“What happens at the end of time?” 

Two students at two different times today asked that same question.  We are very curious about that, aren’t we?  We want to nail the end down so we can make sure we do what we must.  It is kind of like going on a trip.  We start with the end in mind: we find our desired destination on the map than we work backwards to figure out the best way to get there.  If you believe that there is some sort of afterlife that is better than another, well, you figure out what to do to ensure you get to that better place. 

Yesterday, we saw that a life that rejects Allah, Muhammad, and the Qur’an is dangerous.  Today we come to further specifics about judgment according to the Qur’an.  Two points stand out. 

First, any time people could possibly be punished for the choices they make, it is easy to find fault with the one doing the punishing.  Injustice is an easy claim.  It seems that was in the air at the time this surah was written.  Twice, it states that people are “judged with justice” (10:47, 54).  One can ascribe a hard determinism to Allah as if people are damned without cause, as if He has predestined all to a set decision of faith and one must live that out.  Ayah 44 makes it clear that is not the case:

God does not wrong people at all — it is they who wrong themselves.

Allah’s judgments are based on the decisions of people themselves.  If a person is condemned, it is because of choices they have made.  As we put together a picture of how one is saved (if that is not too Christian a way to say that) in Islam, we must bear this in mind. 

Second, Allah extends grace and mercy to believers (10:58), but it appears the decision to do so is entirely based on the faithful obedience of the person.  Obedient people receive grace; the disobedient do not.  Is this grace?  Yes, in the sense that Allah has the right to punish but chooses not to (or maybe that is mercy).  This would appear to be a merited grace.  It is selective, based on the actions of the believer.  There is a degree to which the one receiving the grace deserves it more than one who does not.  Grace in this context is entirely responsive; it is always the second act.  This is not the grace that initiates obedience.  This is not the grace that comes when it is entirely undeserved.  This is not the grace extended to “enemies.”  This is the grace that waits until it is asked for.  Humans are the initiators of salvation in this equation.  Humans act, then Allah responds. 

That seems quite different from the grace that is found in the gospel of Jesus:

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.  Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die.  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!  For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!  Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (Romans 5:6-11)    

 

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