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In Christianity there are 3 main divisions: Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy and Protestantism. (There is also Oriental Orthodoxy and the Church of the East, but they are much smaller than the others).

In Protestantism there are a variety of views, but the majority of them seem to believe that if you are a Christian you are "saved" and will go to heaven, it doesn't matter if you are a good person or an evil person; as long as you believe in Jesus your sins are forgiven, nothing bad that you do will be punished in the afterlife and you will be given infinite rewards in heaven just because you believed in Jesus. (On the flip side if you don't believe in Jesus you go to Hell and get brutally tortured and violently raped by demons forever and ever)

In Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy it is a bit more complicated. You don't automatically go to heaven just because you are a Christian. Instead you have to be a good person and repent until you become "perfect". This is a long and hard process and if you don't complete it before you die then it continues in the afterlife (Catholics say it happens in a place called Purgatory, Orthodox are more vague). It is possible to be a Catholic or Orthodox and still go to Hell. If you commit serious sins and don't confess them or repent of them, you end up in Hell, it doesn't matter if you believe in Jesus or not.

My question is, which system of salvation is Islam more similar to? Do you automatically go to heaven if you are a Muslim, like in Protestantism? Or do you have to work and grind away (with the assistance of God) until you become perfect like in Catholicism and Orthodoxy?

edit: I just realised there's another possibility: the stereotypical "Scales of justice" view. This is where your good works are placed on one side of a scale and your bad works are placed on the other side, and if it turns out that you've done more good than bad you go to heaven but if it turns out you've done more bad than good you go to Hell.

  • Aside: There doesn't seem to be any Justice, Love or Mercy in the Protestant view. Good people go to Hell and are punished with everlasting torture just because they didn't believe in Jesus while bad people go to Heaven because they did. Whereas in the Catholic view the Justice is obvious: only good people who work hard get to Heaven while lazy and evil people go to Hell. As a Christian, I definitely sympathise with the Catholic/Orthodox view over the Protestant one – TheIronKnuckle Feb 6 '17 at 10:13
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    "(On the flip side if you don't believe in Jesus you go to Hell and get brutally tortured and violently raped by demons forever and ever)" This is a completely inaccurate view of the Protestant view of hell. The entire paragraph is flawed, but that sentence shows you do not know what you are talking about. Or maybe you're just being facetious. – curiousdannii Feb 6 '17 at 11:13
  • @curiousdannii like I said, there are a variety of views in protestantism. That one is the one which I hear the most frequently from protestant friends. Others believe in annihilation, some believe in universalism, some believe in CS Lewis' "Great Divorce" purgatory, and most that I've come across believe in the everlasting brutal torture for unbelievers version of Hell. – TheIronKnuckle Feb 6 '17 at 11:53
  • I've never heard of any Protestant view in which the demons are raping anyone in hell. The demons will be in no position to have any agency because they will be punished most of all. – curiousdannii Feb 6 '17 at 12:01
  • @curiousdannii I've actually heard a lot of theories about Hell. I must admit I put that one in the question cause it is the most shocking I've heard so i thought it would be the most appropriate. I have also heard other theories where the demons, the devil and sinners are all tormenting each other. Everyone is full of hate for everyone else and it's just a really crap situation for all involved. In that particular version of hell the demons could indeed rape the other denizens of Gehenna. I guess it's all speculation in the end. We'll find out the truth when we die :) – TheIronKnuckle Feb 6 '17 at 12:09
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No, in Islam one does not automatically go to Paradise for being a believer, Allah judges people based on their balance of good and bad deeds measured on the proverbial scale (ref this verse and this one), though belief is a pre-condition to admittance to Paradise(ref).

In the Quran, Allah promises paradise to those who believe (آمَنُو) and do righteous deeds (عَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَات). The two are mentioned together repeatedly.

But they who believe and do righteous deeds - those are the companions of Paradise; they will abide therein eternally. Quran 2:82

And whoever does righteous deeds, whether male or female, while being a believer - those will enter Paradise and will not be wronged, [even as much as] the speck on a date seed. Quran 4:124

Righteousness itself is stressed upon in several verses:

Righteousness is not that you turn your faces toward the east or the west, but [true] righteousness is [in] one who believes in Allah, the Last Day, the angels, the Book, and the prophets and gives wealth, in spite of love for it, to relatives, orphans, the needy, the traveler, those who ask [for help], and for freeing slaves; [and who] establishes prayer and gives zakah; [those who] fulfill their promise when they promise; and [those who] are patient in poverty and hardship and during battle. Those are the ones who have been true, and it is those who are the righteous. Quran 2:177

No! But you do not honor the orphan. And you do not encourage one another to feed the poor. And you consume inheritance, devouring [it] altogether, And you love wealth with immense love. No! When the earth has been leveled - pounded and crushed - And your Lord has come and the angels, rank upon rank,And brought [within view], that Day, is Hell - that Day, man will remember, but what good to him will be the remembrance? He will say, "Oh, I wish I had sent ahead [some good] for my life." So on that Day, none will punish [as severely] as His punishment, And none will bind [as severely] as His binding [of the evildoers]. Quran 89:17-26

Several verses of the Quran threaten Believers of punishment for committing evil deeds:

Quran 4:29 O you who have believed, do not consume one another's wealth unjustly but only [in lawful] business by mutual consent. And do not kill yourselves [or one another]. Indeed, Allah is to you ever Merciful.

Quran 4:30 And whoever does that in aggression and injustice - then We will drive him into a Fire. And that, for Allah, is [always] easy.

Quran 4:31 If you avoid the major sins which you are forbidden, We will remove from you your lesser sins and admit you to a noble entrance [into Paradise].

Muslims also believe that punishment in Hell is not eternal for everyone. Provided that a person believed in the Allah and His Oneness, they may be forgiven completely(for sins done against God, God does not forgive injustices done to others) or serve time in Hell for the wrong deeds and be eventually moved to Paradise.

Indeed, Allah does not forgive association with Him, but He forgives what is less than that for whom He wills. And he who associates others with Allah has certainly fabricated a tremendous sin. Quran 4:48

Narrated Anas: The Prophet said, "Whoever said "None has the right to be worshipped but Allah and has in his heart good (faith) equal to the weight of a barley grain will be taken out of hell. And whoever said: "None has the right to be worshipped but Allah and has in his heart good (faith) equal to the weight of a wheat grain will be taken out of hell. And whoever said, "None has the right to be worshipped but Allah and has in his heart good (faith) equal to the weight of an atom will be taken out of hell." Sahih Bukhari, Book 2, Hadith 42

Additional reading:

https://islamqa.info/en/147996

https://islamqa.info/en/132608

https://islamqa.info/en/22467

  • Very interesting. It sounds like the doctrine of purgatory is in Islam: certain people can escape Hell after a certain amount of punishment. – TheIronKnuckle Feb 6 '17 at 17:33

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