Will anyone come out of Paradise or out of Hell after entering it? What is the reward for good deeds done by the disbelievers?
With all due respect to the one who answered question no. 21365 about the two verses (no. 106, 107) of Soorat Hood, you stated that the people of Hell will abide therein forever and ever and will never come out of it. However, I read in Saheeh al-Bukhaari (Book 2, 12, 72) that Allah will show mercy to some of the people of Hell and will admit them to Paradise because of what there is in their hearts of faith in Him. Which of the two is more correct? If both are correct, how can we reconcile between them? Based on that, do the verses in Soorat Hood indicate that some of those who do good deeds will remain for a similar period in Paradise but in the end they will enter Hell? If that is not the case, then how will these disbelievers who spend their lives in the service of humanity then die in non-Muslim countries – like Mother Teresa – be rewarded?
Praise be to Allah.
We appreciate the questioner’s interest in the answers that we publish on our website and his following up on them. We also appreciate his question about the apparent contradiction, which is indicative of his love of learning and his efforts to benefit from what he reads, in sha Allah.
There is no contradiction between what is mentioned in the answer to the question referred to, and the hadeeths referred to in the question. To explain further, the people of Hell are of two types:
The first type are monotheists (people who affirmed the Oneness of Allah) who mixed good deeds with bad deeds. Allah will admit them to Hell for their sins, and He has willed that they should be punished there.
This category will be punished in Hell for a while, and Allah, may He be exalted, is the One Who will determine the length thereof. Then He will bring them out of the Fire and will decree that they will abide for eternity in Paradise after that.
These are the ones referred to in the hadeeths mentioned in the question, in which it is stated that some of those who are in the Fire will be brought out because of what they believe in of Tawheed (the Oneness of Allah). They are the people of Hell among the Muslims.
The second type are the disbelievers and hypocrites who do not have any belief in Tawheed and who die in a state of disbelief, shirk (polytheism), atheism or hypocrisy.
This category will be punished in Hell for eternity. Their Lord warned them that they would abide in Hell for eternity if they did not do what Allah, may He be exalted, commanded them to do of affirming His Oneness (Tawheed) and devoting all their acts of worship to Him alone. They chose for themselves kufr (disbelief) and they chose to abide for eternity in the Fire.
These are the ones who are referred to in the verses of Soorat Hood referred to at the beginning of your question.
From what we have mentioned above, you will realise that being admitted to Hell is not just for one group; rather it is for two groups, one of which will be brought out of it. They are the monotheists (believers in Tawheed, the Oneness of Allah) who committed sins that meant that they deserved to enter Hell. The other group will not be brought out of it; those are the ones who disbelieved and died in a state of disbelief.
With regard to Paradise, none will enter it except one group, namely the monotheists (believers in Tawheed). When a person enters it, he will never exit from it; rather he will enjoy what it contains, and he will never feel sorrow or despair, he will never die or fall sick, he will never grow old or be deprived of that delight after he has tasted it.
Once you understand that there are two categories of people, those who believe and those who disbelieve, those who are blessed (destined for Paradise) and those who are doomed (destined for Hell), then you will be able to understand what is mentioned in the Book of Allah, may He be exalted, of the decree that there will be no exit from Hell, and that those who are referred to in this case are the disbelievers who will abide in Hell forever, as Allah, may He be exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Thus Allah will show them their deeds as regrets for them. And they will never get out of the Fire”
“They will long to get out of the Fire, but never will they get out therefrom, and theirs will be a lasting torment”
With regard to those who are blessed (destined for Paradise) and the people of faith, Allah, may He be exalted, has decreed that they will not exit from Paradise, as He, may He be exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning):
“No sense of fatigue shall touch them, nor shall they (ever) be asked to leave it”
Once this is understood clearly, it should be noted that if the disbeliever does something that is deserving of reward, he will be rewarded for it in this world, not in the Hereafter. His disbelief prevents his deed being accepted in such a way that he may benefit from it in the Hereafter, because one of the conditions of good deeds being accepted is that one should be Muslim.
At-Tabari (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
If a person does a righteous deed without fearing Allah – i.e., he is a mushrik or polytheist – he will be given a reward for that in this world, such as if he upholds ties of kinship, gives to one who is in need out of compassion, and other such righteous deeds. Allah will give him the reward of his good deed in this world, such as increasing his livelihood and provision, giving him joy in what He blesses himwith, warding off from him the harms of this world, and so on. But he will not have any share (of reward) in the Hereafter.
Tafseer at-Tabari, 15/265
Al-Haafiz Ibn Hajar (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
Al-Qaadi ‘Iyaad said: There is scholarly consensus that the deeds of the disbelievers will not benefit them [in the Hereafter]; they will not be rewarded for them with joy and no punishment will be reduced for them, even though some of them will be more severely punished than others.
It should be understood that Allah, may He be exalted, will not cause the reward for their deeds that benefit people to be lost; but their reward will come in this world and not in the Hereafter. As for the believer, the reward for his good deeds will be in this world and in the Hereafter.
It was narrated that Anas ibn Maalik said: The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “If the kaafir does a good deed, he is fed because of it in this world. As for the believer, Allah stores up his good deeds for him in the Hereafter and grants him provision in accordance with his obedience in this world.
Narrated by Muslim (2808).
According to another report: : “Allaah does not treat the believer unjustly with regard to his good deeds. He blesses him because of them in this world and He will reward him for them in the Hereafter. As for the kaafir, he is fed because of the good deeds that he does for the sake of Allaah in this world, then when he passes on into the Hereafter, he will have no good deeds left for which to be rewarded.”
You should understand that this reward in this world is not definite; rather it is subject to the will of Allah. Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): “Whoever wishes for the quick-passing (transitory enjoyment of this world), We readily grant him what We will for whom We like” [al-Isra’ 18:18].
Ash-Shanqeeti (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
It should be understood that this matter, for which we have quoted evidence from the Qur’an and Sunnah, that the disbeliever may benefit from his righteous deeds in this world, such as honouring his parents, upholding ties of kinship, honouring guests and neighbours, relieving people of distress and so on – all of that is subject to the will of Allah, may He be exalted, as He has stated in the verse (interpretation of the meaning): “Whoever wishes for the quick-passing (transitory enjoyment of this world), We readily grant him what We will for whom We like” [al-Isra’ 18:18].
This verse is specific and specifies what is mentioned in general terms in other verses and hadeeths.
Adwa’ al-Bayaan, 3/450
What we have mentioned about Allah, may He be exalted, rewarding whomever He wills among the disbelievers does not apply to Mother Teresa, whose original name was Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu. She originally came from Macedonia and died in 1997 CE. She was a missionary nun whose work focused on helping the poor, destitute and sick, and she used her work to try to convert them to Christianity. The deeds of a person like this cannot be called “good” and whatever provision he or she gets in this world is not the reward of good deeds; rather it is provision that is granted by Allah, for which those who disbelieve in Him will be punished, as Allah, may He be exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And (remember) when Ibrahim (Abraham) said, ‘My Lord, make this city (Makkah) a place of security and provide its people with fruits, such of them as believe in Allah and the Last Day.’ He (Allah) answered: ‘As for him who disbelieves, I shall leave him in contentment for a while, then I shall compel him to the torment of the Fire, and worst indeed is that destination!’”
To sum up, the deeds of the disbelievers in this world are of two types:
Those that are worldly deeds such as acts of kindness, in which it is not stipulated that one should have the intention of drawing close to Allah, such as upholding ties of kinship, honouring guests, and so on. This is what is referred to in the hadeeth, for which the disbeliever will be rewarded in this world if Allah wants to reward him.
An-Nawawi (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
It is clearly stated in this hadeeth that (the disbeliever) is fed in this world because of what he does of good deeds, i.e., what he does seeking thereby to draw closer to Allah of actions in which their validity does not depend on the intention, such as upholding ties of kinship, giving charity, manumitting slaves, hosting guests, and other good deeds.
Sharh Muslim (17/150)
Those that are worldly deeds, in which the doer’s intention is to spread his religion and mislead Muslims away from their religion. These are not included in the hadeeth; rather the sternest warnings is given to the one who does them, because he is turning people away from the religion of Allah and exploiting people’s needs, poverty and sickness for this evil purpose. That includes what Mother Teresa and other missionaries and promoters of falsehood are doing.
With regard to religious actions in which it is stipulated that one should have the intention of drawing close to Allah, such as Hajj, ‘Umrah and du‘aa’ (supplication), the disbeliever will not be rewarded for these either in this world or in the Hereafter, because it is invalid, as some of the conditions of its being accepted are not present, i.e., being Muslim, being sincere towards Allah alone, and following (the Sunnah). Moreover, disbelief (kufr) renders good deeds invalid, so the one who does them will not benefit from them at all on the Day of Resurrection.
And Allah knows best.