Aqeedah: Ash-Shafa’ah (Intercession)
- Assertion of the reality of intercession.
- Refutation of false intercession.
- Reasons for intercession.
- Benefits of intercession.
- Proofs of intercession.
- Those who will intercede.
- The story of intercession on the Day of Resurrection.
Linguistically: The Arabic word Ash-Shafa’ahالشفاعةoriginated from a root word الشفع which means “even” or “dual”, it is the opposite of odd or singular. This is because intercession is an act that can only occur after an established duality.
Technically: It is the act of mediation through pleading. It is to intervene in between two people through the process of mediation while pleading in order to avert or limit some harm from one party to the other.
One party will be powerful with the ability to punish or enforce punishment while the other party is a sinful or powerless individual or group to be interceded for.
Intercession of the prophet
Intercession is of different types but the greatest of which is the one granted to the prophet and will be the focus herein.
- Fictitious intercession
- Established intercession
Refutations for the fictitious intercession
- Expected intercession from false gods and saints: It is a reality that those who believe and worship other gods, goddess or demi-gods along with Allah expect that these gods will intercede for them with Allah on the Day of Judgment but Allah proved the case will be otherwise. These gods and demi-gods may be an angel, a prophet, a saint, animals or inanimate beings.
أَلا لِلَّهِ الدِّينُ الْخَالِصُ وَالَّذِينَ اتَّخَذُوا مِنْ دُونِهِ أَوْلِيَاءَ مَا نَعْبُدُهُمْ إِلا لِيُقَرِّبُونَا إِلَى اللَّهِ زُلْفَى إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَحْكُمُ بَيْنَهُمْ فِي مَا هُمْ فِيهِ يَخْتَلِفُونَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لا يَهْدِي مَنْ هُوَ كَاذِبٌ كَفَّارٌ
Unquestionably, for Allah is the pure religion. And those who take protectors besides Him [say], “We only worship them that they may bring us nearer to Allah in position.” Indeed, Allah will judge between them concerning that over which they differ. Indeed, Allah does not guide he who is a liar and [confirmed] disbeliever.
أَمِ اتَّخَذُوا مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ شُفَعَاءَ قُلْ أَوَلَوْ كَانُوا لا يَمْلِكُونَ شَيْئًا وَلا يَعْقِلُونَ (٤٣) قُلْ لِلَّهِ الشَّفَاعَةُ جَمِيعًا لَهُ مُلْكُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأرْضِ ثُمَّ إِلَيْهِ تُرْجَعُونَ (٤٤)
Or have they taken other than Allah as intercessors? Say, “Even though they do not possess [power over] anything, nor do they reason?”
Say, “To Allah belongs [the right to allow] intercession entirely. To Him belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth. Then to Him you will be returned.“
فَإِذَا نُقِرَ فِي النَّاقُورِ
So there will not benefit them the intercession of [any] intercessors.
- Fictitious due to incomplete conditions for valid intercession: There are people who believed that intercession from the prophets that they followed will be automatically guaranteed.
اللَّهُ لا إِلَهَ إِلا هُوَ الْحَيُّ الْقَيُّومُ لا تَأْخُذُهُ سِنَةٌ وَلا نَوْمٌ لَهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الأرْضِ مَنْ ذَا الَّذِي يَشْفَعُ عِنْدَهُ إِلا بِإِذْنِهِ يَعْلَمُ مَا بَيْنَ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَمَا خَلْفَهُمْ وَلا يُحِيطُونَ بِشَيْءٍ مِنْ عِلْمِهِ إِلا بِمَا شَاءَ وَسِعَ كُرْسِيُّهُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأرْضَ وَلا يَئُودُهُ حِفْظُهُمَا وَهُوَ الْعَلِيُّ الْعَظِيمُ.
Allah – there is no deity except Him, the Ever-Living, the Sustainer of [all] existence. Neither drowsiness overtakes Him nor sleep. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. Who is it that can intercede with Him except by His permission? He knows what is [presently] before them and what will be after them, and they encompass not a thing of His knowledge except for what He wills. His Kursi extends over the heavens and the earth, and their preservation tires Him not. And He is the Most High, the Most Great.
Surat-ul-Baqarah 255 (Ayat-ul-Kursiy)
Conditions of a valid intercession
- Permission from Allah (ref: Q2:255)
- Allah must be pleased with both the intercessor and the one interceded for
يَعْلَمُ مَا بَيْنَ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَمَا خَلْفَهُمْ وَلا يَشْفَعُونَ إِلا لِمَنِ ارْتَضَى وَهُمْ مِنْ خَشْيَتِهِ مُشْفِقُونَ.
He knows what is [presently] before them and what will be after them, and they cannot intercede except on behalf of one whom He was pleased with. And they, from fear of Him, are apprehensive.
(S. Anbiya 28)
Levels of intercession on the Day of Resurrection
- Theintercession ofProphet Muhammad: This is the first and the highest level of intercession on the Day of Resurrection and it is exclusively for the prophet Muhammad alone. the prophet will be given the privilege to intercede for the following:
- The general humankind from the first calamityof the sun(see the story of intercession below)
- Those whose their righteousness equal their sins: The required standard is for the good deeds to be weightier than the sins (Q101:6); but those among the believers who maintained an equilibrium between right and wrong deeds will be given the advantage to benefit from the intercession of the prophet if Allah wills.
- Those who will be saved from entering hell before paradise: Some believers who have committed sins that were enough to burn them in hell will also benefit from the intercession. This was because of their true sincerity and correct believe. Their sins were only due to the effect of coercion or temptations of their surroundings.
- Intercession to increase the level of paradise: The righteous believers who will be admitted into the lower levels of paradise will desire for a higher level and regret the restriction they placed on righteous deed whilst alive. The intercession of the prophet will take them some levels higher.
- Those who will enter paradise without accountability:The prophet informed that some group of seventy thousand among his ummah will be admitted into paradise without accountability. A companion requested that the prophet should supplicate to Allah to include him among them. The prophet said: you were among them.
- Intercession to lessen punishment for Abu Taalib: The prophet had promised to intercede on behalf of his pagan uncle so that Alah will lessen his sufferings in hell on the day of resurrection.
“Narrated Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri: That he heard the Prophet (PBUH) when somebody mentioned his uncle (i.e. Abu Talib), saying, “Perhaps my intercession will be helpful to him on the Day of Resurrection so that he may be put in a shallow fire reaching only up to his ankles. His brain will boil from it. (SahihBukhari no. 111)
It is noteworthy to clarify the apparent contradiction between this promise and the verse 48 of Surah Mudathir (No intercession of the interceder will benefit them (the disbelievers)). The intent of Allah with this verse is the exit from hell, not to lessen the punishment. No intercession will be able to remove the disbelievers from their eternal abode (Hell) but the punishment may be lessened through intercession.
- Intercession to save some believers from Hell:It has been decreed by Allah that anyone who sincerely and correctly believed in Him whilst alive will never remain in hell forever. The intercession of the prophet will allow the exit of these worst believers from hell.
- Those who never associatedpartners with Allah: The prophet said: every prophet was given a supplication with guaranteed answer, all other prophets have hastened to use theirs whilst alive but I have reserved mine for intercession on the Day of Resurrection, the intercession will benefit anyone who sincerely believed in Allah and never associated any partners with Him.
The story of intercession on the Day of Resurrection
Narrated by Abu Huraira
Some (cooked) meat was brought to Allah Apostle and the meat of a forearm was presented to him as he used to like it. He ate a morsel of it and said, “I will be the chief of all the people on the Day of Resurrection. Do you know the reason for it? Allah will gather all the human being of early generations as well as late generation on one plain so that the announcer will be able to make them all hear his voice and the watcher will be able to see all of them. The sun will come so close to the people that they will suffer such distress and trouble as they will not be able to bear or stand. Then the people will say, ‘Don’t you see to what state you have reached? Won’t you look for someone who can intercede for you before your Lord.Some people will say to some others, ‘Go to Adam.’ So they will go to Adam and say to him. ‘You are the father of mankind; Allah created you with His Own Hands, and breathed into you of His Spirit (meaning the spirit which he created for you); and ordered the angels to prostrate before you; so (please) intercede for us with your Lord. Don’t you see in what state we are? Don’t you see what condition we have reached?’ Adam will say, ‘Today my Lord has become angry as He has never become before, nor will ever become thereafter. He forbade me (to eat of the fruit of) the tree, but I disobeyed Him. Myself! Myself! Myself! (has more need for intercession). Go to someone else; go to Noah.’ So they will go to Noah and say (to him), ‘O Noah! You are the first (of Allah’s Messengers) to the people of the earth, and Allah has named you a thankful slave; please intercede for us with your Lord. Don’t you see in what state we are?’ He will say.’ Today my Lord has become angry as He has never become nor will ever become thereafter. I had (in the world) the right to make one definitely accepted invocation, and I made it against my nation. Myself! Myself! Myself! Go to someone else; go to Abraham.’ They will go to Abraham and say, ‘O Abraham! You are Allah’s Apostle and His Khalil from among the people of the earth; so please intercede for us with your Lord. Don’t you see in what state we are?’ He will say to them, ‘My Lord has today become angry as He has never become before, nor will ever become thereafter. I had told three lies (Abu Haiyan (the sub-narrator) mentioned them in the Hadith) Myself! Myself! Myself! Go to someone else; go to Moses.’ The people will then go to Moses and say, ‘O Moses! You are Allah’s Apostle and Allah gave you superiority above the others with this message and with His direct Talk to you; (please) intercede for us with your Lord Don’t you see in what state we are?’ Moses will say, ‘My Lord has today become angry as He has never become before, nor will become thereafter, I killed a person whom I had not been ordered to kill. Myself! Myself! Myself! Go to someone else; go to Jesus.’ So they will go to Jesus and say, ‘O Jesus! You are Allah’s Apostle and His Word which He sent to Mary, and a superior soul created by Him, and you talked to the people while still young in the cradle. Please intercede for us with your Lord. Don’t you see in what state we are?’ Jesus will say. ‘My Lord has today become angry as He has never become before nor will ever become thereafter. Jesus will not mention any sin, but will say, ‘Myself! Myself! Myself! Go to someone else; go to Muhammad.’ So they will come to me and say, ‘O Muhammad! You are Allah’s Apostle and the last of the prophets, and Allah forgave your early and late sins. (Please) intercede for us with your Lord. Don’t you see in what state we are?” The Prophet added, “Then I will go beneath Allah’s Throne and fall in prostration before my Lord. And then Allah will guide me to such praises and glorification to Him as He has never guided anybody else before me. Then it will be said, ‘O Muhammad Raise your head. Ask, and it will be granted. Intercede It (your intercession) will be accepted.’ So I will raise my head and Say, ‘My followers, O my Lord! My followers, O my Lord’. It will be said, ‘O Muhammad! Let those of your followers who have no accounts, enter through such a gate of the gates of Paradise as lies on the right; and they will share the other gates with the people.” The Prophet further said, “By Him in Whose Hand my soul is, the distance between every two gate-posts of Paradise is like the distance between Mecca and Busra (in Sham).”
Those who will also intercede on the Day of Resurrection
- The prophets
- The angel (Surah Najm 26;Surah Taha 23)
- The righteous slaves of Allah
- The truthful ones
- The martyrs
- The people of correct knowledge
- The Qur’an
- The fasting
- The believers
The intercession of Allah
After all intercessions with His permission, Allah will take out from hell a handful of criminals, washed them in a river in front of paradise and admitted them into the eternal bliss.
Some Qur’an references
Surah Yunus 3
Surah Zukruf 86
Surah Maryam 87
Surah An’am 51
Surah Sajda 4
Surah Mudassir 48
Surah Baqorah48, 123, 254
Surah A’raaf 53