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Terror of Doubt and an Uncertain Future: The Theological Errors of Islam

While the Christian finds their hope entirely in Christ and His cross and resurrection, there is no such confident source of hope in Islam. Christ died for the sins of His people. He rose from the dead in a bodily resurrection to guarantee their bodily resurrections, and Christians subsequently can hope for that future, where sin affects them no more, and they live eternally with Christ. Because Christ has acted as mediator on behalf of His people before God, they have no fear of Hell but instead the guarantee of life everlasting. Followers of Islam have no such comfort because, in the Final Judgment, they will have no mediator on their behalf. Judged entirely based on their works, until that day, they will have no assured knowledge of their eternal destination, whether that be Paradise or Hell. As stated in Unveiling Islam: 

In Islam, you place your hope in good works, trying to please Allah more than you offend him. Christians believe that any sin stands as an infinite offense against God and must be judged with an infinite penalty. Good works no more cover bad works than an act of kindness can take away the guilt of a murderer. If you are a criminal, justice demands that punishment be meted out. And it was. Jesus Christ paid the infinite penalty for sin. In Islam sin is not paid for, it is weighed on a balance scale. 

             As is the case in Christianity, in Islam all creatures are responsible for their actions in this life (Emerick 68). Although Islam does not hold to the Christian belief of inherent, original sin (Belgic Confession Article 15), it does state that Allah created moral laws that human beings have undoubtedly disobeyed (Elass 128). It is these sins against the moral laws of Allah that require Muslims to perform positive actions. Their good deeds must outweigh their sins in the Final Judgment (128, 130). They believe that the problem of human depravity solves only by obeying the regime that Muhammad has set forward (130). He outlines his requirements in the Qu’ran as the Five Pillars of Islam – Shahada (profession of faith), Salat (prayer), Zakat (almsgiving), Sawm (Fasting), and Hajj (Pilgrimage to Mecca) (The Islam Book 38). These are the main actions that Islam requires and weighs against the evil deeds of one’s life to determine their eternal destiny. Islam is a religion founded entirely on works righteousness; man must mediate on his own behalf. 

The Christian faith holds to the need for a mediator. The fall of Adam and Eve placed on all mankind original sin. No matter if man could find a way to never sin again, he could never satisfy the “righteous judgment of God” spoken of in Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Days 4 and 5 for just that original sin which he carries alone. Only by means of a mediator – one who is both fully man and fully God and perfectly righteous – can the wrath of God against the sin of mankind be satisfied.  

Romans 7:19 states, “For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.” It is in the nature of man since the fall to be totally depraved – wholly incapable of any good, certainly not any saving good. Yet this is exactly that which Islam calls for. Believers must save themselves – perform an abundance of prayers, obey fasting requirements, eat the right foods, wear the proper clothes. Instead of caring for the neighbor and obeying the laws of God out of the thankfulness for the salvation that the Christian finds entirely in Christ, works are the sole basis for salvation in Islam. Instead of praying to God because He is their Father and Friend, the prayers of Islam are made to earn the favor of Allah and attempt to avoid his wrath. 

             In the Islamic Resurrection, Allah brings the angels back to life. All humans will suddenly appear standing on a massive level plain. While Christians believe in a bodily resurrection of the physical bodies from this lifetime, Islam is slightly different because souls of all who have died receive new bodies that look like their physical bodies in every respect, but without flaws (Emerick 70). Instead of their bodies being radically transformed, Allah fashions entirely new bodies to look like the old. This is theologically incorrect in the scope of Christianity, for God completed His Creation in six days (Genesis 2:2). While He upholds and sustains His Creation by the work of providence, (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 10), God does not continue to create nor will He destroy His Creation entirely but transform it. 

             According to Islam, Allah holds a record of the entirety of the lives of every human being because the angels record all the actions of all mortals for this purpose. These books of deeds are laid open, and Allah weighs the good actions against the evil; if the good outweighs the evil, He places the book in their right hand – these are destined for Paradise. If the evil outweighs the good, the book ends in their left hand, destining them to Hell (Elass 133).  

             Having received their judgments, the Day of Awakening and the Day of Encompassing begin. Every man becomes aware of their ultimate destiny, and all humankind enters their punishment for their deeds. All men move forward to the pit of fire that is Hell. If they have been handed their book of deeds in their right hand, then the angels will throw them into the pit, which has seven layers, dependent on the sins committed by those thrown into it (Emerick 73). The first level is Jahannum, reserved for believers in Islam who still have sins to recompense before entering Paradise. Unlike Christianity, where those who hold salvation have the entirety of their sins paid for and will never have to see or experience Hell in any way because Christ did so on their behalf, even some of the best of Muslims must spend time in Hell before entering Paradise (Elass 134). 

             The hope of Islam is immensely different than the hope of Christianity in that there really is no hope at all. Whereas Christ has accounted for the sins of His people entirely, and in the New Heavens and New Earth, He will resurrect and transform the physical Creation, removing all sin and evil, the Paradise of Islam does not account for this. To enter Paradise, Muslims only must be 51 percent good – the balance must only slightly tip in their favor (Caner 149). Islamic scholars believe the retribution for the 49 percent or less of evil occurs when every man must pass-through Hell to pay for it. Yet there is no renewal, no transformation, no further perfection as is found in Christianity to keep evil out of Paradise, no prevention of future sin and evil.  

             Unlike the Christian hope, where one will experience a transformation in body, witness the transformation of the New Creation, and live eternally in fellowship with Christ and the church, the Paradise of Islam is entirely sensual. Whereas in Christ, there is no respect towards persons (Galatians 3:28), the Paradise of Islam is catered to men. There is little to no appeal to or place for women in Paradise other than escaping Hell (Elass 138-139). Satisfied with the righteousness of those whom he has awarded Paradise, Allah provides eternal security, fruit and drink, and a multitude of chaste women (Caner 149). The Qu’ran states that “men will sit on raised couches drinking new wine and looking at beautiful virgins” (149). Paradise contains lofty mansions, thrones, rivers, fantastic food, joy, peace, satisfaction, and bliss (Caner 149). The soul is complete and rested, well pleased with Allah as Allah with it. Paradise is considered the conclusion of Islamic eschatology. 

             The hope of Christianity and the hope of Islam vastly differ. In the first place, within this lifetime, it is difficult for Muslims to have any hope because they have no confidence in their future destination. While the Christian finds comfort, mediation, salvation, and hope in Christ, the Muslim must attempt to discover all of these in him or herself. Furthermore, the New Heavens and New Earth do not center around sensual pleasures but fellowship with God and His people, as well as the removal of evil and sin from His Creation and creatures. The sensual pleasures of Islamic Paradise are those that can be experienced on earth. One does not need to go to Paradise to experience chaste women, good food, lofty mansions, and beautiful gardens. Finally, the Islamic Paradise maintains no reasonable hope for anyone other than men. While Islam offers little hope and stability in this current life, the Christian can find great comfort and hope in the death and resurrection of Christ for the future even while walking as pilgrims and strangers on the earth now. The future of Christ and his church is not unknown, in that is found all hope and joy! 

 

Works Cited 

Caner, Ergun Mehmet, and Emir Fethi Caner. Unveiling Islam: an Insider’s Look at Muslim Life and Beliefs. Kregel Publications, 2009.  

Elass, Mateen. Understanding the Koran: a Quick Christian Guide to the Muslim Holy Book. Zondervan, 2004.  

Emerick, Yahiya. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Islam. Penguin, 2011.  

King James Version. Bible Gateway. Web. 25 July 2021. 

The Islam Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained. DK Publishing, Penguin Random House, 2020.  

 

Archivist’s note:

This article was submitted to a Beacon Lights writing contest, with the prompt to “Give a summary and description of a cult or other non-Christian religion of your choice, focusing on the errors of the group and giving a biblical defense against the errors.”  The article above was selected as one of the top 5 submissions in its category.