There is no disputing the fact that differences exist along the lines of different religions and cultures. However, for as many contrasts that can be found, an abundance of similarities can be found as well. There are a multitude of similarities that can be found in the Christian and Islamic beliefs of sin and salvation in the Holy Bible and in the Quran. There also exist, of course, a great deal of differences as well. In the Bible, there is an explicit claim that God created the world good. “And God saw every thing that he had made, and behold it was very good” (Gen. 1:3).
Included in Gods creations were that of man and woman. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them (Gen. 1:27). Humanity, having been created in the image of God, was not simply good, as were the rest of Gods creations. Humanity was perfect. Having been placed in the garden of Eden, it was here that humanity began to relate to both God and the world. Initially, humanity was free to do as they wished and all was well.
Their only prohibition was that they were not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it, for on the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Gen. 2:17). However, humanity was tempted by Satan in the form of a serpent. “And the serpent said unto the woman, ye shall not surely die” (Gen. 3:14). Humanity ate from the tree, failing the test to which they had been put by God. Adam and Eve were expelled from both the garden of Eden and the presence of God. They, furthermore, were forbidden to eat from the tree of life (Gen. 3:22).
The Christian view of sin is based on the initial status and fall of Adam and Eve. Sin is not intended for humanity. Man and woman are created perfect and for relationship with God, according to Christian belief. Sin has distorted that relationship and driven humanity from the presence of God. “Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity” (Hab. 1:13) God is holy and cannot even look on sin. The failure of Adam and Eve to obey Gods word is the root of the biblical notion of sin because it has the idea of disobedience.
According to Genesis 3:7 and 16, sin has negatively altered human relationships and relationships with the world. “The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). In Genesis 3:23, humanity was denied eternal life. This does not apply only to physical life, it applies to spiritual life as well. This is because of Adams sin. “For as in Adam all die” (I Cor. 15:22). The effects of the “first parents” will affect humanity for as long as there is humanity. Everyone is born to die. All descendants of Adam inherit his sin and guilt. Furthermore, Adams descendants are born out of relationship with both God and the world.
In reading the Quran, it can be found that Sura 7:22 states “So by deceit he brought about their fall: when they tasted of the tree, their shame became manifest to them, and they began to sew together the leaves of the garden over their bodies. And their Lord called unto them: Did I not forbid you that tree, and tell you that Satan was an avowed enemy unto you? ” However, Muslims do not believe, as Christians do, in the idea of original sin. According to Islamic belief, sin is not something that is transmitted from generation to generation.
The events that transpired in the garden of Eden between humanity and Allah have no spiritual bearing on Muslims. The Qu ran says that after humanity was created, Allah told the angels to “prostrate yourselves from Adam. ” All except Satan did so. As a result, Satan was cast out of the paradise and was made to be the tempter of humanity. Satan tempted Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit and they did so. This is very much similar to Christian ideology, except after Adam and Eve were tempted, they asked for forgiveness and it was granted.
Adam and Eve were sent down to earth to instruct others and to be tested in their faithfulness to God (Sura 7:23 ? 26). Human history did not begin with unfaithfulness to God, according to Muslims because Adam and Eve repented for their sin and were forgiven (Sura 7:23). Therefore, Muslims do not stand guilty before Allah because of Adam. The source of sin is Satan, not sinful nature. Each person begins with righteousness. “All people are born as true Muslims, innocent, pure, and free (Sura 30:30). Every Muslim, though not a perfect creation, is a good creation.
Only Allah is perfect. Whereas Christians believe in the fallen nature of humanity, Muslims believe that one falls from a perfect state of grace. Muslims are not born sinners, they become sinners through disobedience to Allahs word. The Bible speaks of human sin as inevitable. The Quran places greater emphasis on a persons free will to gravitate towards obedience or disobedience. Sin affects Muslims only through external influences. For Christians, the essence of sin is disobedience and unfaithfulness while for Muslims, the worst sin is giving oneself equal status to Allah.
For Christians, salvation is only possible because Jesus Christ was crucified and died on the cross. When Jesus died, God paid the price and formed an eternal covenant with humanity. “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. ” (Rom. 5:6, 8) Human salvation is possible because God sent Jesus down to Calvary. “And almost all the things are by law purged with blood; and without the shedding of blood is no remission” (Heb. :22).
For a Christian to receive salvation, he must first realize that he is a sinner. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (I John 1:8). A Christian must verbally confess his sins. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9). The Bible also says in Romans 10:9 “That if thou shalt confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
A Christian must next repent his sins. “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19). Finally, one must accept Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. “And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house” (Acts 16:30). In doing these things, the Christian becomes a new creation.
II Corinthians says “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things become new. ” In addition, the Christian then has the promise of everlasting life. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” (I John 5:24). As Muslims do not believe in original sin, they do not believe that one is born not being a Muslim. Thus, Muslims do not believe that they need to be saved from death to life.
In the Quran, repentance is spoken of more than salvation. Whereas the Christian key to salvation lies in Christs death on the cross, the Muslim key to salvation lies in Allahs mercy and compassion. In Islam, it is up to the individual to save himself. While Muslims place a lot of emphasis on living correctly, salvation is not attained by good works. A Muslim is not saved because he follows the law. Following the law is an expression of commitment to Allah. Accordingly, the Five Pillars of Islam are not required; they are tests for faith.
The Five Pillars of Islam are faith (there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of God), prayer (obligatory prayers recited five times a day), giving zakat or support of the needy (possessions are purified by setting aside a portion for those in need), fasting in the month of Ramadan (all Muslims abstain from food, drink and sexual relations from first light to sundown), and pilgrimage (the pilgrimage to Mekkah is an obligation only for those who are physically and financially able to perform it).
Faith and good works are complementary. As for those that have faith and do good works, We shall admit them to gardens watered by running streams, where, wedded to chaste virgin, they shall abide for ever”(Sura 4:57). For Christians, the teaching is that Christ was God incarnate dying for sins of world. For Muslims, the incarnation is polytheism and grounds for rejection. For Christians, the first step towards salvation is impossible without the intervention of God and His grace. For Muslims, the first step to salvation is impossible without deciding to do something themselves.
Ultimately, Muslims place more emphasis on the visible signs of repentance than do Christians . Christians generally teach that the inner self is more than the outer. However, it seems that both Muslims and Christians are aware of the need for grace and the avoidance of the idea that good works alone are grounds for salvation. In concentrating on our differences, it is easy to state that we are all diverse. This is, of course, true. However, I think that we need to focus more on the things that make us similar. Only then can we put an end to the ideas and stereotypes that keep us apart.