This is what verse 10 of chapter 22 claims:

“This is an outcome of what your hands have sent – for, God does not do wrong (zulm) to His creatures”

The verses claim that human beings suffer in hellfire because of what they do, not because God is punishing them unjustly. but even a child knows he should then ask:

but why does God punish for any actions at all! human beings are so weak and they don’t even agree on what is so bad an action as to deserve eternal hellfire! even someone who killed someone else kills them, by Quran’s own view of eternal life, only in the life of this world. And the person who is killed experiences no further pain after dying. Why should any action be deemed so bad by God as to justify hell? Why can’t God overlook all human mistakes and punish only in proportion to his mistakes (if he wants to punish at all!). Many people genuinely feel that if they were God, they would not put anyone in eternal hell. Yes, just punishments for clear harms done to others that were not compensated in this world fully but not something so drastic and cruel as eternall fire!

And then for God to try to act like He is not the one who is punishing them and put the responsibility entirely on humans and their actions seems ridiculous! I can legitimately say, “no God! YOU put people in hell! Yes, they may have done something wrong but you could ignore or forgive or overlook even if those limited, stupid human beings didnt repent!. you are God, they are not!” or something like that. this verse is only one place where the Quran claims there is hell for those who do something ‘bad’ with their hands…or who give a lie to God’s signs, etc..Why shall i let God off the hook? Can I say that its not God doing wrong/zulm to his creatures by punishing them for their wrongs when he can choose to not attach that consequence to their “bad” choices and actions?

there are at least two things that seem important to me about this matter.

  1. what do i understand by hell and burning in the fire?
  2. how do i come to affirm the truth of this claim in the first place?

let me start with the second point first. for all i know, this verse may be a lie. it may not be making a true claim at all! and so first of all, i need to ask if it is indeed true? if I assume it to be saying something true (that people’s actions take them to hell and its not God’s injustice), it has to be sound like something that shouldn’t happen because I assume that it is not already happening! the question i need to ask first is: do i live in a world where there are consequences to actions? my answer is Yes! And if actions did not have consequence that had either a positive or negative value for me, would any action be significant or valuable at all? my answer is no! If my eating food when i am hungry had the same outcome as my not eating food when i am hungry, my having food, my working to have food – these actions will have no meaning and significance! I cannot even imagine having the desire for food in such a world (and it is not a world i am experiencing anyway). Yes, i can speculate about such a world and say: I wish there was a world where actions had no positive or negative consequence for me or anyone else and STILL the actions were pleasurable and meaningful! but its not the world i live in and its not the world that the maker made! I can protest this but i am not sure what good this protest does for me or anyone! Its a protest against what I experience based on what I have never experienced (and only imagine to be better)!. so i return to the world i actually experience and find meaningful on account of actions bearing consequences that are either agreeable or disagreeable (in varying degrees).

i live in a world where i act and where the action and its consequence appear but then pass or disappear. And so while the meaning or consequence appears, it does not last. This feature, again, threatens to make all actions ultimately insignificant. I experience this (or at least revelation claims that I can and should experience the problem of transience and how disagreeable it is to my soul). Actions done – the most noble actions of love and care and compassion and beauty – are all lost to “time” and seem to die and disappear leaving just traces in the memory and lots of inescapable pain. The pain, i repeat, is inescapable within these conditions unless some new/different perspective is introduced! This is the eternity or inescapability of hell as i witness it here and now in this world – a kind of death that is not fully death and neither life, the appearance of beauty and then its disappearance, raising the hellish consequence of meaninglessness. If there was never any meaning, meaninglessness would not be a problem. But because I experience real life, real beauty, real love – their loss and disappearance is a real loss and it is inescapable. I cannot NOT lose what is really valuable for the soul! UNTIL I choose to attribute it to the One who is the source of it all and to whom all of it returns and with whom it is all preserved – all the actions and all that they are based on and what they lead to and what is made known in them. Thus, it all comes down to my choice of how i do the action. If I do it as a ‘sending my action back to where it came from’, i can expect to find it and right now I feel its somewhere. If i do not do so and just do the action and let it go to nothing, it is gone FOR ME (even if it is not really gone) and i can’t feel otherwise! Yes, the maker has made the world in this way and I can’t change that. But if i want the good of my soul, I can understand that when he speaks to me about hell as the consequence of my actions, he is not threatening me (and then putting the blame on me) but guiding me about what he has already made so that I can choose whats good for me (my soul) and avoid what has been made disagreeble and tortourous for the soul in a universe which is full of meaning and significance (and therefore where actions have good or bad outcomes attached to them).

If i repeat revelation and do not take it as claims about my reality that I need to confirm as true and then take that truth as my guide, i am led to question the obvious cruelty of the threat of eternal punishment and hell. Such is the consequence of ignoring to ascertain truth as truth before claiming it to be true.

Published by Faraz Sheikh

Faraz Sheikh

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