by Chris Brown
Al Furqaan Foundation has placed the English translation of the Quran in over 40 hotels across the nations.
While this is a major feat it is only a drop in the ocean. We will not be satisfied until all the hotels which carry bibles also carry Qurans. Unfortunately we are limited in regards to the hotels which we can cover in person.
However, you can help!
1) If you are a hotel owner we are asking you to allow us to place English translations of the Quran in all the rooms of your fine establishment as a free service. The Qur’an is a gift to humanity from Allah (SWT). Unfortunately, all of humanity is not even aware of the gift or believes the gift is for Muslims only. By giving thousands of people the opportunity read the words of Allah (SWT) you may be securing your spot in Jannah. Remember, we are not asking you to force others to read the Quran. We are merely requesting they be given a chance to read the most beautiful words ever composed.
2) If you know a hotel owner we are asking you to talk to him/her about having the Quran placed in his/her hotel as a free read for all guest. Let them know it will not cost them a dime and they are not forcing anybody to read the English translation of the Quran. Do your best to encourage them to make dawah an integral part of their personal and business life. Remember with Allah there is enough reward to go around. There will be hasanat for you, us, and them.
Brothers and sisters there is so much to be done. We have to work together to increase dawah efforts across the nation. By joining the Quran Project you are placing yourself in the front lines of dawah.
There is no telling how many people will read a single translation in one room. This project has the potential to touch thousands across the nation in such a subtle yet effect manner.
The power of the Quran cannot be imagined or contained. The person reading it is forced to think and contemplate about creation, stereotypes, his/her purpose, God and so much more.
The Quran Project is unique in nature and scope. It is the General of dawah in North America. No other project has shown the potential to touch so many people in the long and short term, especially non-Muslims.
The prophet (S) said: “The best of you are those who learn the Quran and teach it to others.”
Please continue to support the Quran Project by donating, informing others, purchasing from Furqaan Bookstore, and allow us to visit your local masjid.
Click here to donate to Al-Furqaan’s dawah project.
Another testimonial we received separately:
Nine years later, we are still haunted by Sept. 11, and in some ways it’s getting worse. All summer, a shrill debate over whether to build a mosque near the Ground Zero site was fueled by pundits on the right, who drummed up a chorus of invective that made it impossible to focus on the modest facts of the case. Then in the days leading up to the 11th, a church in Gainesville, Fla., sparked a firestorm — almost literally — by inviting Christians to come by on the anniversary for a ceremonial burning of the Koran. The Dove World Outreach Center — a misnomer if ever there was one — has made a cottage industry of its Islam-bashing, promoting its old-fashioned hate crusade with the most modern weapons — YouTube, podcasts, Facebook, and blogs (“Top Ten Reasons to Burn a Koran”).
Obviously, this was an act of naked self-promotion as much as a coherent statement about religion. Its instigator, the church’s pastor, Terry Jones, based his crusade on a series of mind-bending assumptions, including his belief that Muslims are always in bad moods (he asks, on camera, “Have you ever really seen a really happy Muslim?”). But for all of its cartoonish qual
ity, and despite his cancellation under pressure Thursday, the timing of this media circus has been a disaster for US foreign policy and the troops we ask to support it. At the exact moment that we want to act as the careful steward of peace in the Middle East, minds around the world have been filled with the image of Korans in America being tossed onto pyres.
For better or worse, there is not much anybody can do about religious extremists who offend decency, yet stay within the letter of the law. The same Constitution that confirms the right to worship freely protects the right to worship badly. But September is also the anniversary of the 1787 document that framed our government, and in this season of displaced Tea Party anger, it is worth getting right with our history. There is nothing wrong with the desire to go back to the founding principles that made this nation great — but we should take the time to discover what those principles actually were.
For most Americans, the Koran remains a deeply foreign book, full of strange invocations. Few non-Muslims read it, and most of us carry assumptions about a work of scripture that we assume to be
hostile, though it affirms many of the earlier traditions of Christianity and Judaism. Like all works of scripture, it is complex and sometimes contradictory, full of soothing as well as frightening passages. But for those willing to make a genuine effort, there are important areas of overlap, waiting to be found.
As usual, the Founders were way ahead of us. They thought hard about how to build a country of many different faiths. And to advance that vision to the fullest, they read the Koran, and studied Islam with a calm intelligence that today’s over-hyped Americans can only begin to imagine. They knew something that we do not. To a remarkable degree, the Koran is not alien to American history — but inside it.
No book states the case more plainly than a single volume, tucked away deep within the citadel of Copley Square — the Boston Public Library. The book known as Adams 281.1 is a copy of the Koran, from the personal collection of John Adams. There is nothing particularly ornate about this humble book, one of a collection of 2,400 that belonged to the second president. But it tells an important story, and reminds us how worldly the Founders were, and how impervious to the fanaticisms that spring up like dandelions whenever religion and politics are mixed. They, like we, lived in a complicated and often hostile global environment, dominated by religious strife, terror, and the bloodsport of competing empires. Yet better than we, they saw the
world as it is, and refused the temptation to enlarge our enemies into Satanic monsters, or simply pretend they didn’t exist.
Reports of Korans in American libraries go back at least to 1683, when an early settler of Germantown, Pa., brought a German version to these shores. Despite its foreign air, Adams’s Koran had a strong New England pedigree. The first Koran published in the United States, it was printed in Springfield in 1806.
Why would John Adams and a cluster of farmers in the Connecticut valley have bought copies of the Koran in 1806? Surprisingly, there was a long tradition of New Englanders reading in the Islamic scripture. The legendary bluenose Cotton Mather had his faults, but a lack of curiosity about the world was not one of them. Mather paid scrupulous attention to the Ottoman Empire in his voracious reading, and cited the Koran often in passing. True, much of it was in his pinched voice — as far back as the 17th century, New England sailors were being kidnapped by North African pirates, a source of never ending vexation, and Mather denounced the pirates as “Mahometan Turks, and Moors and Devils.” But he admired Arab and Ottoman learning, and when Turks in Constantinople and Smyrna succeeded in inoculating patients against smallpox, he led a public campaign to do the same in Boston (a campaign for which he was much vilified by those who called inoculation the “work of the Devil,” merely because of its Islamic origin). It was one of his finer moments.
Other early Americans denounced Islam — surprisingly, Roger Williams, whom we generally hold up as a model of tolerance, expressed the hope that “the Pope and Mahomet” would be “flung in to the Lake that burns with Fire and Brimstone.” But Rhode Island, and ultimately all of New England, proved hospitable to the strangers who came in the wake of the Puritans — notably, the small Jewish congregation that settled in Newport and built Touro Synagogue, America’s oldest. And in theory — if not often in practice (simply because there were so few) — that toleration extended to Muslims as well.
This theory was eloquently expressed around the time the Constitution was written. One of its models was the 1780 Massachusetts Constitution, which John Adams had helped to create, and which, in the words of one of its drafters, Theophilus Parsons, was designed to ensure “the most ample of liberty of conscience” for “Deists, Mahometans, Jews and Christians.”
As the Founders deliberated over what types of people would ultimately populate the strange new country they were creating, they cited Muslims as an extreme of foreign-ness whom it would be important to protect in the future. Perhaps, they daydreamed, a Muslim or a Catholic might even be president someday? Like everything, they debated it. Some disapproved, but Richard Henry Lee insisted that “true freedom embraces the Mahometan and Gentoo [Hindu] as well as the Christian religion.” George Washington went out of his way to praise Muslims on several occasions, and suggested that he would welcome them at Mount Vernon if they were willing to work. Benjamin Franklin argued that Muslims should be able to preach to Christians if we insisted on the right to preach to them. Near the end of his life, he impersonated a Muslim essayist, to mock American hypocrisy over slavery.
Thomas Jefferson, especially, had a familiarity with Islam that borders on the astonishing. Like Adams, he owned a Koran, a 1764 English edition that he bought while studying law as a young man in Wi
lliamsburg, Va. Only two years ago, that Koran became the center of a controversy, when the first Muslim ever elected to Congress, Keith Ellison, a Democrat from Minnesota, asked if he could place his hand on it while taking his oath of office — a request that elicited tremendous screeches from the talk radio extremists. Jefferson even tried to learn Arabic, and wrote his Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom to protect “the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and the Mahometan, the Hindoo and infidel of every denomination.”
Jefferson and Adams led many of our early negotiations with the Islamic powers as the United States lurched into existence. A favorable treaty was signed with Morocco, simply because the Moroccans considered the Americans ahl-al-kitab, or “people of the book,” similar to Muslims, who likewise eschewed the idolatry of Europe’s ornate state religions. When Adams was president, a treaty with Tripoli (Libya) insisted that the United States was “not in any sense founded upon the Christian religion” and therefore has “no character of enmity against the laws, religion and tranquility of Mussulmen.”
There was another important group of Americans who read the Koran, not as a legal sourcebook, or a work of exoticism, but as something very different — a reminder of home. While evidence is fragmentary, as many as 20 percent of African-American slaves may have come from Islamic backgrounds. They kept their knowledge of the Koran alive through memory, or chanted suras, or, in rare cases, smuggled copies of the book itself. In the 1930s, when WPA workers were interviewing elderly African-Americans in Georgia’s Sea Islands, they were told of an ancestor named Bilali who spoke Arabic and owned a copy of the Koran — a remarkable fact when we remember that it was a crime for slaves to read. In the War of 1812, Bilali and his fellow Muslims helped to defend America from a British attack, inverting nearly all of our stereotypes in the process.
In 1790, as the last of the original 13 states embraced the Constitution, and the United States finally lived up to its name, George Washington visited that state — unruly Rhode Island — and its Jewish congregation at Newport. The letter he wrote to them afterwards struck the perfect note, and drained much of the antiforeign invective that was already poisoning the political atmosphere, only a year into his presidency. Addressing himself to “the children of the Stock of Abraham” (who, in theory, include Muslims as well as Jews), the president of the United States offered an expansive vision indeed:
“May the children of the Stock of Abraham, who dwell in this land, continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other Inhabitants; while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and figtree, and there shall be none to make him afraid.”
For democracy to survive, it required consent; a willingness to surrender some bits of cultural identity to preserve the higher goal of a working community. Washington’s letter still offers a tantalizing prospect, especially as his successor turns from the distracting noise of Gainesville to the essential work of building peace in the Middle East, for all of the children of the Stock of Abraham.
Ted Widmer is the Beatrice and Julio Mario Santo Domingo director and librarian of the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University.
© Copyright 2010 Globe Newspaper Company.
by Hesham Hassaballa
Thankfully, the Florida pastor decided to cancel his plans to burn copies of the Quran on September 11. Not as well reported, though, were the stories of others in the United States who did the deed.
On September 11, a burned copy of the Quran was found at a mosque in Michigan.
Two Tennessee pastors also burned copies of the Quran on September 11, despite protest from members of their own families.
And last week, a partially burned Quran was also found outside a mosque in my home town, Chicago. Although sad, it is not entirely surprising there would be copycats.
As I read the reports of these sporadic burnings of the Quran, all I could do was lament that they very likely had little knowledge of the contents of this book, and the deep connections it has to their own faith. Had they taken a little time to read the book they wanted to burn, it is quite possible they would have changed their minds. And after all, if they had mustered enough effort to obtain a copy of the Quran, why not read it first?
I know if they would do so, they would find much with which they can relate. They would learn that both Moses and Jesus Christ are mentioned more by name in the Quran than the Prophet Muhammad himself.
They would read passages in the Quran saying Jesus was “strengthened with the Holy Spirit” (in at least three passages: 2:87, 2:253, and 5:110).
They would discover that the 19th chapter of the Quran is named for Jesus’ mother, Mary. And they would read that the Quran holds up the example of the Virgin Mary as the ideal believer: “And [we have propounded yet another parable of God-consciousness in the story of] Mary, the daughter of Imran…” (66:12)
If they would read the Quran, they would find that some 73 passages of the Quran speak of Moses and his epic. And they would find that the Quran records two miracles about Moses: Moses’ staff turning into a serpent and his hand glowing brightly after placing it under his arm. They would read that the Quran says that God bestowed His grace upon Moses and Aaron (37:114), that he was “specially chosen” by God (19:51) and that God bestowed on Moses “wisdom and knowledge” (28:14) as a reward for doing good. In addition, the Book of Moses in the Jewish Bible is described by the Quran as a “Light and Guide” (6:91).
If they would read the Quran, they would find this passage about the equality of humanity:
“O Mankind! Behold, we have created you from a male and female and have made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another. Verily, the best of you in the sight of God is the one who is most conscious of Him. Behold, God is All-knowing, All-aware.” (49:13)
They would read this passage about salvation:
“Verily, those who have attained to faith [in this divine writ], as well as those who follow the Jewish faith, and the Christians, and the Sabians — all who believe in God and the Last Day and do righteous deeds — shall have their reward with their Sustainer; and no fear need they have and neither shall they grieve. (2:62)
I can go on and on and on — reciting verses from the Quran that touch the heart of the sacred beliefs of both Judaism and Christianity. And of course it does, because the Quran calls Muslims to be the spiritual siblings of Christians and Jews, as children of the God of Abraham.
Are there tough and belligerent verses in the Quran? Most definitely — as there are in the Jewish Bible and the Christian New Testament. Yet, like the verses in the texts of the Jews and the Christians, the verses in the Quran have a context and explanation.
But what is most important to focus on is that which is common to all three faiths in our country, and to use those common beliefs to bring people together, and to support the common good.
This summer has seen so much fear and hate-mongering for cynical political gain, and it has ensnared many Americans who are, in reality, good people who are simply misinformed. Once we learn the truth, we will realize that we are really much more similar than we are different.
Hesham A. Hassaballa is a physician and writer living in Chicago. He is co-author of The Beliefnet Guide to Islam (Doubleday). His latest book, forthcoming from Faithful Word Press, is poetry relating the life of Muhammad, Noble Brother.
Published on Middle East Online.
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Bediuzzaman Said Nursi said, “I will demonstrate to the world that the Qur’an is a spiritual sun that shall never set and shall never be extinguished.” Thus his voluminous work, The Risala-e-Nur Collection, sets out to do just that. It expounds the truths of the Qur’an and shows that they can stand up to the scrutiny of science and logic, which is often used to discredit religion and Said Nursi invites his readers to reflect on the world around.
What is the Risale-i Nur?
The Risale-i Nur collection is a six-thousand-page commentary on the Quran written by Bediuzzaman Said Nursi in accordance with the mentality of the age. Since in our age faith and Islam have been the objects of the attacks launched in the name of so called science and logic, Bediuzaman Said Nursi therefore concentrated in the Risale-i Nur on proving the truths of faith in conformity with modern science through rational proofs and evidence, and by decribing the miraculous aspects of the Quran that relate primarily to our century. This collection now has millions of readers both in and outside of Turkey. Thanks to the Risale-i Nur, the Turks managed to maintain their religion despite the most despotic regimes of the past decades. Although its author faced unbearable persecution, imprisonment, and exile, while no effort was spared to put an end to his service to faith, he was able to complete his writings compromising the Risale-i Nur and raise a vast group of believers who courageously opposed the oppression and preserved the dominance of Islam in the country.
Bediuzzaman understood an essential cause of the decline of the Islamic world to be weakening of the very foundations of belief. This weakening, together with the unprecedented attacks on those foundations in the 19th and 20th centuries carried out by materialists, atheists and others in the name of science and progress, led him to realize that the urgent and over-riding need was to strengthen, and even to save, belief. What was needed was to expend all efforts to reconstruct the edifice of Islam from its foundations, belief, and to answer at that level those attacks with a ‘manevi jihad’ or ‘jihad of the of the word.’
Thus, in exile, Bediuzzaman wrote a body of work, the Risale-i Nur, that would explain and expound the basic tenets of belief, the truths of the Quran, to modern man. His method was to analyse both belief and unbelief and to demonstrate through clearly reasoned arguments that not only is it possible, by following the method of the Quran, to prove rationally all the truths are the only rational explanation of existance, man and the universe.
Bediuzzaman thus demonstrated in the form of easily understood stories, comparisons, explanations, and reasoned proofs that, rather than the truth of religion being incompatible with the findings of modern science, the materialist interpretation of those findings is irrational and absurd. Indeed, Bediuzzaman proved in the Risale-i Nur that science’s breathtaking discoveries of the universe’s functioning corroborate and reinforce the truths of religion.
The imortance of the Risale-i Nur cannot be overestimated, for through it Bediuzzaman Said Nursi played a major role in preserving and revitalizing the Islamic faith in Turkey in the very darkest days of her history. And indeed its role has continued to increase in importance to the present day. But further to this, the Risale-i Nur is uniquely fitted to address not only all Muslims but indeed all mankind for several reasons. First it is written in accordance with modern man’s mentality, a mentality that, whether Muslim or not, has been deeply inbued by materialist philosophy: it specifically answers all the questions, doubts and confusions that this causes. It answers too all the ‘why’s’ that mark the questioning mind of modern man.
Also, it explains the most profound matters of belief, which formerly only advanced scholars studied in detail, in such a way that everyone, even those to whom the subject is new, may understand and gain something without it causing any difficulties or harm.
A further reason is that in explaning the true nature and purposes of man and the universe, the Risale-i Nur shows that true happiness is only to be found in belief and knowledge of God, both in this world and the Hereafter. And it also points out the grevious pain and unhappiness that unbelief causes man’s spirit and conscience, which generally the misguided attempt to block out through heedlessness and escapism, so that anyone with any sense may take refuge in belief.
The Holy Quran addresses the intellect as well as man’s other inner faculties. It directs man to consider the universe and functioning in order to learn its true nature and purposes as the creation and thus to learn the attributes of its Single Creator and his own duties as a creature. This, then, is the method that Bediuzzaman employed in the Risale-i Nur. He explained the true nature of the universe as signs of its Creator and demonstrated through clear arguments that when it is read as such all the fundamentals of beliefs may be proved rationally.
When this method is followed, a person attains a true belief that will be sound and firm enough to be withstand any doubts that may arise in the face of the subtle attacks of Materialism, Naturalism and atheism, or the materialist approach to scientific advances. For all scientific and technological advances are merely the uncovering of the workings of the cosmos. When the cosmos is seen to be a vast and infinately complex and meaningful unified book describing its Single Author, rather that causing doubt and bewilderment, all these discoveries and advances reinforce belief, they deepen and expand it.
Man’s most fundamental need is the need for religion, the need to recognize and worship Almighty God with all His Most Beautiful Names and attributes, and to obey His laws; those manifest in the universe and those revealed through his prophets. In explaining the message of the Quran, Almighty God’s final Revealed Book, brought and perfectly expounded by His final Prophet, Muhammad (PBUH), and Islam, the complete and perfected religion for mankind, Bediuzzaman Said Nursi demonstrated in the Risale-i Nur that there is no contradiction or dichotomy between science and religion; rather, true progress and happiness for mankind can, and will, only be achieved in this way, the way of the Quran.
To enrich our reading of the Quran in the coming month of Ramadan, Al-Furqaan has embedded the summarized translation of Tafsir Ibn Kathir published by Darussalam on our website. Click here to browse the page. Produced below is a brief description of Tafsir Ibn Kathir:
Tafsîr Ibn Kathîr, by Isma’il bin ‘Amr bin Kathîr al-Dimashqî (d.774/1372) under the title Tafsîr al-Qur’ân al-Azîm, one of the better-known books on tafsîr, perhaps second to Tabarî, with more emphasis on soundness of reports, in particular rejection of all foreign influences such as isrâ’îlîyât, discussing the sanad of various reports often in detail, which makes it one of the more valuable books of tafsîr. Makes much use of tafsîr al-Qur’ân bi’l Qur’ân, referring a reader to other relevant ayat on the topic discussed. This book has been printed on various occasions (in 8 volumes) and an abridged version (mukhtasar) has been edited by Sâbûnî.
No English translation available.This book although of greatest importance to Muslims has been widely ignored by the orientalists. (description taken from islamic-awareness.org)
As Ramadan looms ahead, we would like to give the simple reminder that the Messenger (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) will complain to Allah on the Day of Judgment that his people neglected the Qur’an (Surah al-Furqan 25:30). Neglect of the Qur’an is of different levels, as Ibn al-Qayyim writes:
“The month of Ramadan is the one in which the Quran was sent down, a guidance for mankind, clear proofs for the guidance, the Criterion; so whoever amongst you witnesses this month, let him fast it.” (Surah al-Baqarah 2:185)
Ibn ‘Abbas narrates “that the Messenger of Allah (SAW) was the most generous person, and he would be at his most generous in Ramadan because Jibril would come to him every night and he would rehearse the Qur’an with him.” (Sahih al-Bukhari).
Ramadan is a time to reconnect with the Quran. We leave you with a lecture delivered by Shaykh Omar Baloch titled “Are You a Ramadan Mu’min?”
Courtesy of Columbus Dawah
by Mustafa Masih
We live in a time where many people conciously or subconsciously feel that the idea of hell, jahannam, is unfair. If Allah SWT loves His creation, they argue, why should he create Hellfire? How can a Merciful Creator justify punishing His creation?
To appease the anguish of imagining hellfire underneath our feet on the Day of Judgment, we conjure wishful thoughts of Allah as Al-Ghafur (Most Forgiving) and Al-Rahim (Most Merciful). We should take heed of the perished nations of the past as mentioned in the Quran for their transgressions.
The horrifying torment of Hellfire as depicted in the Quran lends credence to the adage that human beings are much more motivated by the stick than the carrot. How can there be a moral society in which the people have no concept of being accountable for what they do? It is due to the same reason that an average person would not speed on the highway for fear of getting a traffic ticket.
Thus it is pivotal for us to be reminded of hellfire to stay on the straight path. To forget the reality of the stick is like being neglectful of cops waiting to catch a driver speeding.
Fear and Hope
Having said this, it is not to deny that Allah is All Merciful. The believer should always live between fear and hope (bayna al-khauf wa al-raja). When you are blessed with good health, you should instill fear of incurring the wrath of Allah SWT. When you are in hardship, have hope, raja‘, and bear patiently for it is merely a trial from Allah the All Merciful. When you are poor, know that Allah is the one Who provides whom He Wills. When you are rich, do not forget that Allah knows what you spend with your wealth.
This life, this dunya, is no more real than the Hereafter. The human soul, the ruh or nafs, is a most indestructible creation of Allah SWT that no nuclear weapons can annihilate. The great Imam Al-Ghazali, left a poem under his pillow upon his death in which the first lines read “I was a shell. Now the shell is open and I am free.” Know that the real self is not our body. If a person loses his hand, it does not mean the person lost his self. His self is his soul, the ruh.
Just as This Life is Real, the Next Life is Even More Real
As the Prophet SAW said, the bodies of people in Hellfire will be made bigger. Why? So that they can feel more pain. This is the reality of it. Yet we should not understand this as meaning there is no mercy from Allah SWT. His Mercy is everywhere and as Imam Ibn Taymiyyah states, the Mercy of Allah SWT is felt even in hellfire because the person is given the ability to tolerate this punishment.
Punishment in the Grave
This raises the question of why should there also be punishment in the grave. The punishment in the grave is given as a kafarah (atonement) so that perhaps it will put you in a better more pure state before you stand in front of Allah SWT on the Day of Judgment.
Another reason is that it is the angels who will question you in the grave. Whereas in the Hereafter Allah SWT is the one who will question you. The angels can only see what you do externally, the Shari’ah aspect, and question those acts but they do not know what is in your heart. Only Allah will take you into account for that in the Hereafter.
After the stage of barzakh in the grave, a person proceeds to walk on the sirat, the straight path. Underneath this path is the hellfire, a fire that is alive, constantly trying to reach and grab every single person into its pit. The person’s first test is salat, the obligatory prayers. If its rights were not fulfilled, he goes falls down into hellfire and takes the punishment. Then the person will be brought to the beginning and start again. Then, perhaps the person participated in riba, and that is haram, he falls down again. This cycle is repeated until Jannah is reached.
For such a horrifying punishment, keep in mind that Allah SWT does not put us in a situation that is unfair for us. We are between His Justice and His Mercy. For the people in Hellfire, the mercy of Allah SWT is that they can bear the punishment. In fact, we don’t even deserve Jannah for it is only by the Mercy of Allah that He grants us Jannah insha Allah. Therefore, we ask for Allah’s Forgiveness because He is Al-Ghafurur Rahim.
In the hellfire, we will neither be dead nor alive. This is mentioned in Surah Al-A’la, “Wherein he will neither die nor remain alive.” The reality of hell fire and jannah is something no human being has full comprehension, not even the Prophet SAW.
Our knowledge of the Hereafter is merely a taste of its reality. It is analogous to the guest who is first given an appetizer as he enters the host’s home. Everything we know of the hereafter, is like this appetizer. The real delight of Jannah and torment of Jahannam cannot be comprehended in this physical world. For example, the people in the hellfire will have their skin burnt and then the skin comes back. This is only something we can imagine. The point you should understand is that Allah is saying verily His punishment is severe indeed.
Note that when Allah mentions in the Qur’an the delight of Jannah, it is matched by mentioning the opposite, Jahannam. Both of these realities have to be kept in mind.
What About Those Who Do Not Know the Truth?
In the aqidah of Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jamaah, we believe that Allah will not punish anyone until He sends them a messenger. It is the justice of Allah SWT to not punish who the message did not reach them. This is mentioned in the beginning of Surah Yasin for example. We cannot say anything about the people that did not receive the message in our aqidah. What is clear is the warning for those who the message reached.
The condition of those who did not receive the message is like the narrative of Luqman Al-Hakim. No messenger reached and no book of Allah reached Luqman The Wise. It was from his own fitrah, his human nature, to come to the conclusion that there must be Allah. We believe it is the natural predisposition of human beings to know of a Supreme Being just like we feel hungry when we don’t eat. A person with good fitrah knows thath this whole vast gigantic universe did not come by accident. It is in this light how Luqman advised his son, “O my dear son, do not associate partners with Allah, because this is the greatest oppression.” It is the ultimate denial of your master.
There is no way to determine who the message did not reach. For these people, there has to be some element of tauhid, some belief in their hearts of the Lord of the heavens and the earth. However this should not be our preoccupation. We should be concerned about our own state of iman. It is sufficient to know that Allah will not punish whom the message did not reach. We can merely say that as far the Shariah is concerned, the person died as a non-Muslim. Whether he believes in Allah in his heart, that is a matter for Allah to judge.
Let’s say a Muslim is in hellfire for stealing. And some non-muslim is also there for committing the exact crime. In this case, the punishment for both of us is the same. The treatment from Allah for the same sin is the same punishment.
Is this unjust? How do human beings know what is just and unjust? We know justice not by experiencing justice, but through experiencing injustice and vice versa. Since we have established above that everyone is treated with the same punishment for the same crime,.the issue of justice versus injustice is a false dichotomy.
In surah al-Bayyinah, Allah SWT says we are created to be exclusive servants of Him. In addition, we are to establish regular prayer and give zakat. This is the pure servant. After that, Allah SWT mentions hellfire for the people who do deny His signs. For hellfire, the description is khalidina fiha (they will dwell therein). In the next ayah, Allah describes jannah as khalidina fiha abada (they will dwell therein forever). So Allah does not attribute hellfire with “abada” (forever) as is attributed to for jannah. In addition, the Prophet SAW says whoever has a mustard seed of iman, he will come out of hellfire and will enter jannah.
The common denominator of people in hellfire is that they have lost their humanity. Allah SWT describes in Surah Al-Maun the characteristics of those who denied the impending judgment. “Have you considered him who calls the judgment a lie?” When these people feel accountable to no one, their fitrah dies.
Fitrah and Gratitude
Talking about fitrah, there is a very subtle point in surah Luqman where Allah says “We gave Luqman al-hikmah (wisdom) so that he gives shukr (gratitude). This is how you tell whether a person has good fitrah. He does shukr to whoever does good to him. We observe that among the non-muslims, one of the qualities of those who convert to Islam is that they had good feelings towards their parents. Likewise for Luqman, he advises his son to have gratitude to his parents. This is human fitrah. People who have lost fitrah lose the feeling of gratitude to repay people’s kindness.
So as you grow older, your knowledge increases. However, if your fitrah is diluted, you cannot see the world as it is supposed to be seen despite the knowledge that you gain. If you have a clean heart, and you get the knowledge around you, you will see it in its reality.
Hence people with a corrupted fitrah cannot undertand tauhid (monotheism). Only with a pure fitrah can you see the Oneness of Allah. The urge of shukr is like how a child’s sense of shukr towards the mother. As he grows, he starts to have friends, relatives. and know the universe. When the urge of shukr is there, some of them start thanking the monkey, the cow, the sun and so on. This is all incomplete until the person recognizes that this whole universe is created by one Being. When we do things to filth our fitrah, we become deaf, dumb and blind as Allah mentions in Surah al-Baqarah. These people will not return because their fitrah is dead. Thus Allah says He seals their hearts (khatam Allahu ala qulubihim). They have hearts, but they can’t see with their heart.
The Heart is Dominant Over the Brain
If the brain is smart but the heart is jealous, the brain interprets everything according to that jealousy. The brain merely calculates what the hearts see. “They have hearts that have no understanding”. For them, good and bad is measured in terms of pleasure and pain. This is hedonism. The pop culture around us promulgates such an ethic of pain as bad and happiness as good.
When Allah says they have eyes that cannot see, it is referring to their hearts. Abu Jahl had clear eyesight, but his heart is the one that was blind. They are like animals. Rather, they are worse than animals. They have reached a point of no return. We have to be vigilant that we do not corrupt our soul with sin to the point of no return. This is the state of the soul of people in the global corridors of power to utter such statements as the lives of innocent Palestinians being akin to coackroaches who “we should just step on.” How can there be no hellfire for such people as these whose hearts cannot see? Clearly, Allah has set hellfire for such people of inhumanity.
The Punishment of Hellfire Purifies Your Sins
As for those who have not reached perfection that Allah SWT wanted, the hellfire for them is a source of purification. Even in fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence), we know that fire purifies. You take the skin of an animal, tan it, and it becomes pure. Thus, we are tormented in hellfire so that when we enter jannah, our hearts are like the purified ones. For example, there will be no idle talk in jannah, this is such a pure state of fitrah the average Muslim will attain after the “purification” of hellfire. Note, however, that hellfire is a most severe punishment that nobody can bear for even a moment.
Some ahadith point to the fact that the hellfire will ask when people are thrown in it, “Is there any more humans?” Jahannam will never be full. It will constantly ask Allah, “Is there more?” Then Allah puts His Foot in the hellfire, and the hellfire will say enough. Some ulama like Ibn Taymiyyah says this is the justice of Allah. Ibn Arabi has a similar opinion.
At that moment, the hellfire will be made full by this act of Allah. People with no iman will go into a state of non-existence. After all that punishment, like what Ibn Arabi says, maybe because of Allah’s mercy, he will put them in jannah. This is however not the popular opinion but so we know there is also this opinion and Allah knows best. Most ulama say the people of hellfire will be put into a state of non existence. There is also a third opinion which says hellfire is forever and jannah is forever. What is meant in this opinion is that the abodes of hellfire and paradise is forever but the people will either end up in Jannah or, as for the ones who still deny Allah, will cease to exist.
However, the essential message is that nobody will want to be in hellfire. The Hereafter is such that somebody who is suffering so much in this world, when Allah puts them in jannah, he will forget all of that suffering. When Allah puts a rich person in hellfire, he forgets all the luxury he had in this world.
Surah Al-Mulk begins with tabarakal lazi biyadihil mulk. So blessed is in whose hand is kingship. He has the ability to do all things. Here, qadr also means measurement. So Allah has measured everything, the qudrah of everything. The one who created death and created life. He created death before he created life. Because death is not a state of non-existence. Death is a state of existence in a different form. Like water heated into vapor.
He made life and death, to see who amongst you does the best deeds. The One who created the seven heavens one above another. You will never find in the creation of Allah any faults. Then Allah says, look into space, do you see any faults? And Allah says look again. Your eyes will come back tired, but you will not find fault in Allah’s creation.
The sky is dunya, these galaxies are all as-sama ad-dunya. Adna means closest, worthlest, smallest. Masabih is the bright starts etc. We made the starts hit the shaitan. Then Allah says those who deny their rabb, their caretaker, for them is the punishment of the hellfire. and what a bad returning place to go.
As they go down into the pit of the hellfire, you will be hearing the hellfire as if snatching you in. Why? Has no one come to warn you about this hellfire? You ignored, pretended it did not exist? Yes of course.
All it takes to get out of hellfire is only if we actually listened. If only we used our brain, we would have not been of the people of the hellfire. You did not listen to sincere advice. What Islam has to say is simply common sense. It is so much common sense, its like the analogy of when you are in a great palace, and you are sitting, waiting for your food. Someone is coming serving your food, everything is provided, would you deny there is a great owner of that palace?
In surah Ibrahim, in the last scene of the hellfire, when everyone is finally in hellfire, they will ask angels how to get out, they will try to escape, but not able to. They will then plead Allah, though that will not help. they will all gather together and see iblis (known as Lucifer in the Biblical tradition) in the hellfire. They say to iblis you are the one who’s the real culprit. This happens because when you are tormented in hellfire, you want to have someone to blame for such a punishment. So everyone assembles in front of iblis, and after everyone’s done everything, pleaded all they can, Iblis says, “Allah promised you a true promise, I also promised you but I can’t keep my promise. I had no power and control over you. I called you and you answered. I gave you waswasa. a thought. and you answered me. i have no control over you and you have no control over me. I do kufr, I deny you, reject you for all sins you did before.” Then Allah says “Indeed for the wrongdoers is a very severe punishment.” When all that it takes for you to avoid this is common sense.
You see everything has distance with Allah. Angels have fixed ranks before Allah. The sun can’t get closer to Allah. But Adam was given the choice. This is statement of Ibn Abbas, that Adam was given choice to come as close as he wanted with Allah. But it comes with a danger. That if you don’t struggle to get as close as you can to Allah, there is the danger of the opposite, Hellfire. This is the ni’mah that is given to no one. So you have this blessing, and you will be punished if you dont use this blessing right.
And at the end of the day, we are His property. To Him will we all return.