This is a continuation of a multi-post article. You can read the first post here. You can also find the previous post here. This is also part of a larger series called "The Koran from a Christian perspective." You can find other posts in this series here.Hell is a reality and, according to Muhammad, a place where many, if not most, will spend their eternity. Muhammad writes that Hell will be filled with a multitude of men and women who lived unsurrendered to God during their lives.
"I shall assuredly fill Gehenna [hell] with jinn and men all together." (Koran 11:120)According to the Koran, God is just as committed to filling Hell with the condemned as He is in filling heaven with the redeemed. In this, Muhammad greatly misjudged the heart of God who "desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." (1 Timothy 2:4) So great is God's desire to empty Hell and to fill Heaven that He sent His own Son to save mankind from an eternity of banishment from God and torment in Hell. God has done everything possible for our salvation. He sent His word to teach us and He sent His Son to redeem us. All has been done and there remains nothing for us to do but to accept His work on our behalf and believe in Him. If anyone makes it to Hell, it is by His own choosing for God has made a way.
In describing Hell, Muhammad describe both levels of Hell and different areas of confinement.
"Surely the hypocrites will be in the lowest reach of the Fire; thou wilt not find for them any helper;" (Koran 4:144)
"Gehenna [hell] shall be their promised land all together. Seven gates [Portals] it has, and unto each gate a set portion [band] of them belongs" (Koran 15:43-44)The Christian scriptures do not describe any such levels or differing areas of Hell. The only scripture that come close is the story of Lazarus and the rich man. "In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried out and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.' But Abraham said... 'And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.'" (Luke 16:23-26) However, this verse speak specifically of Hades rather than Hell. While the original King James version of the scriptures translated both places as simply "hell", the christian scriptures are consistent in describing two different places: Hades, the place of departed spirits, and Hell, the place of eternal punishment. Currently, no on is in hell for its future inhabitants are awaiting their final judgment before being dispatched there. Speaking of the final judgment, John writes, "And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire." (Revelation 20:13-15) Apparently, Muhammad did not understand this difference and confused Hell and Hades.
Muhammad describes Hell as not only a place of judgment, but also a pace of inexplicable cruelty and torture. Here are some of the cruelties that await those appointed to Hell.
"Those who conceal [hide] what of the Book [Scriptures] God has sent down on them, and sell [barter] it for a little price --they shall eat naught but the Fire in their bellies; God shall not speak to them on the Day of Resurrection neither purify [assoil] them; there awaits them a painful chastisement [grievous torment]." (Koran 2:169)
Those who are assigned to Hell will experience the total abandonment by God. God will not speak to them, He will not hear them, He will not care for them, and He will not acknowledge them. Theirs will be an existence alone with no one to care for their condition.
"‘his shall be a life of narrowness, and on the Resurrection Day We shall raise him blind.' He shall say, 'O my Lord, why hast thou raised [assembled] me blind, and I was wont [endowed] to see?'" (Koran 20:124-125)
It is uncertain why God would raise them up blind. J.M. Rodwell suggests that their blindness is due to the "the intensity of the light" (The Koran, J.M. Rodwell, footnote 20.28) shining around God. Either way, they will experience the terror of things happening around them and to them that they are unable to perceive or anticipate.
"Lo, the Tree of Ez-Zakkoum is the food of the guilty [sinner], like molten copper [dregs of oil], bubbling in the belly as boiling water bubbles [scalding water]. 'Take [seize] him, and thrust [drag] him into the midst of Hell [mid-fire], then pour over his head the chastisement [tormenting] of boiling water!'" (Koran 44:43-48)
"When the fetters [collars] and chains are on their necks, and they are dragged into the boiling water [Hell], then into the Fire they are poured [shall be burned]" (Koran 40:73)Muhammad describes them being shackled and dragged against their will into Hell. However, the Christian scriptures never gives such a picture. God simply commands men to Hell and they obey. "Then He will also say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels... These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." (Matthew 25:41, 46) No chains and no dragging, just commanding and obeying.
"Faces on that day humbled [downcast], labouring [travailing], toilworn [worn], roasting [burnt] at a scorching fire, watered [made to drink] at a [fiercely] boiling fountain, no food for them but cactus thorn [fruit of Darih] unfattening, unappeasing hunger." (Koran 88:2-7)Muhammad describes the torment of insatiable hunger. However, it is hard to understand how a person's soul might be hungry and, even of they were cast into Hell after the resurrection of their bodies, it is unclear if those bodies are capable of hunger. Paul writes of food and the stomach, "Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food, but God will do away with both of them." (1 Corinthians 6:13)
"there shall be a hospitality [his entertainment shall be] of boiling water and the roasting in Hell." (Koran 56:94)
"All this; but for the insolent awaits an ill resort [wretched home], Gehenna [hell], wherein they are roasted [burned] -- an evil cradling [a wretched bed]! All this; so let them taste it -- boiling water and pus [gore], and other torments of the like kind coupled together." (Koran 38:55-58)Hell will be a place of incredible burning and the roasting of the flesh and for drink they will have boiling water and molten copper. Such fire and boiling as none can escape.
"Surely We have prepared for the evildoers [offenders] a fire, whose pavilion [smoke] encompasses [enwrap] them; if they call for succor [implore help], they will be succoured [helped] with water like molten copper [brass], that shall scald their faces -- how evil [wretched] a potion [drink], and how evil [unhappy] a resting-place [couch]!" (Koran 18:28)The torments of Hell will be merciless. In fact, should one complain and beg for help. their torment will only be increased! God will torture them until there is no more strength for them to resist.
"As for the unbelievers, for them garments of fire shall, be cut [out], and there shall be poured over their heads boiling water whereby whatsoever is in their bellies [bowels] and their skins shall be melted [dissolved]; for them wait hooked iron rods [maces of iron]; as often as they desire in their anguish to come forth from it, they shall be restored into it, and: 'Taste the chastisement [torment] of the burning!'" (Koran 22:20-21)The cruelty of Hell will be unrelenting. A person's pain will be heightened by their desire to escape the punishment only to find it renewed and enduring. In the end they will be stripped of all hope and desire for a happier future.
"Behold, Gehenna [Hell] has become an ambush [a place of snares], for the insolent a resort [the home of transgressors], therein to tarry for ages, tasting therein neither coolness nor any drink save boiling water and pus [running sores] for a suitable recompense." (Koran 78:21-26)
Finally, the judgments of Hell will be eternal. It is hard for us to think of eternity, of time without end, but such is the fearful state of those who will find themselves there.
This is the picture of Hell that Muhammad paints and the image of his God who intends on filling it with men and Djinn alike, but is God really so cruel towards mankind, towards the work of His own hands? In my opinion, Muhammad's image of God too often reflects the image of Muhammad. Muhammad's God is more man-like than god-like. Muhammad could not execute judgment without cruelty so he imagines God to be the same. God is just and His judgment is right and true. However, in His judgment there is no darkness of cruelty, revenge, retaliation, or hatred. God's emotions are pure and even in judgment He is full of light. Muhammad could not see God as being anything more than he was while, in fact, God is so much higher, so much greater, and so much more loving than we are or ever will be. God is just, but He is not cruel. That He has left for men to be, men like Muhammad.