I’ve written quite extensively about my scrupulosity issues regarding hell. Paranoia of getting punished, etc.
As I’ve plowed through those issues, I feel like I’ve matured to a point where I can properly understand the whole context of hell. I’ve written about it, and even been inspired about the wisdom of hellfire. But it just takes time to sink in, as you learn to interact and understand the world we live in.
The bottom line is, most people need to be scared of something to avoid doing it. I’m talking about most people. I’m not talking about you and me, and others who have issues with anxiety. It’s actually kind of cruel to scare somebody who has anxiety issues, becuase the last thiing they need is to feel more anxiety and fear. This is where it becomes sticky when dealing with the Islamic concept of خوف و التقوى as valid concepts.
One of my teachers in Saudi was a really nice, funny, compassionate Sheikh. I wish I remembered his name. I used to call him the “Smiley Sheikh“, because he would always be smiling, and would always put a smile on my face after talking to him about my ridiculous hellfire obsessions.
We talked about people that will continue to disobey and do wrong and evil things. When you tell them and remind them to avoid it, they will continue to stubbornly do it. And they just refuse to repent and leave it. This is the type of person to why we need the reminder of hellfire.
There needs to be something severe to remind you about in the afterlife, becuse you will never see or experience it in this life. It has to be something that scares you, something that will motivate you to action to avoid it, and something that you can think about that is scarier than other things, so your fear diminishes about other things in life. When people have the proper fear of hellfire in their hearts, their fear of things that happen in this life becomes less. They become more braver because nothing seems to phase them or scare them as much. That’s a wisdom of always talking about hellfire.
And also, we can’t forget my wife’s analogy about the Most Loving and Compassionate being punishing people. Basically, it’s threats to get them to stop. But issuing a threat is not the same thing as actually carrying it out. My wife sometimes tells our son, “I’m going to do this and that if you don’t stop. But she never ever carries it out. She just wants him to stop because he’s stubborn and doesn’t stop.
Likewise, I read the Quran with this understanding of God. That He’s the Most Forgiving and Compassionate, and He’s issuing warnings just to get people to stop. It doesn’t mean he will carry out on all those threats he’s giving, because at the end of the day, He’s just way too Merciful. This was also something I read about in some scholarly works while I was in Saudi.