Hell Is Punishment For Actions
Hell is punishment for actions, but Paradise is a Divine favor. What is the reason for this?
It is clearly shown in the above Indications that with his faculty of will and insignificant wishes, through giving form and reality to something non-existent or theoretical, man causes awesome destruction and evils. And so too, since his soul and appetites always incline towards evil and harm, he is responsible for the evils that occur as a result of his slight wishes. For his soul wanted them and his desires gave rise to them. And since evil pertains to non-existence, the servant is the agent and Almighty God creates it. Being responsible for the infinite crime, he certainly deserves infinite punishment.
However, since good deeds and actions pertain to existence, man’s will and wishes cannot be the direct cause of their existence. Man cannot be the true agent in such an act. Also, his evil-commanding soul is not biased towards good deeds, rather, Divine mercy requires them and dominical power creates them. Man can only lay a claim to them through belief, a wish, or an intention. And having claimed them, those good works consist of thanks for the infinite Divine bounties he has received, like the bounties of belief and existence. This thanks looks to past bounties while Paradise, which as a Divine promise will be given, is a favour of the Most Merciful. Apparently it will be a reward, but in reality it is a favor.
That is to say, in evils the soul is the cause and deserves the punishment, while in good deeds, both the cause and the occasion are from God. Man can only lay claim to them through belief. He may not say: “I want the reward,” but he may say: “I hope for Divine favor.”
Punishment Varies According To The One Who Committed The Crime
The punishment for breaching a trust is proportional to the significance of the trust and its true owner. The punishment given to a child who has broken the window of an ordinary building is not like that of the aide-de-camp of a king who has lost or broken the crown of the king. If, again, a private and an army commander spent the capital that was given to each according to his rank on petty things and wasted it away, the commander would certainly be tried at a court-martial and sentenced to a much greater punishment than the private. Likewise, if a scientist responsible for carrying out scientific investigations behaved like a shepherd and spent the resources assigned to his investigations on trifling things, certainly he would not be treated the same as a shepherd who spent resources assigned to him for feeding sheep to meet his own needs.
Animals spend the capital of life assigned for them in the world without any misuse or waste; they fulfill whatever they must: some carry burdens, some give milk and meat, and still some others produce things like honey or silk for the use of human beings. It is only man that may spend whatever is given to him in either the right or the wrong way. So, despite being the most honored of beings endowed with many faculties like conscience, intellect, consciousness, memory, and powers of thinking and reasoning, as well as with numerous inner and outer senses and feelings, if man wastes all these faculties, senses and feelings, he will certainly deserve a severe punishment. Particularly, if he lets his evil-commanding self dominate over his heart, which must overflow with knowledge and love of the Creator, he will undoubtedly be reduced to being a kind of fuel for Hell whose fuel is of men and stones.
Punishment Is Judged According To The Nature Of The Crime
Punishment is judged according to the nature and result of the crime and the intention of the criminal in committing it, not to how long it took the criminal to commit the act.
The punishment of murder, which in most cases takes five minutes or even seconds, ranges from imprisonment for many years or for life to death. What is considered here is the nature and result of the crime, not the duration of its committal. Unbelief is infinitely graver than murder. If you accuse a truthful, innocent one of lying and deception, he will be very angry with you. Likewise, unbelief means the denial of the true testimony of innumerable creatures, from atoms to huge galaxies, to the existence and Unity of their Creator, and accusing them of lying or false testimony. Again, unbelief is the denial of God, Who is the Unique Creator, Sustainer and Administrator of the whole of existence, and degradation of His innumerable works of art. Unbelief is also an accusation of more than one hundred thousand Messengers, who, according to the testimony of history and the people of each, are the most truthful of humankind, of the most abased form of lying, deception and trickery. Again, unbelief means accusing the followers of the Messengers of following the greatest tricksters of human history. It is also is an insult to and accusation of deception and deviation against innumerable believing men from the time of Adam. For all these and other similar reasons, it is pure justice to condemn unbelief to the eternal punishment of Hell.