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Salam,

There is no deity except Him. Everything will be destroyed except His Face. [Al-Qasas 28:88]

But no! Those who commit evil and are engrossed in sin will be the residents of the Fire. They will be there forever. And those who believe and do good will be the residents of Paradise. They will abide there eternally. [2:81-82]

The first verse says that everything will be destroyed by God except himself but the second verse says that there will be (atleast some or many)people who will be living eternally (either in heaven or hell). Apparently these verses look incompatible and contradictory with each others. How do Qur'an scholars explain this ?

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Everything will die. That does not mean that everything will remain dead, as the dead will be resurrected on the Day of Judgement. And then in the second life of the hereafter they shall remain in paradise and hell forever. This eternal life is not by the people's own ability rather it is granted to them by Allah.

Everything will die:

كل نفس ذائقة الموت ثم إلينا ترجعون

Every soul will taste death. Then to Us will you be returned.

Quran 29:57

Afterwards the People of Paradise shall live forever:

لا يذوقون فيها الموت إلا الموتة الأولى ووقاهم عذاب الجحيم

They will not taste death therein except the first death, and He will have protected them from the punishment of Hellfire

Quran 44:56

And also the People of Hell shall live forever:

لا يقضى عليهم فيموتوا ولا يخفف عنهم من عذابها كذلك نجزي كل كفور

[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.

Quran 35:36

Some additional points: The dominant interpretation of 'His Face' is 'Himself'. Other interpretations narrated from some of the salaf include 'His Kingdom' and 'what is done to seek His pleasure'. In either case it does not exclude the possibility of perpetual life for the people of Paradise and Hell.

'Everything' can have implicit exceptions if they are proven from other texts. As some of the scholars have stated that it means everything for which dying is decreed. Individual verses are not interpreted in isolation rather they are understood in compliance with other texts. As an example of implicit limitations on كل شيء (everything) consider the verses 27:23 and 46:25. Even in 28:88 itself you can read: "Everything will be destroyed ... and to Him you will be returned" which indicates that this means the death before the resurrection.

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  • The first verse says everything will be destroyed whereas resurrection refers to living things ? Thanks ! Apr 23, 2023 at 22:45
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كل شيء هالك إلا وجهه Everything will be destroyed except His Face. [Al-Qasas 28:88]

This verse describes that God alone will remain and nothing but "His face" will remain (وجهه). This clause is included to answer your question, that how can paradise be forever if only God is forever?

First of all, it should be made clear that heaven is eternal:

"But as for those who will prove fortunate, they shall be in Heaven; abiding therein so long as the heavens and the earth endure, excepting what thy Lord may will — a gift that shall not be cut off." (11:108)

"They will not taste death therein, other than the first death. And He will save them from the punishment of the blazing Fire," (44:56)

So how does the first verse not contradict this fact?

All the pious souls in heaven strive eternally to gain communion with God and get closer and closer to Him. They are in eternal obedience to God and never deviate from Him. Hence, they can be considered as manifestations of His Face (the greatest of which is Muhammad (sa)) and will remain forever enjoying His bounties because God lasts forever.

وجه may also mean attention, so only one who directs their attention to God and for whom likewise God directs His attention will remain. And everything else will cease to exist. We find an explanation along these lines in Bukhari Kitab ut Tafsir:

كُلُّ شَيْءٍ هَالِكٌ إِلاَّ وَجْهَهُ: إِلاَّ مُلْكَهُ، وَيُقَالُ إِلاَّ مَا أُرِيدَ بِهِ وَجْهُ اللَّهِ. (Bukhari, Kitab ut Tafsir, under Surah Qasas)

إلا ما أريد به وجه الله – Except that which is done for His face/attention/pleasure (I'm not sure if this is a proper translation, I don't know Arabic too well, but I'm sure it means something along these lines).

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  • This doesn't explain about the eternity of hell because residents of hell are not manifestations of God. Apr 24, 2023 at 14:43
  • @An_Elephant so hell would therefore not be eternal. As slightly indicated by some Quranic verses and shown by some Ahadith. Apr 24, 2023 at 20:09
  • Hell is indeed eternal. Read these Quranic verses : 2:25, 2:39, 2:81, 2:82, 2:162, 2:217, 2:257 , 2:275. The Qur'an says this 8 times in only surah baqara, let far go of whole Qur'an. Apr 25, 2023 at 9:13
  • @An_Elephant According to 28:88, you'd have to accept that either only heaven is eternal, or neither heaven nor hell is eternal. As for خالدين, it does not necessarily always mean forever and may also mean for a very long time (see Mufradat Imam Raghib). And there are certain phrases for paradise that do not come for hell, such as غير ممنون and غير مجذوذ. Additionally, for heaven, it is said they won't be مخرجین (taken out), but for hell we find a rejection of خارجین (leaving on their own), not مخرجین. Scholars such as Ibn Taymiyyah were also of the view that Hell is not eternal. Apr 25, 2023 at 12:28
  • I don't understand that how 28:88 means what you claim it means to. Finally, I think your answer is that you reject the translation provided. Apr 25, 2023 at 13:12

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