28 June 2006

Which hell is worse, the Bible's or the Quran's?

This would be an easy one, if only the Bible were as clearly written as the Quran. But it isn't. In fact, the Bible is so unclear about hell, that Christians disagree about whether or not there is one, and if there is, who goes there, and what it's like. Is it just a place without God (sounds good to me) or a place where you are eternally tortured by the God of Love?

The Quran doesn't have such problems. It spells out exactly what hell is and who goes there. Here a just a sampling of what it has to say.

Lo! Those who disbelieve Our revelations, We shall expose them to the Fire. As often as their skins are consumed We shall exchange them for fresh skins that they may taste the torment. 4:56

They will wish to come forth from the Fire, but they will not come forth from it. Theirs will be a lasting doom. 5:37

For them is drink of boiling water and a painful doom, because they disbelieved. 6:70

And the dwellers of the Fire cry out unto the dwellers of the Garden: Pour on us some water or some wherewith Allah hath provided you. They say: Lo! Allah hath forbidden both to disbelievers (in His guidance) 7:50

If thou couldst see how the angels receive those who disbelieve, smiting faces and their backs and (saying): Taste the punishment of burning! 8:50

On the day when it will (all) be heated in the fire of hell, and their foreheads and their flanks and their backs will be branded 9:35

Hell is before him, and he is made to drink a festering water, Which he sippeth but can hardly swallow, and death cometh unto him from every side while yet he cannot die, and before him is a harsh doom. 14:16-17

Thou wilt see the guilty on that day linked together in chains, Their raiment of pitch, and the Fire covering their faces. 14:49-50

We shall assemble them on the Day of Resurrection on their faces, blind, dumb and deaf; their habitation will be hell; whenever it abateth, We increase the flame for them. That is their reward because they disbelieved Our revelations. 17:97-98

Lo! We have prepared for disbelievers Fire. Its tent encloseth them. If they ask for showers, they will be showered with water like to molten lead which burneth the faces. Calamitous the drink and ill the resting-place! 18:29

The guilty behold the Fire and know that they are about to fall therein, and they find no way of escape thence. 18:53

If those who disbelieved but knew the time when they will not be able to drive off the fire from their faces and from their backs, and they will not be helped! 21:29

Behold them, staring wide (in terror), the eyes of those who disbelieve! 21:97

But as for those who disbelieve, garments of fire will be cut out for them; boiling fluid will be poured down on their heads, Whereby that which is in their bellies, and their skins too, will be melted; And for them are hooked rods of iron. Whenever, in their anguish, they would go forth from thence they are driven back therein and (it is said unto them): Taste the doom of burning. 22:19-22

The fire burneth their faces, and they are glum therein. 23:104

For those who deny (the coming of) the Hour We have prepared a flame. When it seeth them from afar, they hear the crackling and the roar thereof. And when they are flung into a narrow place thereof, chained together, they pray for destruction there. 25:11-13

It will be a hard day for disbelievers. On the day when the wrong-doer gnaweth his hands, he will say: Ah, would that I had chosen a way together with the messenger (of Allah)! 25:26-27

But as for those who disbelieve, for them is fire of hell; it taketh not complete effect upon them so that they can die, nor is its torment lightened for them. Thus We punish every ingrate. And they cry for help there, (saying): Our Lord! Release us; we will do right, not (the wrong) that we used to do. ... Now taste (the flavour of your deeds), for evil-doers have no helper. 35:36-37

Those in the Fire say unto the guards of hell: Entreat your Lord that He relieve us of a day of the torment ... although the prayer of disbelievers is in vain. 40:49-50

Those who deny the Scripture and that wherewith We send Our messengers. But they will come to know, When carcans are about their necks and chains. They are dragged Through boiling waters; then they are thrust into the Fire. 40:70-72

Lo! the tree of Zaqqum, The food of the sinner! Like molten brass, it seetheth in their bellies As the seething of boiling water. (And it will be said): Take him and drag him to the midst of hell, Then pour upon his head the torment of boiling water. 44:43-48

Those who are immortal in the Fire and are given boiling water to drink so that it teareth their bowels. 47:15

So which is worse? I'm not sure. I'll leave that for the Christians and Muslims to fight about.


Anonymous said...

There's nothing in the Qu'ran to suggest that hell is forever, that is, an eternal punishment. It's within the realm of Muslim orthodoxy to view hell as a sort of purgatory-- a hellish place of correction (but this is by no means the only view). The English translation of the Greek "aionian" is what screws up the New Testament-- aion means, well, eon, and should mean "a long time" but not forever. Somehow, it's always "eternal" in English-language Bibles. Otherwise, Jesus doesn't get to promise us eternal life in the Gospel of John, and that's a problem for Christianity's claim to exclusive salvation and truth (if that's your bag). ("eternal/aionion" obviously goes in front not just of punishment but also of "life;" therein lies the translation problem.)

The problem is "Islam" doesn't exist. It's a continuum of religious thought. Likewise, Christianity doesn't exist. Ditto. Truth is, only believers exist. Or non-believers, as the case may be. These are really the same people, just at different times of the day. "Lord, I believe, help thou my unbelief."

Anonymous said...

I wonder if I'm the only one who keeps on reading Lo! as lol?

Unknown said...

In fact, the Bible is so unclear about hell, that Christians disagree about whether or not there is one"

Of course there isn't a hell of never-ending torment. Look at the verses from the SAB that you use to answer "Does Hell exist?" When people die, they just die. They don't go to heaven, they don't go to hell. Everyone "sleeps" in death until waking for final judgment. The Bible mentions the sleep of death dozens of times. Perhaps believers go to heaven after the final judgment and resurrection, but certainly not before.

Many of the verses under the "Yes" column have a common theme: "everlasting contempt", "everlasting fire", "fire is not quenched", and "everlasting destruction". This is the punishment that is permanent ("everlasting"). There is real torment and distress at being judged unworthy ("wailing and gnashing of teeth") and real destruction, but it is short lived. It is called the "second death" because it is the final destruction. It isn't really death (or destruction) if you don't cease to be. There is barely anything there to even hint that "Those that don't go to heaven are tormented forever in hell." Post-biblical, Greek culture imported tradition at its finest.

The idea that God would eternally torture someone for finite sins committed is cruel and unjust. It never ceases to amaze me that many Christians don't seem to realize how much of a philosophical problem this is. What kind of free will argument is that? Forced to 'love' God under the threat of an eternity of torment? It doesn't even make logical sense. What makes far more sense is that the judgment results in the complete destruction of those who reject God. It's the "atheist's wish" anyway. Who would disagree that taking away eternal life isn't enough of a punishment?

With a just final judgment we can treat 1 John 4:8 as the most loved verse in the Bible instead of the most hated.