Origin of Sin
It may surprise you that many Muslims think Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are basically the same except for different prophets, holy books, places of worship, and religious rituals. Since Islam is chronologically last of the three, many Muslims reason that Islam is most up to date and correct. I was one of them.
There are similarities between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Each teaches that God is the almighty creator of the universe who fully knows us—not just our deeds but also the thoughts and the intentions of our hearts. Judaism, Christianity and Islam also teach that God is holy, righteous and just, yet merciful, patient, and kind.
As it concerns Christianity and Islam, there is common ground. Both profess belief in the first five books of the Old Testament written down by Moses (Pentateuch), the Psalms of David, and the Injil (the teachings of Jesus). Yet upon closer scrutiny, Islam and Christianity are fundamentally different. Consider their respective views of the creation and subsequent human sin.
Both Christianity and Islam believe that God created Adam and Eve, and that He placed them in the garden. In the Qur’an, Adam and Eve were created as free will, thinking, moral beings with a sinless nature living in Jannah (paradise), located in heaven. This is the same paradise to which Muslims want to return after judgment, if Allah so wills.
Surah 51:56 in the Qur’an states that Allah created man exclusively to do his will and worship him: “I (Allah) created the jinn and mankind only that they might worship me.” (Italics added)
In the Qur’an, Allah does not desire a deep, personal, love relationship with mankind.
This contrasts starkly to the God of the Bible. The Bible also says God created Adam and Eve as free will, thinking, moral beings with a sinless nature. However, God made people in His own image. As His image bearers, God gave Adam and Eve dominion over the garden, located on earth rather than in heaven. The Bible says that Adam and Eve experienced a deep, dependent, and personal love relationship with God and each other. They enjoyed complete acceptance, security, and significance in their relationship with God.
Possessing free will, Adam and Eve were therefore responsible for their actions. So, when they disobeyed God, they brought judgment upon themselves and their unity with God was severed. They now possessed a sin nature, physical death entered the world, and rulership of the earth changed over to Satan.
Christianity knows this event as “The Fall” because we, as Adam and Eve’s descendants, are heirs to spiritual separation from God, a sin nature, and life in a broken world characterized by disease, relational alienation, suffering, and death.
Like Adam and Eve, our rebellion today creates a spiritual chasm between us and a perfect God—a chasm beyond our ability to bridge. Consequently, every person is confronted with physical death and the spiritual death that is eternal separation from God. Because God is just, He rightly demands a penalty be paid for sin. This is the troubling message of the Bible.
Islam teaches something fundamentally different. When Adam and Eve sinned, they were expelled from paradise and demoted to earth. According to Islam, the earth is neither fallen nor corrupted. Living on earth is not a punishment for people but a testing ground, where Allah evaluates each person on his or her conformance to his will to determine an individual’s worthiness to return to Paradise in the next life.
In other words, Islam holds that people can earn their way back to God by doing Allah’s will. The Bible teaches that people are incapable of earning God’s favor: Imperfect sinners can never pay the penalty for their sin to a morally perfect God.
Islam rather teaches that when Adam and Eve repented to Allah, he showed them mercy and forgiveness. Muslims reject the doctrine of “the original sin” and believe that man's nature at birth is like Adam—pure and sinless. Surah 23:13-‐16 suggests that physical death is a natural process built into creation by Allah.
Islam says that even though man is born sinless, outside evil influences will cause him to sin, and it is almost impossible to remain sinless in the long‐run. Surah 16:61 suggests that if Allah were to punish men for their sins, not a single creature could be spared. The Bible agrees that apart from God’s mercy, all people would be spiritually condemned.
The good news of Christianity dismissed by Islam is in the teachings of Jesus (the Injil) and prophesied in Pentateuch and the Psalms. God provides a way to satisfy His demand for sin’s just penalty and His desire to give mercy to sinners. The Bible teaches that Jesus paid the penalty of death for humanity.
Persons who believe this and ask for Jesus to pay their penalty for sin will receive God’s mercy and forgiveness—and enter back into a deep personal relationship with God.
Footnote: The dictionary describes Jinn as spiritual beings, lower than the angels, capable of appearing in human and animal forms and inﬂuencing human kind for either good or evil. A popularized example in the West is the character of Genie from the movie Aladdin. Unlike western culture, which views these characters as good and helpful, Muslim culture views Jinn as demonic. The closest thing to jinn in Christian belief are demons.