Why Would God Create Us to Go To Hell?

12 February, 2017
Q Does God create some people just for hell? And if so, why would He do that?


Asalamu Alaikum,

Thank you for contacting About Islam with your question.

Dr. Shabir Ally addresses this question in the video below:


Aisha Khaja: Dr Shabir, the question that we have today is why would God create humans if He knew which ones are going to hell and heaven?

Dr. Shabir Ally: Well, the question naturally comes out of a standard Islamic presentation on the topic of what is called {Arabic} the predetermination and God’s execution of all affairs.

If God has overarching knowledge of every single thing that will happen in the future; well then, it will seem that everything has to happen exactly the way God knows it. And if God knows before creating the person this person will go to paradise then that person can only go to paradise.

And no power in the universe can take this person an inch away from his predestined location which God knew from all eternity. And that likewise, if somebody was predetermined for hell, God knew before creating this person, I’m going to create this person and this individual is going to hell at such a location.

Then nobody, no power in the universe can move that person an inch away from his predetermined location known in the knowledge of God from all eternity. That is the problem.

So, how is this problem addressed in the classical Islamic literature?

Actually, the problem is not properly addressed. It’s usually, writers just dance around it and give the impression that they have just …

Aisha Khaja: Why is that?

Dr. Shabir Ally: Well, they must have felt that there is no real solution to this. But I think the solution has been reached by the Pakistani philosopher poet, Muhammad Iqbal in his book Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam, by thinking about the future as being something open, not closed.

So, let’s say we have the idea of the future as a collection of fixed events happening one after another. Well naturally, God already knows those fixed events because only He could have fixed them in advance to come out the way they will come out.

And He knows exactly what He has fixed to happen. So, He knows I’m fixing it such that this person will go to paradise, this other person will go to hell. So, these are known: they’re fixed and unchangeable.

Now, if the future is, on the other hand, open as Muhammad Iqbal proposes, and I think he’s right; then that means that it’s not a collection of fixed events to happen unfailingly one after another. But an open web of interact, of interconnected events.

We can call them all possibilities. Among these possibilities that could be, some which are definite- some things must happen and they must be.

There could be some things which are impossible. God has already ruled them out in advance, though it may seem theoretically possible. These things are not possible because God has ruled them out.

Aisha Khaja: Like certain events? 

Dr. Shabir Ally: Certain events. So, that’s the distribution in three types of possible events in an open future. So, in an open future of many possibilities, there are some apparent possibilities which must happen. And we don’t know that it must happen, but God knows because He fixed it to definitely happen.

And then the second type of event is the impossible event which might appear possible to us. But God has ruled in advance that this is impossible: it will not happen. And He knows that it will not happen. And no power in the universe can make it happen.

And now there’s a third type of event. And this is the difference that I’m bringing to this question. The difference is that there is a third type of event which I’m going to call a merely possible events, or you can say contingent events. So this, God knows to be contingent.

He knows it happened this way or that way. Now, where a person will finally end up, I’m placing in this category of contingent events. It may have go this way or go that way.

Aisha Khaja: Depending on what? … The person?

Dr. Shabir Ally: On the choices of the individual.

Aisha Khaja: Okay.

Dr. Shabir Ally: And so, this is something that is not predetermined in advance, but God knows that I’m creating this individual: this individual depending on his or her choice can either go to paradise or to hell. 

I hope this helps answer your question. Please keep in touch.

Walaikum Asalam.

Please continue feeding your curiosity, and find more info in the following links:

God Is Merciful: Why Hell?

10 Things That Can Save You from Hell Fire

Will Hell Ever Be Empty One Day?

About Dr. Shabir Ally
Dr. Shabir Ally holds a B.A. in Religious Studies from Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, with a specialization in Biblical Literature. He also holds an M.A. and a Ph.D. from the University of Toronto with a specialization in Quranic Exegesis.
He is the president of the Islamic Information and Dawah Centre International in Toronto where he functions as Imam. He travels internationally to represent Islam in public lectures and interfaith dialogues. He explains Islam on a weekly television program called "Let the Quran Speak". Past episodes of this show can be seen online at: www.quranspeaks.com.