The path to paradise – Christ or Muhammad?

Alan Clifford Alan Clifford is the minister at Norwich Reformed Church
01 November, 2006 5 min read

The BBC2 two-part screening of The Path to 9/11 (10-11 September 2006) was compulsive viewing. It was impossible to miss the purely religious motivation of the Muslim terrorists.

Despite the depressing ‘PC’ discussion that followed on Newsnight, when we again heard that the majority of Muslims reject the violent activities of their more fanatical brethren, it still emerged that the Islamic religion itself is the primary cause of the problem. Until the fundamental fallacies of Islam are seen for what they are, our pluralistic multiculturalists will continue to live in a state of denial.

Besides reminding us that Islam is not the only evil in the world today, the following article is presented (in two parts, this month and January) not only as a critique of Islam but as the only positive alternative to the various crises we currently face.

Facing death

Death is always in the news. Besides the tragedies of road accidents, domestic violence, street crime, disasters and war, we recall the thousands who died in the USA on 11 September 2001. These realities concentrate the minds of most of us.

Even in secular western civilisation, ‘religion’ of a sort still flourishes because of death – even the most godless feel their need of some kind of insurance (‘We’d better be ready for God – just in case’). Sadly, they are too easily satisfied by a touch of ritual and a dose of nominalism.

The reality of death as a consequence of sin highlights the nature and necessity of the Christian gospel (see Romans 5:12-21). The life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ lie at the heart of the Christian solution to sin and death.

Hebrews 2:14-15 puts it thus: ‘Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, [Christ] himself likewise shared in the same, that through death he might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage’.
Thus the only real relief from all the bad news is the good news of Christ – ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life’ (John 3:16).
For those who shrug their shoulders and say, ‘So what?’, hear the words of John the Baptist: ‘He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him’ (John 3:36).

In the name of Allah

But if this remains the assured faith of all Bible-believing Christians, others say differently. We are told that Muhammad and other religious leaders provide us with equally certain paths to paradise.

The terrible events of 11 September 2001 brought the character and claims of Islam into sharp focus. Indeed, the five-page Arabic document discovered by the FBI in the luggage of the terrorist Mohamed Atta demands our attention.

First, this document silenced the assertions of those who denied that Islam provided any religious motivation for the attacks on New York and Washington. Besides giving instructions about clothes, knives, wills, IDs and passports, the document gave the suicide bombers the following instructions.

‘In the name of Allah, the most merciful, the most compassionate … Remember the battle of the Prophet … against the infidels, as he went on building the Islamic state … Continue to recite the Qur’an … You have to be convinced that those few hours that are left in your life are very few. From there you will begin to live the happy life, the infinite paradise …

‘Be optimistic. The Prophet [Muhammad] was always optimistic. Always remember the verses that you would wish for death before you meet it if you only know what the reward after death will be … You will be entering paradise. You will be entering the happiest life, everlasting life’.

Qur’anic incentives

So did the Qur’an actually provide the terrorists with the incentives they needed? The answer could not be clearer. Here are a few quotations.

‘Those that deny Our revelations [says Allah] We will burn in Hellfire … As for those that have faith and do good works, We shall admit them to gardens watered by running streams, where, wedded to chaste virgins, they shall abide for ever … the believers who do good works, whether men or women, shall enter the gardens of Paradise’ (Sura 4:55-7, 124).

‘The true believers fight for the cause of Allah … Fight then against the friends of Satan … Therefore fight for the cause of Allah’ (Sura 4:76, 84).

‘When the sacred months are over, slay the idolaters wherever you find them. Arrest them, besiege them, and lie in ambush everywhere for them …’ (Sura 9:5); ‘make war on the leaders of unbelief …’ (Sura 9:12).

‘Believers, why is it that when it is said to you: “March in the cause of Allah”, you linger slothfully in the land? Are you content with this life in preference to the life to come? Few indeed are the blessings of this life, compared to those of the life to come. If you do not fight He will punish you sternly and replace you by other men …’ (Sura 9:38-9). ‘Whether unarmed or well-equipped, march on and fight for the cause of Allah, with your wealth and your persons’ (Sura 9:41).

‘Prophet, make war on the unbelievers and the hypocrites and deal rigorously with them. Hell shall be their home: an evil fate’ (Sura 9:73).

‘Believers, make war on the infidels who dwell around you’ (Sura 9:122).
Who then can deny the Qur’anic factor in the motivation of terror?

Rude awakening

Second, while the Qur’an gives such exhortations and encouragements to those who fight in Allah’s cause, just how sure were Mohamed Atta and his fellow terrorists of reaching paradise?

To aid them, the five-page document provided the following prayers: ‘I pray to you Allah to forgive me from all my sins, to allow me to glorify you in every possible way … Oh Allah, open all doors for me. Oh Allah, who answers prayers and answers those who ask you, I am asking you for your help.

‘I am asking you for forgiveness. I am asking you to lighten my way. I am asking you to lift the burden I feel … Allah, I trust in you. Allah, I lay myself in your hands … I ask [you] with the light of your faith that has lit the whole world and lightened all darkness on this earth, to guide me until you approve of me. And once you do, that’s my ultimate goal …’

So, did Mohamed Atta and his friends wake up in paradise? If so, they must be the first unrepentant killers to be welcomed there – these men were murderers not martyrs! Were they forgiven? How could they be?

Yes, according to the Christian gospel, penitent murderers may be saved (Psalm 51:14; Luke 23:42-3; Acts 26:9-11). However, it is impossible to be a penitent murderer while pursuing the deed of murder!

No, Mohamed Atta and his fellow murderers died utterly deceived. They had a rude awakening on the ‘other side’. The Book of Revelation describes their terrible destiny – ‘But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death’ (Revelation 21:8).

No hope without Christ

Terrorists do not have a monopoly on evil. Pleasure-seeking, sin-loving, Bible-scoffing, Christ-blaspheming westerners are just as likely candidates for hell as the Muslim murderers of 9/11. For all who die without repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, the only Saviour of the world, there is no hope!

Of course, the Islamic document read by the terrorists does at least recognise the reality of sin and the need of forgiveness. However, their only hope was a religion based on works-righteousness. But did their terrorism even begin to qualify as ‘good works’? Could their murderous madness possibly merit the mercy of God?

Since Muslims deny that Christ was crucified (see Sura 4:157), they cannot appeal to his atoning sacrifice for salvation. They argue that Christians have corrupt versions of the Bible and not the original account of Christ. But where is this uncorrupted original? If that was the Word of God, would God have allowed it to be lost or destroyed?

Interestingly, in Christ’s account of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31) Abraham declares that the message of salvation can be learned from ‘Moses and the prophets’. In short, the gospel of salvation is found in the Old Testament as well as in the New.

There, Moses foretold the coming of a great prophet (Deuteronomy 18:15; Acts 7:37). But this prophet was Christ and not Muhammad!

Alan Clifford is the minister at Norwich Reformed Church
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