Extended shahada is not a requirement for salvation

(Reason 14 of22 serious reasons shahada should contain no name except God’s’)

Extended shahada is not a requirement for salvation

Important is deed, NOT creed

We observed earlier that the awareness of God’s Oneness, formulated in the Quran as shahada, is the sole basis of Islam and so is the only ideological requirement to be or become a Muslim. Hence anyone from any religious or whatsoever background, whoever bears in mind this awareness and acts accordingly, is a Muslim and therefore qualifies for salvation1.

Contrary to this Quranic definition of Muslim, sectarian Islam contends that a person cannot be a Muslim and so cannot be saved unless s/he accepts and testifies to Muhammad’s messengership. Clearly, this concept is similar2 to the Jewish claim of chosen people and the Christian belief of salvation exclusively through Jesus, based on the doctrines of original sin and vicarious atonement3, which have no support in the Quran.

Is the sectarian testimony, which is thus extended with human name/s with God’s, really essential for human salvation? The Quran answers in the negative:

Surely those who acknowledge, and those who are Jews, and Christians, and who are from other religions, whoever acknowledges God and the Last Day and does right, surely their reward is with their Sustainer, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve. 2:62

Let us put the question differently. Could a confession about a human demigod, along with God, be a shortcut key to salvation and paradise? Or, is it the other way round – i.e., as an act of potential association with God4, may it itself become a serious obstacle to salvation (3:64-65, 6:14, 39:36; cf. 3:52-53)? Here we have an answer:

Say: I am but a human like you, being inspired that your god is One god. So whoever hopes to meet his Sustainer, let him do righteous work and associate NONE (not even me) in the service of his Sustainer! 18:110

Now, while rejecting the Jewish and Christian claims of their superiority as religious groups, the Quran instantly dismisses also the assertion of Muhammad-worshippers that people who do not accept or testify to his messengership are not Muslims, and hence are destined to doom5 (2:111-112, 2:130-141). Rather it affirms that there are many good people among other religious/non-religious groups who do qualify for salvation6 (3:75, 3:113-114, 5:65-66, 5:82-83, 7:159, 17:84) – because all what is essential for salvation is sincerity of mind and good work, not mere lip service to any belief system (29:2-3, 35:10, 59:22; cf. 2:214, 2:158, 3:141, 9:16, 33:10).

Thus, while All good deeds spring from the Awareness of Oneness, the Quran assures absolute divine justice for everyone, purely based on one’s DEED, rather than one’s CREED7 (2:286, 3:25, 6:160, 28:84, 36:54, 46:19). Though all humans are intrinsically equal by birth, they are ranked according to their works (46:19), since the best among them in the sight of God is the best in conduct (49:13). So at the end of the day what is really important is the action rather than mere belief (18:7). God will not put any of one’s sincere deeds to waste, irrespective of one’s belief, even if the true belief has not entered into the heart8 (49:13-14).

Thus, anyone from any religious or non-religious background – Hindu, Jewish, Zoroastrian, Confucian, Buddhist, Christian, Muslim, Sikh, Agnostic and so on – whoever does good work, while upholding the permanent values, can equally attain divine grace and salvation9 (2:62, 2:135-136, 3:57, 5:69, 16:97, 20:112).

Judgment belongs to God alone and allows no intermediary

The Quran insists that, since the Judgment belongs to God alone (6:57, 6:159, 12:40, 40:12), His final judgment will allow no intercessor or intermediary besides Him (no Jesus, Muhammad and so on; 2:48, 2:254, 6:51, 6:94, 6:164; 7:53, 19:95, 39:43-45, 53:25-27, 66:10) as it will be based on absolute justice tampered with divine mercy and compassion10 (18:88, 21:92-94, 28:77, 41:30, 46:13, 95:6).

In other words, irrespective of faith or creed, even the smallest details of all the actions of every human will be brought to divine justice where nothing will be wasted or ignored: anyone who grows the self will succeed; whoever buries it will fail11 (4:40, 6:164, 13:33, 45:22, 53:36-42, 91:7-10, 99:7-8).

When the shahada is extended with ‘others’ besides God’s, with the veiled anticipation of mediation through a human savior, it violates the important Quranic position that categorically rejects all doctrines of intercession and recommends no intermediary between human and God for the purpose of salvation (2:48, 2:123, 2:254, 6:70, 6:94, 7:53, 39:44, 74:48, 66:10).

What’s more, the divine wisdom even apprehends the danger that associating a testimony about Muhammad with the testimony about God’s Oneness, may actually idolize him as a divine associate, thus involving shirk, the only unforgivable sin, which may in turn divert people away from the path of salvation12 (3:64; 6:19,106,150; 18:102,110; cf. 4:48, 4:116, 39:65, 6:88).

Then, by strongly condemning any discrimination between messengers, the Quran essentially forbids any added shahada that singles one particular messenger out from all others. Time and again it demands equal treatment of all messengers and describes it as an important foundation of faith (2:136, 2:285, 3:84, 4:152, 21:92, 23:51-53, 33:40) that by itself would guide towards salvation. Please note that this promise for salvation excludes those who exalt Muhammad above other messengers:

And those who acknowledge God and His messengers and make no distinction between any of them, We will grant them their rewards. 4:152

It is such an irony that the salvation of billions should depend on the shahada about a demigod, who himself is not allowed to intercede for anyone (9:80, 39:3, 39:19, 63:6; cf. 25:30-31, 2:48, 5:109) and who himself is given no guarantee for his own salvation (46:9; cf. 7:188, 10:49, 11:31, 72:25).

Finally, one important NOTE: No human has the authority to judge another human about her destiny. Only God, as the ultimate witness over everything, knows who among us better qualifies than whom in respect of salvation:

Surely those who acknowledge and those who were Jews and the Sabians and the Christians and the Zoroastrians and those who set up associates, certainly God will decide between them on the Day of Resurrection: for God is witness over all things. 22:17; cf. 13:33

Summary

Extended shahada is not a requirement for salvation

The awareness of God’s Oneness, or shahada, is the sole basis of Islam and so is the only ideological requirement to be or become a Muslim. Sectarian Islam, however, contends that a person cannot be a Muslim and so cannot be saved unless s/he accepts and testifies to Muhammad’s messengership. Not supported by the Quran, this concept is similar to the Jewish claim of chosen people and the Christian belief of salvation exclusively through Jesus.

Is the sectarian testimony, which is thus extended with human name/s with God’s, really essential for human salvation? According to the Quran, it is the other way round – i.e., as an act of potential association with God, it may itself become a serious obstacle to salvation (2:62, 18:110, 3:64-65, 6:14, 39:36; cf. 3:52-53).

Now, while rejecting the claims of various religious groups about their monopoly on salvation (2:111-112, 2:130-141), the Quran affirms that there are many good people from all backgrounds who do qualify for salvation (3:75, 3:113-114, 5:65-66, 5:82-83, 7:159, 17:84) – because all what is essential for salvation is sincerity of mind and good work, not mere lip service to any belief system (29:2-3, 35:10, 59:22; cf. 2:214, 2:158, 3:141, 9:16, 33:10).

While All good deeds spring from the Awareness of Oneness, the Quran assures absolute divine justice for everyone, purely based on one’s DEED, rather than one’s CREED (2:286, 3:25, 6:160, 28:84, 36:54, 46:19; cf. 18:7, 46:19, 49:13-14). Thus anyone from any religious or non-religious background whoever does good work, while upholding the permanent values, can equally attain divine grace and salvation (2:62, 2:135-136, 3:57, 5:69, 16:97, 20:112).

The Quran insists that, since the Judgment belongs to God alone (6:57, 6:159, 12:40, 40:12), His final judgment will allow no intercessor or intermediary besides Him (2:48, 2:254, 6:51, 6:94, 6:164; 7:53, 19:95, 39:43-45, 53:25-27, 66:10) as it will be based on absolute justice tampered with divine mercy and compassion (18:88, 21:92-94, 28:77, 41:30, 46:13, 95:6). Irrespective of faith or creed, even the smallest details of all the actions of every human will be brought to divine justice where nothing will be wasted or ignored (4:40, 6:164, 13:33, 45:22, 53:36-42, 91:7-10, 99:7-8).

When the shahada is extended with ‘others’ besides God’s, with the veiled anticipation of mediation through a human savior, it violates the important Quranic position that categorically rejects all doctrines of intercession and recommends no intermediary for the purpose of salvation (2:48, 2:123, 2:254, 6:70, 6:94, 7:53, 39:44, 74:48, 66:10).

What’s more, the divine wisdom even apprehends the danger that associating Muhammad’s name with God’s, may actually idolize him as a divine associate, thus involving shirk, which may in turn divert people away from the path of salvation (3:64; 6:19,106,150; 18:102,110; cf. 4:48, 4:116, 39:65, 6:88).

Then, the Quran strongly demands equal treatment of all messengers, an important foundation of faith, which by itself guides towards salvation (4:152; cf. 2:136, 2:285, 3:84, 21:92, 23:51-53, 33:40).

It is such an irony that the salvation of billions should depend on the shahada about a demigod, who himself is not allowed to intercede for anyone (9:80, 39:3, 39:19, 63:6; cf. 25:30-31, 2:48, 5:109) and who himself is given no guarantee for his own salvation (46:9; cf. 7:188, 10:49, 11:31, 72:25).

Finally, only God, as the ultimate witness over everything, knows who among us better qualifies than whom in respect of salvation (13:33, 22:17).

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Note 1

We have used the word ‘salvation’ for the sake of convenience. Otherwise, the goal of a spiritual journey, as described in the Quran, is success (91:9-10), NOT salvation, which is more a biblical concept.

Note 2

The traditional Islamic understanding that a person cannot be saved unless s/he testifies to Muhammad’s messengership is similar to the Jewish claim of chosen people and the Christian belief of salvation exclusively through Jesus (Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. John 17:3), based on the doctrines of original sin and vicarious atonement, which have no support in the Quran (2:37, 6:164, 12:87, 17:15, 35:18, 39:7, 39:53, 53:38-39; cf. Deut 24:16, Ezekiel 18:20).

Note 3

Islam is not about any particular messenger. It differs from traditional Christianity in a few important issues: the Quran dismisses all dogmas of original sin and vicarious atonement (2:37, 6:164, 12:87, 17:15, 35:18, 39:7, 39:53, 53:38-39; cf. Deut 24:16, Ezekiel 18:20) and recognizes no intermediary or intercessor between human and God (2:48, 2:254, 2:257, 6:51, 6:94, 6:164; 7:53, 19:95, 39:43-45, 50:16, 66:10). While rejecting fatalistic determinism of human destiny (36:67-68), it puts full responsibility on every individual (4:32, 5:104-105, 6:94, 6:164, 19:95, 53:38-39) to use her own intellect and reasoning to personally know and act (10:100, 17:36, 5:104-105, 90:4-13). And, also because God is closer to a person than her ‘jugular vein’ and ‘nearer to her than all her nearest’ (50:16, 56:85), she requires no agency, no middleman and no third party to witness her sins or faith or to help her to commune with God. Instead, she should contact her Sustainer directly in accordance with her own understanding (2:186, 11:61). The Quran thus authorizes no messenger or anyone else to share in divine affairs (25:3), while asserting that even the Prophet himself doesn’t serve as an extra guide apart from the Quran (10:35-36) and doesn’t serve as any spiritual link that would make his devotee any closer to God (3:79-80, 3:144, 6:19, 6:50, 6:164, 16:51, 17:57, 18:110, 19:81-82, 38:65, 39:3, 40:12, 46:9, 46:28, 72:21-23, 79:42-44). Rather it condemns reverencing the prophet/s as shirk or idolatry (39:3, 39:36, 17:57, 9:31, 7:194, 3:64, 6:164).

Note 4

The Quran NEVER and NOWHERE sanctions association or elevation of ‘others’ with God; God is sufficient for a submitting peace-seeker:

Say: O People of the Book! Come to a statement common between us and you: That we serve none but God; that we associate none with Him; that we erect not, from among ourselves, lords other than God. And if they turn away, then say: Bear witness that we are submitters (Muslims)./ O People of the Book! Why do you argue about Abraham, when the Torah and the Gospel were not revealed until after him? Do you not reason? 3:64-65

Say: Shall I take as an ally anyone but God, the Originator of the Heavens and the Earth, when it is He who feeds and is not Himself fed? Say: I am commanded to be foremost among those who submit and that: Do not be of those who associate. 6:14

Is God not sufficient for His servant? They frighten you with others beside Him. Whomever God sends astray, then for him there will be no guide. 39:36

Note 5

While rejecting the Jewish and Christian claims of their superiority as religious groups, the Quran instantly dismisses also the assertion of Muhammad-worshippers that people who do not accept or testify to his messengership are not Muslims, and hence are destined to doom:

And they say: None enters paradise unless he be a Jew or a Christian. These are their own wishes. Say: Produce an evidence for what you are claiming, if you are truthful./ Nay, whoever submits himself to God and is a doer of good, he shall get his reward with his Sustainer; on such shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve. 2:111-112

And who would abandon the creed of Abraham except one who fools himself? We have selected him in this world, and in the Hereafter he is of the righteous./ When his Sustainer said to him: Submit, he said: I submit to the Sustainer of the worlds./ And Abraham enjoined his children and so did Jacob: O my children, God has selected the system for you, so do not die except as ones who have submitted./ Or, were you then witnesses when death approached Jacob and he told his sons: What shall you serve after me?, they said: Your god, and the god of your fathers Abraham, and Ishmael, and Isaac; One God and to Him we are submitters. …/ They said: Be Jews or Christians so that you may be guided! Say: No, rather the creed of Abraham the upright, who turned away from all that is false; for he was not of those who set up associates./ Say: We acknowledge God, and that which is revealed unto us, and to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the Patriarchs, and that which was given to Moses and Jesus, and that which was given to all the other prophets from their Sustainer. We make no difference between one and another of them: And unto Him alone we are submitters./ So if they acknowledge in the way you acknowledge, then they are guided …/ Such is God’s colouring. And who is better than God in colouring? And Him alone we serve./ Say: Do you debate with us regarding God? He is our Sustainer and your Sustainer, and we have our work and you have your work, and to Him we are devoted. 2:130-133, 135-139

Or do you say that Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and the Patriarchs were all Jewish or Christians (or e.g. Muhammadans)? Say: Do you know more than God does? Who is more wicked than one who conceals the testimony (shahada) with him from God? But God is not unmindful of what you do./ That was a community that passed away; to them is what they earned and to you is what you have earned; you will not be asked about what they did. 2:140-141

To better understand the expression ‘God’s colouring’, it is useful to remember that the word colours in the Quran signifies the concepts of pluralism and multidimensionality of the Truth.

Note 6

The Quran affirms that there are many good people among all religious/non-religious groups who do qualify for salvation:

And from among the people of the Book are those whom if you entrust him with a treasure, he will return it to you, and there are those whom if you entrust with one gold coin he will not return it to you unless you keep after him. 3:75 

They are not all alike: among the people of the Book there are upright people who recite divine messages during parts of the night and they comply./ They acknowledge God and the Last day, promote recognized norms and deter from evil, and they hasten in goodness; these are of the reformed ones. 3:113-114

If the people of the Book only would have acknowledged and been aware, We would have cancelled for them their sins and admitted them into gardens of bliss./ If they had upheld the Torah, the Gospel, and all what was sent down to them from their Sustainer, they would have been rewarded from above them and below their feet. Among them there are moderate people, but many of them commit evil. 5:65-66

And you will find the closest in affection to those who acknowledge are those who said, “We are Nazarenes” that is because amongst them are Priests and Monks, and they are not arrogant./ And if they hear what was sent down to the messenger you see their eyes flooding with tears, for what they have known as the truth, they say: “Our Sustainer, we acknowledge, so record us with the witnesses.” 5:82-83

And among the folk of Moses there are people who guide in the way of the truth and act justly in its light. 7:159

Say: Everyone works according to his own; and your Sustainer is best aware as to who has chosen the best path. 17:84

Note 7

While All good deeds spring from the Awareness of Oneness, the Quran assures absolute divine justice for everyone, purely based on one’s DEED, rather than one’s CREED:

God does not burden any self beyond its capacity. In its favour is what it earns, and against it is what it earns. 2:286

Every self shall receive what it has earned, and no injustice will be done to anyone. 3:25

Whoever brings a good deed will receive a tenfold reward. And whoever brings an ill deed will be requited for only one. And no injustice will be done to anyone. 6:160

Whoever brings forth a good deed, he receives a better reward than it. And whoever brings forth an evil deed then the retribution for their evil deeds is only to the extent of their deeds. 28:84

This Day no person will be wronged in the least, nor will you be requited for other than what you were doing. 36:54

To each will be degrees according to what they did; He will recompense them and they will face no injustice. 46:19

Note 8

Though all humans are intrinsically equal by birth, they are ranked according to their works (46:19), since the best among them in the sight of God is the best in conduct (49:13). So at the end of the day what is really important is the action rather than belief (18:7). God will not put any of one’s sincere deeds to waste, irrespective of one’s belief, even if the true belief has not entered into the heart (49:13-14):

To each will be degrees according to what they did; He will recompense them and they will face no injustice. 46:19

Surely We have made what is on Earth an adornment for it so that We test them as to who is better in deeds. 18:7

O mankind! Behold, We have created you as/of male and female, and made you into nations and groups, that you may know each other. Surely, the most honorable among you in the sight of God is the most righteous (or most aware). Surely, God is All-knowing, All-aware./ The Arabs (Bedouins) said: “We acknowledge.” Say: “You have not acknowledged; but you should rather say: ‘We have submitted’, for acknowledgement has not yet entered into your hearts. Yet if you obey God and His messenger (message), He will not put any of your works to waste: for God is Forgiving, Merciful.” 49:13-14

Note 9

Anyone from any religious or non-religious background – Hindu, Jewish, Zoroastrian, Confucian, Buddhist, Christian, Muslim, Sikh, Agnostic and so on – whoever does good work, while upholding the permanent values, can equally attain divine grace and salvation:

Surely those who acknowledge, and those who are Jews, and Christians, and who are from other religions, whoever acknowledges God and the Last Day and does right, surely their reward is with their Sustainer, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve. 2:62

They said: Be Jews or Christians so that you may be guided! Say: No, rather the creed of Abraham the upright, who turned away from all that is false; for he was not of those who set up associates./ Say: We acknowledge God, and that which is revealed unto us, and to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the Patriarchs, and that which was given to Moses and Jesus, and that which was given to all the other prophets from their Sustainer. 2:135-136

As for those (Christians and others) who acknowledge and do good works He will grant their reward in full. 3:57

Surely those who acknowledge, and those who are Jews, and who are from other religions, and Christians, whoever acknowledges God and the Last Day and does right, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve. 5:69

To whoever, male or female, does good deeds while acknowledging, We shall give a good life and reward them according to the best of their actions. 16:97

And whoever does any good works, while he is an acknowledger, then he should not fear injustice nor being given less than his due. 20:112

Note 10

The Quran insists that, since the Judgment belongs to God alone (6:57, 6:159, 12:40, 40:12), His final judgment will allow no intercessor or intermediary besides Him (no Jesus, Muhammad and so on; 2:48, 2:254, 6:51, 6:94, 6:164; 7:53, 19:95, 39:43-45, 53:25-27, 66:10) as it will be based on absolute justice tampered with divine mercy and compassion:

Now certainly you have returned to Us, alone, as We created you at first, leaving behind all that We bestowed on you. Nor do We see with you your mediators whom you asserted to be your associates. 6:94

And as for he who acknowledges and does good, then he will have the reward of goodness, and we will speak to him simply of our plan. 18:88

And each of them will come to Him on the Resurrection Day, alone. 19:95

This is your nation, one nation, since I am the Sustainer of you all: so serve Me alone./ But they divided themselves by disputing the matter, (forgetting that) unto Us they all will be returned./ So whosoever does good work and he is an acknowledger, then his efforts will not be rejected: for We are recording it for him. 21:92-94

And seek the future abode by means of what God has granted you, and forget not your own share in this world, and do good to others as God has done good to you. And spread not corruption on Earth, for God loves not the corruptors. 28:77

Surely, those who say, “Our Sustainer is God,” then remain steadfast, upon them descend the Forces: “Fear not and grieve not, but rejoice in the glad tidings of the Paradise that you are promised.” 41:30

Surely, all those who say: “Our Sustainer is God,” then remain steadfast, there is no fear for them, nor will they grieve. 46:13

Except those who have acknowledged and do good works: and theirs shall be a reward unending! 95:6

Note 11

The Quran insists that, irrespective of faith or creed, even the smallest details of all the actions of every human will be brought to divine justice where nothing will be wasted or ignored: anyone who grows the self will succeed; whoever buries it will fail:

Verily, God does not wrong by as much as an atom’s weight. 4:40

Say: Shall I seek for Lord other than God when He is the Sustainer of everything? No self earns but from its own works, and none will bear the burden of another. 6:164

Is He not the one who stands over every self, seeing all its actions (will He need any intermediary)? Yet they set up associates with God. Say: “Name them.” 13:33

And God has created the Heavens and the Earth with the truth, and so that every self may be recompensed for what it earned, and they will not be wronged. 45:22

That no bearer of a burden can bear another’s burden:/ That man can have nothing but what he strives for. 53:38-39

Indeed, he succeeds who grows it (the self),/ And indeed, he fails who buries it. 91:9-10

Then anyone who has done an atom’s weight of good, shall behold it./ And anyone who has done an atom’s weight of evil, shall behold it. 99:7-8

Note 12

The divine wisdom even apprehends the danger that associating a testimony about Muhammad with the testimony about God’s Oneness, may actually idolize him as a divine associate, thus involving shirk, the only unforgivable sin, which may in turn divert people away from the path of salvation:

Say: What is greatest as witness? Say: God: a witness between me and between you, and this Quran has been revealed to me that I may warn you thereby and whomever it reaches. Do you then bear witness that along with God there are other gods? Say: I do not bear witness! Say: He is only One god, and I am innocent of what you associate (e.g., the idol you make of me by associating me with God in shahada)! …/ Follow what has been revealed unto you from your Sustainer:La Ilaha Illa hu (there is no god but He); and turn away from those who set up associates. …/ Say: “Bring your witnesses who bear witness that (through His associate/s, 6:19) God has forbidden this (cf. 16:35).” If they bear witness, then do not bear witness with them, nor follow the desires of those who have given the lie to Our messages, and those who do not acknowledge the End; and they make equals with their Sustainer! 6:19, 106, 150

Did those who reject think that they could take My servants as allies besides Me? We have prepared Hell for the rejecters as a dwelling…/ Say: I am but a human like you, being inspired that your god is One god. So whoever hopes to meet his Sustainer, let him do righteous work and associate none (not even me) in the service of his Sustainer! 18:102, 110