Allah (swt) knows the fate of all people, and at the same time we are sure that many people will end up in Hell, therefore, if one of those in Hell asks Allah (swt) why He created him, while He knew that he was going to end up there, what will be His answer?

1) Punishment from Allah (swt) is a result of man willingly disregarding divine guidance and not listening to the call of the ”outer” and “inner” messengers.

2) The knowledge of Allah (swt) regarding the way His creatures will act in different situations, does not interfere with them being forced to choose the action in question, and in other words, Allah’s knowledge reveals His creatures’ course of action, nothing else.

The knowledge of Allah (swt) regarding the way His creatures will act in different situations, does not interfere with them being forced to choose the action in question, and in other words, Allah’s knowledge reveals His creatures’ course of action, nothing else.

3) Shaytan and other evil beings and people need to be created so that others have the chance of reaching spiritual perfection.

4) Although the creation of Shaytan and other evil people and things is a must, yet who plays this role is up to the individuals themselves.

The question of why Allah (swt) has created and punishes bad people, is one that goes back to the subject of man and free will. The question there is: ”No single person comes to this world by choice; all who come are forced to. On one hand, Allah (swt) knows the fate of each and every person, and on the other hand they have to act according to Allah’s (swt) knowledge or else that will necessitate the deficiency of Allah’s (swt) knowledge, which is impossible, therefore those who are bad, have no choice other than to be bad, so that His knowledge remains perfect; so how is this fact not in contradiction with free will?”

Here, we will discuss man and free will in order to reach a conclusion on the question:

1) Allah’s (swt) knowledge regarding the acts and behavior of His different creations doesn’t result in them being forced to do as He knows. For example, if you were to stand at a high point and watch someone drive their car, and could tell that if he/she were to continue driving at the same pace, it would surely end up in the car falling from a cliff, and after a few moments that actually happened, you wouldn’t be the one responsible just because you knew that it was going to happen. No one would say that your knowledge was the one that caused the accident. Knowing one’s fate because of his/her mistakes has nothing to do with you.

Allah (swt) isn’t the one who determines the bad or good destiny of others, and never assigns a bad destiny to anyone. This hadith by the great prophet of Islam (pbuh) has been narrated by many Islamic scholars: “The prophet (pbuh) said:

The Qadariyyah has been cursed by seventy thousand prophets (throughout history). It was asked: Who are the Qadariyyah? The prophet (pbuh) answered: Those who believe that they are forced to sin (because of the bad destiny that Allah (swt) has imposed on them) and that they will be punished because of these sins (that they have no control over).” [1]

2) It is more appropriate to say that Allah (swt) knows who will make good use of divine guidance when it comes and who will turn away from it, and that punishment in the hereafter (or even in this world) is a result of making the wrong choice regarding that guidance. Just like the experienced teacher who lists the elements of success for his students on the first day of class, but knows who will heed his advice and take it seriously and who won’t. Clearly, good grades and prizes will go to those who deserve them, and bad grades and all of the hardships that those grades entail, all will be for those who have asked for it with their actions. So the role that the teacher’s knowledge plays in such situation is to show him who will succeed and who won’t, and has nothing to do with forcing them to be lazy or strive for success.

This is why theologians say:

“Allah (swt) has knowledge regarding the obedience and disobedience of His servants, and this knowledge reveals and is determined by [2] the acts of His servants. [3]

3) If Allah (swt) was to not send any means of guidance to the people, and yet expected them to believe in and obey Him, one could object, but considering that He has sent both inner messengers (the sound intellect) and outer ones (the prophets, imams, books and scriptures and even scholars), who is the one to be truly blamed; the one who possesses many “lanterns” in the dark and still goes the wrong way, or the one who punishes him for breaking those precious and needed “lanterns”?

4) Life in this world is all about making the right choices, thus one can say that our fates are in our own hands and that it all depends on how much we strive and ask Allah (swt) for help and guidance.

5) Allah (swt) created man in order for him to reach perfection and salvation. Not only doesn’t the creation of Shaytan, who is always trying to misguide man, contradict this goal, but it is necessary, because development and perfection is always a result of struggle, clashes and conflict. [4]

6) Although the role jinni and human shaytans play is an important one in achieving the above mentioned goal, yet no one is forced to play this role, and whoever does so, does it willingly and in reality chooses to be so.

Even Shaytan (Iblis) himself wasn’t created as Shaytan, because he had lived with the angels for six thousand years [5] and was a great worshipper of Allah (swt), but despite this fact, he chose to go the wrong way as a result of his self-pride, distancing from Allah’s (swt) grace and mercy. The same goes with Yazid; he chose to go the wrong way, therefore he can no longer object to his creation and ask Allah (swt) why he was created, because the answer is that the role you were to play was a necessary one, but not one imposed on you; on the contrary, you are the one who chose to play it (so the role is a necessary one, but only those who choose to play it).

In other words, there must be bad people in this world so that others can reach perfection through the encounters they have with them. Take Imam Husein (as) for instance; there must be a Yazid in order for Imam Husein (as) and what he did to find true meaning; the situation he put Imam Husein (as) in was the one that allowed the imam to reach the high level of martyrdom. Yet, Allah (swt) has forced no one to be Yazid; it is Yazid himself who chooses to be the Yazid who committed one of the greatest atrocities of all time, therefore he can’t question Allah (swt) for who he is, because he himself is the one to blame.

7) The creation of man is a favor by Allah (swt) because of His never-ending grace. It is like for someone to arrange a great feast and invite others to take part in it without asking them for anything else. Now if there are people who willingly decide not to attend and make use of the food there, resulting in their hunger, the one hosting the feast isn’t the one to be blamed and scolded just because he knew they wouldn’t come, because not inviting them at all, is worst and in that case they would probably claim that they would have come.

1). انه (ص) قال: لعنت القدريه علي لسان سبعين نبياً. قيل: و من القدرية يا رسول الله؟ فقال: قوم يزعمون ان الله قدر عليهم المعاصي و عذبهم عليها. (Biharul-Anwar, vol.5, pg.47)
(2). Determination here means that “the known” thing determines the knowledge itself: قال: و هو تابع بمعنى أصالة موازيه في التطابق.
أقول: اعلم أن التابع يطلق على ما يکون متأخرا عن المتبوع و على ما يکون مستفادا منه و هما غير مرادين في قولنا العلم تابع للمعلوم فإن العلم قد يتقدم المعلوم زمانا و قد يفيد وجوده کالعلم الفعلي و إنما المراد هنا کون العلم و المعلوم متطابقين بحيث إذا تصورهما العقل حکم بأصالة المعلوم في هيئة التطابق و أن العلم تابع له و حکاية عنه و أن ما عليه العلم فرع على ما عليه المعلوم و على هذا التقدير يجوز تأخر المعلوم الذي هو الأصل عن تابعه فإن العقل يجوز تقدم الحکاية على المحکي. (Kashful-Morad, pg.231)
(3). Khajeh Nasiruddin Tusi, Kashful-Morad, pg.230.
(4). Muhammad Bistooni, Shaytan Shenasi az Didgahe Qurane Karim, pg.17.
(5). Nahjul-Balaghah, the sermon of Qase’ah, 234.

Is the issue of eternal punishment compatible with justice of God?

We know that the Holy Quran directly speaks of the eternal punishment to be given to the kufar. That is, it speaks about eternity.

“Allah has promised the hypocrites, men and women, and the faithless, the Fire of hell, to remain in it [forever]. That suffices them. Allah has cursed them, and there is a lasting punishment for them.” [1]

Just as in the following verse, the Quran promises the believing men and the believing women gardens in Paradise forever.

Allah has promised the faithful, men and women, gardens with streams running in them, to remain in them [forever], and good dwellings in the Gardens of Eden. Yet Allah’s pleasure is greater [than all these]; that is the great success. [2]

This question then arises and that is, how can one accept that in one’s lifetime of eighty or one hundred years, one commits evil deeds and then for eternity – millions of years – is punished.

Of course, this is not important as to rewards because the ocean of God’s Mercy is very great and however much greater is the reward, it shows greater virtue and mercy but as to evil deeds, they are punished for eternity because of limited sins. How can this be reconciled with God’s justice? Should a balance not exist between punishment and reward?

Answer

In order to reach a final solution to this discussion, several points need to be noted:

a. Punishments on the Day of Resurrection do not resemble punishments in this world. For instance, a person is found guilty of aggression and plunder and he spends some time in prison whereas the punishment at the Judgment day takes the form of efforts of one’s deeds and the particularities of a person’s acts.

In clearer terms, the difficulties which one bears in the other world are the direct result of his deeds. The Holy Quran explains this very clearly where it says,

So today no soul will be wronged at all, and you will not be recompensed except for what you used to do. [3]

With one simple example, we can visualize this truth that a person who goes after narcotics and alcoholic drinks and no matter how much one explains that these things will ruin him, and sicken his heart and destroy his nerves, he does not listen. He spends several weeks or months drowned in these killing pleasures and gradually develops ulcers, heart disease, nerve disease and then he spends tens of years until the end of his life suffering because of this and he groans night and day.

Can one object here why does a person who only sinned for several weeks or months have to suffer for tens of years?

It is readily stated in response that this is the result of his own actions. Even if he were to live longer than the Prophet Noah and were to live for tens of thousands of years and we were to continuously see him in pain and anguish, we would say that this is something he brought upon himself with his deeds.

Punishment on the Day of Judgment is like this. Thus, no one can object to the justice of the situation.

b. This is wrong that some people assume that the time limit of the punishment must be the same extent as the sin because the relation between a sin and punishment is not a temporal one. It depends upon the result and quality of the sin.

For instance, it is possible that a person in one second kills an innocent person and according to the laws of some countries, he is given life imprisonment. Here we see that the time of the sin was one quickly passing second, whereas the punishment is for tens of years. No one considers this to be oppressive. Why? Because the question here is not one of days or weeks or months or years. It depends upon the quality of the sin and its result.

c. Eternity in hell and eternal punishment only belongs to those people who have closed all doors to salvation for themselves and they have drowned themselves in corruption, licentiousness, kufr and hypocrisy so that the darkness of sin takes over their entire being and, as a result, that person takes on the color of sin and kufr.The Holy Quran says,

Why, they who have earned the wages of sin and are enclosed in error, are people of Hell, where they will abide for ever. [4]

These kinds of individuals have completely cut off their connection with God and have closed all doors to their salvation and well-being.

These kinds of individuals are like birds which purposefully break their own wings, pull out their feathers, are obliged to walk forever upon the earth and are deprived of flying through the skies.
Noticing the three points given above clarifies the issue that eternal punishment which belongs to a particular group of hypocrites or kufar does not oppose the principle of justice. This is the ominous result of their deeds themselves. The Divine Prophets had previously told them that their deeds would have these results.

It is clear that if individuals are ignorant and the invitation of the prophets are not known to them and if they commit evil deeds out of ignorance, they will not receive such a difficult punishment.

It is also necessary to point out that verses of the Holy Quran and Islamic Traditions mention that the ocean of Divine Mercy is so great and extensive that a large group of transgressors are included. Some by means of intercession; some by means of forgiveness and some because of small, good deeds which they performed. God, in His greatness, gives great reward for those small, good deeds

And another group, after they have been punished for a time in hell, and have been purified, they will return because of Divine Mercy. The only group remaining is the one which has enmity towards the truth and commit oppression, corruption and hypocrisy so that their whole being is covered in oppression, kufr and faithlessness.

1. (9:68)
{و عد الله المنافقين و المنافقات و الکفار نار جهنم خالدين فيها}
2. (9:72)
{وعد الله المومنين و المومنات جنات تجري من تحتها النهار خالدين فيها}
3. (36:54)
{فاليوم لا تظلم نفس شيئاو لا تجزون الا ما کنتم تعلمون}
4. (2:81)
{بلي من کسب سيئه و احاطت به خطيئته فاولئک اصحاب النار هم فيها خالدون}

How old will you be in heaven/hell?

The change in appearance and outer features as one ages are related to this world, but this isn’t the case for the hereafter, especially heaven; people don’t have different appearances and faces there. For example, it is not so that some will be children, some will be middle aged, and some old. Even if we believe that the world to come is a material one, still, age, the way we see and perceive it in this world, will not be a factor. What can be concluded from narrations in this regard, is that those entering Paradise will be young and beautiful:

يدخلون الجنة شبابا منورين و قال إن أهل الجنة جرد مرد مکحلون 1
Those entering Paradise will enter as young illuminating beautiful youth.

In put it in other terms, they will always be in the best form and state, this joy not being hindered the least by the passing of time.

In the Quran, when it speaks of the pure heavenly spouses, it says that those in heaven will have spouses who only look to their husbands and are of like age and young:

2 {وَ عِنْدَهُمْ قاصِراتُ الطَّرْفِ أَتْرابٌ}
With companions of modest look, the same in age, by their side.

In this verse, atrāb means being of the same age and is one of the attributes of heavenly women in respect to their husbands; being of the same age increases attractiveness among couples. Atrāb can also be an attribute of the women among themselves, in other words, the verse can also mean that all the women therein have the same age. 3 None of these women will be subject to old age; they are neither children nor old and feeble. 4

[1] Ibn Shahr Ashub, Manaqib Aal Abi Talib, vol. 1, p. 148, Allamah Publications Press, Qum, 2000.
[2] Quran, Surah Sad. 52
[3] Makarem Shirazi, Tafsir Nemouneh, vol. 19, p. 317, Daar al-Kutub al-Islamiyyah, Tehran, first edition, 1995; Suyuti, Jalal al-Din, al-Durr al-Manthur fi Tafsir al-Ma’thur, vol. 5, p. 318, Ayatullah Mar’ashi Najafi Library, Qum, 1404 AH.
[4] Ibn Ajibah, Ahmad bin Muhammad, al-Bahr al-Madid fi Tafsir al-Quran al-Majid, researched by Qurashi Raslan, Ahmad Abdullah, vol. 5, p. 36, Published by Zaki, Hasan Abbas, Cairo, 1419 AH; Tafsir al-Saafi, Fayd Kashani, Mulla Muhsin, Tafsir al-Saafi, researched by A’lami, Husein, vol. 4, p. 306, al-Sadr Press, second edition, Tehran, 1415 AH.

When the Day of Resurrection comes and human beings go to Paradise and Hell, does death still exist?

In the greater resurrection which is a world next to the intermediate world, all human beings from the first to the last are gathered and enter a new phase of living; they receive the rewards for their deeds and actions in the worldly life. 1

The Quran, traditions and rational arguments agree that there is no death after the Day of Judgment occurs and human beings go to Paradise and Hell. We shall now mention a few of those verses:

The Holy Quran uses as many as seventy names to make a reference to the Day of Judgment. Each name refers to a particular attribute or feature. For example, the “Day of Resurrection” used in the Quran refers to the fact that all human beings and existents are resurrected on this Day. Since this day is eternal and there is no death in it, it is called the Day of Eternal Life (yawm al-kholud) 2. This name has been mentioned in the holy cha