Salvation means different things to different people. Most Christians, for instance, think of salvation as an expiation of the original sin of Adam and Eve. They believe the original sin was not forgiven, that Adam and Eve descended to earth as punishment for it, that all of us their children are born in sin as a result and that a sinless savior is the only way to expiate this sin; that no amount of repentance, supplication and good deeds can substitute for a savior.
Islam narrates the story of Adam and Eve with some fundamental differences from the Biblical story. The Quran makes it clear that the original sin did occur. Adam and Eve felt remorse afterward. God looked upon them with grace and inspired Adam and Eve to repent and ask Him for forgiveness. They did and He forgave them. Original sin gone!
The Quran repeatedly asserts that “no bearer of burden shall bear the burden of another” (35:18). Thus, no one is born in sin and no one is tasked with saving humanity.
Now, why did God send Adam and Eve down to earth even though He forgave them? It wasn’t a punishment. It was their assignment for which He created them in the first place. He says in the holy Quran, “And when your Lord said to the angels I am setting up in the earth a deputy.” (2:30)
So, why did God place Adam and Eve in the Garden first? IMHO, because He wanted to teach them about Satan, temptation, sin and its wages, repentance, supplication, and His forgiveness, all lessons they will need to learn and heed when they go to their assignment: Life on earth.
So, is there an individual salvation in Islam? Sure. But our savior is not a person; it’s our faith and good deeds. God promises to answer our supplications, accept our repentance from sin and reward us for our faith and good deeds. Salvation in Islam is not delivery from the original sin, it’s the escape from God’s punishment of Hellfire and the attainment of God’s reward of Paradise in the Hereafter.
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