Will Mother Teresa go to Heaven despite being Christian?
Mother Teresa must have known about Islam in some capacity. Her whole life was even somewhat similar to the Prophet (S)’s. She lived and worked in the poorest places of India all for the sake of religion, to please her God. A friend of mine knew a South African student who left college at the age of 18 or 19 to become a priest. He preached to my friend, who found the individual to be completely sincere and devoted to his cause. He sacrificed his education and alot more for his religion, a religion he obviously believed was the only truth. What about these two? The Prophet (S) said that if anyone dies not saying the ‘shahadah’, he/she is in the Hell fire. One can say several things like “their case is up to God,” “they didn’t really want to be guided,” or even “thank God that you are a muslim and know, without any doubts, that Islam is the truth and so you shouldn’t worry about these ‘what if’ questions.” But to me that seems like taking the back door out – explaining a situation more with ignorance than logic. Are they also destined for the Hell fire?
I am afraid the answer I have is ‘I don’t know’. In these matters, all that we can say is that there are certain principles which are inviolable. ‘Shirk’ is unacceptable. ‘Shahadah’ is important for somebody who has received the message. This was especially true in the case of people who received the message directly from the prophet(p.b.u.h). Saying that we should be thankful for being Muslims is not an Islamic statement. It is an approach adopted by some Muslims. To be a Muslim entails some responsibilities. If one discharges them, it’s only then that one is indeed lucky; if one doesn’t discharge one’s obligations as a Muslim then carrying a Muslim badge would most certainly be a source of great disadvantage on the Final Day.
I don’t know what will happen to Mother Teressa. If she committed ‘shirk’ in her life, which it appears she did, then no amount of good work she has done will come to her rescue, because in that case what she did was for a god who is not the Real One. God Almighty has told us that ‘shirk’ is intolerable, because we are all born with ‘Tauhidi’ nature. We know a priori that there is only One God. If there was anything genuine that kept Mother Teressa from accepting the true God, He most certainly will accept her excuse compassionately. However, as I said, it’s God alone Who can decide about Mother Teressa and all others including us as to whether our performance in view of our potential and circumstances was acceptable or not.