A lady asked Hazrat Amirul Momineen, Khalifatul Masih Vaa, “[…] How can one explain to an atheist that Allah the Exalted will ultimately forgive humans and grant them entry into Paradise?”
“[…] Every day, we observe that if a person makes a mistake, his punishment is not permanent, rather it ends at some point as well. When this is the case with us humans and the laws we have made, then how can we ever reconcile ourselves to the idea that God would continue to make people suffer from the punishment of Hell for their mistakes and sins forever? He is God in Whom are found all the most excellent, pure and praiseworthy attributes, Who is the Most Exalted, Who manifests Himself on the highest station of holiness and Who has made a promise about Himself that:
إِنَّ رَحْمَتِي غَلَبَتْ غَضَبِي
“Verily, My mercy prevails over My wrath. (Sahih Bukhari, Kitab bad’i l-khalq, Bab ma ja’a fi qawli-llahi ta‘ala wa huwa llazi yabda’u l-khalqa thumma yu‘iduhu wa huwa ’ahwanu ‘alayh)
“Moreover, He is the One Who loves his servants far more than a kind mother. [Thus, how can we even think of Him in that way?]
“Hell is a hospital where the sick will be treated and discharged after their recovery. This is the reason why Allah the Exalted has also used the word umm, i.e. mother, in relation to Hell in the Holy Quran, as He said, فَاُمُّهٗ هَاوِيَةٌ (Surah al-Qarai‘ah, 101:10), which means that Hell will be his mother. One does not live in the mother’s womb forever. Rather, when the development of the fetus is complete, it comes into the world from there.
“Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Ira, while explaining the interpretation of this verse, says:
“‘To refer to Hell [hawiyah] as mother [umm] points to the fact that one is attached to the mother until one is fully developed and trained. After having received the training, one is separated from the mother. This word [umm] indicates that the inmates of Hell will be delivered from it after having lived in it for a long period of time.’ (Haqaiq-ul-Furqan, Vol. IV, p. 446)
“Similarly, it is also mentioned in the Hadith that there will come a time upon Hell that there will be no human being left in it and the gates of Hell will make a rattling noise on account of the blowing winds. (Kanz al-Ummal, Vol. 14, Hadith No. 39506)
“Hazrat Ibn Mas‘udra narrates that the Holy Prophetsa while describing the condition of the last person to be taken out of Hell, said:
“‘The person who will be the last to enter Paradise will come out of Hell, falling, stumbling and crawling while the fire of Hell will be burning him. Then, once he is out of the hell, he will look back towards the hell and address the hell and say, ‘Blessed is He Who has saved me from thee. Allah has given me something He has not given to any one of those in earlier or later times.’
“‘Then a tree would be raised up for him and he will say, ‘O my Lord! Bring me near this tree so that I may take shelter in its shade and drink of its water.’ Allah, the Exalted and Great, would say, ‘O son of Adam! If I grant you this, you will ask Me for something else.’ He would reply, ‘No. my Lord.’ And he would promise Him that he would not ask for anything else. His Lord would excuse him because He sees (such bounties of Paradise) what he cannot help desiring; so He would bring him near it, and he would take shelter in its shade and (quench his thirst) by drinking of the water (and the nectar of its fruits).
“‘Afterwards, a tree more beautiful than the first would be raised up before him and he would say, ‘O my Lord! bring me near this tree in order that I may drink of its water and take shelter in its shade and I shall not ask Thee for anything else.’ He (Allah) would say, ‘O son of Adam! If I bring you near it you may ask me for something else.’ He would then promise Him that he would not ask for anything else. His Lord will excuse him because He would see something (of the blessings) he cannot help desiring. So He would bring him near it and he would enjoy its shade and drink its water.
“‘Then a tree would be raised up for him at the gate of Paradise, more beautiful than the first two. He would say, ‘O my Lord! bring me near this (tree) so that I may enjoy its shade and drink from its water. I shall not ask Thee for anything else.’ He (Allah) would say, ‘O son of Adam! Did you not promise Me that you would not ask Me anything else?’ He would say, ‘Yes, my Lord, but I shall not ask Thee for anything else.’ His Lord would excuse him for He sees something (of the blessings of Paradise) the temptation of which he could not resist. He (Allah) would bring him near to it, and when He would bring him near it he would hear the voices of the inhabitants of Paradise. He would say, ‘O my Lord! Please admit me to it.’ He (Allah) would say, ‘O son of Adam! What will bring an end to your requests to Me? Will it please you if I give you the whole world and a like one along with it?’ He will reply, ‘O my Lord! Art Thou mocking me, though Thou art the Lord of the worlds?’
“At this, the narrator of this hadith, Hazrat Abdullah bin Mas‘udra, laughed and said to the audience, ‘Why don’t you ask me why I laughed?’ The people asked, ‘Why did you laugh?’ He replied that the Holy Prophetsa also laughed in the same way and the Companionsra asked him, ‘O Allah’s Messengersa! Did you laugh for some reason?’ Upon this, he replied, ‘I laughed because of the laughter of Allah, the Lord of the Worlds. When that person will say, ‘You are mocking me despite being the Lord of the Worlds’, Allah will say, ‘I am not mocking you but I can do whatever I will.” (Sahih Muslim, Kitab al-iman, Bab akhiri ’ahli n-nari khurujan)”