Responding to Doubts About the End of the Hellfire: Imam al-Shinqitee

The great mufassir sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee devoted one of his books, Daf’u Eehaam, entirely to addressing supposed contradictions in the Qur’an. In part of his chapter on surah al-An’aam, Imam al-Shinqitee discussed the apparent contradiction between certain ayaat that could be understood to indicate an end to the punishment of the Hellfire and the many other ayaat which indicate the opposite. The general outline of his discussion proceeded as such:

    1. Presenting the apparent contradiction
    2. Response
      1. Specific response regarding the ayah in surah al-An’aam
      2. General response to the claims that the Hellfire or its inhabitants will come to an end
        1. Five Possible scenarios
          1. Scenario #1 that the Hellfire will come to an end, and response
          2. Scenario #2 that the inhabitants of the Hellfire will die, and response
          3. Scenario #3 that the inhabitants of the Hellfire will be removed from it, and response
          4. Scenario #4 that the punishment of the Hellfire will be decreased, and response
          5. Claim that Allah may choose to not enact His threats of punishment, and response
          6. Scenario #5 that the Hellfire and its punishment will continue forever
          7. Claim that eternal punishment for one lifetime of sins in unfair, and response

For the sake of clarity and reference, we have inserted section headings into the text in brackets.

What follows is the complete text of sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee’s discussion:

[Presenting the apparent contradiction]

قَوْلُهُ تَعَالَى: قَالَ النَّارُ مَثْوَاكُمْ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا إِلَّا مَا شَاءَ اللَّهُ الْآيَةَ

Allah’s statement:

قَالَ النَّارُ مَثْوَاكُمْ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا إِلَّا مَا شَاءَ اللَّـهُ

He will say, “The Fire is your residence, wherein you will abide eternally, except for what Allah wills.” [6:128]

هَذِهِ الْآيَةُ الْكَرِيمَةُ يُفْهَمُ مِنْهَا كَوْنُ عَذَابِ أَهْلِ النَّارِ غَيْرَ بَاقٍ بَقَاءً لَا انْقِطَاعَ لَهُ أَبَدًا وَنَظِيرُهَا قَوْلُهُ تَعَالَى: فَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ شَقُوا فَفِي النَّارِ لَهُمْ فِيهَا زَفِيرٌ وَشَهِيقٌ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا مَا دَامَتِ السَّمَاوَاتُ وَالْأَرْضُ إِلَّا مَا شَاءَ رَبُّكَ [11 106 – 107] ، وَقَوْلُهُ تَعَالَى: لَابِثِينَ فِيهَا أَحْقَابًا [78 23] . ـ

Some have understood from this ayah that the punishment of the people of the Hellfire will not continue eternally without any end. Another ayah to this is Allah’s statement:

فَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ شَقُوا فَفِي النَّارِ لَهُمْ فِيهَا زَفِيرٌ وَشَهِيقٌ * خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا مَا دَامَتِ السَّمَاوَاتُ وَالْأَرْضُ إِلَّا مَا شَاءَ رَبُّكَ

As for those who were wretched, they will be in the Fire. For them therein is exhaling and inhaling. * Abiding therein as long as the heavens and the earth endure, except what your Lord should will. [11:106-107]

as well as:

لَّابِثِينَ فِيهَا أَحْقَابًا

In which they will remain for ages [78:23]

وَقَدْ جَاءَتْ آيَاتٌ تَدُلُّ عَلَى أَنَّ عَذَابَهُمْ لَا انْقِطَاعَ لَهُ كَقَوْلِهِ: خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا أَبَدًا [4 \ 57] .ـ

But there are also a number of ayaat which indicate that their punishment will never come to an end, such as Allah’s statement:

خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا أَبَدًا

They will abide therein forever [4:169]

[Specific response regarding the ayah in surah al-An’aam]

وَالْجَوَابُ عَنْ هَذَا مِنْ أَوْجُهٍ:ـ

This apparent contradiction can be addressed in several different ways:

أَحَدُهَا: أَنَّ قَوْلَهُ تَعَالَى: إِلَّا مَا شَاءَ اللَّهُ مَعْنَاهُ إِلَّا مَنْ شَاءَ اللَّهُ عَدَمَ خُلُودِهِ فِيهَا مِنْ أَهْلِ الْكَبَائِرِ مِنَ الْمُوَحِّدِينَ.ـ

First: That the meaning of Allah’s statement

إِلَّا مَا شَاءَ اللَّهُ

… except for what Allah wills. [6:128]

is “except for those whom Allah wills to not remain eternally in the Hellfire – that is, the people of tawheed who committed major sins.”

وَقَدْ ثَبَتَ فَى الْأَحَادِيثِ الصَّحِيحَةِ أَنَّ بَعْضَ أَهْلِ النَّارِ يَخْرُجُونَ مِنْهَا وَهُمْ أَهْلُ الْكَبَائِرِ مِنَ الْمُوَحِّدِينَ . وَنَقَلَ ابْنُ جَرِيرٍ هَذَا الْقَوْلَ عَنْ قَتَادَةَ وَالضَّحَّاكِ وَأَبِي سِنَانٍ وَخَالِدِ بْنِ مَعْدَانَ، وَاخْتَارَهُ ابْنُ جَرِيرٍ، وَغَايَةُ «مَا» فِي هَذَا الْقَوْلِ إِطْلَاقُ «مَا» وَإِرَادَةُ مَنْ وَنَظِيرُهُ فِي الْقُرْآنِ: فَانْكِحُوا مَا طَابَ لَكُمْ مِنَ النِّسَاءِ [4 3] ـ

It has been reliably transmitted in multiple authentic hadith narrations that some of the people of the Hellfire will leave the Hellfire, and those are the people of tawheed who committed major sins.

Ibn Jarir al-Tabari transmitted this explanation of the ayah from Qatadah, al-Dhahhaak, Abu Sinan and Khalid ibn Ma’dan, and ibn Jarir himself favored this explanation. The word maa – “what” – in this phrase takes on the broadest sense of the word and is used to mean man – “who”. A similar example of this usage in the Qur’an is:

فَانكِحُوا مَا طَابَ لَكُم مِّنَ النِّسَاءِ

… then marry maa [lit. “what”] pleases you of women … [4:3]

الثَّانِي: أَنَّ الْمُدَّةَ الَّتِي اسْتَثْنَاهَا اللَّهُ هِيَ الْمُدَّةُ الَّتِي بَيْنَ بَعْثِهِمْ مِنْ قُبُورِهِمْ وَاسْتِقْرَارِهِمْ فِي مَصِيرِهِمْ قَالَهُ ابْنُ جَرِيرٍ أَيْضًا.ـ

Second: That the length of time which Allah has excluded here is the length of time between when the people will be raised from their graves and when they will take their final dwelling places. Ibn Jarir also mentioned this explanation.

الْوَجْهُ الثَّالِثُ: أَنَّ قَوْلَهُ: إِلَّا مَا شَاءَ اللَّهُ فِيهِ إِجْمَالٌ وَقَدْ جَاءَتِ الْآيَاتُ وَالْأَحَادِيثُ الصَّحِيحَةُ مُصَرِّحَةً بِأَنَّهُمْ خَالِدُونَ فِيهَا أَبَدًا، وَظَاهِرُهَا أَنَّهُ خُلُودٌ لَا انْقِطَاعَ لَهُ، وَالظُّهُورُ مِنَ الْمُرَجِّحَاتِ فَالظَّاهِرُ مُقَدَّمٌ عَلَى الْمُجْمَلِ، كَمَا تَقَرَّرَ فِي الْأُصُولِ.ـ

Third: That Allah’s statement

إِلَّا مَا شَاءَ اللَّهُ

… except for what Allah wills

is an example of non-specific language, while a number of ayaat and authentic hadith narrations explicitly state that they will remain in the Hellfire forever and make it clear that the Hellfire will remain forever without any end. These clear texts are factors which strengthen this understanding, so clear texts are given more weight than those with non-specific language – this is a well-attested principle.

وَمِنْهَا أَنْ «إِلَّا» فِي سُورَةِ «هُودٍ» بِمَعْنَى: سِوَى مَا شَاءَ اللَّهُ مِنَ الزِّيَادَةِ عَلَى مُدَّةِ دَوَامِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ.ـ

A further example of this point could be that illaa – “except” – here in surah Hud means: except for whatever addition of time Allah wills beyond the length of time that the heavens and the earth endure.

وَقَالَ بَعْضُ الْعُلَمَاءِ: إِنَّ الِاسْتِثْنَاءَ عَلَى ظَاهِرِهِ وَأَنَّهُ يَأْتِي عَلَى النَّارِ زَمَانٌ لَيْسَ فِيهَا أَحَدٌ.ـ

And some of the scholars have said that the exception here should be understood according to its apparent meaning, which is that the Hellfire will endure for all time without any limit.

وَقَالَ ابْنُ مَسْعُودٍ: لَيَأْتِيَنَّ عَلَى جَهَنَّمَ زَمَانٌ تَخْفِقُ أَبْوَابُهَا لَيْسَ فِيهَا أَحَدٌ، وَذَلِكَ بَعْدَمَا يَلْبَثُونَ أَحْقَابًا.ـ

Ibn Mas’ood said: There will come a time when the gates of the Hellfire will be empty and no one will be inside. That is after they have remained there for ages.

وَعَنِ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ: أَنَّهَا تَأْكُلُهُمْ بِأَمْرِ اللَّهِ.ـ

It is has been reported from ibn ‘Abbaas that the Hellfire would consume them by Allah’s command.

قَالَ مُقَيِّدُهُ عَفَا اللَّهُ عَنْهُ: الَّذِي يَظْهَرُ لِي وَاللَّهُ أَعْلَمُ، أَنَّ هَذِهِ النَّارَ الَّتِي لَا يَبْقَى فِيهَا أَحَدٌ يَتَعَيَّنُ حَمْلُهَا عَلَى الطَّبَقَةِ الَّتِي كَانَ فِيهَا عُصَاةُ الْمُسْلِمِينَ، كَمَا جَزَمَ بِهِ الْبَغَوِيُّ فِي تَفْسِيرِهِ، لِأَنَّهُ يَحْصُلُ بِهِ الْجَمْعُ بَيْنَ الْأَدِلَّةِ، وَإِعْمَالُ الدَّلِيلَيْنِ أَوْلَى مِنْ إِلْغَاءِ أَحَدِهِمَا. وَقَدْ أَطْبَقَ الْعُلَمَاءُ عَلَى وُجُوبِ الْجَمْعِ إِذَا أَمْكَنَ ـ

This author [i.e. al-Shinqitee] – may Allah pardon him – says: What seems clear to me – and Allah knows best – is that this fire in which no one will eternally dwell should be understood to refer to a specific level of the Hellfire which holds the sinful Muslims. This is as al-Baghawi asserted in his book of tafsir since it allows one to reconcile the different evidences together, and reconciling two texts is preferable to abrogating one of them, with scholars stressing the obligation to reconcile texts whenever possible.

 أَمَّا مَا يَقُولُهُ كَثِيرٌ مِنَ الْعُلَمَاءِ مِنَ الصَّحَابَةِ، وَمَنْ بَعْدَهُمْ مِنْ أَنَّ النَّارَ تَفْنَى وَيَنْقَطِعُ الْعَذَابُ عَنْ أَهْلِهَا، فَالْآيَاتُ الْقُرْآنِيَّةُ تَقْتَضِي عَدَمَ صِحَّتِهِ

[General response to the claims that the Hellfire or its inhabitants will come to an end]

Now as for what a number of the scholars from the time of the Sahabah and those after them have about the Hellfire and the punishment of its inhabitants coming to an end, then there are many ayaat of the Qur’an which show that this to be incorrect.

وَإِيضَاحُهُ أَنَّ الْمَقَامَ لَا يَخْلُو مِنْ إِحْدَى خَمْسِ حَالَاتٍ بِالتَّقْسِيمِ الصَّحِيحِ، وَغَيْرُهَا رَاجِعٌ إِلَيْهَا

To make this clear, we can say that the correct position must be one of the following five positions according to a sound categorization, and any other positions actually fall under one of these five.

الْأُولَى: أَنْ يُقَالَ بِفَنَاءِ النَّارِ، وَأَنَّ اسْتِرَاحَتَهُمْ مِنَ الْعَذَابِ بِسَبَبِ فَنَائِهَا

First: It is said that the Hellfire will come to an end and that its inhabitants will be relieved of its punishment due to the Hellfire having come to an end.

الثَّانِيَةُ: أَنْ يُقَالَ إِنَّهُمْ مَاتُوا وَهِيَ بَاقِيَةٌ.ـ

Second: It is said that the inhabitants of the Hellfire will die though the Hellfire itself will continue on.

الثَّالِثَةُ: أَنْ يُقَالَ إِنَّهُمْ أُخْرِجُوا مِنْهَا وَهِيَ بَاقِيَةٌ.ـ

Third: It is said that the inhabitants of the Hellfire will be removed from the Hellfire while the Hellfire itself remains.

الرَّابِعَةُ: أَنْ يُقَالَ إِنَّهُمْ بَاقُونَ فِيهَا إِلَّا أَنَّ الْعَذَابَ يَخِفُّ عَلَيْهِمْ.ـ

Fourth: It is said that the inhabitants of the Hellfire will remain eternally in the Hellfire, but that their punishment will be decreased.

وَذَهَابُ الْعَذَابِ رَأْسًا وَاسْتِحَالَتُهُ لِذَا لَمْ نَذْكُرْهُمَا مِنَ الْأَقْسَامِ، لِأَنَّا نُقِيمُ الْبُرْهَانَ عَلَى نَفْيِ تَخْفِيفِ الْعَذَابِ، وَنَفْيُ تَخْفِيفِهِ يَلْزَمُهُ نَفْيُ ذَهَابِهِ وَاسْتِحَالَتُهُ لِذَا فَاكْتَفَيْنَا بِهِ لِدَلَالَةِ نَفْيِهِ عَلَى نَفْيِهِمَا، وَكُلُّ هَذِهِ الْأَقْسَامِ الْأَرْبَعَةِ يَدُلُّ الْقُرْآنُ عَلَى بُطْلَانِهِ.ـ

And we didn’t mention the complete removal of punishment or it being changed into something else in this categorization because we will provide proofs against the decrease of punishment, and negating a decrease in punishment entails negating a removal or change of punishment. Therefore, we found disproving the one sufficient to disprove those other two, with all three of these claims falling under category #4, which the Qur’an demonstrates to be false.

أَمَّا فَنَاؤُهَا فَقَدْ نَصَّ تَعَالَى عَلَى عَدَمِهِ بِقَوْلِهِ: كُلَّمَا خَبَتْ زِدْنَاهُمْ سَعِيرًا [17 \ 97] .ـ

[Scenario #1 that the Hellfire will come to an end, and response]

As for the claim that the Hellfire will come to an end, Allah has explicitly stated the opposite of that in His statement:

كُلَّمَا خَبَتْ زِدْنَاهُمْ سَعِيرًا

Every time it subsides We increase them in blazing fire. [17:97]

وَقَدْ قَالَ تَعَالَى: إِلَّا مَا شَاءَ رَبُّكَ [11 \ 107] ، فِي خُلُودِ أَهْلِ الْجَنَّةِ وَخُلُودِ أَهْلِ النَّارِ وَبَيَّنَ عَدَمَ الِانْقِطَاعِ فِي خُلُودِ أَهْلِ الْجَنَّةِ بِقَوْلِهِ: عَطَاءً غَيْرَ مَجْذُوذٍ [11 \ 108] ، وَبِقَوْلِهِ: إِنَّ هَذَا لَرِزْقُنَا مَا لَهُ مِنْ نَفَادٍ [38 \ 54] ، وَقَوْلِهِ: مَا عِنْدَكُمْ يَنْفَدُ وَمَا عِنْدَ اللَّهِ بَاقٍ [16 \ 96] .ـ

And Allah said

إِلَّا مَا شَاءَ رَبُّكَ

… except for what your Lord wills [11:107 & 11:108]

regarding both the eternal dwelling of the people of Jannah in Jannah and the eternal dwelling of the people of the Hellfire in the Hellfire, and He made it clear that people of Jannah‘s residence in Jannah will never be cut off by saying:

عَطَاءً غَيْرَ مَجْذُوذٍ

an uninterrupted gift [11:108]

إِنَّ هَذَا لَرِزْقُنَا مَا لَهُ مِنْ نَفَادٍ

Verily, this is Our provision which does not have any end [38:54]

مَا عِنْدَكُمْ يَنْفَدُ وَمَا عِنْدَ اللَّهِ بَاقٍ

Whatever is with you will be exhausted but what is with Allah will endure [16:96]

وَبَيَّنَ عَدَمَ الِانْقِطَاعِ فِي خُلُودِ أَهْلِ النَّارِ بِقَوْلِهِ: كُلَّمَا خَبَتْ زِدْنَاهُمْ سَعِيرًا. فَمَنْ يَقُولُ إِنَّ لِلنَّارِ خَبْوَةً لَيْسَ بَعْدَهَا زِيَادَةُ سَعِيرٍ، رُدَّ عَلَيْهِ بِهَذِهِ الْآيَةِ الْكَرِيمَةِ، وَمَعْلُومٌ أَنَّ كُلَّمَا تَقْتَضِي التَّكْرَارَ بِتَكْرَارِ الْفِعْلِ الَّذِي بَعْدَهَا، وَنَظِيرُهَا قَوْلُهُ تَعَالَى: كُلَّمَا نَضِجَتْ جُلُودُهُمْ بَدَّلْنَاهُمْ جُلُودًا غَيْرَهَا الْآيَةَ [4 56] .ـ

And Allah made it clear that the people of the Hellfire’s residence in the Hellfire will never be cut off by saying:

كُلَّمَا خَبَتْ زِدْنَاهُمْ سَعِيرًا

Every time it subsides We increase them in blazing fire. [17:97]

So if anyone says that the Hellfire will ever subside without being followed up by an increase of blazing fire, then show him this ayah. And it is common knowledge that “every time” entails the repetition of an action time and time again. This is similar to Allah’s statement:

كُلَّمَا نَضِجَتْ جُلُودُهُم بَدَّلْنَاهُمْ جُلُودًا غَيْرَهَا لِيَذُوقُوا الْعَذَابَ

Every time their skins are roasted through We will replace them with other skins so they may taste the punishment. [4:56]

وَأَمَّا مَوْتُهُمْ فَقَدْ نَصَّ تَعَالَى عَلَى عَدَمِهِ بِقَوْلِهِ: لَا يُقْضَى عَلَيْهِمْ فَيَمُوتُوا [35 \ 36] ، وَقَوْلِهِ: لَا يَمُوتُ فِيهَا وَلَا يَحْيَا [20] ، وَقَوْلِهِ: وَيَأْتِيهِ الْمَوْتُ مِنْ كُلِّ مَكَانٍ وَمَا هُوَ بِمَيِّتٍ [14 \ 17] ، وَقَدْ “بَيَّنَ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فِي الْحَدِيثِ الصَّحِيحِ أَنَّ الْمَوْتَ يُجَاءُ بِهِ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ فِي صُورَةِ كَبْشٍ أَمْلَجٍ فَيُذْبَحُ، وَإِذَا ذُبِحَ الْمَوْتُ حَصَلَ الْيَقِينُ بِأَنَّهُ لَا مَوْتَ، كَمَا قَالَ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: وَيُقَالُ يَا أَهْلَ الْجَنَّةِ خُلُودٌ فَلَا مَوْتَ، وَيَا أَهْلَ النَّارِ خُلُودٌ بِلَا مَوْتٍ.ـ

[Scenario #2 that the inhabitants of the Hellfire will die, and response]

As for the claim that the inhabitants of the Hellfire will die, then Allah has explicitly stated the opposite of that in His statements:

لَا يُقْضَىٰ عَلَيْهِمْ فَيَمُوتُوا

They will not be killed so that they die [35:36]

لَا يَمُوتُ فِيهَا وَلَا يَحْيَا

They will neither die therein nor will they live [20:74]

وَيَأْتِيهِ الْمَوْتُ مِنْ كُلِّ مَكَانٍ وَمَا هُوَ بِمَيِّتٍ

and death will come to him from every side, yet he will not die [14:17]

And the Prophet clarified in an authentic hadith narration that death itself will be brought on the Day of Resurrection in the form of a black and white goat which will be slaughtered, and when death has been slaughtered, this will definitely show that there is no more death. This is as the Prophet said, “It will be said, ‘O People of Jannah, eternity without death! And O People of the Hellfire, eternity without death!'”

وَأَمَّا إِخْرَاجُهُمْ مِنْهَا فَنَصَّ تَعَالَى عَلَى عَدَمِهِ بِقَوْلِهِ: وَمَا هُمْ بِخَارِجِينَ مِنَ النَّارِ [2 \ 167] ، وَبِقَوْلِهِ: كُلَّمَا أَرَادُوا أَنْ يَخْرُجُوا مِنْهَا أُعِيدُوا فِيهَا [32 20] ، وَبِقَوْلِهِ: وَمَا هُمْ بِخَارِجِينَ مِنْهَا وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌ مُقِيمٌ [5 \ 37] .ـ

[Scenario # 3 that the inhabitants of the Hellfire will be removed from it, and response]

As for the claim that the inhabitants of the Hellfire will be removed from the Hellfire, then Allah has explicitly stated the opposite of that with His statements:

وَمَا هُمْ بِخَارِجِينَ مِنَ النَّارِ

And they shall not be removed from the Hellfire [2:167]

كُلَّمَا أَرَادُوا أَنْ يَخْرُجُوا مِنْهَا أُعِيدُوا فِيهَا

Every time they want to leave it they will be returned to it [32:20]

وَمَا هُمْ بِخَارِجِينَ مِنْهَا وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌ مُقِيمٌ

And they shall never leave it, and they will have an enduring punishment [5:37]

وَأَمَّا تَخْفِيفُ الْعَذَابِ عَنْهُمْ فَنَصَّ تَعَالَى عَلَى عَدَمِهِ بِقَوْلِهِ: وَلَا يُخَفَّفُ عَنْهُمْ مِنْ عَذَابِهَا كَذَلِكَ نَجْزِي كُلَّ كَفُورٍ [35 \ 13] ، وَقَوْلِهِ: فَلَنْ نَزِيدَكُمْ إِلَّا عَذَابًا [78] ، وَقَوْلِهِ: لَا يُفَتَّرُ عَنْهُمْ وَهُمْ فِيهِ مُبْلِسُونَ [43] ، وَقَوْلِهِ: إِنَّ عَذَابَهَا كَانَ غَرَامًا [25 \ 65] ، وَقَوْلِهِ: فَسَوْفَ يَكُونُ لِزَامًا [25 \ 77] ، وَقَوْلِهِ تَعَالَى: فَلَا يُخَفَّفُ عَنْهُمْ وَلَا هُمْ يُنْظَرُونَ [16 \ 85] . وَقَوْلِهِ: وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌ مُقِيمٌ [5 \ 37] ـ

[Scenario #4 that the punishment of the Hellfire will be decreased, and response]

As for the claim that the punishment of the inhabitants of the Hellfire will be decreased, then Allah has explicitly stated the opposite of that in His statements:

وَلَا يُخَفَّفُ عَنْهُمْ مِنْ عَذَابِهَا كَذَلِكَ نَجْزِي كُلَّ كَفُورٍ

… nor will its torment be lightened for them. Thus do we recompense every ungrateful one. [35:36]

فَلَنْ نَزِيدَكُمْ إِلَّا عَذَابًا

And We will never increase you in anything, except for punishment [78:30]

لَا يُفَتَّرُ عَنْهُمْ وَهُمْ فِيهِ مُبْلِسُونَ

The punishment will not be lessened for them, and they are in despair in it [43:75]

إِنَّ عَذَابَهَا كَانَ غَرَامًا

Indeed, its punishment is ever adhering [25:65]

فَسَوْفَ يَكُونُ لِزَامًا

So the punishment will be yours forever [25:77]

فَلَا يُخَفَّفُ عَنْهُمْ وَلَا هُمْ يُنْظَرُونَ

it will not be lightened for them, nor will they be reprieved. [16:85]

وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌ مُقِيمٌ

And they will have an enduring punishment [5:37]

 وَلَا يَخْفَى أَنَّ قَوْلَهُ: وَلَا يُخَفَّفُ عَنْهُمْ مِنْ عَذَابِهَا وَقَوْلَهُ: لَا يُفَتَّرُ عَنْهُمْ كِلَاهُمَا فِعْلٌ فِي سِيَاقِ النَّفْيِ، فَحَرْفُ النَّفْيِ بِنَفْيِ الْمَصْدَرِ الْكَامِنِ فِي الْفِعْلِ فَهُوَ فِي “مَعْنَى لَا تَخْفِيفَ لِلْعَذَابِ عَنْهُمْ، وَلَا تَفْتِيرَ لَهُ، وَالْقَوْلُ بِفَنَائِهَا يَلْزَمُهُ تَخْفِيفُ الْعَذَابَ وَتَفْتِيرُهُ الْمَنْفِيَّانِ فِي هَذِهِ الْآيَاتِ بَلْ يَلْزَمُهُ ذَهَابُهُمَا رَأْسًا، كَمَا أَنَّهُ يَلْزَمُهُ نَفْيُ مُلَازَمَةِ الْعَذَابِ الْمَنْصُوصِ عَلَيْهَا بِقَوْلِهِ: فَسَوْفَ يَكُونُ لِزَامًا وَقَوْلِهِ: إِنَّ عَذَابَهَا كَانَ غَرَامًا وَإِقَامَتِهِ الْمَنْصُوصِ عَلَيْهَا بِقَوْلِهِ: وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌ مُقِيمٌ. ـ

And it is no secret that Allah’s statements:

فَلَا يُخَفَّفُ عَنْهُمْ وَلَا هُمْ يُنْظَرُونَ

it will not be lightened for them, nor will they be reprieved. [16:85]

لَا يُفَتَّرُ عَنْهُمْ وَهُمْ فِيهِ مُبْلِسُونَ

The punishment will not be lessened for them, and they are in despair in it [43:75]

both contain verbs used in the context of negation. So the particle used for negation acts to negate the root meaning contained within the verb, thereby making the meanings, “There is no lightening of the punishment for them,” and “there will be no lessening of it.” Claiming that the Hellfire will come to an end entails that it’s punishment will be lightened and lessened, and both of those things are ruled out by these ayaat. In fact, that claim entails that the Hellfire would be done away with completely! It would also entail negating the everlasting nature of the punishment found in the texts, such as in Allah’s statement:

فَسَوْفَ يَكُونُ لِزَامًا

So the punishment will be yours forever [25:77]

إِنَّ عَذَابَهَا كَانَ غَرَامًا

Indeed, its punishment is ever adhering [25:65]

And it would also entail negating the enduring nature of the punishment which is explicitly mentioned in Allah’s statement:

وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌ مُقِيمٌ

And they will have an enduring punishment [5:37]

فَظَاهِرُ هَذِهِ الْآيَاتِ عَدَمُ فَنَاءِ النَّارِ الْمُصَرَّحُ بِهِ فِي قَوْلِهِ: كُلَّمَا خَبَتْ زِدْنَاهُمْ سَعِيرًا وَمَا احْتَجَّ بِهِ بَعْضُ الْعُلَمَاءِ مِنْ أَنَّهُ لَوْ فُرِضَ أَنَّ اللَّهَ أَخْبَرَ بِعَدَمِ فَنَائِهَا أَنَّ ذَلِكَ لَا يَمْنَعُ فَنَاءَهَا لِأَنَّهُ وَعِيدٌ، وَإِخْلَافُ الْوَعِيدِ مِنَ الْحَسَنِ لَا مِنَ الْقَبِيحِ، وَأَنَّ اللَّهَ تَعَالَى ذَكَرَ أَنَّهُ لَا يُخْلِفُ وَعْدَهُ وَلَمْ يَذْكُرْ أَنَّهُ لَا يُخْلِفُ وَعِيدَهُ، وَأَنَّ الشَّاعِرَ قَالَ: وَإِنِّي وَإِنْ أَوْعَدْتُهُ أَوْ وَعَدْتُهُ … لَمُخْلِفُ إِيعَادِي وَمُنْجِزُ مَوْعِدِي ـ

For the plain message of these ayaat is a negation of any end to the Hellfire, which is explicitly stated in His statement:

كُلَّمَا خَبَتْ زِدْنَاهُمْ سَعِيرًا

Every time it subsides We increase them in blazing fire [17:97]

[Claim that Allah may choose to not enact His threats of punishment, and response]

Now, there is also the argument that some scholars use that even if we were to accept that Allah has told us that the Hellfire would not come to end, that does not actually prevent it from coming to an end because that is a threat and not following through on one’s threat is a positive quality rather than a negative one, and Allah has said that He will not break His promises, but He has not said that He will not break His threats. Also, a poet said:

If I threatened him or promised him ***** I would break my threat and fulfill my promise

فَالظَّاهِرُ عَدَمُ صِحَّتِهِ لِأَمْرَيْنِ:ـ

It is clear that this is not correct. That is based on two reasons:

الْأَوَّلُ: أَنَّهُ يَلْزَمُهُ جَوَازُ أَلَّا يَدْخُلَ النَّارَ كَافِرٌ، لِأَنَّ الْخَبَرَ بِذَلِكَ وَعِيدٌ، وَإِخْلَافُهُ عَلَى هَذَا الْقَوْلِ لَا بَأْسَ بِهِ.ـ

Firstly: That would entail that it is possible that a disbeliever might not enter the Hellfire, because that message comes has come as a threat, and according to this argument it is perfectly fine for Allah to not fulfill that threat.

الثَّانِي: أَنَّهُ تَعَالَى صَرَّحَ بِحَقِّ وَعِيدِهِ عَلَى مَنْ كَذَّبَ رُسُلَهُ حَيْثُ قَالَ: كُلٌّ كَذَّبَ الرُّسُلَ فَحَقَّ وَعِيدِ [50 \ 14] .ـ

Secondly: Allah explicitly stated that He will fulfill His threat against those who belie His messengers when He said:

كُلٌّ كَذَّبَ الرُّسُلَ فَحَقَّ وَعِيدِ

everyone of them denied the Messengers, so My Threat took effect. [50:14]

وَقَدْ تَقَرَّرَ فِي مَسْلَكِ النَّصِّ مِنْ مَسَالِكِ الْعِلَّةِ أَنَّ الْفَاءَ مِنْ حُرُوفِ التَّعْلِيلِ كَقَوْلِهِمْ: سَهَا فَسَجَدَ، أَيْ سَجَدَ لِعِلَّةِ سَهْوِهِ، وَسَرَقَ فَقُطِعَتْ يَدُهُ أَيْ لِعِلَّةِ سَرِقَتِهِ، فَقَوْلُهُ: كُلٌّ كَذَّبَ الرُّسُلَ فَحَقَّ وَعِيدِ أَيْ وَجَبَ وُقُوعُ الْوَعِيدِ عَلَيْهِمْ لِعِلَّةِ تَكْذِيبِ الرُّسُلِ، وَنَظِيرُهَا قَوْلُهُ تَعَالَى: إِنْ كُلٌّ إِلَّا كَذَّبَ الرُّسُلَ فَحَقَّ عِقَابِ [38 \ 14] .ـ

And it is well-known in the study of styles of expression, specifically the expression of causal factors, that the letter faa’ is one of the particles used to express causation. For example, people say:

سَهَا فَسَجَدَ

He was negligent and then he prostrated

meaning he made sujood due to his negligence. Or:

سَرَقَ فَقُطِعَتْ يَدُهُ

He stole and then his hand was cut off

i.e. because he stole

So Allah’s statement:

كُلٌّ كَذَّبَ الرُّسُلَ فَحَقَّ وَعِيدِ

everyone of them denied the Messengers, so My Threat took effect. [50:14]

i.e. the threat had to be brought into effect against them because of their denial of the messengers. And this is similar to Allah’s statement:

إِن كُلٌّ إِلَّا كَذَّبَ الرُّسُلَ فَحَقَّ عِقَابِ

Every single one of them denied the messengers so My punishment took effect [38:14]

وَمِنَ الْأَدِلَّةِ الصَّرِيحَةِ فِي ذَلِكَ تَصْرِيحُهُ تَعَالَى بِأَنَّ قَوْلَهُ لَا يُبَدَّلُ فِيمَا أَوْعَدَ بِهِ أَهْلَ النَّارِ حَيْثُ قَالَ \ 47 لَا تَخْتَصِمُوا لَدَيَّ وَقَدْ قَدَّمْتُ إِلَيْكُمْ بِالْوَعِيدِ مَا يُبَدَّلُ الْقَوْلُ لَدَيَّ وَمَا أَنَا بِظَلَّامٍ لِلْعَبِيدِ [50 \ 28 – 29] .ـ

One of the explicit evidences of this is Allah’s clear statement that His decree regarding His threats towards the people of the Hellfire will not be changed. This comes in His statement:

لَا تَخْتَصِمُوا لَدَيَّ وَقَدْ قَدَّمْتُ إِلَيْكُم بِالْوَعِيدِ * مَا يُبَدَّلُ الْقَوْلُ لَدَيَّ وَمَا أَنَا بِظَلَّامٍ لِّلْعَبِيدِ

Do not dispute in front of Me; I have already sent the threat to you * The decree that comes from Me cannot be changed, and I am not unjust at all towards the slaves. [50:28-29]

وَيُسْتَأْنَسُ لِذَلِكَ بِظَاهِرِ قَوْلِهِ “تَعَالَى: وَاخْشَوْا يَوْمًا لَا يَجْزِي وَالِدٌ عَنْ وَلَدِهِ – إِلَى قَوْلِهِ – إِنَّ وَعْدَ اللَّهِ حَقٌّ [31 \ 33] ، وَقَوْلِهِ: إِنَّ عَذَابَ رَبِّكَ لَوَاقِعٌ [52 \ 7] ، فَالظَّاهِرُ أَنَّ الْوَعِيدَ الَّذِي يَجُوزُ إِخْلَافُهُ وَعِيدُ عُصَاةِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ لِأَنَّ اللَّهَ بَيَّنَ ذَلِكَ بِقَوْلِهِ: وَيَغْفِرُ مَا دُونَ ذَلِكَ لِمَنْ يَشَاءُ [4 \ 48] .ـ

This is also supported by the clear message of Allah’s statements:

وَاخْشَوْا يَوْمًا لَّا يَجْزِي وَالِدٌ عَن وَلَدِهِ وَلَا مَوْلُودٌ هُوَ جَازٍ عَن وَالِدِهِ شَيْئًا ۚ إِنَّ وَعْدَ اللَّـهِ حَقٌّ

and fear a day when no father will be of any help to his son nor will a son be of any help to his father. The promise of Allah is certainly true. [31:33]

إِنَّ عَذَابَ رَبِّكَ لَوَاقِعٌ

The punishment of your Lord will certainly occur [52:7]

The apparent conclusion is that the threats which can be broken are those threats made against the disobedient believers, for Allah has actually clarified this in His statement:

وَيَغْفِرُ مَا دُونَ ذَلِكَ لِمَنْ يَشَاءُ

And He forgives what is less than that for whomever He wills [4:48]

فَإِذَا تَبَيَّنَ بِهَذِهِ النُّصُوصِ بُطْلَانُ جَمِيعِ هَذِهِ الْأَقْسَامِ تَعَيَّنَ الْقِسْمُ الْخَامِسُ الَّذِي هُوَ خُلُودُهُمْ فِيهَا أَبَدًا بِلَا انْقِطَاعٍ وَلَا تَخْفِيفٍ بِالتَّقْسِيمِ وَالسَّبْرِ الصَّحِيحِ.ـ

[Scenario #5 that the Hellfire and its punishment will continue forever]

So now that it has become clear through these texts that all four of these positions are baseless, this leads to a fifth position, which is that the inhabitants of the Hellfire will remain in the Hellfire eternally without any end or any decrease of punishment, and it is this fifth position which is the correct one.

وَلَا غَرَابَةَ فِي ذَلِكَ لِأَنَّهُ خُبْثُهُمُ الطَّبِيعِيُّ دَائِمٌ لَا يَزُولُ، فَكَانَ جَزَاؤُهُمْ دَائِمًا لَا يَزُولُ وَالدَّلِيلُ عَلَى أَنَّ خُبْثَهُمْ لَا يَزُولُ قَوْلُهُ تَعَالَى: وَلَوْ عَلِمَ اللَّهُ فِيهِمْ خَيْرًا لَأَسْمَعَهُمْ الْآيَةَ [8 \ 23] . فَقَوْلُهُ: خَيْرًا نَكِرَةٌ فِي سِيَاقِ الشَّرْطِ فَهِيَ تَعُمُّ، فَلَوْ كَانَ فِيهِمْ خَيْرٌ مَا فِي وَقْتٍ مَا لَعَلِمَهُ اللَّهُ ـ

[Claim that eternal punishment for one lifetime of sins in unfair, and response]

There is nothing strange about this because their inherent wickedness was continuous without any cessation, so therefore their recompense will be continuous without any cessation. The proof that their wickedness was continuous is Allah’s statement:

وَلَوْ عَلِمَ اللَّـهُ فِيهِمْ خَيْرًا لَّأَسْمَعَهُمْ ۖ وَلَوْ أَسْمَعَهُمْ لَتَوَلَّوا وَّهُم مُّعْرِضُونَ

And if Allah had known any good in them, He would have made them hear. And if He had made them hear, they would have turned away in refusal. [8:23]

So His statement:

خَيْرًا

… any good …

is indefinite, and since it comes in a conditional statement it takes on a broad meaning: If there was any good in them at any time whatsoever, then Allah would have known it.

وَقَوْلُهُ تَعَالَى: وَلَوْ رُدُّوا لَعَادُوا لِمَا نُهُوا عَنْهُ [6 28] ، وُعَوْدُهُمْ بَعْدَ مُعَايَنَةِ الْعَذَابِ، لَا يُسْتَغْرَبُ بَعْدَهُ عَوْدُهُمْ بَعْدَ مُبَاشَرَةِ الْعَذَابِ لِأَنَّ رُؤْيَةَ الْعَذَابِ عِيَانًا كَالْوُقُوعِ فِيهِ لَا سِيَّمَا وَقَدْ قَالَ تَعَالَى: فَكَشَفْنَا عَنْكَ غِطَاءَكَ فَبَصَرُكَ الْيَوْمَ حَدِيدٌ [50 \ 22] ، وَقَالَ: أَسْمِعْ بِهِمْ وَأَبْصِرْ يَوْمَ يَأْتُونَنَا الْآيَةَ [19 38] .ـ

And Allah’s statement:

وَلَوْ رُدُّوا لَعَادُوا لِمَا نُهُوا عَنْهُ

And if there were to be returned [to the worldly life], they would go back to what they had been forbidden to do [6:28]

Since they would go back to their sinful ways after having seen the punishment, then it is not surprising that they would also go back to their sinful ways after having felt the punishment directly since seeing the punishment firsthand is like experiencing it, especially since Allah said:

فَكَشَفْنَا عَنكَ غِطَاءَكَ فَبَصَرُكَ الْيَوْمَ حَدِيدٌ

So We have removed your covering from you, so your sight is sharp on this day [50:22]

and He said:

أَسْمِعْ بِهِمْ وَأَبْصِرْ يَوْمَ يَأْتُونَنَا

How clearly they will hear and see on the day they are brought to Us [19:38]

وَعَذَابُ الْكُفَّارِ لِلْإِهَانَةِ وَالِانْتِقَامِ لَا لِلتَّطْهِيرِ وَالتَّمْحِيصِ، كَمَا أَشَارَ لَهُ تَعَالَى بِقَوْلِهِ وَلَا يُزَكِّيهِمْ [2 \ 174] ، وَبِقَوْلِهِ: وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌ مُهِينٌ [3 \ 178] ، وَالْعِلْمُ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ تَعَالَى.”

And the disbelievers are punished as a form of humiliation and retribution, not as a form of purification and cleansing, as is indicated by Allah’s statements:

وَلَا يُزَكِّيهِمْ

… nor will He purify them … [2:174]

وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌ مُّهِينٌ

… and they will have a humiliating punishment [3:178]

And the knowledge is with Allah, the Most High.

[Daf’u Eehaam pg 96-100]

See more from Imam al-Shinqitee’s book responding to supposed contradictions in the Qur’an

See also: Supposed Contradictions in the Qur’an Article Index

See also: Remaining eternally in the Hell-fire and its causes: Imam al-Sa’di

See also: “And for that He created them…”: Tafsir al-Qurtubi

See also: “Are you recompensed except for what you used to do?”: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

See also: In Response to the View that the Hell-fire will Come to an End: Sheikh bin Baaz

See also: Understanding Texts which Promise Hellfire for Sins Less than Shirk: Sheikh ‘Abd al-Razzaq al-Badr

7 thoughts on “Responding to Doubts About the End of the Hellfire: Imam al-Shinqitee

  1. Pingback: Remaining eternally in the Hell-fire and its causes: Imam al-Sa’di | Tulayhah

  2. Pingback: In Response to the View that the Hell-fire will Come to an End: Sheikh bin Baaz | Tulayhah

  3. Pingback: Punishment of the Grave as Mentioned in the Qur’an: Ibn al-Qayyim | Tulayhah

  4. Pingback: Understanding Texts which Promise Hellfire for Sins Less than Shirk: Sheikh ‘Abd al-Razzaq al-Badr | Tulayhah

  5. Pingback: Linguistic Ambiguity and Multiple Meanings of a Qur’anic Ayah: Tafsir al-Shinqitee | Tulayhah

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