A Fatalistic Salvation
surah al-Baqarah 2:284 - "To Allah belongeth all that is in the heavens and on earth. Whether ye show what is in your minds or conceal it, Allah Calleth you to account for it. He forgiveth whom He pleaseth, and punisheth whom He pleaseth, for Allah hath power over all things."
The author wants to make the point that in Islamic theology, there is no hope of salvation. She intends to pain the picture that Muslims spend their entire lives trying to earn enough good deeds to make it into heaven, even though, according to their own theology, God has already decided who is in and who is out and there's nothing they can do about it.
She starts out with the above verse. I understand what she's getting out of it, she focuses only on the last sentence of the verse. However, I don't understand it the way she does. I don't see it as a statement that God punishes whomever the whim strikes Him to punish, or anything like that. To my mind it is merely an example of the failure of human language. The entire verse is about how God is in charge of everything. Everything is His and His alone. Punishment or reward is not based on the whims of the divine, but on the laws that were set up for mankind to follow.
Anyway. She clearly has never heard of, or is ignoring, the Christian sects who believe in predestination, since she seems to believe that her (incorrect) version of Islamic theology (God deciding ahead of time who goes to Heaven and who goes to Hell) only exists in Islam.
Let me lay out, briefly, her argument for terming Islamic salvation, 'fatalistic'.
All people are born muslim. Not, as she coins it, Muslim, meaning followers of the revelation of Mohammed. She quotes this hadith, sahih Bukhari 2:23:441 - "Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah's Apostle said, "Every child is born with a true faith of Islam (i.e. to worship none but Allah Alone) but his parents convert him to Judaism, Christianity or Magainism, as an animal delivers a perfect baby animal. Do you find it mutilated?" Then Abu Huraira recited the holy verses: "The pure Allah's Islamic nature (true faith of Islam) (i.e. worshipping none but Allah) with which He has created human beings. No change let there be in the religion of Allah (i.e. joining none in worship with Allah). That is the straight religion (Islam) but most of men know, not." (30.30)"
Then she quotes sahih Bukhari 4:54:430 - "Narrated 'Abdullah bin Mus'ud: Allah's Apostle, the true and truly inspired said, "(The matter of the Creation of) a human being is put together in the womb of the mother in forty days, and then he becomes a clot of thick blood for a similar period, and then a piece of flesh for a similar period. Then Allah sends an angel who is ordered to write four things. He is ordered to write down his (i.e. the new creature's) deeds, his livelihood, his (date of) death, and whether he will be blessed or wretched (in religion). Then the soul is breathed into him. So, a man amongst you may do (good deeds till there is only a cubit between him and Paradise and then what has been written for him decides his behavior and he starts doing (evil) deeds characteristic of the people of the (Hell) Fire. And similarly a man amongst you may do (evil) deeds till there is only a cubit between him and the (Hell) Fire, and then what has been written for him decides his behavior, and he starts doing deeds characteristic of the people of Paradise.""
Her argument is this. Though we are all born 'Muslim', 'knowing' the truth of Islam (and she never corrects the impression that this means Mohammed's religion, our parents corrupt us and we can live our lives incorrectly. But none of that matters. As a matter of fact, nothing that we do matters because God, at our creation, tells an angel to write down our fate. So no matter what we do, we will wind up in a pre-determined place. The end.
Only, that's not how I read the hadith. As I see it, a) they claim that people are born 'muslim', meaning that they submit to God. Not that they are Muslims. And b) the angel is sent to write down the deeds and the fate of the soul. That does not say that God decides what that fate is for the person. God *knows* it, because He is God. But foreknowledge is different from causing the thing to be.
Aside from all of this, the author believes that Islamic salvation is 'fatalistic' because no one can ever be certain of their salvation. And I find that to be a Protestant problem. They have this idea that their salvation is 100% assured if they say the Jesus prayer or whatever their particular group has decided on. That after that, they're in the clear. But that's not the way it works. Salvation is a process, one that we live out for our entire lives. The idea that a person can say that they know they will go to heaven, or to hell, or that they can tell another person where they will be for eternity is arrogant in the extreme, and takes onto a human being what belongs to God alone.