This short documentary (below—about 14 minutes) by journalist Suroosh Alvi on what it’s like for a Muslim to go on a pilgrimage (“Hajj”) to Mecca is worth watching. A proper completion of the Hajj is thought to bring forgiveness of sins: “Whoever performs Hajj for Allah’s pleasure and does not have sexual relations with his wife, and does not do evil or sins then he will return (after Hajj free from all sins) as if he were born anew.”
The video Alvi captured on his journey with his Pakistani parents is fascinating. After the people perform a series of very specific rituals over a period of several days, it is announced:
You should be the happiest people on earth because your mission has been accomplished. And you [are] all new born. And Allah has erased and forgiven all your previous sins. This is reality. It’s not a dream anymore.
Even so, because of the conditions involved, there’s no guarantee Allah will accept this work from everyone. The pilgrims who complete the rituals leave in hope, but without a guarantee.
I’m always moved when I see people who feel the weight of their sin and are working to have their guilt removed. I’m moved because we know from Romans 3 that “by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.” Having a high standard reminds us daily of our failures. And if the standard we hold is the only means we have of perfecting ourselves, we’re left in despair. We’ll never make it.
But the next chapter of Romans removes all despair:
For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if those who are of the Law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise is nullified; for the Law brings about wrath, but where there is no law, there also is no violation.
For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all. (Rom. 4:13–16)
That’s one of my favorite passages in Romans. If we had to earn our forgiveness and righteousness, God could not promise us our salvation because it would rest on us—on worse than shaky ground, on a sinkhole! We would have nothing to look forward to but the wrath of God. But God wanted to guarantee our forgiveness, freedom, and salvation. This is why He decided to save us through the work of Christ, by His grace alone, and not by our works. This is the good news.
But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe…. (Rom. 3:21–22)
I hope this documentary moves you to tell this truth to your Muslim friends.