The Possibility of Perfection

One thing I like about Islam is its realistic attitude about human nature. Muslims are not asked to be perfect, we are merely expected to live our lives as best we can. Another thing I like about Islam is its emphasis on acquiring knowledge. Allah knows that we need to continually learn about our faith and how to practice it. But that is not to say that we can ever reach perfection.

In Christianity, the believer is expected to be perfect, with a difference: the only way to achieve perfection is to believe that Jesus is God and that because he died for man’s sins, a person can stand before God covered by Jesus’ perfection. I’m not surprised that Christianity is the most popular religion in the world. Who wouldn’t want to achieve instant perfection?

But I find that theology to be too facile. We shouldn’t feel that we’re given a free pass into heaven without any effort on our part except for believing in the divinity of Jesus. Granted, it’s no small thing to believe that Jesus is God. The problem is, we already have a God and He is One.

Muslims don’t believe that we are forgiven for our sins once and for all time  and never have to ask for forgiveness again. We believe that we are forgiven when we ask to be forgiven. What could be more straightforward than that?

God is One God. Only God can forgive our sins. God listens to our prayers and requests for forgiveness and He tells us in the Qur’an that He grants those requests when He sees in our hearts that we truly repent.

Qur’an 2:268 – “Satan threatens you with the prospect of poverty and bids you to be niggardly, whereas God promised you His forgiveness and bounty; and God is infinite, all-knowing.”

He is the Merciful and the Compassionate, the All-Knowing and Oft-Forgiving. All we can do is bow in submission before His majesty and pray that He gives us the strength to live our lives according to His Word.

Muslims have a direct line to God through prayer. We don’t have to go through the Holy Spirit or Jesus Christ to be forgiven or strengthened. And we don’t expect to be seen as perfect by Allah. Only God is perfect. What we are to do is be faithful and submit to His holy will.

No, Muslims cannot ever claim to be perfect, or to be seen as perfect by God. What we can look forward to is His justice and above all, His mercy. Merely professing faith in a man who others claim is God is not enough.

Qur’an 11:11 – “[And thus it is with most men] save those who are patient in adversity and do righteous deeds: it is they who forgiveness of sins awaits, and a great reward.”


 

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Ellen

Editor and chief writer at I, Muslimah and Femagination. Ellen also contributes regularly to Elevate Difference. She is a freelance writer, essayist and copy editor, living with two cats and a husband in Columbus, OH.

2 thoughts on “The Possibility of Perfection”

  1. Wow..this concept is very well written Ellen, soon you will be a very good Muslim scholar.
    However, your post reminded me with the mercy of God and how much gracious he is. There was one time when the prophet Muhammad PBUH said to his companions ” No one will enter paradise as a reward for his deeds, we all will enter paradise via Allah’s mercy” they asked: “even you, messenger of Allah ?” “Yes, even me” said the prophet; i.e That is paradise is a very wonderful amazing place that no matter how hard we worshiped Allah, we won’t deserve even going there even for 5 minutes.Though, Allah with his mercy will allow us “Insha’Allah” to enjoy forever.
    Another example that the prophet says is that in the judgment day, there will come a man who completely devoted his entire life to worship God. Then God says to the angels: “allow my slave to enter paradise by via my mercy. Then the man objects saying : “No, not by mercy, by justice, as I worked for it, I deserve to enter paradise as a reward for my good deeds”. Then God orders the angels to measure or (weigh) his deeds against the (blessing of sight). When the do so, they found that all his deeds and all of his entire life worshiping was not even enough to thank god for the blessing of the sight. The man then says : OK, god, I’ll enter via your mercy”
    The point is, that if we were purely treated by Justice, no one will deserve paradise. we are only asked to be sincerely worshiping Allah as possible as we can, and never give up on his generosity.

    1. Your comments always add so much to this blog and to my knowledge. You’re so right, and I needed to be reminded of this. Allah’s mercy is a blessing, a miracle, that we could never deserve. It’s easy to get caught up in thinking that we can somehow earn Jannah if we’re good enough and of course we could never be good enough.

      Thanks for sharing your wisdom and your faith. I appreciate it more than you know.

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