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Have you ever heard statements like, “All non-Muslims are going to hell and only Muslims will be saved?”

This notion troubles many Muslims and non-Muslims alike. After all, how could a just and merciful God punish people arbitrarily, on the basis of a religious tag, which many people are just born into?

Furthermore, surely, paradise should be for good people and hell should be the destination of only those who have committed grotesque evils? How can it be fair that a cruel, serial murderer or war criminal can expect to go to heaven if they happen to be Muslim but a person who devoted their lives to social justice or charity or humanitarian causes will go to hell if they happen to be Christian or Hindu?

At the time of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) the prevalent labels were ‘Jew’ and ‘Christian’ and the adherents of each religion were claiming exclusive entry to Paradise. Yet the Qur’an seems to quite clearly contradict this approach, instead insisting that it’s sincerity to God and doing good that trumps any labels:

“They also say, ‘No one will enter Paradise unless he is a Jew or a Christian.’ This is their own wishful thinking. [O Prophet], say, ‘Produce your evidence, if you are telling the truth.’
In fact, whoever submits himself to God, and is a doer of good, will have his reward with his Lord—they have nothing to fear, nor shall they grieve.”

(Qur’an, 2: 111-112)

It is hard to reconcile how some Muslim commentators produced arguments to suggest exactly what Jews and Christians had originally claimed, replacing the label of the ‘saved people’ with ‘Muslim’.

Well, we may all be relieved to discover that the values stated in these verses of the Qur’an are backed up by many classical Muslim theologians as well as leading contemporary scholars, as we shall see…

6. Summary

Further Reading

The Fate of Non-Muslims: Perspectives on Salvation Outside of Islam
Dr Jonathan Brown, March 2018, Yaqeen Institute

Salvific Exclusivity
Shaykh Yasir Qadhi, 2014

The Universality of Religions and Finality of Islam
Shaykh Nuh Ha Mim Keller, 1996
Part of the article: On the validity of all religions in the thought of ibn Al-‘Arabi and Emir ‘Abd al-Qadir (1996) –