Why is disbelief in God the biggest sin according to Islam?

-By Fadel Soliman

Why would God punish an Atheist for being an Atheist, according to Islam?

Some Atheists are very nice and kind and helpful.  And what about those who worship other gods besides God? Why is disbelieving in God the worst sin according to Islam? 

Question – I was once approached by someone who told me, ‘I am an atheist; I do not believe in God. But I am a very kind and good person. I volunteer in many charitable organizations, and I give to the poor; so, given all that, when I die, will I go to Hell? Is this the justice of you people – just because I don’t believe in God, I should enter Hell?’


Answer – In response I told him, ‘Let’s suppose that there is a large company, employing many people. Imagine that one of the employees is a very good person; he’s extremely kind and cooperative and spares no effort to help his colleagues at work. He also lends them money, and brings treats in for everyone at the office on daily basis. On the other hand, his relationship with the boss is terrible. He doesn’t read nor implement the instructions given to him by his boss, nor does he perform his work duties. His colleagues advised him that he should mend his relations with the boss and start performing his duties, since the boss pays his salary and thereby provides him with all his needs. His response to them is that the boss isn’t really there. In the presence of the boss he stands up defiantly and says that this company has no boss. All the while, the boss is extremely patient with him. He doesn’t want to fire him and, in fact, he keeps on paying him his salary regularly – but only up to a certain point. Eventually, he puts his foot down and decides to punish him and fire him.’

Now, how do we evaluate the performance of such an employee? Do we consider him to be a good employee? He is definitely very good towards his fellow employees, but not so with his boss. The same applies to someone who is good with fellow men, but ill-mannered towards God. He does not thank God for his health, for his wealth, for his mind, nor for any other blessing, for that matter. In fact, he doesn’t even believe in the existence of God. He considers himself a very good person, but is he, really? God allows him a lot of respite and delays punishing him throughout his life, as an opportunity for him to reconsider his ways. He also gave him a mind so that he could contemplate and realize the existence of God Almighty.

Another important point that an Atheist claims is that, he does all of his good deeds such as volunteering and giving to charity, for the good of mankind, not in the hope of reaching Heaven, nor out of fear of going to Hell. So what is he complaining of, then? He should be pleased that he will not be going to heaven, and not be bothered if he is going to hell. After-all, he is doing all of his good deeds for the sake of mankind, so he should feel secure in his knowledge of that and it should be sufficient for him.

Will non-muslims go to Hell?

Ok, what about those who worship other Gods besides the one and only God; and what about those who practice other religions? Don’t worry. God will not be unfair to anyone. God describes in the Quran what will happen to such people on Judgment Day. He says they will be told: ‘Call forth the partners you ascribed to God.’ Quran 7:195. So He will give them a chance to call forth their own gods, and see if they can grant them entrance into heaven. The Quran also says: ‘It will be said to them, ‘Where are those you worshiped beside God? Can they help you now or even help themselves?’ Quran 26:92-93. Elsewhere in the Quran, God tells Prophet Mohammed what to say to such people. He tells him: ‘Say, Pray to your so-called gods besides Allah.’ Quran 34:22 So God will be a fair judge between us on the Day of Judgment.

God will not be unfair to anyone. He will give them a chance to call forth their own gods, and see if they can grant them entrance into heaven.

Why is disbelieving in God the worst sin according to Islam?

Don’t you think treason or betrayal are big sins? Disbelieving in God is betraying God. If I bring you a glass of water, you thank me, right?  If you didn’t thank me, it would be very ungrateful and disrespectful. What if I keep giving you water, then food, then money and you just take it and don’t show any gratitude? And what if I give you water and you turn towards someone else and say thank you to him instead of me? Then I give you something to eat and again you look towards him and thank him instead of thanking me.

That’s what disbelievers in God do; He gives them water, food, money, health, wealth, family, you name it! If they worship other gods besides the one true God, they turn to them in gratitude, rather than being thankful to the one who has given them sustenance. Or, if on the other hand, they are people of no faith, they thank themselves; claiming that they acquired these things because of their talents, personal qualities, or hard work alone. (Note from SFP – This is covered in Detail here – 8 insights of the Unforgivable Sin)

Why do Atheists fear going to Hell?

Why do atheists so often question believers as to whether they believe they will go to hell ? It can only be for one of two reasons. The first is that he does so in order to fluster a believer; not out of genuine fear of Hell, nor of hope of entering Heaven, because he does not even believe in either of them. Alternatively, he may do so because he is not completely convinced of his own Atheism and is trying to find himself a way out, just in case there does turn out to be a God, a Day of Judgment, followed by reward and punishment. And I will tell you why an Atheist thinks in such a way. What makes an atheist doubt his Atheism? From a philosophical point of view, the existence of God is subject to three possibilities. His existence may be an undeniable fact, such as Muslims believe, for example. His existence may be questionable, such as agnostics believe, or otherwise His existence may be an absolute impossibility. If you ask any Atheist to put forth an argument to support his beliefs that the existence of God is an absolute impossibility, he will never be able to do so. The closest he can get to supporting his claim is that the existence of God is a possibility: He may exist, or He may not exist. So, a person who outright denies the existence of God, saying that it is an impossibility, actually believes in something that they have no arguments to back up. Accordingly, he is being arrogantly obstinate. That is why, when he questions whether or not he will go to Hell, deep down he is scared, because he knows that there is a one in a hundred, or one in a thousand chance that there is indeed a Heaven and a Hell.

To Atheists – If God doesn’t exist then why the element of hesitancy?

Let me show you a short video of Ben Stien interviewing the most notorious Atheist, Richard Dawkins, in his documentary entitled “Expelled” , wherein he questions Dr Dawkins on the probability of the existence of God, from his point of view.

[Video Transcript given below – it is part of the main video embedded above and starts from 8th minute.]

Stien – Can you believe its liberating to tell people that there is no God?
Richard Dawkins – I think when a lot of people when they give up God feel a great sense of release and freedom.
Stien – Why do you think that? I mean what’s your data, what’s your scientists? What’s your data?
Richard Dawkins – Well….I think….I have a lot of letters saying that.
Stien – There are 8 billion people in the world Richard Dawkins, how many letters do you have?
Richard Dawkins – Yea, yea, yea I know its quite true.
Stien (commentary) – Professor Dawkins seemed so convinced that God doesn’t exist that I wondered if he would be willing to put a number on it.
Richard Dawkins – Well… Its hard to put a figure on it. But.. but.. I mean.. I put it as something like in a 99% against or something.
Stien – Why is it 99% and not let’s say 97%?
Richard Dawkins – No.. I did, you asked me to put a figure on it and I am not comfortable putting a figure on it. I think its, I just think its very unlikely.
Stien – What….but you couldn’t put a number on it.
Richard Dawkins – No
Stien – of course not, so it could be 49%
Richard Dawkins – Well it could be, I mean I, I think its unlikely, but.. but I.. but  its quite far from 50%.
Stien – How do you know?
Richard Dawkins – I don’t know. I mean I.. I put an argument in the book

God understands the mindset of such people and knows that deep down they do feel -at least to some degree- there is a God, but they are merely being stubborn and arrogant. The Quran says: ‘No indeed! The idolaters promise each other only delusions.’  Quran 35:40. Staunch Atheists who are pro-active in convincing others of Atheism are often extremely arrogant, as if they have all the answers to every matter in the universe. But in reality, they behave in such a manner to cover up their own doubts and inability to put forth an intelligent, logical argument to validate Atheism. With Atheists, the real issue is not one of understanding, but rather that they have a psychological problem regarding religion. And the Quran addresses that too. It tells us that when the Atheists are being punished in Hell, they address Malik, who is the angel in charge of Hell, saying: ‘They will cry, “Malik, if only your Lord would finish us off’, but he will answer, ‘No! You are here to stay.’ We have brought you the Truth but most of you despised it.”‘ Quran 43:77-78 Note that it doesn’t say ‘But most of you didn’t understand it.’ So it is basically a psychological problem, and not a matter of inability to understand. This may either be a result of religion being presented to people in the wrong way, or perhaps done out of a desire to escape from the regulations and the do’s and don’ts imposed by religion, it could also be a superiority complex; where some people have the need to believe that they (or mankind) has no superior and are self-sufficient, or it may merely be a desire to attract attention.

In a multi-cultural multi-faith society, people must be able to live together in harmony without harbouring animosity towards each other over religious matters. However, at the same time, we should be able to have academic discussions and debates about matters of religion and belief in a friendly atmosphere.


Click here for All Answers to Atheism



This article is a transcript of Islamophobia Season 2 Episode 5Subscribe to Islamophobia Series by Fadel Solimanbridges-foundation.org; Official website of Fadel Soliman fadelsoliman.com;

Richard Dawkins hesitates to say God doesn’t exist 100% | Atheists are afraid of Hell | Not believing God is the worst Sin

  • Jhr

    Your example is not correct. It’s more like a company in which there is a fictional boss….who may or may not exist and of which there is no proof other that one other employee who has revelations from such a boss assuring others that he exists and that they must follow the rules made by that individual. …….let’s just say this is not a good boss and not the boss of a fortune 500 company! Really think before you come out with these ludicrous examples

    • muhammad mansoor

      I do not see any problem with the example. I have worked in several companies and not once have I seen or shaken hands with my boss. The only way I know he exists is exactly what you mentioned, “assurances by others that he exists and that they must follow the rules made by that individual”. The media, the boss’s email, his facebook profile everything could easily be cooked and fishy. The only way for me to know would be to knock his door which I can do only if I have the power and means. But God is unlike anything that is me. I see no reason why you can believe in your boss without seeing him and the idea to believe in God, who has actually taken time to prove you that he exits, by creating such a beautiful universe, sounds ludicrous to you.

      • Jim

        In the case of a large company where 9ne would never see the top boss, his, or her, direction has little impact on my daily duties. I do what my boss tells me to do, unless the top boss were to come find me and tell me to do something

  • Linie Aquavit

    You’re asking the wrong questions. The questions you should be asking is why do Islamists find it necessary to punish those who don’t believe as they believe? Islam is supposed to be a religion, not a political group. Raising religion to the level of public policy is always a mistake… No matter which religion it is.

    • muhammad mansoor

      Thank you for the comment. No, Muslims don’t find it necessary to punish those who don’t believe like them. You assume it. Muslims believe in this –

      “There is no compulsion in religion. Verily, the Right Path has become distinct from the wrong path…” Quran 2:256

      You can address Muslims by their proper name, as “Muslims”. “Islamists” is a term which the western media has labeled which Muslims object to.

      • Linie Aquavit

        You appear to be taking 2:256 out of context. To me that passage reads as though one should not feel compulsion, because they should recognize the right way from the wrong. But that places disbelievers on the “wrong path” automatically, correct?

        • muhammad mansoor

          There is no context to insert here dear Linie Aquavit . A revelation is free to say whoever follows it “is on the right way” and whoever doesn’t follow it is naturally on the “wrong way”. If a revelation doesn’t make this assertion then it is simply not a revelation.
          The Creator does not provide us with “mild suggestions”. He gives us assertive instructions which our minds are capable of comprehending logically, and our souls be able to harmonize provided we win over our ego.

          Coming to the verse, it says, “There is no compulsion in religion” -a bold and assertive statement and the Muslims and an unbiased reader who is open for knowledge understands it such.

          If you would be so kind as to read https://solution-for-peace.com/2016/09/10/problem-of-evil-solved-before-religion-and-god/ it gives you an important standpoint of many topics in the course of logical thinking which this website specializes. I hope you will like it and provide your thoughts.

          • Linie Aquavit

            So that implies that only path towards that which is right is only through religion; specifically Muslim religious views. For those of us who have had our own revelations, that the correct way forward is to shun any and all religious views, anything else is anathema to those beliefs.

          • muhammad mansoor

            You are partly right, the path for seeking true knowledge in such critical issues is a personal Journey upto you. You consciously verify what the Quran or the Bible or any scripture says (not what the Muslims or the Christians or the internet is saying). What conclusion you draw at the end of this journey is yours alone. I, a Muslim am open to answer or engage in constructive discussion. If there is anything you would like to know about Islam, please feel free to ask, blame or comment. I only urge you to be open and just, which we at solution-for-peace, hope to be.

          • https://solution-for-peace.com/2016/07/09/heaven-or-hell-jews-and-christians/#.V-DNvSh96Uk

            Please read this to develop understanding of how to interpret Quran and God of Humanity. Cheers.

    • I think you have some misunderstandings perhaps may be due to how uneducated Muslims have projected Islam or have gotten ‘prejudiced’ exclusive media coverage despite the fact that sound intellectual Muslims’ voices are constantly calling. Islam is very clearly a religion for public affairs if people acknowledge it for this very purpose. Otherwise Islamic faith can still be practised by people under a secular state perhaps with responsibility to inviting people to acknowledge it in totality. As clarification there is no punishment in Islam for people who disbelieve. Disbelievers can have for themselves their respective ways of governance yet being moderated by Islam itself if they happened to live in an Islamic nation. Hope you understand. Cheers.

  • To the question”Does God exist ?”, Many prominent scientists – including Darwin, Einstein, and Planck – have considered the concept of God very seriously. What are your thoughts on the concept of God and on the existence of God?”Christian Anfinsen replied: “I think only an idiot can be an atheist. We must admit that there exists an incomprehensible power or force with limitless foresight and knowledge that started the whole universe going in the first place.”—Christian Anfinsen, winner of the 1972 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on ribonuclease.

    There are more scientists who began to believe in God . And many accepted Isam when they saw the compatibility of Science and Islam.

    Reference here: http://islamhashtag.com/does-god-exist-what-scientists-say-about-god/

    • Linie Aquavit

      Which is all well and good for them; but that doesn’t make it true. And his logic is wrong to boot.

      • muhammad mansoor

        You want to believe in news stories about atheists stoned, whipped and killed shown by media, but you don’t want to believe in news stories about scientists doing serious research and concluding that God exists? Strange. I am sure you wouldn’t mind believing if the same comment was in favor of a bunch of Atheist scientists. Anyways, what is the right logic according to you?

        • Linie Aquavit

          First of all, I believe those news stories because they are reported showing pictures and video and translations of what the killers and abusers are saying. This is being broadcast on national television. If the translations were inaccurate, wouldn’t someone say something? On top of that, I read stories written by people who either live in those countries or who are reporting on how women, Christians, or atheists are treated in those countries. MANY different sources are confirming what is happening over in the Middle East. Gays are being killed. Atheists sentenced to whippings simply for not believing in God. There is simply too much documented proof these things are happening.

          Second, nobody has ever PROVED, any higher power’s existence. The guy you’re quoting was stating an opinion based on a feeling; not data. It’s not like he did a scientific study on the existence of God.

          It honestly wouldn’t matter what religion the scientists were. It would only matter what the proof was. Atheists can’t PROVE something doesn’t exist. Nobody could. It’s scientifically impossible. But if Christian or Muslim or whatever scientists prove the existence of a higher power, I’ll be happy to read their findings and wait for another team of researchers duplicate their study and findings and come to the same conclusion. Until then, I’m content in knowing that the existence of a higher power is ridiculous.

          The “right” logic, according to me, is that nothing created the universe and everything in it. It just exists. Always has, always will. That’s the only logical ‘truth’ to believe.

          By the way, here’s a timely article by a Christian blogger you might want to check out telling why science can’t prove God’s existence.


          • muhammad mansoor

            I think it is proper for you to introduce your beliefs first. I am a Muslim, so you know I am a Muslim. What about you?

            I disagree with this statment “Nobody has ever proved, any higher power’s existence”. What sign do you expect? Do you expect, for example God to show himself in person to you? Or send a personal messenger knocking your door? Or do you expect to discover him in a lab or through a telescope? Why don’t you construct yourselves some scenarios like this. I will try from my side to provide some answers, In Sha Allah (God Willing).

  • muhammad mansoor

    You cannot judge a creed by actions of one man (I repeat this for the hundredth time to the audience). My deep condolences to the victims of the killing and I wish justice be done and the law take the strictest course of action. But what will you say If I say that an Atheist went on a shooting spree last month in the city I live in and I hear several such incidents, perhaps more than news of terrorism? Do I paint the entire creed of Atheists with this? This is not the right way to argue. We cannot decide whether God exists or Islam is right with such a direction to our argument. In my opinion you should ask yourselves what is it that you want to know to satisfy you whether God exists or not.

    If we were to count the killings done by western invading forces in middle east then their is no beating the number as much as Christians. Atheists are not lagging behind with their Nazi, Communist and Darwinian concepts. You and I were not there during the world wars era and the atomic bombings which preluded over a century. That was not Islam centric.

    Islam has existed for over 1400 years with the same teachings. But the hype of terrorists is the current trend in the world. It is unintelligent of us to jump to conclusions based on what you see. As I said again, you should ask yourselves what is it that you want to know to satisfy you whether God exists or not and if Islam is the right religion?

    By the way, how can you hear Muslim voices when their voices are not identified to their religion when they raise it?

    • Linie Aquavit

      You’re absolutely right. You cannot judge a creed by the actions of one man or woman. But you can start to form an opinion based on the actions of thousands, over longer periods of time. Correct? The bombings over the weekends, the Sept. 11 attacks, the current wars in the Middle East, are being waged over differences in religion. What a stupid reason to kill people.

      You’re also correct that wars have been fought for centuries, and very few of them were directly because of Islamic beliefs. But to be fair, very few of them were for Christian beliefs either. Most of the really big wars in history are about power, land, and natural resources. Possibly politics. Those are at least slightly more rational reasons to fight a war.

      But wars or attacks carried out in the name of God are just stupid. If for no other reason than their guaranteed failure rate of 100%. Never, in the entire history of human existence, has religious fanaticism ever brought about a conclusion where another set of beliefs was wiped out. Killing non-believers only makes more non-believers who dislike you. Trying to kill a religious enemy has only ever made that enemy stronger. Only peaceful conversions to faith have been successful. But it’s easy to change from one religion to another. It’s much more difficult to change non-belief into belief. It’s a much larger hurdle to overcome, which is why those who are religious are so mystified and uncomfortable by those who don’t believe.

      • muhammad mansoor

        I understand your frustration at the current state of affairs. But I still insist, you are venting out your anger over religion with a completely sidelined view which doesnt benefit you. Things like whether religion is true or false, does God really exist or not etc are taking back stage and you are looking at people to get those answers or to justify your opinions to satisfaction. You stop relying on the people to come to conclusions in matters related to God. “And if you follow most of those on earth, they will mislead you far away from Allah’s path. They follow nothing but conjectures, and they do nothing but lie.” Quran 6:116 I believe in this and it enables me to be immune to whatever general opinion that the mind constructs looking at the actions of thousands.

        I appreciate your open thoughts that Islam or Christianity are not to be blamed for the wars. But I disagree completely in your opinion which sounded something like believers are killing non-believers just because they are non-believers. At least in Islam there is nothing like this and it shows the influence of media (Quoting stray incidents to prove a point here is not required). The sancticity of life explained by God to us in Islam is this: Quran 5:32 -“On that account: We ordained for the Children of Israel that if any one slew a person – unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land – it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people. Then although there came to them Our messengers with clear signs, yet, even after that, many of them continued to commit excesses in the land.”

        • Linie Aquavit

          I seek out only the harmony to live with others. I have no questions of the greater world, and seek a path unmolested by religious thought because that distracts from the purity of life.

          That said, this is a large world and my voice is that of the minority. Too many countries are passing laws that silence voices and limit freedoms in the interest of “homogenous unity.” America was born out of diversity and instills in the people who live here a spirit of limitless potential. It’s the one place that protects the minority from the majority; and I treasure that above all.