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The fate of atheists in Islam

Are all atheists going to hell?It seems unfair to me for anyone to spend an eternity of suffering because they didn't believe in God, specially if beside that they are nice people. Its been really hard for my iman. In the past it was draining. I spent pretty much all day thinking about the billion of people and all their suffering. I couldn't even watch movies to keep my mind occupied as i would start thinking how all these people were doomed.

I try to read the quran but then i get to the part where they describe hell in details and i just cant finish reading. The only way to stop feeling the stress and anxiety was to read them in a meta a terrifying reality? Sorry for the long askphorical sense but im not sure if its permissible. If atheist are indeed all going to hell in your opinion, how to deal which such

The truth is that we do not for certain. One theory says that all humans have the power to know God and believe in Him. According to this theory, anyone who does not believe in God is automatically punishable by God.

Another theory is that God will only hold people responsible for going against their conscience, and that the only type of disbelief in God is the one where the person has acquired all of the knowledge necessary to believe in God and believes in God in his heart, but who rejects this belief and lives in a state of denial. The kufr (“disbelief”) literally means “to deny (a blessing)” or “to cover up (a truth)”. According to this latter theory, atheists are only punished if they actually believe in God but wish to deny Him for one reason or another (for example because they dislike submitting to a higher power). This means that an atheist who honestly believes that God does not exist and that religion is a human invention will not be punished for this.

What we know for certain is that God is just, and that:

God never burdens a soul beyond what He has given it.1

From the above verse we can conclude that there will be no unjust punishment of humans. God will only hold humans responsible for the knowledge and powers He has given them. A person who grows up in a secular family and who never learns much about religion may not be punishable by God.

God is the inventor of the concepts of fairness and justice. So it is extremely misguided to think that God can be unjust, that we humans can come up with a fairer system than God has created. God is kinder and more just than any human, therefore it is a falsehood to think that He can punish anyone unjustly. While we do not know the exact fate of atheists, what we do know is that their fate will be fair and just, because it is God who is in charge of them.

The people that we know for certain deserve the Hellfire are those who believe in God, who know right from wrong, yet who engage in the worst evil out of their desire for gain. An example is a rich person who pays a killer to go kill a good man because by killing him his own wealth and power will increase. The world is full of such people, and they deserve God’s punishment.

If you fear that good and innocent people will end up in the Hellfire, then you misunderstand God. God invented your brain; do you think He is incapable of understanding issues that you can understand? Read the Quran and you will never hear about an innocent person being punished (hadith narrations are a different story). If God says He will punish kāfirs, the meaning of the word is not exactly defined for us; it could mean someone who believes in God and His Scriptures but who does evil regardless of their belief. In the past it was common to think that all non-Muslims are kāfirs, but this is not at all what the Quran says. The Quran, for example, refers to “the kāfirs among Jews and Christians”, which logically means that there are Jews and Christians who are kāfirs, and there are Jews and Christians who are not kāfirs. The Quran says, when speaking of Jews and Christians:

113. They are not alike. Among the People of the Scripture is a community that is upright; they recite God’s revelations throughout the night, and they prostrate themselves.

114. They believe in God and the Last Day, and advocate righteousness and forbid evil, and are quick to do good deeds. These are among the righteous.

115. Whatever good they do, they will not be denied it. God knows the righteous.2

I recommend that you continue to read the Quran so that you get a better understanding of God and His thinking. God is not unjust, so if for some reason you imagine Him being unjust or someone mentions something about Him that implies He is unjust, you should think the best of Him and tell yourself that you or someone has misunderstood Him.

Footnotes

  1. From the Quran, verse 65:7.
  2. The Quran, verses 3:113-115.
And God knows best.

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