Is Aylan Kurdi now with Jesus?

I don’t want to be insensitive but when I was reflecting on the gut-wrenching image of the drowned refugee boy lying facedown on the beach, I couldn’t help but wonder “Where is he now? Was his hellish life on earth a mere meaningless foretaste of endless misery in the next, or is he living peacefully with God?” I know that when a loved one of mine has died I’ve been comforted by believing that they will be restored in the new creation and we will eventually be reunited.

For many Christians the answer to these questions is simple, “Did they believe in Jesus?”. In this particular case, Aylan1 probably didn’t – he was most likely a Sunni Muslim2… Most Christians can’t stomach the idea that God would send children to Hell and would suggest that Aylan did make it into Heaven because he hadn’t yet reached the “age of accountability”3 .

I certainly hope Aylan hasn’t gone from hell on earth to a literal Hell. But assuming he was spared, that raises the question, “Will he ever be reunited with his mother and father?”. His mother, Rehen, who sadly also drowned, had reached the “age of accountability”. It’s hard to imagine Aylan ever being truly happy if he’s never reunited with her. In an attempt to solve this dilemma some Christians have suggested that, “Perhaps God obliterates from their minds any knowledge of lost persons so that they experience no pangs of remorse for them.”4 However, as Talbott rightly points out, “In the case of those whose entire family is lost, this would mean, I presume, that God expunges from their minds every memory of parents and other family members; and I doubt that Craig has any conception of how much of a person’s mind that would likely destroy.”5

After all, Humanity is interconnected:

  • Biologically we are all one species, indeed one race6, who are all distantly related to one another.
  • Physically we all share this planet, this global village.
  • By agape love, which is the self-sacrificial love that God shows us and asks us to display. It includes both our mind and our emotions. Talbott insightfully points out that in order to truly love someone, one must love those whom they love7. This creates a strong network of links between everyone.
  • Spiritually, Christians also believe we all share in the image of God, that our Creator breathes His life into us8. Some would go as far as saying that we are all children of God, even those who don’t live in the light of that relationship (still wallowing in the Prodigal son’s “pigpen”9).

Considering these things, I think our response to anyone in hellish circumstances, should be primarily compassionate (taking priority over our concerns about our economy, culture, etc.). Christians in particular, ought to imitate our Father in showing empathy and giving them refuge10. I think this should apply both now (e.g. with refugees fleeing war and persecution, and those locked up in indefinite detention centres) and in the age to come (otherwise I’d suggest that if Hell never ceased, it is the ultimate “indefinite detention centre” – a depressing thought indeed). As we open our hearts and doors11, we anticipate the day when the gates of the New Jerusalem (heaven come to earth, God dwelling with Humanity) will never be shut12.

Open Gates


1. Media initially reported his name was “Aylan”, however his aunt recently said his original, Kurdish name was Alan.
2. According to Wikipedia the majority of Kurds are Sunni Muslims and both his mother and father have Arabic names, Rehen and Abdullah, and his uncle’s name is Mohammed.
3. Most Christians believe God has mercy on all people under a certain age https://bible.org/question/what-does-bible-say-about-age-accountability.
4. William Lane Craig’s http://www.reasonablefaith.org/talbotts-universalism.
5. Thomas Talbott’s The Inescapable Love of God (1999, revised 2015), p180. Also available on p13 of http://www.thomastalbott.com/pdf/Chapter11.pdf.
6. “Today the vast majority of those involved in research on human variation would agree that biological races do not exist among humans.” http://www.newsweek.com/there-no-such-thing-race-283123
7. Thomas Talbott’s The Inescapable Love of God (1999, revised 2015), p126. 
8. Genesis 2:7
9. Luke 15:11-32
10. A helpful blog post on how God’s response to refugees should shape our own.
11. Practical ways we can help refugees
12. Revelation 21:25

4 thoughts on “Is Aylan Kurdi now with Jesus?”

  1. Not only is it impossible for us to be filled with joy, knowing that someone we love is suffering eternal conscious torture, it is also impossible if a loved one is in misery because one of HER loved ones is suffering, and so on and so on. We are ALL related. Never ask for whom the bell tolls. Here’s an interesting article that talks about our interrelatedness without exploring its implications so much. http://io9.com/5791530/why-humans-all-much-more-related-than-you-think For me, the implication is this: we can never be complete if even one of us is missing. We are all one. Thanks for a great post!

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  2. My view is that this poor boy did indeed go to Hell, and he is suffering unspeakable torments. However the good news is that this isn’t the end of the story: there is still room for Jesus, or the saints to come down from heaven, visit the boy in Hell and evangelise him. And there is therefore still room for this boy to accept the gospel and come to salvation. Furthermore I believe that it is predestined that this is going to happen. The ending of this chapter was tragic, as it consisted of a poor boy ending up in Hell; but the ending of the entire story will be glorious, consisting of total reconciliation of this boy and his family to God.

    The motivation behind my view is the idea that hearing and accepting the gospel is not optional. It is not possible to enter heaven without having heard the unconditional promise of salvation and placing your trust in it. The story of Christ must be known and understood and responded to. Otherwise evangelism is fundamentally optional: There is no fundamental, deal-breaking reason why evangelism is necessary if people can get to heaven without it.

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    1. I don’t know how God deals with kids, particularly those who are too young to understand words, let alone the gospel. However, if he did go to Hell, I’m confident that it wouldn’t be the end of his story and that God would reach out to him with the gospel of salvation and succeed in rescuing him.

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