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Comparing Islam and Christianity

The doctrine of Salvation or Soteriology is our focus for this comparative study. More specifically how Muslims (followers of Islam) and Christians (followers of Christianity), view Salvation and its inherent requirements. The word Salvation can have many different definitions to various people and religions.

The definition for salvation we will be using comes from The American HeritageĀ® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition ;

1.Preservation or deliverance from destruction, difficulty, or evil. 2.Deliverance from the power or penalty of sin; redemption.

In plain English, we will define salvation as what it takes to get into Heaven or Paradise.

We will investigate the following questions.

1.What do the religions of Islam and Christianity teach in regards to salvation? 2.How is salvation gained by an individual?

The Koranic quotations are taken from by Abdullah Yusufali’s translation titled The Meanings Of The Holy Qu’ran unless otherwise noted.

The Biblical texts will be from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, again unless noted otherwise.

By examining what both the Qu’ran and the Bible have to say on the topic of salvation we find that both use the word Grace to describe a mechanism of God’s gift of Salvation.

Qu’ran Surah 8:29

O ye who believe! if ye fear Allah, He will grant you a criterion (to judge between right and wrong), remove from you (all) evil (that may afflict) you, and forgive you: for Allah is the Lord of grace unbounded.

Bible Deuteronomy 7:9

Know that Yahweh your God is God, the faithful God who keeps His gracious covenant loyalty for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commands.

Grace shall be defined as the following:

1.a special favor 2.the prerogative of mercy exercised (as by a chief executive) or granted in the form of equitable relief

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of Law, Ā© 1996 Merriam-Webster, Inc.

Grace is a therefore receiving something we did not deserve or earn through our own actions.

Islam and Christianity diverge however on our need for salvation based on their understanding of Sin.

Christianity teaches that all men and women are born in a fallen state and thus have no hope of the righteousness demanded by God. The Doctrine of Original Sin states that Adam by his conscious description to disobey God ushered death into the world.

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all men, because all sinned. Romans 5:12

[The effects of this first sin were] (1) “shame, a sense of degradation and pollution; (2) dread of the displeasure of God, or a sense of guilt, and the consequent desire to hide from his presence. These effects were unavoidable. They prove the loss not only of innocence but of original righteousness, and, with it, of the favour and fellowship of God. The state therefore to which Adam was reduced by his disobedience, so far as his subjective condition is concerned, was analogous to that of the fallen angels. He was entirely and absolutely ruined” (Hodge’s Theology).

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23

Men and women don’t just have a sin nature, they are conceived with a sin nature!

Indeed, I was guilty [when I] was born; I was sinful when my mother conceived me. Psalm 51:5

Thus the Biblical understanding of Sin, and our need for Salvation is one of desperation. Salvation is a condition that man can not resolve on his own. As evidenced by Jesus’ reply to his astonished Disciples after His rebuke of the rich young man as recorded in all three Synoptic Gospels.

Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus replied, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.” Luke 18:26-27

The Qu’ran like the Bible, states that Adam sinned by disobeying God and eating the forbidden fruit. Adam and Eve admitted there sin and begged forgiveness. Allah forgave them, but also punished them with a mortal existence on Earth.

They said: “Our Lord! We have wronged our own souls: If thou forgive us not and bestow not upon us Thy Mercy, we shall certainly be lost.” ((Allah)) said: “Get ye down. With enmity between yourselves. On earth will be your dwelling-place and your means of livelihood,- for a time.” He said: “Therein shall ye live, and therein shall ye die; but from it shall ye be taken out (at last).” Surah 7:23-25

Islamic Theologians teach that the nature of man is basically good, but prone to following this own will and not the will of Allah. Qu’ran Surah 12:53

“Nor do I absolve my own self (of blame): the (human) soul is certainly prone to evil, unless my Lord do bestow His Mercy: but surely my Lord is Oft- forgiving, Most Merciful.”

M.S. Laher in A Living Faith Published by I.M.S states “regarding the Islamic understanding of the nature of man As made by God, man is innocent, pure, true and free. He is not sinful by nature. He is born free from any so called “Original Sin,” By nature he inclines to do righteous deeds. He is given true understanding about his own position in the universe and about God’s goodness, wisdom and power. That is man’s true self – just as it is the nature of the lamb to be gentle and of the horse to be swift.

But man is caught in the web of customs, superstitions, selfish desires and false teachings. These make him unclean, false, slavish, greedy, lustful and selfish. It is these that make him have strong desires for things that are wrong and forbidden. Man is diverted from the love of his fellowman, and the pure worship of the One True God. The problem is to cure this crookedness and to restore human nature to what it should be under the Will of God.”

The Christian view of Sin is that due to Adam’s sin all men are born with the propensity to sin.

The Islamic view of Adam’s sin is of a personal nature, what Adam did is not applicable to anyone but Adam. That our sin is personal and men have the ability to not sin and thus follow Allah’s will.

The first step, which until now had been unspoken and that is Faith. What are the requirements of “Faith”? The Muslim to be must first express his faith in Allah and his prophet Muhammad. The convert needs to make a declaration, known as la-shahaadatain. This declaration of faith has two parts one swearing fealty to Allah and the acknowledges his messenger Muhammad. The Arabic transliteration is as follows;

1.Ash-hadu alla ilaaha illallah 2.Wa ash-hadu anna Muhammad-ar-rasool ullaah

The English translation would be :

1.I bear witness and attest that there is no god worthy of worship but the One God Allah 2.I bear witness and attest that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah For the Muslim this is the required first step.

The Christian is called to an expression of faith in a similar fashion; Romans 10:9 states

“If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

John 1:12 further states

“but to all who did receive Him, He gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in His name,”

Paraphrasing the two verses they say, believing and confessing that Jesus is Lord and Saviour makes you a child of God. The words used are far less important than the sentiment expressed.

The Bible teaches that Christians are saved out of the loving kindness of God’s good grace, nothing else is required.

But God, who is abundant in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. By grace you are saved! Ephesians 2:4-5

The Qu’ran actually has three additional criteria that must be met, these are

1.deeds 2.leading each other to the truth 3.leading each other to patience.

All of these are expressed in the 103:1-3. We will discuss only one of these requirements for brevity’s sake and that will be deeds. Qu’ran Surah 103:1-3

By (the Token of) Time (through the ages), Verily Man is in loss, Except such as have Faith, and do righteous deeds, and (join together) in the mutual teaching of Truth, and of Patience and Constancy.

At puberty a ledger of good and bad deeds starts accumulating. This ledger of deeds is used by God to judge the persons fate. Islam teaches that our good deeds can position us to receive mercy, and thus admission to Paradise. The Muslim can never know which side of the scale is holding the heavier balance. That of his good deeds possibly leading to Paradise or that of his evil deeds pointing to Hell. Qu’ran Surah 23:101-103

Then when the Trumpet is blown, there will be no more relationships between them that Day, nor will one ask after another! Then those whose balance (of good deeds) is heavy,- they will attain salvation: But those whose balance is light, will be those who have lost their souls, in Hell will they abide.

With no assurance they have done enough good to earn their way into Paradise,outside of martyrdom, Islamic concept of grace is more a reward than a gift.

The Christian can take solace in the words of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as recorded in John 5:24

“I assure you: Anyone who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not come under judgment, but has passed from death to life.

The Greek word translated as “has” is echo (ekh’-o) and means to have, to own and to possess. Christ tells us we can be assured we are His. In Christianity the Child of God HAS everlasting life.

To summarize the questions we set out to answer;

1.What do the religions of Islam and Christianity teach in regards to salvation?

The Muslims need for a Saviour is non-existent due to the ability of each individual to choose to not sin. Islam teaches that humans are generally good by nature. Thus Salvation is a foreign concept in Islamic teachings. The Christian teaching of Sin and are the need for an unblemished, right before God sacrifice, dictate the need for a Savior.

2.How is salvation gained by an individual?

The Muslim must have faith in Allah, do more good than bad, teach each other truth and patience. The Christian must make Jesus Christ Lord of their lives.
About the author:
Clyde Annach is the operator of the Web Log uhho, Clyde’s been thinking again!


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