Myth #10 - Islam Is a Religion Which Can Give Eternal Salvation

Myth #10

Islam is a Religion Which Can Give Eternal Salvation

“For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”
- II Corinthians 6:2

Perhaps the most important question of all, then, is this: Does Islam offer a true hope of heaven to its followers? Can following the teachings of Mohammed save a person's soul? Are the over one billion Muslims in the world following "another way" to God, or are they treading a false path leading only to hell?

Islam - A Way to Heaven?

Islam cannot save a person. How could it? The reasonable question to ask is: Would God be impressed with the works or rituals that man performs? If one is inclined to answer this question in the affirmative, then why would they think this? Why would we think that the pitiful offerings that we can give to God would be enough to earn us a spot in heaven? The short and simple answer to this is that our works cannot get us into heaven. However, this is what Islam essentially teaches. Like every other religion on earth aside from biblical Christianity, Islam teaches that certain works and rituals are needed before a person can gain entry into Paradise (or whatever the desired end result of the particular religion may be). Islam is essentially a works-based religion that views man's deeds and religious rituals as competent to earn merit and favor from God. This is seen in the Qur'an,

"Therefore stand firm (in the straight Path) as thou art commanded,- thou and those who with thee turn (unto Allah); and transgress not (from the Path): for He seeth well all that ye do. And incline not to those who do wrong, or the Fire will seize you; and ye have no protectors other than Allah, nor shall ye be helped. And establish regular prayers at the two ends of the day and at the approaches of the night: For those things, that are good remove those that are evil: Be that the word of remembrance to those who remember (their Lord): And be steadfast in patience; for verily Allah will not suffer the reward of the righteous to perish." (Surah 11:112-115)

Hence, if a person does good works, these will remove their evil works, and earn them the "reward of the righteous." Basically, the Islamic doctrine of salvation says that to be accepted of Allah, a person needs to at least try to fulfill the five pillars of the Islamic faith, which are said to be able to give a Muslim righteousness before Allah.

To this list of five pillars, some Muslims, especially those of the Kharijite sect, add jihad as a sixth pillar. It has been shown above that there is definite quranic and hadithic support for the notion that Mohammed taught salvation through martyrdom in holy war. Further, the general trend in Muslim jurisprudence throughout the Islamic period has been that jihad is a necessary and violent act carried out against infidels to bring them under the domination of Islam. The place of jihad can be seen in the importance that many Muslims attach to shaheed, martyrdom that occurs while fighting for Islam or because of one's Islamic faith. The added benefit of multitudes of perpetually regenerating virgins in Paradise has, obviously, also served to increase the vigor with which many young Muslim men have devoted themselves to this aspect of Islam.

Additional to the stated "pillars" of Islam, it is also incumbent upon a Muslim to believe certain basic doctrines. Most central of these to Islam, perhaps, is the doctrine of tawhid, or the oneness of Allah. This doctrine states that there are no other gods besides Allah, and denies the association of other deities with him, a practice called shirk. This doctrine forms part of the basis for the shahada. It is also incumbent upon Muslims to try to lead lives in which they genuinely seek forgiveness (istighfar) from Allah, and which are limited by the bounds set by Allah (taqwa). Indeed, Islam has a complex hierarchy of categories into which each action that a Muslim does will fall, according to the various interpretations held by different schools of fiqh, or Islamic law:

The traditions tell us a lot about what a Muslim has to do to earn Paradise. Most basically, if one dies while worshipping Allah alone apart from any others, even if they are guilty of adultery, they are guaranteed Paradise1. Similarly, doing good to their own kin, paying the zakat, associating none with Allah, and worshipping Allah will earn Paradise2. Praying, believing in Allah, and fasting at Ramadan help as well3. The traditions also show that honesty is certainly the best policy, since truthfulness leads to righteousness, which leads to Paradise4. Knowing all 99 names of Allah will also earn a Muslim salvation5. Guaranteeing the chastity of both one's tongue and one's private parts will earn Paradise6. Having three children who die before they reach puberty will rescue a person's soul from hellfire, provided that they have "resigned themselves to the will of God"7, though another tradition is more lenient and guarantees Paradise after only two lost children8. And of course, dying in jihad guarantees the holy warrior an eternity of bliss in Allah's gardens9. Before Muslim believers enter Paradise, the traditions record a necessary (though strange) sort of purgatory, whereby believers will,

"...retaliate upon each other for the injustices done among them in the world, and when they get purified of all their sins, they will be admitted into Paradise."10

As we can see, the system is complicated, but yet can be boiled down to one simple point - good works (at least as defined by the Islamic system) gets you to Paradise, while doing evil does not. But even then, the traditions present a contradiction. For while many traditions, as seen above, suggest that good works do get a soul to Paradise, at the same time, tradition also denies this, saying that none can enter Paradise due to his good deeds11. All these good works, and yet the outcome still, per the very same set of traditions, remains hanging in the balance. Truly, Muslims must be willing to ask themselves the question, "Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not?" (Isaiah 55:2a)

How Everyone - Muslim or Otherwise - Can Receive Eternal Life

A devout Muslim certainly will be kept very busy in his or her religious life! Can this help to save them, though?

"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost." (Titus 3:5)

"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9)

"For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness." (Romans 4:3-5)

It is not the works that man does that can save him, but rather it is of the grace and mercy of God who sent His Son Jesus Christ to die and shed His blood for us, and who rose again from the dead, gaining the victory of that most feared of man's enemies - death. Only by faith in Him can you be saved, and this after He calls us and gives us the conviction to recognize that we are sinners in need of salvation. Repentance, that change of attitude and heart towards our sin that must lead to a willingness to allow God to change our behavior and lives, must be had before we are in a position to come to God for salvation.

"Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord." (Acts 3:19)

If we refuse to accept that we are sinners who cannot provide our own way to God, then we cannot be saved nor enter into the kingdom of God. There is nothing; no ritual, no ceremony, no pilgrimage, which human beings can perform and earn a spot in heaven.

"But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away." (Isaiah 64:6)

The Bible tells us that our efforts at producing our own righteousness are unworthy and flawed. Because of our sin, we are unclean things in the sight of God, and our works and rituals are worthless and filthy. This applies to all of us, too.

"As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one...For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:10,23)

This includes that supreme example of goodness and piety for every Muslim all over the world - the prophet of Islam. Mohammed, as we saw, was a sinner. The Qur'an says as much. "Lo! We have given thee (O Muhammad) a signal victory, That Allah may forgive thee of thy sin that which is past and that which is to come, and may perfect His favour unto thee, and may guide thee on a right path." (Surah 48:1-2, Pickthal translation) Further, in Surah 40:55, "Then have patience (O Muhammad). Lo! the promise of Allah is true. And ask forgiveness of thy sin, and hymn the praise of thy Lord at fall of night and in the early hours." (Pickthal translation) The Qur’an recognizes that Mohammed himself was a sinner in need of forgiveness.

So, if all people are sinners, and works, rituals, and the like cannot save them, what can? As stated above, the only way to salvation is by placing your faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior, repenting of your sins and trusting Him to wash your sins away through His own blood that was shed to forgive sin.

"Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." (John 14:6)

Salvation is only through the Lord Jesus Christ. No works can replace this,

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber...I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved..." (John 10:1,9)

Jesus, the sinless Son of God presented both in the Bible and the Qur'an, who would not lie, said that He was the way to enter into heaven. If you are trying to get in by keeping the rules and regulations of Islam (or any other, for that matter), you are trying to climb up some another way, and will not be able to successfully enter in.

"But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)

This is the love of God. We, who are sinners by nature and by practice, and who justly deserve the wrath of God by burning in hell for eternity, are freely given the opportunity to escape that fate, without work on our part, and without it costing us a thing. Again, I quote,

"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: It is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Salvation is by grace, through faith, His gift to us. We don't need to work, we only need to believe and trust in Him for our salvation. Doing good works and living a moral life cannot save. In fact, human beings are not even ABLE to live a truly moral life unless they have the Spirit of God residing in them, whom we receive when we trust on Christ for salvation. Think about it - no matter how moral you may appear to other people, you know deep down inside that there is some sin which you have in your life which will condemn you to hell. Why try to strive to earn a salvation which cannot be earned? Jesus said,

"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28)

Lay the heavy burden of your sins and guilt at His feet, and take Him as your Savior, and be saved!

End Notes

(1) - Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 2, Bk. 23, No. 329
(2) - Sahih Muslim, Bk. 1, No. 11
(3) - Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 4, Bk. 52, No. 48
(4) - Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 8, Bk. 73, No. 116
(5) - Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 3, Bk. 50, No. 894
(6) - Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 8, BK. 82, No. 799
(7) - Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 2, Bk. 23, No. 340
(8) - Sahih Muslim, Bk. 32, No. 6367
(9) - Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 4, Bk. 52, No. 46 etc.
(10) - Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 3, Bk. 43, No. 620, see also Vol. 8, Bk. 76, No. 542
(11) - Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 7, Bk. 70, No. 577

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