Saudi Arabia: How Does One Understand the Equations of Heaven and Hell by Punishment and Rewards

American Bedu received a request from a reader to write about the equation between Heaven and Hell or Punishment versus Rewards.  I am going to write on this issue but must state upfront I am not an expert on the subject so this is a personal view influenced also by research.

I think the topic of Heaven and Hell and particularly from what perspective the issue is viewed there are going to be wide differences of view.  For example, the whole premise of Heaven and Hell is based on the belief that there is a Heaven and there is a Hell.  I believe that wholeheartedly.

  I believe that as long as one is good, kind, caring and compassionate without being vindictive or intentionally sinful, he or she is bound for heaven.  A distinction between faiths though is that Christians also believe heaven can only be obtainable through the acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  In other words, one must ask for salvation and forgiveness through Jesus for admission into heaven.  Whereas Muslims believe heaven is obtainable by acknowledging the Prophet Mohammed as the Messenger of God and that there is no God but Allah.

Now how heaven is described can vary greatly from Christian to Christian yet the common theme is that it is a place unlike Earth.  Muslims generally refer to Heaven as Jannah or Paradise.  It is also described as the ultimate utopia with rivers of honey and an abundance of wealth and beauty.  Islam also makes reference that men entering heaven will enjoy the fruits of 72 virgins.  The lure of the access to the virgins has also served as a motivator for Muslims who have agreed to undertake suicide missions.  

Although heaven is described with riches for Muslim men, one does not find special or similar type promises for the Muslim women.  Yet all the Muslims I have known, male and female alike, simply look forward to their time in Jannah and that life on this Earth is the temporary life.

Now my own personal view on the topic of heaven is that no one truly knows until they depart this Earth and arrive in heaven just what they will see or find.  The Bible and the Quran will make allusions to heaven in glowing terms but not with the explicit details of heaven.

The flip side of the coin is Hell.  If one is not Muslim, he or she will go to Hell.  If one is not a follower of Jesus and accepted Jesus as their savior, he or she will go to Hell.  Hell is described in both the Quran and the Bible as the place of shayton or the devil. Both religions refer to hell as a place always burning in the hottest of brimfire.  If either a Christian or a Muslim does not follow the tenets of the respective faith they risk their afterlife in Hell.

I have heard Muslims speak of earning credits towards Jannah based on the good deeds they perform and especially for converting non-Muslims to Islam.  Of course Christians wish to bring non-followers of Jesus to accept him as Lord and Savior.

My perspective again remains simple.  Live right according to your faith and there is no reason to fear Hell.  I do believe that Islam puts a stronger emphasis on fearing Allah whereas Christianity has more emphasis on the love and compassion of Jesus.

The reader who asked this query shared that there was a man who wished he could extinguish the fires of Hell and destroy Paradise so people loved God for his glory rather than due to fear or the promises of living happy ever after.   The only part of that statement I agree with is that God should be loved for his glory.

So what does this really mean with the difference of beliefs between religions?  Followers of Jesus may know loving Muslims and Muslims may know followers of Jesus.  Yet must one believe that if you are not of the other’s faith, you will go straight to Hell upon death?

My personal view is that none of us know what happens after death.  I don’t believe any of us can not say there may be an intercession after death giving one’s soul the final opportunity between heaven or hell.

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41 Responses

  1. Oh wow, that third picture is interesting! Enjoyed this post.

  2. Fairytales and make believe ghost/horror stories nothing more. Good for little kids on Halloween and in a Harry Potter book.

  3. Well :) avoiding the lovely “Harry Potter” generation comments and fixing on the topic: i wish to make three comments :
    first there is in Verse 2:62 : “Surely they that believe, and those of Jewry, and the Christians, and those Sabaeans, whoso believes in God and the Last Day, and works righteousness, their wage awaits them with their Lord, and no fear shall be on them, neither shall they sorrow”. that is one of the English translations.
    Second; the ‘shehada’ or the testimonial that there is “no God but God and that Mohammad is his prophet”. Allah or Allahom is an Arabic word that means God and is in use by Arabic speaking Christians as well as Muslims.
    My final comment, about heaven in the prophets words: ” God has prepared for the believers in heaven what no eye has seen, no ear has heard, nor ever conceived by a human mind” as a description of heaven.

  4. Nicely written Carol.. it seems you lean towards a universalist understanding of religion, which often flourishes in times of peaceful intermingling with other cultures/ religions.. it is the same sentiment I had when I went out of Saudi and started mingling with people outside of my religion, and started questioning what I’ve been taught in school, that everyone who is not muslim will go to hell..

    religious tolerance and acceptance of other religions as valid paths to god flourishes in settled contexts, and worsens in times of political/economic unrest, especially when one’s own life (along with their group) is at stake.. that’s when religious people become more assertive that their religion is the “right” path to God.. and sometimes even vilify others and condemn them to hell in the name of their religion..

    i watched a relevant video on “mortality salience hypothesis” the other day.. it demonstrates why some people become so assertive of their own religious views when reminded of their demise..

  5. In general who God punishes and who he forgives is totally his own judgment, but even if someone had prayed all his life, fasted, gave to the poor etc and came on that day, having called people names, hurt others, and sinned against other humanbeings, they will take from his good points until they are not enough and he will take from their sins. In essence religion is all about how well we treat one another and are careful not to harm, not even by a name calling.

  6. the “mortality salience hypothesis” study i was referring to in the video plays at (14:04)

  7. How heaven is obtainable: ” Belief and Good deeds”; mainly in being good other humans and creatures ( A woman is sent to hell for mistreating a cat.. from the teachings of the prophet)

  8. May God allow me in paradise

  9. Yeah 72 virgins, for men it’s always about sex. Who says that we will be able to enjoy such a carnal thing when we pass from this life to the next. All the woman gets is her husband who is wanting 72 other women.

  10. Dr. Nassef:

    I see you really like harry potter books.

  11. Excellent article, Carol!

    Although the inner workings/mechanics of hell and heaven differ amongst the five primary world religions, the main concept has its roots in Zoroastrianism of Persia/Iran, where it originated. Then, from which it was blatantly “stolen” and pirated, or copy/pasted in today’s lingo, and not even once ever acknowledged, by islam and other religions. :)-

    Zoroastrianism “heaven” is usually referred to as “paradise,” or the “Gardens of Delight,” a place of physical and spiritual pleasure, where all of one’s wishes and desires are fulfilled. The word “paradise” comes from the Persian word PAIRIDAEZA.

    Similarly, the concept of the “hell” and “devil” originated with Zoroastrianism also. The Jews were under Persian rule for two centuries beginning in 539 B.C. No doubt they were exposed to the Zoroastrian devil Ahriman. I don’t wanna make this post too lengthy, so please google Zoroastrianism, under Animism, Shamanism and Ancient Religions. And then hopefully you will get the drift of how allah/mohammed copied/pasted from christianity and judaism who then in turn had copied/pasted from each other earlier. And BTW, this vicious cycle goes all the way back to “ancient religions”.

    Many muslims here often try to fool the rest of the western infidels that islam is a very simple religion and islam never lures muslims with erotic heavenly pleasures. Nothing could be furthest from the truth than this ridiculous claim. If we look at the heavens of world’s five primary religions, this is what we find: both Judaism and Christianity talk about heaven but do not describe what is in there! Hinduism talks about heaven and gives some earthly material pleasures but does not go any further. Buddhism does not believe in after-life, and do not have any hell or heaven; they believe hell and heaven both exist on this earth.

    But Islam is the ONLY religion which emphatically and clearly describes many forms of heavens (at least 8 of them at the last count with various status/classes) with plenty of earthly greeds and lusting/erotic pleasures which not many human beings can refuse to get it. Muslims devoutly pray at least five times (some pray even 10 times) a day, visit Mecca and fawningly worship saints/dervishes just to get the ultimate sex orgy ticket for those lustful happiness of that Caligula of the Heavens of Heavens.

  12. @Jeannie: The subject of 72 virgins is over rated and taken out of context by those without understanding and some jealous women. It’s amazing that you’ll find that these same women (if given the opportunity) would model (clothed or naked) in front of 72 million men in magazines, television and videos.

    Allaah in His Infinite Wisdom shows us how to respect women, by not mentioning her sexual pleasures. Imagine reading about a woman having sex with 72 men, disgusting, right? Women will enjoy the pleasure of Paradise like all the other people, but with respect.

    @American Bedu “Whereas Muslims believe heaven is obtainable by acknowledging the Prophet Mohammed as the Messenger of God and that there is no God but Allah.”

    The above is out of context. Not sure if it was intentionally or not. First, in order to be a ”Muslim” one must wholeheartedly believe that Allaah is the only God worthy to be worshipped. Allaah is emphasized, because people take others as worship besides Allaah. Allaah is NOT just the God of Muslims, but Allaah is God of all creation. Even those things and persons people take as gods. Second, one must believe in all the prophets/messengers and that they were sent by Allaah with a divine message to worship Allaah, alone. Some messengers include, Noah, Musa, Ibrahim, David, Jesus and Muhammad being the last Messenger. One can NOT claim to be Muslim if he/she only believes in Jesus nor can they claim to be Muslim if they don’t believe Jesus was a Prophet/Messnger of Allaah and that his mother (Mary or Maryam) was chaste and his miraculous birth.

    In order to claim to be Muslim, one has to believe in the ALL the Books (those given to Musa, Jesus, Ibrahim, David and Muhammad). One must believe in the angels, Paradise/Hell, Resurrection and predestination (good/bad).

    Also, how do you validate this statement? “I believe that as long as one is good, kind, caring and compassionate without being vindictive or intentionally sinful, he or she is bound for heaven”

    How do you know who is good, kind caring and compassionate? And if they are, how do you know that they’re going to heaven? Where do you get that from? What blueprint do you use? If it’s just simply from yourself, then it’s flawed, as humans are flawed, which makes their assumptions flawed by nature. This is evident in your disclaimer, “must state upfront I am not an expert on the subject so this is a personal view influenced also by research.”

    Continue with your research. It just may lead you to enlightenment.

  13. @X-Moozlum

    You chose that user name in order to validate your claims. Implying that you were once a Muslim means you know what you’re talking about.
    I hope others aren’t fooled by that stunt. Looks like you’re the only one trying to fool the people.

    If you were a previous Muslim, why continue to claim Islam? Why not just use X? Malcolm did ;D.

  14. I agree with AB on this, i think anyone who does no harm to others, is a good person, does not lie,cheat,steal and tries to live their life with an eye towards benefiting/helping other humans will go to heaven.

    I also think there is only 1 god we all just worship him/her in diff ways .
    Anyone who is good irrespective of their beliefs,religion,color,faith or lackof i think will go to heaven.
    that’s why i don’t beleive inthis you must be a muslim/christian/whatever to go to heaven else you will go to hell nonsense.
    i don’t think god is sitting there keeping count of how many times you glorified him or followed a book to the letter or testing you or any such thing. if anything he’s probably is sitting there thinking what idiots and laughing his head off at our antics.

  15. “Allaah in His Infinite Wisdom shows us how to respect women, by not mentioning her sexual pleasures. ”
    — so allah doesn’t respect men and hence mentions their sexual pleasure ??? :-) just kidding , this sentence caught my eye and i was taken aback by how all we try to PROTECT women … huh

  16. Allah/Mohammed …. Most Merciful & Most Compassionate … co-producers of the all-time classics, Koran and Hadith, both promise their muslim ummah with lustful heavens and erotic pleasures of various kinds: houris and pearly boyz and wine and sex and orgies 24/7.

    Now understand that this is for muslim men only. Poor muslim women don’t get nuthu’n, zilch, nada, zero. They don’t count, because according to allah/mohammed, women are deficient/lack intelligence.

    Contrary to what muslims tell ya about their version of the so-called pillars of islam, truth be told that myths, superstitions, wine, sex, orgies, houris/pearly boyz, and most important of all violence/terrorism, are the basic pillars of Islam.

  17. Radha, how does one reconcile reincarnation with heaven in the Hindu religion?

    I have a 2 hour special done by Barbara Walters entitled “Where is Heaven and How do I get there?” She interviews many people including religious leaders, atheists, people who supposedly died and came back and even a terrorist. I’ll try to find time to watch it this weekend.

    I believe that heaven and hell were devised as a means of controlling people. You know … be good and you will have wonders after death or be bad and suffer forever. Good control tactics if you ask me.

  18. Carol has been in hospital since yesterday for her next treatment, please keep her in your prayers

  19. wendy,
    I’m no expert nor do i dveleve into the texts too deeply from what i have beentaught,heard,know
    theres 2 fundamental beliefs – karma and reincarnation. karma is deeds, good or bad, and if a person does good karma his next life will be rewarding.

    The common belief is that if you live an exemplery life and attain knowledge then you’ll bypass the cycle of rebirth and become one with the creator.

    the reasont hey say for many births is that all souls WILL attain self=knowledge , just that some may need a bit more births than others :-)

    I’ve never heard of heaven being talked about as a special place or materialistic or beautiful.. heaven is just a place where your solu become one with the creator – moksha / you return to the universe and its eternal peace or some such .. i’ve never heard of it being described with rivers or anything earth like…

    it’s very diff from the other religions but one way to supposedly attain moksha is tolenrence, one way is good deeds, one way is self-knowledge, one way is devotion to god,etc., etc., so you choose what path you want to take and live by it.

    like i said i’m not an expert and the gist i know is that we are responsible for our deeds good or bad , and if you want to prevent constantly beinig reborn be good. :-)

  20. i will give you some discribtions for heaven and hell from quran and that how the muslims belive in it .

    Heaven :
    Quran : ( 56:10-40 )
    And the forerunners, the forerunners -Those are the ones brought near [to Allah ]In the Gardens of Pleasure,A [large] company of the former peopleAnd a few of the later peoples,On thrones woven [with ornament],Reclining on them, facing each other.There will circulate among them young boys made eternalWith vessels, pitchers and a cup [of wine] from a flowing spring -No headache will they have therefrom, nor will they be intoxicated -And fruit of what they selectAnd the meat of fowl, from whatever they desire.And [for them are] fair women with large, [beautiful] eyes,The likenesses of pearls well-protected,As reward for what they used to do.They will not hear therein ill speech or commission of sin -Only a saying: “Peace, peace.”The companions of the right – what are the companions of the right?[They will be] among lote trees with thorns removedAnd [banana] trees layered [with fruit]And shade extendedAnd water poured outAnd fruit, abundant [and varied],Neither limited [to season] nor forbidden,And [upon] beds raised high.Indeed, We have produced the women of Paradise in a [new] creationAnd made them virgins,Devoted [to their husbands] and of equal age,For the companions of the right [who are]A company of the former peoplesAnd a company of the later peoples.

    and the prophet PBUH said simply about the Heaven : ” There will be bounties which no eye has seen, no ear has heard and no human heart has ever perceived ”

    …………………………………………………………………..

    Hell :
    Quran:(56:41-44)
    And the companions of the left – what are the companions of the left?[They will be] in scorching fire and scalding waterAnd a shade of black smoke,Neither cool nor beneficial.

    Quran:(43:74-80)
    Indeed, the criminals will be in the punishment of Hell, abiding eternally.It will not be allowed to subside for them, and they, therein, are in despair.And We did not wrong them, but it was they who were the wrongdoers.And they will call, “O Malik, let your Lord put an end to us!” He will say, “Indeed, you will remain.”We had certainly brought you the truth, but most of you, to the truth, were averse.Or have they devised [some] affair? But indeed, We are devising [a plan].Or do they think that We hear not their secrets and their private conversations? Yes, [We do], and Our messengers are with them recording.

  21. Ah, heaven and hell.
    Hell
    People who are scared of hell, don’t worry, hell was only invented a bit less than 2000 years ago. Although the early Christians probably plagiarized the idea from the Egyptians, who had invented a pit of fire for really nasty people a long time ago. But there’s no hell in Judaism, or in the old testament. And this is another pointer that Mohammed plagiarized a lot of his new religion from early Christianity.
    So forget about hell. Does not exist.

    Heaven
    What does heaven have to offer? In Christianity you get to sit and gaze at God for all eternity.
    Sounds incredibly boring.
    Although an English church father tried to convince us that one of the pleasures in heaven would be to look down upon hell and see the torture and suffering of others.
    Sounds incredibly distasteful.

    IN Islam it’s wearing a ridiculous amount of gold brocade dresses, and orgies, entertainment that would be eating, drinking (alcohol!) and sex with pearly boys and virgins and a dick which never wilts.
    Oops! That was heaven for men And eternal orgie! Sex booze and excessive amounts of food.
    What do we women get?
    We get to sit around watching our men having sex for years on end and eating himself stupid and if we have some well pointed comments about that we get told off by the ”black eyed”. The eternal virgins with see through skin and black pits for eyes.
    I really do not understand why women even want to be Muslim.
    Anyway, islamic heaven looks also pretty bring (for women) and disgustingly materialistic and sex-obsessed. (wonder why?)

    As made up and invented concepts I find heaven and hell immoral. The reason Christianity and Islam are death cults. You don’t live to have a good life, you life to die. In Islam you collect brownie points for a bigger and better situated house and what? more sex?

    And it cause immorality in real life. Look at our earlier post on women and how they are mistreated and abused. What do the families, even the parents of these women tell them? ”Stuff it, be patient, you will be rewarded in heaven”
    Cheap, stupid and wicked.
    And spineless.
    So instead of doing something about the evil being done to their own children they sit back, let her suffer, and satisfy themselves with the inane promise of a non-existent ”paradise”
    Which, we must not forget, for women would mean that her abusing husband forgets all about her in favor of sticking it in the pearly boys and black eyed, and she gets to watch him.
    Some reward!

    No. This is it. This is where we need justice. This life is where we need to help others and make a better world. This, here and now, is where we should be happy and make others happy, because this is all we got.

  22. Oh, and I am in heaven already. I am sitting on my couch, with a mild summer rain coming down, my garden is green, lush, and full of flowers. I am having a ”fowl” on the cooker for dinner, the birds outside are singing, my dog is snoring at my feet, my cat is sitting on my shoulder, I have been to visit my horse. I am writing a fun rant on a blog.
    Heaven is right here, right now. I would not exchange this day for any vacuous, fatuous and hollow promise of a spurious ”heaven”.

  23. Btw. In Christianity you do not go to heaven by good works, and spreading sweetness and light:

    John 14:6 KJV
    “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

    How despicable. Religions are immoral to the core. The more I learn about religions the more I have to despise them.

  24. Hell, and what to expect.
    And who will be going there.
    Very informative

  25. I know what hell is for misogynist men!
    They are all going to be reborn as women in Saudi Arabia!
    Woehahahahaha! :twisted:

  26. The Holy Prophet also taught that hell would one day be empty, of everyone, of all religions. Islam also teaches that some people are unaware that they are in hell. Not exactly as simple as it being a burning fire then. Heaven and hell are states of the soul and can be felt in this life to some extent. To present the heaven of Islam as a place of lusty men and submissive women is to focus on one image used of the concept and ignore the deeper philosophical images presented. It is using one small quote and ignoring hundreds of others. Does that reflect the quality of the concept in Islam or the focus of the commentator?

  27. The concept of hell make no sense if one believes in a God who is not a cosmic psychopath. To keep people in eternal torment out of spite (and that is what God seems to be doing) is simply madness.

  28. Aafke-Art :

    about toby the devil which one of the groups that he mentioned are you belong to ??? i mean ( athiest , christian or jew ) only >>> not bank managers and the other people !!! lol

  29. Aafke, that was so hilarous! Enjoyed it.

  30. EA, I am a poly-a-theist, humanity has invented thousands of gods over the ages, and of course nobody believes in most of those anymore.
    I don’t believe in any of them, I find none of them convincing.
    I could be convinced there are gods, but I need a better story than the sloppy ones I have heard of, and some verifiable proof.
    And to worship a deity once I have been convinced he/she really needs to be a lot more advanced and a lot more moral than the currently popular gods.

    About Toby, it was only a short glimpse into hell, I am sure there’s a large contingent of bankers and politicians :twisted:

  31. Reader1, Hell will be empty because women have already suffered so much by the hands of men and religion they go to heaven by default.
    Whlie all rapists and wife beaters will be reborn as women in Saudi Arabia or in Taliban controlled countries, and then they will lead such miserable lives that they go to heaven by default.

    So what do we learn from this?
    All inhabitants in heaven are women!
    So that means endless quilt parties, shopping, hair- and nail salons all over the place…
    I still don’t want to go there!

    In my personal heaven there are lots of cats, dogs, horses, all my pets are there including my dreamrabbit, and my friends and parents. And we ride through the forests all day, and every now and then we go to a heavy metal festival. Basically what life is now, only with stuff like taxes and religions cut out.

  32. I think that heaven and hell are both states of mind. Platonically speaking, that is.

    I spend a lot of my own personal time volunteering for Habitat For Humanity, including sacrificing my vacations and unpaid time off from work. The time that I spend helping build homes for the less fortunate is like being in the seventh heaven for me. And in the absence of that, I feel like being in a rotten state of hell.

    Sufi poet Rumi had this to say about heaven: “On Sunday the residents of heaven will drink its honey. On Tuesday they will drink its wine. When they have drunk, they will become intoxicated. When they become intoxicated, they will fly for a thousand years until they reach the great heavenly mountains of fine musk”.

    FWIW …..

  33. A Muslim, you want to behead all (in your opinion) non believers, or squash them under your boot….
    And you wonder why we are not keen….

  34. Hi Rosemary,

    Hey that was a great quote from Rumi! I am a fan of Mevlana Jalal Din Rumi (1207 – 1273) also. Here are a some other quotes on Heaven & Hell by Rumi from his book, “Sufi Path of Love : Spiritual Teachings of Rumi”:

    At every instant and from every side, resounds the call of Love:
    We are going to the Sky, who wants to come with us?
    We have gone to Heaven, we have been the friends of the angels,
    And now we will go back there, for there is our country.

    I died as a mineral and became a plant,
    I died as plant and rose to animal,
    I died as animal and I was Man.
    Why should I fear? When was I less by dying?

    Yet once more I shall die as Man, to soar
    With angels blest; but even from angel-hood
    I must pass on: all except God doth perish.

    When I have sacrificed my angel-soul,
    I shall become what no mind e’er conceived.
    Oh, let me not exist! for Non-existence
    Proclaims in organ tones, To Him we shall return.

  35. We are stardust. We are made of stardust. Forget Jesus, stars had to die for us to live, and eventually the matter of which we are made will return to the stars.
    This is so much more beautiful to me, than any imaginary heaven.

  36. @Aafke,
    “All inhabitants in heaven are women!
    So that means endless quilt parties, shopping, hair- and nail salons all over the place…”

    That sounds more like my idea of hell than heaven! LOL.

  37. HEY STRANGEONE! You forgot BBC costume dramas!!

  38. Oh, but I do consider BBC costume drama’s as very close to heaven!

  39. Christianity does have a detailed description of heaven. In fact, even though the current church has placed emphasis on the former, there will in fact be a new heaven and a new earth.

    “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. (21:1)”
    The new heaven and the new earth will not merely succeed the present universe in chronological sequence; they will be something brand new, fresh, never before seen. God must create a new heaven and a new earth because the first heaven and the first earth passed away. God originally created the earth to be suitable as mankind’s permanent home. The entrance of sin, however, corrupted the earth and the universe, and God will destroy them (cf. 20:11). What lies ahead for the earth is not a nuclear or an ecological holocaust, but a divine judgment.” (http://www.gty.org/resources/bible-qna/BQ022712/what-will-heaven-be-like)

    Just my two cents ;-). Please carry on….

  40. Hello am late in making this comment but I read nearly all. My question madam Carol is where in the Quran is it mentioned that 72 virgins await men paradise? Please tell me where. I have gone through the book several times but I am yet to see 72 virgins been promised by God to Muslims.
    I suspect may be the copy you quoted from is different from the one I have. Kindly educate me on this. Seventy virgins huh.

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