This is a continuation of a multi-post article. You can read the first post here. You can also find the previous post here. This is also part of a larger series called "The Koran from a Christian perspective." You can find other posts in this series here.Muhammad assigns first place in Paradise to those who had first place on Earth, among whom, he was one.
"and the Outstrippers [they who were foremost on the earth]: the Outstrippers [foremost still] those are they brought nigh the Throne [to God], in the Gardens of Delight (a throng of the ancients [former] and how few of the later folk [latter generations]) upon close-wrought [inwrought] couches reclining upon them, set face to face, immortal [Aye-blooming] youths going round about them with goblets, and ewers, and a cup [of flowing wine] from a spring (no brows throbbing [from it], no intoxication [nor fails the senses]) and such fruits as they shall choose [please them best], and such flesh of fowl as they desire, and wide-eyed houris [with large dark eyes] as the likeness of hidden pearls [pearls hidden in their shell], a recompense for that they laboured." (Koran 56:10-23)In Muhammad's view, those who were first on Earth will be first in Paradise, those who were mighty on Earth will be might in Paradise, and those who were leaders on Earth will be leaders in Paradise. However, this runs counter to what Jesus and His disciples taught. Consider what Jesus said concerning John the Baptist. "Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he." (Matthew 11:11) The issue is not whether or not John was a great man, but simply that, even the least of those in the Kingdom of God are greater then the greatest of men ever born on the Earth. What matters. both now and in the life to come, is not how great we are in this world, but our standing in the Kingdom of God. This is why Jesus taught, "And behold, some are last who will be first and some are first who will be last." (Luke 13:30) Contrary to what Muhammad taught, there will be many on that day who were among the outtrippers and the foremost upon the Earth who will find themselves last in Heaven, God even selecting those who are lowly and base to overthrow those who are mighty and strong. "For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God." (1 Corinthians 1:26-29) Our present condition among men does not determine our future standing in Heaven, rather it is our relationship to God, to His Son, and to His people that determines our future status in Heaven.