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Islam

Assumption

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 one's choices.

 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 correct choices. 

 

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.