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Sunni Islam: What is the place of grace in human life, and how does grace fit into the requirements of the Five Pillars?

For a project, I am researching this Sunni Islam but have had a challenging time finding sources for grace in a Muslim's life.

What is your perspective on grace in Muslim life? Is Allah gracious towards muslims, or does he only work with them transactionally (treated well for good works, like zakat)?

If he is gracious, how does that fit into the Five Pillars, as they are all asking actions to profess faith and be a good person, according to Allah.

  • Do you mean grace as in: "(in Christian belief) the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings."? – The Z Apr 7 '18 at 19:29
  • Salam and welcome to Islam SE the Q&A site about Islam. I strongly recommend you to take our tour and check our help center to learn more about this site and our model. As for your inquiry: I think it would be helpful if you gave us so examples of what you mean by grace in this context and why do you seem to miss it... – Medi1Saif Apr 9 '18 at 8:36
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Allah does not give a person what he did not work for (on the Day of Judgement). For example, he will not simply give a murderer Paradise 'out of the grace of God'. No, sins require repentance and/or punishment (depending on the sin).

But, Allah does increase or bless a person's good deeds:

Every good deed of the son of Adam will be multiplied manifold. A good deed will be multiplied ten times up to as many as seven hundred times, or as much as Allah wills. (Sunan Ibn-Majah)

and

“Whosoever intended to perform a good deed, but did not do it, then Allah writes it down with Himself as a complete good deed. And if he intended to perform it and then did perform it, then Allah writes it down with Himself as from ten good deeds up to seven hundred times, up to many times multiplied. And if he intended to perform an evil deed, but did not do it, then Allah writes it down with Himself as a complete good deed. And if he intended it [i.e., the evil deed] and then performed it, then Allah writes it down as one evil deed.” (Muttafaq Alaih)

As you can see, Allah will multiply and reward a person's good deed much beyond their actual worth. But bad deeds are only recorded exactly as they are worth. This is out of Allah's grace.

Allah, the Exalted, has said: 'O son of adam, I forgive you as long as you pray to Me and hope for My forgiveness, whatever sins you have committed. O son of 'Adam, I do not care if your sins reach the height of the heaven, then you ask for my forgiveness, I would forgive you. O son of 'Adam, if you come to Me with an earth load of sins, and meet Me associating nothing to Me, I would match it with an earthload of forgiveness. (Al-Tirmidhi)

Allah is full of grace. But His grace is not giving for what you didn't do. But rather His grace is that He gives much more than you deserve for what you did do.

So, the five pillars of Islam are the minimum that must be done. They are by no means the highest that should be done. And they don't even come close to justifying forgiveness:

The Prophet (ﷺ) said, "Do good deeds properly, sincerely and moderately, and receive good news because one's good deeds will not make him enter Paradise." They asked, "Even you, O Allah's Messenger (ﷺ)?" He said, "Even I, unless and until Allah bestows His Grace and Mercy on me."

As you can see, our deeds are not good enough to get us to Pardise. We only enter it throught Grace of Allah, but our deeds are the minimum.

This is a good hadith to end on:

Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, "If a believer had full knowledge of the chastisement of Allah, none would hope for Jannah; and were a disbiliever to know the Grace Allah has, none would despair of Jannah". (Muslim)

As you can see, if people knew the justice of Allah none would hope for Jannah because the know they would never deserve it, but if they know of the Mercy of Allah none would lose hope for Jannah because they would know the immense grace and mercy of Allah.

In conclusion, our deeds don't justify our reward. All reward given is due to the Grace of Allah. But our deeds (five pillars are the minimum) are to show our sincerity and goodness for which Allah through His Grace will reward much beyond what was due from those deeds alone.

  • "Allah does not give a person what he does not deserve." This really seems wrong: Did Pharoah "deserve" to be the ruler of Egypt? Did Job "deserve" any of the trials he received? At best, you can say that the final judgement would balance everything out because Allah is Al-'Adl, but that really has no bearing on how Grace is applied in Muslim life before that (and even then, I'd argue that there's no reason a sinner "deserves" forgiveness, or that anyone "deserves" Jannah): All things come from Allah, and people receive what they don't deserve all the time, especially in this world. – goldPseudo Apr 7 '18 at 21:16
  • @goldPseudo . I am speaking of the Day of Judgement. Reward and punishment for actions. – The Z Apr 7 '18 at 21:38

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