Answered by Ustadh Farid Dingle
How can we explain verses of the Qur’an or hadiths that seem to indicate that anyone who commits a major sin will be in Hell forever?
Thank you for your important question.
Someone who commits a sin knowing and accepting that they are doing wrong is sinful, but is still a believer and will not remain in the Hell-Fire for ever. (al Aqida al Tahawiyya, Imam al Tahawi)
How to understand the Qur’an and Sunna
The Qur’an and hadith contain many statements, stories, commands and prohibitions, and admonitions. To understand them correctly we have to take it as an organic whole, and understand it in light of other verses of the Qur’an and other hadiths.
Accepting One is Wrong
Verses or hadiths that seem to indicate that sins damn one to Hell forever are to understood to mean committing the sin while believing it is okay, and that Allah has not prohibited it.
For example, someone takes interest, knowing that Allah has forbidden it in the Qur’an and on the tongue of His Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) and just holds that it is halal anyway.
This belief itself is tantamount to rejecting the message of Islam, because one is not accepting what one is being told by Allah to begin with.
As for someone who commits a sin knowing and accepting that they are doing wrong, this person is a believer and will not remain in the Hell-Fire for ever. (al Aqida al Tahawiyya, Imam al Tahawi)
Sinners as Believers
This is proven by countless hadiths and verses of the Quran. For example, Allah Most High says, ‘Indeed, Allah does not forgive association with Him, but He forgives what is less than that for whom He wills.’ (4: 48)
And the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, ‘O son of Adam, were you to come to me with enough sins to fill the earth and you met me without associating a partner with me, I would to you with enough forgiveness to fill the earth.’ (al Tirmidhi)
The evidence mentioned proves that someone who commits a sin is sinful, but is not a disbeliever.
Someone who commits a sin knowing and accepting that they are doing wrong is still a believer, but a sinful believer, and will not remain in the Hell-Fire forever. This is because of the countless verses and hadiths that tell us that Allah will not punish someone who has the atom’s weight of faith forever.
I pray this helps.
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadh Farid Dingle has completed extensive years of study in the sciences of the Arabic language and the various Islamic Sciences. During his studies, he also earned a CIFE Certificate in Islamic Finance. Over the years, he has developed a masterful ability to craft lessons that help non-Arabic speakers gain a deep understanding of the language. He currently teaches courses in the Arabic Language.