Islam Versus Different Schools: Liberalism and Pluralism
The Islamic tradition appears to offer another approach to the problem. Muslims, like Christians, reject the idea that good works alone are sufficient for salvation. Like Christian writings on the subject, it is not difficult to find Muslim expressions of the idea that there is nothing one can do through one's own efforts to make oneself worthy of salvation without the grace of God.
This is a theme which runs throughout Imam Zayn al-'Abidin's Sahifat al-Sajjadiyah. Good works without faith appear ungrounded, for faith provides the cognitive framework in which the final good is to be understood and intentions to do good works are to be formed, and it is through such orientation and intentions that God draws His servants toward Him by His Mercy. But faith is more than the mere acceptance of a list of doctrines, it is a spiritual readiness to fare the way toward Allah and wholehearted submission to His will. In Islam, salvation is seen in terms of the movement of the soul toward God, a movement which in turn is explained in terms of the acquirement of the Divine attributes, and whose aim is a beatific encounter with Divinity, liqa' Allah. To achieve this, God demands faith and good works, and in the present age, this means the acceptance and practice of Islam as revealed to the last of His chosen messengers (s); ultimately, however, it is neither by faith nor good works that man is saved, but by the grace of God.
An Islamic non-reductive pluralism may be contrasted with Hick's pluralism and Rahner's inclusivism in terms of the place of ignorance in the three views. In Hick's view every major creed, no matter how different, expresses an ultimately single faith. That ultimate faith may not be expressible in human language, so there is a sense in which believers are ignorant of what they really believe. On Rahner's view Christians know what they believe and it is only others who may be ignorant of their latent Christian belief. On the non-reductive view, there is no attempt to reinterpret apparently conflicting beliefs to reveal some hidden agreement. Instead of positing ignorance about what we believe, we are to admit our ignorance of how God may guide the sincere, and what beliefs are the result of a sincere quest for the truth.. The identities of all the prophets are not known, and in the most famous hadith about the number of the prophets, Abu Dharr reports that the Prophet told him there were one hundred twenty-four thousand prophets. Corrupted forms of the teachings of these prophets may survive in any number of the variety of the world's religions. The admission of ignorance in this matter is an expression of humility before the judgment of Allah; such humility has featured prominently in the Islamic tradition, and it may provide a basis for an Islamic form of a non-reductive religious pluralism.