The term “Salvation” is usually associated with the Pauline Christian belief of being saved by Jesus Christ. Christ sacrificed himself on the cross as atonement for the sin of mankind originated by Adam & Eve. Salvation is forgiveness. Islam teaches that each person is responsible for their own deeds and must seek forgiveness from God. The legend of Man’s fall, via the bitten apple, and the subsequent punishment suffered by all humankind is not subscribed by Muslims. The story of Adam and Eve affected them and their time. There are lessons, as with the story of all Prophets, but by no means do their actions affect our individual sins or ultimate forgiveness.
God’s attribute of Forgiveness is mentioned most often in the Qur’an alongside God’s Grace. God teaches us to be free from sin, one must submit to God’s will. One must humble themselves and strive to perform good deeds. Muslims believe in a final judgement based on our conduct. Children are not born with sin that require salvation, although man’s nature leans toward sin, and it is part of a believer’s journey to reform and act according to God’s will.
Belief alone does not grant a Muslim salvation or forgiveness, nor the reward of Paradise. Along with belief, our actions are judged by God. There is a responsibility to God, as well as a responsibility to humankind. Our trespasses against others must be pardoned, or we may face the consequences. Our behavior and actions towards others place a heavy burden on a believer to act with justice, and love, as there will be a reckoning. The emphasis on self-reformation and good works is critical to achieving forgiveness.
God’s forgiveness is an act of mercy which motivates a believer to fear displeasing God. God’s Judgement is a grace that enables justice. Muslims are taught that their deeds are recorded and that they will be judged accordingly. This belief develops one to alter and improve their behavior rather than incline to selfish desires. Empathy is nurtured with belief in God’s judgment. Knowing there are consequences to our actions offers protection to each other and directs one to shun selfish and egotistical practices. Salvation for many Christians is based completely on the act of belief alone. This faith is so important that it trumps even our actions and behavior, and in effect may not reform a person. This principle allows for a person to earn salvation without action or reformation.
The significance of belief is paramount in Islam as well, but it is a first step that then allows you to experience and live the life of a believer. The desire to reform the self is a reward for belief, and ultimately should lead to salvation in this world and the next.
The behavior of a person, or society, who acts without any concern of facing judgement, versus one who behaves with the knowledge that what they do and say will be judged, is no minor difference. It is critical to ameliorating the individual and society. We must look only at individuals or societies who shun morality to demonstrate why it is essential. Or a society where there is no rule of law. Islam may not be the only moral practice, but it provides the most complete teaching and practice directly from the Creator.
The teachings of Islam instruct and guide in order to be prepared for judgement. It is not an arbitrary judgement based on random criteria like place of birth or language spoken. Each will be judged uniquely by God. God’s Mercy and Grace are essential principals of Islam. God’s love is like that of a mother for a beloved child, in fact moreso. It is not of a vengeful God who creates in order to punish or to destroy. God’s mercy is for all humankind and is not reserved for Muslims alone.
The goal is not only salvation, but a journey to the ideal self that warrants forgiveness. This requires belief which aids in self-reformation and leads one to live a life that brings peace and love in the present, as well as the hereafter.