Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Hope in Allah’s Salvation?

A former Muslim’s Perspective

By Mutee’a Al-Fadi

When I was a Muslim I was taught to believe that our eternal destiny and our hope of salvation in paradise are only known to Allah and under his divine control. We or any other creature have no hope whatsoever in securing such on our own, nor have we any control over our final destiny, even though Islam teaches that people may have hope to be saved by works, provided they are covered by the mercy of Allah on Judgment Day. Furthermore, the Quran explicitly teaches that Allah is the ultimate authority over guiding and misguiding people and that he has already determined their eternal abode. The following verses from the Quran demonstrate this belief very clearly:

Then what is the matter with you that you are divided into two parties about the hypocrites? Allah has cast them back (to disbelief) because of what they have earned. Do you want to guide him whom Allah has made to go astray? And he whom Allah has made to go astray, you will never find for him any way (of guidance). Q. 4:88 Hilali & Khan

Revile not ye those whom they call upon besides God, lest they out of spite revile God in their ignorance. Thus have We made alluring to each people its own doings. In the end will they return to their Lord, and We shall then tell them the truth of all that they did. Q. 6:108 Y. Ali

We sent not a messenger except (to teach) in the language of his (own) people, in order to make (things) clear to them. Now Allah leaves straying those whom He pleases and guides whom He pleases: and He is Exalted in power, full of Wisdom. Q. 14:4 Y. Ali

In addition, when we study the teachings of Muhammad we find further confirmation of such belief.  The following hadiths serve as examples:

Narrated Abu Huraira:

The Prophet said, "Allah says, 'The vow, does not bring about for the son of Adam anything I have not decreed for him, but his vow may coincide with what has been decided for him, and by this way I cause a miser to spend of his wealth. So he gives Me (spends in charity) for the fulfillment of what has been decreed for him what he would not give Me before but for his vow." (Sahih Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 78, Number 685)

Narrated Abu Huraira:

The Prophet said, "Adam and Moses argued with each other. Moses said to Adam. 'O Adam! You are our father who disappointed us and turned us out of Paradise.' Then Adam said to him, 'O Moses! Allah favored you with His talk (talked to you directly) and He wrote (the Torah) for you with His Own Hand. Do you blame me for action which Allah had written in my fate forty years before my creation?' So Adam confuted Moses, Adam confuted Moses," the Prophet added, repeating the Statement three times. (Sahih Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 78, Number 685)

Abdullah b. Amr b. al-'As reported that he heard Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: Verily, the hearts of all the sons of Adam are between the two fingers out of the fingers of the Compassionate Lord as one heart. He turns that to any (direction) He likes. Then Allahs Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: O Allah, the Turner of the hearts, turn our hearts to Thine obedience. (Sahih Bukhari, Book 033, Number 6418)

Upon examining these Islamic sources one can become convinced that Allah, the so called “most compassionate and most merciful”, actually has neither compassion nor mercy for his Muslim people, let alone for non-Muslims. In light of what we have just examined, I  want to raise the question of how can anyone have a glimmer of hope in a god who made it very clear that no one has any control concerning their eternal destiny, whether it be based on their good deeds or any other means.

Furthermore, these sources show very vividly that all humans, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, are predestined to do whatever act is ordained for them including the act of shirk, which is the association of other deities beside Allah. In other words, Allah has predestined some to commit shirk against him and others not to. If this statement sounds utterly outrageous, the following verse should provide a clear proof:

And when We wish to destroy a town, We send Our commandment to the people of it who lead easy lives, but they transgress therein; thus the word proves true against it, so We destroy it with utter destruction. Q. 17:16 Shakir

When we review some of the Islamic commentaries dealing with this verse we will read the following:

Al-Tabari in his commentary said:

Ibn Abbas said: “We send Our commandment to the people of it who lead easy lives”, means, we [Allah] commands its wicked people to transgress in the town, and once they do so I [Allah] will destroy them. (Source; bold emphasis mine)1

Ar-Razi also stated:

... “We send Our commandment to the people of it who lead easy lives”, meaning we [Allah] increase its [the town’s] transgression. (Source)

Al-Qurtubi added:

Allah declared in the verse preceding this one that he sends prophets to warn people before he destroys them, not that it matters to him to do so, but rather as a promise from him, and he does not change his promises.2 So if Allah wanted to destroy a village to fulfill his promise, he will order its people who live an easy life to commit abomination and injustice, therefore his commandment to destroy it will be accomplished. He is declaring that whoever perishes, will perish by Allah’s will, for he is the one who work all things with a divine purpose to fulfill his commandments. (Source)

How comforting is that thought? How can anyone trust in a god that has a divine purpose to destroy people by commanding them to sin and commit abominations to fulfill his divine purpose?

Furthermore, the Quran states that it was sent by Allah as a guidance ONLY to those believers who do good deeds.

Surely this Quran guides to that which is most upright and gives good news to the believers who do good that they shall have a great reward. Q. 17:9 Shakir

When examining some of the classical Islamic commentaries concerning this verse we read the following:


{and gives good news to the believers} ... brings glad tiding in addition to its guidance to those who are upright, who believe in Allah and his messenger, and do good deeds in this world according to what Allah has commanded them ... {shall have a great reward} from Allah as a reward for their belief and for their good deeds. {great} meaning a great reward, which is paradise, which Allah has prepared to those whom he is pleased with. (Source, bold emphasis mine)

Ibn Katheer

Allah describes his book which he has revealed to Muhammad that it guides to the straight path and the clearest of ways. It also brings glad tiding to those who believe in it and do good deeds according to its teachings, that they will have great reward on the day of judgment. (Source, bold emphasis mine)

Just to recap this part of our analysis, as a Muslim person or even someone who is seeking to know more about Islam, do the preceding accounts from the god of Islam give you a sense of security or assurance? If the god who claims to be the one true god, the creator of heaven and earth, the judge of mankind, if this god can’t even assure his people of being protected from his actions, and further, if he can’t even assure his righteous people as well, how then can you be certain that you will be saved from his wrath?

However, even if we were to comprehend or harmonize the preceding so called “divine” accounts, we find ourselves with even more confusing teachings concerning someone’s hope in the Islamic version of Salvation.3 This time we focus our attention on the Hadith traditions and what Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, had to say about this topic regarding someone’s assurance of salvation.

Narrated 'Abdullah:

The Prophet said, "No human being is killed unjustly, but a part of responsibility for the crime is laid on the first son of Adam who invented the tradition of killing (murdering) on the earth. (It is said that he was Qabil). (Sahih Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 83, Number 6; bold emphasis mine)

This hadith appears to place the blame of the crime of murder in the world on the first son of Adam, who killed his brother. If this is true of murder, then one can say that this is true of other crimes as well. Such Islamic teaching is very confusing because it portrays humans to be in complete control of their actions whereas Allah is removed from such action. Yet earlier we read that Allah claimed to be the author of every single deed committed by humans, the good ones and the bad ones alike. This begs the question of who is in charge here, Allah or humans.

The following hadith further affirms this view that man has authority over his/her own actions.

Narrated Anas bin Malik:

The Prophet said, "Allah will say to the person who will have the minimum punishment in the Fire on the Day of Resurrection, 'If you had things equal to whatever is on the earth, would you ransom yourself (from the punishment) with it?' He will reply, Yes. Allah will say, 'I asked you a much easier thing than this while you were in the backbone of Adam, that is, not to worship others besides Me, but you refused and insisted to worship others besides Me." (Sahih Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 76, Number 562; bold emphasis mine)

So far we have shown contradictions between the Islamic teachings of the Quran and Hadith regarding the actions of humans and their relation to Allah’s predestination of such actions. However, our confusion does not stop there. The following verses from the Quran introduce another agent whose authority can determine the actions of humans, even having authority over their eternal destination:

But the Shaitan4 made them both fall from it, and caused them to depart from that (state) in which they were; and We said: Get forth, some of you being the enemies of others, and there is for you in the earth an abode and a provision for a time. Q. 2:36 Shakir

Here is what Al-Tabari has to say about this verse:

{made them both fall from it}… meaning Iblis5 [Satan] because he caused them [Adam and Eve] to sin which Allah had punished them for by removing them from heaven.

Notice that the agent who caused Adam and Eve to fall is Satan. Although, this claim may sound reasonable to accept, the language of the Quran tries to remove any human will from this entire action, thus making Satan not only the master mind but also the author of the fall of man.

However, if we read what Az-Zamakhshari had to say concerning this verse we uncover a hidden agent behind Satan’s action:

. . . Satan caused them to fall because he made them eat from the tree. . . a similar scenario can be found in what Allah said in {and I did not do it of my own accord} [Q. 18:82 Shakir]

What Az-Zamakhshari is referencing in [Q. 18.82] had to do with the story of a servant who accompanied Moses for a season to test his patience by performing certain acts of violence against others. When questioned by Moses concerning these actions, the servant’s response was: “I did not do it of my own accord, since it was Allah who commanded me to do it.”

In other word, Az-Zamakhshari is comparing the story of the servant with the story of the fall of Adam and Eve by stating that even though it was Satan who caused them to fall, he [Satan] was actually performing an action commanded to him by Allah. And so, we come full circle back to Allah as the sole author of all deeds of mankind. Hence, we have to ask our readers again: How can you trust in such a god who commands even the devil to cause you to sin against him in an effort to punish you?

The following verse makes the issue at hand even more convoluted by stating that Allah couldn’t save some of the nations of the past due to the power of the deception of Satan.

By Allah, We verily sent messengers unto the nations before thee, but the devil made their deeds fairseeming unto them. So he is their patron this day, and theirs will be a painful doom. Q. 16:63 Pickthall

It is rather disturbing to know such a thing, especially when Allah is swearing by himself as a testimony to the truth of this account. Al-Tabari in his commentary of this verse stated:

Allah swore by himself to his prophet Muhammad (saw) saying: By Allah, O Muhammad we sent messengers before you to their nations with the same message we sent you with to your nation, by inviting them to worship one god; to be sincere to him in worship; and to obey his commands. . . but Satan made their disbelief fairseeming to them until they rejected their messengers. (Source)

How can any individual Muslim have confidence that Allah will make any effort to protect him or her from Satan and his deception if Allah did not even care to protect entire nations? Can we even assume that Allah is able to protect anyone from Satan? It is clear, after all, that Satan was able to mislead them all even though Allah sent messengers to them, supposedly because he was intending to guide them? So, Satan deception is actually stronger than Allah’s guidance? In fact, when you read the verse closely you will be able to see that Allah uses the reference to what happened to the nations of the messengers before Muhammad as an indirect warning that the same can happen to Muhammad’s nation.

Furthermore,  upon examining other verses dealing with Satan and his impact on the entire human race, the following verse makes it clear that Allah’s warning to Adam and Eve in Eden was not only against the eating from the forbidden tree, but it also was to avoid Satan:

So by deceit he brought about their fall: when they tasted of the tree, their shame became manifest to them, and they began to sew together the leaves of the garden over their bodies. And their Lord called unto them: "Did I not forbid you that tree, and tell you that Satan was an avowed enemy unto you?" Q. 7:22 Y. Ali

What this verse tells us then is that Satan had power over Adam and Eve so much so that Allah can’t even protect them from his deception. This is different than God warning Adam and Eve against disobeying God’s command6 and the consequences of such action, as the Bible teaches.7

The power of Satan according to the Quran includes false revelations of the Quran to the messengers and prophets of the past.

Never did We send a messenger or a prophet before thee, but, when he framed a desire, Satan threw some (vanity) into his desire: but Allah will cancel anything (vain) that Satan throws in, and Allah will confirm (and establish) His Signs: for Allah is full of Knowledge and Wisdom. Q. 22:52 Y. Ali

Islamic commentaries and tradition reveal to us that the main purpose behind the revelation of this verse is that Satan revealed to Muhammad verses which Allah had not intended, and Muhammad would assume them to be from Allah. The Allah revealed this verse to him to comfort him and assure him that Allah will remedy this problem. Just let’s examine what Al-Tabari had to say about this particular verse:

It was said: the reason behind the revelation of this verse to the messenger of Allah (saw), is that Satan put in his mouth some of the verses he was reciting from the Quran, which was not revealed to him from Allah. As a result, the messenger of Allah (saw) was getting depressed over this, but Allah comforted him with these verses. (Source)

Al-Qurtubi added:

The idolaters used to say, the prophets should never err or forget, however Allah revealed that they [the prophets] are mere humans . . . and it is permissible for humans to forget and err until Allah establishes his verses and abrogates the deceptions of Satan. (Source)

My dear Muslim brothers and sisters, I beseech you to ponder what you have just read concerning the revelations of the Quran. How can you be certain that whatever promises given to you throughout the Quran are actually from Allah? How can you be certain that your salvation according to the Quran is assured? What if it was Satan who spoke or uttered these promises through Muhammad or the other prophets who preceded him?8

This is a very serious matter since the Quran teaches that one must follow the teaching of Allah and the prophet:

And obey Allah and the Messenger; that ye may obtain mercy. Q. 3:132 Y. Ali

Those are limits set by Allah: those who obey Allah and His Messenger will be admitted to Gardens with rivers flowing beneath, to abide therein (for ever) and that will be the supreme achievement. Q. 4:13 Y. Ali

If the above verse is not strong enough to reveal to you the power of Satan, how about the verse below where the tone is more than clear that Allah is appealing to his human creations not to follow Satan who has been deceiving numerous people leading them astray, away from the straight path.

Did I not charge you, O children of Adam! that you should not serve the Shaitan? Surely he is your open enemy, and that you should serve Me; this is the right way. And certainly he led astray numerous people from among you. What! could you not then understand? Q. 36:60-62 Shakir

The problem with these verses is not only that Satan has so much power over Allah’s creation, the human beings, but the fact that Allah is a co-conspirator with Satan from the beginning. If that sounds surprising, just read the following verses and judge for yourself:9

O ye Children of Adam! Let not Satan seduce you, in the same manner as He got your parents out of the Garden, stripping them of their raiment, to expose their shame: for he and his tribe watch you from a position where ye cannot see them: We made the evil ones friends (only) to those without faith. Q. 7:27 Y. Ali

The prominent Islamic exegete Al-Baydawi in his commenatry “Anwar At-tanzeel wa Asrar At-ta’weel” says concerning this verse:

{We made the evil ones friends (only) to those without faith.} by what we [Allah] founded between the evil ones and the unbelievers of compatibility. . . by sending the evil ones to them and giving them power to deceive them and empowering them to do wickedness.

The prophet of Islam also feared Satan and his power. The following hadith tradition states this point vividly:

Narrated Safiya bint Huyai:

The wife of the Prophet that she went to Allah's Apostle while he was in Itikaf (staying in the mosque) during the last ten nights of the month of Ramadan. She spoke to him for an hour (a while) at night and then she got up to return home. The Prophet got up to accompany her, and when they reached the gate of the mosque opposite the dwelling place of Um Salama, the wife of the Prophet, two Ansari men passed by, and greeting Allah's Apostle, they quickly went ahead. Allah's Apostle said to them, "Do not be in a hurry. She is Safiya, the daughter of Huyai." They said, "Subhan Allah! O Allah's Apostle (how dare we suspect you)." That was a great thing for both of them. The Prophet then said, "Satan runs in the body of Adam's son (i.e. man) as his blood circulates in it, and I was afraid that he (Satan) might insert an evil thought in your hearts." (Sahih Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 73, Number 238)

How comforting can it be to know that the most powerful, most knowing god [Allah], can chose to only save some or even at times uses Satan to deceive humans.  In fact, the preceding verses depict Satan with an almost equal power to this god. In light of all what we have examined, is this truly a god you can follow and rest your very assurance of salvation upon? If you can’t rest upon God’s attribute of omnipotence to be able trust in Him for protection from the devil’s schemes, how can we then trust him to save us from hell and eternal punishment?

Hence, I like to appeal to my fellow Muslim people, what chance do you have before Allah to survive his awaiting punishment or to please him? I think you will agree that the answer to this is: None whatsoever.

As a result, I ask you to place your hope of Salvation from God’s wrath and His eternal damnation on the person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ, whose power over Satan was evidenced from birth and even admitted by Muhammad:

       Narrated Said bin Al-Musaiyab:

Abu Huraira said, "I heard Allah's Apostle saying, 'There is none born among the off-spring of Adam, but Satan touches it. A child therefore, cries loudly at the time of birth because of the touch of Satan, except Mary and her child." Then Abu Huraira recited: "And I seek refuge with You for her and for her offspring from the outcast Satan" (Sahih Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 55, Number 641)

When Muhammad said that he without a doubt had this Quranic verse in mind:

When she was delivered, she said: "O my Lord! Behold! I am delivered of a female child!"- and Allah knew best what she brought forth- "And no wise is the male Like the female. I have named her Mary, and I commend her and her offspring to Thy protection from the Evil One, the Rejected. Q. 3:36 Y. Ali

In conclusion, I pray that the evidences presented to you throughout this paper will open your eyes to one truth, that Jesus Christ is the only one who can protect you and provide you with the straight path to Heaven. His work of Salvation is guaranteed10 and His love for you was evident on the cross. May the Lord bless you and open your eyes to the devil and His schemes in order that you may find light in Him.



1 Translations of Arabic sources are my own.

2 For more on the fact that Allah does indeed change his promises, please see these articles: 1, 2, 3, 4.

3 For more on the Islamic teachings of Salvation and its inconsistency, please see these articles: 1, 2, 3.

4 Shaitan is the Arabic word for “Satan”.

5 Iblis is another name for Satan in Islamic traditions.

7 For more on this account in the Bible, please refer to Genesis chapter 3.

8 For more on this issue or the issue of the completeness of the Quran, please read the following articles: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

9 For more Quranic verses regarding the power of Satan over Humans, see Q. 16:63 and 17:63-64.

10 For more on this hope, please read this article.