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Critical Analysis: Hell

The Quran mentions hell 97 times, fire 172 times and burn 41 times very often referring to hell.

Islam: A Critical Analysis
By: S.T.
Ch.1: Burden Of Proof
Ch.2: Judaism and Islam
Ch.3: Imperfect Text
Ch.4: Qur'anic Grammar
Ch.5: What Others Say
Ch.6: Hypocrisy in Islam
Ch.7: Hell
Ch.8: Violence in Islam
Ch.9: Logical Fallacies
Ch.10: Women in Islam
Ch.11: Muhammad’s Wives
Ch.12: Inheritance Laws
Ch.13: Qur'anic Ethics
Ch.14: Existence of Allah
Ch.15: What is Prophecy?
Ch.16: Unclear Qur'an
Ch.17: The Need for Hadith?
Ch.18: Miscellaneous
Ch.19: Numerical Patterns in the Qur'an
Ch.20: Summary
Ch.20: Quotations
Ch.22: Further Reading

[4.56] (As for) those who disbelieve in Our communications, We shall make them enter fire; so oft as their skins are thoroughly burned, We will change them for other skins, that they may taste the chastisement; surely Allah is Mighty, Wise.

Vast Majority of People go to Hell

[98.6] Surely those who disbelieve from among the followers of the Book and the polytheists shall be in the fire of hell, abiding therein; they are the worst of men.

[9.73] O Prophet! strive hard against the unbelievers and the hypocrites and be unyielding to them; and their abode is hell, and evil is the destination

[3.12] Say to those who disbelieve: You shall be vanquished, and driven together to hell; and evil is the resting-place.

[48.6] And (that) He may punish the hypocritical men and the hypocritical women, and the polytheistic men and the polytheistic women, the entertainers of evil thoughts about Allah. On them is the evil turn, and Allah is wroth with them and has cursed them and prepared hell for them, and evil is the resort.
Volume 8, Book 76, Number 537: Sahih Bukhari

Narrated Abu Said: The Prophet said, "Allah will say, 'O Adam!. Adam will reply, 'Labbaik and Sa'daik (I respond to Your Calls, I am obedient to Your orders), wal Khair fi Yadaik (and all the good is in Your Hands)!' Then Allah will say (to Adam), Bring out the people of the Fire.' Adam will say, 'What (how many) are the people of the Fire?' Allah will say, 'Out of every thousand (take out) nine-hundred and ninety-nine (persons).' At that time children will become hoary-headed and every pregnant female will drop her load (have an abortion) and you will see the people as if they were drunk, yet not drunk; But Allah's punishment will be very severe." That news distressed the companions of the Prophet too much, and they said, "O Allah's Apostle! Who amongst us will be that man (the lucky one out of one-thousand who will be saved from the Fire)?" He said, "Have the good news that one-thousand will be from Gog and Magog, and the one (to be saved will be) from you." The Prophet added, "By Him in Whose Hand my soul is, I Hope that you (Muslims) will be one third of the people of Paradise." On that, we glorified and praised Allah and said, "Allahu Akbar." The Prophet then said, "By Him in Whose Hand my soul is, I hope that you will be one half of the people of Paradise, as your (Muslims) example in comparison to the other people (non-Muslims), is like that of a white hair on the skin of a black ox, or a round hairless spot on the foreleg of a donkey."

Hell is Eternal

So God sent down concerning this saying: ‘And they say, The fire will not touch us except for a limited time. Say, Have ye received a covenant from God? God will not break His covenant—or do you say what you do not know about God? Nay whoso does evil and his sin encompasses him,’ i.e., he who does as you do and disbelieves as you disbelieve, his unbelief encompasses the good He has acquired with God. ‘They are the people of hell; they will burn there eternally.’ i.e. for ever.
“The Life of Muhammad: A translation of Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah” page 252
[4.168] Surely (as for) those who disbelieve and act unjustly Allah will not forgive them nor guide them to a path.
[4.169] Except the path of hell, to abide in it for ever, and this is easy to Allah.


YUSUFALI: Verily Allah has cursed the Unbelievers and prepared for them a Blazing Fire,-

PICKTHAL: Lo! Allah hath cursed the disbelievers, and hath prepared for them a flaming fire,

SHAKIR: Surely Allah has cursed the unbelievers and has prepared for them a burning fire,


YUSUFALI: To dwell therein for ever: no protector will they find, nor helper.

PICKTHAL: Wherein they will abide for ever. They will find (then) no protecting friend nor helper.

SHAKIR: To abide therein for a long time; they shall not find a protector or a helper.


YUSUFALI: "Unless I proclaim what I receive from Allah and His Messages: for any that disobey Allah and His Messenger,- for them is Hell: they shall dwell therein for ever."

PICKTHAL: (Mine is) but conveyance (of the Truth) from Allah, and His messages; and whoso disobeyeth Allah and His messenger, lo! his is fire of hell, wherein such dwell for ever.

SHAKIR: (It is) only a delivering (of communications) from Allah and His messages; and whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger surely he shall have the fire of hell to abide therein for a long time.

Philosophical issues with Hell

Some argue that Hell is a deterrent to prevent people from disbelief. However, if a person truly disbelieves, a threat from a book that he doesn’t believe in will likely be ineffective.

Torturing the majority of people is a greater evil than whatever benefits these threats provide. A most-merciful God could have encouraged people to do good deeds via rewarding good behavior, without threatening punishment. Even for more serious transgressions, eternal punishment for something committed during a finite human lifetime will strike many as a disproportionately harsh sentence.

The threat of hell is often ineffective as believers are motivated to follow the Quran at all costs but they often end up misinterpreting the text.

Hell is also useful in manipulating people. To get a believer to follow your personal wishes, threaten them with hell if they don’t follow your interpretation of an Islamic position. Perhaps many Hadith and Quranic verses used hell to manipulate people.