Salam,

This article below is to restate what had been lacking or missing of facts stated in the Quran which result in the claim of inconsistency in the article written by Sam Shamoun and Jochen Katz. The main point being observed is both of them failed to compare the attributes of Allah being eternal and that of His creation whether of the heavens and earth or paradise and hell. The time existence of Allah’s creation can never be comparable to that His own existence!

Surah 32:14 “Taste ye then – for ye forgot the Meeting of this Day of yours, and We too will forget you – taste ye the Penalty of Eternity for your (evil) deeds!”

Sam Shamoun and Jochen Katz said that according to the Quran, heaven and hell is supposed to be eternal life as stated in Surah 41:28 Such is the requital of the enemies of Allah, the Fire: therein will be for them the Eternal Home: a (fit) requital, for that they were wont to reject Our Signs. And in Surah 50:34 “Enter ye therein in Peace and Security; this is a Day of Eternal Life!” However, it says slightly a different concept at Surah 6:128 One day will He gather them all together, (and say): “O ye assembly of Jinns! Much (toll) did ye take of men.” Their friends amongst men will say: “Our Lord! we made profit from each other: but (alas!) we reached our term – which thou didst appoint for us.” He will say: “The Fire be your dwelling-place: you will dwell therein forever, except as Allah will.” for thy Lord is full of wisdom and knowledge. Also, the Quran repeat and says the same as long as the heaven and earth endure except as God’s will as stated in Surah 11:106-107 Those who are wretched shall be in the Fire: There will be for them therein (nothing but) the heaving of sighs and sobs: They will dwell therein for all the time that the heavens and the earth endure, except as thy Lord will: for thy Lord is the (sure) accomplisher of what He plan.

The inconsistency is claimed on the expression “except as God will” indicates that IF God wills, he may terminate the stay in hell for (some) people, but it is not stated clearly whether it is actually his will to do so for some people, let alone whether he wills to do this for all people. Regarding the phrase, “for all the time that the heavens and the earth endure”, there are several aspects that need to be pondered. Are heaven and earth eternal, or will they perish? If heaven and earth are eternal (according to Islam), these verses imply that the dwelling in hell will be eternal as well (except if God wills otherwise for some). If the heavens and the earth are not eternal, i.e. they will be destroyed at a certain time, then these verses merely say that these people will stay in hell or paradise (at least) as long as heaven and earth exist (unless God’s will is to terminate their stay earlier). These statements only define a lower limit for the length of time of their stay in hell. It does not say that they will leave hell at the point in time when heaven and earth end. They might continue to stay in hell afterwards, if paradise and hell are somewhere outside of the heavens and the earth. On the other hand, if paradise and hell are part of the heavens and the earth, they will cease to exist with them, but where will their inhabitants go to afterwards? Notice, also, that the same expression, “for all the time that the heavens and the earth endure”, is used not only in reference to the stay in hell but also in reference to the stay in the garden/paradise. If we are to conclude from this passage that the term in hell is limited, does this not equally mean that the term in paradise is limited as well? In other words, if Muslims insist that the believers will stay in paradise forever then nothing in these verses suggests other people will not stay in hell forever. These verses open up only the possibility that the period in hell (and paradise) may be limited, but they do not give a definite promise or conclusive statement in that regard

In response to the above claimed, the expression “except as God will” or “as long as the heavens and the earth endure” is Allah’s way to demonstrate and justify none is equal to Him or none is eternal as He is. Without these words it can be taken once in heaven or in hell they will be live an eternal as God is. But this is not the case as He said in Surah 14:19 See thou not that Allah created the heavens and the earth in Truth? If He so will, He can remove you and put (in your place) a new creation. As one can witness, He is the only One who will prevail over anything as in Surah 18:45 Set forth to them the similitude of the life of this world: It is like the rain which we send down from the skies: the earth’s vegetation absorbs it, but soon it becomes dry stubble, which the winds do scatter: it is (only) Allah who prevails over all things. It is also stated in the Quran everything can perish except Him in Surah 28:88 And call not, besides Allah, on another god. There is no god but He. Everything (that exists) will perish except His own Presence. To Him belongs the Command, and to Him will ye (all) be brought back. It must be reiterated there should be no doubt all is being created by Him thus their beginning and their ends is to Allah as stated in Surah 53:25 But it is to Allah that the End and the Beginning (of all things) belong. Surah 55:26-27 All that is on earth will perish: But will abide (forever) the Presence of thy Lord, full of Majesty, Bounty and Honour. Thus, paradise and hell or the heavens and earth cannot end or be lasting to be on equal term with Allah as the first and the last being His attribute as stated in Surah 57:2-5 To Him belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth: It is He Who gives Life and Death; and He has Power over all things. He is the First and the Last, the Evident and the Immanent: and He has full knowledge of all things. He it is Who created the heavens and the earth in Six Days, and is moreover firmly established on the Throne (of Authority). He knows what enters within the earth and what comes forth out of it, what comes down from heaven and what mounts up to it. And He is with you wheresoever ye may be. And Allah sees well all that ye do. To Him belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth: and all affairs are referred back to Allah.

Nevertheless, His promise is true and in Allah one should put his trust on whatever He decided as in Surah 5:9 To those who believe and do deeds of righteousness hath Allah promised forgiveness and a great reward. But the greatest pleasure is stated as in Surah 9:72 Allah hath promised to Believers, men and women, gardens under which rivers flow, to dwell therein, and beautiful mansions in gardens of everlasting bliss. But the greatest bliss is the good pleasure of Allah: that is the supreme felicity. And trust in Allah for His promise is true which is stated in Surah 25:58 And put thy trust in Him Who lives and dies not; and celebrate his praise; and enough is He to be acquainted with the faults of His servants. Thus, heaven and hell is eternity but not equal that of the eternity of Allah and He is true to His promise as in Surah 4:122 But those who believe and do deeds of righteousness, we shall soon admit them to gardens, with rivers flowing beneath, to dwell therein forever. Allah’s promise is the truth, and whose word can be truer than Allah’s?

Asar