The Truth about the Concept of Original Sin
By Dr. Abdallah H. Al-Kahtany
I dedicate this booklet to Allah. I am all hope that He will accept.
I also dedicate this booklet to those who search for truth.
I feel indebted to the great Muslim scholar Ibn Taymiyyah for his marvelous work, by which I was inspired to study the concept of the Original Sin in Christianity. I extend my thanks to Allah who enabled me to finish this work. I also thank my honored brothers; Dr. Abdallah Abu-Ishi and Dr. Abduraziq Sammander for their valuable suggestions and corrections.
If there is any good in this work, it is from Allah. If there is any wrong, it is from myself. Abdallah Al-kahtany
P.O. Box 541, Khamis Mushait,
Muharam 13th, 1415 June 22nd, 1994.
Issues related to belief might seem to be sensitive to dread on. However, with the advances in communication and the breaking up of cultural barriers among people of various cultures, it becomes necessary that beliefs be investigated objectively and with an open mind. All concerned religious scholars and believers need to give a sympathetic ear to alternative positions or beliefs offered by people from distant cultures seeking answers to resolve or at least clarify various issues of universal nature. Especially, if such beliefs are exported to other nations side by side with all types of merchandise. As governments set quality standards on imports of all types, I think it is important to test such common values and beliefs as well. In particular, our relation with the Christian world has become so close that we both need to get acquainted with what each party has to contribute to the understanding of such pressing issues.
Since the concept of “The Original Sin” in Christianity forms the corner stone out of which a cluster of beliefs like the godship of Jesus, crucifixion and salvation have emerged. Therefore, it singles itself out as a good candidate to be studied.
The methodology that will be followed in this essay about “The Original Sin” involves two types of evidence. The first is to carry on the study based on all logical possibilities that would explain the truth value of “The Original Sin”. As a matter of fact, the writer heavily depended on arguments developed by Ibn Taymiyah - a thirteenth century prominent Muslim scholar. The second type of evidence used to study “The Original Sin” depended on drawing evidence from The Bible itself to reveal the truth of the concept in Christianity.
In doing so, it is ultimately left to the readers whom God has bestowed with intellect that distinguishes them from all other creatures to ponder, analyze, evaluate then decide for themselves.
II. Why is it important to study the concept of the Original Sin in Christianity?
Professor Jurgen Moltmann in his book The Crucified God said:
The death of Jesus on the cross is the center of all Christian theology ...all Christian statements about God, about creation, about sin and death have their focal point in the crucified Christ. All Christian statements about history, about the church, about future and about hope stem from the crucified Christ.
It is prevalent that without the concept of The Original Sin there would be
no need for crucifixion, salvation or atonement to take place. Garner led Armstrong, the Executive Vice-president and Co-Publisher of the Plain Truth (a Christian Magazine from America, which boasts a current, free world-wide circulation of 6 million copies a month), attempts to answer his own puzzle under the heading: "WAS THE RESURRECTION A HOAX?" ........
The resurrection of Jesus Christ of Nazareth is either the supreme fact of history or a flagrant, deliberate fabrication foisted off on the followers of Christianity.
Josh Mc Dowel (An American evangelist) said in his book The Resurrection Factor:
I was forced to the conclusion that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is either one of the most wicked, heartless, vicious, hoaxes ever foisted upon the minds of men, or it is the most fantastic fact of history.
With all the controversy presented above among some of the prominent American and other evangelists around the issue of crucifixion which was thought of to be necessary to atone for the Original sin, we realize the importance of investigating such a concept.
III. How can God be crucified to save humanity?
Christians have exceeded all limits to relate injustice to God the Almighty. They have indeed undermined God in ways that no other nation has ever done before. In fact, they are far away from praising God or glorifying Him. They claim that when Adam (PBUH) ate from the forbidden tree, God became angry and directed punishment onto him; that punishment continued on Adam’s offspring's until the coming of Jesus (PBUH). His crucifixion was to relieve the generations after him from their forefather’s sin. Christians also claim that all the sons of Adam (PBUH) were imprisoned by Satan, even the prophets of God such as, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon, et al (PBUT).
On the other hand, let us see what the Qur'an says about these respected prophets: (6: 84-86)
“We gave him Isaac and Jacob: All (three) We guided: And before him, We guided Noah, And among his progeny, David, Solomon, Job, Joseph, Moses, and Aaron: Thus do We reward Those who do good (84) And Zakariya and John, And Jesus and Elias: All in the ranks of the Righteous (85) And Ismail, and Elisha, and Jonas, and Lot: And to all We gave favour above the nations(86).”
We know that Abraham’s father was a nonbeliever and God did not punish Abraham (PBUH) for his father’s grave sin. Why would God hold him responsible for his forefather's (Adam’s) sin? This is, if we assume that Adam did not repent. However, God has declared that he has repented and was granted forgiveness by Him. This is what Allah the Almighty says about Adam (PBUH): (2:37)
“Then received Adam from his Lord certain words and his Lord repented him; for He Is The Oft-Repenting, The Bestower of Mercy”. (2:37)
The Christians have gone out of their way to claim that it was through crucifixion, which is one of the grave sins, that God has saved Adam (PBUH) and his offspring's from hell fire. They also claim that it was through crucifixion that God was able to trick Satan, not withstanding the fact that Satan disobeyed God and deserved punishment since the time he refused to prostrate to Adam (PBUH) and he misled him to commit the sin. In fact, God had the ability to punish Satan long before the coming of Jesus (PBUH). Thus, one cannot help but to question the assumption as to why the sons of Adam are to be held accountable for their forefather’s mistake.
As a matter of fact, the life of Jesus (PBUH) is much involved in mystery, and indeed the greater part of his private life, except the three main years of his ministry. It is not profitable to discuss the many doubts and conjectures among the early Christian sects and among Muslim scholars. The Orthodox Christian Church make it a cardinal point of their doctrine that his life was taken on the cross, that he died and and was buried, that on the third day he rose in body with his wounds intact, and walked about and conversed, and ate with his disciples, and was afterwards taken up bodily to heaven. This is necessary for the theological doctrine of blood sacrifice and vicarious atonement for sins including the innate Original Sin, which is rejected by Islam. However, some of the early Christian sects rejected the doctrine that Jesus was killed on the cross. Deedat in his book Crucifixion or Crucifiction (PP. 19-38) has provided numerous references to the falsity of this concept. He drew most of his evidence from the Bible and other writings by Christian authorities.
The issue of crucifixion, as presented in Christianity, only strengthens the claims of the Jews that they were behind the crucifixion of Jesus (PBUH), that was never true. Instead, let’s contemplate on what the Qur’an says about the issue of crucifixion:
“And due to their breaking their covenant, and their rejection of the Signs Of Allah, and their slaying the prophets injustly, and their saying ‘Our hearts are sealed’ No ! Rather Allah hath imprinted upon their hearts due to their denial therefore they believe but a little (155) And due to their denial, and their saying about Mary great blasphemy (156) And their saying ‘We killed the Messiah Jesus son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah’ but they killed him not, Nor did they crucify him. Only a likeness of that was shown to them. And those who differed about it are in doubt of it; they have no knowledge of it, only conjecture to follow, and with certainty they did not kill him. Rather Allah raised him up unto Himself; and Allah is Ever-Powerful, Ever-Wise. And there is not one of the people of the book except that he will believe in him before his death, and on the day of Judgement he will be a witness against them.” (4:155-159)
In the Qur'anic verses above, there is a catalogue of iniquities of which the Jews were guilty, and for these iniquities we must understand some such words as: They are under divine displeasure”.
Their (the Jews) iniquities were: (1) they broke their Covenant; (2) they rejected Allah’s guidance as conveyed by His messengers; (3) they killed Allah’s messengers and incurred a double guilt which included murder and that of deliberate defiance of Allah’s law; and (4) they imagined themselves arrogantly self-sufficient, which means a blasphemous closing of their hearts forever against the admission of Allah’s grace. Then begins another series of iniquities from a different point of view: (1) that they rejected faith; (2) that they made false charges against a godly woman like Mary, who was chosen by Allah to be the mother of Jesus; (3) that they boasted of having killed Jesus when they were victims of their own self-hallucination; (4) that they hindered people from Allah’s way; and (5) that by means of usury and fraud they oppressed their fellow-men.
The false charge against Mary was that she was unchaste. Such a charge is bad enough to make against any women, how about Mary the mother of the prophet of Allah, Jesus (PBUH). They rejected his message from the beginning by ridiculing Allah’s power through his extraordinary birth (see The Qur’an 17: 27-28) . Chastity of women is highly respected because it is an essential aspect of their dignity and honor that nobody may doubt without strong evidence which is four eye witnesses that she has committed an unchaste act. If a person fails to do so, that person will be flogged with eighty lashes and debarred from being a competent witness. (See the verse that talks about this in The Qur’an 24:4)
Other sects of Christianity like the Basilidans rejected the issue of crucifixion of Jesus (PBUH) and believed that some one else was substituted for him. The Docetae (another sect of Christians) held that Christ never had a real physical or natural body, but only an apparent or phantom body. The gospel of St. Barnabas supported the theory that Christ was substituted on the cross.
Moreover, the Christians say that Christ (PBUH) was a man and a god at the same time. He purposely allowed the unbelievers to crucify him; so Jesus (god to them) would trick Satan. They claim that Jesus concealed his identity as god, so Satan would not know him. They say that he allowed his foes to take him, beat him up and spit on his face. According to them, he also allotted them to crucify him and put the thorns on his head; and showed the fear of death. Then, he started saying:
" Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachtani? which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).
So, the Devil will not know that he is “God” or "the son of God”. Satan wants to take his soul to hell fire as he did to Noah, Abraham, Moses and other prophets (PBUT) and believers. Therefore, God will argue against Satan by saying, “ For what reason did you take my soul?” Satan would reply, “ Because of your sin”. Then god's human side would reply: “ I have no sins like other prophets. They had sins by which they deserve that their souls be thrown in hell fire.” They (the Christians) also say that this way God was able to establish a pretext (evidence) on Satan. Therefore, it became permissible for god to punish Satan and save the children of Adam from Hell-fire.
Such claims are full of falsity in relating injustice to God the Almighty. Who dares to speak about God in such away? This has indeed terribly rebuked the knowledge of God, His wisdom and justice in an unprecedented manner. God says:
“Say: ‘if the ocean were supply (Ink) for the words of my Lord the ocean would run out before the words of my Lord would run out, and even were we to bring the same supply as it with it’ ”. (Qur’an 18:109)
We will go through testing these claims in a logically organized manner from several angels.
If we accept that Jesus (PBUH) was saying "Eloi ... Eloi ... lima shabachtani ?” and he was not telling the truth but just doing so just to deceive Satan. He, then, is accused of lying. Thus Muslims believe that a prophet of God will never lie, since all the prophets of God are infallible. The only other alternative is that Jesus (PBUH) did not know that he was the “son of God” and this is absolutely out of the question. Therefore, we are left with the third, and most probable option which is that Jesus (PBUH) was a man.
IV. What is the real nature of Christ (PBUH)?
If Satan has taken the children of Adam for their father’s sin, then there is no difference between the human nature of Christ and other humans. There are many
places in the Bible where Jesus (PBUH) said that he was (or referred to himself as) the son of man among which:
a. " Come to see, a man who told me everything I ever did.. ( John 4:29)
b. " Ye men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, A MAN approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, Which God did by him in the midst of you, as you yourselves also know.” (Acts 2:22)
In fact, Jesus (PBUH) was never quoted in the Bible as saying that he was the son of God. In addition to the fact that other prophets of God were referred to in the Bible as the son of God as in; (Psalms 2: 7) where David was referred to as the son of God;
" He said to me, “you are my Son; today I have become your Father”
Why is not David (PBUH) considered “a son of God” also in the same way as Jesus (PBUH) has been perceived?
V. What is the fate of Adam’s (PBUH) progeny?
If they say that the generations of people after Christ were like those who came before him; how can it be that Satan was allowed to take hold of the previous generations but not the latter ones when they are equally related to Adam (PBUH)? They have also committed greater sins than those of the prophets of God before them. How come Satan was given the chance to punish the preceding prophets to Jesus and relieving tyrants and unbelievers proceeding Jesus (PBUH) from punishment?
VI. Who gave Satan the Authority?
The claim that Satan was allowed to drive the children of Adam into hell could only have one of the following two entailments; either that what Satan did represents injustice committed on his part against the offspring of Adam, or that it is an act of justice.
- If such an action is justice, then Satan shouldn’t be blamed, and there would be no excuse for Christ to prevent him from carrying out justice. Furthermore Satan should be granted the opportunity to take hold of both those before, and those after Jesus (PBUH).
- If this action is injustice on the part of Satan, yet God did not prevent him from doing it before the coming of Christ then we are faced with one of two conclusions; either God was incapable – I declare His remoteness from such a claim – of preventing such an injustice; or He was able to stop it but He did not, then it was right not to prevent it. If it is right not to prevent it at one time then it is right not to prevent it at all times; likewise if it is wrong at one time then it is wrong at all times.
VII. Should Satan be punished?
If Satan had been excused to take people to hell before Christ came because of their father’s sin, then there is no need to persecute or even blame him. If Satan was not excused then there is no need to deceive him by holding him responsible for his crimes, because he deserved persecution.
If Jesus (PBUH) did not establish evidence on Satan before crucifixion and he did not crucify him, Satan could say that he did not know that this man represented the human side of God; and God had permitted him to take the children of Adam to hell. This (Jesus) was one of them. I had no knowledge that you had been incarnated with him. Had I known that, I would have glorified him. Therefore, I am excused in doing that, so do not practice injustice against me.
We could assume that Satan might say therein; “Oh my God! this is the only human that I have mistakenly taken his soul. However, I have the right to take the souls of people after him (Christ) as I had it before him, due to either their father’s sin or their own sins”. If what the Christians say is true, then God would need another pretext to hold Satan responsible for what he has done.
VIII. Was Satan given permission to deceive?
If we say that Adam (PBUH) has committed a sin and his children have also committed sins through Satan’s deception, then is it up to God or Satan to punish them for their sins? If we think that any reasonable person would say that Satan has the right to deceive the children of Adam, then will he be granted the authority to persecute them all without God’s permission?? Is not this claim borrowed from the Magians who say that every evil sin and persecution for it is carried out by the Satan? God has nothing to do with these things. He does not persecute anybody for the sins that he or she has committed. No doubt that such beliefs have found their way into Christianity from Magianism. Therefore, there is no evidence to support these claims, neither from the revealed books nor from any of the disciples. So, the Marinates sect of Christianity is basically a combination of Mazdasim and Christianity. Their leader “Mani” was a Magian-Christian. Indeed, the relationship between the two religions is very strong.
Has Satan persecuted the children of Adam and sent them to hell with or without the permission of God? If they believe that it was with the permission of God, then Satan does not deserve to be persecuted; if it was not with the permission of God, then is it fair to say that God would allow Satan to practice such injustice? If this were allowed by God to happen at one time, then it would be allowed at all times, and vice versa. There is no difference between the time before Jesus and the time after him.
IX. Could not God stop Satan?
Could God stop Satan and persecute him without this scheme (God’s incarnation in a human form, in the character of Jesus as claimed by Christians to deceive Satan and made him think that (Christ) was a man), and would it be right for God to do so? If the answer is yes, then God does not need to plot a scheme to deceive Satan and crucify Himself or “His son, Jesus”. Was it an obligation upon God to practice justice on Satan by stopping him from his mischievous acts? If it were not, then Satan would be permitted to operate his evil doings at all times since there is no difference between one time and another. If the Christians claimed that God was incapable of stopping Satan, then they would be accusing God of being weak (powerless) to restrain Satan. Such a perception of God is considered by all religions as the worst type of disbelief. Such a conclusion is similar to the atheists’ claim that light could not prevent the world from evil.
X. Did God allow crucifixion of Jesus?
How about what the disbelieving Jews have done to Christ (PBUH), by helping the Roman soldiers, as claimed, to crucify him (according to the Christian belief)? (See Matthew 26: 47-75) Were they obeying or disobeying God by doing so? If they were obeying God, then the Jews who crucified Christ (PBUH) deserve a reward from God for their obedience, just like any other obeying believers. In fact, nearly all Christians agree that the Jews were the greatest sinners among men and the worst creatures of God. Not only that, but they also curse them and would go on to the extent of permitting the shedding of their blood.
They have designated a time to persecute the Jews at the last days of their fasting to commemorate the days of crucifixion. Moreover, if those Jews were disobedient, could not God prevent them from crucifying Christ? If God could not, then He would not be able to prevent Satan from oppressing the coming generations. If God could prevent people from committing sins and He did not, then He was able to stop Satan with no need for such a scheme to deceive him.
On the other hand, if the act of crucifixion were approved by God, then it would be alright to give Satan the ability to oppress the children of Adam (PBUH) in the past and in the future. Therefore, there would have been no need for God to deceive Satan.
By now, we have come to realize that there is no doubt that any mature person will recognize the corruption that has come to Christianity. The purpose here is to explain some of the discrepancies that they have as excuses for themselves in order not to accept believing in Allah, in His book (The Qur’an), in His Prophet (Mohammed (PBUH)) and in His religion (Al-Islam). Allah is just and does not order people to believe in or do what they can not. God, praise be to Him, has never asked people for anything that is beyond their ability. It is unfortunate that Christians continue to attribute unspeakable injustice to God. No believer has ever done so before.
XI. How does Islam view man?
Every human being, Islam affirms, stands to benefit from these divine dispensations. The road to felicity is a free and open highway which anyone may tread of his own accord. Everybody is innately endowed with all these rights and privileges. God has granted them to all without discrimination. “Nature”, “the earth”, "the heavens” - all belong to each and every human.
Indeed, God has done all this and even more! He has implanted His own religion (Fitrah) into every human birth. The true religion is innate, with which all humans are equipped.
Behind the dazzling religious diversity of mankind stands an innate religion inseparable from human nature. This is the primordial religion, Ur-religion, the one and only true religion.
“The religion with Allah is Islam: Nor did the People of the Book differ except after the knowledge had come to them out of greed [and jealousy] between them; and whoever denies the signs of Allah, Allah is certainly swift in calling to account”. (Qur’an 3:19).
Everyone possesses it unless acculturation and indoctrination, misguidance, corruption or dissuasion have taught him otherwise. Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) said:" Every newborn child is born on the innate nature (Islam: complete surrender to Allah). Then his parents change him into Judaism, Christianity or Magianism.
Finally, Islam entertains no idea of "the fall of man”, no concept of “original sin”. It holds no man to stand in an innate, necessary predicament out of which he can not pull himself. Man, it holds, is innocent. He is born with his innocence. Indeed, he is born with a thousand given perfections, with faculties of understanding, and an innate sense with which to know the true God. In this all men are equal, since it follows from their very existence, from their creation. This is the basis for Islamic Universalism.
To summarize, this paper presents some of the possible logical arguments concerning the idea of the "Original Sin” as the most important belief in Christianity on which beliefs like crucifixion and salvation have been built. We conclude by summarizing all the logical possibilities in regard to Christian beliefs around the idea of “The Original Sin”;
- The first position assumes that God does what ever He wants with no wisdom, rationality or justice. Just like what the determinists say.
- The second position assumes that God performs justice which is required of people (using people's standards); as it is the claim of the fatalists.
- The third position assumes that God is All Just and He is free from committing all forms of injustice. However, His justice differs from that of His creation.
Based on the three assumptions mentioned above, we will examine the Christians’ belief regarding the idea of the "Original Sin", the Crucifixion of Christ (PBUH) and putting Satan in charge of taking his soul. Therefore, three arguments will be advanced to account for these claims.
- If we follow the first assumption, then God has the right to give Satan power over the children of Adam and persecute them all without any sin that they might have committed. So, there is no need to scheme a pretext for Satan.
- If we take the second assumption into consideration, we know if one realizes that one of his servants had commanded another person to commit a sin that the master dislikes, it would be just for him to persecute both the one who commanded and the one who obeyed. It would not be just to empower the unjust (the commanding one) to punish the commanded one. It is not just either to empower the unjust commander to transgress against the offspring of the commanded one who did not participate in their father’s sin. If we say that he has the right to enslave them because their father had obeyed him, then he should have the right to hold the ancestors and the offspring accountable. Therefore, it is not right to withdraw his right by deceiving him. If he has the right to hold them responsible for their father’s sins, then he is free to punish them both, the forefathers and the offsprings.
If it is said that after Satan had taken the human side of Jesus (PBUH), he was then prevented from taking Adam’s progeny thereafter. If it were so, this sin of Satan would be the least of all his sins, because he had not know that he (Jesus (PBUH), according to the Christian belief, was representing the human side of God. If Satan had been given the permission to enslave the offspring of a man then enslaved one thinking that he was a man but was not then this mistake would not prevent him from enslaving the rest. Thus, if Satan mistakenly took Jesus (PBUH) as a son of man, this should not prevent him from taking the rest.
- The third assumption is that God’ Justice is not like that of His creatures’, but rather it is a characteristic of His justice in that He does not lessen the merits of anyone and does not punish anybody but for what he or she has committed. Therefore, it is not right for God to punish the children of Adam for their father’s sin. It is also not right for God to punish the prophets who have no sin, since all the prophets are infallible and innocent.
So, If they die with no sin for which they deserve to be punished, how can they be punished after they die for their father’s sin even if we assume that he (Adam) had died insisting on his sin, although this is a false assumption. And if we also make another false assumption that the prophets have sins for which they deserve to be punished after death and the empowerment of Satan is to punish them, then people who are not prophets and came after Christ deserve punishment also. How can we accept justice that poses an illogical double standard by allowing the punishment of prophets and not punishing those who are subordinate to them.
The idea of crucifixion as attributed to the theme of the “Original Sin” is not incompatible with only human intellect and understanding of justice, but also is contradictory to the teachings of the Bible itself. Ezekiel (18:20) reads:
“The soul who sins is the one who will die. the son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him.”