The destiny of those who died before receiving the Message
Fatwa No: 4723

Question

What is the destiny of people who died before receiving the Message of Allaah?

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, the Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His Slave and Messenger.

 

Scholars have different opinions about the ruling on the people who died before receiving the Message. Some scholars are of the opinion that such people are excused because no messenger was sent to warn them, for Allaah The Almighty Says (what means): {And never would We punish until We sent a messenger.}[Quran 17:15] 

Scholars also use the following verse to support their opinion with the fact that the inhabitants of Hell will confess that they were warned: Allaah the Almighty Says (what means): {Every time a company is thrown into it, its keepers ask them, "Did there not come to you a warner?" They will say, "Yes, a warner had come to us, but we denied and said, ' Allaah has not sent down anything. You are not but in great error.' "}[Quran 67:8,9]

Some scholar are of the opinion that such people will be cast into Hell because they died as disbelievers. Allaah the Almighty Says (what means):

 

•          {Those who die while they are disbelievers. For them We have prepared a painful punishment.}[Quran 4:18]

•          {Indeed, Allaah does not forgive association with Him.}[Quran 4:116]

 

There are many verses in this regard. There are also Hadeeths (narrations) proving that some of those people will be tortured. The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, mentioned in a Hadeeth on the authority of Anas  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him that his father was in Hell.

 

Other scholars say that the correct opinion in this regard is that Allaah The Almighty will test them on the Day of Resurrection, asking them to pass through fire. Those who pass through it will be admitted to Paradise, but those who refrain will be cast into Hell. There are many Hadeeths to support this opinion, some of which are Saheeh (authentic) and others are Dha‘eef (weak) but are strengthened by the Saheeh ones. Ibn Katheer  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him mentioned these Hadeeths and considered this opinion to be predominant.

 

It is known in Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) that it is obligatory to reconcile the available proofs as much as possible because acting on two proofs, if reconciliation between them is possible, is more proper than canceling one of them. Consequently, it is known that the last opinion is the soundest and more worthy of being correct.

 

And Allaah Knows best.

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