Have they not seen that Allah Who created the heavens and the earth has the power to create the like of them? And He has appointed for them a term; there is no doubt about it. But the wrongdoers would reject everything but disbelief. (Al Quran 17:99)
Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times
While 73% of the Americans believe in heaven when it comes to hell only 62% do. People do realize that God is the Most Forgiving, Gracious and Merciful, hence it is not surprising to see that a smaller proportion subscribe to the concept of hell. Women are more religious than men as suggested by the above table and when it comes to belief in heaven versus hell the gradient is 78% to 65%. This perhaps is a good reflection of the Merciful God and in keeping with the Hadiths:
Abu Huraira reported: I heard Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: Allah created mercy in one hundred parts and He retained with Him ninety-nine parts, and He has sent down upon the earth one part, and it is because of this one part that there is mutual love among the creation so much so that the animal lifts up its hoof from its young one, fearing that it might harm it. 
Salman reported that Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: Indeed, Allah created, on the same very day when He created the heavens and the earth, one hundred parts of mercy. Every part of mercy is coextensive with the space between the heavens. and the earth and He out of this mercy endowed one part to the earth and it is because of this that the mother shows affection to her child and even the beasts and birds show kindness to one another and when there would be the Day of Resurrection, Allah would make full use of Mercy. 
Now, I quote two Hadiths from an online article, Hell is Meant for Purification and is not Permanent, about temporary nature of hell:
‘Then will Allah say, The angels and the prophets and the faithful have all in their turn interceded for the sinners and now there remains none to intercede for them except the Most Merciful of all merciful ones. So He will take out a handful from the Fire and bring out a people who never worked any good’ (Ms. 1:72).
Further, Bukhari records a saying to the effect that, when the sinners are taken out from hell, they shall be thrown into ‘the river of life, and they will grow as grows a seed by the side of a river’ (B. 2:15), which clearly indicates that they shall be made ﬁt for a higher life. The Kanz al-‘ummal records the following: “Surely a day will come over hell when it will be like a ﬁeld of corn that has dried up, after ﬂourishing for a while’ (KU, vol. vii, p. 245); ‘Surely a day will come over hell when there shall not be a single human being in it’ (Ibid). A saying of ‘Umar is recorded as follows: ‘Even if the dwellers in hell may be numberless as the sands of the desert, a day will come when they will be taken out of it’ (Fath al-Bayan).
So, according to Islam hell is temporary and it’s description in the Quran is only a metaphor, not literally true, as the holy Quran also suggests, “No soul knows what joy is kept hidden in store for them as a reward for what they have done.” (Al Quran 32:17)
What does the Quran has to say to those who do not believe in Afterlife, not even in Heaven?
The verse quoted as the epigraph shows a very simple yet powerful proof for Afterlife. The Supreme and the Sublime Creator of our universe is certainly capable of recreating. The ever so common debate between the atheists and the believers about God the Creator is not only relevant for Monotheism but also for the belief in Afterlife.
The kalām cosmological argument is an argument for the existence of a Creator of the universe, based on the universe’s beginning to exist. Its provenance is Christian, Islamic, and Jewish theological reflection on creation ex nihilo . Having fallen into disuse after Kant, the argument returned to contemporary prominence due to newfound philosophical and empirical support for its two premises. The best presentation of this argument in recent times has been by William Lane Craig. His book is made available at the end of this article.
The argument mentioned in the epigraph is repeated several times in the holy Quran, with slightly different emphasis, as the Quran presents Allah’s creativity in the First Creation as argument for Afterlife. Firstly in Surah Yasin:
Does not man see that We have created him from a mere sperm-drop? He disputes openly, producing arguments against Us, forgetting his own creation. He says, ‘Who can give life back to bones after they have decayed?’ Say, ‘He who created them in the first place will give them life again: He has full knowledge of every act of creation. It is He who produces fire for you out of the green tree, lo and behold, and from this you kindle fire. Has not He Who created the heavens and the earth the power to create the like of them?’ Yes, and He is indeed the Supreme Creator, the All-Knowing. Indeed, His command, when He intends a thing, is only that He says to it, ‘Be!,’ and it is. So Holy is He, in Whose hand is the kingdom of all things. And to Him will you all be brought back.’ (Al Quran 36:77-83)
In Surah Raad:
Allah is He Who raised up the heavens without any pillars that you can see. Then He settled Himself on the Throne. And He pressed the sun and the moon into service: each pursues its course until an appointed term. He regulates it all. He clearly explains the Signs, that you may have a firm belief in the meeting with your Lord. (Al Quran 13:2)
In Surah Waqiah:
It is We, Who have created you. Why, then, do you not accept the truth? What do you think of the sperm-drop that you emit? Is it you who have created it or are We the Creator? It is We Who have decreed death for all of you, and We cannot be frustrated in replacing you with others like you. We will raise you into a form of which you have not the slightest knowledge. And you have certainly known the first creation. Why, then, do you not reflect? Consider the seeds that you sow? Is it you who make them grow or are We the Grower? If We so pleased, We could turn your harvest into chaff, then you would keep lamenting: ‘We are ruined! Indeed, we are deprived of all the fruits of our labor.’ Reflect on the water which you drink? Is it you who send it down from the clouds, or do We? If We so pleased, We could make it bitter. Why, then, are you not grateful? Do you see the fire which you kindle? Is it you who produce the wood for it, or are We the Producer? We have made it a reminder and a provision for the wayfarers. So glorify the name of your Lord, the Great. (Al Quran 56:57-74)
In Surah Saffat:
So [Muhammad], ask the disbelievers: is it harder to create them than other beings We have created? We created them from sticky clay. You marvel as they scoff, ‘take no heed when they are warned, and resort to ridicule when they see a sign, ‘saying, ‘This is no more than blatant sorcery.’ What! After we have died and become dust and bones, shall we really be raised up again, ‘along with our forefathers? Say, ‘Yes indeed, and you will be humiliated.’ Just one blast and— lo and behold!— they will look and say, ‘Woe to us! This is the Day of Judgement.’ It will be said, ‘This is the Day of Decision, which you used to deny.’ (Al Quran 37:11-21)
In Surah Rome:
He brings forth the living from the dead, and He brings forth the dead from the living; and He gives life to the earth after its death. And in like manner shall you be brought forth. (Al Quran 30:20)
The Quran keeps giving the First Creation as a cogent proof for Afterlife.
So, now we can conveniently tabulate all the evidence of God the Creator. If the First Creation is by AlMighty and All Knowing God, then there can be no doubt about human accountability and Afterlife:
- Sahih Muslim, Book 37, Number 6629.
- Sahih Muslim, Book 37, Number 6634.