Heaven and Hell: Permanent or Temporary?

Question and Answer Details

Name of Questioner

Nadia   – Australia



Heaven and Hell: Permanent or Temporary?







As-salaamu alaikum.

I need to ask you about this theory: We Muslims will definitely go to Heaven, although many of us will have to be “cleansed” in Hell first before entering Heaven.

Interestingly, a good Christian friend of mine has exactly the same idea (only with the word “Muslims” substituted with “Christians,” of course).

From that concept, it is saying that Hell can be temporary (i.e. Some people enter it just to get rid of their sins, but they do not stay there forever and they will get out at some point).

However, as far as I know, the Qur’an always portrays Heaven and Hell as permanent destinations (e.g. An-Nisaa’ 4:14; Al-Baqarah 2:80).

So, my question is: Where does this idea of temporary Hell come from? Is it from the Qur’an, Hadith, or neither?





Islamic Creed


Name of Counselor

Idris Tawfiq


Salam, Nadia.

Thank you for this interesting question. In answering it, we should mention Christian teaching first, since this is relevant to what you ask, and then move on to Muslim belief. It could be that because of talking to your Christian friends, you have got things a bit mixed up with what they believe.

Purgatory in Roman Catholic Teachings

It is a standard Roman Catholic teaching that before a person goes to Heaven, he or she must be purified in Purgatory. According to this teaching, Purgatory is a separate place than Heaven.

Even though Roman Catholics believe that their sins can be forgiven in this life by a priest when they go to Confession, the effects of their sins still remain, which cannot be erased by anyone. Purgatory, then, is a place where people make up for all the wrong they have done in this life, since no one can enter Heaven in anything less than a pure state.

Purgatory is the kind of “temporary Hell,” you talk about.

You are right when you mention Christian teaching regarding who will go to Heaven. Basing their teaching on Saint John’s Gospel, Christians have always taught that “unless a man be born again by water and the Spirit (i.e. Baptism), he cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.” In other words, for centuries the Church taught that only the baptized could enter Heaven.

The supposed death and resurrection of Jesus, according to Christian tradition, makes it possible for people to enter Heaven. This doctrine was reevaluated in the last century to suggest that some of the un-baptized could go to Heaven, but only because of the action of Jesus on the Cross.


These “anonymous” Christians, although not baptized, might enter Heaven because of their good lives and because Jesus has chosen to redeem them. Islam or Buddhism or Judaism, then, according to this doctrine, cannot save a man, but some Muslims or Buddhists or Jews might be saved because Jesus chooses to save them because of their good lives.

Heaven and Hell in Islam

I hope that this hasn’t confused you! Turning now directly to your question, Muslims are quite clear that Heaven and Hell have existed even before the creation of the world. They are both permanent places.

A translation of what we read in the Qur’an tells us this:

*{“Surely, We [Allah] have prepared for the evildoers a fire, whose pavilion encompasses them. If they call for help, they will be helped with water like molten copper that will scald their faces. How dreadful a drink and how evil a resting place.}* (Al-Kahf 18: 29)

In another part of the Qur’an, we read:

*{Certainly, Allah has cursed the unbelievers and prepared for them a blazing fire to dwell therein forever, they shall find neither protector nor helper. On the day when their faces are turned about in the fire, they shall say, “Would that we had obeyed Allah and obeyed the Messenger!”}* (Al-Ahzab 33: 64-66)

There are other descriptions of Hell that are graphically horrific. Muslims believe that some people will be sent to Hell for all eternity, because we are told so in either the Qur’an or in the sayings of the Prophet (peace be upon him). They will never leave. Some of these people are actually mentioned by name.

According to authorities in Hadith like Al-Bukhari and Muslim, such people include Abu Lahab, `Amr ibn Luhai Al-Khuza`i, and others. Those who aren’t identified by name are identified by description: every unbeliever, polytheist, or hypocrite (those who pretend they are Muslims but are not.)

All Muslims in Heaven?

As for your assertion that all Muslims will go to Heaven, we must, of course, add the words, in sha’ Allah. We can never presume Allah’s actions towards us. Only He knows the true intentions of our hearts.

Given this proviso, however, we do believe that Muslims will go to Heaven, even though they may have committed terrible crimes while they were alive. Muslim belief about this is as follows:

When a person dies, he or she will be laid in the grave. The Prophet told us that in the grave, all people will be questioned in the grave about their belief. They will sit up and answer the angels’ questions. The believers will answer, “Allah is my Lord, Islam is my religion, and Muhammad is my prophet.” The unbelievers will say, “I do not know. I heard the people saying something and I said it.”

Once again, Prophet Muhammad is recorded to have said many things about this. Those Muslims who led good lives, obedient to the will of Allah, will rest in comfort in the grave, awaiting the Day of Judgment. Those Muslims who led bad lives, or who were Muslim in name only, will be punished severely in the grave.

In the Qur’an, we read:

*{If you could only see when the evildoers are in the agonies of death and the angels are stretching out their hands, saying, “Give up your souls! Today you shall be rewarded with the punishment of humiliation for what you used to say untrue about Allah, and for scornfully rejecting His signs.”}* (Al-An`am 6 :93)

On the Day of Judgment, all people will be raised from their graves and their lives will be placed before them. They will have to give an account of how they lived. Good deeds will be weighed against bad deeds.

Once people’s deeds have been weighed up and the remaining balance is in their favor, they will then have to give justice to those they offended in this life. If they offended someone, some of their remaining good deeds will be transferred to the offended.

If, after all this, their good deeds weigh as much as even just an atom, they will, in sha’ Allah, enter Paradise. If, on the other hand, their good deeds have been exhausted in making up for wrongs they did to others, the offended will transfer some of their bad deeds, so that they go to Hell and suffer not only for their own bad deeds but also for the bad deeds of those they offended.

Allah knows what is best. As Muslims we believe that some Muslims will enter Hell and will remain there being punished until such time as Allah allows them to be released.

Not Temporary, But Relief Is Possible

This is not a temporary Hell. Hell is a fixed, permanent place, but Allah may allow some Muslims to be released from it because of His mercy.

We believe that the Prophet will be allowed by Allah to intercede on behalf of some believers who are in Hell, and by Allah’s will they will be taken out of Hell.

Allah will also take out of the Hell some believers, not because someone has interceded on their behalf, but simply because He chooses to.

Your simple question, then, required quite a complicated answer! In summary, as Muslims we believe some wicked Muslims will be sent to Hell for a limited time but ultimately will be granted Paradise because of the mercy of Allah.

I hope that this answers your question. Please keep in touch.


Useful Links:

Who Will Go to Heaven?

Is There Hell for Muslims?

Destiny of People of the Book

Are We Judged for What’s Already Destined?

The Justice of Divine Judgment

Atheists and Heaven

The Road to Heaven

Defining Heaven

The Way to Heaven?

Original Sin or … Innocence?

“This Life and the Next”

Is Paradise Just Spiritual Pleasure?

The Description of Paradise

Questions About Paradise



Multiple Wives in Paradise: What Is for Women?

Name of Questioner

Muslimah   – United Kingdom



Multiple Wives in Paradise: What Is for Women?



As-salamu `alaykum. Some traditional Muslims believe that Muslim men will be rewarded with 70 houris specially created for them and two believing women from this life. This is very demeaning and offensive to all women.A question comes to my mind at this point. Why would God cause jealousy between husband and wife on this earth when He promises to give the same cause of jealousy (multiple wives) in Heaven to one gender (man) as a reward? Who put love, mercy, and affection between the spouses? It is sad to find that in traditional Muslim literature the concept of Heaven is a place specially created for men; there is no equality between men and women.For men, Heaven is simply an extension of the earth where they established control and dominance over women through legitimizing unsanctioned polygamy and unlimited sex with females. One man’s Heaven is a woman’s Hell. This is supported by scholars, as a majority of them state that Paradise is a place of fulfillment of desires, and men—being prone to polygamy—will receive this as a reward.

My question is, how is it possible that Allah Almighty will grant the fulfillment of the desires of the male but not of the female—that is, to not share her husband with multiple women?

What about women who are patient in this life, hoping that their desire of not sharing their husbands will come true? I have read that scholars state that Allah will remove the “jealousy” from the heart of the women so they shouldn’t worry about it. Please explain how does this justify anything?

Instead of her desire/wish being fulfilled, she will be brainwashed, but on the other hand men won’t have to give up anything. Why won’t Allah remove the lust to have multiple wives from their hearts in order to please the female servants, while He will remove jealousy from the hearts of females in order to please male servants?

How come jealousy is a “female” product? When men are jealous, their jealousy is labeled as “ghayrah” (attack on morality). Bur when women are “jealous”, they are labeled as jealous beings? How I see it, being neutral, jealousy is a human product and not just a female thing. Allah created one mate, at least that’s what is mentioned in the Qur’an, for Adam (peace be upon him).

Therefore it is the fitrah of every male and female to feel “jealousy” when it is about sharing one’s spouse. Men are more possessive and would react in a similar way, even worse when it is about sharing their spouse. The reason is because we are both human beings. I totally agree with the “acceptance” of polygamy in this life, because it is a “solution” advised in the situations to avoid the haram. But it is discouraged by putting conditions on it. But paradise is every Muslim’s (men and women) goal. It doesn’t sound/feel right to the fitrah that it will be more rewarding towards men and again will require females to sacrifice and share. No matter how you put it, it is sharing the reward when one’s husband will have at least two other wives.

Does Allah love men more than women? A male martyr will receive 70 wives, but if a female servant of Allah dies for Jihad fisabillillah, she will still be required to share her husband with other wives. This concept is very discouraging and offensive towards Muslim sisters.

I personally feel like crying because it seems that no matter how hard I work to please Allah, even go as far as giving up my life for Allah Almighty, my reward will not be equivalent to that of a male servant.






Name of Counsellor

Sano Koutoub Moustapha


Muslim Creed, Muslim Belief, The Unseen


Wa `alaykum as-salamu wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

Sister, first of all, we’d like to say that we are impressed by your question, which emanates from a thoughtful heart. May Allah Almighty help us all adhere to the principles of this true religion, Islam, and enable us to be among the dwellers of Paradise in the Hereafter.

Paradise is the abode of the believers in the Hereafter. Allah has prepared for His believing servants, males and females, in Paradise indescribable bliss which no eye has seen, no ear has heard of, and that has never ever crossed the minds of people, to the extent that even the person who has the least blessings in Paradise will think that he is the most blessed one.

In more than one Qur’anic verse, Allah Most High, calls upon His servants to do their utmost in order to be favored with Paradise. For example, He says, (And vie one with another for forgiveness from your Lord, and for a Paradise as wide as are the heavens and the earth, prepared for those who ward off (evil).) (Aal `Imran 3: 133)

As regards your question, we’d like to inform you that in Paradise believing men and women will be showered with blessings; there is no room for discrimination based on sex in Paradise. The life of women in jannah will be as pleasant and happy as the life of men. Allah is not partial to any sex. He created both of them and He will take care of both of them according to their needs and desires. Let us all work to achieve the jannah and then, in sha’ Allah, we will find there what will satisfy all of us fully.

In his response to your question, Dr. Sano Koutoub Moustapha, professor of Fiqh and its Principles, International Islamic University, Malaysia, states the following:

Thank you so much for your very interesting comments and understanding of the issue of polygamy and the blessings given to men in Heaven.

I congratulate you for your logical ability and critical way of looking at things. However, I shall also confirm to you the issue of polygamy, be it in this life or the hereafter, it should not be classified as a privilege but rather a solution as you correctly mentioned in your arguments.

In other words, Islam does not open the door of polygamy for all men as it does not open it to women at all. As you may know well that each ruling or law has an exception and the exception is not the principle, therefore, we can not judge a law through its exceptions.

In this regard, I shall remind you that rewarding a mujahid with many wives doesn’t mean betraying the female mujahid.

It simply means there is a such reward for those mujahids who are looking for it. In other words, there is no compulsion upon all mujahids to accept or reject this reward. It is exactly the same thing as the polygamy in this life.

It is meant for those who want it, not for every single mujahid. Yet every Muslim man and woman who is allowed to enter Heaven is given the opportunity to get whatever he or she wants as clearly stated in the Qur’an and many Hadiths of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). This means that those women who don’t want their husbands to have more could be granted this wish and desire. At the same time if the husbands of those women want to have more than them Allah is great and can satisfy each of them in the way He, the Almighty, wants.

Therefore, a woman should not be frustrated for a privilege of polygamy offered to men. This is not, for sure, at the expense of woman. Heaven is meant for both men and women, both of them are equally entitled to get what they wish for.

Certainly, there would be no clashes in their wishes, if any, the Almighty knows how to please each of them. Having said that, I shall inform you that the existing setup of humans in terms of desire, would be changed on the Day of Judgment.

In other words, both men and women would not be allowed to enter Heaven in their existing physical makeup. They will be in a better and greater form as stated by the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). Both of them would enjoy living together and having whatever they wish and like.

Finally, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) describes Heaven as a place where there are many things which no eyes have ever seen, no ears have ever heard before and no heart has ever felt. Let us pray the Almighty to grant us this great and wonderful place. Let us work harder and harder to be in this place. It is only through our full submission to the will and the orders of Allah that we will one day be granted this place.