What is salvation in Islam?

February 19, 2018

Salvation to a Muslim seems to be based on a desire to avoid hell and receive pleasures and happiness.  Throughout the Qur’an, the principal motivation for accepting God and believing in His revelation appears to be fear: fear of the last judgment and fear of eternal damnation.  There is not as strong view of salvation from sin and reconciling with God for the purpose of worshiping Him that He receives all the glory, honor and praise.

No Muslim can know for sure where he is going in the afterlife.  Allah through an absolute, arbitrary kind of determinism decides everyone’s destiny.  Most Muslims cling to the hope that good works might weigh heavily on Allah’s scales of justice.  But killing and being killed in jihad is the only sure pathway to heaven.

Most Muslims attach supreme importance to their duties.  They believe, on the authority of the Qur’an, that salvation is by ‘works’.  Hence, their concern, even anxiety and fear, is to fulfil their duties.


The representation of a pair of scales on the walls of Muslim buildings conveys the idea of justice based on works of righteousness. 

Then those whose balance (of good deeds) is heavy, – they will attain salvation: But those whose balance is light, will be those who have lost their souls, in Hell will they abide. (Q 23:102-103)

But those who believe and do deeds of righteousness, We shall soon admit to Gardens, with rivers flowing beneath, – their eternal home: Therein shall they have companions pure and holy: We shall admit them to shades, cool and ever deepening. (Q 4:57)

But give glad tidings to those who believe and work righteousness, that their portion is Gardens, beneath which rivers flow. (Q 2:25a)

Five Pillars

Islam has a highly developed code of religious observance, referred to as the five pillars of faith.

Confessing the Faith

Recite the Islamic creed/confession of faith in Arabic: “There is no [true] god but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger (Prophet) of Allah”.  Believe and recite it in the presence of two witnesses and you have converted to Islam.  The creed forms the structure of the Call to Prayer.


Recite the ritual prayer five times daily.  These are memorized, rote prayers always chanted in Arabic.  Before reciting their prayers Muslims must perform ablutions (wash hands, mouth, nostrils, face, arms, ears, neck and feet).  The prayers are recited five times daily at very precise times.  Bending, kneeling and prostration at exactly the right times are required during the recitation.

Giving of Alms (Zakat)

Give the religious tax and offering for the needy, 2.5% on cash, gold and jewelry. Higher rates exist on crops, animals, etc.


Fast during the month of Ramadan.  During daylight hours, no food, drink, tobacco or sexual intercourse are allowed.  At night the fast is lifted.  At the end of the month there is a very special festival to celebrate completion of the fast.  Children, pregnant women, sick people, some travellers and soldiers in combat are exempted from the fast.

Pilgrimage to Mecca.

Make a pilgrimage to the city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia.  A Muslim must go at least once to Mecca if he or she has the money and their health allows.  They go to the original “house of God” (the Kaba) in Mecca.  One person can go on behalf of another.  Such a person will gain merit and will be rewarded on the Last Day (Judgement Day).


The forgiveness received at salvation is not from all sins, but only from past sins.  When someone converts to Islam, God forgives all of his previous sins and evil deeds.

A man called Amr came to the Prophet Muhammad and said, “Give me your right hand so that I may give you my pledge of loyalty.”  The Prophet stretched out his right hand.  Amr withdrew his hand.  The Prophet said: “What has happened to you, O Amr?”  He replied, “I intend to lay down a condition.”  The Prophet asked: “What condition do you intend to put forward?”  Amr said, “That God forgive my sins.”  The Prophet said: “Didn’t you know that converting to Islam erases all previous sins?” (Narrated in Saheeh Muslim, #121, and Mosnad Ahmad, #17357)


There is very little in the Qur’an about forgiveness in comparison with other subjects, which are dealt with at length.  From what is mentioned, it is clear that it is regarded as a quite arbitrary act of Allah which has little, if any, moral basis, and requires no act of redemption or reconciliation. 

For those who reject Allah, is a terrible Penalty: but for those who believe and work righteous deeds, is Forgiveness, and a magnificent Reward. (Q 35:7)

Allah forgiveth not that partners should be set up with Him; but He forgiveth anything else, to whom He pleaseth; to set up partners with Allah is to devise a sin most heinous indeed. (Q 4:48)

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