We Will be Judged by Our Compassion and Deeds and Not Our Dogma

Epigraph:

So you, too, must show love to foreigners, for you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt. (Deuteronomy 10:19)

Every human life is sacred and we cry for each loss

Every human life is sacred and we cry for each loss and suffering of every one

Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times

As millions suffer in war torn Asia and Africa, humanity is craving for mutual love and compassion.  What do we owe to our fellow humans?  Is the suffering of a white man any more special or sacred than that of a black man? Should the suffering be judged by the religion of the one who is suffering or struggling to save his or her family?

Let me cut through the chase and go straight to the parable from the Gospel of Matthew that I have in mind:

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’” (Matthew 25:34-45)

There are numerous verses in the Holy Quran emphasizing kindness and the teaching of being service minded and the teachings are illustrated with different metaphors.  Here I would like to reproduce a Hadith which is very similar to the presentation of the Gospel of Matthew:

Indeed, Allah will say to his servant when He will be taking account of him on the Day of Judgment, ‘O’ son of Adam, I was hungry and you did not feed me.’ He will answer: ‘How could I feed you? You are the Lord of the worlds!’ He will say: ‘Did you not know that my servant so and so who is the son of so and so felt hunger, and you did not feed him. Alas, had you fed him you would have found that (i.e. reward) with Me.’ ‘O’ son of Adam, I was thirsty and you gave Me nothing to drink.’ He will reply: ‘How could I give You drink? You are the Lord of the worlds!’ He will say: ‘Did you not know that my servant so and so, the son of so and so was thirsty and you did not give him drink. Alas, if you had given him, you would have found that (i.e. reward) with me.’ ‘O’ son of Adam, I became sick and you did not visit Me.’ He will answer: ‘How could I visit You? You are the Lord of the worlds!’ He will say: ‘Did you not know that my servant so and so, the son of so and so became sick and you did not visit him. Alas, had you visited him, you would have found Me with him.’

Deeds have consequences as we noted in the quotes above and as we experience on a hourly basis in our daily life. But let us examine the converse, the relevance of faith:

If I believe that there was a James White in Egypt in 2222 BC, who was 10 feet tall and weighed 1499 pounds. He had repeated dreams to jump off a cliff for the salvation of humanity and one day he did so and was found dead at the bottom of the valley with a written note in his hand that if you believe that I am 10 feet tall and weigh 1499 pounds  and just died for your sins then your sins will be forgiven in the Afterlife.

The absurdity of such a claim and such a faith is obvious. The proposition that a faith alone can be most consequential in the big scheme of things is hard to take seriously in the aftermath of James White narrative above. Nevertheless, the Protestant Christians have had a similar official position, which they have called Sola fide over the centuries, since the reformation in the 16th century. Before we talk further about Sola fide, my apology to the Protestants and I do yield that here I have taken the liberty to caricature their position and pushed it to an extreme.

Sola fide (Latin: by faith alone), also known as justification by faith alone, is a Christian theological doctrine that distinguishes the Lutheran and Reformed branches of Protestant Christianity, as well as some other denominations, from the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and some parts of the Restoration Movement, as well as the Methodist Churches.

The doctrine of sola fide asserts God’s pardon for guilty sinners is granted to and received through faith alone, excluding all “works“. All mankind, it is asserted, is fallen and sinful, under the curse of God, and incapable of saving itself from God’s wrath and curse. But God, on the basis of the life, death, and resurrection of his SonJesus Christ alone (solus Christus), grants sinners judicial pardon, or justification, which is received solely through faith. Faith is seen as passive, merely receiving Christ and all his benefits, among which benefits are the active and passive righteousness of Jesus Christ. Christ’s righteousness, according to the followers of “sola fide,” is imputed (or attributed) by God to the believing sinner (as opposed to infused or imparted), so that the divine verdict and pardon of the believing sinner is based not upon anything in the sinner, but upon Jesus Christ and his righteousness alone, which are received through faith alone.

More recently the Protestants have moved away from this extreme stress on faith and moved closer to the Catholic position. A recent Pew Research Center revealed:

Sola fide and recent polls

In other words, 500 years after the Reformation, 52% of the Protestants realize the futility of the claim that deeds don’t matter.

We saw one polar extreme of emphasis on faith and how it has eroded over the last 500 years among the Protestants and the other polar extreme is offered by the atheists, who deny the existence of God of the Abrahamic faiths. They unequivocally declare that faith is irrelevant and only deeds should matter.

Judaism and Islam lay emphasis on both faith and deeds. But faith in what?  Different sects of Islam and Judaism will differ on the details? But, they will all agree that feeding a hungry or offering drink to a thirsty or saving the life of a sick are all meritorious acts.

There is something more that we can easily agree on, whether theist or atheist and that is motives or intentions do matter. We have all grown accustomed to and fully understand the valid difference between murder and man slaughter and other examples can be picked up from our social interactions and administration of law in different societies.

So faith does matter in some sense, at least in as far as it influences our attitudes, our inspirations and our intentions.

Islam has traditionally stressed faith in the Gracious and the Merciful God and His Providence and Afterlife and belief in His Prophets, Scriptures and angels. Different sects will have varying emphasis on these six articles of faith and if we pin down individuals and they profess with complete transparency and honesty, the details of faith of each individual will differ. In the poll of the Protestants and the Catholics we have had a taste of the variation.

Here, let me leave the reader alone on his or her personal journey of finding out in what ways the faith should be important and what details of the Christian or the Muslim faith are significant for our salvation! Buckle up and start your journey in the suggested reading and the comments below:

Suggested Reading

Two Hundred Verses about Compassionate Living in the Quran

A Message of Compassion and Love from the Holy Bible

True Fasting: A Message of Compassion and Love from the Old Testament

A New Commentary of the Holy Quran Emphasizing Compassion, Justice and Human Rights Launched

 

20 replies

  1. of course it is true one would be judged by his deeds only not by his beliefs.Then What is wrong in living as a HINDU ??? Follow Abrahamic religion – this exhortation holds no logic and reason.

  2. Deed without a good belief is useless. It will be a deed without intention, without right knowledge.

    Only acts (deeds) which are performed by understanding and intentions are meaningful otherwise even children do things and so do the insane people.

  3. The Holy Quran says, “Anyone who does an iota of good will recieve its reward and anyone who does an iota of bad will recieve its reward.”
    This subject has been discussed at many different places in the Holy Quran without any mention of Faith. So it is clear that the reward of your deeds is directly related to your deeds. It has nothing to do with Faith.
    Faith is important. We cannot dismiss it entirely. Only Faith can tell you about the higher and more perfect deeds. Only Faith can help you to establish a relationship with God. And these are also important. A faithless person can do good deeds but a person with Faith is more inclined and more likely to do good and more likely to be succesful in this matter.

  4. Every one has made good points. Intentions are important as mentioned in one of the very well known Hadith of the Holy Prophet Muhammad.

    However, there can be several sets of good intentions, as mentioned in the following verses of the Holy Quran:

    Surely, the Believers, and the Jews, and the Christians and the Sabians — whichever party from among these truly believes in Allah and the Last Day and does good deeds — shall have their reward with their Lord, and no fear shall come upon them, nor shall they grieve. (Al Quran 2:63)

    Surely, those who have believed, and the Jews, and the Sabians, and the Christians — whoso believes in Allah and the Last Day and does good deeds, on them shall come no fear, nor shall they grieve. (Al Quran 5:70)

    As to those who believe, and the Jews, and the Sabians, and the Christians, and the Magians and the idolaters, Indeed, Allah will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection; surely Allah is Witness over all things. (Al Quran 22:18)

  5. namelee has stated half truth and did not present the full Hadith which states ” Even I will be saved by the blessing of Allah”.
    That is a perfect truth. Allah is the MASTER of the day of judgment.

  6. Ghulam Sarwar,
    Thanks for stating the ‘full truth’. When Muhammad said “EVEN I WILL BE SAVED BY THE BLESSING OF ALLAH”(even though that is not part of the particular hadith I referred to), where do ‘good deeds’ come in? And how is that different from his saying that good deeds will not save him, only the grace of allah?

  7. Deed without a good belief is useless. It will be a deed without intention, without right knowledge.

    You are contradicting what you say earlier. This is a dogmatic attitude. Hinduism is sufficient to guide humanity on the right path.

  8. Sorry Mr.Ghulam sarwar. Judgement day is impossible, a wrong notion to be corrected. Abrahamic religions has been teaching that Every Individual will be judged for his deeds.This is absurd.Humanity has been evolving in all branches of knowledge, culture and also in the concept of morality. Adam-Eve knows no morality.They were illiterates and knows nothing regarding morality. The formidable question is “ON WHAT BASIS GOD WOULD JUDGE HUMANITY ? The age Islamic
    Law is less than 1200 yrs. Even today several pockets of the world people are living naked -semi-naked.God has sent no Prophet to ANDAMAN AND AFRICA.How God would judge the Naked people of Andaman on the Judgement Day ?????? God must have given the code of conduct on the very first day Man was created.God DID NOT.So Judgement Day is absurd needs correction.

  9. @Dr.A.Anburaj:

    I insisted on good beliefs with good deeds. Theory comes before practice.
    Day of judgment is a fact. But many like you have denied the day of judgment since thousands of years. Mankind needs accountability. That is a practical requirement.
    The God who created everything will take account of everything. God sent prophets to every nation and we are sure that He sent specialist prophets to the Indian people too.
    Let us not worry about Andaman islands and Afriqan people. Even the aborigines of Australia had their messengers. It is no use ridiculing Adam and Eve. Adam, who lived nearly 6000 years ago, was the first prophet and he was given a very simple list of code to follow. Islam did not start with Muhammad in Arabia.
    Religion has also evolved through ages as the humanity progressed. 1400 years ago, a final, much improved code of conduct was given in form of Quran. Every human being needs to read that. It is the latest edition of divine laws.
    It is no use reading a very old edition. That is never done. Nobody reads the very old edition of any book.

  10. Some of the comments on here are appalling.

    “Deed without a good belief is useless. It will be a deed without intention, without right knowledge.
    Only acts (deeds) which are performed by understanding and intentions are meaningful otherwise even children do things and so do the insane people.”

    The suggestion that someone can only have “good intention” if they believe in the right god it utter nonsense. It’s factually incorrect. In fact, you could argue non-believers have the best intention of all – their good deeds aren’t done for some self-interested reason of a reward in another life, or because they’ve been told to do it; rather their deeds are based on true compassion for others, without self interest.

    Another ridiculous comment is this:
    “A faithless person can do good deeds but a person with Faith is more inclined and more likely to do good and more likely to be succesful in this matter.”

    Utter biased nonsense. Source please.

  11. namelee, God has given importance to good deeds and said that people will need good deeds to save them from the fire of hell. That is true picture even in this world. Good deeds are necessary.
    If the prophet Muhammad said that every one will be saved by the Grace of Allah, and even he will be saved by the Grace of Allah. That was a correct and good statement.
    What you will say? You will be saved by your good deeds? That would be arrogance. Will you be forcing God Almighty with your bundle of good deeds? Even if you will be having a good number of good deeds, would it not be better that you leave it to Almighty God to give His decision.
    In any case, the Church teaches that “belief and deeds are not necessary. Every one will be saved by the Grace of the Father.” Even this seems to be the teaching of Paul and not of Jesus himself, prophet Muhammad has emphasized the good beliefs, good deeds and hopes to be saved by the Grace of Allah. That seems to be the best way of life.

  12. Ghulam Sarwar,
    I do not know where you got such distorted idea from that the Church does not teach good deeds. Is it the mosque that teaches it? Why are the Saudis remaining indifferent to the Syrian refugees when that is where one finds the largest mosques?
    Muhammad did not emphasize on good deeds.
    In Bukhari 8:76:470 he said, “THE DEEDS OF ANY OF YOU WILL NOT SAVE HIM FROM THE HELL FIRE”. THEY ASKED HIM ‘EVEN YOU WILL NOT BE SAVED BY YOUR DEEDS O ALLAH’S APOSTLE?’ HE SAID ‘NO, EVEN I WILL NOT BE SAVED UNLESS AND UNTIL ALLAH BESTOWS HIS MERCY ON ME. THEREFORE, DO GOOD DEEDS PROPERLY, SINCERELY AND MODERATELY, AND WORSHIP ALLAH IN THE FORENOON AND IN THE AFTERNOON AND DURING A PART OF THE NIGHT, AND ALWAYS ADOPT A MIDDLE, MODERATE COURSE WHEREBY YOU WILL REACH YOUR TARGET, PARADISE'”.
    Notice how he lowers the importance of good deeds by repeating that such should be done with moderation but stresses faith by way of prayers.
    While you deny the confiscation and destruction of Churches, your brother Rafiq has admitted, although in a manner peculiar to muhammadans, he puts the number as a few. 30,000 cannot be a few by any standard.
    Your religion has always been expansionist and aggressive.

  13. I had written and it is well known that ” the Church teaches that good belief and good deeds are not necessary. Every one will be saved by the Grace of the Father.”
    The above are the words of Paul. He is the one who abandoned the law of Moses a.s. and told every one that good deeds are not needed for salvation. So forget the law. Only the name of Jesus is enough for salvation.
    That is in contrast with the teachings of the Quran that every one needs good deeds with good belief for salvation. Even then the success on the day of judgment will be by the Grace and Mercy of Allah.
    That is what Muhammad taught. He believed that all (including himself) will be saved by the Grace of Allah. But he did not teach Muslims to abandon the law and forget the good deeds.

  14. Ghulam Sarwar,
    You have a way of writing on things you are least equipped for.
    Which Paul told you that Christians should not do good deeds? Is he the one who writes in 2 Timothy 2:22 “FLEE ALSO YOUTHFULL LUSTS: BUT FOLLOW RIGHTEOUSNESS, FAITH, CHARITY,PEACE–“, 1 Corinthians 14:1 “FOLLOW AFTER CHARITY AND DESIRE SPIRITUAL GIFTS–“,Titus 2:2 “THAT THE AGED MEN BE SOBER, GRAVE, TEMPERATE, SOUND IN FAITH, IN CHARITY, IN PATIENCE”, Galatians 6:2 “BEAR YE ONE ANOTHER’S BURDENS, AND SO FULFILL THE LAW OF CHRIST”.
    There are many more verses on the subject of being charitable.
    What is your understanding of charity, if it does not mean being helpful to the needy? What then are good deeds?
    Muhammad unequivocally said that he, himself, will not be saved by his ‘good deeds’, which he urged be done moderately, because salvation lies in faith. See Bukhari quoted earlier.
    Distorting the facts to suit your fancy, as you normally do, will not avail you.

  15. There is only one Paul who was saul of Tarsus. He was originally enemy of Jesus. He had written much and it is all in the bible. It appears that there is more of Paul (saul) in the bible than that of Jesus a.s. paul taught that good deeds will not help you, and so on,,,,,,,

  16. I have quoted St Paul’s instructions on the importance of good deeds with Bible passages.
    Can you do the same to support your unfounded allegation that he said one should not do good deeds?
    For the umpteenth time, I repeat what the Bible says that salvation does not lie in good deeds. Muhammad said the same thing and realizing that to be true, he went further by asking his followers to be moderate in doing good deeds.
    That explains why the Saudi authorities would allow 100,000 air conditioned tents to remain unoccupied when they can house at least three(3,000,000) refugees. The Kuwaitis say they cannot take in the refugees because their country and its neighbours are too superior for the refugees who are different. But different in what? They have not explained.
    Are you still wondering if muhammadanism lays much emphasis on good deeds?

  17. namelee, you seem to be a joker. okay, keep the discussion alive with your false statements.
    You are using wrong terms here in discussions. You are calling Islam as Muhammadenism etc. and the Muslims you call them Muhammadens. How bad namelee, calling names. Calling names is like abusing. When you call any one by the name that he/she does not own, it is said to be calling names. You have repeatedly adopted that agenda of calling names with some jokes.

  18. Ghulam Sarwar,
    It is obvious who the joker is between the two of us.
    I did not invent muhamadanism. Muhammad did when he referred to the “followers of Muhammad”. I provided the authority.
    On January 3, 1919, the emir Faisal signed an agreement in which provision was made that ” the muhammadan holy places shall be under the control of muhammadans”. The emir knew better than you.
    TMT’s Abdul Alim wrote an article which he entitled: “An Islamic Easter? The Real Resurrection of Jesus-A Muhammadan Messiah”.
    Then on Saturday, February, 2015, Salma Javid Khan, also of TMT, wrote: “–ACCORDING TO THE PROPHECY OF THE HOLY PROPHET–,THE HOLY FOUNDER OF ISLAM–“.
    Khan would not have been referring to allah here, since it has never been identified as a ‘prophet’. That title is Muhammad’s.
    Your antics can be compared to that of the proverbial ostrich which hides its head in the sand while its behind is exposed.
    Continue to live in your futile denial.

  19. Your biblical quotation from the “sheep and goats” section of Matthew 25 certainly states plainly that a person is judged solely on the basis of one’s good and bad deeds. But I have two concerns about this passage. First, every adult human who dies has done some good and some bad deeds. This passage gives no indication how these are evaluated. Second, there are many other passages in the Christian Scriptures written by followers of Jesus who say that one is judged solely on the basis of one’s beliefs. See: http://www.religioustolerance.org/salvatio.htm

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