What is the concept of salvation in Islam?
First thing, there is no concept of inherited sin in Islam. We are born without any sin or sinful conditions. Similarly if a child is born with any abnormal conditions, it is not a punishment of any sin of parents or forefathers. A basic definition of sin according to late Hazrat Mirza Bashiruudin, Khalifatul Messiah II(ra):
“Sin is an activity which renders the human soul sick and incapable of viewing the face of God. Difficulties have to be encountered in the journey which the soul undertakes as it moves towards the purpose of its creation. Activities which amount to sinning are either physical whose dangers are visible to oneself as well to others, or, they are spiritual.”.
He also describes that there are three kinds of sins (vices) and correspondingly three kinds of virtues:
- Sins and virtues which pertain to the heart. These indeed are the real virtues or vices.
- Sins and virtues of the tongue or expression.
- Sins and virtues which entail the use of the other physical organs like hands, feet, eyes, etc.
Salvation from sins is achieved through developing and understanding the purpose of life as established by The Holy Quran, gaining knowledge about sinful conditions through over 600 commandments of The Holy Quran and making “righteousness” as the guiding principle of decision making. Other means proposed by Islam are:
- Istighfar, that is repentance, constantly seeking God’s forgiveness by invoking His attribute of “covering up” and forgiveness. This is both of sins one may have committed and also proactively seek protection from sin-committing tendencies. (Istighfar also means to ask God to cover up our human weaknesses).
- Deeper and deeper knowledge of God’s Divine qualities.
- Reflection on consequences of good and bad actions.
- Repentance based on genuine remorse over past sins, fulfilling the obligations to human beings as defined by God and His Prophets, seeking pardon of each person affected by the sinners and firm resolve not to commit an evil act again.