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Monday, July 03, 2006
  Understanding Islam - 3: Will only Muslims go to Paradise?
Here’s another article from the www.understanding-islam.com site. Too many Muslims believe Islam to be some exclusive club that they have been blessed to belong too. They believe that because of their religion, they and they alone will go to Heaven. This exclusivism is dangerous on two levels. Firstly it provides room for hatred against all non-Muslims (after all, if God is going to condemn them, why shouldn’t we?). We’re seeing the destructive effect of this hatred in the likes of sectarian violence and blind hatred of “the west” everyday. More importantly, the exclusivism also causes many Muslims to divest themselves from Islam’s true purpose, which is closeness to God. Rather than working hard to develop their spirituality, a struggle that lasts a lifetime, most Muslims think that after having said the kalima, they are going to go to heaven anyway, so that department is taken care of. Sure they may be in Hell for some time for not praying, not being honest, etc… but hey we said the kalima so eventually we’ll be shifted to heaven.

I’m not saying most Muslims are going to hell. I’m saying they’ve taken it for granted that they won’t simply because they are Muslims. This assumption has stalled their spiritual endeavors and will continue to harm their spiritual efforts as long as they believe Heaven is separated from them by a simple utterance of the kalima.

The original article is here. The question is followed by counter-questions and answers here, then here.


Will Only Muslims Go To

We believe that those people who believe in the oneness of God and in the last prophet only they will eventually be forgiven by God. But most of us are Muslims only because we were born in Muslim families i.e. by chance not by choice. I am quite sure that had we been born in
India or America or elsewhere, we would have taken up that religion and the chances of converting to Islam would be pretty dim. We are lucky enough to be born in a Muslim family.

The crux of the matter is that a person is molded according to his surroundings and he adopts those values and religion, which are inculcated in him. Then don't you think that those who although are not Muslims because they are not born in Muslim families but are very pious in their lives should be forgiven? If they are not, wouldn't it be injustice with them?

This question really pinches me that despite all our bad deeds, we will eventually be forgiven by the Almighty just because we recite the KALIMA, while a person who has been very good to other people and has led a very pious life will be sent to hell, just because he was not born in a Muslim family.

Waiting for your answer

Your question pertains to the criteria of success in the hereafter.

Success in the hereafter does not depend on whether the world knew me as a Muslim or a non-Muslim. It is whether I really was a "Muslim" or a "non-Muslim". A "Muslim" is a person who truly submits to the will of God.

What one believes in largely depends on what he thinks and knows to be true. And that in turn, would depend on his knowledge and exposure. An honest person, who with all his honesty searched for and submitted to God's will, is a true Muslim. And only that "Muslim" qualifies for Jannah

Yes, I do agree that we, Muslims(?) have a certain advantage if we approach the issue from the perspective you have mentioned in your letter. However, this advantage, places a very big responsibility on our shoulders too. Now, a Muslim is also responsible for showing the right path to those who have gone astray. If we do not fulfill our responsibility, it maybe that the so-called Muslim are collectively held responsible for those who went astray, just because the Muslims, as a group, did not fulfill their responsibility.

Who knows, when the curtain is ultimately raised on the Day of Judgment, many whom we thought and knew as Muslims, are amongst the Kaafirs... just because of their attitude of infidelity.... and many of those whom we knew as non-Muslims are found among the Muslims, just because of their true submission to (whatever they honestly thought to be) the will of God.

The Day of Judgment would be a day of absolute justice. No one will be able to object regarding the ultimate justice done by God. No one will be punished, because he lacked knowledge.

There are two basic qualities that will be judged:

1. Whether one really searched for the truth; and

2. Whether one submitted to what he believed was true.

On the other hand, two qualities are bound to doom a person:

1. His carelessness and arrogance in his search for the truth; and

2. His arrogance in submitting to the truth.

Now, my friend, you can surely see that from this perspective, Muslims and non-Muslims stand on the same grounds. We, as Muslims do not have any advantage, besides the one, which puts a heavy responsibility on our shoulders. While the non-Muslims do not have any disadvantage, besides the one, for which they may be given a lot of allowance.

You know, my parents are Christian, Lutheran. This was the religion I was raised in. I said kalima and hope that I continue my personal battle to completely submit. My parents are some of these pious people. They are very active in their church and community, not to mention some organizations they belong to focus on helping others. I feel that religion is a personal thing, that whatever brings one closer to God/Allah can surely not be scorned. My mother taught me not to ignore other's ways of worshiping God. When I converted they were supportive of my decision, it's never really caused a problem because the basics of the religion is something they agree with, along with what they already knew of their religion. These are good articles and questions and I strongly believe that people need to find answers since this will help them to stay on the right path and understand the way Allah wants us to live our lives.
I just wanted to say I really enjoy reading your blog. It helps to gain an understanding of things that seem so beyond our ordinary lives these days when this is the time that we most need it.
You know I've always wondered about one thing. How can people think that saying the kalima alone will get them into jennah? It doesn't make sense to me. Same as it doesn't make sense to me that their are "christians" that think they can do anything they want because "Jesus died for their sins" ..
@cindi: Your parents sound like wonderful people. I'm glad they responded to your conversion so positively.

@jaded: Thank you! and keep visiting

@anonymous: Christianity doesn't say you can do anything just because Jesus died for your sins. However the analogy you draw is accurate I think. Today muslims believe they are owed paradise because they have said the kalima and believe in Prophet Muhammad and the angels and the hereafter- the same way Christians expect paradise is owed to them alone more because of a belief than because of action. I don't know about Christians, but this way of thinking is a new phenomenon in Islamic history, having cropped up a few hundred years ago. The early muslims never had any such notions, thinking of their Islam as more of a great responsibility rather than as a 'password' needed for entrance through the heavenly gates.
The Creator's ways are mysterious and beautiful. Men who purport to know all of the mind of Allah (or God, if you will) have shown themselves capable of immense evil. Tolerance for each other's various faiths -or no faith- is the only way we will be able to get along in the world. There will never be just one religion.
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Recent med school graduate from Peshawar, Pakistan. Started blogging when in throes of final year exams. Currently studying for USMLE Step 1. Aiming for the 2008 Match. I blog about my studies, my worries, and my thoughts on life. I live in Islamabad.

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