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Qur’an 3:85: Will a believer of another religion than Islam be a loser after death?

Many Muslims are convinced that it will be good to stay within the religion of Islam. They try to support their desire by referring to the following Qur’an verse: “If anyone desires a religion other than Islam (submission to God), never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter he will be in the ranks of those who have lost (All spiritual good).” (Qur’an 3:85) We may do a deeper understanding the meaning of this verse.

1. Qur’an refers to the religion of Abraham

Many Muslims are comfortable with Qur’an 3:85, because it gives approval that the religion of their parents seemed to be the only right one. However in many places, the Qur’an praises Abraham, his religion and other religions who follow prophet Abraham and are mentioned as “People of the Book”. Abrahamic religions believe in the Supreme Being as Creator of heaven and earth, doing good deeds and the Day of Judgment. Therefore the Qur’an is the continuation of the religion of Abraham, not the refutation. Not all People of the Book are evil according to the Qur’an. As a model of uncondional submission (Islam), Abraham attains righteousness though faith in God, the service of God and a life pleasing God. Abraham is also a model of unsheakable steadfastness in faith and the one who announces Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:8). Muslims are following Abraham as a friend of God in Qur’an 3:95: Say, “Allah has told the truth. So follow the religion of Abraham, inclining toward truth; and he was not of the polytheists.” But when Muslims follow Abraham, they also recognize the truth of Christan faith.

2. Covenants of Muhammad with Christians

Attacking Christians is against the teachings of Muhammad. Muhammad gave a command to protect the Christian monks of Mount Sinai and that Christian worshipers in the area would not be disturbed. It has also been registered that any Muslim who would not respect a Christian and did not obey the command of Muhammad would be a true loser in God’s eyes. Dhimmī means in Arabic, protected person and refers to a non-Muslim of a Muslim nation: “whoever harms a dhimmī I shall be his foe on the Day of Judgment”. Muhammad said; “I, my helpers, all the members of my religion, and all my followers, for they (the monks and the pelgrims) are my proteges and my subjects” [1]. The same kind of convenant Muhammad made for Christians in Persia [2]. The idea that Muhammad would attack Christians or force them to accept Islam religion has been refuted by this covenant.

3. Qur’an supports the Day of Judgment

Fundamental principle in the Qur’an is that God will decide how people will spend their afterlife. Remember they have done may wrong things according to their own "book of deeds". Criterium in Qur’an is that it treats all people on earth and in history equal no matter which religion they have:

“That Day, the people will depart separated [into categories] to be shown [the result of] their deeds. So whoever does an atom"s weight of good will see it, And whoever does an atom"s weight of evil will see it.” (Qur’an 99:6–8)

“Then as for one whose scales are heavy [with good deeds], He will be in a pleasant life. But as for one whose scales are light, His refuge will be an abyss.” (Qur’an 101:6–9)

“Indeed, mankind is in loss, Except for those who have believed and done righteous deeds and advised each other to truth and advised each other to patience.” (Qur’an 103:2–3)

This means there is no requirement that someone must be a supporter of Muhammad’s Islam religion. Qur’an verses are saying that you may enter Heaven when you haven’t been involved in the religion of Islam created by Muhammad.

4. True submission to God

One never can take a verse out of context and should do some analysis to get the deeper understanding of this verse. There are Muslims who are saying that Qur’an 3:85 says only believers in Muhammad and his message are qualified to enter Heaven. But this is not what you read in the Qur’an because of the predecding verses:

“So is it other than the religion of Allah they desire, while to Him have submitted [all] those within the heavens and earth, willingly or by compulsion, and to Him they will be returned? Say, ‘We have believed in Allah and in what was revealed to us and what was revealed to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the Descendants, and in what was given to Moses and Jesus and to the prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and we are Muslims [submitting] to Him.’” (Qur’an 3:83-84 )

Islam means "submission to God". When at the Day of Judgment all dead bodies will be raised, we will be naked so that nothing can be hidden. Who will cover their naked bodies? True surrender is total devotion to Jesus the Messiah. When you do total devotion, it means worship and only God can be worshiped. Our naked bodies can be covered by the Blood of Jesus the Messiah. Though revelation we will be covered from our naked skin and will receive the motivation to do the plan God has for us. The way to realize this lifestyle is by Jesus the Messiah, the only one who needs to be worshiped. Therefore followers of this lifestyle will go to heaven, because they surrender to the will of God.

5. Qur’an support that Christians will go to heaven

The Qur’an identifies a righteous group of people [3]:

“[Mention] when Allah said, "O Jesus, indeed I will take you and raise you to Myself and purify you from those who disbelieve and make those who follow you [in submission to Allah alone] superior to those who disbelieve until the Day of Resurrection. Then to Me is your return, and I will judge between you concerning that in which you used to differ.” (Qur’an 3:55)

“And indeed, among the People of the Scripture are those who believe in Allah and what was revealed to you and what was revealed to them, [being] humbly submissive to Allah . They do not exchange the verses of Allah for a small price. Those will have their reward with their Lord. Indeed, Allah is swift in account.” (Qur’an 3:199)

Qur’an is asking for discussion and dialogue between Muslims and Christians: “Say, People of the Book! come to common terms as between us and you – that we should worship none but God and not associate any partners with Him.” (Qur’an 3:64)

"Those who believe, and those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Christians and the Sabians,- any who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve" (Qur’an 2:62, 5:69).

"But those (Christians) who have faith and work righteousness, they are companions of the Garden: Therein shall they abide (For ever) " (Qur’an 2:82).

“Those who believe, and those who are Jews, and Sabians and Christians - (in fact) any who believe in God and the Last Day, and do good deeds - there will be no fear upon them, nor shall they grieve” (Qur’an 5:69).

“Those who believe, and those who are Jews, and Sabians and Christians and Magians, and those who associate (others with God) - God will judge between them on the Day of Judgment. Indeed, God is Witness to all things” (Qur’an 22:17).

Qur’an 5:82 even promotes “those who say, ‘We are Christians’” by saying that it are the people whose faith is closest to the beliefs of Muslims. Far from calling them as losers, Muhammad mentioned them to be more like close cousins and not as enemies.

6. Conclusion

There are many reason for a denial about the claim the only Muslims will go to Paradise according to the Qur’an. A more adequate understanding of the meaning of Qur’an verses hopefully offer a more promising path for Muslims to grow in a personal spiritual relation with the Most High. The Qur’an mentions Christians who follow Jesus Christ will be superior on Judgment Day.

Notes

1. Six Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of His Time, Tacoma, 2015, 13-14.
2. Craig Considine, The Humanity of Muhammad: A Christian View, Blue Dome, New Jersey, 2020.
3. Ibrahimkhan O. Deshmukh, The Gospel and Islam. GLS Publishing, Mumbai, 2011, p. 175.











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