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PATHEOS LIBRARY OF

World Faiths & Religions

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there salvation outside of Islam?

Islam is the belief in the one God, the creator and sustainer of universe, and a belief in the prophets and revelations sent by God to mankind. Islam teaches that every community throughout history was sent prophets with the same message: believe in God, do good deeds, prepare for the Day of Judgment and the life to come. Different communities, however, such as Christians and Jews, distorted this message and went astray. Muhammad was the last prophet sent to mankind with the final installment of the message. Islam requires belief in Muhammad's final prophecy and following his message. This series of prophets and revelation in Islam, however, sets up an interesting tension: if every prophet taught the same message, and that message was simply ‘believe in the one God and do good deeds', can a person continue to follow a previous prophet instead of following the details of Muhammad's teachings (i.e., Islam as we know it)? The Quran is ambiguous, partially because it was revealed in order to convince Christians and Jews to identify with Muhammad's message. So several Quranic verses state that followers of earlier revelations (like Christians and Jews), "whoever believes in God and the Last Day and does good deeds, surely their reward is with their Lord, no fear need they have and neither shall they grieve" (Quran 2:62). But Muhammad also condemned some of the beliefs of other faiths, particularly assigning divinity to anything besides the transcendent God. For example, the Quran states that those who say that Jesus is God will not enter paradise (Quran 5:72-3). Ultimately, attaining salvation depended on following Muhammad's teachings, which during his life meant abandoning beliefs or practices of which he disapproved. In mainstream Islam, this means that only those who follow Muhammad's prophetic message as defined by Muslim scholars will attain salvation. Of course, the majority of Muslim scholars note that anyone who has never heard Muhammad's message or has only heard distorted versions of it cannot be held accountable for not heeding it - their fate lies with God, "who never wrongs any of His servants."