Will the people who are sentenced to hell die eventually? What is the true reality for those who are punished? Hope you could explain it to me. Thank you.
Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.
Indeed, the creation of humans is not a purposeless matter when they meet their death. Consequently, each and every human will be held accountable and his position will be determined, whether he will be placed in heaven or hell according to his deeds all through his life in this world. This is clear from the statement of Allah SWT:
وَمَن يَعْمَلْ مِنَ الصَّالِحَاتِ مِن ذَكَرٍ أَوْ أُنثَىٰ وَهُوَ مُؤْمِنٌ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ يَدْخُلُونَ الْجَنَّةَ وَلَا يُظْلَمُونَ نَقِيرًا
“And whoever does righteous deeds, whether male or female, while being a believer - those will enter Paradise and will not be wronged, [even as much as] the speck on a date seed.”
Surah al-Nisa’ (124)
While for those who are distracted from the hereafter, then hell are the punishment of Allah SWT for them:
وَالَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا وَكَذَّبُوا بِآيَاتِنَا أُولَـٰئِكَ أَصْحَابُ النَّارِ ۖ هُمْ فِيهَا خَالِدُونَ
And those who disbelieve and deny Our signs - those will be companions of the Fire; they will abide therein eternally."
Surah al-Baqarah (39)
According to the above verse, Imam al-Baghawi said what is meant by eternally means the inhabitants of hell will not be released from it forever nor will they die. See Maalim al-Tanzil (1/29).
This matter is clearly stated in a hadith from Abu Sa’id RA, the Prophet PBUH said:
أَمَّا أَهْلُ النَّارِ الَّذِينَ هُمْ أَهْلُهَا فَإِنَّهُمْ لاَ يَمُوتُونَ فِيهَا وَلاَ يَحْيَوْنَ وَلَكِنْ نَاسٌ أَصَابَتْهُمُ النَّارُ بِذُنُوبِهِمْ أَوْ بِخَطَايَاهُمْ فَأَمَاتَتْهُمْ إِمَاتَةً حَتَّى إِذَا كَانُوا فَحْمًا أُذِنَ لَهُمْ فِي الشَّفَاعَةِ فَجِيءَ بِهِمْ ضَبَائِرَ ضَبَائِرَ فَبُثُّوا عَلَى أَنْهَارِ الْجَنَّةِ فَقِيلَ يَا أَهْلَ الْجَنَّةِ أَفِيضُوا عَلَيْهِمْ فَيَنْبُتُونَ نَبَاتَ الْحِبَّةِ تَكُونُ فِي حَمِيلِ السَّيْلِ
“As for the people of Hell, who are its people (i.e., its permanent residents), they will neither die nor live therein. But there are some people who will be punished with fire because of their sins, whom it will kill, then when they have become like coal, permission will be granted for intercession for them. They will be brought, group by group, and scattered on the banks of the rivers of Paradise. It will be said: ‘O people of Paradise, pour water on them.’ Then they will grow like seeds carried by a flood (i.e., quickly).”
Sunan Ibn Majah (4451)
Imam al-Nawawi cited the opinion of scholars when explaining the meaning of the people of Hell, who are its people (i.e., its permanent residents), are disbelievers where they will never be able to escape hell. See Fatwa al-Nawawi, 104. This is in accordance with the statement of Allah SWT:
وَالَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا لَهُمْ نَارُ جَهَنَّمَ لَا يُقْضَىٰ عَلَيْهِمْ فَيَمُوتُوا وَلَا يُخَفَّفُ عَنْهُم مِّنْ عَذَابِهَا ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ نَجْزِي كُلَّ كَفُورٍ
“And for those who disbelieve will be the fire of Hell. [Death] is not decreed for them so they may die, nor will its torment be lightened for them. Thus, do we recompense every ungrateful one.”
Surah Fatir (36)
Hence, it is clear that Allah SWT do not permit the disbelievers to die as a punishment, for death is just a temporary pain compared to prolonged punishment appropriate with the time given in this world for every believer. Furthermore, the punishment is not just their inability to die, but their continuous punishments are explained by Allah SWT in the Quran:
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا بِآيَاتِنَا سَوْفَ نُصْلِيهِمْ نَارًا كُلَّمَا نَضِجَتْ جُلُودُهُم بَدَّلْنَاهُمْ جُلُودًا غَيْرَهَا لِيَذُوقُوا الْعَذَابَ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ كَانَ عَزِيزًا حَكِيمًا
“Indeed, those who disbelieve in Our verses - We will drive them into a Fire. Every time their skins are roasted through, We will replace them with other skins so they may taste the punishment. Indeed, Allah is ever Exalted in Might and Wise.”
Surah al-Nisa’ (56)
According to the above discussion, we would say that it is crystal clear that the inhabitants of hell will not die so that they will continue to be punished for everything they had done in this world.
May Allah SWT protect us and free us from His hell and punishments. Amin.