Hell Is it Hot or Cold?

Hell Is it Hot or Cold?
by : Ali Syarief

On Thursday evening 21/01/09, we (I & HendarminRanadireksa) paid a visit to the home of Prof.DR.MT. Zein in the Dago District – North Bandung. At exactly 16.30 we arrived at his serene and peaceful home in the evening coolness of that area of Bandung. Indeed in visiting him we had to be right on time. The agenda was to have a consultation concerning the publishing of the White Book (White Paper?) The fundamentals of National Problems. (I Pokok-Pokok Permasalahan Bangsa)

To begin our discussion I put forward my view/impression in response to his question when Pak Zein had given his opening address at the Ceremony to introduce The Commander of the Regional Police Command of West Java, Pak Susno Duadji at that time, at the home of Hendarmin last year. He stated that the Eskimos were convinced that hell was “very cold”. All of a sudden my thoughts became very confused because it was my conviction that it was stated in Al Qu’ran that hell is described with the word “Narun” or fire which is hot, so that hell is indeed very hot. But then I was reminded of a verse of Al Qu’ran which says “inna anjalnahu qur’anan arabiyan la’alalkum ta’qilun” which means “Al Qu’ran is written in Arabic so that we can think and use our common sense/reason”. Now, at first I interpreted the word Arabian to mean the Arabic Language. But then together with my conviction that every word in Al Qu’ran possesses a deeper meaning and a meaning which is much wider. As a result I translated Arabian as Budaya or Culture.This means that my understanding became as follows: “We pass on/transmit Al Qu’ran in the Arabic culture in order that we might think”. For the time being this was the right/correct interpretation for me.

This altered my mind set which then consolidated my conviction and my attitude in arriving at an increased/further understanding of Al Qu’ran. For example I then believed as follows Hell is not “very hot” or “very cold” but hell is a situation which is most terrifying/horrifying or in other words most disagreeable or frightful for human beings who are in it. So the same with “Heaven”. For me in heaven there are not virgins, sweet-tasting fruits or quietly-flowing rivers as described in Al Qu’ran because in other words Al Qu’ran mentions it as “fahuwa amsal” or only an example or comparison. In that way Almighty God explains to human beings in order that His words may be understood more readily by reason or common sense (a’la qudri uqulihim). The result is that the definition of heaven for me is a place or situation which is very joyful and full of happiness for those humans who are there.

This illustration is essentially the same way in which the majority of members of the Moslem Community understand that their obligation to give alms can be changed for rice – because our culture is indeed a culture of rice-eaters, and in this way it becomes more simple and more useful, and it can also be replaced with money /substituted for money. If this is so I then formed the opinion that to offer sacrifice it is not necessary to do so with a sheep. For the farmer it is also permissible to offer sacrifice with the products of agriculture which have the same value as a sheep, Or there are also those who offer sacrifice by donating money which is then distributed. Why is this so, because in addition there is indeed other information which states: “It is not flesh and blood which we receive but it depends on one’s intention. This is indeed logical to the extent that to offer sacrifice can be with a cow, vegetables or money because all of these are not the principal objective. What is essential is the substance of the sacrifice, to make a sacrifice with a devoted/pure heart because of He who helps the poor.

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