Justification of eternal Hell
This Indication consists of four questions and answers.
FIRST QUESTION: How can eternal punishment in Hell be justice in return for a certain number of sins committed in a limited life?
THE ANSWER: As has been clearly understood in the foregoing Indications, and particularly in the Eleventh, the crime of unbelief and misguidance is a boundless crime, and is a violation of infinite rights.
SECOND QUESTION: The Shari‘a judges that the punishment of Hell is in return for one’s actions, but Paradise is a pure Divine favor. What is the reason for this?
THE ANSWER: As is clear in the previous Indications, however insignificant and partial a free will they have, and even though their free will and action have no share in creation, humans can cause awful destruction and evils. For destruction and evils are extremely easy and it is possible to bring them about with a slight action. Also, as their evil-commanding soul always inclines towards harm and evil, humans themselves are held responsible for the evils brought about as a result of any insignificant action. For their evil commanding soul has desired them to do so and they themselves have done them. Since evils mean destruction and are not positive and constructive, humans—as servants—become the ones who commit the act, and since they will and commit them, God, the Ultimate Truth, creates the acts. So in return for that limitless crime, they most definitely deserve infinite punishment.
As for good deeds, since they denote construction and existence and require the Creator to come into existence, human partial free will and action cannot be their creative cause. A human being cannot be their true agent. In addition, the carnal soul never desires good deeds; it is the Divine Mercy Which demands them and drives humans to do them, and the Divine Power brings them into existence. A human being can only claim to own them through belief, wishes, or intentions. Once they have possessed them, these good deeds become thanks for all the limitless Divine bounties accorded to them before, like the bounties of existence and belief. But Paradise, promised by God, will be given purely as a favor of the All-Merciful One. Apparently it is a reward, but in reality it is a pure favor.
In short, the cause of evil is the human evil-commanding soul, so the human deserves the punishment, while as the cause of good deeds originates in God, so also their Creator is God. Humans can only claim ownership through belief; they cannot say, “I demand my reward”; rather, they may appeal to God, “I hope for Your favor.”
THIRD QUESTION: As is understood from the foregoing explanations, since evil multiplies through spreading, infection, pervasion, and encroachment, evil should be recorded as one thousand. Whereas, since a good deed denotes construction or existence, and does not multiply, or does not occur by the servant’s creation or the carnal soul’s desire, it should not be recorded at all or it should be recorded as one. So, why is an evil deed recorded as one and a good deed as anywhere from ten to a thousand?
THE ANSWER: By doing so, God, the Ultimate Truth, demonstrates His infinite Mercy and the grace of His Compassion.
FOURTH QUESTION: The successes of the people of misguidance, and the power they exhibit, and their victories over the people of right guidance show that there is some power and truth by which they are supported. Does this not mean either that the people of right guidance suffer some weakness, or that the people of misguidance possess some truth?
THE ANSWER: No, neither do the people of misguidance have some truth, nor do the people of truth suffer any weakness. But regrettably, some ordinary people who are shortsighted and lacking in sound reasoning waver and doubt, harming their belief. For they say, “If the people of truth had been perfectly true (in their belief and way), they should not have suffered such a degree of defeat and degradation. For the truth has all power, and as stated in the essential principle, The truth is exalted and always prevails, and it cannot be overcome, might lies in the truth. So, if the people of misguidance who triumph over the people of truth had not possessed a true power and a point of support, they could not have been triumphant and successful to this extent.”
As is demonstrated in the foregoing Indications, neither does the defeat of the people of truth arise from their lacking in power and being without truth, nor is the victory of the people of misguidance due to their power or having a true point of support. So, in their entirety, the previous Indications provide an answer for this question. Here, we will point only to a number of the weapons that the people of misguidance employ to deceive people, as follows:
I have repeatedly observed that the people of dissension and disturbance, who form ten percent of the population, defeat the righteous, who make up the other ninety percent. In great astonishment, I have been preoccupied with the reasons for this and have come to understand that their victory is not due to their power, but due to their causing dissension and unrest, baseness, and destruction, it is due to their taking advantage of the disagreements among the people of guidance, to sowing conflict among them, and working the weak spots in their character and evil potentials that are like mines of corruption in human nature, to provoking the selfish feelings, inclinations, interests, and ambitions, to the hypocritical flattering of the carnal soul’s inclination towards despotism, self-pride, fame, and glory, and due to people’s fear of their ruthless destruction. Through such satanic devices, they temporarily triumph over the people of truth. But since the final, happy outcome is in favor of the God-revering, pious (7: 128), and because of the principle, The truth is exalted and always prevails, and it cannot be overcome, in addition to the fact that the benefit this yields is not significant, their temporary victory will be the means of earning Hell for themselves and Paradise for the people of truth.
Thus, since misguidance causes the weak to show themselves as able, and, thus, insignificant people gain fame, self-centered, fame-seeking, and ostentatious people take on a position against the people of truth to be able to show themselves as powerful with a little action and gain status for themselves by intimidating and terrorizing others and causing harm. They seek to gain fame by causing destruction, which comes not from their power or ability, but from their lack of the true power and ability that is necessary for an approvable attainment. It has become proverbial that one such fame seeker sullied a place of worship so that people might talk about him. His fame-seeking caused him to welcome the curse of people.
O poor human, who has been created for the world of eternity but is enamored of this fleeting world! Lend an ear to the verse, Neither the heaven nor the earth shed tears over them (44: 29). It clearly declares that the heavens and the earth, which are connected with humanity, do not weep over the death of anyone from among the people of misguidance; rather, they are happy about it. The verse is alluding to the fact that the heavens and the earth weep over the death of the people of right guidance, and do not desire their separation because the whole universe is sincerely connected with the people of belief and is pleased with them. For, since the people of belief recognize the Creator of the universe through belief, they appreciate the value of the universe, and respect and love it. Unlike the people of misguidance, they do not despise it or cherish enmity towards it.
O human, think over this! You are bound to die. If you follow your carnal soul and Satan, your neighbors, and even your relatives, will be happy with your death, as they will be relieved of your evil acts. But if you seek refuge in God from Satan, who is eternally rejected from God’s Mercy, and follow the Qur’an and the All-Merciful’s Beloved, the heavens, the earth, and all beings in them will be sorry at your separation and weep according to your rank and the rank of each of them. By giving you a splendid, mournful farewell, they will indicate that according to your rank you will have a good welcome in the realm of eternity where you will enter through the gate of the grave.
Bediuzzaman Said Nursi