3) The Major Means of Forgiving Sins in Islam:
It is obvious that sins, according to Islam, occur due to one's own deeds. They cannot be inherited from parents or grandparents. Falling into sins is the result of insincere intentions regarding faith, actions and words. It is also the result of not following the words of Allah and the teachings of His Messenger (peace be upon him). What are the best ways (established by Islam) of having sins forgiven?
a) Forgiving Sins through Repudiating Tainted Religions and Embracing Islam instead:
Many people have been accustomed to embracing a number of pagan religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism and Zoroastrianism. Also, a few distorted religions, which had been formally true; have always been adopted by millions of people. In these religions, polytheism replaced monotheism and numerous mythical stories were added to the original texts, turning them into a peculiar mixture. Judaism and Christianity are striking examples of such distorted religions.
If any of these religions is embraced by someone after Islam has been revealed to the Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him), it will not be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter, he will be
a loser. Allah says in the Holy Qur'an, "If anyone desires a religion other than Islam (submission to Allah), never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter he will be in the ranks of those who have lost."
According to the various interpretations of this verse, Islam is not a sect or an ethnic religion. All Religion is one, for the Truth is one. It was the religion preached by all the earlier Prophets. So Islam was the Truth taught by all the inspired Books. In essence, it amounts to a consciousness of the Will and Plan of Allah and a joyful submission to that Will and Plan. If anyone wants a religion other than that, he is false to his own nature, as he is false to Allah's Will and Plan. Such a one cannot expect guidance, for he has deliberately renounced guidance.
Allah says in the Holy Qur'an, "Who can be better in religion than one who submits his whole self to Allah, does good, and follows the way of Abraham the true in faith? For Allah did take Abraham for a friend";and "Say: Shall we tell you of those who lose most in respect of their deeds? Those whose efforts have been wasted in this life, while they thought that they were acquiring good by their works?" Ibn Taimeyah, Islam's greatest scholar, interpreted this verse as follows: "Those who prided themselves on their works in this life,
and now find that those works are of no avail, their loss is all the greater because they had a misplaced confidence in their own deeds or in the assistance of false protectors." Allah is the only Protector: no one else's protection is of any use. Many people have such a smug sense of self-righteousness that while they go on doing wrong, they think that they are acquiring merit. The sincere are those who believe in their spiritual responsibility and act as in Allah's sight.
When Islam was revealed to Mohammed (peace be upon him), all the roads except one were blocked before truth-seekers: the road to Islam. If anyone with a religion other than Islam meets Allah, it will not be accepted. Explaining Allah's words, "And have chosen for you Islam as your religion ", Imam Al-Alusi says that this verse deals with the backsliding of the Jews and Christians from their pure religions to which the coping stone was placed by Islam. As a logical corollary to the corruption of the earlier religions of Allah, Islam is now the only acceptable religion.
Allah's mercy on mankind is so great that it gives those who abandon paganism or turn away from distorted religions and willingly embrace Islam the opportunity to have all their former sins eradicated as if they were born anew. Allah says in the Holy Qur'an, "Say to the Unbelievers, if (now)
they desist (from Unbelief), their past would forgiven them; but if they persist, the punishment, of those before them is already (a matter warning for them)."In this verse Allah assigns Messenger (peace be upon him) to ask the Unbelievers to cease from fighting the Believe and from the persecution of truth. If they do, their past wicked deeds will be remitted; if not they will be punished for their unjust persistence.
Allah says in the Holy Qur'an, "Those who reject Allah and hinder (men) from the Path Allah, - their deeds will Allah bring to naught. But those who believe and work deeds of righteousness, and believe in the (Revelation) send down to Mohammed-for it is the Truth from the. Lord, - He will remove from them their ills and improve their condition. This because those who reject Allah follow falsehood. While those who believe follow the Truth from their Lord: Thus does Allah set forth for men their lessons similitudes."
This passage means that whatever the Unbelievers do will miss its mark, because Allah is the Source of all energy and life. If the wicked try to persecute men or seduce them from the Truth, the result will be the opposite of what they intend. The word 'bal' (translated as 'condition') denotes state or condition, whether external, or of the heart and
mind. Both meanings apply here. The more the wicked rage, the better will be the position of the righteous, and Allah will make it easier and easier for the righteous to love and follow the Truth.
Allah sent down (bestowed) His mercy and forgiveness on those who believe in Him and His Messenger. Allah says in the Holy Qur'an, "O ye that believe in His Messenger, and he will bestow on you a double portion of his mercy: He will provide for you a Light by which ye shall walk (straight in your path), and He will forgive you (your past): for Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful."
The jinns (a class of spirits of earth inhabitants that assume various forms and exercise supernatural activities) are also urged to believe in Islam; and this belief is the way to the remittance of some of their sins. Allah tells us a story about the jinns. He says, "They said, 'O our people! We have heard a Book revealed after Moses, confirming what came before it: it guides to the Truth and to a Straight Path. O our people, hearken to the one who invites (you) to Allah, and believe in him: He will forgive you your faults, and deliver you from a Chastisement Grievous." In these verses, 'the one who invites to Allah' refers to the Holy Prophet. So if the jinns believe in Allah and His Prophet, Allah will forgive them their sins on their repentance and
amendment of their lives, and save them the Penalty of the future life.
The people of the Book (the adherents of Judaism and Christianity) have always been commanded to follow the Path of Mohammed (peace be upon him) as a provision for accepting their deeds, and for forgiving them their faults and sins. Allah says in the Holy Qur'an, "If only the people of the Book had believed and been righteous, We should indeed have blotted out their iniquities and admitted them to the Gardens of Bliss. If only they had stood fast by the Torah, the Gospel, and all the revelation that was sent to them from their Lord, they would have eaten both from above them and from below their feet." The reference is to the Jews and the Christians, and to the general enjoyment (physical, social, mental, moral and spiritual) they would experience if they truly believed in Allah and His Messenger, and stopped taking unlawful profit, from usury or trust funds or other ways.