According to the 'Qur'an', man's acceptance or rejection of the message of God is a matter of great import. "Believe in God and his apostle, and bestow in alms of that whereof God hath made your heirs: for whoever among you believe and give alms-- theirs shall be a great recompense." Faith is a necessary condition for salvation. In this respect there is no difference from the Gospels, which state: "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned" and "For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth in him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." (164:2)

But there is a difference in the consequences which can be drawn from this. According to the concept of the Church, salvation is granted only to the believer who is a member of the institution of the Church as the mystical reality of Christ. Therefore not only are the Jews and the heathen condemned and, according to the dogma expressly proclaimed at the Council of Florence, will all go to hell, but so are all heretics and schism-mongers. For the Church alone can lead to salvation. "He is not a Christian, who does not belong to the Church of Christ"; "Outside the Church there is no salvation". This is what St. Cyprian, the Father of the Church, used to teach. And St. Augustine taught: "When thou standest outside the Church and art cut off from the bond of unity and the ties of love, thou succumbest to the eternal punishment of hell, even shouldst thou let thyself be burnt for the sake of Christ." Boniface Viii decreed 'ex cathedra' that it is necessary for every human being who would be saved to put himself under the protection of the Roman pontiff (165:1)

The 'Qur'an' teaches that the godless who "know the outward shews of this life present" but who "of the next life are careless", who talk, joke, play and are full of gay heedlessness, obeying whatever their senses dictate, are condemned. This is why the hour of judgment will take them by surprise as they carry on living, heedless and unaware (165:2)

But the verdict of damnation is not delivered upon the members of the other revealed religions. They belong to the greater community of believers and have their share of eternal life. This is why the name "Muslim" in the 'Qur'an' does not apply solely to the followers of Muhammad and his revelation but in general to those who were devoted believers in one of God's revealed religions. Islam never claimed to be the unique source of salvation for man. It only claims to be God's last and most perfect revelation to mankind (166:1)

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The Light Shineth in Darkness
Udo Schaefer