What the Quran and Bible teach about salvation

Muslim: What does the Bible teach about the way of salvation?

Christian: The Bible teaches that Jesus bore our sins on the cross and paid for the penalty of our sins. Anyone who places his trust in Jesus will receive salvation and forgiveness of sins.

Muslim: The Quran teaches that one person cannot bear the sins of another. Surah 6:164 says “No one will reap except what they sow. No soul burdened with sin will bear the burden of another.”

Christian: Christians would agree with this verse because it says that a person who has sin himself cannot bear another person’s sins. To symbolize this, when Muslims and Christians make animal sacrifices to God, we use only animals without blemish don’t we?

Muslims: Yes, Muslims use only animals without blemish when we sacrifice an animal to God. What is the significance of animal sacrifices in Christianity?

Christian: In the Old Testament, God required His people to make animal sacrifices. The sacrifice symbolizes that the penalty of sin, which is death, is transferred to another party (in this case the animal). In the Taurat in Leviticus 9:3, God told Moses, “Then say to the Israelites: ‘Take a male goat for a sin offering, a calf and a lamb—both a year old and without defect—for a burnt offering…”

Muslim: The Muslim scholar Imam Ghazali teaches, “Sacrifice in a mass scale brings people near God. Hope that in lieu of every limb of the sacrificed animal, God will save your every limb from Hell-fire.” (Ihya Ulum id din, Vol.1 pg 257). Muslims believe that after they perform the Hajj, they become sinless again.

Christian: While animal sacrifices are important, the mere ritual of animal sacrifices means nothing to God unless our hearts are right. David writes in the Psalms, “…you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise…Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous, in burnt offerings offered whole; then bulls will be offered on your altar.” (Psalms 51:16-19)

Muslim: The Quran also teaches this when it says in Surah 22:37 “It is not their meat nor their blood that reaches Allah; it is your piety that reaches Him.”

Christian: Christians believe that after Jesus came, the Old Testament practice of animal sacrifices were no longer necessary. This is because Jesus, who is sinless, paid for the penalty of our sins once and for all by offering himself.

Jesus says in Matthew 26:28 “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

Muslim: How is it possible that Jesus, being one man, even though he is sinless, is able to pay the penalty for the sins of the whole world? The Quran teaches that only God is able to save us from sin. It says in Surah 6:70 “Every soul delivers itself to ruin by its own acts: it will find for itself no protector or intercessor except Allah. If it offered every ransom, (or reparation), none will be accepted.”

Christian: I agree that no human being is able to offer a ransom valuable enough to save mankind. If Jesus were a mere man, it would not be possible for him to become that ransom. But Christians believe that Jesus is God and therefore he is able to save us from our sins. Not only does Jesus take away our sins, we become righteous because of our faith in Jesus. Romans 3:21-22 says “But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known…This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.”

Muslim: There is a similar verse in Surah 2:177 of the Quran which says, “It is not righteousness that ye turn your faces towards East or West; but it is righteousness- to believe in Allah and the Last Day, and the Angels, and the Book, and the Messengers…”

Christian: Because of Jesus’ death to pay for the penalty of our sins, we can receive salvation by putting our trust in him.

Muslim: Isn’t it cruel for God to punish Jesus for our sins?

Christian: If God had forced Jesus to pay the penalty of our sins, that would have been cruel. However, the Bible tells us that Jesus willingly died for our sins. Philippians 2:8 says that Jesus was “obedient to death, even death on a cross”. 

Muslim: Why would Jesus be willing to die such a horrible death for our sins?

Christian: The Bible says in Romans 5:8 that “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Even before we made the decision to repent and follow God, He already loved us.

Muslim: If Jesus had willingly died in our place, this would have been a heroic act. Muslim tradition tells us that Ali, son of Abu Talib, slept in Prophet Muhammad’s bed and was prepared to die for him. Muslims consider him a hero.

Christian: Jesus went through the suffering because the penalty of sin must be paid before God can forgive us.

Muslim: I don’t understand why this is necessary. Islam teaches that God can forgive us without anyone having to pay the penalty of our sins.

Christian: Suppose I were to kidnap a member of your family and you reported this to the police. After that, I deeply regret my actions and confess to you, asking you for forgiveness. I also release your family member unharmed. Would you be able to forgive me?

Muslim: If you release my family member unharmed and asked for forgiveness, I believe I would be able to forgive you.

Christian: If you are able to forgive me, do you think the justice system is able to forgive me? Would the police pretend that this whole kidnapping did not happen?

Muslim: I don’t think the justice system is able to forgive you because someone has to pay for the crime.

Christian. That’s right. As a human being, we could forgive those who have wronged us without demanding any punishment. But both the Quran and Bible teach that God is a Judge. If a person is caught for speeding and brought to the judge, would the judge be able to let him go without any punishment simply because the criminal is his friend?

Muslim: No, I don’t think so. 

Christian: What would we think of a judge who overlooks crime and does not pronounce any punishment?

Muslim: We would not think that this is a just judge.

Christian: What would we think of a judge who pronounced the fine for the speeding offense, and then pays a fine using his own money?

Muslim: We would say this judge is both just and merciful.

Christian: Exactly. The scriptures describe God as being both just and merciful. He is also unchanging, which means he does not switch back and forth between being just and merciful. That is why Jesus had to come down to earth as a man to pay for the penalty of man’s sins; this act satisfies both God’s justice and mercy.