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  1. Tawheed/shirk & Salvation in the Islamic Worldview
  2. Salvation according to the Qur’an and Hadeeth
  3. A Comparison of the Doctrine of Salvation between the Islamic & Christian Worldview

*Just as in the last post it is important to focus on the concepts presented regardless if you remember all of the specific Arabic terms for a doctrine in Islam

*All Quranic references are from the Saheeh International Version

  1. Tawheed/shirk & Salvation in the Islamic Worldview

It is important to briefly review an important connection from the previous lesson of how the Doctrine of God affects the Doctrine of Salvation in the Islamic worldview.   While there is no 100% guarantee way to reach heaven according to Islam, on the other hand if one commits shirk by associating partners with God, then that person will be eternally condemned according to the Islamic worldview,

“The opposite of complete tawheed is defined in Islam as shirk, Shirk literally means to take partners with Allah in any aspect of His divinity.  Shirk is the antithesis of Islam, which is based on the belief that full acceptance of tawheed leads to eternal salvation and corruption of tawheed leads to damnation” [1].

We see an important connection here of how the Islamic doctrine of Salvation is related to the Doctrine of God, therefore in order to have a holistic understanding of the Doctrine of Salvation in Islam we have to examine it in the context of the preceding sections rather than isolating it from other doctrines in the Islamic worldview.


2. Salvation according to the Qur’an and Hadeeth

This section will consist primarily of quotes to let the Qur’an and Hadeeth testify to the doctrine of Salvation in the Islamic worldview, which will be examined and discussed in the third section.

According to Islam the final day of judgment is a weighing of the scales of good and bad deeds and if God is merciful, then you will enter heaven.

Surah 21:47, “And we set up a just balance [scales] for the Day of Resurrection.  Thus, no soul will be treated unjustly.  Even though it be the weight of a mustard seed, We shall bring it forth to be weighed; and Our reckoning will suffice”.

Surah 23:99-104, “Until when death comes to one of them he says: “My Lord, send me back!  That I may do the good works I had left undone.”  It is but a word he speaks.  And behind them is a barrier till the day they will be raised.  But when the Horn is blown, there shall be no kinship among them on that day, nor will they ask of one another.  Then those whose scales are heavy, they are the successful.  And those whose scales are light have lost themselves; they shall abide in hell forever.  The fire shall scorch their faces, and they are sullen therein”.

Surah 42:16-18, “And those who argue concerning Allah after He has been answered, their argument is null with their Lord, and wrath will fall upon them.  Theirs is a severe torment.  It is Allah Who has sent down the Book with truth and the scales; and how do you know?  The hour may be near.  Those who do not believe in it seek to hasten it, but those who believe dread it and know that it is the truth.  Indeed, those who dispute concerning the Hour have gone far astray”.

Surah 99:6-8, “That day mankind will come forth in scattered groups to be shown their deeds.  And he who has done an atom’s weight of good will see it, and he who has done an atom’s weight  of evil will see it”.

Sahih Al-Bukhari 7:577, “Narrated by Abu Huraira: I heard Allah’s Apostle [Muhammad] saying, “The good deeds of any person will not make him enter paradise”.  They (the prophets companions) said, “Not even you, O Allah’s Apostle?  He said, “Not even myself, unless Allah bestows His favor and mercy on me.”  So be moderate in your religious deeds and do the deeds that are within your ability: and none of you should wish for death, for if he is a good doer, he may increase his good deeds, and if he is an evil doer, he may repent to Allah” [2].

Sahih Al-Bukhari 8:474, “Narrated Aisha: The Prophet said, “Do good deeds properly, sincerely and moderately, and receive good news because one’s good deeds will not make him enter Paradise.”  They asked, “Even you, O Allah’s Apostle?”  He said, “Even I, unless and until Allah bestows His pardon and Mercy upon me” [3].


“One of the most famous stories in the hadith is of the mass murderer who had killed ninety-nine persons.  I utilized the story as part of my presentation on Islam for a number of years before engaging in a debate with the imam of a large mosque in New York.  Prior to our debate, we participated together on a radio program.  In explaining the Islamic view of salvation, he repeated this very story without any prompting on my part.  There are a number of versions; I will conflate them together into one for our purposes.[4]

Muhammad told of a man from the sons of Israel who had committed ninety-nine murders.  Having done so, he set out asking whether his repentance could ever be accepted.  He came upon a monk and asked this vital question.  The monk said no, and so the man killed the monk as well, for an even one hundred victims.  He then approached a scholar and asked the same question.  The scholar told him to go to a village, where wise people would instruct him in what he had to do for his repentance to be accepted.  And so he set out.

Unfortunately for him, the point of his death came as he was traveling (Islamic belief in the set date and hour of one’s death comes into play here).  The angels of mercy, from Paradise, and the angels of punishment, from the Fire, came to claim his soul and argued over him.  The angels of punishment seemed to have the easier argument: “he killed 100 persons and has no good works!”  But the angels of mercy retorted, “He was on his way to learn about repentance!”  So Allah decreed that they were to measure the distance the man had traveled from the city where he began and compare it to the distance to the city where he intended to learn about repentance, he would go to Paradise.  Then Allah intervened and caused the earth to shrink between the man and the city so that he was found to be one cubit closer, and the angels of mercy took him to Paradise[5]”.

The Islamic doctrine of qadar describes God’s decree of what takes place in history, which includes salvation.  The Qur’an presents a very robust doctrine of predestination.  This builds upon the previous mention of the natural born state of man being a Muslim believing in Tawhid, the oneness of God.  However since there is no assurance of salvation in the present life for Muslims they cannot know if they were predestined for heaven or hell until after they die.

Surah 9:51, “Nothing will befall us except what Allah has ordained for us.  He is our Protector.  In Allah let the believers put their trust”.

Surah 57:21-23, “Race one with another for forgiveness from your Lord and for a garden the breadth of which is as that of the heaven and earth, prepared for those who believe in Allah and His messengers.  Such is the favor of Allah; He bestows it on whom He will.  Allah’s favor is immense.  No misfortune can befall in the earth, or your persons, but it is recorded in a book before We bring it into being.  That is easy for Allah.  So that you grieve not for the good things you miss or be overjoyed at what you gain.  Allah does not love those who are proud and boastful”.

Another essential aspect of the Doctrine of Salvation in the Islamic Worldview is the lack of a doctrine of Atonement.  God’s forgiveness is based on God’s decree, not on atonement for sins according to the Islamic worldview.

“Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said that on the Day of Resurrection Allah will separate a man belonging to his people in presence of all creatures and spread ninety-nine scrolls over him, each scroll extending as far as the eye could see, then say, “Do you object to anything in this?  Have my scribes who keep note wronged you?”  He will reply, “No, my Lord.”  He will ask him if he has any excuse, and when he tells his Lord that he has none, He will say, “On the contrary you have with Us a good deed, and you will not be wronged today.”  A document will then be brought out containing, “I testify that there is no god but Allah, and that Muhammad is His servant and Messenger,” and He will say, “Come to be weighed.”  He will ask his Lord, “What is this document along with these scrolls?”  And He will reply, “You will not be wronged.”  The scrolls will then be put in one side of the scale and the document in the other, and the scrolls will become light and the document heavy, for nothing could compare in weight with Allah’s name[6]”.


3. A Comparison of the Doctrine of Salvation between the Islamic & Christian Worldview

The brief presentation of the key aspects of the doctrine of salvation in the Islamic worldview create a strong contrast with the Christian worldview.  In the Islamic worldview there is no need for perfect righteousness to fulfill the standard of God’s law, there is no doctrine of atonement, and no assurance of salvation.  Salvation is solely based on the Sovereign decree of God with the only prerequisite that the individual is a follower of Islam since any denial of Tawheed will always result in eternal damnation.  God’s justice according to the Islamic worldview does not require the standard of God’s law to be met, not does it contrast the Holiness of God with the sinfulness of man.  There is no doctrine equivalent to total depravity since man is born a Muslim believing in Allah, not a fallen, guilty, covenant breaker in Adam.  These are not just apparent discrepancies, but create a fatal flaw for the Islamic worldview because it claims to be in continuity with the previous revelation of God (The Old and New testament), so if it were a continuation of God’s revelation, then the Qur’an’s doctrine of atonement and how one becomes right before God on Judgment day should be the same, but they are polar opposites.

God’s justice demands a perfect atonement for justice to be satisfied; otherwise God’s justice would be arbitrary.  In the Christian worldview we have a perfect mediator, Christ, fully God and fully man as the federal representative of believers who accomplished what Adam failed to do by his perfect life of obedience and death for the covenant curse from Adam.

Proverbs 17:15, “He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous, Both of them alike are an abomination to the Lord” (NASB).

Isaiah 53:4-11, “Surely our [e]griefs He Himself bore, And our [f]sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, [g]Smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was [h]pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our [i]well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all To [j]fall on Him. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth. By oppression and judgment He was taken away; And as for His generation, who considered That He was cut off out of the land of the [k]living For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due? His grave was assigned with wicked men, Yet He was with a rich man in His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was there any deceit in His mouth. 10 But the Lord was pleased To crush Him, [l]putting Him to grief; If [m]He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His [n]offspring, He will prolong His days, And the [o]good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand. 11 As a result of the [p]anguish of His soul, He will see [q]it and be satisfied; By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities” (NASB).


Romans 3:21-26, “21 But now apart [k]from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those [l]who believe; for there is no distinction; 23 for all [m]have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;25 whom God displayed publicly as a [n]propitiation [o]in His blood through faith.  This was to demonstrate His righteousness, [p]because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; 26 for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who [q]has faith in Jesus” (NASB).

I will discuss in the next lesson one last essential view in Islam regarding how the Islamic Worldview interprets the previous revelation of the Old and New Testament since Muslims will frequently argue that the Old and New Testament have been corrupted, and therefore cannot be trusted.

[1] Muhammad ibn ‘Abdul-Wahhab  (author), Sameh Strauch (compiler & translator), Kitab At-Tawheed Explained (International Islamic Publishing House, Saudi Arabia, 2010), 22

[2] Cited in James White, What Every Christian Needs to Know about the Qur’an, 149

[3] Cited in Ibid, 149

[4] The base story is found, for example, in Sahih Al-Bukhari 4:676

[5] James White, What Every Christian Needs to know about the Qur’an, 157-8

[6] At-Tirmidhi, 1463 cited in James White, What Every Christian Needs to know about the Qur’an, 159