The Meaning of The Prophets Statement: “…All Of Them Will Be In Fire. Except One”
Answered by: The Permanent Committee
What is the meaning of the following Hadith
My ummah will be divided into 73 sects. All of them will be in hell-fire except one sect.
Who is that sect? And will the 72 sects live forever in Fire, as the Mushrik will or not? And does the term “Ummah” of the Prophet (peace be upon him) apply to those who follow him as well as those who do not, or is it to the former only?
What is meant by the term “Ummah” in this Hadith is the Ummah of response which shall be divided into 73 sects; 72 of which are deviant who practice innovated religious practices that do not constitute apostasy. Each shall be tortured in accordance to its Innovations, and deviation, except for those whom Allah pardons, and forgives. Their final abode will be Paradise. The only sect that will be safe is Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jama`ah, who adhere to the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him), and hold fast to what he and his Companions, may Allah be pleased with them, were holding. It is they about whom the prophet (peace be upon him) said:
A group of my own shall remain steadfast, the truth, victorious, unharmed by those who opposed them, and do not support them, until the death or until the day of Resurrection. (Al-Bukhari nos. 71, 3641 and Muslim no.1920)
As for those whose Innovation cast them out of Islam, they belong to the Ummah of innovation (mankind at large) not the Ummah of response. They shall remain in the Hellfire forever, and this is the most valid opinion.
It is also said that the term Ummah in this Hadith means the Ummah of invitation, which is a general term including all those to whom the Prophet (peace be upon him) was sent (i.e mankind) those who believe and those who do not believe. Whereas the term ” the safe sect ” is the Ummah of response which strictly applies to those who believe in the Prophet (peace be upon him), trustfully , and die on this condition. This is the sect that will be safe from the Fire; either by prior punishment or without prior punishment, and their final abode will be Paradise.
As for the 72 sects (and the second opinion) they are all, excluding the saved set, disbelievers who will live forever in fire. Hence, it is clear that the Ummah of Dawah, is more general in connotation then the Ummah of response. That is to say, whoever belongs to the Ummah of response, belongs to the Ummah of invitation, well not everyone of the Ummah of invitation belongs to the Ummah of response.
From the Noble Scholars:
Along with: The Permanent Committee and the decisions of the Fiqh Council
Collected by Muhammad bin `Abdul-`Aziz al-Musnad