Allah has knowledge of everything and so do His Messenger and the infallible Imams. Allah tells us in the Quran that those who believe in Him and do good deeds will be prosperous in the hereafter. Does that include Jews and Christians? In this article on Islam4u, we will delve deeply into the concept of prosperity in the hereafter with respect to Jews and Christians.
What Do the Verses of the Quran Say About This Matter?
Allah states in the Quran:
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَالَّذِينَ هَادُوا وَالنَّصَارَىٰ وَالصَّابِئِينَ مَنْ آمَنَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ وَعَمِلَ صَالِحًا فَلَهُمْ أَجْرُهُمْ عِندَ رَبِّهِمْ وَلَا خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ ﴿٦٢﴾
Indeed the faithful, the Jews, the Christians and the Sabaeans—those of them who have faith in Allah and the Last Day and act righteously—they shall have their reward from their Lord, and they will have no fear, nor will they grieve.
In essence, the verse is saying that the abovementioned group of people who are all among the People of the Book or Ahlul Kitab, will be rewarded and they shall not fear or grieve in the hereafter. However, could it mean that each person in the world has to follow their own religion and that there is no need for anyone to become a Muslim so long as they adhere to the tenets of their own religion? To answer this question, it is important to know the occasion of the revelation of the above verse. This verse was revealed when a group of people asked the Prophet (s), what becomes of their ancestors who have not witnessed the era of Islam. Will they be rewarded too? The verse was revealed stating that those in the past who followed the religion of Moses and had not witnessed the era of Jesus would still be prosperous had they believed in God and done good deeds. Likewise, those Christians who lived at the time of Jesus and had not witnessed the era of Prophet Muhammad (s) would also be rewarded had they believed in the religion of Jesus.
Another issue that Quranic commentators touch upon is that even during the era of Prophet Muhammad (s), if the Jews and Christians truly followed their own religions, they would read about the coming of the final Prophet and the savior of mankind in their scriptures. If they wished to even follow their own religion, they must have believed in Islam and accepted the Prophet (s) as the Last Messenger of Allah. That is when they would have their reward from Allah and would not fear or grieve as the verse states.
What Religion Does Allah Accept?
Several verses of the Quran speak about the issue of which religion Allah accepts and who the prosperous are. For example, verse three of Surah Al-i ‘Imran states:
إِنَّ الدِّينَ عِندَ اللَّهِ الْإِسْلَامُ ۗ وَمَا اخْتَلَفَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ إِلَّا مِن بَعْدِ مَا جَاءَهُمُ الْعِلْمُ بَغْيًا بَيْنَهُمْ ۗ وَمَن يَكْفُرْ بِآيَاتِ اللَّهِ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ سَرِيعُ الْحِسَابِ ﴿١٩﴾
Indeed, with Allah religion is Islam, and those who were given the Book did not differ except after knowledge had come to them, out of envy among themselves. And whoever denies Allah’s signs [should know that] Allah is swift at reckoning.
Another verse, Al-i ‘Imran, 85 reads:
وَمَن يَبْتَغِ غَيْرَ الْإِسْلَامِ دِينًا فَلَن يُقْبَلَ مِنْهُ وَهُوَ فِي الْآخِرَةِ مِنَ الْخَاسِرِينَ ﴿٨٥﴾
Should anyone follow a religion other than Islam, it shall never be accepted from him, and he will be among the losers in the Hereafter.
These verses show the importance of accepting the religion of Islam as the religion that Allah accepts from a person. If a person truly wants to be prosperous in the hereafter and go to paradise, they must embrace Islam. If someone, no matter what their religion, learns of the truthfulness and veracity of Islam yet does not believe in it out of obstinacy, they will be subject to the above verse.
Does That Mean All Jews and Christians Go to Hell?
In Islam, we have a very delicate issue known as those who are ideologically downtrodden, or mustad‘af. This means that they are unable to discover the truth about Islam, and its veracity has not been confirmed for them. This could be due to various reasons, such as the media, stereotypes, propaganda, psychological warfare, and specifically Islamophobia. These people do not get the chance to understand the truth about Islam independently and unbiasedly because the said factors do not allow them to. If these people are righteous and act according to what they know is right concerning the religion they follow, in this case, Judaism and Christianity, they may be forgiven and rewarded in the next world.
Some say that Allah will test these people after they die. If they pass the test, they will be treated as Muslims.
Allah has clearly said in the Quran that those who have accepted Islam as their religion are the ones who will have a prosperous life in the hereafter, and those who have not shall be wretched. Nevertheless, those who have been ideologically downtrodden are treated differently and may be rewarded for their righteous deeds when they enter the next realm. Allah knows best and He is the best judge.