There is a common claim I have seen being made online by some atheists and moderate Christians and even some moderate Muslims seeking to make their chosen faith appear more tolerant.
The claim is that according to the Quran, Jews and Christians will not be thrown into Hell; that they will in fact join Muslims in Paradise. This claim is supported by referencing two specific verses from the Quran, listed below:
Surely those who believe, and those who are Jews, and the Christians, and the Sabians, whoever believes in Allah and the Last day and does good, they shall have their reward from their Lord, and there is no fear for them, nor shall they grieve. – Surah 2, verse 62
Surely those who believe and those who are Jews and the Sabians and the Christians whoever believes in Allah and the last day and does good– they shall have no fear nor shall they grieve. – Surah 5, verse 69
These passages may seem confusing at first because the rest of the Quran appears to directly contradict them myriad times, by saying things like warning against taking Jews and Christians as friends, and that anyone who says Jesus is the son of God or that God is a trinity will be punished by God.
The reason the rest of the Quran seems to contradict them is because the verses shown above refer to those who worshipped God before Muhammad was sent. The Quran is very clear that to remain in God’s favor you must accept each new revelation once it is revealed by each new messenger God sends to earth. There is no way for anyone to enter Paradise after they have heard about Muhammad and rejected him as God’s next prophet.
Thus in Islam, a true “believer”, or Muslim, is anyone who accepts all the prophets of God and their revelations that have arrived up to that point in time. So before Muhammad, people who followed Judaism were good Muslims. Then upon the arrival of Jesus, believers were supposed to follow the teachings of Jesus (who Muslims do not believe claimed to be God or the son of God). But now that Muhammad has arrived with a new revelation, it is required of all true believers to accept it. Otherwise, you have “turned away” from the true path and thus you are doomed to Hell.
Verses 2:2-5, 4:152, and 48:13 are examples of Quranic passages which demonstrate this view:
This is The Book free of doubt and involution, a guidance for those who
preserve themselves from evil and follow the straight path,
Who believe in the Unknown and fulfil their devotional obligations, and
spend in charity of what We have given them;
Who believe in what has been revealed to you and what was revealed to
those before you, and are certain of the Hereafter.
They have found the guidance of their Lord and will be successful
– Quran 2:2-5
And those who believe in Allah and His messengers and do not make a distinction between any of them– Allah will grant them their rewards; and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.
– Quran 4:152
And whoever does not believe in Allah and His Messenger, then surely We have prepared burning fire for the unbelievers. – Quran 48:13
And verses 2:120, 135-137, 5:17, and 98:6 are examples of the many passages that denounce Jewish and Christian belief:
The Jews and Christians will never be pleased with you until you follow their way. Say: “God’s guidance alone is true guidance;” for if you give in to their wishes after having received the (Book of) knowledge from God, then none will you have as friend or helper to save you. – Quran 2:120
They say: “Become Jews or become Christians, and find the right way.” Say: “No. We follow the way of Abraham the upright, who was not an idolater.” Say: “We believe in God and what has been sent down to us, and what had been revealed to Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and their progeny, and that which was given to Moses and Christ, and to all other prophets by the Lord. We make no distinction among them, and we submit to Him.” If they come to believe as you did, they will find the right path. If they turn away then they will only oppose; but God will suffice you against them, for God hears all and knows everything. – Quran 2:135-137
Verily they are unbelievers who say: “The Messiah, son of Mary, is God.” You ask them: “Who could prevail against God if He had chosen to destroy the Messiah, son of Mary, and his mother, and the rest of mankind?” For God’s is the kingdom of the heavens and the earth and whatsoever lies between them. He creates what He please, for God has the power over all things. – Quran 5:17
Verily, those who disbelieve (in the religion of Islam, the Quran and Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him)) from among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) and Al-Mushrikun will abide in the Fire of Hell. They are the worst of creatures. – Quran 98:6
So it is clear in the Quran that Jews and Christians are not safe from hell. These verses describe that Islam is a belief one must continue to follow and change with as new messengers arrive. Anyone who does not continue to follow the way of Islam has “turned away” from Islam and will be doomed to hell.
Furthermore, an Islamic Hadith is blatantly clear on this subject. It states that Jews and Christians will be sent to Hell after hearing Muhammad’s revelations and failing to accept them:
“By the One in Whose hand is the soul of Muhammad, there is no-one of the people, Jew or Christian, who hears of me then dies without believing in that with which I have been sent, but he will be one of the people of Hell.” – Sahih Muslim, Book 1 (Kitab Al-Iman), Hadith 284
So if the Quran’s real messages are to be understood, then we must look at the totality of what it says, rather than taking only a couple verses that favor one opinion. As an atheist, it makes little difference to me which groups the Quran claims will be condemned or saved, but as someone who believes in honesty and truth, I hope this short article can provide insight into this matter for anyone who was interested to read it.