Islam and the Fate of Others: The Salvation Question

Islam and the Fate of Others: The Salvation Question

Islam and the Fate of Others: The Salvation Question

Islam and the Fate of Others: The Salvation Question


Can non-Muslims be saved? And can those who are damned to hell ever be redeemed? Mohammad Hassan Khalil examines the writings of influential medieval and modern Muslim scholars on the controversial question of non-Muslim salvation. Islam and the Fate of Others is an illuminating study of four of the most prominent figures in the history of Islam: al-Ghazali, Ibn 'Arabi, Ibn Taymiyya, and Rashid Rida, as well as a wide variety of other writers, including Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, Mulla Sadra, Shah Wali Allah of Delhi, Muhammad'Ali of Lahore, Sayyid Qutb, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, and Farid Esack. Khalil demonstrates that though these theologians tended to shun a purely pluralistic concept of salvation, most envisioned a Paradise populated with Muslims and non-Muslims alike, and many believed in a just and merciful God. Khalilreveals that these writers' interpretations of the Qur'an and hadith corpus-from optimistic depictions of Judgment Day to notions of a temporal Hell and salvation for all-challenge widespread assumptions about Islamic scripture and thought.


“What does islam say about the fate of non-Muslims?” This ubiquitous question has clear and profound theological and practical implications. It also tends to evoke one-dimensional responses. and with academics, pundits, and politicians debating whether we are approaching, or even already engaged in, a “clash of civilizations,” there has been a recent proliferation of discourses that present the matter in black and white.

One popular sentiment is that Islam condemns non-Muslims to everlasting damnation. “In this light, the people who died on September 11 were nothing more than fuel for the eternal fires of God’s justice,” Sam Harris proclaims in his New York Times best seller, The End of Faith. An entirely different response, less common but gaining currency, is that Islam, at its core, is ecumenical: it recognizes other traditions as divinely ordained paths to Paradise. in his celebrated book, No god but God, Reza Aslan makes precisely this point, depicting Jews and Christians as “spiritual cousins” to Muslims.

Further complicating matters for the serious inquirer is the fact that there is a lacuna in the Western study of Islam on the topic of soteriology—a term derived from the Greek sōtēria (deliverance, salvation) and logos (discourse, reasoning), thus denoting theological discussions and doctrines of salvation. Yet nearly fourteen centuries since Islam’s inception, this remains a subject on which Muslim scholars write extensively. and rightfully so: salvation is arguably the major theme of the Qur’an.

In point of fact, the question at hand is not a simple one, regardless of whether by “Islam” one means the sacred texts of the faith or the theological positions presumed to be grounded in those texts. There has always . . .

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