The Vast Number of People in Hell
Many texts indicate the large numbers of the children of Aadam will enter Hell, and the few who will enter Paradise. Allah (swt) says:
“Yet no faith will the greater part of mankind have, however ardently you desire it.” (12:103)
An indication of the large numbers of kuffaar and mushrikeen who rejected the call of the Messengers is the fact that the Prophets will come on the Day of Resurrection some with a small group (of less than ten), others with one or two and some with no followers at all. Muslim reports from Ibn ‘Abbaas that the Prophet (saw) said:
“I was shown the nations and I saw a Prophet accompanied by a small group, another accompanied by one or tow men, and another with no companions at all..” (Saheeh Muslim, 1/198, no.220)
Many texts indicate that nine hundred and ninety-nine out of every thousand of the children of Aadam will enter Hell, and only one (in a thousand) will enter Paradise.
al-Bukhaari narrates from Abu Sa’eed that the Prophet (saw) said: Allah will say, “O Aadam!” Aadam will reply, “I respond to Your call, I am obedient to Your commands, and all good is in Your hands.” Then Allah (swt) will say to Aadam, “Send forth the people of the Fire”. Aadam will say, “How many are the people of the Fire?!” Allah (swt) will say, “Out of every thousand, take nine hundred and ninety-nine”. At that time, children’s hair will turn grey and every pregnant female will spontaneously abort and you will see the people looking as if they are drunk, although they are not, but Allah’s punishment will be most severe”. This speech distressed his Companions and the said, “O Messenger of Allah (saw), who amongst us will be that man (one in a thousand)?” He said, “Be of good cheer: the thousand will be from Ya’juj and Ma’juj (Gog and Magog) and the one will be from among you”. Then he said, “By Him in Whose hand is my soul, I hope that you will be one third of the people of Paradise.” We praised and glorified Allah (swt) and then he said, “By Him in Whose Hand is my soul, I hope that you will be half of the people of paradise, as you are among the nations like a white hair on the hide of a black bull or a round hairless spot on the foreleg of a donkey”. (al-Bukhaari, Kitaab ar-Raqaaq, Baab Qawl Allah Azza wa jalla, innaa zalzalat al-Saa’ah, Shay’un ‘Adheem, Fath al-Baari, 11/388; see also Tafseer Ibn Katheer, 4/610, Musnad Ahmad 4/435).
It might be asked: how can we reconcile between these hadith and the report from Abu Hurayrah in Saheeh al-Bukhaari, in which the Prophet (saw) said that Allah (swt) said to Aadam (‘alayhis-salaam) – “Send forth [into Hell] ninety-nine out of every hundred [of your descendants]”. It is obvious that these reports do not contradict the other Saheeh reports that we have quoted above, because these figures are referring to different groups. The hadith that mention a ratio of nine hundred and ninety-nine may be interpreted as referring to all the progeny of Aadam, whilst the hadith of al-Bukhaari that mentions a ratio of ninety-nine may be interpreted as referring to the progeny of Aadam excluding Ya’juj and Ma’juj. This reconciliation is more likely to be correct – as Ibn Hajar suggests – because Ya’juj and Ma’juj are mentioned in the hadith of Abu Sa’eed whereas they are not mentioned in the hadith of Abu Hurayrah. It may be said that the first hadith refers to all of creation, so the ratio of people admitted to Hell when all nations are taken into account is 999 in every thousand. The latter hadith of al-Bukhaari explains the ratio of people who will enter Hell from this ummah alone. Ibn Hajar (said) “This interpretation is supported by the words of the Sahabah in the hadith of Abu Hurayrah (ra): “If ninety-nine out of every hundred are taken from us, what will be left of us?” This division of people could happen twice: once involving all the nations, when one in a thousand will enter Paradise, and a second time involving this ummah alone, when ten out of every thousand will enter Paradise”. (Fath al-Baari, 11/390).