There are many similarities between Islam and Christianity, but there are also some central differences. The notion of original sin and salvation are vastly different in terms of the nuances. In Islam, humans are born free of sin. Humans are on earth as a result of the actions of Adam and Eve, but this does not mean that all their children bear the burden of their mistakes. The primary premise in Christianity is that the incarnation and death of Jesus is the only way humans can achieve salvation. There had to be a sacrifice in order for God to forgive sins. There are several problems with the notion of Jesus dying for human sin. Among them is that God Himself dies and God is the one who pays for the sins of others. It also requires that someone pay for the sin which means that God cannot simply forgive.
In Islam, everyone is born in a state of purity but their upbringing or indulging in sin may corrupt them. Sins have consequences, but they are not inherited. We are in this world as a result of Adam and Eve’s eating from the tree, but we do not bear their sin. A child born to a mother who was on drugs may suffer as a consequence of her drug abuse, but he or she does not inherit her sin. God will not hold the child accountable for the sins of the parent. On several occasions the Quran clearly states that No soul shall bear the burden of another (Quran 35:18).
Muslims believe that God is capable of all things and can forgive without any sacrifice. For God to forgive, He simply does so without anyone paying a ransom, especially on behalf of other people’s sins.
It is ultimately God who determines who receives salvation. However, the Quran and teachings of the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him inform us of the minimum requirements. To achieve salvation, one must believe in God’s absolute Oneness. God has no partner, son, or helper. Chapter 112 from the Quran clarifies who God is: Say, “He is Allah, The Only One, Allah, Who is in need of none and of Whom all are in need; “He begets not, nor was He begotten; No one is comparable to Him.’ When one dies God may forgive all sins except worshipping other than Him. As long as one is alive they can repent from worshipping others, but if they die while still worshipping other than God it is not forgiven. Allah forgives not that partners should be set up with Him; but He forgives anything else, to whom He pleases; to set up partners with Allah is to devise a sin most heinous indeed (Quran 4: 48). Another verse states If anyone desires a religion other than Islam (submission to Allah), never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter He will be in the ranks of those who have lost (all spiritual good) (Quran 3: 85).
The Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him also said: Whoever said “None has the right to be worshipped but Allah” and has in his heart good (faith) equal to the weight of a barley grain will be taken out of Hell. And whoever said, “None has the right to be worshipped but Allah” and has in his heart good (faith) equal to the weight of a wheat grain will be taken out of Hell. And whoever said, “None has the right to be worshipped but Allah” and has in his heart good (faith) equal to the weight of an atom will be taken out of Hell (Bukhari).
To achieve salvation, one must accept the tenets of Islam mainly the belief in one God, all Prophets and Messengers, previous scriptures, the hereafter, angels, and God’s decree. These tenants were taught by all previous Prophets and Messengers. Islam did not start with the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, rather it was the religion of all Prophets and Messengers starting with Adam. Therefore, the Quran teaches that previous religions, such as Christianity and Judaism, in their authentic and original forms were based on the Oneness of God. People who accepted the message of previous Prophets and followed them will also achieve salvation.
There remains the question of those who die without ever hearing of God’s message. This fate of these individuals is ultimately up to God who is the most Just. God assures us that on the day of judgment everyone will be dealt with fairly “This Day every soul will be recompensed for what it earned. No injustice today!” (Quran 40: 17). This message is echoed throughout the Quran and humans can rest assured that God is not out to get them. Why should Allah punish you if you are grateful and faithful? Allah is ever Appreciative, All-Knowing (4:147).
Salvation ultimately means to be forgiven by God, saved from the fire, and entered to live eternally in paradise. Everyone is bound to taste death and you shall receive your full reward on the Day of Resurrection. Then, whoever is spared the Fire and is admitted to Paradise has indeed been successful. The life of this world is merely an illusory enjoyment (Quran 3: 185). Want to learn more about Islam? Call 877-WhyIslam today, you deserve to know.