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Series 9 - Comparisons Between Islam and Christianity
The Gospel Questions the Koran

I. The Testing Process

1. Does Allah Love the World?
2. What Does the Qur'an say About the Sacrifice of God's Sonin our Place and for our Atonement?
3. What Does Faith Mean in Islam?
4. Can a Muslim be Lost?
5. What do Muslims Think Eternal Life Will be Like?

1. Does Allah Love the World?

Allah's love is not the dominating theme in Islam, but rather Allah's grandeur and superiority, his justice and his unlimited authority are. Allah is above any human emotion.

We read six times in the Qur'an: “Whomsoever Allah will, he leads astray, and whomsoever he will, he guides him rightly” (Suras al-Anam 6:39; al-Rad 13:27; Ibrahim 14:4; al-Nahl 16:93; al-Fatir 35:8; al-Muddaththir 74:31; there are four other, indirect references to this statement: Suras al-Baqara 2:26; Ibrahim 14:27; Ghafir 40:34,74).

The Qur'an further elaborates on this statement 12 times: “Whom Allah leads astray, you will not find for him a way“ (Suras al-Nisa 4:88,143; al-Araf 7:178,186; al-Rad 13:33; al-Isra 17:97; al-Kahf 18:17; al-Zummar 39:23,26; Ghafir 40:33; al-Shura 42:44,46).

Allah himself crowns this harsh double predestination by stating in Sura al-Sajda 32:13 (in the we-form):

If we had willed, we would have given every soul its guidance; but now my word must be realized: Assuredly I shall fill hell with jinn and men all together.

Allah is not a loving God in the sense that the God of the Gospel is. He is exalted above human emotions. He is the great, distant and unknown God (Allahu akbar), the one who knows everything (al-'aliim, 158 times), hears everything (as-samii', 45 times), sees everything (al-basiir, 42 times), and is able to do anything (al-qaadir, 45 times). He does as he wishes (yaf'al maa ya-shaa', 116 times). No one can call him to account. He is no Father-God who wants to build a personal relationship with those who worship him. He is the almighty arbitrary ruler, who controls and directs everything like a super-computer. He is seldom loved, but always feared and worshipped. He does not bind himself to his Muslims in a covenant, rather he expects their unconditional submission as his slaves. Islam means surrender, submission and being at Allah's mercy, with or without free will.

But the Qur'an also states seventeen times that Allah loves certain types of people. This is not a holy love, however, that is willing to make sacrifices (agape); it is Allah's sympathy for them (rida). He is satisfied with them and they are satisfied with him (Suras al-Maida 5:119; al-Tawba 9:100; al-Mujadala 58:22; al-Bayyina 98:8). They see him as “the giver of bounty abounding“ (Suras al-Baqara 2:105; Al 'Imran 3:74,152,174; al-Anfal 8:29; al-Hadid 57:21,29; al-Jum'a 62:4).

Who are these chosen people of Allah? They are, first of all, the god-fearing givers, who shared their wealth with the Muslims who emigrated from Mecca to Medina in the Hijra; then the patient believers who fight for Allah in holy war with the sword in their hands, who wash before they pray and return to their wives when they have purified themselves, in order to use them as their seedbed (Suras al-Baqara 2:195,222 (twice); Al 'Imran 3:76,134,146,148, 159; al-Ma'ida 5:13,42,93; al-Tawba 9:4,7,108; al-Hujurat 49:9; al-Mumtahana 60:8 and al-Saff 61:4).

On the other hand, the Qur'an states 23 times that Allah does not love certain categories of people. These rejected people are all unbelievers, those who try to harm Muslims, proud hypocrites and every coward and traitor in holy war. Allah also does not love those who spend a lot of money on themselves, who say bad things with a loud voice and who eat forbidden foods. Allah does not love the cheerful (Sura al-Qasas 28:76), only the respectful! He especially does not love the unrighteous (Suras al-Baqara 2:190,205,276; Al 'Imran 3:32,57,140; al-Nisa 4: 36,107,148; al-Ma'ida 5:64,87; al-An'am 6:141; al-A'raf 7:31,55; al-Anfal 8:58; al-Nahl 16:23; al-Hajj 22:38; al-Qasas 28:76,77; al-Rum 30:45; Luqman 31:18; al-Shura 42:40; al-Hadid 57:23).

But if Allah does not love even one unrighteous person, he does not love anyone, for the Bible teaches us that “there is none who does good, no, not one“ (Genesis 6:5,11-12; Psalm 14:1-3; Romans 3:10-18).

Summary: Allah has no all-encompassing love for a fallen, corrupt and evil world in Islam, at best there is his inclination toward the god-fearing Muslims. Islam does not know the holy love that drives God to save the sinners. There is no motivation in Islam to save the world.

2. What Does the Qur'an say About the Sacrifice of God's Sonin our Place and for our Atonement?

The great witness found in John 3:16 summarizes the unlimited love of God, which encompasses all humans, in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. God's love and holiness move him to offer up his only Son as a substitutionary offering of atonement for everyone. The righteousness of God is revealed in the cross of Christ: He remains righteous even though he freely justifies the unrighteous (Romans 1:17; 3:24-26).

Muhammad had no idea of this tension between the judging holiness of God and His saving love. Apparently he had never experienced this kind of love in his life.

His spirit rebelled with all its might against the existence of a Son of God. His rejection of this idea grew stronger and developed several variations, of which we will briefly describe five.

1. Every committed Muslim indignantly rejects the thought that Allah could have a son. The Qur'an states at least seventeen times that Allah does not have a son, will never have a son and can never have one (Suras al-Baqara 2:116; al-Nisa' 4:171; al-An'am 6:101; al-Tawba 9:29; Yunis 10:68; al-Isra' 17:111; al-Kahf 18:4,5; Maryam 19:35,88-92 (three times); al-Anbiya' 21:26; al-Mu'minun 23:91; al-Furqan 25:2; al-Saffat 37:152; al-Zummar 39:4; al-Zukhruf 43:81; al-Jinn 72:3; al-Ikhlas 112:3). Muhammad went so far as to state that, “If the All-Merciful has a son, then I am the first to prostrate“ (Sura al-Zukhruf 43:81).

2. Whoever says that Allah has a son commits a great, unforgivable sin, from the Islamic point of view, comparable to the sin against the Holy Spirit in Christianity. Whoever says that Allah has a son breaks the most fundamental law of Islam, which states that Allah is one and not a unity of three.

Allah is the super-powerful (al-jabbaar, Sura al-Hashr 59:23), who shatters all resistance (al-qahhaar, Suras Yusuf 12:39; al-Ra'd 13:16; Ibrahim 14:48; Sad 38:65; al-Zummar 39:4; Ghafir 40:16), the proud one (al-mutakabbir, Sura al-Hashr 59:23), the most deceiving of all (khair al-maakiriyn, Suras Al 'Imran 3:54; al-Anfal 8:30) and the sole possessor of majesty and honour (dhu al-jalaal wa al-ikraam, Sura al-Rahman 55:27). He cannot consist in three persons. If he did there would be an insurrection among them because there can only be one Lord and Ruler in Islam (Sura al-Maida 5:17).

But Jesus was gentle and humble at heart. He denied himself and honored his Father at all times. The Holy Spirit does not glorify himself, rather Jesus (John 16:13-14). There are never any disagreements in the Trinity, for God is humble and full of love.

Faith in a son of Allah and a spirit of Allah as divine Persons is unthinkable in Islam (Suras al-Nisa' 4:171; al-Ma'ida 5:73).

3. A Christian sect in the Arabian Peninsula worshipped Mary as a deity and believed that the holy Trinity consisted of father, mother and son (Sura al-Ma'ida 5:116). Since then Muslims assume that Christians believe that Allah slept with Mary and had a son by her. Muhammad very properly rejected this blasphemy! Whoever hears a Muslim say this should explain to him that no Christian church believes such nonsense. We do not confess a biological conception of Jesus, but a spiritual Trinity that consists of God, His Word and His Spirit (Suras Al 'Imran 3:45; al-Nisa' 4:171).

4. Muhammad tried to meet the Christians with tolerance in order to win them for Islam. He admitted several times that 'Isa was created in Mary without the aid of a man, only through the word of Allah and his Spirit (Suras Al 'Imran 3:45-47; Maryam 19:16-22; al-Anbiya' 21:91; al-Tahrim 66:12). This means that it is possible for Muslims to believe in the birth of Christ by the virgin Mary! However they place themselves on the side of the heretic Arius of Alexandria (AD 260-336), who claimed that Jesus was created in Mary but not conceived. The Council of Nicaea (AD 325) rejected this heresy. Since then all Christian churches confess in the Nicene Creed:

Jesus is
“God of God,
Light of Light,
true God of true God,
begotten and not made,
of one being with the Father.“

But Muslims say, “Never! he is only created and not begotten! Isa is a creature and not of divine nature. Allah is his creator, never his father!”“ They accept that Christ was born of the virgin Mary, but distort the main point: They call 'Isa the son of Mary, but not the Son of God. That is why it is wrong to say that the Islamic 'Isa is identical with the Jesus of the Gospel. 'Isa is only mortal, on the same level as Adam (Sura Al 'Imran 3:59). But the Gospel states that the whole fullness of the Godhead became visible in bodily form in Jesus Christ (Colossians 2:9). 'Isa was not crucified. But Jesus became man to reconcile the world to God. Whoever claims that Jesus is the same as 'Isa is in danger of obscuring or denying the reality of the Son of God.

5. The conflict between Muhammad and the Christians intensified to the point that he cursed anyone who believed and acknowledged that Jesus was the Son of God. In Sura al-Tawba 9:30 we read:

The Christians say,
“The Messiah is the son of Allah.“
That is the utterance of their mouths,
conforming with the unbelievers before them.
May Allah kill them!
How they are perverted!

Any religious dialogue between Christians and Muslims as equals is a farce as long as this verse is in the Qur'an as a direct revelation from Allah. This verse is either underestimated by humanistic Christians interested in a dialogue, or unknown to them. It is usually not mentioned by Muslims for tactical reasons. But the fact remains that every Christian who confesses the divine nature of Jesus is cursed in Islam.

Muhammad confirmed the sinless nature of Jesus directly or indirectly (Sura Maryam 19:19). But he did not understand that the incarnation of God in Jesus was essential, so that one man would remain without sin and would be worthy to die as the Lamb of God for all sinners. The spirit in Muhammad did not allow him to recognize these hidden connections. He could not bring himself to acknowledge the crucifixion of Christ.

The Qur'an reveals Muhammad's increased hardening against the fact of Jesus death. At the beginning he confirmed Jesus birth, his death and his resurrection from the dead (Sura Maryam 19:33). Then he described Allah, “the greatest deceiver of all“, (Suras Al 'Imran 3:54; al-Anfal 8:30) as rescuing Christ from the cross by letting him fall asleep and raising him up to himself alive (Sura Al 'Imran 3:54-55). Finally, Muhammad denied the crucifixion of Christ openly and claimed, “... they did not slay him, neither crucified him, only a likeness of him appeared to them“ (Sura al-Nisa' 4:157).

Why did Muhammad deny the historical fact of Christ's crucifixion? We will briefly describe a few of the reasons.

1. Allah is sovereign in Islam! He does not need a lamb, a mediator or a sin offering in order to forgive. He forgives whoever he wants, whenever he wants and wherever he wants. When he does not want to forgive, he does not forgive. If a scapegoat or a burnt offering of atonement were necessary Allah would no longer be almighty. He is called the Forgiving One 114 times in the Qur'an (al-ghafuur 91 times, al-ghaffaar 5 times, al-tawwaab 11 times, al-afuw 5 times, dhu al-maghfira twice). But he never states directly: “Your sins are forgiven.“ The authority of Allah to forgive is only theoretically possible, and offers Muslims only an uncertain hope. His forgiveness is not based on the historical fact of a substitutionary offering and does not give the Muslims any assurance of forgiveness. That is why Muhammad writes in the Qur'an that Allah “perhaps“ forgives, “if“ he wishes, and only “some“ of the sins, without ever making a commitment that applies to everyone. Allah in Islam is beyond any commitments and assurances.

2. Muhammad categorically rejected the possibility of mediation in the last judgment. He believed that everyone had to carry his own guilt and punishment (Sura al-Fatir 35:18). However, at the aborted offering of the son of Abraham, Muhammad did have Allah say “We ransomed him with a mighty sacrifice“ (Sura al-Saffat 37:107), but he never elaborated on this significant statement elsewhere in the Qur'an or the Hadith. Moreover, the annual slaughter of millions of sheep and camels on the Islamic feast of al-Adha has no atoning value, only social and religious value. The regulations governing sacrifice in the Old Testament have not found any expression in the Qur'an. They were scrupulously avoided or weeded out. The spirit of Muhammad resisted any mediation in the judgment of Allah.

3. Muhammad was a trader. Whoever paid him got his goods. Whoever didn't pay got nothing. Whoever worked got his wage. Whoever didn't work got nothing. Nothing was free. Muhammad understood religion to be a business (Sura al-Fatir 35:29-30). Allah bought the souls and property of the Muslims (Sura al-Tawba 9:111). He paid the believers wages based on their deeds (Sura Al 'Imran 3:57 etc.). Free grace for lazy or unrighteous people would be unjust towards those who were god-fearing and industrious. Islam thus shows itself to be a religion of righteousness by works, built on the good deeds of the Muslims. The Qur'an states, “The good deeds drive away the evil deeds“ (Sura Hud 11:114). The word salvation in the biblical sense does not occur in the Qur'an. There is no room in Islam for a savior or his substitutionary death.

4. It is possible that Muhammad rejected the crucifixion of Christ for personal reasons. He saw in Jesus a loyal slave of Allah. How could the faithful Allah allow the loyal 'Isa to fall into the hands of his enemies? That would mean that Allah might also allow Muhammad to fall into the hands of his enemies. So Muhammad rejected the possibility of the crucifixion of Christ for the sake of his own safety.

5. Muhammad most probably heard of a Christian sect in the Nile Valley that believed neither in the real incarnation of God in Christ nor in His death on the cross. They claimed that God had only “appeared“ in the form of a man. He had neither human needs nor could He die. He had only appeared as the Crucified One, but never really died. Muhammad reacted immediately and said, “That is the answer! Poor Christians! They think that Jesus was crucified. Yet they did not slay him, neither crucified him, only a likeness of him was shown to them“ (See Sura al-Nisa' 4:157).

Muslims are convinced that the cross of Jesus appeared as a mirage for the misled Christians. These Christians have got lost in the desert of life and are dying of thirst. They see three Gods in their hallucinations instead of one and think that one of them was crucified. These poor people are already delirious (Sura al-Fatiha 1:6)! Muslim parents warn their children early against the delusions of the Christians to make them immune to faith in the crucified Christ.

Summary: The fact that Muslims constantly reject the cross of Christ leads to the bitter fact that no Muslim has received the forgiveness of his sins. 1.3 billion followers of this world religion reject Jesus as the Lamb of God, who bore their sins also and reconciled them to God on the cross. However, apart from the cross of Jesus there is no forgiveness or justification, otherwise Jesus would not have had to die for us. The message of the cross is foolishness for the humanists and rationalists of East and West, and a stumbling block to the Muslims of all continents (1 Corinthians 1:18,23). Their insistent rejection of the crucifixion of the Son of God makes them immune to the salvation that has been completed for them as well.

3. What Does Faith Mean in Islam?

Like every religion Islam is built on the principle of faith. But Muslims believe and practice their faith differently from that of Christians. Six aspects can make this clear.

1. Muhammad wanted to subdue some Bedouin tribes in his area, who kept great herds of camels. The Bedouins heard about this plan. When the Muslim riders appeared, they called out, “We believe in Allah! We are real believers!”“ Then Muhammad revealed the classic definition of the Islamic faith in Sura al-Hujurat 49:14: “The Arabs (Bedouins) say, 'We believe.' Say: 'You have not believed; rather say, “We surrender“; for belief has not yet entered your hearts. If you obey Allah and his Messenger, He will not diminish you anything of your works.'

Faith in Islam does not consist in the trusting of the heart first, nor in the intellectual understanding of a doctrine, but rather in the unconditional surrender of the will and the entire existence to Allah and his Messenger. Citizenship in the religious state should come first, with submission to its laws, then head and heart will start to believe and form the habits of everyday life. With the Christian faith, it is the exact opposite. First they have to be convinced, then they commit themselves (Romans 10:17).

2. Some theologians of Islam define faith entering the heart after submission as a process in stages. First, the realization comes often after some hesitating thought. This should be followed by the decision and the commitment of the heart. The confession of the lips is imperative. Personal actions should conform more and more to the Qur'an. Finally, faith ripens into full submission. Whoever is not a Muslim cannot be a believer, but is rejected as an unbeliever. Faith and Islam have become synonymous.

3. Another aspect of Islamic faith is the denial of critical consideration and analysis of the revelation of Muhammad. The Qur'an was not revealed to be studied, dissected and understood, but to be memorized in Arabic. No one can understand and grasp Allah with his mind. Allah thinks us up, not the other way round. Active thinking is seldom encouraged in Islam. Instead blind acceptance, memorization and recitation are preferred. Christians are raised differently. They are guided to think and are trained in Bible study, but they know only a few Bible passages by heart and seldom an entire Gospel. It is the exact opposite with Muslims. They know much and think little; but Christians think too much and know little!

4. The contents of the Islamic dogma decide what a Muslim believes. This dogma has been divided by Islamic theologians into six articles.

a) Allah is the only creator, the sovereign lord of the worlds and their just judge.
b) Allah's angels are his slaves. Jibril is one of them. He is understood to be the `spirit of holiness”' (a created spirit), a term that is often translated wrongly as the Holy Spirit of Islam.
c) Allah's books are all pre-existent; they have existed forever in heaven in the umm al-kitaab, the mother of books. These books include the Torah and the Gospel, which are both superseded by the Qur'an.
d) Allah's messengers and his prophets are his ambassadors and spokesmen on earth. This includes, among many others, Abraham, Moses, *Isa and Muhammad.
e) Allah's predestination of every created being determines the fate of mankind and all events to the smallest detail.
f) The resurrection of the dead on the day of judgment and their solemn division into the inhabitants of paradise and the ones condemned to the roaring fire is the goal of world history.

5. Whoever compares this 'foundation or condition of Islamic faith' with the three main articles of the Christian faith will be sobered by the result.

a) The SECOND ARTICLE of the Christian Apostles' Creed, with its justification by grace for all, is missing in Islam. Muslims sometimes attempt to construct a righteousness based on faith by saying: “Only those who believe in Allah, Muhammad and the Qur'an have the right to enter paradise. Whoever does not believe in Allah, Muhammad and the Qur'an must remain outside.“ But Muhammad himself indicated several times in the Qur'an that faith in Islam alone is not enough to be justified in the final judgement, as he said about 50 times:

Those that believe, and do deeds of righteousness those are the inhabitants of paradise“ (Suras al-Baqara 2:25,82; al-Nisa' 4:57,122,124; Hud 11:23; Ibrahim 14:23; al-Kahf 18:107; al-Hajj 22:14,23,56; al-'Ankabut 29:58; al-Rum 30:15; Luqman 31:8; al-Sajda 32:19; al-Shura 42:22; Muhammad 47:12; al-Bayyina 98:7-8); “... their wage awaits them with their Lord“ (Suras al-Baqara 2:277; Al 'Imran 3:57; al-Nisa' 4:173; al-Ma'ida 5:9; al-Isra' 17:9; al-Kahf 18:2,30; al-Fatir 35:7; Fussilat 41:8; al-Hujurat 49:29; al-Inshiqaq 84:25; al-Tin 95:6); “... for them Allah has prepared forgiveness and their evil deeds will be covered ...“ (Suras al-Ma'ida 5:9; Hud 11:11; al-Hajj 22:50; al-'Ankabut 29:7; al-Ahzab 33:35; Saba' 34:4; al-Fatir 35:7; al-Fat'h 48:29); “... they are blessed ...“ (Sura al-Ra'd 13: 29); “... for them await the most sublime degrees ...“ (Sura Ta Ha 20:75); “... We Ourselves write it down for him“ (Sura al-Anbiya' 21:94); “... We shall admit them among the righteous“ (Sura al-'Ankabut 29:9); “... He may recompense them of His bounty“ (Sura al-Rum 30:45); “... He answers them“ (Sura al-Shura 42:26); “... their Lord shall admit them into his mercy“ (Sura al-Jathiya 45:30); “... those are the best of creatures“ (Sura al-Bayyina 98:7); “They shall receive many other benefits“ (Suras Maryam 19:96; Ta Ha 20:112; al-'Ankabut 29:58; al-Hajj 22:50; al-Shura 42:22-23; al-Talaq 65:11).

With these verses Muhammad corrected the justification by faith in the Qur'an and admitted indirectly that faith alone will not save any Muslim in the final judgment, rather his good works must be added to it. They are based on confession of the Islamic faith, praying five times a day, fasting in the month of Ramadan from sunrise to sunset, paying the religious duty and making a pilgrimage to Mecca. Faith itself is understood to be a good work in Islam, which only underscores that Islam knows of no salvation by grace alone, but builds its hope on the piety of the Muslim.

Whoever compares this Islamic doctrine of self-righteousness with Martin Luther's explanation of the Apostles' Creed in his Small Catechism recognizes the superficial and shallow nature of Islamic faith. Luther taught us to confess:

I believe that Jesus Christ ... is my Lord,
who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil;
not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death,
that I may be His own, and live under Him in His kingdom,
and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, even as He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity.
This is most certainly true.

If a Muslim heard this confession, his hair would stand on end. If he had the courage, he would answer:

This confession is pure apostasy and consists in one uninterrupted blasphemy.
Isa is not the Lord, but a slave of Allah.
I am not a lost and condemned person, but a Muslim!
'Isa did not redeem me through his blood! He did not even die! He was not crucified either.
I am not his property for I have submitted only to Allah.
Isa does not reign as God-King in the kingdom of heaven, for Allah is the only ruler.
We honor 'Isa as prophet but reject the belief in his divine nature and his redemption.

Most Muslims have by no means recognized their own lost and sinful state and are convinced that they can easily be justified by themselves with their Islamic faith and their good deeds. Herein lies the core of their error.

b) Not only is the second article of the Christian creed missing in Islamic doctrine, but 'the THIRD ARTICLE (about the Holy Spirit) is also. The Qur'an mentions the spirit of Allah 29 times, but generally means Jibril (the angel Gabriel), who has been given various titles and names for the spirit that comes from Allah. He is, in any case, considered to be a created spirit and a slave of Allah. The spirit of Allah is neither holy in himself nor of divine nature. He is the property of the Holy One, a creature and not a creator.

The spirit of Allah appears in the Qur'an in connection with the creation of Adam (Suras al-Hijr 15:29; al-Sajda 32:9; Sad 38:72), with the creation of 'Isa in the virgin Mary (Suras Maryam 19:17; al-Anbiya' 21:91; al-Tahrim 66:12), with the miracles of 'Isa (Suras al-Baqara 2:253; al-Nisa' 4:171; al-Ma'ida 5:110), with the life of Muhammad as a prophet (Suras al-Baqara 2:97; al-Nahl 16:102; al-Isra' 17:85; al-Shu'ara' 26: 193-194; al-Shura 42:52), and in the final judgment (Suras Ghafir 40:15; al-Ma'arij 70:4; al-Naba' 78:38).

Whoever ponders these facts will come to the sobering conclusion that there is no Holy Spirit in Islam like the one in the Bible. Every mature believer, when he realizes this, can grasp Islam's true nature and judge it humbly.

Islam cannot recognize the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, for it is the Holy Spirit who cries within us “Abba, dear Father“. He bears witness that we are children of God (Romans 8:15-16). No one can call Jesus Christ Lord except by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:3). The Holy Spirit alone searches the depths of God (1 Corinthians 2:10-11).

There is no indwelling of the Holy Spirit in a single Muslim or in the Islamic community. A Muslim cannot be the temple of the Holy Spirit whether as an individual or as a congregation. Islamic faith leads neither to the spiritual rebirth of the Muslim nor does he become a child of God. The Muslim does not have eternal life in him because there is no Holy Spirit in Islam.

There is no fruit of the Holy Spirit in Islam, only works of the flesh. Religiosity, prayer, faith, law and piety in Islam are results of the flesh and not of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:19-26).

Muslims know of no certain hope of eternal life, for they have no divine Comforter. They claim that Muhammad himself is this promised comforter. They are afraid of the tortures of the grave, of grim judgment and blazing hell, for they have not passed from darkness to light, nor from death into life.

Martin Luther's explanation to the third article of the Apostles' Creed gives us a lead in assessing Islam. When we read his words we recognize what is actually missing in Islam:

I believe that I cannot by my own reason and strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him;
but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith;
even as He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith ...
This is most certainly true.

There can be no Holy Spirit in Islam, because Allah must alone be supreme. No other person can be equal to him. With that Islam has divorced itself from any spiritual life and from the love of God. Islam is spiritually dead.

The Holy Spirit would never have come to the church without the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. Without faith in the Son of God we cannot receive eternal life.

He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him“ (John 3:36).

Jesus said: “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgement, but has passed from death into life“ (John 5:24).

Since Muslims believe neither in Jesus nor in the Holy Spirit, they divorce themselves voluntarily and consciously from eternal life.

c) The FIRST ARTICLE of the Apostles' Creed loses its effect and splendor as well in the Islamic faith. A Muslim can confess, “I believe in Allah, the almighty, creator of heaven and earth.“ But he cannot confess that the Almighty is his Father. Since Islam rejects the Son of God, it also rejects His Father (1 John 2:23-25). No Muslim has a personal relationship with Allah. He remains the distant, great and unknown God whom no one knows, but must worship anyway in fear and trembling. The Apostle John confirms this fact in that he states:

No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him“ (John 1:18).

Jesus has revealed the Father to us, the near, personal God who has bound and committed Himself forever to us as His sons and daughters. Jesus spoke about the Father 186 times in the Gospels and taught us not to pray to “God“ but to the “Father“ who is in heaven. The name of the Father will be hallowed forever!

The reality of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit remains hidden and secret to a Muslim. With that the Islamic faith reveals itself to be a hopeless labyrinth, a groping in the fog without the knowledge of the Son of God.

Maybe someone says, “Muslims show a great capacity for suffering and patience in their faith, which we Christians could learn from!“ One could respond to this objection: “Yes, but submission to Allah can create a paralyzing fatalism.“ We should remember that Islam can also drive a Muslim to white-hot fanaticism and even into holy war. Hasan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood said, “The only complete Muslim is the one who denies himself, overcomes his inner inhibitions and is ready to kill the enemies of Islam.“

Islam is not a saving or redeeming faith, rather it binds Muhammad's followers up in a demonic bondage far from the real God. They do not know their own Allah, but fear him. They defend his unity and unique nature, but do not know about the statement of James: “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe -- and tremble!“ (James 2:19)

4. Can a Muslim be Lost?

Sura Maryam 19:71,72 of the Qur'an states: “Not one of you there is, but he shall enter into it (hell); that was decreed on your Lord, determined. Then we shall deliver those that were god-fearing; and the evildoers we shall leave there, hobbling on their knees.

What kind of a religion is it that sends all its followers to hell and then only rescues some, especially the very pious, from it?!

The verses above do not come from Christian apologetics but are Muhammad's enraged cry against his followers, who did not want to go into battle against the Byzantine Christians to the north. When Abdullah, a relative of Muhammad heard this “revelation of Allah“ he said, “if I ever get into hell, I'll never be released again, for my sins are more than I can count.“ He threw himself into the battle and fought until he was killed, for those who die as martyrs in a holy war expect to be released from this predetermined sentence. They hope that, based on their ultimate sacrifice, they will be transported directly to the eternal gardens of pleasure (Sura Al 'Imran 3:157-158,169-170,195).

These verses reconfirm self-justification based on works in Islam, for only Muslims who pray much, fast and give generous alms have any prospects of being saved after suffering in the flames of the Islamic purgatory. Only a small number of all Muslims will not have to burn under the wrath of Allah forever. But those who remain in hell must suffer its torments; every time their skin peels away it will be replaced so that they will burn up and be restored forever (Sura al-Nisa' 4:56)!

The Apostle Paul also confirmed indirectly that all Muslims will go to hell. He writes: “By the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin“ (Romans 3:20; Galatians 2:16). “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them“ (Galatians 3:10).

The Apostle James adds: “Whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all“ (James 2:10).

Paul confirms his crucial statement: “The law brings about only wrath“ (Romans 4:15).

As long as Muslims build their religion on their law and their good works, they remain under the wrath of God.

Muhammad understood himself to be a warner, not a saviour (Suras al-Ra'd 13:7; Sad 38:4,65; Qaf 50:2; al-Nazi'at 79:45). In about one third of his Suras he warns the people about the coming judgment. He wanted to save Muslims from the coming judgment by urging them to keep the Islamic law. Muhammad stands behind all the Muslims of the world with the whip of his law and drives them to follow the Shari'a.

This encompasses all areas of life, so that Muslims can show enough good deeds in the final judgment to receive pleasure in the eternal gardens as their reward. Herein lies Muhammad's great error and the decisive weakness of Islam. No Muslim keeps all of the prescribed prayer times. No one can fast perfectly during the daytime for one whole month. Many calculate their religious tax in their own favor. And nobody is righteous when it comes to the areas of “sex“, “pride“ and “deception“ -- not even a Muslim!

Muhammad promised his Muslims a great scale that will balance good deeds against bad deeds in the final judgment. But he did not recognize that before the holy God, even all our good deeds are faulty and inadequate. No one can become righteous based on his own works.

Muhammad could not use the holiness and love of God as the standard for the law because Allah is so far away in Islam. Muhammad could not realize that everyone has earned only wrath, while he may have sensed that everyone is lost and condemned, for he stated several times that all Muslims will go to hell. But he did not recognize the grace of Christ as the only basis for salvation. Rather he warned all Muslims against it (Sura al-Fatiha 1:5-6). So he did not understand the revelation of Paul that “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes“ (Romans 10:4).

Summary: The law of Islam, on which many Muslims put their hope, will condemn them in the end, because “the law brings about wrath;“ (Romans 4:15). All Muslims are condemned because of their law and do not know it. But many suspect it. Whoever looks in their hopeless, sad eyes can feel that they have no peace with God in their hearts.

Someone might object and say, “But in the final judgment Jesus will judge people only according to their works of love“ (Matthew 25:31-46). We answer him, “Yes! But those blessed by the Father, at the right hand of the judge -- are only these people good and perfect? And are the unrighteous, who will be condemned to the eternal fire with Satan and his angels, completely evil, cold and heartless? Haven't the good ones also sinned, and the evil ones done good?“ Certainly, but the chosen ones have recognized their sins, confessed them clearly and brought them under the forgiveness of Jesus. So nothing remained in their lives other than deeds of love that the Holy Spirit created in them.

But the unrighteous neither wanted to recognize nor to confess their sins. They did not claim grace in the blood of Jesus that cleanses them, rather they deliberately rejected or mocked it. They must carry their own sins and their punishment. Jesus calls them condemned people who must go with the devil and his angels into the eternal fire.

Do we still believe this secret about the eternal judgment that Jesus revealed? Do we suffer with the Muslims who have rejected their Savior as well as the power of His blood? Can the mercy of Jesus drive us to do mission work amongst the descendants of Ishmael, or have our hearts become cold and hard? Let us ask God for the grace of compassion for Muslims, so that we will be shaken out of our congregational routines and ask the Lord of mission for contacts with Muslims seeking God.

5. What do Muslims Think Eternal Life Will be Like?

Islam accepted some aspects of the Christian hope, but changed the contents to be completely “Islamic“. “Allah is coming to judge the world!“ This is one of the main themes of the Qur'an and was (according to Frants Buhl) the catalyst for Muhammad becoming a prophet. Islam is an eschatological religion. One third of all Suras contain contradicting or complementing fragments of the Islamic expectations of the last day. The Islamic judgment day can be divided into six segments.

a) The Signs of the Approaching Resurrection

Along with natural catastrophes, Muslims expect the coming of the one-eyed seducer (al-dajjal), who will entice Muslims to fall away, so that there will be hardly any Muslims remaining.

Gog of Magog is another bringer of disaster in the time before the resurrection, except that in the Qur'an Alexander the Great (the two-horned one) will try in vain to keep him from attacking by building up a wall of iron (Sura al-Kahf 18:83-98).

The coming and the rule of the Islamic antichrist is considered to be the reason for the return of 'Isa, who is living with Allah (Suras Al 'Imran 3:55; al-Nisa' 4:157-158). Allah had taken 'Isa bodily up to himself in order to save him from dying on the cross. The coming Isa will kill the great seducer with the breath of his mouth, destroy all crosses on churches and graves, kill all pigs, marry and have children, and then, as the reformer of Islam, he will lead apostate mankind in submission to Allah as the Qur'an requires. When he has completed his reformation he will die and be buried next to Muhammad and Abu Bakr in Medina. His burial will be followed by the day of judgment. For this reason, 'Isa is called “the sign of the hour“ in the Qur'an (Sura al-Zukhruf 43:61).

b) The First and the Second Trumpet

Angels will blow the first trumpet. Then all living creatures in heaven and on the earth will, as if struck by lightning, fall unconscious or die, except for those Allah wants to keep alive.

Then the angels will blow the second trumpet (Suras al-An'am 6:73; al-Kahf 18:99; Ta Ha 20:102; al-Mu'minun 23:101; al-Naml 27:87; Ya Sin 36:51; al-Zummar 39:68; al-Haqqa 69:13; al-Muddaththir 74:8; al-Naba' 78:18). Then the heavens will split open and the earth break up (Sura al-Infitar 82:1-5), stars will be extinguished and the mountains fly away like bits of wool (Sura al-Qaria 101:4-7). At the command of Allah all the dead will arise and line up for the judgment. They will stand silently in long rows and must remain silent until they are questioned. Then they will start to think back and remember the wrong they did. But their regret will be too late (Sura al-Naba' 78:38).

The Judgment Day in Islamic eternity will last for 50,000 earth years (Sura al-Ma'arij 70:4). The terrible day has various names in the Qur'an. Most often it is called “the day of resurrection“ (yawm al-qiyaamat, 90 times). It is also called “the hour“ (al-saa'at) 40 times, or “the knocking catastrophe“ (al-qaari'at, Suras al-Ra'd 13:31; al-Haqqa 69:4). It is called “that which envelopes or covers” (al-ghaashiyat, Suras Yusuf 12:107; al-Ghashiya 88:1). It is also called “the deafening hour of judgment“ (al-saakhkhat, Sura 'Abasa 80:33) or “the day of separation“ (yawm al-fasl, Suras al-Saffat 37:21; al-Dukhan 44:40; al-Naba' 78:17). It is “the unavoidably coming (catastrophe)“ (al-waaqi'at, Suras al-Waqi'a 56:1; al-Haqqa 69:15), “the true, real hour“ (al-haqqat, Sura al-Haqqa 69:1), “the day of reckoning“ (yawm al-hisaab, Suras Sad 38:16,53; Ghafir 40:27), “the day of the resurrection of the dead or of their being sent from the grave“ (yawm al-ba'th, Sura al-Rum 30:56), “the day that encompasses everyone and everything“ (yawm al-muhiyt, Sura Hud 11:84) and “the day of religion“ (yawm al-diyn, Suras al-Fatiha 1:4; al-Mutaffifin 83:11). This day is the most important day in the history of the world for the Muslims; it is their goal and the summary of their religion. It lies before them like a black day, for they have no assurance of salvation in themselves.

c) The Judgment of the World in Islam

Everyone is questioned and judged personally under the watchful eye and control of Allah (Sura al-Fatiha 1:2-4), whose throne is carried by eight angels (Sura al-Haqqa 69:17). Books are opened, in which every deed is written down (Sura al-Isra' 17:13-14; al-Kahf 18:49; al-Haqqa 69:19,25; al-Inshiqaq 84:7-12). A large scale with two pans is set up, in which good deeds are weighed against bad (Sura al-Ar'af 7:8-9; al-Mu'minun 23:102-103; al-Shura 42:17). All injustice among people and between nations will be cleared up to the last detail, all hypocrisy and lying will be exposed and judged. The verdict is given to each person in writing, to the righteous in their right hand and to the unrighteous in their left hand (Sura al-Haqqa 69:19,36).

d) The Bridge Over Hell

After receiving the sentence, according to Islamic tradition, one hopeful question remains: will Muhammad receive permission to intercede with Allah for the condemned among his followers? This intercession was not confirmed by Muhammad himself in the Qur'an, at best only hinted at (Suras al-Baqara 2:255; Maryam 19:87). A few commentaries say that 70,000 condemned will be saved because of his intercession. Others say that intercession is impossible for anyone who confesses, “Allah has a partner (Son and Holy Spirit)“. The Qur'an states that even angels will intercede for the Muslims (Sura Ghafir 40:7).

Finally, everyone must walk across the straight way (al-sirat al-mustaqiym), which leads over the chasm of seething hell. Some describe the way as being as thin as a hair or as sharp as the blade of a knife. Others see it as a cable over a roaring fire or a vibrating beam. The condemned fall head first into the sea of flames. The justified cross the hellish bridge into paradise on light feet (Sura al-Saffat 37:23).

e) Hell

The most common name for hell is JAHANNAM, which occurs 77 times in the Qur'an. Muhammad appears to have had two basic ideas in mind.

First, an outsized beast, which according to al-Ghazali (see his book al-Durra al-Fakhira) moves about on four huge legs. Each leg has 70,000 iron rings attached to it, which 70,000 spirits hold onto with ropes to stop the beast from eating all the people and demons. Whenever it is asked if it still wants to eat more of the condemned, it groans hungrily, “More!“ (Sura Qaf 50:30).

To this early concept Muhammad later added the image of a huge crater, so big that no one can see across it. Its sides descend in six terrace-like steps to the roaring lake of fire, in which glowing lava bubbles. From time to time, this lake of fire rises, explodes and overflows the terraces and fills the entire crater. All the terraces are packed with condemned people and demons.

Allah has put torturers and merciless watchmen in charge of hell (Sura al-Tahrim 66:6). They reject all intercession (Sura Ghafir 40:49-50), chain the newly arrived condemned (Suras Saba 34:33; Ghafir 40:71) and drag them face down to their places (Sura al-Furqan 25:34). Many are chained together (Sura al-Furqan 25:13). Some are dressed in clothes of fire (Sura al-Hajj 22: 19). Others stand in boiling hot water, have hot water poured over their heads and drink hot water as greedily as camels with an unquenchable thirst (Sura al-Hajj 22:19-20).

Muhammad even sent his uncle, Abu Lahab, and his uncle's wife to hell because they refused to protect Muhammad according to the law of the clan, when the people of Mecca boycotted him. Abu Lahab would be burned and roasted in the fire! His wife would have to carry heavy loads of wood to stoke the fire that burned her husband. Around her neck would be a rope of hemp, on which the watchmen of hell would pull continually so that she would choke and die a thousand deaths (Sura al-Masad 111:3-5).

On the shore of the sea of fire, at the deepest point in hell is the zaqqum tree. Its leaves are the food of those with the severest sentence and they simmer in their stomachs like molten metal. The people are bent over in permanent pain at the stinking chasm of hell (Sura al-Dukhan 44:43-46; al-Saffat 37:62-68).

The bottom-most level of hell is called JAHEEM and is mentioned 26 times in the Qur'an. All those who do not accept Muhammad's revelation and who call his revelations lies will be sent there (Sura al-Ma'ida 5:29,86; al-Hajj 22:51; al-Hadid 57:19). Their suffering is indescribable.

Who are the condemned, the ones who are sent to one of the six levels of hell? Above all, they are the unbelievers (Suras al-Anfal 8:36; al-Tawba 9:49,68,73; al-Isra' 17:8; al-Kahf 18:100,102, 106; al-'Ankabut 29:54,68; al-Fatir 35:36; al-Zummar 39:32,71; Qaf 50:24; al-Mulk 67:6; al-Bayyina 98:6), the ones who associate someone with Allah, that is, who say that someone is equal to Allah (Suras al-Isra' 17:39; al-Anbiya' 21:29, 98), everyone who denies the existence of hell (Sura al-Rahman 55:43), and everyone who dares to speak against and attack Allah and Muhammad (Suras al-Tawba 9:63; al-Jinn 72: 23). This includes Jews and Christians, who did not believe in Muhammad's revelations and did not submit to his Islam (Sura al-Bayyina 98:6), and especially those who tried to win Muslims away from their faith (Sura al-Buruj 85:10). They will suffer forever (12 times).

The proud who despised and mocked Muhammad are also among the condemned (Suras al-Nahl 16:27; al-Zummar 39:59; Ghafir 40:60,76; al-Jinn 72:23), as are the hypocrites, who acted as if they were Muslims (Sura al-Tawba 9:69,73), the deceiving (Sura al-Anfal 8:36,37) and all criminals and blasphemers (Suras Maryam 19:86; Ta Ha 20:74; al-Zukhruf 43:74; al-Rahman 55:43-44). They can neither live nor die (Sura Ta Ha 20:74).

But there are also Muslims who are guilty of a crime in this eternal suffering, like the premeditated murder of another Muslim (Sura al-Nisa 4:93), or Muslims for whom the scales contain more evil deeds than good deeds (Sura al-Mu'minun 23:103), or Muslims who strayed from the right path and only offered a few alms (Sura al-Jinn 72:14-15). There are not only people in hell, but also demons, if they have not submitted to Islam (Suras Hud 11:119; Maryam 19:68; al-Sajda 32:13).

One cannot help but notice when reading these revelations that most of those condemned to hell are Muhammad's enemies, who did not accept his Islam. He hated them and reveled in the detailed descriptions of their sufferings. In this way he took revenge on them, just as after the Battle of Badr he had his enemies thrown into a dry well and called curses down after them.

There is also a devastating statement by Allah that he himself will torture Christians who do not submit to him and who did not accept the Islam of Muhammad. They will be tortured with a terrible torture in this world and the next (Sura Al 'Imran 3:56). This also applies to animists who do not accept Islam. The wrath of Allah and his curse will remain on them forever (Sura al-Fath 48:6).

Whoever reads and compares the Islamic descriptions of the resurrection of the dead and the final judgment to the ones in the New Testament finds, along with apparent similarities, irreconcilable differences. We will discuss six of them.

  • Jesus is not the judge in Islam, rather it is Allah! The Savior of the world does not judge the world in Islam, rather the ice-cold despot who misleads whomever he will and leads whomever he will.
  • Muslims stumble into the judgment without spiritual recognition of their sinfulness, and think that they are good enough to balance out their account of sin with good deeds. They do not know that all mankind is lost and condemned, because without exception they are not merciful, holy and perfect like God, and lack his glory (Leviticus 11:44-45; 19:2; Matthew 5:48; Luke 6:36; Romans 3:23). Muslims do not say like Martin Luther did: “There was no good in my life. I sank into hell.“
  • They neither recognize the extent of their sin nor do they confess the sins they are aware of and let the holy God of love judge them beforehand. There is no prior self-judgment in Islam, which could free them from the final judgment (1 John 1:8-10). Rather, Muslims fear an Islamic preliminary step to the judgment, which begins with the torment that every Muslim must endure in the grave. There the angel of light fights with the angel of darkness for the soul of the dead. That is why many Muslims fear not only the last judgement but also their grave.
  • Muslims do not know of a mediator and cannot imagine a Lamb of God who takes away their sins (John 1:29; Isaiah 53:4-12). Muhammad did not die in their place, which would have been useless anyway. That is why they stumble into the last judgment without having their sins forgiven and without having peace with God, and carry a subconscious fear with them. They reject righteousness based on grace alone and do not know about any cleansing of their hearts (Psalm 51:7-11; Ezekiel 36:25-27; Matthew 5:8).
  • They will stand horrified and completely guilty before the true judge. They have no idea of the liberating words of Jesus: “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.“ (John 3:17-18; 5:24)
  • Muslims consciously or unconsciously reject the crucified Son of God and the salvation he effected for them. With this they deliberately divorce themselves from the completed justification and free cleansing of their hearts that has been prepared for them. The hatred of the crucified Saviour sometimes expresses itself in open cursing (Suras Al Imran 3:59-61; al-Tawba 9:29).

Jesus spoke several times about the reality of hell and its sufferings, but only with restraint: “There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth“ (Matthew 8:12; 13:40-42,49-50; 22:13; 24:51; 25:30; Luke 13:28), “where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched“ (Mark 9:42-49). In Luke 16:19-31 Jesus pulled the curtain away from hell and gave us a glimpse of the suffering of the condemned. He did not want to avenge himself with this revelation, but rather to move the unrepentant to repent.

f) What do Muslims Imagine Paradise to be Like?

The Qur'an mentions “the garden“ 62 times (al-jannat), “the two gardens“ three times (al-jannataan) (Suras al-Rahman 55:44-62 [three times]) and “several gardens“ 57 times (al-jannaat). “Paradise“ (al-firdaws) is only mentioned twice (Suras al-Kahf 18:107; al-Mu'minun 23:11). These different gardens of paradise are mentioned 124 times altogether, while hell (jahannam 77 times and jaheem 26 times) is only mentioned 103 times in the Qur'an.

There are further expressions for the promised gardens:

The gardens of comforts and of pleasure“ (jannaat al-na'eem) are mentioned 13 times (Suras Yunis 10:9; al-Hajj 22:56; al-Shu'ara' 26:85; Luqman 31:8; al-Saffat 37:43; al-Tur 52:17; al-Waqi'a 56:12[-40],89; al-Qalam 68:34; al-Ma'arij 70:38).

The Garden of Eden“ (jannat adan) is mentioned 11 times (Suras al-Tawba 9:72; al-Ra'd 13:23; al-Nahl 16:31; al-Kahf 18:31; Maryam 19:61; Ta Ha 20:76; al-Fatir 35:33; Sad 38:50; Ghafir 40:8; al-Saff 61:12; al-Bayyina 98:8).

The garden of immortality“ (jannat al-khuld) is mentioned only in Sura al-Furqan 25:25.

The length and breadth of the gardens is as wide as heaven and earth (Sura Al 'Imran 3:133; al-Hadid 57:21). There are indications that the gardens lie on the slope of a mountain as “higher situated gardens” (Suras al-Haqqa 69:22; al-Ghashiya 88:10). Sufi commentators explain that the lotus tree stands at the highest point of a mountain and shades all of paradise (Sura al-Najm 53:14,16). The various gardens are guarded by watchmen (Sura Sad 39:73) who also guard the treasures of Islam: the book that contains all the deeds of mankind (Sura Yunis 10:61) and the “Mother of the Book“, from which all revelations originate (Sura al-Buruj 85:21-22).

The heavens are spread out over these gardens, but are separated from them by the kingdom (malakuut) and the power (jabaruut). Allah's glory hovers over the seven heavens (Suras al-Baqara 2:29; al-Isra' 17:44; al-Mu'minun 23:86; Fussilat 41:12; al-Talaq 65:12; al-Mulk 67:3; Nuh 71:15), which are not open to Muslims (Sura al-Jinn 72:8). Adam lives in the lowest level of heaven, then 'Isa (Jesus) and Yahya (John the Baptist), Abraham and Moses in the higher heavens. Above them eight angels carry Allah's throne (Sura al-Haqqa 69:17-18).

The Qur'an is not interested in the place where Allah lives, but concentrates on the gardens, which are intended to accommodate all righteous Muslims like an outsized oasis.

Springs, streams and rivers in low-lying areas are mentioned often (48 times) in connection with these gardens, whereby the Salsabil Spring (Sura al-Insan 76:18) and the splendid Fantasy River (Sura al-Kawthar 108:1) are mentioned by name. In addition there are rivers in which milk and honey, wine and water flow (Sura Muhammad 47:15).

This fresh water and the rivers cause countless fruit trees to grow, which give deep shade (Suras al-Nisa 4:57; al-Rad 13:35; al-Rahman 55:68; al-Waqia 56:28-32; al-Insan 76:14).

Gilded couches have been prepared (Sura al-Waqia 56:15) for the ones brought near (al-muqarrabuun) and covered with valuable cushions and rugs (Sura al-Ghashiya 88:15-16).

Righteous Muslims wear shining clothes made of Sundus and Istabraq brocade (Suras al-Kahf 18:31; al-Hajj 22:23; al-Fatir 35:33; al-Dukhan 44:53; al-Insan 76:12,21). They wear gold bracelets (Suras al-Kahf 18:31; al-Hajj 22:23; al-Fatir 35:33) and costly pearls (Suras al-Hajj 22:23; al-Fatir 35:33).

Silver goblets are filled again and again from silver pitchers by eternally youthful boys (Suras al-Tur 52:24; al-Waqia 56:17-19; al-Insan 76:19).

The branches of the fruit trees dip down under the weight of the fruit hanging from them (Suras al-Baqara 2:25; al-Rahman 55:54). There are pomegranate and palm trees, as well as grape arbors (Sura al-Rahman 55:52,68). Inviting fruit trees are mentioned 17 times (Suras al-Ra'd 13:35; Ya Sin 36:67; al-Saffat 37:42; Sad 38:5; al-Dukhan 44:55; Muhammad 47:15; al-Waqi'a 56:20,32-33; al-Haqqa 69:23; al-Insan 76:14).

Varieties of meats are continually offered to the people resting on the couches (Sura al-Waqi'a 56:21) and special drinks that do not intoxicate the drinker are refilled at request by boys (Suras al-Saffat 37:45-47; al-Tur 52:23-24; al-Waqi'a 56:17-19; al-Insan 76:5-6,15-19; al-Ghashiya 88:12,14). The righteous are constantly encouraged: Eat and drink in good health! (Suras al-Tur 52:19; al-Haqqa 69:24).

The virgins of paradise (huurees) with their wide eyes are mentioned seventeen times and are available as spouses for the Muslims (Suras al-Dukhan 44:54; al-Tur 52:20). They are as radiant as hyacinths and coral (Sura al-Rahman 55:58). They belong to the Good Ones (Sura al-Rahman 55:70) and are guarded like well-protected pearls (Suras al-Rahman 55:72; al-Waqi'a 56:22-23). They live secluded in tents or pavilions and rest on green cloths and 'Abqari rugs (Sura al-Rahman 55:76). They keep their large eyes downcast (Sura al-Saffat 37:48) and are as old as the individual Muslims. Their virginity is guaranteed. They remain untouched, like well-kept eggs (Sura al-Saffat 37:49) and have not been deflowered by men or demons (Sura al-Rahman 55:56,74). They were created especially as virgins for righteous Muslims, and wait with their large bosoms and with eagerness for the righteous (Sura al-Waqi'a 56:35-37; al-Naba' 78:33). At times Muslims in paradise cannot be approached, because they are busy with their wives on their couches (Sura Ya Sin 36:55-58).

Muhammad challenges in the Qur'an with a refrain, “Which of these favors of your Lord will you consider a lie?“ (Sura al-Rahman 55:56-57,70-75). He answers this himself: “Blessed be the name of your Lord!“ (Sura al-Rahman 55:78).

Neither heat nor cold will bother the inhabitants of paradise (Sura al-Insan 76:13). They have everything they want in the gardens (Suras al-Nahl 16:31; al-Furqan 25:16; Fussilat 41:31; al-Shura 42:22; Qaf 50:35; al-Tur 52:22; al-Talaq 65:11)! They will be given everything they need in abundance mornings and evenings without having to pay (Sura Maryam 19:62).

Muhammad knew the unconscious and conscious wishes of his Bedouins well, who could barely survive in the merciless heat or cold of the desert. They dreamt of a comfortable life in a rich oasis with all pleasures imaginable. Muhammad projected these worldly dreams into paradise to comfort his Muslims during the persecutions in Mecca and to spur his fighters on in holy war.

It would be wrong to attribute only material and fleshly pleasures to Muhammad's messages about paradise. He also projected religious longings and hopes for blessing into the gardens of pleasure. Housing in accordance with their efforts and sacrifices for Islam are prepared for Muslims: normal rooms (Suras al-Furqan 25:75; al-'Ankabut 29:58; Saba' 34:37; al-Zummar 39:20), simple hotels (Suras Al 'Imran 3:198; al-Kahf 18:107; al-Sajda 32:19; Sad 38:49; Fussilat 41:32), good apartments (Suras al-Tawba 9:72; al-Saff 61;12), houses (Sura al-Tahrim 66:11), spacious homes with peaceful halls (Suras al-Baqara 2:94; al-An'am 6:32,107; Yunis 10:25; Yusuf 12:109; al-Ra'd 13:22,24,42; al-Nahl 16:30 [twice]; al-Qasas 28:37-38,77,83; al-'Ankabut 29:64; al-Ahzab 33:29; al-Fatir 35:35; Ghafir 40:39) and palaces (Sura al-Furqan 25:10). This will be the best and most beautiful resting place for every believer (Suras al-Kahf 18:31; al-Furqan 25:24; al-Sajda 32:19; al-Nazi'at 79:41).

They will not hear empty talk or lies in the pleasure gardens and in their apartments, and see no sin (Suras Maryam 19:62; Ya Sin 36:58; al-Waqi'a 56:25; al-Naba' 78:35; al-Ghashiya 88:11). They only hear the greeting of peace: Salaam (Suras al-An'am 6:127; al-A'raf 7:46; al-Nahl 16:32; al-Kahf 19:62; al-Zummar 39:73; Qaf 50:34), which is given them by the angels (Sura al-Nahl 16:32) and even by their Lord (Sura Ya Sin 36:58).

They live in pleasure and happiness (Suras al-Tawba 9:21; Yunis 10:10; Hud 11:108; al-Ra'd 13:24; Ibrahim 14:23; al-Hijr 15:46; al-Tur 52:17; al-Waqi'a 56:26; al-Mutaffifin 83:24; al-Insan 76:20) and enjoy only comfort, riches and possessions (Sura al-Insan 76:20). They are never sad, nor must they fear being driven out. They are not humiliated and need never make any effort for anything (Suras al-A'raf 7:49; Yunis 10:26; al-Hijr 15:48; al-Fatir 35:34-35). Their bad deeds are forgiven them (Suras Al 'Imran 3:133,136,[157-158]; al-Nisa' 4:95-96; al-Fatir 35:33-34; al-Fath 48:5; al-Hadid 57:21; al-Taghabun 64:9). Hatred will be taken out of their hearts (Suras al-A'raf 7:43; al-Hijr 15:47).

Being allowed to live in the gardens of pleasure is their reward for their faith, their good deeds and their sacrifice (Suras Al 'Imran 3:136; al-Kahf 18:30-31; Ta Ha 20:76; al-Zummar 39:74; al-Ahqaf 46:14; al-Insan 76:12). The garden of paradise has become their inheritance (Suras al-A'raf 7:43; Maryam 19:63; al-Shu'ara' 26:85; al-Zummar 39:74; al-Zukhruf 43:72). They own these gardens (Suras al-Baqara 2:82; al-Furqan 25:24; al-Ahqaf 46:14,16; al-Hashr 59:20; al-Qalam 68:17). The Qur'an promises them 30 times that they will remain in the gardens of pleasure forever.

They will be able to speak to the inhabitants of hell, laugh at them and mock them (Suras al-A'raf 7:44; al-Saffat 37:50-61; al-Muddaththir 74:42-47; al-Mutaffifin 83:34-35). The inhabitants of hell will be able to ask them for water from paradise (Sura al-A'raf 7:50), but they cannot receive it because of the separation (barzakh, Suras al-Mu'minun 23:100; al-Furqan 25:53; al-Rahman 55:20) or the curtain (hijaab, Sura al-Araf 7:46) between them.

But Muslims praising Allah are only mentioned four times in the 124 verses about the gardens (Suras al-A'raf 7:43; Yunis 10:10; al-Fatir 35:34; al-Zummar 39:74). The praise of the angels who carry his throne is only mentioned once (Sura al-Zummar 39:75). But it is stated explicitly that Allah is satisfied with the Muslims in paradise, just as they are satisfied with him and the way he treats them (Suras Al 'Imran 3:15; al-Ma'ida 5:119; al-Tawba 9:72,100; al-Bayyina 98:8). Allah's satisfaction is granted especially to his own party, the Hizbullah, with their suicide raids (Sura al-Mujadala 58:22).

Allah's presence in the gardens is never mentioned specifically in the Qur'an. Allah is greater than paradise. Even in paradise there is no fellowship between Allah and his Muslims. This has made many Islamic mystics and theologians uneasy. They have searched the Qur'an for words that hint at Allah's presence in paradise or mention it indirectly (Suras Yunis 10:26; al-Zukhruf 42:22; Qaf 50:34; al-Qamar 54:54-55; al-Qiyama 75:22-23). But other Muslim scholars are skeptical of these efforts to read one's own wishes into the text.

For the righteous Muslims entry into the gardens of paradise is considered to be a great success and a mighty victory (fawz aziym). This again shows the rejection of any free grace and the emphasis on one's own works (Suras Al 'Imran 3:185; al-Tawba 9:71-72,88-89,99-100; al-Fath 48:5; al-Hadid 57:11-12; al-Saff 61:12; al-Taghabun 64:9; al-Buruj 85:11, etc.).

But the decisive question is still this: “Who are the favored ones who will enter paradise?“ First of all, the god-fearing ones who have repented, who have humbled themselves before Allah in order to receive forgiveness by becoming Muslims. Their fear of Allah is emphasized 27 times in the Qur'an. That Muslims love Allah is never stated in the verses related to the gardens of pleasure. A statement like “Those who love Him [will] be like the sun when it appears in full strength“ (Judges 5:31) could never be in the Qur'an. Even in paradise, Allah remains the one to be feared, the exalted one.

The next group to be mentioned are the Muslims who have believed in the verses of Muhammad and have done good deeds (30 times). Even their faith appears as a good deed because they have believed in Allah and obeyed Muhammad (Suras al-Fath 48:18; al-Waqi'a 56:10-12; al-Mujadala 58:22). Then come the Muslims who have worked practically for Islam, and not only talked about it (Suras Al 'Imran 3:134-136,195; al-Ra'd 13:23; al-Nahl 16:32; al-Sajda 32:29; al-Zummar 39:74; al-Zukhruf 43:72; al-Ahqaf 46:14). The god-fearing givers have the chance of getting a good place in paradise (Sura Al 'Imran 3:16,134; al-Ma'ida 5:85; al-Tawba 9:18-19; Yunis 10:26; al-Ra'd 13:22; al-Nahl 16:30; al-Dhariyat 51:15-19). Whoever builds a mosque on earth receives a palace in paradise.

Muslims who have fought in a holy war with a weapon in their hands find a preferential place prepared for them (Sura Al 'Imran 3:142; al-Tawba 9:19,88-89,111; Muhammad 47:4-6; al-Fath 48;17; al-Saff 61:10-12). Whoever is killed as a martyr for Allah receives complete forgiveness (Sura Al 'Imran 3:157,158,195) and is transported into paradise immediately, before the final judgment (Sura Al 'Imran 3:169-170). This is why Islamic criminals are often given the opportunity to participate in suicide raids. A martyr's death gives them a one-time chance to be justified in a second and to enter heaven. Pilgrims who die during their pilgrimage to Mecca are considered to be martyrs and will enter paradise directly.

The refugees who fled from Mecca to Medina in the time of Muhammad receive a high place in eternity, but their Medinan helpers (ansaar) are not forgotten either (Suras Al 'Imran 3:195; al-Tawba 9:20-21,100; al-Ra'd 13:22; al-'Ankabut 29:58-59).

Basically all worshippers, and especially those who pray regularly, are considered eligible for the eternal gardens (Suras al-Baqara 2:3,45-46,277; al-A'raf 7:170; al-Anfal 8:3-4; al-Tawba 9:71; al-Ra'd 13:22; Luqman 31:4-5; Qaf 51:17-18; al-Ma'arij 70:34-35). Various people who have been faithful Muslims are mentioned explicitly: the truthful ones (Sura al-Maida 5:119), the good ones of their clans (Sura Ghafir 40:8), the members of the Hizbullah (“the party of Allah“), who have been strengthened by the spirit of Allah (Sura al-Mujadala 58:22) and all those who were obedient to Allah and Muhammad (Sura al-Fath 48:17).

Not only men, but also women who always submitted to their husbands may belong to the ones who have been chosen to enter paradise (Sura al-Nisa' 4:124; al-Tawba 9:72; al-Ra'd 13:23; Ya Sin 36:56; Ghafir 40:8,40; al-Zukhruf 43:70; al-Fath 48:5). Pious fathers base their hopes on the prayers of the angels in the Qur'an, that they might be reunited in paradise with those of their ancestors, wives and descendants who have also been rewarded by paradise (Sura Ghafir 40:7-8; al-Zukhruf 43:70; al-Fath 48:5).

Not only Muslims from Muhammad's time will go to paradise. We also read of the Biblical patriarchs and their connection with the eternal gardens: Adam, for example, lived there before he was driven out of the Garden of Eden (Suras al-Baqara 2:35; al-A'raf 7:19,22; Ta Ha 20:117-121). Abraham asked Allah that he might inherit a share in paradise (Sura al-Shu'ara' 26:85). Of “the ones brought near“, more were from the earlier generations than from Muhammad's time (Sura al-Waqi'a 56:13). Countless followers of Muhammad belong to those who “stand at the right hand”“, just as a great number of the believers from the generations before Islam do (Sura al-Waqi'a 56:39).

It is a great privilege to be able to enter the gardens of pleasure (Suras al-Fatir 35:32; al-Shura 42:22; al-Dukhan 44:57). But there is little in the Qur'an about gratitude, thanksgiving and praise for this privilege.

Muhammad speaks very clearly about those who can never enter paradise: These are above all those who associate someone with Allah (Sura al-Ma'ida 5:72). This includes all Christians, Hindus and idol worshippers. Those who say that Muhammad's verses are dreams and lies are also barred from paradise. They will not enter the gardens until a camel passes through the eye of a needle (Sura al-A'raf 7:40). If Jews and Christians believed in Allah and obeyed Muhammad there would be a chance for one of the seven doors to the gardens to open up for them (Suras al-Baqara 2:111-112; al-Ma'ida 5:65-66). But since they stubbornly reject Islam, they will never enter.

Two aspects of the Islamic concept of eternity ought to be kept in mind:

  • When the second trumpet sounds and all the unconscious or dead arise, there will be no spiritual recreation or renewal of the old man. Rather they will wake up or be recreated just as they lived in their earthly life. All their previous needs, thoughts and motives will remain. In a book recently published in Arabic on sex in Islam there is a chapter entitled “Sex after Death“. It explains the relevant Qur'anic passages by means of the traditions of Muhammad. At the latest at this point, any people who are sympathetic towards Islam can realize that it is an unclean spirit, the opposite of the Holy Spirit in the Bible.
    Jesus' answer to the liberal Sadducees speaks just as clearly against Islam. The critics of the resurrection asked Jesus bluntly which of her seven dead husbands the surviving widow would belong to in the afterlife. Jesus answered them: “You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven“ (Matthew 22:23-33; Mark 12:18-27; Luke 20:27-38).
    This clarification by the Son of God has made the Islamic hopes for the future collapse like a house of cards. There are no eternal gardens of pleasure as the Qur'an describes them. Muhammad knew neither the real revelation of God in the writings of the Old and the New Testament, nor did he have any idea of the power of God. He thought that he was serving the true God, but he actually turned out to be nothing but a false prophet.
  • According to various traditions Muhammad claimed to have seen paradise. He claimed that its inhabitants will be 90% men and only 10% women. For this reason Allah created virgins for every Muslim in paradise. Muhammad also claimed to have seen hell as well. 90% of its inhabitants would be women and only 10% men. When he was asked about this imbalance between men and women in eternity, he said that most women were rebellious, disrespectful and seldom submitted to their husbands. The only women who had a chance of entering paradise were the ones about whom their husbands would certify in the final judgment that they were always humble, compliant, obedient, frugal and believing Muslim women (Sura al-Tahrim 66:4).
    Muhammad suffered from growing problems in his own harem, which was divided into two camps. In Sura al-Tahrim 66:3 he called on Allah, Jibril and the good ones amongst Muslims, including all the angels, to stand by him against his two teenage wives, Aisha and Hafsa.
    Umm Salama, a clever woman who led one of the groups in Muhammad's harem, dared to draw his attention to the fact that almost all of his revelations in the Qur'an contained promises and commands for men. After she criticized him for this mistake Muhammad also included women in his revelations and gave them the hope of entering the eternal gardens. He mentioned purified wives and wives in general, but left the question open whether he meant the virgins of paradise or the earthly wives of Muslims (Suras al-Baqara 2:25; al-Nisa' 4:57; Ya Sin 36:55-56). In any case he promised his Muslim men sex for all eternity with or without their earthly wives.
    Whoever compares this Islamic hope of eternity with the Christian testimony of eternal life finds that they have hardly anything in common. Islam and Christianity are on two completely different levels. The power of the Holy Spirit as described in the New Testament is unknown and hidden to Muslims.

g) What do Christians Expect Eternal Life to be Like?

When Christ was born, eternal life appeared as a person (John 1:4; 1 John 1:2). In Him eternity broke into time and the holy into the unholy (Mark 1:24; 5:7). But Muslims reject the divinity and eternity of 'Isa as blasphemy. Nevertheless Christ is our life (Philippians 2:21; Galatians 2:20). He is the source of our spiritual strength, love, humility and gentleness (John 14:19,27; 15:11; 16:13-15; Acts 1:8). He is our peace (Ephesians 2:14)!

Through faith in Him we receive eternal life today already (John 17:3; Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 2:1-6) and not only after our death and resurrection. His spirit is the eternal life in us (John 6:63; Romans 8:10-11; Ezekiel 36:26-27).

This Spirit spurs us on and forms us into the image of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:14; 2 Corinthians 3:17-18). He sanctifies us thoroughly and judges all our sins and our pride (1 Thessalonians 4:3; Hebrews 4:12). He establishes us in Jesus. We are called to be members of His spiritual body (Romans 12:4-5; 1 Corinthians 12:12-27; Ephesians 4:11-16). Jesus Christ lives in our hearts through faith (John 15:5; Ephesians 3:17; Colossians 2:6-7). He fills us with his gifts (Ephesians 1:3; 3:19; Colossians 1:9-10). We live as a spiritually-born new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17; Romans 8:10; Galatians 6:15; Revelations 21:5).

The spiritual existence of Christ's congregation is hidden from the Muslim. Muhammad recognized that Christians are not proud, but merciful. He concluded that this was a special gift from Allah for the followers of 'Isa (Suras Al 'Imran 3:55; al-Ma'ida 5:46,82; al-Hadid 57:27). But for him the reality of the Holy Spirit remained a secret. Without a relationship of faith with the Crucified and Risen One there is no eternal life. Whoever is not born from above cannot see the kingdom of God (John 3:3).

The Apostle Paul wrote: “Christ in you [is] the hope of glory!“ (Colossians 1:27). When he returns in his glory our spiritual life, which he has given us, will be revealed too (Colossians 3:1-4). In ourselves, we do not have eternal life. We have this privilege only in, with and through Jesus: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?“ (John 11:25-26).

The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead has foreshadowed our own resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:20). Our future existence can be seen in the spiritual body of Jesus. He was not a formless spirit, but could be touched. Yet he could pass through walls and locked doors. He ate out of love for His disciples, but had no need of food (Luke 24:36-43; John 20:19-29; 21:9-14). His eternal life in us will become visible when he returns. “The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.“ (1 Corinthians 5:42-44)

Muslims think differently about this. They say: “The body is sown a natural body, it will be raised again a natural body.“ The spiritual dimension of eternal life is hidden to them.

Christ revealed the Father in heaven to us. We have been adopted and reborn as children of God through our faith in his Son. We are His beloved and belong to His family. Muhammad considered this statement to be blasphemous (Sura al-Maida 5:17-18) and mocked the Christians. But we have only one goal and hope for our future: We want to go home and see our Father, fall before Him and cry out: “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me one of your hired hands.“ But He will throw the cloak of his righteousness over us and say: “Be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.“ (Luke 15:20-24)

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.“ (1 John 3:1-2)

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.“ (2 Corinthians 3:18)

Christ lives! Muhammad is dead! Whoever follows Christ will live forever. Whoever follows Muhammad follows a religion of death. We receive eternal life only through faith in Christ. There is no other eternal life. Since Muslims reject the crucified Son of God they remain in spiritual death and despair. But whoever has been made alive through Christ belongs to the number that no one can count.

These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them. They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.“ (Revelation 7:9,14-17)

The presence of God with His children is the glow and the secret of eternal life. “He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.“ (Revelation 21:3)

Summary: In Islam, there is no Father, no Son and no Holy Spirit. So there is no justification through grace as the bridge to eternal life. The Holy Spirit could be poured out on the followers of Jesus because he died on the cross for them. Without the cross there is no outpouring of the Holy Spirit, without the Holy Spirit there is no eternal life, no renewal and no sanctification.''

Muslims have no insight into the spiritual existence and renewal of the followers of Jesus. “The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.“ (1 Corinthians 2:14)

He thinks of eating, drinking and sex, even after death. But Christians live on another level, in another world, in Jesus Christ our Lord (John 17:3; Philippians 2:5-11). Muslims do not have a spiritual hope. They are empty, restless and depressed. The Holy Spirit does not live in them. They hope for a physical future and are unsure about their destination.

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