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Does Islam Teach Innocence or Original Sin?

20 May, 2021
Q Is there acknowledgment of sin in Islam? How is it acknowledged? Is it original sin and/or what else?


Short Answer:  There is no original sin in Islam. It is when man contradicts God’s commandments or His will that man commits sins. Adam, the first man and prophet, made such a mistake, which led to his expulsion from the Garden of Eden. But Adam repented and prayed to God for forgiveness, which God granted him


Salam (Peace) Nicole, 

Thank you for contacting About Islam with your question. 

The obvious answer to your question – especially its first part – is: Yes, there is acknowledgement of sin in Islam. But, this definitely demands an explanation. 

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First of all, it is necessary to understand what we mean by “sin”.

This is important, because different religious communities have different conceptions about sin. 

Sin in Abrahamic Religions

Sin is a concept used primarily in the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), describing a transgression against the will of God, which calls for repentance and at times penance. 

Judaism regards the breaking of the commandments, or the Jewish Law, to be a sin. The Jews believe that all people sin at various points in their lives and hold that the divine justice is tempered with divine mercy. 

According to Judaism, a state of sin does not condemn a person to damnation; only one or two truly grievous sins lead to anything like the Christian idea of hell.

Their liturgy of “the Days of Awe” states that prayer, repentance, and charity are the means of atonement for sin. 

Protestant Christians use the term “sin” primarily to refer to what they see as humanity’s inherently sinful nature.

This is while the Catholics mostly use the word for actual instances of sin, calling “the sinful nature of humans” as “concupiscence”, in the sense of an innate tendency of human beings to do evil. 

Most denominations of Christianity hold the belief that the sin of Adam and Eve’s disobedience to God is passed on to their descendants, and thus the whole of mankind is accursed with that original sin, from which no salvation is possible unless one believes in the atoning death on the cross of “the son of” God. 

Muslim View of Sin

As for the Islamic view of sin, it is similar to the Jewish view. In fact, the religion of Islam is the natural culmination of the progressive revelation of God from the very first prophet to the last one, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

Consequently, Islam believes in all prophets of God, from Adam to Muhammad; including Abraham, Moses, and Jesus (peace be upon them all). 

According to the Islamic creed, the original religion taught by all these prophets is and was always Islam, which is the peaceful submission to the One and Only God. Thus, the concept of sin as taught by all prophets of God ought to be the same. 

The closeness between Judaism and Islam in this regard is obvious; but in Christianity we find a great difference, which results from the influence of Saul of Tarsus, who is later known as St. Paul.

Paul introduced into Christianity, perhaps from his pagan surroundings, the ideas of God becoming man and God dying for the sins of man.

Such concepts are entirely alien to the Semitic religious tradition and considered pagan, according to the Islamic view. 

In Islam, a sin is an act against the will of Allah.

We have the ability to abide by His will, and this is the meaning of the word “Islam”. Still we have the ability to ignore His will or deliberately oppose it; due to the fact that God has given us freedom – within limits. 

Islam is our conscious and peaceful submission to the will of Allah. The purpose of our existence as human beings is to worship and serve Allah – or to fulfill His will.

And, a solid foundation of worshiping Allah is to show gratitude to Him for the great gifts He has granted us. Following this will bring us the greatest benefit in this life and the next. It is in trying to do this that our intentions are purified, and it is by our intentions that we are judged. 

In contrast to the Christian teaching that human nature is basically evil (owing to the original sin), Islam teaches that it is essentially good. 

Adam Repented

There are many elements to human nature, and each one has the potential for good. So, there is no original sin in Islam. It is when man contradicts God’s commandments or His will that man commits sins. 

Adam, the first man and prophet, made such a mistake, which led to his expulsion from the Garden of Eden. But Adam repented and prayed to God for forgiveness, which God granted him, as mentioned in the following in chapter 2, verse 37 of the Quran:

{Then, Adam learned from his Lord words of inspiration, and his Lord turned towards him; for He is Oft-returning, Most Merciful.}

This means that unlike Christianity, which teaches that all the children of Adam are sinful for Adam’s sin, Islam teaches that all humans are innocent by birth and they become sinful only when they consciously commit a sin. 

Islam regards the concept of original sin and the need for atonement by God Himself – via dying on the Cross – as a pure invention of those who came after Jesus Christ, declaring themselves as Christians. 

Another important point to bear in mind about the Islamic concept of sin is that one man’s sin cannot be transferred to another; nor can the reward due to a person be transferred either. 

Every individual is responsible only for his or her actions, for God is never unjust. This is made clear in chapter 17, verse 15 of the Quran:

{Who receives guidance, receives it for his own benefit: who goes astray does so to his own loss. No bearer of burdens can bear the burden of another: nor would We punish until We had sent a messenger [to give warning].}

Every individual is an independent person who is responsible for his or her actions alone. There is no need for salvation from someone else’s sin, for there is no original burden. 

One’s success in the Hereafter lies in his living a righteous life in this world. Each has to build his/her own Heaven, avoiding the misery of Hell. Faith is important, but faith alone without deeds will be fruitless. 

And Allah knows best. I hope this answers your question. Please keep in touch.


(From Ask About Islam archives)

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