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People of interregnum

"Surely, God does not forgive that a partner is ascribed to Him, and He forgives anything short of that for whomsoever He wills. Whoever ascribes a partner to God commits a terrible sin".(Qur'an;4:48)

The period between the periods of two prophets: 
The period starting from the point when the religion brought by the previous prophet was forgotten to the point when the next prophet came is called the “period of interregnum”; and the people who lived in that period and who did not live in the same time as either prophet are called people interregnum. They are given this name because the religious of the previous prophet was forgotten and the next prophet did not emerge yet. The people of interregnum are not responsible for worshipping like, prayers, fasting and zakah and the other orders of the religion. There is unanimous agreement about it. In the hereafter, they will not be accounted or punished for not performing worshipping. For a prophet is necessary to know them. However, those people did not meet a prophet. Therefore, they are not obliged to worship and obey the orders. Nevertheless, it is disputable whether they are obliged to believe in Allah or not.

According to Imam Maturidi, the people of interregnum are not obliged to worship and to obey orders but they are obliged to believe in Allah. For, God Almighty gave them the mind and He filled this world with innumerable creatures that will function as proofs for His existence and oneness. Man who knows that every needle must have its manufacturer and craftsman, that every letter must be written by someone that a country must have an owner, must find Allah, who is the artisan of the works of art in this world. And he must believe in Him. The mind has the ability to do it even if it does not hear the call of a prophet. Therefore, if people who lived in the period of interregnum died without believing in Allah, they are regarded to have died as unbelievers.

Imam Ashari holds the view that the people of interregnum are not obliged to believe in Allah because, according to Imam Ashari, Allah, who invites people to believe through His prophets, did not invite the people of interregnum since he did not send them a prophet. Therefore, they are not held responsible. For, mind and thought are not enough to know Allah. Therefore, according to Imam Ashari, the people of interregnum will not go to Hell due to unbelief.

As for the state of the people who lived after the emergence of our Prophet, Imam Ghazali makes a classification about them; it provides an answer for those who wonder about the state and the end of the Christians and Jews living today. Imam Ghazali says, after our Prophet was sent, people who do not believe are divided into three categories:

1st category: Those who did not hear the call of the Prophet and who were not informed about the Prophet. This group will definitely go to Paradise.

2nd category: The people who saw the state of the miracles shown by the Prophet and heard about his high ethics but who did not believe. This group will definitely go to Hell.

3rd category: It is the group between those two groups. They heard about the name of the Prophet but they did not hear about his characteristics. More precisely, they had known our Prophet since they were young, as - God forbid - an impostor whose name was Muhammad and who claimed to be a prophet. They heard nothing but negative propaganda about the Prophet; just like our children who heard about “Musaylama al-Kadhdhab” as an impostor who claimed to be a prophet.

Imam Ghazali does not make a definite judgment about them but he adds the following.  In my opinion, their state is like that of the first category; That is, like those who did not hear about our Prophet because they heard the name of our Prophet with the attributes that are opposite to his characteristics. This does not lead a person to think about it and to investigate it.

Today, in the world of the Christians, Jews and in other countries, it is possible to find people who belong to the three categories described by Imam Ghazali. No matter how much technology develops, it is known that there are primitive tribes living in the virgin forests of Africa. They have neither seen a television nor used a telephone. Therefore, they are included in the category that did not hear the name of our Prophet in the classification of Imam Ghazali; so, according to Imam Ghazali, they are people of Paradise.

There are many people who belong to the 2nd category both in our country and in many places in the world. They have heard about the attributes of our Prophet, regarding prophethood but they have not believed. In fact, with the development of the technology and the ease of having access to knowledge, they form the biggest category. They are people of Hell as it is expressed by many verses of the Quran. For, Islam abrogated all of the religions before it and made them invalid.

However, there are some people who belong to the 3rd category according to the classification of Imam Ghazali. There may be some people in the Christian or Jewish world living in a distant part of the country away from the social life and who had been informed about the Prophet in a negative way since they were children. Imam Ghazali does not make a definite judgment about those people but he says they resemble the people of Paradise in the first category. Allah knows the best.

We end this issue by the words of Badiuzzaman Said Nursi, who is a great scholar of our age, and we refer the voice of the truth to the knowledge of our Lord, who never errs or forgets.

"All scholars agree unanimously that people of interregnum will not be punished due to their mistakes regarding the details of the religion. In fact, according to Imam Shafii and Imam Ashari, they will not be held responsible even if they do not believe.

People become responsible only when a prophet is sent. Besides, it is necessary to know that a prophet was sent and to know the nature of the duty of the prophet for the responsibility to be valid. If what the prophet brought is not known due to some causes like the passing of time or heedlessness, those who do not know them are regarded as the people of interregnum and they are not punished for it."

Source: http://www.questionsonislam.com/article/what-state-person-who-has-not-heard-about-islam

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