I’m not the kind of Muslim that believes that from all the people on earth, only Muslims will go to Heaven. And every now and then I will encounter someone who tries to change my mind by quoting some or other Hadith etc. in some attempt to make me “see the light”. But I refuse. In fact, the only time I will believe that only Muslims will enter Jannah (Paradise) is when The Almighty God Himself summons me and tells me “Listen here Azra Sabreen, no one other than Muslims will enter paradise ok?”.
The thing is, apart from knowing many monotheistic believers who have better characteristics and habits than most Muslims I know, I don’t believe that our Creator is cruel or unreasonable. Allah SWT does not hate because he doesn’t need to. He created everything you see before you, and everything you can’t see and have no knowledge of, so why should He hate when he can just destroy that which He created?
And I have many people, quoting Hadith to me like they were there when the Prophet (SAW) imparted those words. The problem I have with that is that you have to ask yourself, who recorded (and re-recorded) these Ahadith? The answer is Men. Who interpreted them? Again, Men. Who wrote books and shared their opinions and have had those opinions quoted and mis-quoted throughout history? Men. And humans are flawed by nature, and only see or hear what they want to see and hear.
Now I’m NOT saying that I disbelieve in the Ahadith… all I am saying is that people are too ready to believe everything that is said in the name of the Prophet (SAW) and don’t take a minute to step back and think for themselves.
So I have people who will tell me that only Muslims are going to Heaven and I ask them “What about everyone else?”… and the answer is almost always “Well, they don’t believe in Allah SWT and His Messenger”… and I say, “That’s all fine and dandy, but what about those poor sods who lived in the mountains of Machu Pichu or Mongolia in a time when there was no ADSL and telephone lines or television… how do you know that they were informed about Allah SWT and His Messenger… that they had a chance to make the choice to believe or disbelieve?”… and there’s always no answer.
I have heard people quote Hadith stating that music is Haraam and that we’re all going to die and go to hell and what-not… but they either don’t know, or conveniently forget to state other accounts where the Prophet (SAW) would attend celebrations and actually watch the merriment (folk dancing) with his wives. In fact, there is also one specific incident where the Prophet (SAW) and Omar (RA) were invited to attend a wedding/celebration and as they approached the house, they heard music playing from therein. Omar (RA) got upset and wanted to put an end to it when the Prophet (SAW) stopped him and said something like “Every culture has their own traditions, let them celebrate”.
I’ve heard people go on and on and on about the Beard issue. A few months ago, there was an incident on Facebook where one guy actually cursed another for not having facial hair.
In a recent discussion with a group of men in the company of my father, I even heard someone say, “Well, it’s not Fardh (compulsory), but it’s a Great Sunnah” before he continued ‘quoting’ how the Prophet (SAW) will turn away from those without beards on the Day of Judgement and how everyone without one is going to hell. I interjected… “Excuse me, but do you honestly believe that on the Day of Judgment, you’re going to stand before The Almighty and He is going to commend you on the fantastic beard that you managed to produce during your life on earth? Or is He rather going to be concerned with HOW you lived your life? And *sarcastic* shame, what about those men who can only manage to cultivate peach fuzz… doom for them and their follicular failures eh?
Man1 told me, “No, no, if you can’t grow the beard, that’s another story but you shouldn’t cut it”. I replied “So I guess those Orthodox Jews and those 60’s Hippies and those inbred HillBilly’s will all be especially pleased to have warranted the Prophet (SAW’s) gaze upon them, although I don’t see how that’s gonna help them since they’re all going to hell for not being Muslim anyway right?”.
Man2 then said, “But it’s a GREAT Sunnah…” and before he could continue I enquired “Tell me about the other Great Sunnah’s? When was the last time you checked up on your neighbour’s to see that they are well and that they have food to eat? When was the last time you visited the sick? You don’t even speak to your own brother!”. And the million dollar question, “And do you have any intention of selling your Mansion and 2 Mercedes’ and giving most of what you have to charity for a small simple home and a trusty 1991 Toyota Corolla that can take you from point A to point B hassle-free… since living a simple life free from Ribaa (Interest & Usury) is considered a Great Sunnah too?”.
Man3 interrupted, “But the Hadith says…” and again, before he could continue I said, “Look I’m not saying don’t grow the beard… by all means, go compete with Gandalf… I just don’t think its right to sit there in your ivory tower, looking down upon others, cursing and condemning people to hell on an issue that is not even compulsory. Who died and made everyone God? Having a beard or not having one never hurt anybody, it never robbed anyone of anything.”
I continued, “Tell me, you agree that a woman should look her very best for her husband right?”. They all agreed. “So if her husband wants her to look a certain way for him, she should oblige right?”. They all agreed again. “So is a man not supposed to look his best for his wife too… to be attractive to her?”. They agreed that he should. “So what if a man’s wife grows distant from him because she doesn’t like his facial hair, when she married him he didn’t have any, and it irritates her skin, so she doesn’t want to be near him and wants him to shave before she will let him touch her?”.
Man4 told me “Allah SWT will punish her for not allowing him to practice Islam for sure!”. And then I said, “But surely, we do not control what we like or dislike, some of us like Chicken, others prefer Beef. The Prophet (SAW) himself had his preferences and stayed away from that which displeased him (he didn’t make it Haraam, he just refrained). And why do we have preferences? Who bestowed them on us anyway? Is it not genetic, a part of our Biology? Is The Almighty not responsible for our Biologies… those parts of us that are innate and form part of our core characteristics? So you’re telling me that The Almighty, Most Merciful, will punish her for that which He bestowed upon her in the first place?
*Room falls silent and they promptly change the subject*