Christians and Muslims have been engaged in Inter-faith dialogue for many years now.
In our modern age, this dialogue, which started around fifty years ago, has witnessed a big increase during the last two decades.
Often taking the form of debates, Muslim and Christian scholars compare the texts of the Bible and the Quran, and often discuss details regarding Jesus (peace be upon him) as understood by both sides.
Before going into details, I suggest that it may be useful to look at the wider picture, as this approach can help both sides reach a better understanding of many of the topics where they disagree, notably whether Jesus (peace be upon him) was the son of God.
And one core issue in this perspective is a correct understanding of the concept of human sin.
The Prophet Muhammad’s Hadith
The following is a very important Hadith which I consider a key introduction for our Christian friends to understand two of God’s most important attributes; His Mercy and His Forgiveness.
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:
If you did not commit sins and turn to God, seeking His forgiveness, He would have replaced you with another people who would sin, ask God’s forgiveness and He would forgive them. (Hadith in Sahih Muslim)
God All-Mighty created us for His Mercy and Forgiveness. He says in the Quran:
And if your Lord had willed, He could have made mankind one community; but they will not cease to differ. Except whom your Lord has given mercy, and for that He created them… (11:118-119)
God created human beings different than the way He created angels. Had He so willed, He could have easily created us similar to angels, who can only obey God and can’t disobey.
But He didn’t.
Our Freewill and Divine Guidance
He created us with a free will and He sent us His guidance in order for us not to go astray.
With free will and Divine Guidance, we human beings living on this earth are free to believe in the existence of a Creator or disbelieve.
And if we believe, we are also free to follow the Divine Guidance sent to us, or not follow this Guidance.
God created us in a way which is suitable for us to populate and live on this earth, and to survive here as a human species, in the same way that He created angels in a way that is suitable for their main role, which is to praise Him.
He therefore gave each human soul “angelic” aspects that allow us to stay connected to Him by following His Guidance, though we can’t see Him, while at the same time He gave us other earthly attributes and human desires to enable us to survive as a species; and He guided us on how to use these earthly attributes in a way that pleases Him, like marriage for example.
God knows that having such earthly attributes and desires, and having free will, will often lead us to use them in the wrong way, especially with the constant insinuations we receive from Satan, our worst enemy.
He knew before He created us that we would use our free will to sin, but that is not the end of the world, as there is a way out of sin, which is to repent and ask God to forgive.
And this is the main purpose of our creation in the first place: we were created for God’s mercy and forgiveness, as mentioned in the Hadith above.
So if and when a believer sins, all what he or she is required to do is to feel sorry for that sin, to repent to God and ask Him to forgive.
And this is exactly what happened to our father Adam.
Adam committed a sin by disobeying God’s command of not eating from the forbidden tree in Heaven, and was misguided by his worst enemy, Satan, to fall into that sin.
But that was not the end of the world.
God knew Adam would sin before He created him, and He taught him how to repent, something Adam did, and God forgave him.
End of story.
As God is a Merciful and Forgiving God, He accepted Adam’s repentance, and He forgave him.
Adam, and all of God’s prophets who came after him, taught their followers how to repent, and to directly ask God for forgiveness. And He forgives us by His mercy, which is the original purpose of our creation.
The journey of human beings on earth is to search for God using the advanced intellect we have, which God gave us, reflect, read His Guidance, and if convinced believe in Him by our free will.
We should then show our love for Him by following His guidance and ask Him to guide us and forgive us on a daily basis in order that we live a happy life here and an eternal happy life in the Hereafter.
God does not need Jesus (peace be upon him) to die for the sins of mankind, as He created us with a free will and He guided us to repent directly to Him when we use this free will in the wrong way.
He is a Forgiving and Merciful God, and He forgives all sins when we repent, as He is the Most Merciful, Al-Rahman, Al-Rahim, the Most Kind.
May Allah guide us all to His Straight Path.
(From Discovering Islam’s archive.)