People often pose the following question as they express their concern for their loved ones: How is it possible for the believers who make it to Paradise to be in a happy frame of mind when they know that their loved ones are suffering in Hell? Whatever blessings and rewards a believer may be granted in Paradise, surely the mere thought of his loved ones being cast in great suffering would nullify the enjoyment of whatever is given in Paradise!
Considering the Quranic confirmation that the majority of the human race are misguided (6:116), and the majority are non believers (12:103), and that out of the minority who believe, the majority of them are committing shirk (12:106); it follows that every human being who gets to Paradise is bound to have many more loved ones in Hell than with him in Paradise.
How can we reconcile the unavoidable pain of believers for their loved ones with the fact that God is the Most Merciful and that His mercy encompasses all things (7:156)?
God, the Wise and Most Merciful has indeed considered all things and would not cause this pain to befall any believer who is rewarded and admitted to Paradise. For that, God devised a very wise system as follows:
The moment the life of the human being on earth comes to an end, all blood and family relations experienced on earth will be dissolved and will no longer mean what they did during the life on earth:
Then when the horn is blown, no family relations will exist between them on that day, nor will they ask about one another. 23:101
What this means is that even though everyone will still recognise their parents, children and loved ones in the Hereafter (13:23), yet the love that united them on earth will be dissolved and replaced with a greater love (explained below). Our loved ones will be no more than ‘other souls’ who previously played roles on earth related to our earthly lives. People will recognise others by the roles they played in their lives, but the earthly love they had for them will be dissolved. So much so that they will not even ask about one another (23:101).
For some, it may be hard to envisage how the strong love we feel for our mother or for a loved one can disappear just like that, and they become just other souls to us! God gave us a real life example in front of our eyes to demonstrate how this is very easy for God to do.
Let us consider the example of a female cat or female lion. The mother instinct is undoubtedly the strongest love instilled in all living creatures. A mother lion for example will fight to the death to protect her cubs. However, when the cubs are mature lions, the instinctive mother’s love for them is dissolved. When they are adult lions, the mother will fight those who were once her own cubs, often causing serious injury or death, over food and territory.
The mother instinct which is programmed into the DNA of females is dissolved quite easily by God when the role of the mother comes to an end. God controls all things.
In the same way, when life on earth is terminated, the roles of family members come to an end, thus the love that united them while they played those roles is also terminated.
Other Quranic words also affirm that all family love between humans will be dissolved in the Hereafter. The human being facing his punishment will want to ransom his once so dear family members to take the punishment in his place:
The criminal will wish that he could be ransomed from the punishment of that Day by his children, and his wife and his brother. 70:11-12
In contrast, a mother during her earthly life would never ransom her children in her place, but would protect them with her own life.
The next stage we read about in the Holy Quran is related to the believers who are awarded admittance to Paradise. In Paradise, believers will find themselves with other believers who were family or friends on earth, but also with other believers whom they regarded as enemies on earth, and with whom animosity existed.
To counteract these negative emotions, God will remove all animosity that existed previously between the believers during their earthly life:
We stripped away any animosity there is from their chests. Like brothers they will be resting on couches facing one another. 15:47
We note from the words in 15:47 that this merciful act of removing animosity is a concession granted to the believers in Paradise. In contrast, the dwellers in Hell will not be granted this concession; they will continue to have animosity between them. They will quarrel (26:96) and curse one another (7:38). Even the ones who were friends on earth will become enemies (43:67), while as for the believers, the ones who were enemies will become brothers (15:47).
After removing all animosity that existed previously between believers, God will replace the earthly forms of love with a new kind of love:
Those who believe and do good deeds, the Almighty will appoint for them love. 19:96
In Paradise it will become apparent to all believers that all blood relations that existed on earth were only temporary arrangements designed for the purpose of life on earth, and that the real sense of belonging will no longer be to blood relations, but to fellow believers:
The believers are but brethren, so you shall reconcile between your brethren, and revere God so that you may attain mercy. 49:10
The love that unites the believers in Paradise will no longer be to parents, siblings or children, for all such love will be obsolete. A greater love will unite believers in Paradise; the love of God.
God’s design is always perfect. God gives us in the Quran pieces of information to assert our minds, and to know that He does not overlook anything.
We should not worry unnecessarily about those who do not make it to Paradise, even if they are close to us in this life. This is certainly not an easy thing to do because we are thinking with the mentality of our life on earth. It can only be done if we are able to think of the bigger picture. If we are able to do so, we would never doubt God’s justice, for God never wrongs any person, but it is indeed the people who wrong themselves (10:44).