Do you believe that at a time appointed by God to take place in the future, every human being will be judged? This is an idea that we find in both Christianity and Islam. If you haven’t read the Scriptures of these religions, I recommend doing so, it’s a really fascinating experience. What may surprise some people is that there are many similarities between these two religions — a day of judgment is one of them.
For Christians, belief in Jesus (as God who became flesh) is centrally important, because Christians believe there is nothing that we can do to atone for our sins by ourselves. They say that Jesus took the punishment for our sins, and that the way we become right with God is to simply trust in Jesus. This will be the Christian’s boast on the day of judgment — that they trust in the atoning suffering of Jesus Christ for their forgiveness.
Muslims see things quite differently. They say that to claim Jesus (a prophet in their view) is actually God incarnate is deeply blasphemous. In fact, they believe that the Qur’an was sent down to Muhammad as guidance to correct the Christian Scriptures, which have been corrupted, they say, so that they contain claims about Jesus’ divinity that are not true. According to the Qur’an, God is One and does not have children, so the Christian claim that Jesus is God’s Son is misguided.
For Muslims, the judgment day will be a day when the good and evil deeds of every human being are weighed up and scrutinised by God, and everyone will get exactly what they deserve. The wicked will go to a fiery place and will suffer excruciating burning — they will beg for relief but it will not come. The reward for those who have been good in God’s sight is that they will enter beautiful gardens with flowing streams of water, and the relationships they have in that place will be perfect.
One thing that interests me about judgment day is that, in reality, God is in control of all things, so when God judges he is really judging his own actions, which he has undertaken through us. This doesn’t necessarily stop God’s actions being just, though. He can still put every wrong deed right, through the process of reward and punishment, or by saving those who trust in Jesus, if this is his plan.
The differing views concerning righteousness between Christianity and Islam are a grave cause for concern, because the views of these two religions are apparently contradictory. So you get Christians saying Muslims are going to hell if they don’t accept Jesus, and Muslims saying Christians are going to hell if they claim Jesus is God.
The central question for spiritual seekers is whether to accept the Bible’s claims about the divinity of Jesus Christ, or whether to believe the teachings of the Qur’an which say good deeds are the most important thing. I think that making this decision requires prayer and submission to the guiding hand of God; we must be humble and ask God, through prayer, to lead us in the right direction.
Surely, if both of these two great religions claim insistently in their Scriptures that there will be a judgment day, we must take the idea seriously and try to live accordingly. If there will be a judgment day, it is insanity to try to push the thought to the back of our mind and not worry about it. Much better, in my view, is to seek God; to get to know the central issues and to try to discern God’s will by studying the Scriptures and praying to God.