This is a very common question cropping in most of Muslim minds and in the minds of Non Muslims as well. Once during discussion with my wife, this cropped up in our minds also that will only Muslims go to Heaven?
As part of our religious teaching from very early days, we have lived with the notion that being a Muslim we are the sole future resident of heaven or I would say, the purpose of existence of heaven at all is just to provide an everlasting shelter to all Muslims in the world sooner or later.
Being a Sufi Muslim in my faith, approach, practice and advocacy, the existing clear cut answer to this question has always pondered me because it does not sound just that any xyz can enjoy the greatest possible reward to mankind only because he/she xyz is born in a Muslim family.
No faith can survive unless it is dynamic. And the simplest parameter to judge the dynamism of any faith is to see how efficiently it allows you to welcome the changes with arms open and never lets your values go. I consider Islam as a very dynamic faith and so here is my understanding of Islam and its purpose.
It may have been possible that during the infancy of Islam, to born as Muslim was a great achievement, nevertheless the same rule can not hold true today at all . We will see the reasons for this purport below.
All sorts of criticism helping us in finding out the answer to this question are more than appreciated. Nevertheless, howsoever reads this paper, must not fall in the doubt about my faith, love and respect for prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Also, I do not want to declare who will not go to heaven but want to explore who all can go.
In early days of Islam, every Muslim had to pay the cost of being Muslim in one or other ways, even to those who where Muslim only by name or under some kind greed or for any other reasons. But in today’s scenario, your faith is no longer your accomplishment; it is a free gift to us. And Allah can not give us any reward to any human on the basis of gifts which he has bestowed. If He is Allah, then he can not have manly dictatorial attitude of sycophancy. He is bounded of not doing injustice with anybody.
Every age has its own demands, challenges, and milestones. Adam (PBUH) was a Muslim, but Haj was not obligatory to him. Abraham (PBUH) was a Muslim but he did not come with a book. Likewise there were different requirements during Jesus (PBUH) and further different during Mohammad (PBUH). So conclusively for the Muslims during early days of Islam must have been given advantages of entering into Heaven, if they are born Muslim and so all Quranic texts and Hadiths references, must remain true in the very sense they appear, but now since our faith is not an achievement, we need to understand that wherever Allah refers to Muslim in Quran, or Muhammad (PBUH) in any kind of Hadiths it means three things.
1. Those two billion people Muslim population who are Muslims by their birth, name and faith.
2. Men and women, child and old, healthy and sick, all those who submit their will to one ever existing power of the universe.3. All those who appreciate practice and propagate peace on the earth.
Thousand and five hundred years ago, all three categories were mostly overlapped therefore no doubt to brood about their doorway into Heaven. In today’s scenario ironically all these three categories, they do overlap to certain percentages, but a big percentage of each category does not overlap with any of the other two. And therefore we don’t have any right to discard any of these groups from entering into Heaven. Now depending upon how truly and deeply one is dipped into his category of being Muslim he will go to Heaven. But all of them are Muslims beyond doubt. Those who doubt this they should question why the name of this religion is given as Islam and nothing else. It could have been any name related to Muhammad (PBUH), as it was a known figure from the time of Adam. Why the most basic name of this religion is never referred as like “ Deen –e Ilah” or any kind of its synonym? And I personally challenge any linguistic similarity between the word Islam and Allah. On the contrary this word Islam has more social value than theological.
Let us ask this question from ourselves, and see what answer we find. If two children get candies in a lottery out of three and then can we judge that those two are better than the third child? I would say our sympathy will go with the third child.And that is what exactly the Sufi spirit of Islam teaches.
Ok. Now let us ask from ourselves one more question, if we leave Muslim populations in Kashmir/Gujarat/Palestine etc. apart. Have we paid a single penny for being born in a Muslim family? When NO, then how can we expect be rewarded for any cost we have not paid?
Now let us see what Islam means. Islam does not mean to worship Muhammad (PBUH). Islam obligates to obey Muhammad (PBUH). Now the only minimum and sufficient requirement to testify that one is believing and obeying Muhammad (PBUH) is to worship one invisible and Omnipotent God. Nothing can surpass this requirement and every other requirement comes after this. I strongly believe that no Muslim can disagree this.
Now let us examine what Quran says in this regard. I have placed Quranic support to my answer at later part after the logical investigation of this vital question as this is the final verdict.My entire writing is a junk if we have single line in Quran against it or my entire writing is testimonial of exuberance, if I can get support of single line from Quran. Well but, I would like to tell you that I am just a primary school student in this field, and would like take the very simple meaning of these verses from Quran.
1. Allah says:"Surely those who believe, and those who are Jews, and the Christians, and the Sabians, whoever believes in Allah and the Last day and does good, they shall have their reward from their Lord, and there is no fear for them, nor shall they grieve.," (2:62)
Here Allah says, those who believe in the words of God, and those who are Jews, Christian, Sabians (Followers of Zubur) , who ever believes in Allah, and believes in last day and does good work they have rewards. Now do we need any other decree to accept the fact Allah’s reward is never limited to only 2 billion Muslims of this world? Can Allah defy his promises? HE is Allah, HE can give more but not less for sure.Let us see another manifestation of the same idea.
2. Almighty Says:"O people, We have created you from a male and female and made you into races and tribes so that you may know each other. Indeed the noblest of you in the sight of God are those who are the most pious among you. And Allah knows every thing and is aware of every thing." (49:13)Here also Allah has never conditioned Muslimness for nobility. It is the piousness and which Allah only knows covering entire mankind beyond the boundaries of people with/out books even.
3. Let us see one more verse from Quran (Al – Maidah) in this regard."If they had observed the Torah and the Gospel and that which was revealed unto them from their Lord, they would surely have been nourished from above them and from beneath their feet. Among them there are people who are moderate, but many of them are of evil conduct. (5:66)"
This verse of Quran is even announcing the fact that during the time this verse was revealed to prophet Muhhammad (PBUH), there were few people who were not of evil conduct. This is what Quran is declaring without any ambiguity to any mundane human.
4. Here is few more example of Allah’s will."God forgives not that partners should be set up with Him; but He forgives anything else, to whom He pleased; to set up partners with God is to devise a sin most heinous indeed. ( 4:48)"
Can anybody answer me if a person is innocent and always worshipped only one Almighty in his/her heart, but he never knew about prophet Muhammad (PBUH). What is the most likely situation for him, will he be forgiven by Allah or not?
5. One last support from Quran in this regard:"Then shall anyone who has done an atom's weight of good, see it! And anyone who has done an atom's weight of evil, shall see it". (99:7-8)"
As a matter of fact no body knows which sins will be forgiven and which won't. Every person Allah Almighty created will be judged uniquely. His life record will be played before him, and all of the good and bad deeds he committed will be pointed out for him. Allah Almighty will then decide on sentencing the person to Hell or Heaven: Then how can we live with presumption that only Muslim (Type1) will be forgiven and will be entered into Heaven.Above five verses are those which can be understood without any further deep study related to origin/time/ purpose of the verse when they were revealed to prophet Muhammad (PBUH).Although there is no need to provide any reference from Hadiths when we already have ample references from Quran to understand and conclude that Heaven is not reserved only for Muslims (Type1). Still let us take one well accepted hadiths from Sahi BukhariNarrated
Utban bin Malik Al – Ansari: who was one of the men of the tribe of Bani Salim: Allah’s Apostle came to me and said, “if anybody comes on the Day of Resurrection who has said: La ilaha illal-lah, sincerely, with the intention to win Allah’s Pleasure, Allah will make the Hell-Fire forbidden for him.”Page# 76: To make the Heart Tender ( Ar-Riqaq).Hadith No. 431
Now, what does this hadith means? First Allah declared now His messenger is again validating the exactly same thing and if we still live in the dream that we are the landlords of Heaven then are we not directly denying what Allah wants and what His all apostles including prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has advised and practiced?
Well now its time to address one more question which is very natural to reap in our minds. If Non Muslims ( Type1) can enter into Heaven then why do Muslims are taking pain and offer five times Namaz, Keep fasts for one moths, give zakat and then abstain from alcohol, and there are lot of other restrictions which they impose upon themselves?
Well to address this question,Firstly let us try to understand one very common saying like “my problems are the biggest problems”. Likewise we have to accept the reality that it may not be true that what we do being a normal Muslim is always the toughest process we follow. There are people from other communities who understands somewhere deep in their heart the realty of One God and then they practice something much harder than us (Type1). What we follow is no doubt the best one and we have to understand that in its inheritance it is the easiest one.Secondly, since by its nature Islam is a social religion with a very balanced way of life without any extremes, it expects its followers to abide by certain rules and discipline, which have more social and collective worldly but real benefits than any supernatural mileages. After all for supernatural mileages it is always more of your intentions than the action.
Ok, let us now just see one last aspect of answering this question “If only Muslims will go to Heaven?” and then I will sum up my writing.Most of the Type1 Muslims live in the world where they are not the only people living all around, now if you live with this notion that only you will go to heaven , you are going to transfer same ideology to your kids and your students and all younger generations. You are propagating something for which you yourself is not very clear, if not very sure that you will not be the only resident of heaven.
What is happening? At internal front you and your son will start developing antipathy for other humans around you and at external front this will be automatically getting reflected from your approach and attitude, which is actually happening everywhere because we are going away and far away from the real teaching of Islam which is the Sufi teaching. Now please don’t ask me to elaborate the far longing consequences of this feeling.
It is abundant every where in this world despite following facts.
1. Muslims as a community are more united and brotherly connected than any other community in the world.
2. Muslims as a community do maximum charity in terms of Zakat than any other community in the world.
3. Muslims as a community have the maximum number of non alcoholic in the world.
4. Muslims as a community have least adultery and dowry cases.
Yet we are the most hated community in the world today!!!!!