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Torture within Quranist Viewpoint (12): On Avoiding Torment by Repentance


Torture within Quranist Viewpoint (12): On Avoiding Torment by Repentance


Published in October 11, 2017

Translated by: Ahmed Fathy



1- This transient, temporary life, with its glittering items and assets to own and amass, dominates the hearts of the vast majority of people (and this is reflected in their man-made legislations and quasi-religious ones issued by men) who rarely, if ever, think about the Hereafter; i.e., the Last Day that will end in either the real, eternal life in Paradise for the pious ones, or the torment of Hell for eternity for sinners. Most people, in fact, forget that all moments of torment/torture of all human beings from Adam till the end of days are less in magnitude than a moment inside Hell. Any torment in this worldly existence is temporary and will come to an end eventually either in death or life that will continue after it. This is in contrast to the relentless torment in Hell that never ends or lessens.   

2- Infliction of torment in this world sometimes is a means to make people remember God and return to Him by repentance in order to avoid the torment of Hell in the Hereafter; this fact is asserted and emphasized by God in the Quran: "We will make them taste the lesser torment, prior to the greater torment, so that they may return." (32:21). Smitten ancient nations and tribes tormented and annihilated by God are mentioned in the Quranic stories for us to draw the useful moral lessons; God commands us to roam the earth to take heed of the fate of these ancient nations that no longer exist so that we are warned and repent in order to avoid the infliction of worldly torment. When repentance is sincere, it is accepted by God and thus, one is spared the torment of Hell in the Hereafter. This means that repentance is the means to avoid both Hell torment and worldly torment.   

3- This transient, temporary life dominated the hearts of the clergymen and scholars of the Muhammadans in the Middle-Ages; they imagined falsely that penalties mentioned in the Quran aim at exacting retribution, and they never understood that the real aim is to achieve repentance, reform, and self-correction. We focus now on avoiding the worldly torment; penalties mentioned in the Quran are a type of worldly torment that can be avoided via repentance.   


Firstly: piety:

1- Piety is the greatest purpose of all acts of worship in Islam (see  2:21, 2:183, 2:189, 2:196-97, and 29:45) and the greatest aim of all Quranic legislations of Islam. On the Last Day, no one will enter into Paradise except the pious ones (see 19:63 and 39:73). Thus, penalties mentioned in the Quranic legislations have but one aim: to reform people through piety and not to exact corporeal punishments on them. The very first stage of piety is to repent and atone for one's sin(s) and to renew/correct one's faith/belief as well as to change one's deeds into good ones to make amends. 

2- God says the following to real believers: "And guard yourselves against the Fire that is prepared for the disbelievers. And obey God and the messenger, that you may obtain mercy. And race towards forgiveness from your Lord, and a Garden as wide as the heavens and the earth, prepared for the righteous. Those who give in prosperity and adversity, and those who restrain anger, and those who forgive people. God loves the doers of good. And those who, when they commit an indecency or wrong themselves, remember God and ask forgiveness for their sins-and who forgives sins except God? And they do not persist in their wrongdoing while they know. Those-their reward is forgiveness from their Lord, and gardens beneath which rivers flow, abiding therein forever. How excellent is the reward of the workers." (3:131-136). Thus, really pious believers who fear the Hereafter torment (of Hell-Fire) are the ones who obey God and race to perform as many good deeds as possible to attain forgiveness and pardon from God on the Last Day to deserve to enter into God's Paradise, as those who attained piety during their lifetimes are the only ones who will enter it. These verses 3:131-136 contain the description of the pious ones' stances and deeds; we infer that they repent and atone for their sins and insist on not to commit sins again, and hence, they turn over a new page in their life by reforming their souls, driven by their own free will as they check themselves all the time. If they die after this sincere repentance, they will deserve pardon and Paradise in the Hereafter after the Day of Judgment.  


Secondly: from repentance to piety:

1- Repentance makes sinners/criminals reprieved; i.e., they are not to be punished at all in this world and no one would apply the penalties mentioned in the Quran to them. When this repentance is sincere and lasts for the rest of one's lifetime, one is pardoned on the Last Day and will enter into Paradise. Thus, penalties of the Quranic sharia do NOT aim at retribution; rather, they aim at self-reform and repentance. As per the Quran, as long as one is alive, God calls everyone to repent however enormous and numerous their sins are: "Say, "O My servants who have transgressed against themselves: do not despair of God's mercy, for God forgives all sins. He is indeed the Forgiver, the Clement." And turn to your Lord, and submit to Him, before the retribution comes upon you. Then you will not be helped." (39:53-54). Thus, God opens the door for repentance as long as a person is alive and free to (dis)obey, but upon dying, it is too late to repent and the chance for repentance is lost; see 4:17-18.  

2- Let us remember that God offered the disbelieving, polytheistic aggressors the chance to repent by stopping violence, in return for earning God's pardon (see 8:38-39, 2:192-193, 9:5, and 9:10-11). Hence, adherence to peace, non-violence, and non-aggression is the criterion for judging overt Islam (the religion of peace); no one is to judge the beliefs inside hearts of others.  

3- If repentance stops exacting penalties on aggressive polytheists, this chance applies to Muslims or peaceful ones as well. The fact that repentance suspends the penalties is NOT a mere view of ours; rather, this is based on our reading of the verses related to Quranic sharia penalties. Let us exemplify this below.  

4- After the Quranic verses that mention the penalty of flogging for adulterers and adulteresses as well as slandering virtuous women by accusing them of fornication without proof, we read how the penalties are NOT to be exacted in case of repentance: "Except for those who repent afterwards, and reform; for God is Forgiving and Merciful." (24:5). After mentioning the penalty for highwaymen, God mentions the following in the Quran: "Except for those who repent before you apprehend them. So know that God is Forgiving and Merciful." (5:34). The same applies to the penalty of theft: "But whoever repents after his crime, and reforms, God will accept his repentance. God is Forgiving and Merciful." (5:39). When it is proven (by bringing four eye-witnesses to assert the ill-reputation) that a woman is a sex worker or having many lovers, this woman is not to be flogged; rather, her passive penalty is to confine her at home so that no men enter into her house; thus, she will repent and try to get married; see 4:15. The Quranic penalty for homosexual men is less than worldly torment (i.e., merely severe rebuke and we are to move away from them when they repent, as per 4:16), as the Quranic term "torment" refers to corporeal punishments like flogging.      

5- As per the above point, repentance stops exacting penalties in many cases. In addition, within the penalty for murder, a repentant murderer is spared the capital punishment as per 2:178 when the folks of the victim accept the Diyya money (i.e., a sum paid in compensation to make amends).    


Thirdly: what if repentance is not sincere? What if it is only a means to deceive others so as to avoid being penalized and one is bent on committing the same sin again and disobey God?:

1- Real, sincere repentance entails correcting and reforming one's faith/belief when dealing with God and performing good deeds in piety and in the fear of God within devoutness and devotion, while imploring God for forgiveness and pardon because of the committed sins, injustices, and disobedience; see 25:71. Part of repentance, of course, is to make amends to those wronged persons by compensating them financially and otherwise.   

2- This overt acts of repentance (i.e., making amends) are the required ones to annul exaction of Quranic penalties; as for real, sincere repentance inside one's heart, it is known only to God the Omniscient Who will reward the repentant ones on the Last Day with pardon and Paradise.

3- Those who engage into fake repentance ostentatiously to deceive people and to avoid being punished by them via feigning to repent while going on with their sins/crimes without being caught red-handed will be severely tormented/punished by God in Hell as the worst fate imaginable. If one can deceive people, one can NEVER deceive God. "...Whoever works evil will pay for it..." (4:123). 

4- As per 9:55 and 9:85, those with fake repentance will be tormented/punished in this world first as per their type of disobedience; i.e., if they sinned by following sexual/carnal lusts and appetites, they will have STDs and pains in their genitalia or their bodies in general and they may lose their ability to have sex. If the sinners hoarded ill-gotten money, such wealth will be the source of their deep sorrow, torment, and demise. Sinners who brag and take pride in their children will see how these children will be the source of their torment and sorrow in this life. Those sinners who committed injustices against many people while enjoying impunity because of their authority, connections, and wealth will live in constant anxiety, depression, and fright, as they will be haunted by phantoms of their victims. This will make them lose the taste of luxurious life of comfort earned by ill-gotten money and injustices. This will be followed by physical ailment as well, and soon enough, those sinners lose their might and power when they die or when they are rendered bankrupt. On the Last Day, they will carry the burdens of their sins that will turn into endless, relentless torment in Hell.      

5- God's punishment for sinners in the torment of Hell in the Hereafter will be far worse than any penalties mentioned in the Quranic sharia legislations when applied by a Quran-based country of Islam that follow the steps of direct democracy of the Yathreb city-state of Muhammad.



  Penalties of the Quranic sharia legislations applied by a Quran-based country and torment inflicted by God on sinners within this worldly life do NOT aim at exacting retribution; rather, they aim at giving sinners/criminals who have disobeyed Almighty God the chance to repent and atone for their sin(s) so that they turn a new leaf. Thus, they can save themselves from entering into Hell for eternity in the Hereafter if they die without accepted, sincere repentance. The belief in the Last Day is the basis of applying Quranic sharia legislations; real believers who believe in the Last Day know quite well that all moments of worldly torment/torture are less in magnitude than one moment inside Hell, let alone dwelling therein for eternity. They also know quite well that all bliss and pleasures of this transient world are nothing in comparison to one moment of bliss inside Paradise, let alone dwelling therein for eternity. They also know that their lifetimes on Earth are limited and their duration are set beforehand, as they will surely die sooner or later. Thus, those real, pious believers know for sure that their ability to taste pleasure and pain is limited to a certain limit and that during their lifetime, they will inevitably experience moments of bliss/pleasure/felicity as well as moments of torment/calamities/sorrow/pain. Hence, the real future for them is in the Eternal Life in the Hereafter. They try hard to earn the Eternal Life in Paradise and to avoid eternal perdition in Hell. Bliss and pleasure in Paradise are limitless and without and end; likewise, torment in Hell never abates and never ends. No one is going to exit Hell or to get out of Paradise in the Hereafter. Thus, this is the real future we must care about and work hard to earn Paradise by real, sincere repentance within piety. This is why piety is the greatest aim within the Islamic/Quranic sharia legislations. Thus, repentance is the supreme objective of applying penalties in Islam; when a sinners/criminals repent, the penalty is NOT to be exacted. Yet, if these sinners/criminals return to the same crime/sin after being pardoned as they think they have deceived people by feigning repentance, God's torment will be inflicted on them in this world inevitably and they will dwell in Hell for eternity if they die as disobedient ones without sincere repentance.       

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