Several days ago I posted a link to Facebook of a religious quiz that prompted many replies as people posted their results. One young Moroccan friend whom I've never met and know only in a very small I-met-you-on-Facebook way stated he didn't do well and said the question about Islam was too easy. He proceeded to give me a super-short quiz (2 questions) on the Quran and I told him I read it this past year. Anyway, a local friend -- someone two years ahead of me in high school -- started asking Zayd a few questions about his Islamic beliefs. Mercy, grace, ways to please God .. good topics like this came up. One day I thanked them both for their discussion and posted how I see grace in Islam and Christianity. I figured I'd copy and paste it here for your critique. I am curious if I understand "grace" correctly according to your views of it. Please let me know.
This is what I wrote ...
In Islam there is grace and it is God's grace and mercy that permits one to enter His heaven. While we may never be assured that we will be there, we can hope our chances are good because we have obeyed the rituals laid out for us in the Quran and ahadith. Since Muhammad was supposedly the best example of a Muslim (literally, submitter to Allah), this is why most Muslims strive very hard to follow the ways of Muhammad. (Some take it to an extreme like the Taliban outlawing toothbrushes in Afghanistan since the Prophet used a miswak. They think most modern inventions are unlawful.)
Just as Christians often say they follow Jesus and seek to live their lives according to his teachings ("no man comes to the Father except through me"), Muslims will strive to be like the perfect Muslim - Muhammad - so they may live a life pleasing to God. Both are following someone in order to please God. While Christians will want to glorify God because He has already saved us and we were created to do good works and as we follow Jesus, our lives will reflect his actions and teachings (ideally!), Muslims want to do good deeds and follow Muhammad (their best example) because they hope to obtain salvation on Judgment Day.
So in Islam grace is present in that God allowed you into heaven, however, you try to please Him by overcoming tests on earth and proving yourself worthy of His choosing you. In other words, you strive (the greater jihad) to overcome your sinfulness, you strive to have inward and outward expressions of piety whether that is your willingness to forgive someone who has wronged you, putting up with polygyny although you don't really love being one of four wives, caring for your children or ailing parents or even how you dress and practice modesty (e.g. covering your hair, face, or just from chest to knees).
In Christianity we realize we can never do enough to make us worthy of God's heaven so we recognize we are sinners in need of a Savior. God's grace is demonstrated in that while we were in our sinful conditions (NOT all prettied up by religious observation and rituals), He sent Jesus into the world to pay for our sins. It's a gift from God...not something we work for which would be payment/wages for our work. As Chris quoted from the verse this is so we can't boast in that we earned our salvation and good standing before God somehow. All the glory goes to HIM - the Creator, the Sustainer, the Savior of mankind!
It's only when we recognize our neediness, our complete inability to save ourselves or earn our spot in heaven and cry out to God for His mercy, that we realize what grace is: God's gift to undeserving sinners. As the old song goes...that's why grace is so amazing. :)