There are literally thousands of different religions which are unique in their respective doctrines, traditions, and acts of worship but they all promise one thing – salvation in some form or another. Salvation is defined in Theology as the deliverance from the consequences of one’s sins. In the Semitic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, salvation meant deliverance from the punishments in Hellfire and entering Paradise. The antonym of salvation is damnation.
Being saved or damned is a matter that shall be decided upon on Judgement Day after Allah destroys the Earth and ends all life in it including all the remaining human beings. On Judgment Day, every single human being who has lived on the face of the Earth shall be brought back to life and are presented an account of their deeds to be judged by Allah, who shall reign supreme on that Day as the lone judge.
Although, in some exceptions, some people have already been damned long before Judgement Day such as those who received Allah’s punishment while they are still here on Earth. Notable among these and are also mentioned in the Bible are Sodom and Gomorrah, Pharaoh and his army and the people of Noah.
Jews and Christians have a simpler doctrine of salvation. For the Jews, being a Jew is enough to merit for anyone who professes this faith to be saved. For the Christians, it is dependent upon one’s acceptance of Jesus Christ as his own personal savior. Sins are recognized in both these religions but could be atoned for easily through faith.
In Islam, salvation is quite complicated but does satisfy most natural questions that any thinking man may have.
SALVATION IS ONLY FOR THE BELIEVERS
Like any other religion there is, Islam has some sort of exclusivity in its doctrine about salvation. With all due respect to other religions – only Muslims deserve the chance to be saved. But it does not automatically mean that every Muslim shall be saved.
Salvation is only achievable through Islam, as it is the religion of the prophets. Technically, anyone who lived in a time when there is a prophet, he is saved and is considered a believer by following that prophet. Those who lived during the time of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon and Jesus are guaranteed salvation if they believed in the respective prophet of their time and died while in a state of belief. Those who wish to be saved should follow the laws, doctrines, and acts of worship imposed upon them by the prophets. Those who lived during the time of Abraham should follow Abraham no Adam for example.
Since Islam believes that these prophets are Muslims and have the same teachings as Islam that we have today and have almost the same act of worship, it is logical to generalize that only those who follow Islam from the beginning of time shall have the opportunity to be saved.
Islam, as it is practiced today, have the same doctrine of the oneness of God taught by the prophets and the same acts of worship such as prostrating their faces on the ground just like Jesus, the wearing of veils for Muslim women just like Mary, the permission for Muslim men to marry up to four wives just like Prophet Jacob, and many others. Islam is nearer to the Biblical actions of the believers in old times than any of the Jewish and Christian sects we have today.
Now, since the last prophet has arrived, Muslims believe that those who want salvation should believe in Allah alone and to His prophet who was sent for this time, Prophet Muhammad. There shall be no other prophet to come after Prophet Muhammad. Even Jesus Christ, on his second coming, shall follow the law brought by Prophet Muhammad as that time is already the time of Prophet Muhammad and no longer his time. Despite this, Muslims love and respect all of the prophets.
SALVATION IS POSSIBLE FOR THOSE WHO DID NOT HEAR ABOUT ISLAM
A common question about salvation is about those who were not able to hear about the message of salvation as they may be far from them or they may have physical disabilities such as deafness or even insanity. With regards to this, Allah is most just and he does not impose any judgment unless He sends forth a warner first of all and establishes the evidence for all those concerned to see. These people, who may not have heard of Allah’s message on Earth shall be given that message on Judgement Day, and they shall decide for themselves whether they would believe or not.
SALVATION THROUGH ALLAH’S MERCY
As human’s, we naturally believe in cause and effect. You do good, you shall be rewarded and you do bad, you shall be punished. The same is true in Islam with regards to salvation, but good deeds alone do not make one worthy of Paradise or salvation. It is through Allah’s mercy first of all. This teaching in Islam instills the importance of sincerity and humility in one’s good deeds that one does not become vain of his achievements. Of course, good deeds are some of the ways of attaining Allah’s mercy, but ultimately, it is the overall quality of the performance of these deeds that is judged and not mere quantity. In Islam, some acts of worship are not even physical which are performed by the heart. Reliance upon Allah, fear of Him and devotion to Him are all worship of the heart.
Another aspect of one’s salvation is Allah’s predestination whether one should be among those who are saved or among those who are damned. But this predestination does not mean that man is deprived of his free will to choose to attain salvation. Predestination only becomes a factor because Allah already knew the actions of each human being long before they were even born. Allah also does not intervene except that He gives us signs along the way and the decision is ultimately on him to believe or disbelieve.