Hell is real. I grew up during the age of hellfire and brimstone. When I became Muslim and started connecting myself to the community, all I heard was how many grew up fearing God their entire childhood and how it turned them off from religion. Some of them became people that propagate the belief that Hell doesn’t exist and even if it does, no one with belief will ever enter it.
I went from one extreme to another. From believing that Jesus loves and that’s all I need, to everyone is going to hell and is going to burn.
Look, Paradise is real and so is Hell. I’m sorry that people in your life were unfair and taught you that you were going to Hell before you even had a chance to imagine your place in Paradise. I’m also sorry that people told you that you can just believe in God meanwhile disobeying Him (without trying to obey) and you’ll enter the Paradise. The religion really isn’t unfair, nor is it asking too much from you. I’ve seen people do more for the girl they just met at the club than they’ll sacrifice for God.
Taqwa, at its root means to protect. Protect from what? To protect oneself from the punishment of God, from transgressing His boundaries, and from His displeasure.
God continually calls us to grow our Taqwa, but here’s a secret, to do something because you fear the Hellfire isn’t goals. It’s like when you’re a student and you do something wrong in class and get caught, what does the teacher say when you apologize, “You’re not sorry you did it, you’re sorry that you got caught.” (I hated that.)
Paradise and Hellfire are there but we must not base our entire faith on them. We should be striving for more, we should be striving to align our will with God’s will. People who worship Him and continually seek His Divine countenance. And hey, if we get a Garden with everything we’ve ever wanted and eternal life with it, I don’t think we’ll complain.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, if you’re worshipping God because you fear the Hellfire, that’s a start, but don’t reduce God to a punisher. “Allahu Akbar,” or did you forget?
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