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.