My particular upbringing as a Muslim in the deserts of Arizona instilled in me the belief that all people who aren’t Muslims will go to hell.
Hell… even most who are Muslims will go to hell. (For a short few millions of years before they’re exonerated of all their sins)
This poses a personal as well as a social dilemma for me. Personally I don’t believe that I should go to hell. I’m not a bad person, I don’t kick puppies and kittens, I try and control that urge. I try and respect as many people as my racist and sexist upbringing will allow. I live responsibly, mostly ethically. I try not to give anyone a hard time. I hope that I make more people happy in the world than I make them sad.
But I don’t pray regularly, I don’t think about God as nearly as much as I should, I don’t heed the Hadith (or even take them very seriously), and I rarely read the Quran. All of these are minimum criteria, I’m told, to enter Jannah (heaven). Since we don’t believe in a Purgatory, that means it’s the Jahannam (guess what that is?) for me.
I know a lot of good non-muslims, I don’t believe that they should really go to Hell. So I resolve this dilemma by “simply” avoiding the topic of the after-life. This is unfortunate because one of the key principals in my faith is remembering how this life is transient and quick, that there is an after-life and I will be judged.
And this avoidance ripples out to the rest of my thoughts, and thus my actions. I stop going to Mosques where I’m faced with this contradiction directly. I stop having conversations with people about religion, where my hypocrisy can become evident. I even stop thinking about Islam and how I can become a better Muslim.
If I were to try to go back into the fold of my faith, I’d have to confront this dilemma and resolve it in some way. It’s unavoidable, my mind will bring up questions that I won’t be able to answer. I will be tormented with emotions that I won’t know how to deal with, and I’ll have to judge and ostracize others that I would rather think well of and keep in my life.
So what should I do? I don’t have any answers at the moment. Maybe later the fear of Hell will eventually overcome the dilemma and I’ll push non-muslims out of my life and begin to pray and do all the other stuff.
But really? Is that what it means to be a Muslim?
There’s an excerpt on wikipedia that is very interesting:
Awf ibn Malik reported that Muhammad said, “The Jews split into seventy-one sects, one will enter Paradise and seventy will enter Hell. The Christians split into seventy-two sects, seventy-one will enter Hell and one will enter Paradise. By Him in Whose hand is my soul, my Ummah (Muslims) will split into seventy-three sects, one will enter Paradise and seventy-two will enter Hell.” Someone asked, “O Messenger of Allah, who will they be?” He replied, “The main body of the Muslims.”
So it seems that what I’ve been taught to believe all my life is not necessarily the truth (what a shocker!!). And also, if 1/73rds of Muslims can be the “main body,” why can’t 1/72nds of Christians or 1/71ths of Jews be the “main body.” It seems like the math is all there.