This being so, the fancy that a man has power to do more than his duty, and by so doing lay up a future reward of merit (ثواب) for himself, is false and baseless. No one will make such a claim except a person who does not think aright about his duties and the worship of God, and who does not properly understand them. Of course, if a man were required to perform only a few good works, and if a measure and limit had been fixed with reference to the degree in which he should love God and serve Him, then it would perhaps be possible to suppose that man might accomplish more meritorious deeds than were strictly necessary and might thus gain merit and deserve a reward. But, since it is man's duty to love God with all his might during his whole life, and always to serve Him faithfully, and since the Lord Jesus Christ also declared this by saying: 'Thou 1 shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength,' and 'Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself,' then who can possibly do anything more than what is necessary and incumbent upon him? And who can acquire such a store of merit as will be in God's sight the cause of his salvation and an atonement for his sin? No, on the contrary, all men are before God guilty of sins both of omission and of commission. Therefore to trust to one's merits and to one's own good works, and to fancy

1 Mark xii. 30-1; quoting Deut. vi. 5 and Lev. xix. 18.

them a cause of salvation, is to entertain a wholly baseless idea.

In the same way such other means as repeating the fixed prayers and ablution and bathing and fasting and visiting saints' tombs and other similar practices are unprofitable as methods of obtaining salvation. It is absolutely impossible that remission of sins should be dependent upon such matters. This we have previously pointed out when dealing with religions other than Islam. And in saying this we are stating what some of the most spiritually-minded Muslims themselves have perceived. Thus Imam Zainu'l-'Abidin writes: 'O 1 my God, were my eyelids to fall off through weeping, were spasmodic sobbing to come on through crying out, were my legs to break through standing in worship, and were I for thy sake to bow down so much that the vertebrae of my back would be dissevered, and were I to prostrate myself so much that my eyes would burst, were I during my whole life to eat the dust of the earth and drink ash-water, and in this condition to repeat Thy name as long as my tongue could move, yet through shame I dare not lift up mine eyes toward heaven, nor because of these doings would I be deserving of the pardon of even one of my sins. If Thou willest Thou wilt forgive me, but that will not be due to me through any desert of mine, nor will I be worthy thereof through any right: for on the commission of the

1 Haqqu'l-Yaqin, p. 268.