Intersession (ep 29)
Bismillah Al Rahmaan Al Raheem.
I hope that you enjoyed the whole discussion of Resurrection although we are summarising all that in a few minutes there are hundreds of pages or lectures to be devoted to such an important task in our faith.
Indeed Resurrection, with all other details when spoke about the necessity for it, the impotence of the day of judgement, the witnesses of the day of judgement and later on the difference between the soul and the spirit with the body wether the resurrection is spiritual only or both spiritual and material, we explained all that.
Now we come to one very crucial issue and important although debatable and that is Intersession (shafaa’a).
Unfortunately some Muslim exegesis refer to Shafa’a in a very wrong way. The Wahhabis or the Handballi school of thought, the Salafis try to eliminate and rule out anything with regard to Shafa’a and as Muhammad AlShaheed Alreda in his (Tafseer Al Manaar) puts it that we don’t understand, we can’t understand the Shafaa’a or Intersession in a way that it is well known to public so in other words he suggested to stay silent about it. The problem with these people is that they do not use the logical and intellectual reasoning when they read the Ayaat of the Quran. Sometimes they stick to only a few Ayaat in the Quran which negate the Shafa’a or the Intersession and say that ‘Ok, since the Quran says no then we stick to it and say no Shafa’a and Shafa’a is not what you imagine’.
But we have to know that in one Ayah which they refer to Allah swt is negating the Intersession being possible by the idols which means that if you think that (which is an Ayah in the Quran) and to say that ‘Ok, when Allah swt tells the Prophet Muhammad (saww) tell them about these idols that cannot harm or benefit anyone. In response they would say that we only do that because they draw us closer to Allah swt.
Of course at this point Allah swt negated the Intersession or the benefit expected from the idols. So if you have an Ayah in the Quran which says Intersession (fa ma tanfa’hum Shafaa’atul shafi’een) The intersession will not avail, does not work, is not working at all is different because if it is only about a particular case, about a particular scenario, about a particular circumstance, you can’t generalise that!
This is one occasion. In another occasion we read Allah swt in the Quran addresses the Jews. That if you think that you are the chosen nation,and it was in many occasions and if you read some of the literature of Jews, they think that they are only made as chosen and selected people of humanity and the other humans are animals but they where in the shape of humans in order to serve the Jews.
Yes you can see that in the Talmud.
So because of that they thought that we are exempt from being accountable for our deeds. Allah swt condemns that, said ’No. You have nothing to do and no one can say that i benefit from Intersession because Intersession does not reach you’.
So, it is not scientific, it is not logical that negation for Intersession for certain circumstances to be generalised and say that there is no Shafa’a at all.
Now look at those Ayaat, Quranic references which prove the existence of Shafaa’a . There are of two types. Some of them talk about those who are permitted, those who are given the authority, given the permission by Allah swt to Intercede.
(La yashfa’oona alla liman irtathaa)
(Man thallathee yashfa’u illa bi ithnihee)
And these two clearly in the Quran explain that no one can Intercede without Allahs permission, which is true, and those who are permitted and are chosen and selected by Allah swt, Allah swt is pleased with them. Only they can Intercede.
If this is the case lets deal with it in two different ways;
First, that the Prophet Muhammad (saww) was addressed by this Ayah in Surah number 4:64 Surah Al Nisa, Ayah 64 (Wa low annahum ith thalamoo anfusahum jaa’uka fastaghfaru Allaha Wa astaghfara lahum al rasool lawajadu Allaha tawwaban raheema)
It is there in the Quran. If you go to the Holy Mosque of the Prophet (saww) in Medina near the (thareeh) and the shrine of the Prophet (saww) it is written on the roof or the ceiling of the
Mosque in very nice calligraphy.
It is in the Quran (Wa low annahum ith thalamoo anfusahum jaa’uka fastaghfaru Allaha Wa astaghfara lahum al rasool lawajadu Allaha tawwaban raheema)
When they do injustice to themselves, which means they sin, because (inna al shirka la thulmun atheem) and the one who sins and disobeys Allah swt causes injustice to himself, so when people do injustice to themselves, come to you Oh Muhammad, there are two things that are very important. One, they seek forgiveness from Allah swt and the second one (Wastaghfara lahum al rasool) and the messenger, thats Muhammad (saww) seeks forgiveness and pardon for them and their behalf (la wajadu Allaha tawaban raheema)
So if in mathematics you have A+B=C, if you remove B, no longer A=C!
So we know that seeking forgiveness from Allah swt, repenting to Allah swt and no one else. We know that, but in this particular Ayah Allah swt tells us that these people need two things. A and B, then the result will be C.
A, they seek pardon and forgiveness from Allah swt, secondly that the Prophet Muhammad (saww) seeks forgiveness on their behalf from Allah swt.
So this is the real meaning of Shafa’a - That Allah has given the authority, given the permission to his last and final messenger of Islam to help those who have sinned in order to repent and seek forgiveness from Allah swt for them.
In the story of the children of Yakub (as), Yousif and his brothers, after a while they came to their father after the nasty thing they had done and the atrocity they had committed towards their brother Yousif (as). They came to him (Ya abaana Istaghfir lana rabbana) Oh our father YOU ask forgiveness from Allah swt on our behalf.
So this means that there is something there otherwise they would say that ‘We seek forgiveness from Allah swt, we repent to Allah swt, now we are going to change our lives, But they asked their father to do that for them.
So first, it is not correct, it is not academic, it is not logical that you stick to negation of Shafa’a in the particular Ayah like the idol worshippers or the Jews to say that there is no Shafa’a at all.
Second, we see that Allah swt made it clear that with HIS permission, with HIS authority that with those HE is pleased with, this Intersession (Shafa’a) is possible.
We know that all the creation, provision, wisdom, goodness, anything comes from Allah swt.
All the bounties, the source of them is Allah swt. Guidance, the light, the (tawfeeq) to walk on the right path,all these are given by Allah and no one but Allah swt.
But when we look at the Quranic references, when Allah swt Himself tells us that for functioning and doing certain parts of HIS creation, HIS guidance, HIS provision, HE does that through certain servants of HIS. Wether they are human beings, insects or angels.
Allah swt clearly tells us in the Quran (Allah yatawafaa al infusa heena mawtihaa)- Allah receives the lives from bodies at the time of death.
So death is in the hand of Allah swt.
In many Ayaat we read (Yuhyee wa yumeet) - Life and death are all in the hand of Allah swt.
We read (khalaqa almawta wal hayaata liyabluwakum)- Allah swt has created life and death, death and life in order to test you and put you on trial. So life is only the authority or the function or the criteria given by Allah swt only. This is what we read in the Quran, in many Ayah in the Quran. But we see two examples, at least two examples, that somebody else is dealing with life or with death.
We start with death. We all know that there is an angel of death called ‘Israeel’ and Allah swt clearly says in the Quran (Qul li yatawafaakum malik al mawt allathi wukila bikum) - The Angel of Death, he receives the souls. He receives the spirits, the life. So we know that receiving the souls and causing death is only for Allah swt but in the Ayah we hear clearly that Allah swt says that this is the Angel of Death who is appointed to take your lives and cause you to die. So is it a contradiction or a controversial statement that on one occasion Allah swt says that I am doing that and in another He says that i appoint an angel to that?
No. Allah swt says that the source of life and causing people to come to life is with HIM only. To revive them is with Allah swt only but we read again in the Quran that the Prophet Isa (as) said that (Akhluqu lakum min al teeni kahay’at al tayr fa anfukhu feehi fayakunu tayran bi ithn Allah) - Then (wa inni uhyil mawtaa)- I am reviving the dead. And we read in the history that there where certain occasions that somebody was dead and Isa (as) revived him, but (bi ithillah) - he doesn’t do that independently. He does that by the power given to him from Allah swt. So both life and death are from Allah swt but HE appoints somebody, either Isa (as) as a human being or an angel who is the Angel of Death to do this on his behalf or for HIM, or permits these to do that with the authority given by HIM (bi ithnihee)
The second example is that remedy and cure only is in the hand of Allah swt.
Ibrahim (as) says that (wa itha marithtu fa huwa yushfeen)- When i turn and fall ill Allah swt gives me remedy and cure but we all know that when we go to the surgeon, to the physician, to the doctor who examines you, diagnoses you, gives you the right medicine or does the right operation, he is the one who operated on you or gave you the remedy or the tablets or medicine to cure your disease or whatever. But he doesn’t do that independently, he does that by Allah swt enabled him to do so. So remedy and cure are from Allah swt, it can come through the doctors physicians.
In an Ayah in the Quran Allah swt says thats honey which is produced by the bees is the source of remedy so does the bee or the honey which is produced by the bees. That honey, does it cure or is it a source or remedy by itself? or Allah swt made it so?
Of course Allah swt made it so and it goes for hundreds of examples that Allah swt gives permission to certain of his servants,creatures to act in a way the power given to them by Allah swt to function. These are only a few examples to tell us that natural causes, you call them Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Physiology, all these rules which are the whole core value in the technology science today. These are functioning for themselves or are only functioning with the ability given to them to function?
So having said that we come to a conclusion and that is Allah swt is the pardoner. Allah swt is the forgiver. Allah swt is the one who gives this ability to the Prophet, to the Imams, to those who are spiritually elevated to high rank because they focused only on obedience to Allah swt, observed every righteousness and piety. Feared Allah swt in a way that nothing but HIS approval and HIS pleasure was in their mind when they acted upon something. So these are the people whom Allah swt is pleased with them, who has given them the permission wether they are the Messengers, the Prophets, the Imams and the Prophet (saww) clearly said in one hadeeth (Shafaa’ati li alhlil kabaa’iri min ummati)- Those who commit grave sins, major sins then Allah swt enables the Prophet Muhammad (saww) to Intercede for them.
Now one question may come into the minds of many people. That if we open the door of Intercession and say that ‘Yes there is Intersession people will be encouraged to do more sins and more disobedience’ This is wrong for two reasons;
First that repentance, the Holy Quran is full of Ayaat about repentance. In one Ayah Allah swt says that only for those who associate someone with Allah swt, that sin is not forgiven. Other than that (wa yaghfiru ma doona thalika liman yashaa’)- Anything other than associating anything with Allah swt, all other sins will be forgiven. In many occasion we read that (illa man taaba wa aamana wa amala amalan saalihan fa oolaa’ika yubadiloo Allah sayi’aatihim hasanaat)- For those who believe,those who repent and those who do good deeds all these Allah swt will accept, will forgive them and will change their mischief and wrong doings into good deeds.
So first of all we see that repentance is not only a method and means for progress for people become awareness of their accountability, its never an element of encouragement to sin. The same way Intersession is like that.
Intersession and repentance are both gates for Allahs mercy to reach all his servants.
Second, when we see that Allah swt is (Rahman), is (Raheem), is always generous, is always a pardoner, is so kind and merciful that no one can reach the level of HIS kindness and mercy. So it gives a better physiological hope to people to think that if sometimes we do mistakes, if we sometimes forget about our duties but the moment they repent, the moment they go back to Allah swt with full sincerity, they see the repentance there, the (Shafa’a) of the Prophet and the Imams will be there.
May Allah swt enable us to get and to be granted by that complete (Shafa’a) and intersession from Allah swt given via HIS Messenger and his household.
Allahumma sali alaa Muhammadin Wa Aali Muhammadin wa A’jil Farajahum.