For those who believe in the afterlife, there is often this concern that whether they go to heaven or hell. Some Muslims believe that being a Muslim suffices for entering heaven, but is that true? If so, what happens to those who are born to non-Muslim families? Some believe that all Muslims are Arab or to become Muslim one should be whether Arab or know Arabic. Then, they might ask about what will happen to those who do not know Arabic. Since no one chooses where to be born, is it fair to send those born among disbelievers (Kafir) to hell? What will happen to converts because of their past before conversion to Islam? These and other questions are all answered here.
Some people believe that God has created mankind to send some of them to heaven and the rest to hell! But, it is not true at all. One is totally free to follow the divine guidance and reach heaven or to deny it and go to hell. Hence, everyone determines him\herself where he\she goes after death.
According to the Quran, God will curse those who are disbelievers and die while they are still disbeliever (2:161). They will remain in hell forever, their punishment will not be alleviated, nor will they be reprieved (2:162). On the contrary, those who are faithful to God and do righteous deeds (98:7) will be rewarded the Gardens of Eden. God will be pleased with them, and they will be pleased with Him (98:8).
Knowing that not having faith will end in hell, what will happen to believers? Will they all enter heaven?
Islam recognizes the freedom and other rights of the followers of the previous religions; also, has ordered Muslims to hold them in considerable respect . Moreover, Islam knows those followers eligible for salvation; it all depends on one’s deeds and faith in God. In Surah al-Baqarah it is said that: “Indeed, the faithful, the Jews, the Christians, and the Sabaeans—those of them who have faith in Allah and the Last Day and act righteously—they shall have their reward from their Lord, and they will have no fear, nor will they grieve” (2:62). In other words, according to the Islamic principles, it is disagreeable to punish those who have not received the message of Islam either before its rise or after that, and God will never do that.
In Surah Al-i-Imran it is said that anyone who follows a religion other than Islam will be among the losers in the Hereafter (3:85). So, being a Muslim, on its own, is the prerequisite for entering heaven; but it is not enough. The key to the eternal salvation and heaven is doing good deeds. Whoever submits to Islam but does not do any good deeds will not go to heaven. On the contrary, there are people who are not Muslim, as we call it, but they will accept Islam if they receive its message and therefore, they might enter heaven. In other words, one should have faith and submit to God, and this should be manifested in one’s acts.
In Surah al-Hujurat, the difference between belief and submission is clarified (49:14). By saying the two testimonies (Shahada), one submits to Islam, but being faithful is more than that. To have faith in God deep in the heart, one should obey God and his messenger, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) (49:14), and this should be reflected in one’s conduct .
It is also stated that the noblest of people before God is the most righteous of them (2:13). This is logical, too. We also, as human beings, naturally like and appreciate those who are good and do good deeds. Hence, what is important is one’s deeds. Skin color, race, language, nationality, gender, age, and social class do not solely lead to salvation and heaven. Two clear examples in this regard are the son of Prophet Noah (PBUH) and the wife of Prophet Lot (PBUH) who both did not believe in prophet’s message and were thus condemned to Hell. Their stories warn that in spite of being a member of the family of the prophet, one might deviate, disobey God and move towards hell.
Among disbelievers (Kafir), there are those who deny the truth and will never submit to the divine guidance. These will never enter heaven, as mentioned earlier. There are also non-Muslims who have not received the message of Islam, and they are not responsible for not receiving it, but they will surely accept Islam as soon as they know about it. These will not be punished and will not go to hell since the Quran says: “We do not punish (any community) until We have sent (to them) an apostle” (17:15).
- Monotheistic faith
- M. H. Tabataba'I, “Tafsir al-mizan”, (2 :14).
United Nations General Assembly in the 18th article of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance.”
Also in the 19th article of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights freedom of expression is defined as follows: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” 
In this text, I would like to explore this article and find out to what extent it is right or wrong according to the Islamic viewpoint toward freedom of thought and freedom of expression.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights puts freedom of thought and freedom of belief alongside each other. While there is a major difference between these two.
Murtaza Mutahhari emphasizes the difference between “thought” and “belief”. He argues that “thought is a potential caused by having intellect” and because every human being has intellect, and the potential to think about different issues, thus they think and “discover some truths about universe according to their talent”.  While he states that “belief might be based on human’s interest towards something” or “it might be based on following other people’s opinion”. But the true belief is “based on thinking”. He believes that most of the people shape their belief based on worldly interests. And there should be thoughtful people among them to guide them in their way of thinking and choices .
So, in his definition of thought and belief, he points out the mistake of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. He concludes that people should have freedom of thought. Yet, about freedom of belief, unlike liberalism, Mutahhari states that “freedom is not the ultimate political goal to be respected under any condition”.
The main goal of freedom as he declares is to “reach perfection”. And if one’s belief is against his path towards perfection, then his belief needs an evolution, and should not be left alone to carry on his path towards adversity. 
There are more than 300 verses in the Quran that encourage people to think, such as: “Indeed We have sent it down as an Arabic Quran so that you may exercise your reason.” (12: 2), “[This is] a blessed Book that We have sent down to you, so that they may contemplate its signs, and that those who possess intellect may take admonition.” (38: 29), “Do they not contemplate the Quran, or are there locks on the hearts?” (47: 24).
Freedom of thought is also mentioned in the Quran in choosing the path of life where Allah says: “There shall be no compulsion in [acceptance of] the religion. The right course has become clear from the wrong.” (2: 256)
This verse clearly shows the importance of freedom of thought in the eyes of God, and the freedom to choose a religion. It is noteworthy that the Quran gives specific guidelines for finding the truth and recognizing wrong and right. As it is stated in the same verse; “So whoever disbelieves in idolatrous and believes in Allah has grasped the most trustworthy handhold with no break in it.” (2: 256)
Also, Allah introduces His best servants in the Quran as those who listen to different types of opinions without any prejudice, and then follow the opinion that is closest to the righteous way: “…So give good news to My servants, who listen to the word [of Allah] and follow the best [interpretation] of it. They are the ones whom Allah has guided, and it is they who possess intellect.” (39: 17-18)
When Allah encourages people to find their religion based on intellectual thinking, he keeps reminding them at different points about what is beneficial and what is harmful to human growth.
As stated above freedom of thought is encouraged in Islam as long as it does not lead people and society toward diversity. “The objective of speech and expression according to Islam is to build up love, tolerance, social harmony, and understanding among members in order to ensure a peaceful coexistence.” 
So, freedom of thought is permitted in Islam as long as it does not harm the society. There is a fundamental rule in Islam, to which other rulings must not be contrary. A Muslim should neither be harmed nor should he harm anyone else. When thoughts are harmful to people in the society, Islam limits freedom of expressing the thoughts that may create social disorder.
So far we discussed that The Quran invites people to think and choose their religion and belief accordingly freely. There is no force in choosing religion. Yet, freedom of belief and expression is not completely allowed according to that fundamental rule of Islam.
That is, a Muslim should not be harmed and nor harm others. Sometimes, one may not have enough information about a particular issue and as a result is not able to form an educated opinion or belief. Hence, if someone wants to express his/ her opinions that have no scientific or logical foundations, and may bring about doubt in ordinary people’s beliefs, Islam would stand against it and will not allow its expansion. 
- Human rights
- Mutahhari, Murtaza, About Islamic republic, p. 92-3
- Mutahhari, Murtaza, About Islamic republic, p. 97
- Rostami, Mohammad. Andisheh Sadegh, vol. 6
- Bhat AM (2014) Freedom Of Expression From Islamic Perspective. Journal of Media and Communication Studies 6: 69-77.
- Kassem AS (2012) The Concept of Freedom in the Quran. American International Journal of Contemporary Research 2, p. 165-173.
Many of us experience situations in our daily life when we get oppressed by other people, or we witness an act of injustice. We might prefer to keep silent to prevent the probable consequences, not realizing that this may keep us away from immediate harm, but it will be followed by greater consequences and damages later on.
One may ask how keeping silent against oppression and injustice will harm us later on? And what would have happened if Imam Hussain (AS) paid allegiance to Yazid, instead of putting himself and his family in such a horrible situation?
This article tries to explain the importance of standing against oppression and injustice by learning lessons from Imam Hussain (AS)’s uprising.
As we know, Imam Hassan (AS) remained silent and signed a peace treaty with the ruler of his time, Muawiaya. The main reason was that although Muawiaya had started to bring some changes in some of the rules of Islam, he still preserved his Islamic attitudes in public. Therefore, being in peace with him did not lead to so much damage to religion. But his son Yazid had no intention even to present an Islamic behavior in the Islamic society. Yet, Muawiaya chose him as the ruler after himself.
If Imam Hussain (AS) kept silence and paid allegiance to Yazid, it would have meant that he approved of his behavior. As a result, all the rulings and laws of Islam that the Prophet (PBUH&HP) had suffered to teach people for a more prosperous life would gradually disappear over time.
As Yazid forced Imam Hussain (AS) to pay allegiance to him, he notified his reasons for which he could not accept Yazid’s ruling over the Islamic society. The most important reason was that he was not behaving as a Muslim and had stood up against Allah’s orders.
It is clearly mentioned in the Quran that it is prohibited for Muslims to accept the ruling of a non-Muslim or a non-believer:
“O! You who have faith! Do not take those who take your religion in derision and play, from among those who were given the Book before you, and the infidels, as friends, and be wary of Allah, should you be faithful.” (5: 57)
However, Imam Hussain (AS) did not mean to start a war, and therefore, he took his family and left Medina for Mecca. Yazid knew that Imam had a significant impact on Muslims’ decisions and was afraid that Imam’s decision would spread among the Muslims and lead to their uprising against him. Thus, he sent his people to bring the Imam (AS) and to take his allegiance.
Imam left Medina for Kufah and then to Karbala. He was surrounded by the massive army of Yazid and had to choose. Should he have paid allegiance by force and teach a lesson to people that all he did to stand against oppression and injustice was wrong? Or should he have done what he did?
Based on his ideology and belief, and the teachings of the Prophet (PBUH&HP) that he had grown up with, Imam Hussain (AS) chose never to surrender against the injustice acts of Yazid. He, therefore, did not give up his duty to stand against injustice and along with his companions and sons, defended his household until they were all martyred.
The beauty and magnificence of his free spirit and his uprising started to spread throughout the world after his martyrdom.
He reached his goal to conserve the true religion of Islam and the pathway to prosperity by unveiling the real character and aims of those who desired to rule over the nation.
After the event of Karbala, his message on ‘standing against injustice and being free-spirited’ spread all over the world. He became a symbol for all those who care about their spirit, don’t want to accept oppression, tyranny, and injustice for the sake of their benefits in the short life of this world; people like Gandhi, the great leader of India.
From Imam Hussain's (AS) lifestyle, we learn that neglecting some mistakes may bring significant harm to society and, consequently, to our lives. Therefore, we should be wise and realize in our daily life to speak justice where oppression is taking place. That might be in our relations with our family members, our colleagues, or on a larger scale with those in power.
“Prophets and Imams (PBUT) are vivid examples and leaders that true believers should practically follow and not just worship. The example of Imam Hussain (AS) teaches us the lesson of standing against tyranny and injustice, the movement of honorable believers who preferred martyrdom to humiliation, and who have shown us what it means not to surrender.”