Is Salvation Guaranteed To All Believers In God?
Belief in God is a fundamental precept in almost all religions. It is not at all uncommon to come across individuals who express their belief in a Supreme Creator and an Omnipotent God. The adherents of Christianity, Judaism and Islam too claim to believe and worship one God and cite a common heritage. It is quite common these days, particularly during interfaith conversations to claim that the Abrahamic faiths profess to believe in the same Creator. While it is true that all of them claim to supplicate to the One being, they are at odds with each other to the exact nature and attributes of the Divine. In this brief article, I would like to demonstrate this aspect on the basis of textual citations from the religious scriptures of these religions.
Cherry Picking Words Out Of Context
A common trend among many is to pick certain Qur’anic words within verses and claim on their basis that one can be a Jew, Christian, Muslim or of any religion whatsoever and all he or she has to do in order to attain salvation is to be a believer in God and practice righteousness according to their own faith. Many people claim if one is a Christian or Jew, then Islam does not call upon them to rectify their belief, but if they were to remain on their faith while professing belief in God, then they are qualified for salvation. Such individuals often cite some Qur’anic passages (or words within those passages) to support their view.
Do Religions Preach The Same Concept Of God?
While I am not going to discuss the means of salvation or the concept thereof, I would like to briefly address this notion. Referring to some verses like Sura 2:62, 5:69 etc, people often claim that as long as they believe in God, they are going to paradise, and they do not need to change their beliefs or practices much.
In Qur’anic terms it is true that belief in God is the quintessential part of Divine acceptability but which God exactly is it that people are supposed to believe in? The adherent replies: “Why, Is there not just one God, that we all believe in commonly?” True again, that there is one God, but who exactly is He? What are His attributes? If we say that God is someone, who in fact He is not, then are we portraying God in the right manner? A study of world scriptures reveals that all the religions are at odds in their descriptions of God and His nature and ascribed purpose of man. What is it that makes God who He really is? This is not common between various faiths, and as a case in point I will cite texts from Judaism, Christianity and Islam to prove my point. In verse 5:69, which is often quoted to justify salvation for all faiths that believe in God, it is stated:
“Surely those who believe and those who are Jews and the Sabians and the Christians, whoever believes in Allah and the last day and does good– They shall have no fear nor shall they grieve.” 5:69
The important part of this verse is: “..whoever believes in Allah…” as when the Qur’an stresses that a person should believe in Allah, then it is not referring to the concepts of God existing in other religions e.g. the Biblical God Jehovah but referring to Allah of the Qur’an. We can observe by comparative study that the attributes of Allah that occur within the Qur’an are not common to other religious texts, therefore, when the Qur’an promises salvation to believers who believe in God by the statement: “..whoever believes in Allah and the last day and does good– they shall have no fear nor shall they grieve.” then it is certainly referring to its own concept of God i.e. Allah, the One revealed within its Ayaat, with all His divine attributes and laws as described through His own words. The Qur’anic invitation for belief in Allah does not lend support to belief in the Biblical concept of God, whom the bulk of Judaism and Christendom claim to have faith upon, because Qur’anic Allah and Biblical Jehovah are two very different and distinct personalities (which I shall demonstrate later).
In view of this, the verse calls for any one who believes in Allah (with all his attributes and personality mentioned in the Qur’an, and not any other book) and the last day (once again the concept of Yaum ul akhira or the last day as mentioned in the Qur’an) and performs Amal Al-Salih (Lit. reformatory acts) of the Qur’an, then they should have no fear nor shall they grieve, no matter whether they are coming from a Christian background, Jewish background, whether they were Sabeans before or even if they are born to Muslim parents. If they read in the Qur’an concerning belief in Allah, then it is the Qur’anic Allah that they are to believe in, and not a God that is at variance with the Qur’an.
It should also be noted that such a belief is not something, which one can merely proclaim by oral admittance, but it is arrived at by using our reason and intellect and it isn’t what one inherits from ancestors. Belief in Qur’anic values (Imaan) is something that occurs after examination of evidence and proof, and is not blind faith. The Qur’an is a Book, which not only gives proof for its claims but also asks its challengers to produce their evidence. It invites the people to analyse its message using their faculties of intellect and reason to ascertain its truthfulness.
Following are verses from the Bible and the Qur’an which identify the personality of God, and give us a comparative view to see the difference between Biblical concept of God, and Allah mentioned in the Qur’an and enable us to confirm that the Qur’anic invitation to Allah is distinct from the Biblical version of God.
Does God need rest and refreshment?
” . . for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and WAS REFRESHED.” EXODUS 31:17
What does the Qur’an say?
“And certainly We created the heavens and the earth and what is between them in six periods AND THERE TOUCHED US NOT ANY FATIGUE.” 50:38
Is God a Trinity?
“For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one. ” The first Epistle of John 5:7
In contrast, the Qur’an refutes this belief for God:
“They do blaspheme who say: God is one of three in a Trinity: for there is no god except One God. If they desist not from their word (of blasphemy) verily a grievous penalty will befall the blasphemers among them.” 5:76
Does God have Wives?
The Bible does not even spare God from illicit sexual aspersions being ascribed to Him: In the case of the conception of Jesus Christ, the Bible says that God Almighty arranged for Mary to conceive Jesus by the intervention of the Holy Ghost:
“The Holy Ghost shall COME UPON thee (the question is, how?) and the power of the most High shall OVERSHADOW thee (again, how?).” LUKE 1:35
Whereas in the case of Isaac, his conception took place in the womb of Sarah by the direct intervention of God himself¹, as recorded in the Bible:
“And the Lord VISITED Sarah, as he had PROMISED and FULFILLED what he had SPOKEN. And Sarah CONCEIVED.. ” GENESIS 21:1-2
“..not according to the covenant that I cut with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which covenant of Mine they broke, although I WAS A HUSBAND TO THEM, says Jehovah.” Jer 31:32
What does the Qur’an say?
“The Originator of the heavens and the earth. How can He have a son when He has NO CONSORT, and He has created everything and has knowledge of all things?” 6:102
Does God have Children?
Yes according to the Bible:
“When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they came in to any of them they chose.” Genesis 6:1-6:2
“I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.” Psalm 2:7
No according to the Qur’an:
“He to whom belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth: no son has He begotten, nor has He a partner in His dominion: it is He who created all things, and ordered them in due proportions.” 25:2
Does God order His prophets to walk naked in public!
“At the same time spake the Lord by I-sa’iah, the son of A’moz, saying,Go and LOOSE THE SACKCLOTH FROM OFF THY LOINS, and put off thy shoe from thy foot. And he did so, WALKING NAKED and barefoot. And the Lord said, like as my servant ISAIAH hath walked NAKED and barefoot three years..” ISAIAH 20:2-3
In comparison, Allah in the Qur’an says the opposite:
“Say: “Nay Allah never commands what is SHAMEFUL: do ye say of Allah what ye know not?” 7:28
Does God sanction slavery?
“Ye, shall take them (the slaves) as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them (the slaves) for a possession, they shall be, your BONDMEN (slaves) for ever..” LEVITICUS 25:46
What does the Qur’an say?
No man has the right to make others subservient to his laws, even though he may occupy the status of Prophethood.
“It is not meet for a mortal that Allah should give him the Book and the wisdom and Prophethood, then he should say to mankind: Be my slaves rather than Allah’s; but rather (he would say): Be Rabaniyoon (sustenance providers) because of your teaching the Book and your studying (it yourselves).” 3:79
Does God deceive people?
JEREMIAH DECEIVED BY GOD (?):
“O Lord, thou hast DECEIVED me, and I was DECEIVED: thou art stronger than I and hast PREVAILED: I am in derision daily, everyone mocketh me. JEREMIAH 20:7
What does the Qur’an say?
It is the devil who deceives people, not God!
“He (Satan) gives them promises and excites vain desires in them; and the Shaitan does not promise them but TO DECIEVE.” 4:120
Bible on God being omnipotent
“And the Lord was with Judah, and he drove out the inhabitants of the mountain, but COULD NOT drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had Chariots OF IRON.” JUDGES 1:19
What does the Qur’an say?
“..when He has decreed a matter, He only says to it, Be, and it is.” 3:47
Scriptural Variation In The Attributes Of God
It should be clear from the above inflection of Biblical and Quranic passages that the concept of God given in the two scriptures varies greatly. The concept of God that the Bible promotes is not the same as that which the Qur’an has given. In 5:69 people are invited to believe in the Qur’anic concept of Allah, and who ever does that then, they have nothing to fear for the consequences of their actions. The point to consider is that when Allah requires belief in Him, then it means in all His qualities and attributes as mentioned in the Qur’an and not any other book.
The attributes of Allah as described in the Qur’an are not to be found in any other scripture, and a Jew, Christian or any person coming from any faith background if and when he believes in the qualities of Allah as mentioned in the Qur’an, then it can be said that he has nothing to fear or grieve in Quranic terms. That is why at another place in the Qur’an it is said:
“If then they believe as you believe in Him, they are indeed on Guidance, and if they turn back, then they are only in great opposition, so Allah will suffice you against them, and He is the Hearing, the Knowing.” 2:137
The portion of the verse “If then they believe as you believe in Him, they are indeed on Guidance..” clearly establishes that people are required to have that belief on Allah, the Muslims are required to believe i.e. the one which is mentioned in the Qur’an, for that is the belief acceptable to Allah.
To state that the Islam endorses a person of any religion just because he or she believes in God, and that to as per his or her own concept or preferred scripture instead of the attributes of God as described in the Qur’an is to take cherry pick merely words out of the Book and ignore the entire context discussed in numerous passages. Such a tendency has been forewarned:
“There is among them a section who distort the Book with their tongues: (As they read) you would think it is a part of the Book, but it is no part of the Book; and they say, “That is from God,” but it is not from God: It is they who tell a lie against God, and (well) they know it!” 3:78
As the Qur’an corrects and refutes the attributes ascribed to God by adherents of Judaism, Christianity as well as other faiths, therefore it is not correct to suggest that it is content with the monotheism of such believers.
¹Ahmed Deedat, 1992, Combat Kit Against Bible Thumpers, IPCI, Durban, South Africa
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