11. The Mercy of God
We read in the Qur'an that Allah called Jesus:
“A sign unto men and a Mercy from Us.” (Sura Maryam 19:21)
آيَة لِلنَّاس وَرَحْمَة مِنَّا (سُورَة مَرْيَم ١٩ : ٢١)
Muhammad is also called a “mercy” in the Qur'an:
“And We have not sent you except as a mercy to the worlds.” (Sura al-Anbiya' 21:107)
وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَاك إِلا رَحْمَة لِلْعَالَمِين (سُورَة الأَنْبِيَاء ٢١ : ١٠٧)
We have recognized that the inspiration of Muhammad differs essentially from that of Christ; likewise, the meaning and content of mercy in those two men differ fundamentally.
The Angel Gabriel is supposed to have dictated the Qur'an to Muhammad. Christ did not need the agency of an angel, for He Himself was the incarnation of the eternal Word of God. Just as the difference between the inspiration of the Gospel and that of the Qur'an is vast, so too is the difference between the mercy of Christ and that of Muhammad unbridgeable. The inspiration to Muhammad can be found in the verses of the Qur'an, in his tens of thousands of declarations in the Hadith (Islamic Traditions), and in the practical ways of his daily conduct (al-Sunna). These sources were united and compiled into Islamic law (Sharia), consisting of commands and prohibitions. This Law organizes all facets of the life of a Muslim, including the daily prayer, with the obligatory washing before praying, fasting in Ramadan, religious taxes, pilgrimage and even circumcision and burial. The Sharia also covers the family order, inheritance, contracts, holy war and severe punishments. The life of a Muslim is governed by Islamic Law, which, according to Islamic theology, is the final manifestation of the mercy of God to the Muslims.
The Gospel warns us that no man can be justified by observing the Law, for not a single person can fulfil all its demands precisely. Even Islamic Law is constantly violated by the Muslims. Millions have neglected the command to pray five times each day; other millions did not consistently practice fasting during Ramadan; others did not give the total amount of the religious tax they were obliged to pay; and most do not complete their pilgrimage without mistakes. Moreover, how many times does a man sin against his wife and children, and how many times has a business contract been broken by fraud or coercion; how often have the lips of a person uttered lies? There has not been one single man that has not been stained and polluted with pride, grudges, hatred, and inner filth. The Law of God condemns everyone in his deeds, words and intentions. The final aim of the Law is the judgement of every sinful man for his failures, his guilt and his corruption. Yes, the law of Muhammad organized the Islamic people, as the Law of Moses centered the lives of the children of Jacob on God and His Word. The Law demands full surrender and complete submission to the Creator. But no law can justify the sinner, nor can it set the guilty free. The Law was given to judge the transgressor and destroy him. Because of the Law, the destination of everyone is hell. The Law is the just judge. No human is able to satisfy it.
Every religious-minded person hopes and aspires to receive the forgiveness of God. The Muslim thinks that:
“Truly the good deeds drive away the evil deeds.” (Sura Hud 11:114; see also Sura Fatir 35:29-30)
إِن الْحَسَنَات يُذْهِبْن السَّيِّئَات (سُورَة هُود ١١ : ١١٤)
But according to Islam, no Muslim can be sure of the forgiveness of his sins until Judgement Day. Their law does not offer a substitute sacrifice, nor does it present free salvation to them. Every Muslim will receive his exact wages on Judgement Day, when all his iniquities and complete failure will then be uncovered. The Law shall finally condemn its followers. Muhammad admitted that all his followers will definitely enter hell:
“We shall gather them, and the devils, then we shall crowd them around hell (Jahannam) on their knees ... Truly, there is not one of you, but he shall come into it; that has been upon your Lord a determined decree.” (Sura Maryam 19:68,71)
لَنَحْشُرَنَّهُم وَالشَّيَاطِين ثُم لَنُحْضِرَنَّهُم حَوْل جَهَنَّم جِثِيّا ... وَإِن مِنْكُم إِلا وَارِدُهَا كَان عَلَى رَبِّك حَتْما مَقْضِيّا (سُورَة مَرْيَم ١٩ : ٦٨ و ٧١)
“To that end He created them. And the word of your Lord has been fulfilled: ‘Truly, I shall fill Hell (Jahannam) with spirits (Jinn) and men all together.’ ” (Sura Hud 11:119, 120)
وَلِذَلِك خَلَقَهُم وَتَمَّت كَلِمَة رَبِّك لأَمْلأَن جَهَنَّم مِن الْجِنَّة وَالنَّاس أَجْمَعِين (سُورَة هُود ١١ : ١١٩ و ١٢٠)
We admit that all Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, and Muslims are real sinners by nature. No human is good, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)
Christ alone lived according to the Law and demanded that we should fulfil the commandment of His love, too. However, His ultimate goal was not to establish a law that will condemn mankind, but to declare the grace of God to all sinners and to justify them freely. Christ lived what He taught, and He Himself completed the Law, proving that He was worthy to be the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29).
Seven hundred years before Christ, Isaiah the Prophet prophesied that one would come as our substitute, suffering under the judgement of God in our place:
“Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
the chastisement of our peace was upon Him,
and by His stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned, every one, to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”
Christ saves His followers from the curse of the Law and frees them from the judgement of the Last Day. He justifies those who receive Him and believe in Him. Surely, He has reconciled God with men and granted them eternal peace. The Apostle Paul urged us to accept this spiritual privilege, writing:
“Be reconciled with God,
for He made Him, who knew no sin,
to be sin for us,
that we might become
the righteousness of God in Him.”
(2 Corinthians 5:20, 21)