Allah has set up punishment 1000 times worse than the torments in this world, that will last for eternity and not for a few moments or days. And Allah’s punishment is for people who just didn’t believe in him, or did personal sins, like zina (adultery), which I know is horrible, but does it deserve punishment forever? Or am I wrong in God’s mercy and justice? Please clarify.
The punishment of the Hereafter is eternal only for those who were stubborn against the Truth.
Such people remained stubborn their entire lives, despite being given countless chances to repent and submit to the Truth. In fact, they have reached a stage, where, as the Qur’an says below, even if they were returned to life after having tasted the fire of Hell, they would still go back to the same sins they used to commit.
“If you could but see when they will be held over the (Hell) Fire! They will say: “Would that we were but sent back (to the world)! Then we would not deny the Ayat of our Lord, and we would be of the believers! Nay, it has become manifest to them what they had been concealing before. But if they were returned (to the world), they would certainly revert to that which they were forbidden. And indeed they are liars.” (6:27-8)
Their punishment is eternal because, given the chance, they would have done evil eternally. Imam Sadiq (a.s) was asked the same question and he replied:
“Surely, people of Hell are eternally in Hell because their intention was if they lived in this world eternally they would disobey God eternally, likewise people of Paradise will be eternally in Paradise becasue their intention was if they lived in this world eternally they would worship God eternally.” (al-Kaafi, vol.2 p.85)
Their punishment is severe because of the magnitude of their transgressions. These people have denied the greatest and most obvious of Truths, and the only way they can do this is by having killed their conscience. A person who has killed their own conscience has usually also committed atrocious acts against his fellow beings, and if they had been given opportunity, their atrocities would have continued to forever get worse.
Allah (SWT) does not punish for all our sins. Rather, he punishes only for a small minority of them. In fact, the Qur’an says that if we were punished for all our sins, no creature would be left on earth to live. This is despite the fact that each sin, no matter how small, is a sin against the Creator who gave us every blessing imaginable. This makes every sin absolutely dire and deserving of indescribable punishment. Yet Allah (SWT) gives us respite upon respite, until a person may unfortunately shows that their heart is completely veiled and harsh, and instead of taking heed during their respite, continues to commit greater and greater crimes, thereby becoming deserving of hell.
An extract from Dua (supplication of) Abu Hamza to demonstrate the graveness of sin against Allah (SWT): ”
“(My Lord, I am The beseecher that You have given to,
The sinner that You have concealed,
I am the guilty that You have excused,
The worthless that You have made valuable,
The helpless, whom You have aided,
and I am the exile that You have given refuge.
My Lord, I am the one who has not felt ashamed before You in private,
and was not observant of You in public,
I am the committer of the grave and cunning transgressions,
I am the one who showed daring against his Master,
I am the one who disobeyed the Powerful in the heavens,
I am the one who gave bribes in order to commit acts of disobedience against the Exalted (Lord)
I am the one that, when informed of sinful acts, went hurrying towards them,
I am the one to whom You gave respite, but I did not desist,
The one whose sins You concealed, but he did not show any shame,
The one who committed so many acts of disobedience that he has violated (all terms),
and I am the one whose status fell in Your eyes, but he did not care,
By Your Forbearance, You have given me respite.”
Answered by: Dr Ali Alsamail
Certified by: Sheikh Mansour Leghaei