What Does Islam Say about Salvation?

According to dictionary definitions salvation means “deliverance from the power and effects of sin” [1]. 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 from the Islamic viewpoint and tries to point out its major differences with Christianity.



The Concept of Original Sin: Rational or Not?

salvation in Islam

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’ [2].


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) [3].

Now let us study how Christianity explains the concept of salvation for men who are all born sinners.


The Concept of Salvation in Christianity 


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” [4].


“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)” [5].



The Concept of Salvation in Islam

salvation in Islam

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) 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. 


What Are the Burdens and Shackles on the Human Shoulders?


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 [6].


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 [7]. 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), 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. 




[1] https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/salvation 
[2] http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11312a.htm  
[3] ibid
[4] https://bible.org/article/gods-plan-salvation
[5] https://www.gotquestions.org/Christian-doctrine-salvation.html 
[6] Makarem Shirazi, N. Payam-e Ghor’an , Vol. 7, p. 25 
[7] The Quran, Chapter Shams (91), Verse 18