Quote Originally Posted by mccardey View Post
It's my understanding that Islam had the much same teaching a few hundred years earlier than that
It's a familiar philosophy in Roman Catholic theology too; the "virtuous pagan," like the righteous gentile in Judaism and the hanifs in Isalm; those who are not condemned because they were born in the "wrong" place and time. Thomas Aquineas waxes eloquent about them. The virtuous pagan (Socrates is often the poster child) is one of the reasons for the concept of limbo as a way station for those who do not merit heaven but are too virtuous for purgatory or Hell.

In medieval literature and iconography, the harrowing of hell often shows Christ freeing the virtuous pagans from limbo to go straight to Heaven.