Are all Muslims condemned to enter hell?

 Does Surah Maryam, 71 condemn everyone including Muslims into hell?

by Ibn Anwar

  In an article published on Answering-Islam at that seems to be the general idea. We read the following from the article:

From the entry under Martyrs in The Concise Encyclopedia of Islam by Cyril Glass�:


    Believers who die for their faith, in defense of it, or persecuted for it, are assured of Heaven. They are buried as they died, unwashed and in the same clothes, the bloodstains testifying to their state.

This is also expressed in various hadiths. For example we find in Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 93, Number 621:


    Narrated Al-Mughira:Our Prophet has informed us our Lord’s Message that whoever of us is martyred, will go to Paradise.


What is not mentioned above by the author is that others beside those who die “for their faith, in defense of it, or persecuted for it” who are Muslims and believers and do righteous works are also assured paradise as can be seen again and again in the Qur’an and Sunnah:

“Truly, the Muttaqun (the pious and righteous persons) will be amidst Gardens and water-springs (Jannah). (It will be said to them): `Enter therein (Jannah), in peace and security.’ And We shall remove from their breasts any deep feeling of bitterness (that they may have). (So they will be like) brothers facing each other on thrones. No sense of fatigue shall touch them, nor shall they (ever) be asked to leave it.” (15:45-48 )

“(It will be said to the believers of Islamic Monotheism): `My slaves! No fear shall be on you this Day, nor shall you grieve. (You) who believed in Our Ayat (proofs, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) and were Muslims (i.e., who submit totally to Allaah’s Will, and believe in the Oneness of Allaah). Enter Jannah, you and your wives, in happiness.’ Trays of gold and cups will be passed round them; (there will be) therein all that inner-selves could desire, and all that eyes could delight in and you will abide therein forever. This is the Jannah which you have been made to inherit because of your deeds which you used to do (in the life of the world). Therein for you will be fruits in plenty, of which you will eat (as you desire).” (43:68-73)

“Verily, the Muttaqun (the pious), will be in place of security (Jannah). Among Gardens and springs  Dressed in fine silk and (also) in thick silk, facing each other. So (it will be). And We shall marry them to Hur (fair females) with wide, lovely eyes. They will call therein for every kind of fruit in peace and security. They will never taste death therein except the first death (of this world), and He will save them from the torment of the blazing Fire. As a bounty from your Rubb! That will be the supreme success!” (44:51-57)

“Verily, Al-Abrar (the pious and righteous) will be in Delight (Jannah). On thrones, looking (at all things). You will recognise in their faces the brightness of delight. They will be given to drink of pure sealed wine. The last thereof (that wine) will be the smell of musk, and for this let (all) those strive who want to strive (i.e., hasten earnestly to the obedience of Allaah). It (that wine) will be mixed with Tasnim. A spring whereof drink those nearest to Allaah.” (83:22-28)

“Verily, those who believe and do deeds of righteousness, their Rubb will guide them through their Faith; under them will flow rivers in the Gardens of Delight (Jannah). Their way of request therein will be Subhanaka Allaahumma (Glory to You, O Allaah!) and Salam (peace, safety from evil) will be their greetings therein (Jannah)! and the close of their request will be: Al-hamdu lillahi Rabbil-`Alamin [All the praises and thanks are to Allaah, the Rubb of `Alamin (mankind, jinn and all that exists)].” (10:9,10)

In a hadith Qudsi narrated by Anas bin malik r.a. we read :

“Wa Izzatti Wajalali Warahmati La Ada’u Finnar Ahadan Qala : “La Ila Ha Illa Allah”.” (Rawahu Tamam ‘an Anas bin Malik)

The hadith means that Allah says, “By My majesty and glory and mercy, I will not leave a person in hell who says,”La Ila Ha Illa Allah.”

In another hadith Qudsi narrated by Abu Sa’id Al-Khudri r.a. we read:

“Yaqulullah Ta’ala Yaum Al-Qiyamah Saya’lamu Ahl Al-Jam’i Al-Yaum man Ahl Al-Karm. Qeela man Ahl Al-Karam Ya Rasulullah? Qala Ahl Majalis Al-Dhikri Fil Masajid.”

The hadith means, “Allah Ta’ala says on judgment day, “Today, all who gather here will know who the people of righteousness are. Rasulullah was asked: who are they? He answered: They are those who attend gatherings of dhikr in mosuqes” (Rawahu Ahmad wa Abu Ya’la)

The first hadith informs us that Allah will not abandon anyone who testifies to His oneness and believes in it whole-heartedly(in light of all other narrations concerning Tawhid)  in hell. The second narration informs us that those who attend gatherings of dhikr(remembrance[to Allah]) will be counted among the Ahlul Karam or people of righteousness. As we have seen in the verses quoted from the Qur’an those who do righteousness will be immensely rewarded.

The article continues:

The following passages of the Qur’an support the general Muslim belief that the martyrs go to paradise immediately:


    And if ye are slain, or die, in the way of Allah,
    forgiveness and mercy from Allah are far better than all they could amass.
    And if ye die, or are slain, Lo! it is unto Allah that ye are brought together.
    – Sura 3:157-158
    Think not of those who are slain in Allah’s way as dead.
    Nay, they live, finding their sustenance in the presence of their Lord;
    – Sura 3:169
    Allah hath purchased of the believers their persons and their goods;
    for theirs (in return) is the garden (of Paradise):
    they fight in His cause, and slay and are slain:
    a promise binding on Him in truth,
    through the Law, the Gospel, and the Qur’an:
    and who is more faithful to his covenant than Allah?
    then rejoice in the bargain which ye have concluded:
    that is the achievement supreme.
    – Sura 9:111 


The claim that is made regarding the verses quoted in the article is,”general Muslim belief that the martyrs go to paradise immediately”. Nowhere in the verses given do we find a suggestion that they will immediately be admitted into paradise. One would like to see where  words like فورا occur anywhere in the verses cited that would carry the meaning of “immediately”. The fact is no such word is to be found in them. Let’s have a closer look at the first verse cited.

And if ye are slain, or die, in the way of Allah,
forgiveness and mercy from Allah are far better than all they could amass.
And if ye die, or are slain, Lo! it is unto Allah that ye are brought together.
– Sura 3:157-158

Notice that the first part says, “And if ye are slain, or die, in the way of Allah”. Why does it mention “slain OR die” ? Why does it not just “if ye are slain in the way of Allah”? The original Arabic reads, ” وَلَئِنْ قُتِلْتُمْ فِي سَبِيلِ ٱللَّهِ أَوْ مُتُّمْ  which is transliterated as “Wala’in Qutiltum Fi Sabilillah Aw Muttum”. Literally the verse would be rendered as, “Wala’in(and if) Qutiltum(you are killed) Fi(in) Sabilillah(the way of Allah) Aw(OR) muttum(you die)” = “And if you are killed in the way of Allah or you die”. This is what we will find in the translation of Mufti Taqi Uthmani:

“If you are killed in the way of Allah or die, the forgiveness from Allah and the mercy is far better than what they accumulate”

and the translation of Marmaduke Pickthall:

“And what though ye be slain in Allah’s way or die therein ? Surely pardon from Allah and mercy are better than all that they amass.”

and the translation of The Royal Al-Bayt Institute:

“And if you are slain in God’s way, or die, forgiveness from God and mercy are better than what they amass.”

The point of the above excercise is to show you beyond any shadow of a doubt that the verse is referring to two groups of people and that slain and die are not used synonymously for the same people. The ones who are addressed as slain or killed(Qutiltum) in the way of Allah are the shuhada’ or martyrs and the ones who are addressed as die(muttum) is in reference to those who die on the path/way of Allah namely, the mu’minun(believers) as Pickthall points out “die therein(in the way of Allah)”. Thus, the verse which the author used in regards to the salvation of the martyrs whom he claimed would go straight to jannah actually addresses those who die ordinarily on the path of Allah i.e. the believers and those who do righteous works as well! Indeed, by the Rahmah and Grace of Allah both groups shall enter the paradise.

The article continues:

On the other hand, we read also that,


    There will be no one of you who will not enter it (Hell).
    This was an inevitable decree of your Lord.
    Afterwards he may save some of the pious, God-fearing Muslims out of the burning fire.
    – Sura 19:71-72

Or as Arberry translates it more literally:


    No one of you there is, but he shall go down to it; That for thy Lord is a thing decreed, determined. Then We shall deliver those that were god-fearing; and the evildoers We shall leave there, hobbling on their knees.
    – Sura 19:71-72

This verse tells clearly that all Muslims [everybody] will go to Hell, (inevitable, decreed, determined) and only some of them will eventually be rescued from Hell, while others will be left there forever.

Obviously, it cannot be that all go through hell (Sura 19:71) and that martyrs go directly to paradise, being spared hell, and “they live (present tense), finding their sustenance in the presence of their Lord.”



Now, we have arrived to the verse proper i.e. Surah Maryam(19), verse 71 and also verse 72 which the author claims reads:

There will be no one of you who will not enter it (Hell).
This was an inevitable decree of your Lord.
Afterwards he may save some of the pious, God-fearing Muslims out of the burning fire.
– Sura 19:71-72

Before we delve into the verses I would like to make it ABSOLUTELY CLEAR that most of the major translations of the Qur’an do not render it as “enter it (Hell).” In fact, most of the major translations translate the verse as passing over; coming to it; arriving at or coming into sight of. In fact out of the 16 translations that I have only four give the impression or idea of entering into hell by using words like “descending to” namely, Rodwell, George Sale, A.J. Arberr and Qaribullah. The first three are non-Muslim translations whereas Qaribullah is a Muslim. Secondly, the author has translated verse 72 as:

“Afterwards he may save some of the pious, God-fearing Muslims out of the burning fire. ”

This rendering is totally false! Nowhere in the verse is there a mention of “may” or “some”. The author has blatantly mistranslated it to convey a bias meaning. It is a most disingenuous translation. A reliable rendering would have it as:

“But We shall save those who guarded against evil, and We shall leave the wrong-doers therein, (humbled) to their knees.”

Let us now begin an analysis of the verses. Generally, verse 71 is approached in two ways.

1. The verse speaks about passing over the bridge which everyone will have to do. Those who have taqwa will be saved whilst those who disbelieved will remain in hell.

2. The verse speaks about those who rebel against Allah and not the Muslims.


1. Passing over it on a bridge.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir explains:

“The bridge over Hell is like the sharp edge of a sword. The first group to cross it will pass like a flash of lightning. The second group will pass like the wind. The third group will pass like the fastest horse. The fourth group will pass like the fastest cow. Then, the rest will pass while the angels will be saying, `O Allah save them, save them.’ ” This narration has supporting narrations similar to it from the Prophet in the Two Sahihs and other collections as well. These narrations have been related by Anas, Abu Sa`id, Abu Hurayrah, Jabir and other Companions, may Allah be pleased with them all. …

(There is not one of you but will pass over it;) “The passing of the Muslims (over the Hellfire) means their passing over a bridge that is over it. But the passing of the idolators over the Hellfire refers to their admission to the Fire.” As-Suddi reported from Murrah, from Ibn Mas`ud, that he said concerning Allah’s statement,

Then We shall save those who had Taqwa. ) When all of the creatures passed over the Hellfire, and those disbelievers and the disobedient people who are destined to fall into it because of their disobedience, Allah will save the believers and the righteous people from it because of their deeds. Therefore, their passing over the bridge and their speed will be based upon their deeds that they did in this life. Then, the believers who performed major sins will be allowed intercession. The angels, the Prophets and the believers will all intercede. Thus, a large number of the sinners will be allowed to come out of Hell. The fire will have devoured much of their bodies, except the places of prostration on their faces. Their removal from the Hellfire will be due to the faith in their hearts. The first to come out will be he who has the weight of a Dinar of faith in his heart. Then, whoever has the next least amount after him. Then, whoever is next to that after him, and so forth. This will continue until the one who has the tiniest hint of faith in his heart, equal to the weight of an atom. Then, Allah will take out of the Fire whoever said “La ilaha illallah,” even one day of his entire life, even if he never performed any good deed. After this, no one will remain in the Hellfire, except those it is obligatory upon to remain in the Hellfire forever. This has been reported in many authentic Hadiths from the Messenger of Allah . This is why Allah says, (Then We shall save those who had Taqwa. And We shall leave the wrongdoers in it, Jithyya.) ” Source

The basic idea is that both Muslims and disbelievers will have to walk over a kind of sirat or path over hell-fire. Those who are true to God and have no sins that must be accounted for and aren’t forgiven will pass through hell unscatched over the sirat. That is the first group of people. The second group of people are believers who will walk the sirat but will fall down into hell for their disobedience wherein their body and soul will be cleansed. They will remain there for an appointed time and will be released by the grace of Allah and admitted into paradise after having served time. The third group are the disbelievers who will walk the sirat and fall into hell and remain there forever. Thus, this is the first and accepted interpretation within Sunni Orthodox Islam.

 At this point it must be clarified that entry into hell does not necessitate burning in hell. But condemned into hell certainly does. The established concept in Ahl Sunnah Wal Jama’ah as we have just seen is quite simple and makes a lot of sense. Let us now look at some of the major renderings of the verse:

“Not one of you but will pass over it: this is, with thy Lord, a Decree which must be accomplished.” (Yusuf Ali)

“There is not one of you but shall approach it. That is a fixed ordinance of thy Lord.” (Pickthall)

“There is none among you who does not have to arrive at it. This is undertaken by your Lord as an absolute decree, bound to be enforced.” (Mufti Taqi Uthmani)

“And every one of you will come within sight of it: this is, with thy Sustainer, a decree that must be fulfilled.” (Muhammad Asad)

The basic idea given by the above translations is that everyone will arrive, see and pass/walk over hell. Now let’s look at the verses that speak about descending unto/to.

“There is not one of you who shall not go down to it: such is a thing decreed, determined by your Lord.” (Qaribullah)

“No one is there of you who shall not go down unto it-this is a settled decree with thy Lord-” (Rodwell)

*Notice that none of them say going into or entering. Going down to and going into are two different things. For example, if I’m in a second floor of a building and want to go to a restaurant which is on the first floor I might say,”I’m going down to the restaurant” and if I do go down to the first floor and arrive at the restaurant and am standing in front of it BUT NOT in it I may describe my location as “I am at the restaurant”. That is indeed quite different from saying “I am in the restaurant”. Likewise, the translations do not say that all will go down into it, but rather go down to it. The only translation that I know of which says about being “in” is George Sale’s:

“There shall be none of you, but shall descend into the same hell: This is an established decree upon thy Lord.”

I would rather go with the other 15 translations along with Mufti Taqi Uthmani’s etc. than with this lone ranger. However, let us say for the sake of argument that my explanation about “going down to vs going down into” is stretching it too much and that Qaribullah, Rodwell and Arberry is also talking about going into hell like George Sale. Do we then not have a contradiction between the translations and the understandings adduced? Is everyone including the Muslims going into hell or not?

To answer this question I will first quote from Tafsir Ma’riful Qur’an by the father of Mufti Taqi Uthmani, Mufti Shafi’ Usmani rahimullah. We read in the tafsir the following explanation:

“And there is non among you who is not to arrive at it.”(19:71)

This means that everybody – be he a believer or an infidel – will go across hell. However, this does not mean that they will go to stay in it; they would go only across it. But even if the word means “entry”, then the pious believers on entry into Hell will feel no discomfort because its fires will cool down and will do no harm to them. Sayyidna Abu Sumayya r.a. has related that the Holy Prophet s.a.w. once said that:

“Everybody whether he is a pious man or a sinner will initially enter hell, but for the pious believers the fire will cool down just as the fire of Namrud cooled down as Sayyidna Ibrahim a.s. was cast into it. Thereafter, the believers will be taken into paradise.”

  This view is confirmed by the next sentence  ثُمَّ نُنَجِّي ٱلَّذِينَ ٱتَّقَواْ which means then We will save those who feared Allah – 19:72. A similar view has also been expressed by Sayyidna Ibn Abbas r.a., thus even if the word wurud occuring in the Qur’an is taken to mean dukhul(entry), then the word dukhul will be interpreted as synonymous with the word ‘ubur(going across). Thus, there is no contradiction in the meaning of the word.

(Ma’riful Qur’an, Volume 6, pg. 63)

In other words, even if one were to take wariduha to mean enter it does not contradict the established idea of walking the sirat over hell fire. It is quite easily reconciled. Let us consider this example. Ali enters the store and walks on a plank over it. He has entered the store and is inside it even though he’s walking over it on a plank. Let’s consider another example. Ali takes a flight from Barnaby, Canada and heads to Malaysia. Somehow, his flight has to fly over Seattle. Has he entered the USA? The answer is of course yes. But, would you automatically say he is going to stay there or that he is on America(walking on the earth e.g. roads)? NO!. Likewise, if the Qur’an says in a general manner enter into it(hell) does that automatically necessaitate walking in hell(through the fire) and staying there? No! As we have seen, to enter does not necessarily mean staying or walking on. To enter can also mean walking or flying over. It is to say that you are entering the domain and that’s it! The verse is general in sense, so to understand what wariduha actually means(and not just translates into) we have to find specific explanations in the Sunnah. We have seen that the sunnah explains that it means walking over it via the sirat. And the following verse makes it clear that those who have had taqwa will be saved and those who have done evil will remain(either indefinitely or temporarily depending on the individual’s belief as we have elucidated earlier).

2. The verse refers to those who rebel against Allah.

This is the position of some scholars as Muhammad Asad mentions in his commentary:

“* v.71 : Lit., “none of you but will reach it.” According to some of the classical authorities, the pronoun “you” relates to the sinners spoken of in the preceding passages, and particularly to those who refuse to believe in resurrection;” Source

The context begins from verse 66 to 72:

Man says, “Is it that, once I die, I shall be brought forth alive?”

Does not the man remember that We created him before, when he was nothing?

So, by your Lord, We will definitely gather them together, and the devils as well; then We will definitely make them present around the Jahannam , fallen on their knees.

Then, out of every group, We will certainly draw out those who were more rebellious against the All-Merciful (Allah).

Then of course, We are most aware of those who are more deserving to enter it (the Jahannam ).

There is none among you who does not have to arrive at it. This is undertaken by your Lord as an absolute decree, bound to be enforced.

Then We will save those who feared Allah, and will leave the wrongdoers in it, fallen on their knees.

The context begins with Allah relating the speech of doubters and disbelievers who question Allah’s power to raise the dead back to life. In verse 68 we read that they will be gathered along with the evil ones. Then in verse 69, Allah says that He will drag out every sect of rebellions against Him. Verse 70 tells us how Allah certainly knows who is most worthy of being burned and then we reach the verse in question which says “Not one of you…”. Contextually, it does appear as if Allah is addressing the disbelievers and evil doers and not every Tom, Dick and Harry who are Muslim and otherwise.


The article continues:

This verse tells clearly that all Muslims [everybody] will go to Hell, (inevitable, decreed, determined) and only some of them will eventually be rescued from Hell, while others will be left there forever.

Obviously, it cannot be that all go through hell (Sura 19:71) and that martyrs go directly to paradise, being spared hell, and “they live (present tense), finding their sustenance in the presence of their Lord.”



We have elucidated at length what the verse means and it does not say at all what the author wishes to imply i.e. Muslims are going to be damned and only some will be saved. Let me remind the readers one more time about the intellectual dishonesty of the author for adding the words “only some”. With regards to martyrs, we have shown that the verses given do not speak about any kind of immediacy at all. Though paradise is ensured for those who are slain on the way of Allah they too much go on the sirat like all others. What they won’t experience is the punishment which the disobedient will experience as we have already mentioned. They will be among the first group who will cross over without any harm and enter jannah by Allah’s grace. The author raises a point concerning the verse he quotes in Surah Al-Imran verse 169 where it says that the slain Live(in the present tense) with their Lord. Does this not mean they are in paradise? The problem is, the author does not know much about Islam. The dead are indeed alive, but not in this realm. They are alive in the realm called “barzakh” or the realm in between this world and the hereafter. Even the Prophets are alive as we find in the famous hadith,”Al-Anbiya’ Ahaya Fi quburihim Yusallun” (The Prophets are alive in their graves worshipping). That does not mean if you dig their graves you’re going to find them bowing up and down in the ground(which is impossible). It is speaking about the metaphysical. The realm that we cannot percieve. For further explanation concerning the verse please refer to Mufti Shafi’ Usmani’s Ma’riful Qur’an on pages 246-247. It is sufficient to mention here that the life of those who have passed away is beyond our human comprehension:

“And do not say about those who are slain in the way of Allah, “They are dead.” Rather, they are living, thought you percieve not.” (2:154)



What is amazing about the whole affair is that even if one were to accept all the numerous translations out there such as arriving at, seeing, descending to, descending into, enter, passing over the verse still makes perfect sense and poses no problem at all for Islam and the Muslims provided one understands and thereafter accepts the explanations(Qur’an, Hadith, Tafsir and reason) that have been brought forth in the discussion. If the detractors of Islam demand us to translate it as “enter” and we conceded even then as I have shown no contradiction or problem arises. Entering does not excluse passing over as I have explained and does not automatically mean staying or walking on. Then if you pass over you must arrive at it and if you arrive at it you must certainly sight it. Hence, all the translations combined together make a lot of sense and even if we accepted any single one of them and ignore all others, it will still make sense as a general statement specified by the Ahadith or contextually and most importantly the following verse which makes it clear that Allah will save those who have taqwa.

Allah knows best!

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3 Responses to “Are all Muslims condemned to enter hell?”

  1. ibnsaad says:

    MashAllah, a very detailed and complete response. These haters need to start reading the whole Qu’ran and not take one verse out of context.

  2. Alfesaani says:

    Very nice article. I had come across a christian once, who brought this issue up. This article would help while dealing with such people in the future inshaAllah. In anycase, i feel the christians should never bring this up against muslims, when the fact remains that the biblical jesus actually goes to hell for 3 days after the crucifixion!

  3. Ali says:

    Sallam dear brother
    Very good article refuting this false lie against islam and our holy prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
    I thank you brother for taking time to help Muslims in defending our religion. When one reads an article from the .it looks quite daunting at first to us common Muslims and it may even scare us. Alhammdullah we have brothers such as yourself to defend islam and the Haqq.
    Regarding the Surah in question i.e. Surah 19
    The tasfir of Yusif Ali is also in agreement with brother inwars points, and reference of other tasfirs

    2518. Three interpretations are possible: (1) The general interpretation is that every soul must pass through or by or over the Fire. Those who have had Taqwa (see n. 26 to 2:2) will be saved by Allah’s Mercy, while unrepentant sinners will suffer the torments in ignominy. (2) If we refer (he pronoun “you” to those “in obstinate rebellion” in verse 69 above, both leaders and followers in sin, this verse only applies to the wicked. (3) Some refer this verse to the Bridge over Hell, the Bridge Sirat, over which all must pass to their final Destiny. This Bridge is not mentioned in the Qur’an. (R).

    So as we can see brother Inwar has done a brilliant job in exposing the FALSE, lie thrown against the holy Quran.
    Not only that but one cannot just hold the verse in question by itself..
    as Yusif Ali points out when speaking of verse 19:71 it is referring to the people being spoken about two verses before in ayah 69.
    Surah 19:69
    ‘Then shall We certainly drag out from every sect all those who were worst in obstinate rebellion against ((Allah)) Most Gracious”…
    So as we can see in order to take the verse in question to test we must not forget about other verse most importantly as Yusif Ali states which is verse 69.

    Also one can see the agenda that the author who wrote the original article has. The majority of translators dis-prove him alone, yet he goes with the calf who ran away from the herd, very shocking.
    Walikum Salam Wr Wb

    I like the examples you used. Especially the one from Burnaby.

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