Question: "Can keeping the Five Pillars of Islam get me to heaven?"
Answer: Because God is just, He requires a payment for sin – regardless of how well the Five Pillars are kept.
Are you a faithful Muslim? If so, you truly believe in one Allah, Creator of the universe, and Muhammad, His prophet. After your death, you long to reach paradise, but how will you escape hell? “Ah!” you say, “My faithfulness in keeping the Five Pillars will outweigh my sins.” Five times a day you kneel towards Mecca. The creed (shahadah) often forms on your lips. To your mouth comes no bread or water during the daylight of Ramadan. You are saving up money for the pilgrimage to Mecca, while freely giving alms to the poor.
But still, you question, “Is it 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? God is a righteous Judge. Even on earth, a judge must punish sin. A judge can’t 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 Allah would be dishonored.
God is just and will not let sin go unpunished – regardless of how well the Five Pillars are kept or how many good deeds are done. Heaven is for the perfect alone. Only one sin caused the first man’s downfall. This sin was not a “big sin” like adultery, murder, or blasphemy. By eating the forbidden fruit, Adam’s one disobedience brought the curse of sin on the world.
Shall we escape? We who have dishonored our parents, lied to our neighbors, or cheated our customers? We sin routinely by putting selfish interests ahead of loving God. Will we go to heaven with sin – even if we keep the Five Pillars?
If we were honest, we would admit that our rightful home is hell. We need Allah’s mercy. But how can Allah be both merciful and just? The Qur’an instructs you to turn to the Bible with such questions (Surah 10:94).
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.” (Injeel Sharif Romans 3:20-22).
Keeping the law cannot get us to heaven. Instead, the law reveals our sin. God’s justice requires death for sin, but His mercy provided a substitute – Jesus – to die for our sin.
Since Jesus/Isa was born by the power of the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, He didn’t inherit Adam’s sin nature. Jesus is called the second Adam (Al-Imran 3:59; 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.
He died on the cross to pay the punishment of sin for those who believe in Him. God proved the sacrifice conquered sin by raising Jesus from the dead. He saves all who turn from sin and trust Jesus, not good works. Our sin triumphed over, we can have a relationship with God and go to heaven.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is He not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since indeed God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith is one. Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law. . . . For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 3:23-31; 6:23).
To receive God’s free gift of eternal life, trust Jesus as your crucified Savior and follow Him as your resurrected Lord!