Islam’s Doctrine of Imputation of Righteousness and Vicarious Death

In this post, I am going to demonstrate that the primary source documents of Islam affirm vicarious sacrifices, substitutionary atonement and the imputation of a person’s righteous deeds to the account of another.

For example, I’ve already mentioned the so-called authentic narrations of Muhammad where he claims that his deity will actually sacrifice Jews and Christians in hell as a ransom for all the sins committed by the Muslims:

Superiority of the believers in the Oneness of Allah and the punishment of the Jews and Christians

8) Narrated Abu Musa: Allah’s Messenger said: On the Day of Resurrection, my Ummah(nation) will be gathered into three groups. One sort will enter Paradise without rendering an account (of their deeds). Another sort will be reckoned an easy account and admitted into Paradise. Yet another sort will come bearing on their backs heaps of sins like great mountains. Allah will ask the angels though He knows best about them: Who are these people? They will reply: They are humble slaves of yours. He will say: UNLOAD the sins from them AND PUT THE SAME OVER the Jews and Christians: then let the humble slaves get into Paradise by virtue of My Mercy.

(This Hadith IS SOUND and mentioned in Mustadrak of Hakim). (110 Hadith Qudsi (Sacred Hadith), translated by Syed Masood-ul-Hasan, revision and commentaries by Ibrahim m. Kunna [Darussalam Publishers and Distributors], pp. 19-20; capital and underline emphasis ours)

432. Abu Musa al-Ash’ari reported that the Messenger of Allah said, “On the Day of Rising, Allah will hand over a Jew or a Christian to every Muslim and say, ‘HERE IS YOUR REDEMPTION FROM THE FIRE.” [Muslim]

In another variant from him is that the Prophet said, “Some of the Muslims will be brought on the Day of Rising WITH SINS THE SIZE OF MOUNTAINS and Allah will forgive them.” (Al-Imam Abu Zakariya Yahya bin Sharaf An-Nawawi Ad-Dimashqi, Riyad as-Salihin (The Meadows of the Righteous), 51. Chapter: On Hope; capital and italic emphasis ours)

(20) CHAPTER. Disbelievers are sent to Hell as SACRIFICE to the Muslims

1937. Abu Musa narrated that the Messenger of Allah said: “When it is the Day of Resurrection, Allah will deliver every Muslim a Jew or Christian and say: ‘THAT IS YOUR SACRIFICE FROM HELL-FIRE.’” (The Translation of the Meanings of Summarized Sahih Muslim (Arabic–English), Compiled by Al-Hafiz Zakiuddin Abdul-Azim Al-Mundhiri [Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, First Edition: February 2000], Volume 2, 62– The Book Of Repentance And Allah’s Great Mercy, pp. 1033-1034; capital emphasis ours)

Here is a different translation of the above hadith, along with a couple of others from Sahih Muslim:


Abu Musa’ reported that Allah’s Messenger said: When it will be the Day of Resurrection Allah would deliver to every Muslim a Jew or a Christian and say: That is your RESCUE from Hell-Fire. (Sahih Muslim, Book 037, Number 6665

Abu Burda reported on the authority of his father that Allah’s Apostle said: No Muslim would die but Allah would admit IN HIS STEAD a Jew or a Christian in Hell-Fire. ‘Umar b. Abd al-‘Aziz took an oath: By One besides Whom there is no god but He, thrice that his father had narrated that to him from Allah’s Messenger. (Sahih Muslim, Book 037, Number 6666)

Abu Burda reported Allah’s Messenger as saying: There would come people amongst the Muslims on the Day of Resurrection with AS HEAVY SINS AS A MOUNTAIN, and Allah would FORGIVE THEM and He would PLACE IN THEIR STEAD the Jews and the Christians. (As far as I think), Abu Raub said: I do not know as to who is in doubt. Abu Burda said: I narrated it to ‘Umar b. ‘Abd al-‘Aziz, whereupon he said: Was it your father who narrated it to you from Allah’s Apostle? I said: Yes. (Sahih Muslim, Book 037, Number 6668)

Talk about a travesty of justice!

Not only does Muhammad’s lord demand that atonement/expiation be made for the forgiveness of sins, he even goes as far as to eternally torture Jews and Christians as a ransom for all the transgressions committed by Muslims!

To get an idea of the kind of pain that Jews and Christians will have to endure for the evil and wickedness committed by Muhammadans, notice how the following verses depict the punishment of hell:

Surely! Those who disbelieved in Our Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) We shall burn them in Fire. As often as their skins are roasted through, We shall change them for other skins that they may taste the punishment. Truly, Allah is Ever Most Powerful, All-Wise. S. 4:56 Hilali-Khan

In front of him (every obstinate, arrogant dictator) is Hell, and he will be made to drink boiling, festering water. He will sip it unwillingly, and he will find a great difficulty to swallow it down his throat and death will come to him from every side, yet he will not die and in front of him, will be a great torment. S. 14:16-17 Hilali-Khan

According to these sadistic texts, Jews and Christians will have their skins roasted over and over again, will be forced to drink boiling water, and endure other kinds of sadistic and barbaric tortures forever because of the sins committed by others!

The foregoing shows that, contrary to the assertion made by Muslim theologians and/or apologists, both the Quran and ahadith affirm that Muhammad’s deity does require atonement/expiation for the forgiveness of sins. 

There’s more. Muhammad further taught that the death of Muslim children would deliver their parents from hell,

Narrated Abu Sa’id: The women requested the Prophet, “Please fix a day for us.” So the Prophet preached to them and said, “A woman whose three children died would be screened from the Hell Fire BY THEM.” Hearing that, a woman asked, “If two died?” The Prophet replied, “Even two (would screen her from the (Hell) Fire. ” And Abu Huraira added, “Those children should be below the age of puberty. ” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Book 23, Number 341

Narrated Anas bin Malik Allah’s Apostle said, “Any Muslim whose three children died before the age of puberty will be granted Paradise by Allah because of His mercy to them.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Book 23, Number 463

4314. It was narrated that ‘Abdullah said: The Messenger of Allah said: Any two Muslims for whom three of their children die before reaching puberty, they will be a strong protection for them against the Fire.” Abu Dharr said: Two of my children died, O Messenger of Allah. He said: “And two.” Ubayy Abul-Mundhir, the leader of the prominent Qur’an reciters, said: One of my children died, O Messenger of Allah. He said: “And one, but that (i.e., the reward) is only (for showing patience) when calamity first strikes.”

Comments: [Saheeh because of corroborating evidence and its isnad is da’eef because it is interrupted] (English Translation of Musnad Ahmad Bin Hanbal: Hadith No. 2823 to 4376, Translated by Nasiruddin Al-Khattab, Edited by Huda Al-Khattab [Darussalam Publishers, 2012], Volume 3, p. 578; underline emphasis ours)

And that someone who dies as a martyr in Islam will save seventy family members by his intercession:

Narrated AbudDarda’:

The Prophet said: The intercession of a martyr will be accepted for seventy members of his family. Grade: SAHIH (Al-Albani) (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 14, Number 2516; capital and underline emphasis ours)

Sunan Ibn Majah

The Chapters on Jihad

It was narrated from Miqdam bin Ma’dikarib that the Messenger of Allah said:

“The martyr has six things (in store) with Allah: He is forgiven from the first drop of his blood that is shed; he is shown his place in Paradise; he is spared the torment of the grave; he is kept safe from the Great Fright; he is adorned with a garment of faith; he is married to (wives) from among the wide-eyed houris; and he is permitted to intercede for seventy of his relatives.”

Grade: Hasan (Darussalam)

English reference: Vol. 4, Book 24, Hadith 2799

Arabic reference: Book 24, Hadith 2905 (

This highlights the efficacious and vicarious nature of a Musilm’s death, in that Allah will forgive and save another soul on the account and for the sake of another who dies in his cause.

The Islamic sources further teach that individuals can perform good deeds on behalf of others, righteous acts which Allah will credit to someone else, such as Hajj by proxy (Hajj-e-Badal):

Narrated ‘Abdullah bin Abbas: Al-Fadl (his brother) was riding behind Allah’s Apostle and a woman from the tribe of Khath’am came and Al-Fadl started looking at her and she started looking at him. The Prophet turned Al-Fadl’s face to the other side. The woman said, “O Allah’s Apostle! The obligation of Hajj enjoined by Allah on His devotees has become due on my father and he is old and weak, and he cannot sit firm on the Mount; may I perform Hajj ON HIS BEHALF?” The Prophet replied, “Yes, you may.” That happened during the Hajj-al-Wida (of the Prophet). (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Book 26, Number 589

Narrated ‘Abdullah bin ‘Abbas: Al-Fadl bin ‘Abbas rode behind the Prophet as his companion rider on the back portion of his she camel on the Day of Nahr (slaughtering of sacrifice, 10th Dhul-Hijja) and Al-Fadl was a handsome man. The Prophet stopped to give the people verdicts. In the meantime, a beautiful woman from the tribe of Khath’am came, asking the verdict of Allah’s Apostle. Al-Fadl started looking at her as her beauty attracted him. The Prophet looked behind while Al-Fadl was looking at her; so the Prophet held out his hand backwards and caught the chin of Al-Fadl and turned his face (to the other side in order that he should not gaze at her). She said, “O Allah’s Apostle! The obligation of Performing Hajj enjoined by Allah on His worshipers, has become due (compulsory) on my father who is an old man and who cannot sit firmly on the riding animal. Will it be sufficient that I perform Hajj ON HIS BEHALF?” He said, “YES.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 74, Number 247

Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas: A woman from the tribe of Juhaina came to the Prophet and said, “My mother had vowed to perform Hajj but she died before performing it. May I perform Hajj ON MY MOTHER’S BEHALF?” The Prophet replied, “Perform Hajj ON HER BEHALF. Had there been a debt on your mother, would you have paid it or not? So, pay Allah’s debt as He has more right to be paid.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 29, Number 77

Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas: A man came to the Prophet and said to him, “My sister vowed to perform the Hajj, but she died (before fulfilling it).” The Prophet said, “Would you not have paid her debts if she had any?” The man said, “Yes.” The Prophet said, “So pay Allah’s Rights, as He is more entitled to receive His rights.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 78, Number 690

Narrated AbuRazin: A man of Banu Amir said: Apostle of Allah, my father is very old, he cannot perform hajj and umrah himself nor can be ride on a mount. He said: Perform hajj and umrah ON BEHALF OF YOUR FATHER. (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 10, Number 1806

Ibn ‘Abbas reported: A man came to the Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) and said: Messenger of Allah, my mother has died (in a state) that she had to observe fasts of a month (of Ramadan). Should I complete (them) on her behalf? thereupon he (the Holy Prophet) said: Would you not pay the debt if your mother had died (without paying it)? He said: Yes. He (the Holy Prophet) said: The debt of Allah deserves more that it should he paid. (Sahih Muslim, Book 006, Number 2555

Ibn Abbas reported: A woman came to the Messenger of Allah and said: Messenger of Allah, my mother has died and there is due from her a fast of vow; should I fast on her behalf? Thereupon he said: You see that if your mother had died in debt, would it not have been paid on her behalf? She said: Yes. He (the Holy Prophet) said: Then observe fast on behalf of your mother. (Sahih Muslim, Book 006, Number 2557)

Abdullah b. Buraida reported on the authority of his father: When we were sitting with the Messenger of Allah a woman came to him and said: I had gifted to my mother a maid-servant, and now she (the mother) has died. Thereupon he (the Holy Prophet) said: There is a definite reward for you and she (the maid-servant) has been returned to you as an inheritance. She (that woman) again said: Fasts of a month (of Ramadan) are due upon her; should I observe them on her behalf? He (the Holy Prophet) said: Observe fasts on her behalf. She (again) said: She did not perform Hajj, should I perform it on her behalf? He (the Holy Prophet) said: Perform Hajj on her behalf. (Sahih Muslim, Book 006, Number 2558)

A’isha reported that a man said to Allah’s Apostle: My mother died all of a sudden, and I think if she (could have the opportunity) to speak she would have (made a will) regarding Sadaqa’. Will I be entitled to reward if I give charity on her behalf? He (the Holy Prophet) said: Yes. (Sahih Muslim, Book 013, Number 4002

A’isha reported that a man came to Allah’s Apostle and said: Allah’s Messenger, my mother died all of a sudden without making any will. I think if (she could have the opportunity) to speak she would have made a Sadaqa. Would there be any reward for her if I give charity on her behalf? He (the Holy Prophet) said: Yes. (Sahih Muslim, Book 013, Number 4003)

Ibn Abbas reported that Sa’d b. Ubida asked Allah’s Messenger for a decision about a vow taken by his mother who had died before fulfilling it. Allah’s Messenger said: Fulfil it on her behalf. (Sahih Muslim, Book 014, Number 4017

Seeing that Muhammad believed that his god would impute the righteous deeds of an individual to another, and even saves or pardons individuals because of the death of someone else, on what theological and/or rational basis do Muslims have for rejecting the biblical witness of God crediting the perfect righteousness and vicarious death of his beloved Son to those who would put their trust in him?

After all, if Allah permits martyrs to intercede and save individuals because they gave up their lives in his cause, then how much more will the only true God accept his beloved Son’s perfect and willing sacrifice, as well as his intercession for every sinner who puts his/her faith in Christ?

“For even the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45

“As they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘Take and eat it. This is My body.’ Then He took the cup, and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them. And they all drank from it. He said to them, ‘This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many.’” Mark 14:22-24

“‘This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. The bread which I shall give for the life of the world is My flesh.’ The Jews therefore quarreled among themselves, saying, ‘How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life. And I will raise him up on the last day.’” John 6:50-54

“But God commends his own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we will be saved from God’s wrath through him. For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we will be saved by his life. Not only so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. Therefore as sin entered into the world through one man, and death through sin; and so death passed to all men, because all sinned. For until the law, sin was in the world; but sin is not charged when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those whose sins weren’t like Adam’s disobedience, who is a foreshadowing of him who was to come. But the free gift isn’t like the trespass. For if by the trespass of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God, and the gift by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many. The gift is not as through one who sinned: for the judgment came by one to condemnation, but the free gift came of many trespasses to justification. For if by the trespass of the one, death reigned through the one; so much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one, Jesus Christ. So then as through one trespass, all men were condemned; even so through one act of righteousness, all men were justified to life. For as through the one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the one, many will be made righteous.” Romans 5:8-19

“What then shall we say about these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who didn’t spare his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how would he not also with him freely give us all things? Who could bring a charge against God’s chosen ones? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, yes rather, who was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.” Romans 8:31-34

“Many, indeed, have been made priests, because they are hindered from continuing by death. But he, because he lives forever, has his priesthood unchangeable. Therefore he is also able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, seeing that he lives forever to make intercession for them. For such a high priest was fitting for us: holy, guiltless, undefiled, separated from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; who doesn’t need, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices daily, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. For he did this once for all, when he offered up himself. For the law appoints men as high priests who have weakness, but the word of the oath which came after the law appoints a Son forever who has been perfected.” Hebrews 7:23-28

“But Christ having come as a high priest of the coming good things, through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation, nor yet through the blood of goats and calves, but through his own blood, entered in once for all into the Holy Place, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled, sanctify to the cleanness of the flesh: how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without defect to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? For this reason he is the mediator of a new covenant, since a death has occurred for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first covenant, that those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.” Hebrews 9:11-15

In light of such Islamic teachings, Muslims have no rational, theological, historical and/or philosophical grounds to reject the inspired witness of the Holy Scriptures that God credits the perfect righteousness and vicarious death of his Son to the account of all those who trust in Christ. The only reason they have for denying this fact of revelation is their unwillingness to accept that Jesus died on the cross and was buried, only to rise again on the third day. Yet that is a discussion for another time.

4 thoughts on “Islam’s Doctrine of Imputation of Righteousness and Vicarious Death

  1. What are your thoughts on this article:

    It’s by an evangelical at First Things. Here are some things that seemingly refute arguments made against Islam and arguments that terrorist groups like Isis are completely justified from a fully Islamic standpoint:

    “Therefore, in Islamic law only legitimate Islamic governments can declare a jihad, not individuals or nonstate actors… An exception is made when a Muslim land comes under attack or occupation by an enemy force, which renders jihad or resistance an individual responsibility… But even then, jihad has to have been formally declared by the legitimate authority. By declaring and conducting jihad on their own, jihadist groups act as heretical usurpers.”

    “The groups target and kill Muslim opponents, justifying their actions by invoking takfir, that says when fellow Muslims can be declared unbelievers who can be killed… A splinter group known as the Kharijites taught that it was acceptable to excommunicate and legitimize jihad against other Muslims, if they were judged guilty of certain sins… This idea was repudiated by the rest of the Muslim community at the time, and all 4 orthodox schools of law, including Hanbali, continue to reject it… Indeed, the legal tradition of Islam includes explicit rulings against Kharijites, classifying them as unbelievers who should be fought and killed.”

    “Those who argue that jihadi groups represent the “essence” of Islam actually reflect a very Western way of thinking. Wittingly or unwittingly, they presume a scripturalist interpretation of Islam… To prove their point, these Islam-is-the-problem critics tend to link specific acts of jihadi groups to a string of references from Islamic scripture, traditions, texts, and Muslim scholarly opinions… Perversely, this sola scriptura approach is no different from the jihadists’ own “Qur’an and sunna alone” approach.”

    What do you think?


    1. To be quite honest, this author is either ignorant or quite dishonest. Note his assertion, “only LEGITIMATE Islamic governments…” The problem is that there are NO legitimate Islamic governments in existence as far as Islamic shariah is concerned. Moreover, it’s not the government that decides, but the caliph, i.e., the Muslim ruler, in a caliphate. Since no such caliphate exists, this means that Muslims cannot wait for the “Islamic government” to legitimize jihad. Instead, this role is now assumed by the Muslim imams, muftis, shaikhs. And this is precisely the reason why ISIS appointed a caliph since they are fully aware that if they can get Muslims to accept their caliph then this would make it incumbent upon Muslims to hear his call to jihad.

      In other words, your author is dishonest since the condition he proposes, namely, that only a legitimate Islamic government can declare jihad, can never be met, which is why Muslims are now forced to look to qualified Muslim clergy to call for jihad. I hope this helps.


    2. I need to emphasize one more point, which shows how dishonest or ignorant this so-called evangelical author is. The Kharijites he mentions were condemned as heretics BECAUSE they opposed the Caliph and waged war against him. They were not in submission to the legitimate Muslim ruler, and therefore were defying the teachings of their own prophet. However, none of these jihadist groups are fighting against the Caliph or any legitimate Islamic government, SINCE THERE ARE NONE! Therefore, none of these groups can be likened to the Kharijites.

      Besides, do you really think that all of these Muslim groups waging jihad do not know what their sources and scholars throughout the centuries have taught concerning the issue of jihad and its implementation? Seriously? This again shows the dishonesty and/or ignorance of this writer. Avoid this useful idiot.


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