Perhaps one of the most important questions for each of us about life is what a good and flourishing life is and most generally if it is worth living.
Many people, including great philosophers and scholars of ethics and mysticism throughout history, have tried to find an answer to this question regarding life worth. Albert Camus, one of the famous authors and philosophers of the 20th century, tried hard to fulfill his lifelong quest to shed light on the meaning of our lives, such that he believed: “Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy. All the rest […] comes afterward. Those are games; one must first answer this” .
Now let’s see how different people have answered this important question about life worth. We can divide these viewpoints into three categories:
1. They believe life costs a lot and has very few benefits for us. As Woody Allan, the pessimist American director, puts: “Most of life is tragic. You're born, you don't know why. You're here, you don't know why. You go, you die. Your family dies. Your friends die. People suffer. People live in constant terror. The world is full of poverty and corruption and war and Nazis and tsunamis. The net result, the final count is, you lose - you don't beat the house” . Or as Samuel Butler says: “life is one long process of getting tired” . So some of these people think why not we commit suicide to get rid of this miserable life?!
2. These people believe life is so valuable no matter how it seems and we have to live it at any price. Lots of people choose to think this way. Henry James has said: “Be not afraid of life believe that life is worth living and your belief will create the fact” . Or there is another quote from Ellen DeGeneres that says: “My life is perfect even when it's not” . Also, one of the most popular contemporary writers, Paulo Coelho seems to have a kind of optimistic view about life when he says: “Never give up. When your heart becomes tired, just walk with your legs – but move on” 
Some other people seem to have found the golden mean between the two previous extremes:
3. So, sometimes it is worth living and sometimes not. This is what Islam and Islamic leaders teach their followers about life worth. There are examples in the lives of the infallible Imams in which they indicate that we are not created only to live this worldly life and that this life is merely a path for us to reach a higher status. As the Holy Quran says: “while the Hereafter is better and more lasting” (87:17). So, we should always think if this earthly life will be to our benefit in the hereafter or not. If yes, then it is worth living; if not fight for those benefits even if you die.
One of the most significant role models for us in this regard is Imam Hussain (AS), the third infallible Imam, whose act of sacrifice has left a profound impact on humankind throughout history. Imam Hussain (AS) believed accepting humiliation and obedience to mean people is like living in hell. So, when all he did to guide his enemies to the right path failed, he said: “To me, death is nothing but happiness, and living under tyrants nothing but living in a hell” .
At this state, death to him is more desirable than living under the oppression of the tyrants and surrendering to their wishes. Therefore, when he was placed in a dilemma by the oppressors to be humiliated by swearing allegiance to the tyrant of the time, Yazid, or to fight and probably die, he decided to fight even if he died. He sacrificed all he had in this way and departed this earthly life with glory.
Now, after about 1400 years, every year in Muharram, lots of ceremonies are held around the world to commemorate the anniversary of his martyrdom. Lots of people from different religions get influenced by him and his ideology and sometimes it makes them embrace Islam.
Which point of view do you agree about life worth? Will you ever give up your benefits for the good of others to make them have a flourishing and more valuable life?
According to dictionary definitions salvation means “deliverance from the power and effects of sin” . Even some people believe that all Abrahamic religions have been sent to human beings to free them from the effects of their sins and guide them to the path of salvation. However, there are some major differences in the way that followers of different Abrahamic religions believe in the concept of salvation and that the above definition is not necessarily compatible with the Islamic meaning of Salvation. Therefore, this article is a study on the concept of salvation in Islam and tries to point out its major differences with Christianity.
Before starting the argument about the concept of salvation in Christianity, it is important to point out the two main ideas of Christian Catholic theologians:
1- ‘Adam by his sin caused the fall of the human generation on earth and as a result of this worldly life, he caused death for the human generation.
2- Adam by his fault transmitted sin to the human generation’ .
According to some Christians’ opinion, death and sin are transmitted to the human race generation after generation, "for as by the disobedience of one man, many [i.e., all men] were made sinners" (Romans 5:19) .
Now let us study how Christianity explains the concept of salvation for men who are all born sinners.
Some Christian sects believe that all men are born sinners, and it becomes more complicated when the belief comes to the point that says “no amount of human goodness, human works, human morality, or religious activity can gain acceptance with God or get anyone into heaven; the moral man, the religious man, and the immoral and non-religious, are all in the same boat” .
“In the Christian doctrine of salvation, God has rescued man through Christ (John 3:17). Specifically, it was Jesus’ death on the cross and subsequent resurrection that achieved man’s salvation (Romans 5:10; Ephesians 1:7). It is explicitly stated in The Bible that salvation is the gracious, undeserved gift of God (Ephesians 2:5, 8) and is only available through faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12)” .
There are a few differences between the story of Adam and Eve in the Bible and the Quran, one of which is the concept of original sin in Christianity that is contrary to the Islamic teachings. According to Islam, we are all born pure and even if we consider Adam’s act as a sin [i], it is not logical to count it as an everlasting sin for the whole human generation. According to Islam, everyone is responsible for his/her own acts: “no bearer of burden shall bear the burden of another” (6: 164).
Therefore, according to Islam, salvation is not defined as the human’s deliverance from the original sin, but it is a path that guides human beings towards spiritual development and reaching God.
Even following the prophets in Islam, never means that the human generation can be saved by having belief in their prophethood, but it is by following their guidance and the rules of religion and by doing “righteous deeds” (7:42) that one can reach salvation:
“And those who have faith and do righteous deeds—they shall be the inhabitants of paradise; they will remain in it [forever].” (2: 82)
In the Quran, Allah introduces prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) as the one who rescues people from their burdens and shackles. (7:157). We need to find out what those burdens and shackles are and how the prophet is supposed to relieve people from them, which are all mentioned in the Quran.
By finding the answer to the above question, we will realize the Islamic viewpoint on the concept of salvation and the role of Prophets and people in attaining it.
The Quran exegetes have different interpretations of burdens and shackles that are mentioned in this Holy Book; including superstitions, wrong habits, and traditions, ignorance, discrimination, false rules of the society, oppression, and dictatorship of the government, etc. It is also said that these burdens were those hard rituals and laws that God had obliged over the Jews .
But the deliverance that prophet brings for people is not reachable by sacrificing himself. As it is mentioned in the Quran the duty of prophets is to invite people to the right path and teach them the book and purify them by giving them the guidelines for a successful life (24: 54). However, it is the human himself who has to choose and do righteous deeds to reach salvation.
Therefore, according to the Quran sins cannot be transmitted from one person to another, just as a prophet cannot take away the sins of his people by sacrificing himself; “No bearer shall bear another’s burden” (17:15).
Salvation in Islam opens the gate of hope into people’s hearts. Unlike Christianity, in Islam people are not sinful and can reach the closest levels to God and His messengers by doing righteous deeds, acting according to the religious rules and living a decent life. And having true faith in God and his apostle is necessary but not enough.
As mentioned in the Quran, the human is a creature that “its virtues and vices” are inspired to him and it is the human who chooses one and leaves the other behind . Therefore, in the Islamic doctrine, it is the human’s free will that makes his/her destiny; “one who purifies it (the soul) is felicitous, and one who betrays it fails” (91: 9-10).
To sum up, believing in Jesus and his sacrifice for the salvation of human race is not acceptable according to Islam. But the only way of salvation is the belief in the prophets, especially the last one, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP), and in the messages that he delivered to us. These messages invite us to do righteous deeds based on our conscious act and choice. And if the belief is not accompanied by righteous deeds it will not lead to salvation.
[i]. Muslims believe in the infallibility of prophets. Also, the reason for which Muslims do not count Adam’s act as sin is that at his time there had been no religion and no specific frameworks for human behavior. And God had not ordered him not to eat of the forbidden tree, but He recommended Adam and Eve to keep away from that tree. Therefore, they had not committed a sin, to face punishment, rather they had chosen to take an action regarding the forbidden tree and they faced its consequences.
The taste of water is the taste of life.
Mohammad-Baqer Majlesi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol.49, p.99.
Cleanliness is among the manners of prophets.
Mohammad-Baqer Majlesi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol.78, p.335.
Any food that benefits the body and brings energy to it is allowed (Halal), and whatever harms the body and drains its energy is forbidden (Haram).
Baqir Sharif al-Qurashi, Al-Fiqh al-Radawi, p.254.
Try to divide your day into four parts; a part for praying to Allah, one for providing your livelihood, one for spending time with your friends and the ones you trust to tell your mistakes and love you sincerely, and a part for enjoying Halal pleasures which gives you the ability to fulfill the other parts.
Baqir Sharif al-Qurashi, Al-Fiqh al-Radawi, p.337.
The one who puts aside his/her world [ultimately] for the sake of his/her religion, or vice versa, is not among our followers.
Mohammad-Baqer Majlesi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol.78, p.346.
Observe your manners in your relations with the ones older or younger than you.
Mirza Husayn Nuri, Mustadrak al-wasa'il, vol.8, p.354.
Whoever washes away a believer's grief, Allah will save him/her from despair on the Day of Judgment.
Muhammad ibn Ya'qub al-Kulayni, al-Kafi, vol.2, p.200.
Allah has commanded to express gratitude toward Himself and your parents; therefore, if you don't give thanks to your parents, you are not grateful to Allah.
Al-Shaykh al-Saduq, Al-Khisal, p.156.
Reason is your best friend and ignorance, your worst enemy.
Ibn Shu’bah, Tuhaf al-Uqul, p.443.
You are ridiculing yourself if you ask for Allah's help, yet don't make any attempts [to reach your goal].
Muhammadi Reyshahri, Mizan al-Hikmah, hadith no.2790.
The one who greets a poor Muslim differently than a rich person will face Allah's wrath on the Day of Judgement.
Al-Shaykh al-Saduq, Uyoun Akhbar Al-Ridha, vol.2, p.59.
From the two groups who face each other, victory belongs to the one that shows more generosity.
Mohammad-Baqer Majlesi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol.71, p.452.
Modesty has different manifestations; one is for those who know their limitations, accept their position contently, like to treat people the way they expect to be treated, confront insult with benevolence, control their anger and forgive people. Allah loves the righteous.
Muhammad ibn Ya'qub al-Kulayni, al-Kafi, vol.2, p.124.
Allah will treat the one who holds an optimistic view toward Him, the same as his/her approach.
Muhammad ibn Ya'qub al-Kulayni, al-Kafi, vol.8, p.347.
Eating less and refraining from excessive use of food will protect your body against various diseases.
Al-Ma’mun ,al-Risa’la al-Dhahabiya fi al-Tibb, p.270.
Two groups are always sick; A healthy person who abstains from food and a sick person who does not abstain.
Baqir Sharif al-Qurashi, Al-Fiqh al-Radawi, p.340.
Whoever respects Allah's sanctuary, he/she will be respected, and whoever obeys Allah, will be obeyed.
Muhammad ibn Ya'qub al-Kulayni, al-Kafi, vol.1, p.137.
A generous person eats from other people's food [if invited], for people to eat from his/hers, and the ungenerous does not eat from other's food, to not offer his/her own food to others.
Al-Shaykh al-Saduq, Uyoun Akhbar Al-Ridha, vol.1, p.15.
Respect the elderly, be kind to children, and pay a visit to your relatives.
Al-Shaykh al-Saduq, Uyoun Akhbar Al-Ridha, vol.2, p.265.
Allah delays granting the request of a believer, since He is eager to listen to him/her praying, saying, "This is the voice I love listening to" and hasten in granting the request of a hypocrite, saying, "This is the voice I loathe hearing."
Baqir Sharif al-Qurashi, Al-Fiqh al-Radawi, p.345.
Whoever knows his/her value will never be devastated.
Mohammad-Baqer Majlesi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol.72, p.66.
Fitr has been appointed as Eid for Muslims to come together as a community on this day in the presence of the Lord and thank Him for His blessings.
Ibn Qūlawayh, Kamil al-Ziyarat, p.522.
Visit each other regularly to create more love between yourselves, and hold each other's hands and wipe anger away from your hearts.
Mohammad-Baqer Majlesi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol.78, p.347.
The one who borrows something with the intention of giving it back is under Allah's protection until he does so. However, if he doesn't have the intention of paying the debt back to its owner, he is considered a thief.
Baqir Sharif al-Qurashi, Al-Fiqh al-Radawi, p.268.
Patience, knowledge, and silence are signs of awareness. Silence is one of the gates to wisdom. It endows human beings with tenderness and guides them toward virtues.
Muhammad ibn Ya'qub al-Kulayni, al-Kafi, vol.2, p.113.
Wearing perfume is one of the manners of prophets.
Muhammad ibn Ya'qub al-Kulayni, al-Kafi, vol.6, p.510.
The one who repents from sin and repeats doing it seems like a person who is ridiculing his/her Lord.
Muhammad ibn Ya'qub al-Kulayni, al-Kafi, vol.2, p.504.
The value of worshipping does not depend on the number of prayers or fasts. Instead, true worship is pondering deeply on Allah and everything related to Him.
Ibn Shu’bah, Tuhaf al-Uqul, p.442.
The first step in serving Allah is knowing Him.
Al-Shaykh al-Saduq, Al-Tawhid, p.34.
Whoever smiles at his/her fellow believer, will win Allah's reward.
al-Shaykh al-Saduq, Kitāb muṣādaqat al-ikhwān, vol.1, p.157.
The one who doesn't gratify a kindness received by others has not given thanks to Allah Almighty.
Al-Shaykh al-Saduq, Uyoun Akhbar Al-Ridha, vol.2, p.24.
Insignificant sins lead into great sins and the one, who doesn't have any fear of Allah while committing the insignificant ones, won't feel any fear in doing the great ones.
Mohammad-Baqer Majlesi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol.73, p.353.
You are not a devout worshipper if you do not seek forbearance.
Muhammad ibn Ya'qub al-Kulayni, al-Kafi, vol.2, p.11.
If your neighbor is not safe from your harm, you are not among our followers.
Al-Shaykh al-Saduq, Uyoun Akhbar Al-Ridha, vol.2, p.24.
The one who breaks promises is prone to unfortunate incidents.
Mohammad-Baqer Majlesi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol.67, p.186.
Verily, relief, and success comes after despair.
Mohammad-Baqer Majlesi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol.52, p.110.
Faith includes knowing by heart, confessing by the tongue, practicing by all parts of your body.
Ibn Shu’bah, Tuhaf al-Uqul, p.422.
A believer does not leave aside what is right, when in anger, and does not go astray, in happiness, and does not take more than he/she deserves, while in power.
Mohammad-Baqer Majlesi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol.75, p.355.
There is no peace for the stingy, no pleasure for the envious, no guarantee for the rulers, and no conscience for the liar.
Ibn Shu'bah, A Summery of Tuhaf al-Uqul, hadith no. 500249.
Doubt the faith of the one who shows off with his/her worships to Allah, since Allah Al-mighty abhors bragging about worship and appearance.
Mohammad-Baqer Majlesi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol.70, p.252.