Exploring Islam 09
9. The possibility of Salvation
We have previously looked at the concept of sin in Islam and Christianity, now we shall naturally move onto their ideas of salvation. Salvation is the common idea that there is a need to be saved from punishment and condemnation for sinful acts, ultimately seen in going to Paradise and Heaven. Paradise for the Muslim is not about spending time in the presence of Allah as his transcendence still remains even here. For the Christian, Heaven is all about worshipping God directly in his presence in a way which is not fully possible now because of sin. This fundamental difference can help us see how and why their routes for salvation are equally dissimilar.
Salvation Within Islam
Within Islam salvation is mostly a concept based upon works seen in belief and actions;
Qur’an 3:57 – ‘But as for those who believed and did righteous deeds, He will give them in full their rewards.’ It is something which at first glance is achievable by the Muslim on their own, unlike a Christian who believes that only God can help them out of their sinful predicament. Recognising that you are a slave unto Allah, after all this is what the word ‘Muslim’ literally means, and that it is your duty to be obedient to his law in the way you live your life. However, despite the most ardent attempts by the most committed Muslim does not guarantee entrance into Paradise. Allah’s will in deciding who does gain entry is always above any actions by any person even if they are in accordance to the law. Ultimately, a Muslim’s salvation is in the hands of Allah, in a way predestined, and they will never know for sure their fate.
Qur’an 7:178 – ‘Whoever Allah guides - he is the [rightly] guided; and whoever He sends astray - it is those who are the losers.’
Salvation Within Christianity
(For more about salvation in Christian thought on this website, please do click here. )
These ideas are in stark contrast with salvation found in Christianity, of which only a summary is presented. In order for forgiveness to be given by God for humanity’s sin punishment must be borne by someone. Instead of every individual suffering death for their disobedience God, in Jesus Christ, chose to suffer the penalty of death on their behalf. 1 Peter 2:24 – ‘He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.’ This is something alien to the Muslim where a substitutionary sacrifice for sin is outright refused as even possible. We will talk about how Islam views Jesus in a later podcast. Earning salvation for the Christian is therefore not achieved by their own efforts or successes even though the Bible does advocate a way of life which God wishes. Instead, forgiveness is a gift to humanity out of God’s grace, love and desire to have a real personal relationship with his creations which would not be possible with sin in the way.
Ephesians 2:8 – ‘For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.’
Although there are concepts of predestination within Christianity, salvation once accepted by a person and confirmed by the Holy Spirit is guaranteed by God giving a sense of peace and assurance which a Muslim is forever searching for.