and say, ‘Please intercede for us with your Lord.’… They would come to me and I would say, ‘I am for that.’ Then I will ask for my Lord's permission, and it will be given, and then He will inspire me to praise Him with such praises as I do not know now. So I will praise Him with those praises and will fall down, prostrate before Him. Then it will be said, ‘O Muhammad, raise your head and speak, for you will be listened to; and ask, for your will be granted (your request); and intercede, for your intercession will be accepted.’ I will say, ‘O Lord, my followers! My followers!’ And then it will be said, ‘Go and take out of Hell (Fire) all those who have faith in their hearts, equal to the weight of a barley grain.’ … Anas told me the same as he told you and said that the prophet added, "I then return for a fourth time and praise Him similarly and prostrate before Him. He asks me the same as he did, ‘O Muhammad, raise your head and speak, for you will be listened to; and ask, for you will be granted (your request): and intercede, for your intercession will be accepted.’ I will say, ‘O Lord, allow me to intercede for whoever said, "None has the right to be worshiped except Allah." Then Allah will say, ‘By my Power, and my Majesty, and by My Supremacy, and by My Greatness, I will take out of Hell (Fire) whoever said: 'None has the right to be worshipped except Allah.’" (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 93, Number 601)

Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri:

Allah's Apostle said, "The believers, after being saved from the (Hell) Fire, will be stopped at a bridge between Paradise and Hell and mutual retaliation will be established among them regarding wrongs they have committed in the world against one another. After they are cleansed and purified (through the retaliation), they will be admitted into Paradise; and by Him in Whose Hand Muhammad's soul is, everyone of them will know his dwelling in Paradise better than he knew his dwelling in this world." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 76, Number 542)

Some of these reports further state that certain of these Muslims who are in hell will have been burnt and harmed by the fire:

Narrated Anas bin Malik:

The Prophet said, "Some people will come out of the Fire after they have received a touch of the Fire, changing their color, and they will enter Paradise, and the people of Paradise will name them 'Al-Jahannamiyin' the (Hell) Fire people." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 76, Number 564)

Abu Huraira reported: The people said to the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him): Messenger of Allah, shall we see our Lord on the Day of Resurrection? The Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said … They would say: Thou art our Lord. And they would follow Him, and a bridge would be set over the Hell; and I (the Holy Prophet) and my Ummah would be the first to pass over it; and none but the messengers would speak on that day, and the prayer of the messengers on that day would be: O Allah! Grant safety, grant safety. In Hell, there would be long spits like the thorns of Sa'dan. He (the Holy Prophet) said: Have you seen Sa'dan? They replied: Yes, Messenger of Allah. He said: Verily those (hooks) would be like the thorns of Sa'dan, but no one knows their size except Allah. These would seize people for their misdeeds. Some of them would escape for their (good) deeds, and some would be rewarded for their deeds till they get salvation. 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.

Then Allah would finish judging amongst His bondsmen; but a man who will be the last to enter Paradise will remain facing Hell and will say: O my Lord I turn my face away from Hell, for its air has poisoned me ard its blaze has burnt me… He would then say: O my Lord, admit me to Paradise. Allah. Blessed and Exalted, would say: Did you not give covenants and agreements that you would not ask for anything more than what I had granted you? Woe to you! son of Adam, how treacherous you are! And he would say: O my Lord, I do not wish to be the most miserable of Thy creatures. He would continue calling upon Allah till Allah, Blessed and Exalted, would laugh. When Allah would laugh at him, He would say: Enter the Paradise… (Sahih Muslim, Book 001, Number 0349)

So now Muslims are faced with a problem! Certain hadiths promise that Muslims who profess genuine faith in Islamic monotheism will not be touched by fire since Allah has forbidden hell for them. Other narrations contradict this claim by asserting that a host of Muslims will end up in hell, and even experience torment while there, despite the fact that they genuinely believed that there is no god besides Muhammad’s deity. (That is, unless a Muslim wants to argue that the reason why these Muslims ended up in hell is because their profession of faith was not genuine, which introduces the problem of Allah granting salvation from hell to individuals who were unbelievers at heart! So much for the Quran’s claim that Muslim hypocrites will be tormented in hell for their disbelief [Q. 4:88-89, 137-145; 5:51-58; 9:56-59, 61-69, 73-87, 90, 93-97, 101, 107-110]).

With such confusion and contradiction, can a Muslim really trust what Allah or Muhammad says? More importantly, can Muslims assure non-Muslims that they are safe to believe in Allah and his messenger when the Islamic source material is filled with contradictions and confusion, specifically in relation to significant matters such as the issue of eternal life?

In light of this lack of clarity and coherence on the part of the primary sources of Islam, we invite Muslims to the only Person who can assure them that they will never be harmed by the flames of God’s wrath, specifically, the Lord Jesus Christ, God’s beloved Son:

"You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you." Isaiah 26:3

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God." John 3:16-18

"Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life." John 5:24

"Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ… Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation." Romans 5:1, 9-11

"For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come." 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10

"For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ," 1 Thessalonians 5:9

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