Most Christians believe that only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God, who underwent the crucifixion, and died as a sacrifice for their sins, will go to heaven. Even if you believe in God and do good works, you will be in hell if you do not accept that Jesus died for you. He is the only One who can pardon you from the penalty of your sin. And even if you lead a horrible life but believe at the same
time that Jesus atoned for you in advance, you will be saved and go to heaven. This is called the grace of God. It is not only God’s unmerited favour towards those who believe, but also His enabling power by the Holy Spirit to keep you from repeating the same sins. The Bible teaches that your sins are put as far as the east is from the west and they are remembered no more. Freedom from sin is the great liberty Christ obtained on the cross for those who trust in Him. The Bible also states that when you confess Christ as your Lord your name is written in the ‘Lamb’s Book of Life.’ This is the Book that will be opened on the Judgement Day and if your name is entered in it you will be pardoned. So people who are Buddhist, Hindu or Muslim who believe in Jesus and trust Him to pardon their sins will be in heaven. Christians believe that the key statement Jesus made to reveal this truth to His followers is found in the Gospel of John 14 verse 6: ‘I am the Way, the Truth and the Life; no man comes to the father except through Me.’ Jesus, the incarnation of God on earth claimed to be the right path.
The Qur’an says: ‘Those who believe in the Qu’ran, and those who follow the Jewish scriptures, and the Christians and the Sabians—any who believe in God and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve; Surah 2 Al- Baqarah ayat 62.’
The point of the verse is that Islâm does not teach an exclusive doctrine, and it is not meant exclusively for one people. The Jews and Christians hold on to their respective versions of exclusivism, whereas the attitude of Islâm is entirely different. Islâm claims it existed before the preaching of Muhammad on this earth. From the Qur’anic perspective, all those who submitted to God before Muhammad were Muslims. Islâm or submission to God’s will is proposed as a religion for all time and for all peoples.
So it is no surprise that the Qur’an calls Abraham a Muslim. The Qur’an says: ‘Abraham was not a Jew nor yet a Christian; but he was true in faith, and bowed his will to God’s which is Islâm, and he joined not gods with God; Surah 3 Al `Imran ayah 67.’
To call Abraham a Jew or a Christian would be inaccurate in Islâm, as Judaism and Christianity came after the time of Abraham. Indeed the very names of those religions suggest their beginnings generations after Abraham, while he could very well be called a Muslim, meaning one who submitted to God.
This means that those descendants of Abraham who follow his path are also bound to be on the right path. The Qur’an says what this means:
‘Without doubt, among men, the nearest of kin to Abraham are those who follow him, as are also this Apostle and those who believe: And God is the Protector of those who have faith.’ Surah 3 Al `Imran ayah 68.
So what should we say to those who claim that only Jews or Christians will go to heaven? Allâh Almighty Himself gives us guidance. The Qur’an clearly states:
‘They say: ‘Become Jews or Christians if ye would be guided [to salvation].’ Say thou: ‘Nay! I would rather the religion of Abraham the Hanif the truly-guided, and he joined not gods with God.’ Surah 2 Al-Baqarah ayah 135.
Say ye: “We believe in God, and the revelation given to us, and to Abraham, Isma’il, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to all prophets from their Lord: we make no difference between one and another of them: and we bow to God in Islâm.’ Surah 2 Al-Baqarah ayah 136.
Thus, Islâm teaches that all the prophets of God carried the same Message of God and taught the same way to Heaven. And that is Islâm. The dilemma the careful researcher has is that when we study the messages of the prophets they differ in their teaching on the way to heaven? What is the right path?