The Islamic stance on the "Original Sin" and salvation through faith, deeds, and repentance


The Qur'an recounts the story of Adam and Eve (peace be upon them) in a similar way to that of the Bible. However, the blame of disobedience is placed upon both and not solely on Eve. Eve never convinces Adam to sin.

In Islam both Adam and Eve are held equally responsible (i.e. the man and woman share equal blame). Additionally all of mankind did now inherit an "original sin" from Adam or Eve. God tells us that after they had sinned, He simply taught Adam how to repent and that was the end of that. God is indeed merciful and forgiving.

"We said: "O Adam! dwell thou and thy wife in the Garden; and eat of the bountiful things therein as (where and when) ye will; but approach not this tree, or ye run into harm and transgression." Then did Satan make them slip from the (garden), and get them out of the state (of felicity) in which they had been. We said: "Get ye down, all (ye people), with enmity between yourselves. On earth will be your dwelling-place and your means of livelihood - for a time." Then learnt Adam from his Lord words of inspiration, and his Lord Turned towards him; for He is Oft-Returning, Most Merciful."– Qur’an English Translation [2:35-37]

Would an All-Loving God blame you for someone else's mistake?  Part of the Christian doctrine entails that we were born with sin  Think about it for a moment. Would the Just God blame you for a sin you never committed?  Would He hold you responsible for what someone else did?  Definitely not! 

God's book teaches that you are responsible for only your own actions.  You can't sin until you do something wrong, and you certainly could not have done something wrong before you were born.

Some say that the first human Adam, sinned, and through him sin entered the world; and now sin corrupts everything, including every newborn baby.  Can you follow that logic?  Can you believe that human beings are condemned before they do anything? What judge would condemn people for crimes they never committed?  A just judge wouldn't do that except by mistake.

What about God? Would He make such a mistake? We can't imagine such false ideas about God.  He is Just. He holds you responsible for what you do, and He does not blame you for what the first human being did. 


Can man pass down sin to his offspring?

The idea that the sin propagates to their offspring is categorically refused in Islam and in the Qur'an:

"Say: Shall I seek another than Allah for Lord, when He is Lord of all things? Each soul earneth only on its own account, nor doth any laden bear another's load. Then unto your Lord is your return and He will tell you that wherein ye differed. "– Qur’an English Translation [6:164]


"On no soul doth Allah Place a burden greater than it can bear. It gets every good that it earns, and it suffers every ill that it earns. (Pray:) "Our Lord! Condemn us not if we forget or fall into error; our Lord! Lay not on us a burden Like that which Thou didst lay on those before us; Our Lord! Lay not on us a burden greater than we have strength to bear. Blot out our sins, and grant us forgiveness. Have mercy on us. Thou art our Protector; Help us against those who stand against faith." – Qur’an English Translation [2:286]


"On that Day will men proceed in companies sorted out, to be shown the deeds that they (had done). Then shall anyone who has done an atom's weight of good, see it! And anyone who has done an atom's weight of evil, shall see it." – Qur’an English Translation [99:6-8]

And if any one earns sin, he earns it against His own soul
: for Allah is full of knowledge and wisdom." – Qur’an English Translation [4:111]


What does the Bible say about the burden of a man's sin, can it be placed on another?

“The soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him.”  - Old Testament (Tanakh) (Ezekiel 18:20)


"O mankind! do your duty to your Lord, and fear (the coming of) a Day when no father can avail aught for his son, nor a son avail aught for his father. Verily, the promise of Allah is true: let not then this present life deceive you, nor let the chief Deceiver deceive you about Allah." – Qur’an English Translation [31:33]


"On no soul do We place a burden greater than it can bear: before Us is a record which clearly shows the truth: they will never be wronged." – Qur’an English Translation [23:62]


So clearly from the above verse we see that sin cannot be passed down or shared from a father to a son. Does not the idea of the "Original Sin" claim just that; Adam's sin was inherited by the rest of his progeny, i.e. Mankind? Clearly the idea of the Original Sin is a fallacy made by man.


In Islam (God's Truth); all children are born without sin and in a state of purity. As individuals we are only responsible for our own actions. Lastly, the previous verse (Ezekiel 18:20) directly negates the Christian notion of Salvation on the cross, where Jesus is said to have "payed for everyone's sin." Truly, each man is responsible for his own wickedness and righteousness.



God is most merciful and forgiving


However, God is always forgiving and merciful towards mankind, that is if mankind will earnestly seek His forgiveness. The Bible and Qur'an both talk about the importance of repentance and the resulting love and mercy shown by God:


"Say: "O my Servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah (God). for Allah forgives all sins: for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. "Turn ye to our Lord (in repentance) and bow to His (Will), before the Penalty comes on you: after that ye shall not be helped."– Qur’an English Translation [39:53-54]

Allah accepts the repentance of those who do evil in ignorance and repent soon afterwards; to them will Allah turn in mercy: For Allah is full of knowledge and wisdom. Of no effect is the repentance of those who continue to do evil, until death faces one of them, and he says, "Now have I repented indeed;" nor of those who die rejecting Faith: for them have We prepared a punishment most grievous." – Qur’an English Translation [4:17-18]

"Therefore say to the house of Israel, '
This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Repent! Turn from your idols and renounce all your detestable practices!" - Old Testament (Tanakh) (Ezekiel 14:6)

Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts.
Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon." - Old Testament (Tanakh) (Isaiah 55:6-7)

Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded." - New Testament (James 4:8)


"If any one does evil or wrongs his own soul but afterwards seeks Allah's forgiveness, he will find Allah Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful." – Qur’an English Translation [4:110]


"But if a wicked man turns away from all the sins he has committed and keeps all My decrees and does what is just and right, he will surely live; he will not die. None of the offenses he has committed will be remembered against him. Because of the righteous things he has done, he will live." - Old Testament (Tanakh) (Ezekiel 18:21-22)


"But if a wicked man turns away from the wickedness he has committed and does what is just and right, he will save his life." - Old Testament (Tanakh) (Ezekiel 18:27)


"Therefore, O house of Israel, I will judge you, each one according to his ways, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. - Old Testament (Tanakh) (Ezekiel 18:30)

"Those who persecute (or draw into temptation) the Believers, men and women, and do not turn in repentance, will have the Penalty of Hell: They will have the Penalty of the Burning Fire. For those who believe and do righteous deeds, will be Gardens; beneath which rivers flow: That is the great Salvation, (the fulfilment of all desires), Truly strong is the Grip (and Power) of thy Lord. It is He Who creates from the very beginning, and He can restore (life). And He is the Oft-Forgiving, Full of Loving-Kindness" – Qur’an English Translation [85:10-14]


God rewards those according to the best of their deeds


Furthermore, not only is God just and fair, but also Merciful and extremely Compassionate in judgment; rewarding men and women to the best of their deeds while punishing them only to the extent of their deeds. As illustrated below, righteousness outweighs wrongdoing in terms of our deeds on Judgment Day.

If any does good, the reward to him is better than his deed; but if any does evil, the doers of evil are only punished (to the extent) of their deeds." – Qur’an English Translation [28:84]

"Whoever works righteousness, man or woman, and has Faith, verily, to him will We give a new Life, a life that is good and pure and We will bestow on such their
reward according to the best of their actions." – Qur’an English Translation [16:97]


“If any do deeds of righteousness - be they male or female - and have faith, they will enter Paradise, and not the least injustice will be done to them.” – Qur’an English Translation [4:124]

"Unless he repents, believes, and works righteous deeds, for Allah (God) will change the evil of such persons into good, and Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful, And whoever repents and does good has truly turned to Allah with an (acceptable) conversion;- Those who witness no falsehood, and, if they pass by futility, they pass by it with honourable (avoidance); Those who, when they are admonished with the Signs of their Lord, droop not down at them as if they were deaf or blind" – Qur’an English Translation [25:70-73]

"Then, he whose balance (of good deeds) will be (found) heavy, Will be in a life of good pleasure and satisfaction. But he whose balance (of good deeds) will be (found) light,- Will have his home in a (bottomless) Pit." – Qur’an English Translation [101:6-11]


Man's weakness and God's gift of sincere repentance


Even after you do wrong, God is always willing to forgive.  He is full of loving kindness, and He loves to forgive.  He is willing to forgive anyone who turns to Him and seeks forgiveness.  This means that if you do something wrong you can still turn back to God and He will forgive you, if you sincerely decide to give up that sin. 


Isn't this refreshing to know? Some people may feel discouraged because of past sins. However one shouldn't stress themselves too much, for if you sincerely repent and change your ways God is willing to forgive you. That's just between you and God. There are no intermediaries between mankind and God when it comes to prayer in Islam; each person prays directly to God. 


Thus, there's no need for a confession nor the need for someone to suffer for our sins. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was once recorded as saying, “Islam annuls what came before it.” (narrated by Muslim in his Sahih, no. 121). As soon as you become a Muslim all your previous sins are forgiven and you start with a blank slate.

Indeed, God knows man's nature can often be weak, therefore we are not expected to be perfect all the time. In light of this reality, God shows us an immeasurable amount of mercy towards anyone whom is willing to humbly turn to Him in sincere repentance:


"Allah (God) doth wish to lighten your (difficulties): For man was created Weak (in flesh)." – Qur’an English Translation [4:28]


"O mankind! there hath come to you a direction from your Lord and a healing for the (diseases) in your hearts,- and for those who believe, a guidance and a Mercy." - Qur’an English Translation [10:57]

"On no soul do We place a burden greater than it can bear: before Us is a record which clearly shows the truth: they will never be wronged." – Qur’an English Translation [23:62]

"Allah (God) doth wish to make clear to you and to show you the ordinances of those before you; and (He doth wish to) turn to you (In Mercy): And Allah is All-knowing, All-wise." – Qur’an English Translation [4:26]

"For the LORD your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your forefathers, which he confirmed to them by oath." - Old Testament (Tanakh) (Deuteronomy 4:31)


"To those who believe and do deeds of righteousness hath Allah promised forgiveness and a great reward. Those who reject faith and deny our signs will be companions of Hell-fire." - Qur’an English Translation [5:9-10]


"Tell those who believe, to forgive those who do not look forward to the Days of Allah (God). It is for Him to recompense (for good or ill) each People according to what they have earned. If any one does a righteous deed, it ensures to the benefit of his own soul; if he does evil, it works against (his own soul). In the end will ye (all) be brought back to your Lord." - Qur’an English Translation [45:14-15]

"So, verily, with every difficulty, there is relief: Verily, with every difficulty there is relief. Therefore, when thou art free (from thine immediate task), still labour hard, And to thy Lord turn (all) thy attention." - Qur’an English Translation [94:5-8]



In Conclusion


In conclusion, even the late Pope John Paul II believed that it wasn't necessary to believe in the "redemption by Christ" in order to obtain salvation. Pope John Paul was a universalist who believed that men did not have to be born again through personal faith in Jesus Christ to be saved as many Christians believe today.


In 1991 he addressed Muslims as "my beloved Muslim Brothers and Sisters," and said, "I close my greeting to you with the words of one of my predecessors, Pope Gregory VII, who in 1076 wrote to Al-Nasir, the Muslim Ruler of Bijaya, present-day Algeria. ‘...we believe in and confess one God, admittedly in a different way, and daily praise and venerate him, the Creator of the world and Ruler of this world’" (Christian News, quoting Hamdard Islamicus, Summer, 1991).

The New Catholic Catechism, the official doctrine document released by the Roman Catholic church, confirms the Pope’s universalism, saying:

"The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day." (CCC 841)


Truly, the New Catholic Catechism agrees with the following passage from the Qur'an which was revealed nearly 1400 years ago:

"And they say: "None shall enter Paradise unless he be a Jew or a Christian." Those are their (vain) desires. Say: "Produce your proof if ye are truthful." Nay,-whoever submits His whole self to Allah (God) and is a doer of good,- He will get his reward with his Lord; on such shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve. The Jews say: "The Christians have naught (to stand) upon; and the Christians say: "The Jews have naught (To stand) upon." Yet they (Profess to) study the (same) Book. Like unto their word is what those say who know not; but Allah will judge between them in their quarrel on the Day of Judgment." - Qur’an English Translation [2:111-113]


For more on the Original Sin story involving Adam and Eve (Qur'anic view VS Biblical view):


*See section on "James The Just" for more on Salvation through Faith and Deeds in the Bible*


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