According to Muslim belief, the one who commits a major sin is in grave danger and has exposed himself to the punishment of Allaah, but the will of Allaah is to decide, and Allaah may forgive or pardon him, or He may punish him in a manner commensurate with his sin, except for the one whose sin reaches the level of disbelief in Allaah. In that case he will deserve to be punished and to abide forever in Hell.
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah was asked – as it says in Majmoo’ al-Fataawa (11/646) – about women who pile their hair on top of their heads, and they will not see Paradise or smell its fragrance. But it is narrated in the hadeeth from the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him): “Whoever says La ilaaha ill-Allaah will enter Paradise.”
It is proven in Saheeh Muslim and elsewhere from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “There are two types of the people of Hell whom I have not seen: men with whips like the tails of cattle with which they strike the people, and women who are clothed but naked, walking with an enticing gait, with something like the humps of camels on their heads. They will not enter Paradise nor even smell its fragrance, and its fragrance can be smelled from such and such a distance.”
Whoever claims that this hadeeth is not saheeh and that what it mentions of the severe punishment is not true is ignorant and has gone astray from the path of sharee’ah, and he deserves a punishment that will deter him and other ignorant people like him who object to the saheeh ahaadeeth that are soundly narrated from the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him).
There are many saheeh ahaadeeth about this warning. For example:
“Whoever kills a mu’aahid unlawfully will not smell the fragrance of Paradise, although its fragrance may be detected from a distance of forty years.”
“No one will enter Paradise in whose heart is a mustard seed’s worth of arrogance.”
“There are three to whom Allaah will not speak on the Day of Resurrection nor will He praise them, and their will be a painful torment: an old man who commits zina, a king who tells lies and a poor man who is arrogant.”
There are verses in the Qur’aan which speak of this warning, such as the verse in which Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And whosoever disobeys Allaah and His Messenger (Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم), and transgresses His limits, He will cast him into the Fire, to abide therein; and he shall have a disgraceful torment”
This is something on which the Muslims are agreed, that the warning in the Qur’aan and Sunnah to those who commit major sins is true, but Allaah has stated in the Qur’aan and the Sunnah of His Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) that the warning mentioned in the Qur’aan and Sunnah does not apply to the one who repents, as He says (interpretation of the meaning): “Say: O ‘Ibaadi (My slaves) who have transgressed against themselves (by committing evil deeds and sins)! Despair not of the Mercy of Allaah, verily, Allaah forgives all sins. Truly, He is Oft‑Forgiving, Most Merciful”
i.e., to the one who repents.
In another verse Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Verily, Allaah forgives not that partners should be set up with Him (in worship), but He forgives except that (anything else) to whom He wills” [al-Nisa’ 4:48].
This applies to the one who does not repent. Shirk will not be forgiven, but with regard to anything less than shirk, if Allaah wills He will forgive and if He wills He will punish for it.
In al-Saheehayn it is narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “No tiredness, exhaustion, worry, grief, distress or harm befalls a believer in this world, not even a thorn that pricks him, but Allaah expiates some of his sins thereby.”
Hence when the verse (interpretation of the meaning): “whosoever works evil, will have the recompense thereof” [al-Nisa’ 4:123] was revealed, Abu Bakr said: O Messenger of Allaah, this is going to destroy us; who among us has not done evil? He said: “O Abu Bakr, do you not get tired? Do you not grieve? Do you not go through hardship? That is part of the recompense.”
By means of calamities in this world, Allaah expiates the sins of the believers that may be expiated by means thereof, and the same applies to the good deeds that he does. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): “Verily, the good deeds remove the evil deeds” [Hood 11:114]. And the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The five daily prayers, from one Jumu’ah to the next, and one Ramadaan to the next, are expiations for whatever (of minor sins) come in between them, so long as one avoids major sins.” And Allaah does not wrong His slaves in the slightest, as He says (interpretation of the meaning):
“So whosoever does good equal to the weight of an atom (or a small ant) shall see it.
8. And whosoever does evil equal to the weight of an atom (or a small ant) shall see it”
So the warning may be cancelled out, either by means of repentance, or by means of good deeds that one does which are equal to the bad deeds, or by means of calamities through which Allaah expiates sins, or by other means. End quote.
Hence the scholars interpreted every verse or hadeeth the apparent meaning of which is that those who commit major sins will abide forever in Hell in ways that are in accordance with other texts of the Qur’aan and Sunnah.
Al-Nawawi (may Allaah have mercy on him) said in Sharh Muslim (17/191):
The words of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), “will not enter Paradise” may be interpreted in two ways:
They may be interpreted as referring to the one who regards what is haraam as permissible, despite knowing that it is haraam; so she is a kaafir who will abide forever in Hell and will never enter Paradise.
It may be interpreted as meaning that she will not enter it at first along with those who are successful. End quote.
It says in Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah (2/27):
Question: is it permissible for us to believe that the women who are clothed yet naked are kaafirs, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, “They will not enter Paradise nor will they smell its fragrance…”?
Those who believe that it is permissible after being told about the ruling and having it explained to them may be regarded as kaafirs. Those who do not regard it as permissible but still go out clothed yet naked are not kaafirs, but they are committing a major sin and they have to give it up and repent to Allaah from that, in the hope that Allaah may forgive them. If a woman dies in that state without having repented to Allaah, then she is subject to the will of Allaah, like all those who commit sin, because Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Verily, Allaah forgives not that partners should be set up with Him (in worship), but He forgives except that (anything else) to whom He wills” [al-Nisa’ 4:48]. End quote.
It also says (17/104):
Those women who regard that type of dressing as permissible are kaafirs who will abide forever in Hell if they die in that state, and they will not enter Paradise or smell its fragrance. If they wear that type of clothing even though they believe it is haraam, then they are committing a major sin, but that does not put them beyond the pale of Islam, and they are subject to the will of Allaah: if Allaah wills He will forgive them and if He wills He will punish them for the bad deeds they have committed, and they will not enter Paradise or smell its fragrance until after they have been punished first.
This is the view of Ahl al-Sunnah, which reconciles the texts which speak of promise with those which speak of warning. This is the middle path between the views of the Murji’is, Khawaarij and Mu’tazliah.
Shaykh Ibn Baaz said in Majmoo’ al-Fataawa (6/356):
With regard to the words of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), “they will not enter Paradise nor smell its fragrance”, this is a stern warning, but that does not imply that they are kaafirs, and they will not abide forever in Hell; this applies to all sinners who die as Muslims. Rather they and other sinners are all given the threat of Hell for their sins, but they are subject to the will of Allaah: if He wills He will pardon them and forgive them, and if He wills He will punish them, as He said in two places in Soorat al-Nisa’: “Verily, Allaah forgives not that partners should be set up with Him (in worship), but He forgives except that (anything else) to whom He wills” [al-Nisa’ 4:48]. The sinner who enters Hell will not abide therein forever as is the case with the kaafir; rather those who are meant to abide there forever – such as the murderer, adulterer and one who committed suicide – their abiding therein is not the same as that of the kuffaar, rather it is an abiding that will come to an end, according to Ahl al-Sunnah wa’l-Jamaa’ah, unlike the Khawaarij and Mutazilah and those innovators who followed in their footsteps. The mutawaatir saheeh ahaadeeth from the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) indicate that he (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) will intercede for the sinners among his ummah, and that Allaah will accept his intercession several times, and each time He will stipulate a number for him and he will bring them forth from Hell. The same applies to the rest of the Messengers, believers and angels – all of them will intercede by His leave and He will accept their intercession for whomever He wills of the people of Tawheed who entered Hell because of their sins and are Muslims. Then there will remain in Hell the rest of the sinners who were not included in the intercession of the intercessors, but Allaah will bring them out by His mercy and kindness, and there will be no one left in Hell but the kuffaar who will abide therein forever and ever, as Allaah says concerning the kuffaar (interpretation of the meaning):
“whenever it abates, We shall increase for them the fierceness of the Fire”
“So taste you (the results of your evil actions). No increase shall We give you, except in torment”
And He says concerning the kuffaar who worship idols (interpretation of the meaning):
“Thus Allaah will show them their deeds as regrets for them. And they will never get out of the Fire”
“Verily, those who disbelieve, if they had all that is in the earth, and as much again therewith to ransom themselves thereby from the torment on the Day of Resurrection, it would never be accepted of them, and theirs would be a painful torment”
“They will long to get out of the Fire, but never will they get out therefrom; and theirs will be a lasting torment”
And there are many similar verses. We ask Allaah to keep us safe and sound from being like them. End quote.
To sum up, the woman who makes a wanton display of herself (tabarruj), despite the fact that she is exposing herself to a painful punishment from Allaah, is still subject to the will of Allaah: He may forgive her and not punish her, or He may subject her to a painful punishment. Moreover, some of the believers who commit sins will inevitably enter Hell, as is mentioned in the mutawaatir ahaadeeth.
And Allaah knows best.