Before we discuss the concept of atonement in Islam, it’s essential to address Christianity’s stance on how to seek salvation from hellfire and enter Paradise. Christians believe that every child is born with the taint of the original sin committed by our parents, Prophet Adam and Eve PBUT. The sin was committed when they disobeyed our Creator by eating from the forbidden tree. Christians believe that, since all men are born in a sinful state because of the actions of our distant ancestors, it is necessary to believe in atonement, the idea that Jesus Christ died for our sins. Christians believe that one can attain salvation, being saved from hellfire and entering Paradise, by simply accepting that Jesus Christ died for their sins, without the need for worshipping God, doing good deeds, or adhering to the Holy Law — because Jesus Christ fulfilled it for them.
To reiterate, Christians believe the commandments of God are worthless and need not be followed, as they can earn a free trip to Paradise by simply believing that Jesus Christ died for their sins. They believe one can live sinful without going to hell since Jesus Christ atoned for their sins. If all Christians need to do to reach Paradise is to believe that Jesus Christ died for their sins, then why do they bother learning the Bible or the teachings of Jesus Christ?
If Jesus Christ did die for our sins, he would have emphasized and taught this crucial detail. However, nowhere in the Bible did Jesus Christ explicitly stated that he would die to save humanity from sin. Christians say God sacrificed his only begotten son to save humanity, but if God owns the entire universe, why did God need to sacrifice Jesus? One sacrifices one thing for something else they could not obtain otherwise. But God is All-Mighty and can restore the life of Jesus Christ instantly, so by definition, that is not a sacrifice.
Not only is the concept of atonement not mentioned in the Bible nor taught by Jesus Christ, but Biblical verses contradict the concept of atonement and prove a fabrication. These verses state that no person is held responsible for another’s sin, no parent is accountable for a sin committed by their child, and vice versa. That means we are not held accountable for the sins committed by our parents, Adam and Eve, PBUH.
“The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin.” (Deuteronomy 24:16). Take this passage: “The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child.” (Ezekiel 18:20) It is stated in the Bible that the child will not share the guilt of the parent for any particular sin, nor will the parent share the child’s responsibility for a sin!
Paul initiated the concept of atonement. Paul proved himself an enemy of Jesus Christ throughout his ministry. He claimed that Jesus Christ came to him in a dream, and only afterward did he become a believer. He then made radical changes to the religion that neither Jesus Christ nor the Bible describes or details! Why are Christians following the teaching of Paul and not Jesus Christ?
How did all of the previous, righteous Messengers and Prophets of God, such as Prophet Abraham, Moses, Noah, etc., go to Paradise if they did not accept Jesus Christ, one who did not die for their sins since he was not yet born, as their savior? Are these righteous Messengers and Prophets of God going to hell?! No, of course not! And why didn’t these Messengers and Prophets of God know of or teach about the original sin and redemption? That’s because these ideas were innovated by Paul and never taught by God, Jesus Christ, the Bible, or anyone.
When someone approached Jesus Christ and asked him what he must do to obtain eternal life, he mentioned nothing about atonement, nor did he state that the person must believe that Christ died for our sins. Instead, Jesus told him he must keep the commandments.
Let us review the conversation that took place between them: “Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, ‘Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life? Why do you ask me about what is good?’ Jesus replied. ‘There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.’’ Which ones?’ he inquired. Jesus replied, ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother and love your neighbor as yourself.’ ‘All these I have kept,’ the young man said. ‘What do I still lack?’ Jesus answered, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’” (Matthew 19:16–21)
The Bible states that God’s commandments are required for good living and must be followed; if anyone says otherwise, they will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. “For truly I tell you until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore, anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:18–19)
What value is faith if you don’t reinforce it with good deeds? asks the Bible, which contradicts what Christians believe today as they follow the teachings of Paul and not Jesus Christ. “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?” (James 2:14)
Some Christians believe that even infants will go to hell if they die without being baptized, as they were born with inherited sin and never accepted Jesus Christ as their savior. The Bible contradicts this, proving that children are not born in a sinful state and, therefore, can go to Paradise upon death. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14). The idea that people are born sinful because of an act they did not commit is illogical; it is not like our All-Wise, Most-Merciful, Just God to enforce such a concept! Imagine a baby born in innocence, then dying a year later and going to hell. Where is the justice? It is not the duty of one soul to carry the burden of another, and no justice is to be found in the punishment of one person for saving another when they never sinned.
Now let’s transition to Islam, which holds a true, logical, and simple concept of salvation. Islam teaches that everyone is responsible and will be held accountable for their own actions. Thus, everyone is responsible for their own salvation. The exempt are those who have not reached puberty and those not of sound mind. Unlike the teaching of Christianity, Islam does not indicate the presence of intermediaries between man and God, nor that sin is inherited or passed on to another. As no one will carry or atone for your sins for you, this means that you must strive to better yourself, build your connection with God and His Book, and follow His Commandments. Unlike Christian teaching, Islam teaches that attaining Paradise requires belief and work — not simply faith. The act of merely believing is not enough.
“Whoever chooses to be guided, it is only for their own good. And whoever chooses to stray, it is only to their own loss. No soul burdened with sin will bear the burden of another. And We would never punish a people until We have sent a messenger to warn them” (Quran 17:15)
Salvation comes only from believing in One God and following His commandments. One needs to believe in what God and His Messenger have taught us, which includes the Six Pillars of faith in Islam; the Belief in the Oneness of Allah, His Angels, His Prophets and Messengers, His Books, the Last Day/Judgement Day; and the Belief in Divine Predestination. One needs to follow the commandment of Allah, which includes the Five Pillars of Islam and Sharia (Islamic Law). One can gain Allah’s Mercy by holding and following these beliefs to enter Paradise.
It’s imperative to note that since God created human beings with free will and made them fallible and prone to mistakes, humans will slip up from time to time. The Holy Quran states that Allah taught Prophet Adam, PBUH, how to ask for forgiveness. When Prophet Adam, PBUH, ate from the forbidden tree, Adam, PBUH, acknowledged his mistake, experienced guilt, and asked for forgiveness. God, the Almighty, accepted his repentance without sacrificing the life of an innocent person. God is teaching Prophet Adam, PBUH, and us, by extension, what actions to take when we make a mistake. We can receive forgiveness for sins solely through sincere repentance, with this forgiveness sought directly from God.
“Then Adam received some words from his Lord, and He accepted his repentance. Indeed, it is He who is the Accepting of Repentance, the Merciful.” (Quran 2:37)
God does not expect us to live without sinning. He created the Angels, who follow all of God’s commandments and never disobey Him. But God also wanted to create humans who would submit to God by choice. Prophet Muhammad, PBUH, stated: “Every son of Adam commits sin, and the best of those who sin are those who repent” (Sunan Ibn Majah 4251). Humans have to struggle with their whims and desires, and they must also struggle with the intrusive whispers of Satan, who constantly tries to tempt them to sin, glamorizes sinful behavior, and deceives humanity to take them astray from the remembrance and obedience of God.
God promises to forgive all sins, no matter the size and number — even if the sin reaches the Heavens. His gate of repentance is always open to anyone until the sun rises from the west or until the person reaches death. So, when you sin, repent to your Lord! Allah loves those who repent and purify themselves. For your sin to be forgiven, you must regret your sinful actions, cease that sinful behavior, and commit from repeating it.
“But whoever repents after their wrongdoing and mends their ways, Allah will surely turn to them in forgiveness. Indeed, Allah is All-Forgiving, Most Merciful” (Quran 5:39)
It’s important to note that the commission of good deeds alone is not enough to gain admittance into Paradise — and that it is only with God’s Mercy that one enters Paradise. With the belief in and following of the One God, Allah, one can gain His Mercy to enter Paradise.
“Say, “O My servants who have transgressed against themselves by sinning, do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful” (Quran 39:53)