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    Forgiveness vs Atonement

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    Does the justice of Allah require a sacrificial payment or an off-setting good deed to atone for sin, or can He graciously forgive sin straight away with only the sinner asking Him for forgiveness in sincere repentance?

    First to clarify the definition of 2 important words:
    Atone - to make amends or reparation, as for an offense or a crime
    Forgive - to grant pardon for or remission of (an offense, debt, etc.)

    From a Christian perspective, does Allah forgive (cancel, erase) a Christian of his sin or is his debt of sins atoned (paid, compensated) for by Jesus' Blood? One may see it as nit-picking but if a debt is forgiven then it is cancelled as a free gift without any payment from anyone. I see an atonement as a payment to offset or substitute for that debt even if the one to whom the debt is owed makes arrangement for its payment. If the debt is to Allah, then I don't see how He can pay or sacrifice Himself for something that is owed to Him. It makes more sense that out of His mercy and with a figurative sweep of His hand, then the sin debt vanishes.

    A human repents by feeling regret, asking for forgiveness and intending to not repeat the sin, but how does he make amends? In Islam we make amends or atonement for our sins by offering additional charity, fasts or prayers, but are those deeds required for forgiveness? We have the concept of offsetting sins with good deeds akin to a balancing scale of justice, but this is seen as 'earning' one's salvation. Isn't Allah able to forgive sin with only repentance or is an atonement or payment for sin debt also required?

    I personally see that Allah is merciful and forgiving along the lines of "...those who remember God and implore forgiveness for their sins if they do something shameful or wrong themselves - who forgives sins but God?..." (Qur'an, 3:135) If Allah can forgive sins, doesn't that completely negate the basic premise of Christianity - Jesus' supposed sacrifice on the cross as the only possible means of reconciliation with Allah?

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    Re: Forgiveness vs Atonement

    This question came up in a recent discussion with a Christian and his wife. I see our additional good deeds as an offering before Allah (swt) in penance, but that in no way means that Allah (swt) will accept them or that they forgiveness will be granted. I see penance as being important to Catholics, but not to Protestants. I also see that additional worship, charity and good deeds are important to a Muslim as he pleads for forgiveness.

    It also seems that punishment according to the shariah is also an expiation for sin as exemplified by Ma'iz who came to Prophet Muhammad (saaws) confessing adultery and getting stoned to death as punishment. According to a hadith in Sahih Muslim, Prophet Muhammad said of Ma'iz, "He (Ma'iz) has made such a repentance that if that were to be divided among a people, it would have been enough for all of them." And Allah (swt) knows best what is correct.

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    Re: Forgiveness vs Atonement

    The Christian concept is based on the premise that human beings are inherently sinful because of "original sin"----that is all human beings are born with "sin". In Islam---nobody is born with sin---we are inherently good (Judaism also like Islam does not have "original sin" and everyone is not born in "sin"). In Islam, (Prophet) Adam (pbuh) is forgiven....so God definitely forgives those who repent if he so chooses.

    IMO, in Islam, amends/atonement for wrongdoing would be in the form of hell. However, when wrongdoing is against another human being---then justice requires that amends/atonement be made in life---by going to jail, or compensation or other means of paying for the wrongdoing. That is why the Quran does not have any (worldly) punishments for things such as not praying---or other things that are between man and God---those things are for God to Judge alone. The Quran only speaks of punishments between man and man---for example, the Quran requires 4 witnesses for adultery----which means the offence of adultery was not a private matter between 2 parties but more of a public situation.....thereby making it an offense between man and man instead of man and God. (---any offence between man and God is judged by God alone) ----In reality, in some countries, the lines are not clear and some women are punished for the crime of adultery without any proof, or witnesses...often when they are actually vicitms of rape.

    There are also other situations that require a bit of ijtihad---for example, there was a case in S.E.A. where a woman was going to be punished for drinking beer in a bar---the woman was a Muslim----a bar is a public place---however, would this "offence" come under the jurisdiction of man or God?....if drinking caused harm to another--this would be a clear case of requiring justice between man and man----but what if the drinking did not cause any harm to anyone (except perhaps the individual)?, this can be applied to other instances such as immodest clothes, use of drugs...eating in public during Ramadan.....etc. IMO, In a global, multicultural world---one needs to contemplate Justice with compassion and mercy.

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    Re: Forgiveness vs Atonement

    How do you define 'forgiveness of sin'?

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    Re: Forgiveness vs Atonement

    I define 'forgiveness of sin' as an action that only Allah (swt) can do in the same manner that He is the only one who can punish sin. Punishment and forgiveness are flip sides of the same coin. Forgiveness is an erasing of sin from the slate of a person's record as if they never occurred. Forgiveness is different from atonement in that atonement is a payment made to offset or cancel out the sin. In Islam there is nothing whatsoever that I can ever do to benefit Allah (swt) in the smallest way such that I deserve to be rewarded for it and if I am granted Paradise it will be due solely to the mercy and compassion of my Lord. Likewise, in Islam there is nothing that I can do to harm Allah (swt) such that He can not forgive me if I repent of it. If I harm another fellow creature or human being, then on Judgement Day they may exact retribution on me if they had not forgiven me in this life. This is different from sins against Allah (swt) such as ascribing partners with Him as I once did as a Christian. I have repented of that and asked Allah (swt) for forgiveness. Ascribing partners with Allah (swt) is the one sin that will not be forgiven if one does not repent before his death. Since there are many sins that we commit that we are not even aware of to repent of, I believe that Allah (swt) will forgive much on Judgment Day. Regarding the Christians who worshiped him, Jesus is quoted in the Quran 5:118 as saying, "If You punish them, they are Your slaves, and if You forgive them, verily You, only You, are the All-Mighty, the All-Wise ."

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    Re: Forgiveness vs Atonement

    When you say that 'forgiveness of sin' is like erasing and making as if it never happen. How does this translate in real life.

    For example if you cut someone's leg, how does 'erasing' play out?

    About ascribing partners to God. Don't worry brother, I know that God is self-sufficient, God need no one.
    Last edited by Amigo; 05-23-2011 at 09:58 PM.

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    Re: Forgiveness vs Atonement



    Quote Originally Posted by MustafaMc View Post
    Does the justice of Allah require a sacrificial payment or an off-setting good deed to atone for sin, or can He graciously forgive sin straight away with only the sinner asking Him for forgiveness in sincere repentance?
    Christians believe in sacrificial payment when they say that Jesus died for their sins. This concept makes no sense whatsoever. A God who asks that a payment be made before He can forgive a man for his sins would be a horrible God.....certainly not a God who I would find worthy of any worship!

    Christians further claim that only a sacrifice as big as God Himself could wipe out the sins of man! And so, they believe that God came in the form of Jesus to offer Himself as a sacrifice so that the payment could be made.

    It's a strange thing..... that concept of "original sin". Adam disobeyed God and because of that sin entered the world.....and God was unable to forgive Adam for his disobedience even though he repented. It's a big question.....why wasn't God able to forgive Adam? If He had done so, there would have been no need to come down to earth to offer His Being as a sacrifice.

    But the Qur'an makes things absolutely clear. There's no doubt that God created Adam and Eve and that they disobeyed God when they went near the forbidden tree. But we're informed that God turned to Adam in mercy and forgave him. It was simple, sincere repentance that Adam learned from His Lord. That alone was sufficient....and God did not demand any sacrificial payment from Adam in order to forgive him. God does not need any "payment".

    Just as we have not paid anything to God for our five senses, for all the blessings, favors and mercy that He has shown towards us, we do not need to pay anything in order to receive His forgiveness. Sincere repentance is all that's needed.....and this is only for our own benefit, not God's.

    Alhamdulillahir rabbil al ameen!
    Forgiveness vs Atonement


    It is pointless to watch other people's houses crumbling when our own house is in need of repair and attention.


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    Re: Forgiveness vs Atonement

    I agree with you that it does not make sense that Allah (swt) would require a payment for the penalty of sin to be offset. I believe that Christians have trouble seeing the distinction I am trying to make between "forgiveness" and "atonement". The atoning sacrifice that Jesus supposedly made on the cross is not consistent with the forgiveness in Lord's Prayer or the parabales that Jesus spoke to his disciples.

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    Re: Forgiveness vs Atonement



    Quote Originally Posted by MustafaMc View Post
    The atoning sacrifice that Jesus supposedly made on the cross is not consistent with the forgiveness in Lord's Prayer or the parabales that Jesus spoke to his disciples.
    Yes, isn't it funny? If the sacrifice that Jesus supposedly made on the cross was supposed to pay for all our sins, why why why do Christians still ask the Lord to forgive them in the Lord's prayer?!

    If the debt has been paid, then in exchange we were supposed to receive the great forgiveness of God. And this forgiveness of God was meant for ALL people on earth, Christians or not!

    This leads to the conclusion that it doesn't even matter if you are not a Christian. You can be an atheist, a Buddhist, a Hindu, a pagan or a sun-worshiper.......it should be perfectly alright with God! There would really be no need for Christian missionaries to leave their homeland and go places to preach their religion!

    Ah! But this is not what happens. You are told that you have to become a Christian in order to be saved! You have to believe that Jesus died for your sins. If you don't then you would not be saved. In other words, you will NOT BE FORGIVEN if you do not accept the notion that God died for your sins! And by the way, you are told that God died for your sins to FORGIVE YOU!!!

    It makes no sense.
    Last edited by Flame of Hope; 05-24-2011 at 06:42 PM.
    Forgiveness vs Atonement


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    Re: Forgiveness vs Atonement

    Quote Originally Posted by Flame View Post




    Yes, isn't it funny? If the sacrifice that Jesus supposedly made on the cross was supposed to pay for all our sins, why why why do Christians still ask the Lord to forgive them in the Lord's prayer?!

    If the debt has been paid, then in exchange we were supposed to receive the great forgiveness of God. And this forgiveness of God was meant for ALL people on earth, Christians or not!

    This leads to the conclusion that it doesn't even matter if you are not a Christian. You can be an atheist, a Buddhist, a Hindu, a pagan or a sun-worshiper.......it should be perfectly alright with God! There would really be no need for Christian missionaries to leave their homeland and go places to preach their religion!

    Ah! But this is not what happens. You are told that you have to become a Christian in order to be saved! You have to believe that Jesus died for your sins. If you don't then you would not be saved. In other words, you will NOT BE FORGIVEN if you do not accept the notion that God died for your sins! And by the way, you are told that God died for your sins to FORGIVE YOU!!!

    It makes no sense.
    Funny you should mention this, because this is one thing I am struggling with right now. As a Christian, whenever I pray (which is not as often as it should be, but that is another matter entirely), I pray directly to God, not to Jesus. The Trinity is something I always took for granted whenever I went to church and school as a kid, but now I am having a hard time trying to figure that one out.

    I joke around with my other Christian friends sometimes and tell them that Old Testament God is cool because he punishes the wrongdoers, and New Testament Jesus is too soft and forgiving. Old Testament God is the angry old man with the shotgun who dares the teenagers to cut across his lawn, and New Testament Jesus is a hippie.

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    Re: Forgiveness vs Atonement

    Quote Originally Posted by Just a Guy View Post
    Old Testament God is the angry old man with the shotgun who dares the teenagers to cut across his lawn, and New Testament Jesus is a hippie.
    You have said it so well!

    Isn't it strange that the God of the Old Testament is so different from the God in the New Testament? One can certainly wonder if it is the SAME God!!!
    Forgiveness vs Atonement


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    Re: Forgiveness vs Atonement

    Quote Originally Posted by Just a Guy View Post
    I pray directly to God, not to Jesus.
    It's heart-warming to hear you say that. May God respond to your prayers and guide you.
    Forgiveness vs Atonement


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    Re: Forgiveness vs Atonement

    Quote Originally Posted by Flame View Post

    You have said it so well!

    Isn't it strange that the God of the Old Testament is so different from the God in the New Testament? One can certainly wonder if it is the SAME God!!!
    Oh believe me, I have wondered that many times over the years. The complete reverse in attitude toward humanity has often made me wonder about that very thing.

    "God, you used to be angry and it was cool. What happened?"

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    Re: Forgiveness vs Atonement

    It is very interesting how all these comments magnify one same problem in understanding God, the fact that God is eternal not temporal...

    God does not change. God is always the same.
    All those words (atonement, etc) and scriptures, are clearly from man.
    They belong to a specific time and place and people and their mentality.
    You can't transport them into the present and expect to grasp them the way the people they were addressed to grasped them with all social and enviromental contexts.

    When the Churc teaches that the Bible is the Word of God, it says, Word, not words.
    This means that God is capable of transmitting a message through human regular lives.
    But the message of God is always integrated and one: God is love.

    You will notice that the Bible starts with a marriage story and ends with an other marriage story
    A prudent ready would be able to grasp the single message the Bible is transmitting through human history.

    The hardship experience with a child in a family gone wrong, will likely use a language inspired from violence while it will be the opposite for a child in a saine family.
    Yet, any family is about love. and the message is always the same no matter what goes not in particular family: love is sacred.
    Reverance inherits blessings.
    Irreverance inherits curses.

    This also lead to the real language of God.
    When God himself spoke to humanity directly, we don't see contradictions or syllables or human speeches. We see full humanity lived according to the perfect Will of God.
    The life of Jesus is the message of God:
    The Word of God comes to men directly:
    [2] The same was in the beginning with God.
    [3] All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
    [4] In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
    [5] And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not - John 1

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    Re: Forgiveness vs Atonement

    As I was saying, I don't use the word 'atonement' here for the reasons mentioned above.

    If you want to hear God speaks, go out in nature, See the message written/spoken in the trees, rivers, stars, mountains, volcanos, earthquakes,... and most importantly man.
    this is the universal language of God to man.
    The OT and the NT were not meant to be public records, they are family books and only family members can understand them for they speak the language they understand.
    They were written out of devotion to celebrate the remembrance of the goodness of God to the Family/Church.

    So if you want to understand the Christian Faith, look before reading. The Christian Faith was most transmitted through the 'full human language' rather than writtings.
    Human can't fit their message only in writtings, how can God fit his in letters. Is God about saving books or saving man?
    Man use other things like signs and symbols, hand gestures, hugs, kiss, etc to transmitt a message.
    Not everything can be contained in letters of scriptures. So is the message of God.
    God can speak to people who don't even know how to read and write.
    This is what's special about Christianity.
    Faith was transmitted primiarly not trough writtings, but through works of love, symbols on Churches windows, icons, songs, etc...the full dimension of the human person.
    This way even a baby can grasp the message without having to worry about written articulations.

    At the end God will not consider the words you understood but the life you lived.

    Having said this, it is headache to oneself to ponder words expecting to prouve them or refute them.
    languages and words have changed through time,
    Man is still of the same nature as God created him.
    If you want to listen to God, look at man, look at Jesus and his life,
    Talk about events and context, not words, especially the words that Jesus himself was not reported saying.
    Last edited by Amigo; 05-24-2011 at 11:24 PM.

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    Re: Forgiveness vs Atonement

    [QUOTE=Amigo;1441569] If you want to hear God speaks, go out in nature, See the message written/spoken in the trees, rivers, stars, mountains, volcanos, earthquakes,... and most importantly man.
    We have this idea in the Holy Quran also.

    The OT and the NT were not meant to be public records, they are family books and only family members can understand them for they speak the language they understand.
    They were written out of devotion to celebrate the remembrance of the goodness of God to the Family/Church.

    We do not have this in Islam. God says we made it easy to understand the Quran.

    Human can't fit their message only in writtings, how can God fit his in letters.

    (If) you are comparing human with God hear, then there is no way for this.

    Man use other things like signs and symbols, hand gestures, hugs, kiss, etc to transmitt a message.
    Not everything can be contained in letters of scriptures. So is the message of God.

    Believe me: if God was not able to put his message in the prophet's mouth, I would not worship my God. Since the prophet is not between us now, we have only what he have said to us in our books. Thats why the first word revealed from the Holy Quran to Mohammed was "READ".

    God can speak to people who don't even know how to read and write.
    This is what's special about Christianity.

    Nothing new: God (ALLAH) did the same with Mohammed through the Arc Angel Gabriel.

    Faith was transmitted primiarly not trough writtings, but through works of love, symbols on Churches windows, icons, songs, etc...the full dimension of the human person.

    So why there are not many people going to these beautiful churches while many go to the mosque where we have only walls?

    This way even a baby can grasp the message without having to worry about written articulations.

    I remember one day I have asked my clever Christian friend in the university: please can you explain to me the Trinity, he said: to be honest: I do not know, it is very complicated.

    At the end God will not consider the words you understood but the life you lived.

    For sure: if God knows that He revealed a not complete book, He will judge you according to it, I guess Gos should be fair!
    But if God have revealed a complete book, then He will say to you: Why you did not follow my clear words ?


    Having said this, it is headache to oneself to ponder words expecting to prouve them or refute them.
    languages and words have changed through time,

    But not God's words.

    Man is still of the same nature as God created him.
    If you want to listen to God, look at man, look at Jesus and his life,

    But Jesus is not here?!
    In Islam if you need to listen to God, read the Holy Quran.



    That was just my comments !
    BRMM

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    Re: Forgiveness vs Atonement

    "It makes no sense."

    ---frankly, is there anything in Christianity that makes sense?...trinity, original sin, crucifixion, salvation--and whatever else they may have---none of it makes any sense whatsoever.......

    There is only One God. He is Just, Compassionate and Merciful. He created for a purpose---our purpose is to do God's will (submission/Islam), and God's will is to have right belief that promotes right intentions that lead to right actions for the benefit of all of God's creation.----there!!!---religion in a nutshell---without the pages and pages of convoluted illogic and unreasonableness......

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    Re: Forgiveness vs Atonement

    Quote Originally Posted by Amigo View Post
    As I was saying, I don't use the word 'atonement' here for the reasons mentioned above
    ....

    At the end God will not consider the words you understood but the life you lived.

    Having said this, it is headache to oneself to ponder words expecting to prouve them or refute them.
    Words are merely tools we use to communicate with other human beings. What I am driving at is the fundamental foundation of religion - which is the reconciliation of imperfect beings with their perfect Creator. The very foundation of Christianity is that since God can't be in the presence of sin, and by default in the presence of sinful beings, then the only possible cleansing of sins is through the offering of a perfect sacrifice which happens to be of God Himself. This concept of an atoning sacrifice is contradictory with the mercy of Allah (swt) which I see as a most fundamental and basic aspect of His Being. The fundamental point is that if Allah (swt) can forgive the smallest sin then He can also forgive the largest sin and there is absolutely no need whatsoever of an atoning sacrifice of a dove, a sheep, a human, or even of Allah (swt) Himself. On the flip side, if an atonement is really required, then the concept of forgiveness of sin is a fairy tale and wishful thinking.

    Furthermore, I see that this distinction is as important as whether or not Jesus was the 'Son of God' or God Himself incarnate.

    Again, for our Cristian members a) can God forgive sin with a figurative sweep of His hand or b) is an atoning sacrifice required for the debt of sin to be paid? If the answer is 'b' then what verse attributed to Jesus makes this concept clearly understandable?

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    Re: Forgiveness vs Atonement

    I just got home from attending a local Christian church support group (as my struggle for the truth continues), and I put to them that I did not understand the concept of Jesus and the Trinity. I even used my analogy from earlier about God being the angry old man and Jesus (peace be upon him) being a hippie. They laughed at my humo(u)r, but couldn't really answer the question.

    So why does Jesus (peace be upon him) always say that he was the "Son of Man" in the New Testament and not the "Son of God?" And where does the Holy Spirit fit into all of this anyway? Those are two things I admit that I am struggling with right now.

    I am considering going to a Qu'ran class at a local masjid tomorrow night. I'll have to call and see if they allow non-Muslims to attend, of course...

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    Re: Forgiveness vs Atonement

    Quote Originally Posted by Just a Guy View Post
    I just got home from attending a local Christian church support group (as my struggle for the truth continues), and I put to them that I did not understand the concept of Jesus and the Trinity. I even used my analogy from earlier about God being the angry old man and Jesus (peace be upon him) being a hippie. They laughed at my humo(u)r, but couldn't really answer the question.

    So why does Jesus (peace be upon him) always say that he was the "Son of Man" in the New Testament and not the "Son of God?" And where does the Holy Spirit fit into all of this anyway? Those are two things I admit that I am struggling with right now.

    I am considering going to a Qu'ran class at a local masjid tomorrow night. I'll have to call and see if they allow non-Muslims to attend, of course...
    So very reminds me of my own self as I struggled to know what the truth was. Believe me, it's a sweet, sweet, sweeeeeet journey going in search of truth. When you find it, it's like you've found the greatest treasure on earth. The joy is indescribable.

    You can read the story of my struggle in search for truth here: How I Became a Muslim
    Forgiveness vs Atonement


    It is pointless to watch other people's houses crumbling when our own house is in need of repair and attention.


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