Whereas Judaism and Christianity speak of humans beings as created in God's
image, Islam rejects the notion that humans can in any way bear the image of
God. Rather, Allah (God) created human beings as stewards to fulfill appointed
tasks. Their task on earth is to establish a just society. All humans are
free moral agents, free to choose right or wrong. They are capable of learning and remembering
and are able to withstand
temptation and to make correct choices. There is the possibility of
forgiveness from God for wrong choices, but one must accept the consequences of
The Problem: Human beings are prone to weakness, impatience and
greed. Notice, however, that humans are not by nature sinful or "fallen."
Humans are not by nature sinful. Rather the human problem is intentional or
unintentional forgetfulness of one's divinely ordained purpose. In
other words, the problem is that we forget why we were created and who created
us. All humans are born with a pre-disposition to Islam; it is part of
their innate nature. But as a baby grows up, it may be turned in another
direction. This may be a turning towards another religion or perhaps away from
recognition of the divine altogether. The human problem is thus the forgetting
of one's inborn tendency to follow Allah.
A part of the problem lies with the efforts of Satan to lead human beings
astray through trickery. Nevertheless, human beings are endowed with sufficient
power to withstand temptation and, through reason and understanding, to make
|The Cure: The solution to forgetfulness is to remember one's purpose on earth and one's
dependence upon God. Allah sent the prophets to remind people of Allah and his message. These
prophets included Adam, Abraham, Moses, Solomon and Jesus. These followers of
Allah all brought his message, but in every case it was misunderstood,
distorted, or forgotten. For example, it is believed that Abraham established
the true worship of the one God, but over time people forgot (or chose to
forget) and turned to other gods. Thus while some of Allah's message became
known, the complete message was never available to humanity.
Finally, Allah sent Muhammad and entrusted the Qur'an to him. By dictating
the Qur'an Allah ensured that his message would be passed to humanity
undistorted. Since Mohammed was the prophet who "got it right," he is
the Final Prophet. Allah will make no more attempts to help humankind remember
their innate link to him. The Qur'an thus is the guide that contains what
humanity needs to know to remember one's
purpose and responsibility. Thus, Islam's solution to the human condition
(forgetfulness) is submission and obedience guided by the Qur'an.
In Islam, the notion of remembering is perhaps better expressed by
the idea of mindfulness. One must constantly be mindful of Allah and the
need to submit to him.. People
remember Allah and the path of submission to him primarily through observing the
five pillars of Islam - particularly the requirements of shahadah and
prayer. The shahadah is more than just making the confession, "There
is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet." One's actions as well as
one's words must demonstrate the recognition that there is no God but Allah.
In addition, the requirement to pray five times per day makes one constantly
mindful of the need to submit to Allah's will.
|Type of Salvation: Islam clearly falls
into the category of individual salvation involving the idea of
judgment. In fact, the belief developed that judgment actually
begins shortly after death. The deceased is visited by two angels who
ask him/her about the oneness of God (Allah) and the identify of
Muhammad. Those who give correct answers are left alone until
judgment day. If incorrect answers are given the two angels strike the
person's faith and say, "Taste the punishment of burning."
Thus in Islam there are actually two judgments - one that takes place in
the tomb and one that takes place on a Day of Resurrection.