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Getting to Heaven

Question and answer details
Kevin W
2012/09/17
In Christianity, there is a clear method of determining eligibility for salvation, namely belief. Is there a comparable way to be certain about going to heaven in Islam?
Amani Aboul Fadl Farag
Answer
Salam Kevin,

 

Thank you for your question.

 

In fact, the idea of Heaven and who is going to dwell in it has fallen between two extremes. One is similar to Christianity which says that as long as you have belief in God in your heart, then you are destined to enter Paradise.

 

The second extreme is that whatever you do in this life you are never sure of where you will be going.

 

I think the first attitude is problematic in that it takes for granted that one is rewarded regardless of what one does. The second is rather frustrating and may deter many believers from the straight path under the pressure that whatever good they do, they are uncertain of their end.

The first attitude is based on a superficial understanding of some of Prophet Muhammad's sayings,

 

"Whoever says: there is no god but Allah enters Paradise." (At-Tabarani)

 

"Whoever witnesses that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is Allah's Messenger, Allah forbids the Fire from touching him."(Al-Bukhari)

 

Some understand from these statements that the concept of faith is only verbal, that is, through the utterance of the Testimony of Faith.

 

Faith has a meaning of such magnitude that covers feelings of the heart besides all virtuous acts of the body. Accordingly, faith is not only this cognitive act of the mind through which humans recognize the existence of God, but it is also the interpretation of such belief in terms of deeds.

 

I think with this interpretation the Islamic concept of Paradise may be at variance with the Christian one which grants "belief" to be the only criterion for entering Heaven.

 

Thank God that He did not let His servants feel in the dark for as what sort of deeds will lead them to Heaven.

 

Allah the Almighty, in His wisdom, explained to us the deeds which lead believers to be promised Paradise and those which threaten them to be temporarily deprived from this blessing.

 

God also informs us of who are doomed to eternity in Hellfire so that each human knows where he stands and does not blame but himself in case he is deprived of Heaven.

 

The following verses from the Noble Quran are but one example of the deeds the doers of which are blessed eternity in Paradise:

 

*{The believers must (eventually) win through. Those who humble themselves in their prayers; Who avoid vain talk; Who are active in deeds of charity; And who guard their modesty, Except with those joined to them in the marriage bond, or (the captives) whom their right hands possess,- for (in their case) they are free from blame, But those whose desires exceed those limits are transgressors;- Those who faithfully observe their trusts and their covenants; And who (strictly) guard their prayers;- These will be the heirs, Who will inherit Paradise: they will dwell therein (for ever).}* (Al-Mu'minun 23:1-11)

 

Again, the following of Prophet Muhammad's sayings are but a few examples in which promises of Paradise are given to the believers in case they observe the indicated prerequisites.

 

You can notice that such prerequisites, beside the belief in the heart, contain a mixture of social and individual ethics that help to build up a strong network of relationships among individuals, family members, neighbors, subjects with their rulers, and so on.

 

They also warn doers of certain acts from being temporarily excluded from Heaven.

 

"The severer of the tie of kinship would not get into Paradise." (Muslim)

   

"I and the person who looks after an orphan and provides for him, will be in Paradise like this, putting his index and middle fingers together." (Al-Bukhari)

"Allah admitted a man into Paradise because he was lenient in his buying, selling, paying back and in demanding his money back." (Al-Bukhari)  

"Allah says: 'If I take away the eyesight of a Muslim, and he then shows endurance and seeks reward from Me, I shall be pleased with no lesser reward than Paradise for him.'" (At-Tirmidhi)

"Allah makes the way to Paradise easy for him who treads the path in search of knowledge." (Muslim)

"One will not enter Paradise, if one has an atom's weight of arrogance in his/her heart." a man then asked, "One may love his clothes to look good and his shoes to look good?!" The Prophet replied, "Allah is beautiful and loves beauty, arrogance is: rejecting the truth and looking down on people." (Muslim)

On the other hand God has decreed the Hellfire on those who do bad deeds and do not repent and seek His forgiveness. If they repent and do good deeds, the sins will be forgiven and the bad deeds will be exchanged to be counted as good deeds.

Thank you for contacting us and looking forward to receiving more of your valuable questions.

Salam.

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