Academic journal article Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies

Perceptions of Islamic Soteriology and Its Interpretations

Academic journal article Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies

Perceptions of Islamic Soteriology and Its Interpretations

Article excerpt


The last judgement, along with belief in the absolute unity of God, angels, the holy book, Messengers of God and the destiny, is the fundamental teaching of Islam, which could be summarised in three truths: Tawhid (faith in God), ResAllah (belief in the truths of intermediaries between God and human beings) and Akirah (belief in the truths on the afterlife). As we read in Qur'an, those who believe in these realities and live a righteous life will be rewarded with delights of paradise (Qur'an 2:62).

The first thing for a person, who wishes to enter in paradise gardens, must unconditionally fulfil the basic requirement: to accept the existence of God and to believe in him. The one who is directed toward the religion and inclining to truth (Qur'an 10:105, 30:30) and who fulfils its requirements, will live under the loving God's auspices. Allah will save those who feared Him and no evil will touch them. (Qur'an 39:61)

Return to the source

Islamic eschatology or the so-called ma'ad - return to the origin, is part of Islamic belief. If we take a look at the human destiny immediately after death, then the image, offered by Islamic teaching, is the following: when a man dies, the angel of death, Israel, separates a soul from a body. Since the death person is aware of their own body, they can observe the ritual of own funeral, and during the first night in the grave, two angels, Munkar and Nakir, question them about personal religion and life.1

The reality between the time of individual's death and the time of resurrection, which will appear at the end of the world, is called Barzakh.2 The term, meaning a barrier is mentioned in this context only once in Qur'an 23:99-100, but Chittick explains it as the time and place, which simultaneously separates and connects the two worlds - earthly and otherworldly or to say physical and spiritual. According to him a person in Barzakh exists in an imaginary body, and not in the body that a person had before the death. The substance of this new, imaginary body is the result of person's deeds and therefore in some way an individual is a creator of his or her own body in Barzakh. Nevertheless, that imaginativeness is not in the fact that Barzakh is untrue, because as Chittick points out, in Islamic eschatology it is conceived to be quite the opposite: since it is a higher level of existence, it is much more real than this world.3

The way of existence in Barzakh depends primarily on what the man's this-world life was like: if a person believed, carried out good acts and fulfilled talents that have been given to him by God, his stay in Barzakh will also be pleasant.4 "For the wicked, terrifying angels extract the souls after death and sinners suffer tortures. In contrast, those who perform good deeds and prayed regularly during their lifetimes experience a foretaste of Paradise before returning to the grave to await final judgement."5

In order to help people on this way to good life in Barzakh and later haven, God has sent the messenger Mohamed to the world, and him, by divine inspiration, taught people and showed them the path (Qur'an 5:19) through his life and through the Holly Qur'an. The clear word of the Book helps to direct people on the path of salvation and to guide them.6

Given the fact that salvation involves many aspects, not just the afterlife, the benefits of the good and just life may be enjoyed already in this world. Anthropologist Hazizan Md. Noon7 points out different per- spectives from which we can look at salvation: it can be a salvation from hazard, whether physical or non-physical, it can be redemption from the God's disapproval, anger and punishment, for the committed sins, or it can be a salvation as a form of success in this life and/or in hereafter. When Allah created the world, he promised the man not to be neither hungry nor naked in paradise, and not to be thirsty or exposed to burning heat (Qur'an 20:118-20), but under one condition: a human should not approach the forbidden tree. …

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