Q: Perhaps there are some people in Australia, Africa or America who have never even heard about Islam or about its rules and regulations. What their position will be after death?
A: Indeed such people will not be chastised after their death. They will not be questioned. From the viewpoint of logic and Islamic law they do not attract divine anger and punishment.
It is common sense that holding them responsible would be against Divine Justice, as arguments have not been exhausted for them. As regards the divine law, it is mentioned in Quran that:
إِلَّا الْمُسْتَضْعَفِينَ مِنَ الرِّجَالِ وَالنِّسَاءِ وَالْوِلْدَانِ لَا يَسْتَطِيعُونَ حِيلَةً وَلَا يَهْتَدُونَ سَبِيلًا
فَأُولَٰئِكَ عَسَى اللَّهُ أَنْ يَعْفُوَ عَنْهُمْ ۚ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ عَفُوًّا غَفُورًا
"Except the weak from among the men and the children who have neither in their power the means nor can they find a way (to escape); so these, it may be, Allah will pardon them, and Allah is Pardoning, Forgiving. " (An-Nisa, 4:98,99)
It is mentioned in Kifayatul Muwahhideen: The 'weak ' may include men and women who lack intelligence and arguments might not have been presented and exhausted for them.5
Such people might not have known anything about Islam and faith or may not have the means or power to get such information. Perhaps they are silly, mad, deaf or dumb and those who lived in the days of ignorance and died therein. In other words all those are 'weak' for whom arguments have not been exhausted.
Infidels are those, who during their lives, did not cultivate faith in God and Judgment Day and died in a state of disbelief. Transgressors are sinners and oppressors; they are unjust people, who committed evil deeds and who died without repenting. Punishment to them after their death depends upon their defaults. If they were helpless, they will not be chastised and if they were defaulters, their punishment will be in accordance with their faults.
Here helplessness is in the meaning of falling short. For example, a person is only one meter tall and his food or medicine is out of his reach. If he dies, he will not be punished after death. But if one is able to take the food or medicine, but keeps sitting and consequently dies. Such a person is indeed a defaulter and hence responsible; and will be punished for committing suicide.6
Therefore those who, due to lack of intelligence could not get faith in God, the Hereafter and other true beliefs and die in that state of ignorance, are weak and not liable to divine punishment and so also those to whom true beliefs never reached till the end of their lives, or if reached, they could not find a way to obtain them and thus were really disabled. In other words, all those who were truly weak and who did not make a default will not be punished.
Transgressors are those who commit sins whose evil and unlawfulness is known to them through natural human sense like killing someone without a cause and oppressing others or being excessive to others; such people are not weak, on the contrary they are defaulters. Thus, a disbeliever who is weak from the viewpoint of his infidelity - if he kills someone wrongfully - after his death he will not be punished for his infidelity due to his inability to know the truth. But he will, anyhow, be chastised for manslaughter. It is so because with regard to his faith, he can say: I had no way of finding the true faith. But from the viewpoint of manslaughter, he cannot say: I did not know that it was an offence. Though he had not heard the commandments of God and religion, his nature and common sense has exhausted the argument for him.
As regards sins proved from the viewpoint of religion, like missing or giving up of prayers and fasts etc.; if he was really helpless, as mentioned earlier in detail, he will not be questioned and punished.
Sayyid Abdul Husayn Dastghaib