Hard Questions

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Islam Views on Salvation: A Fine Balance

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Dear Bill,

You are wrong in assuming that righteous deeds are but bribes we offer to our Creator. We understand that doing good deeds does NOT benefit God, nor do our sins harm Him. This is a fundamental part of any Muslim’s creed and is clearly stated in the Quran:

Quran 3:176] And let not those grieve you who fall into unbelief hastily; surely they can do no harm to Allah at all; Allah intends that He should not give them any portion in the hereafter, and they shall have a grievous chastisement,

What then, is the purpose of doing righteous deeds ? you may ask, well, it is the sense of personal responsibility for one’s deeds that derives a man to try.
Every human has a personal account. In this account, righteous deeds are rewarded with credits whilst sins are debited. obviously, certain deeds have higher rewards than others and likewise for sins.

If you commit a crime against another person, you are also required to compensate that person, either in this world or in the hereafter. So, in the case you mentioned, of a criminal harming someone you love, if that criminal is caught and the Law applied to him, that is his punishment. If the victim forgives him, she gets credits for that, if his crime goes undetected, he will face his victim in the hereafter and pay for his crime from his personal account. If he does not have enough credits to pay, then he takes debits from the victim’s account. There is an accurate Balance, and nothing is unaccounted for. There is Absolute Justice.

This why we need to do righteous deeds. It is the only currency acceptable in the hereafter, it constitutes your most important ‘pension fund’.

Certain sins can never be redeemed: Idolatry and Association of partners to God. If you leave this world whilst not recognizing the One True, Eternal God, then you are beyond saving. You had your chance but did not take it.

God says in the the Quran:

Surah (chapter) 21:

And We set a just balance for the Day of Resurrection so that no soul is wronged in aught. Though it be of the weight of a grain of mustard seed, We bring it. And We suffice for reckoners. [21:47]

Surah 11:

Establish worship at the two ends of the day and in some watches of the night. Lo! good deeds annul ill-deeds. This is reminder for the mindful [11:114] .

and in Surah 17:

[17:13] And We have made every man’s actions to cling to his neck, and We will bring forth to him on the resurrection day a book which he will find wide open: [17:14] Read your book; your own self is sufficient as a reckoner against you this day.

and Surah 42:

And the recompense of evil is punishment like it, but whoever forgives and amends, he shall have his reward from Allah; surely He does not love the unjust [42:40]. And whoever defends himself after his being oppressed, these it is against whom there is no way (to blame) [42:41]. The way (to blame) is only against those who oppress mankind and transgress on earth unjustly; these shall have a painful punishment [42:42].
And whoever is patient and forgiving, verily, is (of) the steadfast heart of things [42:42].

Where then, are the Grace, Mercy and Compassion of God ?

God is Merciful to the believers in the hereafter. He is Merciful and Generous to all in this life.

God says in the Quran:
Surah 7:

(O mankind!) Call upon your Lord humbly and in secret. Lo! He loves not aggressors [ 7:55]. Work not mischief on earth after the fair ordering (thereof). and call on Him in fear and hope. Lo! the mercy of Allah is near unto the good [7:56].

The believer should tread humbly on earth, try to save for your hereafter and please your Lord, for He rewards you with credits, that you will need. Do not transgress on other people, for you will, no doubt, pay them back.

The rules for Salvation in Islam are:

  • Avoid unforgivable sins by adopting the true faith, and Invoke God to help you,
  • Do your best to please God, and accumulate credits and to avoid debits,
  • Always remember that your ultimate fate is in the hands of God.
  • This is what Islam is all about: submit yourself to God.

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Written by Rasheed Gadir

May 20, 2008 at 7:56 pm

7 Responses

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  1. Rasheed,

    I have several questions:

    If all we need to be saved is to recognize the one true God and have a greater balance of righteous vs. sinful deeds, why were Adam and Eve cast out of the Garden of Eden and caused to die? As far as we know, they committed only one sin: That of disobedience (for surely eating fruit isn’t sinful), yet they paid for that sin dearly. Certainly, all the good they did in the garden wouldn’t haven’t warranted such a punishment (permanent separation from God and mortality).

    Next, what happens to those who never had the opportunity to learn of the one true god before they left this earth? Are they also out of luck?

    What do you mean by Association of partners to God? Are you referring to the Christian idea of the Trinity?

    Do you mean to say that idolatry considered unforgivable (ie, Catholics and Buddists worshiping statues)? Or do you mean to say that no amount of good deeds can make-up for this weighty sin? Does this mean that certain sins carry different weight? Do you need to balance the weight of certain sins vs the weight of certain good deeds? For example, do you have to help an old lady across the street 500 times to make up for one case of adultery?

    Who judges us and what happens to us after we are judged? Do people who have good deeds that greatly outweigh their sins receive a greater reward than those who barely squeak by?

    How does doing a good deed pay the price for disobedience? In some cases it may help make up for the wrong committed against another (ie, returning stolen property with interest), but the sin of disobedience to God’s commandments remains (Thou Shalt Not Steal). How does praying several times a day, donating money to charity, volunteering for whatever make up for the harm caused infidelity or murder? How do you make restitution for losing one’s virginity? I can’t fathom how this is perfect justice. How is this different from buying indulgences (assuming we can pay for our own sins either via money or deed)?

    After we are judged, do we return to the presence of God? If so, how can we stand in His presence, having sinned? As I understand it, God is perfect and no imperfect being can dwell in His presence. Does He issue us forgiveness based on our good deeds and confession of Him while on earth? How can he do this without the price of justice being completely paid?

    What do Muslims see as the purpose of Mortality?

    Do Muslims view God as a being who loves us and is the father of our spirits? If not, what is our relationship to him and what is our relationship to each other?

    I look forward to your answers.



    May 20, 2008 at 11:54 pm

  2. Rasheed,

    You said, “Every human has a personal account. In this account, righteous deeds are rewarded with credits whilst sins are debited. obviously, certain deeds have higher rewards than others and likewise for sins.”

    Are you denying that when we sin against God our sins are not deserving of an infinite penalty? If a judge forgives a criminal because his good deeds outweigh his bad, is that justice? If I live a good life, but only murder one person when I’m 50 years old, can the judge just let me off? What good deeds do I have to perform in my first 50 years in order to be let off?

    You said, “If you commit a crime against another person, you are also required to compensate that person, either in this world or in the hereafter.”

    How do you propose that we will compensate God for sinning against Him?

    You said, “This why we need to do righteous deeds. It is the only currency acceptable in the hereafter, it constitutes your most important ‘pension fund’.”

    But you also said that Allah doesn’t accept our good deeds in exchange for forgiveness. It seems like you’re explaining that he does. Our good deeds make up for our bad deeds. How is this not bribery?

    Islam, Catholocism, Mormonism, Buddhism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Hinduism all say the same thing. You can make up for your bad deeds with your good deeds. The only difference is what they define good deeds to be.

    The Bible says even our righteous acts are like filthy menstrual rags in God’s sight (Isaiah 64:6) if we are doing them to earn God’s favor. Christainity is the only religion that says we are deserving only of punishment, but God took our punishment on Himself.



    May 21, 2008 at 12:01 am

  3. Bill,

    To clarify: Mormonism does not say that your good deeds can make up for your sins (see the post before yours. I am Mormon and make the same arguments as you). Mormons believe that salvation comes only through the atoning grace of Christ. What may be different from what you believe is the concept that only His disciples (those who keep his commandments, repent of their sins, and are baptized) can take advantage of His atoning sacrifice for sin. We believe that all the children of God will eventually be given the opportunity to know and either accept or reject the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We will ultimately be judged on whether we became His disciples or not.


    May 21, 2008 at 7:08 pm

  4. Dear Don and Bill,

    You are both stressing that repentance is important for salvation. Do you not consider that ‘repentance’ involves working to please God? Is repentance merely a sign of salvation or a precondition? in other words, do you have to repent to receive salvation or not? for if you do, how is this different from Muslims repenting and doing good deeds seeking to please God?

    It appears to me that the main difference between our doctrines is not in the requirement to do some work to gain salvation, but the belief in the other precondition of salvation: We say you have to believe in The One, Eternal Creator, and His messengers including Muhammad and Jesus, and the other essential articles of faith, and you say you have to believe also in the atoning death of His son, who you also believe to be god.

    For answers to your questions, I have wrote a new post which you can read here


    May 23, 2008 at 10:05 pm

  5. Rasheed,

    Maybe I haven’t explained myself properly. God saves who He chooses to save. The result of that is that the person He saves then does good deeds. However, I don’t think of repentance or faith as works. Repentance isn’t doing anything, it is committing to live a life led by Jesus. The acts of repentance and faith in Jesus can be performed while lying in bed in an instant.



    May 23, 2008 at 11:57 pm

  6. Bill,

    I have replied to your last comment here


    May 24, 2008 at 2:43 am

  7. Rasheed,

    Repentance is far from a “work”. Consider the analogy used before of standing before a judge guilty of a crime. If one is repentant is he really doing any deed, or is he realizing that he is guilty and at the mercy of the judge? Christianity says we are all guilty and at the mercy of the one and only Righteous Judge. While we were in this condition, completely unworthy of any mercy or grace, Jesus Christ bore the penalty of our sin upon the cross. The Righteous Judge has told us that we are free to go. Now it is our decision to accept this freedom or reject it and spend eternity imprisoned in Hell.




    June 6, 2008 at 5:37 pm

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