Who goes to Paradise and Hell?

The religion of Islam is a guide of how to make it to Paradise. This article will give a concise list of what people enter Paradise and what people enter Hellfire.

People are either accountable or not accountable.

1. Unaccountable

People that are not accountable for their beliefs and actions because of some mental incapability include children, the insane, and the senile.

1.1. Children

Children are those who are below the age of adulthood (commonly defined by puberty) and do not have the ability to understand right from wrong. Anyone above the age of adulthood or able to understand right from wrong is an adult.

The overwhelming majority opinion is that the children of both Muslims and non-Muslims enter Paradise directly. There are some minor strange opinions, but I will not delve into them.

1.2. Insane People

Insane people are those whose minds do not work even when they are adults to the extent that they cannot control themselves or they cannot understand anything on a fundamental level.

Either they will enter Paradise directly or they will be tested on the Day of Judgement when they are sane and enter Paradise if they pass the test. The disagreement regarding their fate is the same as the first two opinions regarding Ahl ul-Fatrah.

1.3. Senile

Senile people are those who are insane due to old age. They have the same judgement as insane people.

2. Accountable

It is possible to broadly categorize accountable people into Muslim and Kafir.

2.1. Muslim

A Muslim is defined here as someone who says the Shahadah (testimony of faith) and claims to believe in the pillars of Islam. They can further be divided into three groups: believer, sinful believer, and hypocrite.

2.1.1. Believer

A believer is a Muslim who believes Islam in his heart truly.

Paradise is promised to the believers.

Allah says among thousands of similar verses:

And give good tidings to those who believe and do righteous deeds that they will have gardens [in Paradise] beneath which rivers flow. […]

Quran 2:25

2.1.2. Sinful Believer

This is a Muslim who believes in Islam in his heart truly, but he commits major sins knowing them to be wrong (e.g. adultery, stealing, etc.).

These people might be punished in Hellfire temporarily, but Paradise is promised eventually for them.

Allah says:

Indeed, Allah does not forgive association with Him, but He forgives what is less than that for whom He wills. […]

Quran 4:48, 4:116

This verse shows that everything other than disbelief will be forgiven by Allah, at least eventually.

Abu Dharr narrated as reported in Sahih Bukhari and Muslim:

I came to the Prophet and found him asleep under a white sheet. When I came back to him after he had awakened he said, “If anyone says La ilaha illallah and dies in that belief, he will enter paradise.”

I asked, “Even if he commits fornication and even if he steals?”

He replied, “Even if he commits fornication and even if he steals.”

I asked, “Even if he commits fornication and even if he steals?”

He replied, “Even if he commits fornication and even if he steals.” […]

Sahih Bukhari 5827, Sahih Muslim 94

This hadith also shows that a Muslim with belief will enter Paradise eventually regardless of his other sins.

2.1.3. Hypocrite

Hypocrites are people who claim to be Muslim outwardly but don’t have any belief in their hearts. So, they are Muslims outwardly but not inwardly.

Eternal Hellfire is promised for the hypocrites.

Allah says:

Allah has promised the hypocrite men and hypocrite women and the disbelievers the fire of Hell, wherein they will abide eternally. It is sufficient for them. And Allah has cursed them, and for them is an enduring punishment.

Quran 9:68

2.2. Kafir

Kafir means non-Muslim or non-believer. Hypocrites are technically kuffar (pl. of kafir) because they do not believe. However, I am using Kafir in the outward sense: those who do not claim to be Muslim.

2.2.1. Ahl ul-Fatrah

These are people who lived in a time without prophets or did not receive the message of the prophets. In today’s time, they might include people who live in remote villages separate from society. Most people nowadays have ample access to all the information they could want due to the internet, so they have no impediment to listening to the message except laziness.

Regardless, those who count in this group are those who did not hear the message of Islam. Allah knows them best.

There are several opinions about what will happen to this group.

First Opinion:

They will all enter Jannah, because no one can be punished unless they receive a messenger.

Allah says:

[…] And never would We punish until We sent a messenger.

Quran 17:15

Second Opinion:

ِAnyone who did not hear the message of the prophets will be tested on the Day of Judgement even if he was a polytheist or an idolater. If he passes the test, he will enter Paradise. Otherwise, he will enter Hellfire.

They use the aforementioned verse as evidence they cannot go to Hellfire directly. But, they also use a hadith reported in Musnad Ahmad to claim there will be a test.

It is narrated that the Prophet (SAW) said:

Four types of people will be tested on the day of judgement: a deaf man who cannot hear anything, a mad man, an old aged man and a man who died during fatrah (a period of time when no messenger was sent to people). […]

And the man who died during a fatrah will say: “Oh Allah, I witnessed no messenger from You”.

Then Allah takes a promise from them to obey Him. Then He will command them to enter hell, and whoever enters it will find it peace and cool, and whoever disobeys will be dragged to hell.

Musnad Ahmad 16344, Sahih Ibn Hibban 7357

Third Opinion:

Anyone who hears the message of monotheism even without hearing the full religion of Islam must accept monotheism. If he does not, he will be in Hellfire.

Note: The rest of the groups mentioned are with the assumption they have heard of Islam.

2.2.2. People of the Book (Christians and Jews)

The People of the Book include the Christians and the Jews. They are called this because they are people who received the Torah and the Gospel in the past.

They are considered disbelievers if they reject Muhammad (SAW) as a prophet or reject that they need to follow him. If they accept him, they become Muslims.

Allah says, commanding them to accept Muhammad (SAW):

O People of the Scripture, there has come to you Our Messenger to make clear to you [the religion] after a period [of suspension] of messengers, lest you say, “There came not to us any bringer of good tidings or a warner.” But there has come to you a bringer of good tidings and a warner. And Allah is over all things competent.

Quran 5:19

If they disbelieve, they are promised Hellfire eternally:

Indeed, they who disbelieved among the People of the Scripture and the polytheists will be in the fire of Hell, abiding eternally therein. Those are the worst of creatures.

Quran 98:6

The Prophet (SAW) said:

By Him in Whose hand is the life of Muhammad, he who amongst the community of Jews or Christians hears about me, but does not affirm his belief in that with which I have been sent and dies in this state (of disbelief), he shall be but one of the denizens of Hell-Fire.

Sahih Muslim 153

It is not possible for Christians or Jews to enter Paradise only because they believe in their religions if they disbelieve in Islam. It is not possible for those who rejects some prophets to be considered believers. Anyone who rejects one prophet (especially the prophet of his time) is a disbeliever.

Allah says about those who pretend to believe in Allah and some messengers without believing in other messengers:

Indeed, those who disbelieve in Allah and His messengers and wish to discriminate between Allah and His messengers and say, “We believe in some and disbelieve in others,” and wish to adopt a way in between –

Those are the disbelievers, truly. And We have prepared for the disbelievers a humiliating punishment.

Quran 4:150-151

This verse was revealed about the Christians and Jews that refused to believe in Muhammad (SAW).

A misconception that has arisen in recent times is that good Christian and Jews go to Paradise based on the misinterpretation of verses like 2:62. The explanation of 2:62 might be dealt with in another article, but the evidence for the real fate of Christians and Jews has been presented.

2.2.3. Mushrikoon

Mushrikoon are people guilty of shirk (associating partners with Allah). Shirk is to to believe in multiple gods, worship other than Allah, believe God has children, worship images and idols, etc.

Someone who commits shirk then repents is forgiven. If someone does not repent from shirk until he dies, there is no forgiveness for him.

Hellfire is his destination eternally.

Allah says:

Indeed, they who disbelieved among the People of the Scripture and the polytheists will be in the fire of Hell, abiding eternally therein. Those are the worst of creatures.

Quran 98:6

Allah says shirk will never be forgiven unless a person repents:

Indeed, Allah does not forgive association with Him, but He forgives what is less than that for whom He wills.

Quran 4:48, 4:116

2.2.4. Other Disbelievers

This includes anyone else not included in the previous categories. Anyone who does not believe in God or does not believe in Muhammad (SAW) or believes in another religion or believes something that is entirely contradictory to Islam is a disbeliever. This includes atheists (those that disbelieve in God), agnostics, or any other religion or belief system.

If someone dies in disbelief without accepting Islam, his destination is eternal Hellfire.

Allah says:

Indeed, those who disbelieve and die while they are disbelievers – upon them will be the curse of Allah and of the angels and the people, all together,

Abiding eternally therein. The punishment will not be lightened for them, nor will they be reprieved.

Quran 2:161-162

Message of Islam

There is one God who created the universe and worthy of worship. Muhammad (SAW) is the last messenger sent to mankind. The Quran is the final book sent recording the speech of Allah. Worship God and obey the messenger.

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