Question: “Can keeping the Five Pillars of Islam get me to heaven?”
Answer: Because God is just, He will punish sin – regardless of how well you keep the Five Pillars.
As a Muslim, you long to reach paradise after you die. But as a sinner, how will you escape God’s judgment? You may think, “My faithfulness in keeping the Five Pillars may outweigh my sins. Hopefully, God will admit me to paradise.”
You strive to keep the Five Pillars of Islam. Five times a day you kneel toward Mecca. The creed (shahadah) often forms on your lips. You bring no bread or water to your mouth during the daylight of Ramadan. You are saving up money for the pilgrimage to Mecca and are freely giving alms to the poor.
But still you question, “Is keeping the Five Pillars enough?”
Your conscience convicts you of failing God’s standard of holiness. How could the holy God accept to paradise someone stained with even a little sin?
Only one sin caused the first man’s downfall. Adam’s sin was not a “big sin” like adultery, murder, or blasphemy. By eating the forbidden fruit, Adam brought the curse of sin and death into the world.
Shall we escape? We who have dishonored our parents, lied to our neighbors, or cheated our customers (Exodus 20)? We sin routinely by putting selfish interests ahead of loving God (Matthew 22:36-40). We proudly overlook or excuse our sins. But God does not overlook or excuse any sin. He will judge every thought, word, and deed (Ecclesiastes 12:14; Matthew 12:36; Revelation 20:12-15).
God is a righteous Judge. Even on earth, a judge must punish sinners. A judge cannot pardon someone who has stolen just because the criminal claims to visit the mosque every Friday and fast during Ramadan. If sin goes unpunished, the law would be disregarded, and God would be dishonored.
God is the just Judge and will not let sin go unpunished, regardless of how well you keep God’s laws or how many good deeds you do. Keeping the Five Pillars cannot get you to heaven. You are a sinner according to God’s Word (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8).
The punishment for our sin is death—eternal death in hell. Our rightful home is hell. We need God’s mercy. But how can God be both merciful and just?
The Bible explains how God’s mercy fits with His justice: “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in [God’s] sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it–the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe” (Romans 3:20-22a).
Keeping the law cannot get us to heaven. Instead, the law reveals our sin. God’s justice requires eternal death in hell for sin, but His mercy provides eternal life in heaven through faith in Jesus. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
As the eternal Son of God, Jesus is one with God the Father. God sent His Son to earth to become man, but Jesus never ceased being God. Born by the power of the Holy Spirit to the virgin Mary, Jesus didn’t inherit Adam’s sin nature. Jesus is called the second Adam (1 Corinthians 15:22). While Adam’s one disobedience brought the curse of sin on the world, Jesus’ perfect life brings the hope of paradise to those who trust in Him.
Jesus took the punishment for sin—death—by dying on the cross on behalf of believing sinners. Then, Jesus rose from the dead, showing He conquered sin and death.
Don’t try to take care of sin on your own. Turn from sin in repentance and turn to Jesus in faith (Luke 24:46-47; Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 3:21-31; Galatians 3:6-14). God forgives believing sinners and gives them eternal life in heaven.
God may be working in your heart, showing you your sin and need for Jesus. Receive God’s gift of eternal life! Trust Jesus as your crucified Savior and follow Him as your resurrected Lord!