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Is Faith Enough to Be Saved in Islam?

Questioner

Anonymous

Reply Date

Mar 05, 2018

Question

As-salamu alaikum. I am a Muslim recently in a debate between a Christian and a Muslim on the Bible and the Quran, the Christian said that he wanted to stay with the teachings of the Bible because it gives good news. I think the implication was that all it took was the belief in Jesus (PBUH) and this would guarantee a place in Heaven. He argued that in contrast the Quran was 'hard news' because it is made clear that going to Jannah (Paradise) is not easy even for the most pious of Muslims. The Christian said he could not believe that God would make it so difficult for his creation and therefore he would stick with the Bible. My question is how should a Muslim respond to this sort of approach? Is this a valid reason for non-Muslims not turn to Islam? Jazakumullah khairan.

Consultant

Answer


Faith Enough

Short Answer: Islam teaches not only that God is just, but that all humans should uphold justice, strive for justice, and do their utmost in order to establish justice in the world. It is only justice that the one who does good must get his reward; and the one who does evil should get the punishment. Otherwise, why should any government bother to maintain elaborate legal systems to punish the actual criminals?

_____________________________________

Salam Dear Brother,

Thank you for your question and for contacting Ask About Islam.

What the Christian you were talking to means by “the good news contained in the teachings of the Bible” is that he believes he has already been saved in advance through faith in Jesus.

So he asks: Why should I go for “the hard news” in the Quran that demands a lot of good work on the part of the believer to enter Heaven?

In other words, his claim is that he is guaranteed salvation and Heaven, if he simply believes in God the Son who suffered on the cross for all the sins he has committed.

And his question to Muslims is whether they have any such guarantee from God.

And the obvious answer is: No, not at all.

We can never be sure of God granting us eternal happiness. It is God’s privilege to grant it or deny it; and what we can do is just work for it and pray for it.

As the Christian claims to be guaranteed salvation, he believes that he is free from any worry concerning good works.

One important point to note here is that the author of the Christian emphasis on ‘faith’ in derogation of ‘works’ is St Paul – the self-styled “Apostle to the Gentiles”, and not Jesus.

Paul came first as a persecutor of Christians soon after Prophet Jesus’ disappearance from the earth. He infiltrated the ranks of Jesus’ followers and taught them a doctrine that opposed Jesus on several fronts.

He replaced Jesus’ teaching of selfless universal compassionate action with a selfish teaching of desire to gain a “free gift” of salvation based only on faith, without any behavioral requirement or obedience to law.

The Teachings of Jesus

Prophet Jesus’ teachings stress on works rooted in a change of spiritual growth within the person.

But supporters of Paul claim that righteousness on the part of weak humans carries no weight in gaining salvation. By accepting this Pauline teaching, Christians effectively contradict Jesus.

When asked by a lawyer what the most important commandment in the Law was, Jesus answered (as reported in Matthew 22:36-40 and Luke 10:25-37) quoting from the Old Testament, that the greatest law was to love God (see Deuteronomy 6:5) and the second was to love your neighbor as yourself (see Leviticus 18:19).

In Luke, the lawyer specifically asks what is necessary for eternal life (verse 25) and after Jesus mentions the two great commandments, he says “This do and you will live” (verse 28), showing clearly that salvation is linked to deeds or actions, no matter how important faith might be as a motivating factor.

In his last public teaching, (see Matthew 25:31-45) Jesus describes the final judgment as being based solely on behavioral responses to internalized compassion.

And Jesus makes it very clear that those who express compassion in behavioral action will be saved, and those who do not, will not be saved. There is no other qualification.

In the whole of the Bible, we find none except Paul stating that salvation can occur with faith alone. All the Gospels are full of verses requiring good works and not even once give any statement remotely similar to Paul’s that the faith and grace that engender salvation occur “apart from” works or deeds.

The foregoing means that the Pauline emphasis on faith apart from works is really anti-Christian in the sense that it contradicts Christ’s teaching.

The Muslim Answer

Indeed, Prophet Jesus’ teaching of faith and good works is quite in agreement with the Quranic position.

We read in the Quran what means:

{As to those who believe and work righteousness, verily We shall not suffer to perish the reward of any who do a (single) righteous deed.} (Al-Kahf 18:30)

{For those who believe and work deeds of righteousness is a reward that will never fail.} (Fussilat 41:8)

{Those who have faith and do righteous deeds,- they are the best of creatures.} (Al-Bayyinah 98:7)

As for Christians, there are differing views about salvation. Evangelical, Fundamentalist or Calvinistic Protestants take a hardline view based on Paul’s teaching, and believe that faith in Jesus apart from good works suffices for salvation.

They have their own interpretation of the “Born Again” status of those who follow their version of Christianity. The “Born Again” Christians believe that they cannot commit any sin, as Jesus is in them.

One of their scholars explains in their website, the right attitude of a Born Again Christian toward sins.:

“Do you have to give up your sins to be saved?  No, just your unbelief.  I get upset when people teach “Lordship salvation.”  What is that? Lordship salvation is the false doctrine that you must make Christ the “Lord” of your life to be saved, that you must repent and depart from sin.

That is impossible!  There is no such thing as a believer who does not commit sin.  We are all woeful sinners.  If I have to give up a certain amount of sin to be saved, then how much do I have to give up? Just because a person accepts Jesus Christ as their personal Savior does not mean they are above sin.

As a matter of fact, getting saved is just the start of a lifelong process. Try as hard as you may, you are going to walk in the flesh at times and sin..” (Do I Have to Give Up My Sins to be Saved?)

The above belief is derived from the following Biblical verses:

[Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.] (John 3:3)

[Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God.] (John 5:1)

[Whoever is born of God does not commit sin.] (John 3:9)

Apparently, the Christian who described the Biblical teaching of salvation as ‘easy’ believes the above interpretation. He believes that Jesus the Son of God atoned for his sins in advance, and for him to believe this is very easy.

Therefore, he does not need to take the uphill road taken by Muslims, by praying five times a day, fasting a whole month and paying a considerable portion of his earnings to the poor and so on.

Logic & Comparison

But let him for a moment ponder objectively as a rational human being, whether this belief of his can be an encouragement to do good or a discouragement, in the first place.

Also, where is the justice of God in crucifying an innocent man to save the actual sinners?

First, we are told that the Original Sin committed by our great-great grandparents is inherited by every baby that is born. And then we are told that God decided to pay for that sin Himself, by sacrificing His own innocent Son.

Thereafter, we are told that all the Christians —that is, those who accept the above beliefs—can go on sinning, as they have already been saved.

Compare the above beliefs with what Allah Almighty has said in the Quran:

{Who receives guidance, receives it for his own benefit: who goes astray doth 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).} (A-Israa’ 17:15)

It is only justice, that the one who does good must get his reward; and the one who does evil should get the punishment for it, is it not?

Otherwise, why should any government bother to maintain elaborate legal systems to punish the actual criminals?

Why can’t they just punish some easy scapegoats, and say the blood of these innocents washes away the sins of the wicked ones?

And if God is just, how can He make an innocent man—Jesus—bear the punishment for all the robberies, murders, and adulteries committed by the sinners, and set the criminals free?

Islam teaches not only that God is just, but that all humans should uphold justice, strive for justice, and do their utmost in order to establish justice in the world.

Muslims believe that we are answerable for our actions, and so we are careful and responsible.

We strive to live by the guidance God has given us through the prophets and faithfully look forward to God’s forgiveness and eternal blessings in His Paradise.

I hope this answers your question. Please keep in touch.

Salam.

(From Ask About Islam archives)

Please continue feeding your curiosity, and find more info in the following links:

Tasting the Sweetness of Faith

The Road to Salvation: Repentance is the Key

How Does Islam View Salvation?

 




About Professor Shahul Hameed

Professor Shahul Hameed is an Islamic consultant. He also held the position of the President of the Kerala Islamic Mission, Calicut, India. He is the author of three books on Islam published in the Malayalam language. His books are on comparative religion, the status of women, and science and human values.


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