Will Everyone (eventually) Go to Heaven in Islam?

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.

heaven, afterlife, death, Islam, Muslims

Heaven or hell? It is up to you!

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?

What will happen to the followers of the previous monotheistic faiths?

Islam recognizes the freedom and other rights of the followers of the previous religions; also, has ordered Muslims to hold them in considerable respect [1]. 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.

Are all Muslims allowed to enter heaven?

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.

heaven, death, afterlife, Islam, Muslims, non-Muslims, salvation

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) (49:14), and this should be reflected in one’s conduct [2].

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.

How about disbelievers?

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).

 

References:

[1]. http://salamislam.com/content/unity-all-monotheistic-faiths/1

[2].  M. H. Tabataba'I, “Tafsir al-mizan”, (2 :14).