Salvation cannot be an idea or opinion, rather, it is the innate goal of human…
How will salvation happen?
What is a savior and what does this mean for humanity? In this Concept of a Savior two-part article, we discuss the Islamic thought on this concept. Read our first article here, ‘Concept of a Savior, Part 1′ .
The Holy Quran says the advent of the savior and the dawn of salvation will occur through a dramatic change and will be accepted by most of mankind easily. Salvation (al-Najat, النجاة) defined as the ‘preservation or deliverance from harm, ruin, or loss’ and savior (al-Munqith, المُنْقِذ) defined as ‘a person who saves someone or something from danger or difficulty’. The Quran states: “When God’s help comes with victory, and you see the people entering God’s religion in throngs, then celebrate the praise of your Lord, and plead to Him for forgiveness. Indeed, He is all-Merciful“[i]. Here, the Quran clarifies the coming of the savior as “God’s help.” Furthermore, it says “people” without categorizing them based on their culture, sects, ethnicity, or religions. Finally, it says all will enter His religion, group by group. Essentially, mankind will embrace this salvation with their own will. This is consistent with the Holy Quran, which says, “There is no compulsion in religion: right has become distinct from wrong…“[ii] A person cannot be forced to follow a religion by any physical power. Genuine acceptance of religious ideology can only happen through love, logic, wisdom, and contemplation.
It is not surprising, then, that in the face of good, there would also exist those who are evil. By all indications found in holy texts and narrations, the savior will not withhold kindness from anyone and will invite all of those who seek salvation to the right path. However, as God will now establish His justice over the world and end all injustice, the savior will have a divine directive to bring an end to all evil, regardless of anyone’s cooperation or lack thereof. The Holy Quran states: “Certainly We wrote in the Psalms, after the Torah: ‘Indeed My righteous servants shall inherit the earth“[iii]. The Bible states: “The humble will inherit the land; they will take in abundant peace“[iv].
Together we can succeed
With the understanding that salvation is achievable and a savior’s coming is near, there is a good opportunity for all to cooperate and work together to achieve a common goal. This is especially apparent for Christians and Muslims alike. Their Holy Books show common bond that can bring both, followers of Jesus and followers of Muhammad, together. For example, the Holy Bible repeatedly mentions the words of Jesus (p) who said: “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.”[v] So what is the good news of the kingdom of God? This phrase has been mentioned in the holy book over fifty times. Thus, it sends a strong message to the reader that Jesus was talking about a perfect system which can bring happiness and secure justice for mankind. Jesus describes this perfect system to his apostles also, saying: “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well”[vi]. Obedience to God is met with good news. The savior will bring blessings that will cover all of creation and then no one will be concerned about food, drink, clothing, or other worldly things.
Likewise, Islamic texts, including the Quran and Narrations, give the same description. The Holy Quran states: “We desired to show favor to those who were abased in the land, and to make them Imams, and to make them the heirs and to establish them in the land“[vii]. In another part, it says: “God has promised those of you who have faith and do righteous deeds that He will surely make them successors in the earth, just as He made those who were before them, successors, and He will surely establish for them their religion which He has approved for them, and that He will surely change their state to security after their fear, while they worship Me, not ascribing any partners to Me“[viii].
The similarities between these excerpts from the two sacred texts, the Quran and the Bible, genuinely reveal how closely bound these religions are to each other, especially on this important subject. Furthermore, the Quran states: “those who follow the Apostle, the [conventionally] uninstructed prophet, whose mention they find written with them in the Torah and the Evangel, who bids them to do what is right and forbids them from what is wrong, makes lawful to them all the good things and forbids them from all vicious things, and relieves them of their burdens and the shackles that were upon them —those who believe in him, honor him, and help him and follow the light that has been sent down with him, they are the felicitous.“[ix] About Christians, it states: “There is [no one] among the People of the Book [that exists that will not] believe in him before his death; and on the Day of Resurrection he will be a witness against them.“[x]
In addition to all these Quranic texts, other authentic Islamic resources talk about many narrations of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in this regard. They all indicate that the savior is no one else than “al-Mahdi” (p), (the guider) the son of Imam Hassan al-Askari (p), himself and the Christians, will witness that Jesus (p) will return from Heaven[xi] and will ask his followers to give their obedience to the Savior, al-Mahdi (p). Jesus and al-Mahdi (p) will work together until justice is established over the entire world.
Christian and Muslim holy resources also advise their followers to do their utmost to obey God and to make haste toward the arrival of this good news. Isaiah states: “And he will lift up an ensign to the nations from far, and will hiss unto them from the end of the earth: and, behold, they shall come with speed swiftly”[xii], and Prophet Muhammad said: “come to him even if it is crawling through the snow.”[xiii]
When will this happen?
The arrival of the savior and the salvation he brings depends on two key elements. The first element is the Will of God. The second element is related to us, the followers. Whenever a nation is ready for change salvation will happen sooner. Therefore, it requires the devotion of the faithful along with a strong commitment to the two divine leaders, Jesus and al-Mahdi.
On a practical level, there are many good opportunities to move toward achieving the necessary readiness. Interfaith activities, for example, are an excellent environment to engage in discussions in these areas. The idea of preparing for a savior or salvation may appear odd. However, there is nothing odd about working together to achieve mutual understanding and cooperation. This can be a source of comfort and relief for people.
Individual efforts count!
This invitation has no exception. All are invited to work toward creating a better society that is worthy of God’s promise. It is a thing deeply rooted in human existence. It is the call that comes from within ourselves. We are all creatures of God. We all desire His mercy, love, and kindness. It is a clear message to those who think that salvation or the savior story is nothing but a threat to their power, political empire, or social ownership. Indeed, those people are ignorant of the purity of this call. However, with a bit of reflection, understanding, and sincere intentions, they can hear the call. The savior, by the grace and power of God, surely will bring justice, love and peace to the world. The savior’s priority is love and peace, and there is no reason to neglect anyone or fight with anyone at all. This is the Lord’s decision and His system. All will be free from any unfairness and will live together in harmony whether on land, in the sea, or in the sky. All will live equally and peacefully forever.
For more information on I.M.A.M’s Community Cohesion function, click here.
[i] Holy Quran, 110 The Help (al-Nasr).
[ii] Holy Quran, 2: 256
[iii] Holy Quran, 21: 105
[iv] Psalms, 37: 11
[v] Luke, 4: 43
[vi] Matthew, 6: 31- 33
[vii] Holy Quran, 28: 5- 6
[viii] Holy Quran, 24: 55
[ix] Holy Quran, 7: 157
[x] Holy Quran, 4: 159
[xi] Today most Christians believe that Jesus was crucified, died, buried, and then was raised from the dead. This article tries to draw the best picture of the savior from the holy book and no more. Here are few examples that could support the idea mentioned above.
John, 12: 34 “’The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this ‘Son of Man’?”
John, 14: 28 “You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’”
Luke, 24: 51 “While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven”.
John, 7: 33 “Jesus said, ‘I am with you for only a short time, and then I go to the one who sent me’…”
The Quran also illustrates a very close picture to this text, but does not agree with a narrative of crucifixion. For example:
Quran 4: 157- 158 “and for their saying, ‘We killed the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, the Apostle of God’s —though they did not kill him nor did they crucify him, but so it was made to appear to them. Indeed those who differ concerning him are surely in doubt about him they do not have any knowledge of that beyond following conjectures, and certainly, they did not kill him. Rather God raised him up toward Himself, and God is All-mighty, all-wise”
Quran 3: 55 “When God said, ‘O Jesus, I shall take you[r soul], and I shall raise you up toward Myself, and I shall clear you of [the calumnies of] the faithless, and I shall set those who follow you above the faithless until the Day of Resurrection. Then to Me will be your return, whereat I will judge between you concerning that about which you used to differ”
[xii] Isaiah, 5: 26
[xiii] Uyoon Akhbar al-Rida, V 2, P 60.