بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ
Intercession in religious terms is understood to be that some-one with greater value in the sight of Allah, pleads on someone’s behalf on the day of judgement, with the expectation that Allah would give consideration to the recommendation and give the one who was pleaded by the high and noble personality, bonus points and easy accountability. Otherwise without intercession, if he were to be tested on merit, he may fail and be in problem.
We need to check this concept from Al-Quran. We will see if interceding on behalf of another will actually benefit that person or not.
4:85 مَّن يَشْفَعْ شَفَاعَةً حَسَنَةً يَكُن لَّهُ نَصِيبٌ مِّنْهَا ۖ وَمَن يَشْفَعْ شَفَاعَةً سَيِّئَةً يَكُن لَّهُ كِفْلٌ مِّنْهَا ۗ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ مُّقِيتًا
Whoever interceeds for goodness, there would be a portion for him in it, and whoever intercedes for a bad cause there would be a share for him in it, and Allah controls all things.
The principle of intercession is described in above ayat 4:85, that intercession is based on merit. Therefore any one who has the capability of intercession with Allah would not do so for a person not on merit basis, as he then would would become part of the un-justified intercession.
2: 123 وَاتَّقُوا يَوْمًا لَّا تَجْزِي نَفْسٌ عَن نَّفْسٍ شَيْئًا وَلَا يُقْبَلُ مِنْهَا عَدْلٌ وَلَا تَنفَعُهَا شَفَاعَةٌ وَلَا هُمْ يُنصَرُونَ
And fear a day, (when) no one will be able to compensate anyone anything, and no redemption will be accepted from him, and no intercession will benefit him, and they will not be helped.
The above ayat informs that on the day of judgement, any intercession done for a person will not be able to benefit him. This is because the criterion for the compensation is already set by Allah. Your deeds should be balanced towards goodness in order to be beneficial in the hereafter.
101:6-9 فَأَمَّا مَن ثَقُلَتْ مَوَازِينُهُ فَهُوَ فِي عِيشَةٍ رَّاضِيَةٍ وَأَمَّا مَنْ خَفَّتْ مَوَازِينُهُ فَأُمُّهُ هَاوِيَةٌ
Thus he, whose balance is heavy, is in good pleasure and satisfaction, and he whose balance is light, thus his origin is (in) a pit.
The above ayat states the criteria. The overall balance of one’s personality and his actions should be on the good side, in order to be reaping the benefits in hereafter if not, a terrible abode awaits.
43:86 وَلَا يَمْلِكُ الَّذِينَ يَدْعُونَ مِن دُونِهِ الشَّفَاعَةَ إِلَّا مَن شَهِدَ بِالْحَقِّ وَهُمْ يَعْلَمُونَ
And those whom they invoke besides Allah have no power of intercession, except those who testified with Truth, and they know it.
The above ayat confirms that those people who are called upon for supposed intercession are in fact incapable for doing so, except for him who testifies with Haq/truth. Therefore any partiality and non merit intercession is ruled out in this ayat.
39:3 أَلَا لِلَّهِ الدِّينُ الْخَالِصُ ۚ وَالَّذِينَ اتَّخَذُوا مِن دُونِهِ أَوْلِيَاءَ مَا نَعْبُدُهُمْ إِلَّا لِيُقَرِّبُونَا إِلَى اللَّهِ زُلْفَىٰ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَحْكُمُ بَيْنَهُمْ فِي مَا هُمْ فِيهِ يَخْتَلِفُونَ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يَهْدِي مَنْ هُوَ كَاذِبٌ كَفَّارٌ
Isn’t the Din (Judgment) purely for Allah alone? But those who take protectors (Walis) besides Him (say). “We do not serve them except that they are nearer to bring us closer to Allah.” Truly Allah will judge between them in what they differ. Verily Allah does not guide him who is a liar and rejecter.
The character of some people is mentioned in above ayat that they hold some personalities as Wali (protectors) and say that we serve them because they are near to Allah so serving and praising these lofty personalities, will bring us closer to Allah. These people who do this are stated to be liars and coverer of truth.
53:23 إِنْ هِيَ إِلَّا أَسْمَاءٌ سَمَّيْتُمُوهَا أَنتُمْ وَآبَاؤُكُم مَّا أَنزَلَ اللَّهُ بِهَا مِن سُلْطَانٍ ۚ إِن يَتَّبِعُونَ إِلَّا الظَّنَّ وَمَا تَهْوَى الْأَنفُسُ ۖ وَلَقَدْ جَاءَهُم مِّن رَّبِّهِمُ الْهُدَىٰ
They are but names you have named them, you and your fore-fathers, Allah has sent down with it, no authority. These people follow nothing but conjecture and what their nafs desire; and surely the guidance has come to them from their Lord.
The list of names that people and their forefathers have invented, Allah has not sent down any confirmation for them in His Book. People use their names out of conjecture and what that their ‘nafs’ desire, even when all the ayahs of Allah are asking them not to do so.
10:18 وَيَعْبُدُونَ مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ مَا لَا يَضُرُّهُمْ وَلَا يَنفَعُهُمْ وَيَقُولُونَ هَٰؤُلَاءِ شُفَعَاؤُنَا عِندَ اللَّهِ ۚ قُلْ أَتُنَبِّئُونَ اللَّهَ بِمَا لَا يَعْلَمُ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَلَا فِي الْأَرْضِ ۚ سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ عَمَّا يُشْرِكُونَ
They serve, besides Allah, those who cannot either harm them nor profit them, and they say. “These are our intercessors with Allah.” Say. “Do you indeed inform Allah of something He does not know, in the heavens or on earth?- Glory to Him! And He is far above the partners they ascribe (to Him)!”
Those people who hold on to supposed intercessors is akin to giving this information to Allah as Allah has not revealed their authority of intercession in the Book and He has stated that in His Book that they hold on to personalities for which Allah has revealed no authority to intercede.
The messenger (pbuh) who is supposedly the intercessor of the Muslim ‘Umma’ as touted by clergy, actually is going to complain about his nation to God in the hereafter, that they became ignorant of the teachings of Al-Quran.
25:30 وَقَالَ الرَّسُولُ يَا رَبِّ إِنَّ قَوْمِي اتَّخَذُوا هَٰذَا الْقُرْآنَ مَهْجُورًا
And the Messenger will say, O my Lord! Surely, my people took this Al-Quran and abandoned it.
And Allah will tell those people who proudly assumed that they would be having intercessors in the hereafter for them as they have been praising and serving these noble personalities all their lives instead of actually acting on Allah’s instructions in the Book of Allah.
6:94 وَلَقَدْ جِئْتُمُونَا فُرَادَىٰ كَمَا خَلَقْنَاكُمْ أَوَّلَ مَرَّةٍ وَتَرَكْتُم مَّا خَوَّلْنَاكُمْ وَرَاءَ ظُهُورِكُمْ ۖ وَمَا نَرَىٰ مَعَكُمْ شُفَعَاءَكُمُ الَّذِينَ زَعَمْتُمْ أَنَّهُمْ فِيكُمْ شُرَكَاءُ ۚ لَقَد تَّقَطَّعَ بَيْنَكُمْ وَضَلَّ عَنكُم مَّا كُنتُمْ تَزْعُمُونَ
“And behold! you come to us alone as We created you for the first time. You have left behind you all (the favors) which We bestowed on you. We don’t see with you your intercessors whom you proudly thought to be partners in your affairs, so now all relations between you have been cut off, and your fancies have left you!”
Al-Quran is the divine guidance sent by Allah to mankind and the messenger of Allah directs people to the Quran. When people are asked to involve the messenger of Allah in seeking forgiveness from Allah they disregard it. How can anyone dare to disregard the messenger of Allah? when they consider non-Quranic instructions as inspirations from Allah and be very proud of them and assume that they will save them.
63:5 وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُمْ تَعَالَوْا يَسْتَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ لَوَّوْا رُءُوسَهُمْ وَرَأَيْتَهُمْ يَصُدُّونَ وَهُم مُّسْتَكْبِرُونَ
And when it is said to them, “Come, the messenger of Allah will pray for your forgiveness”, they turn aside their heads, and thou wouldst see them turning away their faces in arrogance.
One way that you Ask forgiveness with the messenger, would be to identify the problem in you and correct it with the relevant ayat of Quran, and recite the ayat in your prayer. As the ayat is ‘the saying of the messenger’ (69:40) by reciting the ayat you are repeating the Qaule Rasool/saying of the messenger.
4:64 وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا مِن رَّسُولٍ إِلَّا لِيُطَاعَ بِإِذْنِ اللَّهِ ۚ وَلَوْ أَنَّهُمْ إِذ ظَّلَمُوا أَنفُسَهُمْ جَاءُوكَ فَاسْتَغْفَرُوا اللَّهَ وَاسْتَغْفَرَ لَهُمُ الرَّسُولُ لَوَجَدُوا اللَّهَ تَوَّابًا رَّحِيمًا
We did not sent any messenger, but to be obeyed with the will of Allah. If they had only, when they were unjust to themselves, came to you and asked Allah’s forgiveness, and the messenger also asked forgiveness for them, they would have found Allah indeed Oft-returning, Most Merciful.
When you are sincere about correcting your past errors and are genuinely repentant then you ask forgiveness more than just by paying lip service. You involve the messenger by repeating Allah’s ayahs and sayings of the messenger, with the help of which you can hope to overcome your inclination to sin and hope to be forgiven. The indication of forgiveness by Allah, is that the urge to sin will go away.
9:80 اسْتَغْفِرْ لَهُمْ أَوْ لَا تَسْتَغْفِرْ لَهُمْ إِن تَسْتَغْفِرْ لَهُمْ سَبْعِينَ مَرَّةً فَلَن يَغْفِرَ اللَّهُ لَهُمْ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمْ كَفَرُوا بِاللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ لَا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الْفَاسِقِينَ
You (the messenger) seek forgiveness for them or you do not seek forgiveness for them. If you seek forgiveness for them seventy times Allah will never forgive them that is because they rejected Allah and His messenger. And Allah will not guide to those who are immoral/dissolute.
However, again the forgiveness of sins is on merit. If our sincerity in correction is not there, then even messenger’s repeated intercession on our behalf is not going to do any good.
Like wise, prophet and messenger Nooh (a.s) when he interceded on behalf of his son, his intercession was not accepted.
11:45 وَنَادَىٰ نُوحٌ رَّبَّهُ فَقَالَ رَبِّ إِنَّ ابْنِي مِنْ أَهْلِي وَإِنَّ وَعْدَكَ الْحَقُّ وَأَنتَ أَحْكَمُ الْحَاكِمِينَ
And Nooh called upon his Lord, and said. “O my Lord! surely my son is of my family! and your promise is true, and You are the most just of (all) Judges!”
Allah warned prophet Nooh (a.s) of not interceding for someone who is not worthy of intercession, as per guidelines mentioned above, those interceding on behalf of wrong, will have a portion from it. Prophet Nooh (a.s) quickly realized his mistake and corrected himself and asked forgiveness.
11;46-47 قَالَ يَا نُوحُ إِنَّهُ لَيْسَ مِنْ أَهْلِكَ ۖ إِنَّهُ عَمَلٌ غَيْرُ صَالِحٍ ۖ فَلَا تَسْأَلْنِ مَا لَيْسَ لَكَ بِهِ عِلْمٌ ۖ إِنِّي أَعِظُكَ أَن تَكُونَ مِنَ الْجَاهِلِينَ قَالَ رَبِّ إِنِّي أَعُوذُ بِكَ أَنْ أَسْأَلَكَ مَا لَيْسَ لِي بِهِ عِلْمٌ ۖ وَإِلَّا تَغْفِرْ لِي وَتَرْحَمْنِي أَكُن مِّنَ الْخَاسِرِينَ
He (Allah) said. “O Nooh! he is not of your family, for his conduct is unrighteous. So don’t ask from Me, of which you have no knowledge! I advise you, lest you become of the ignorant ones!” Nooh said. “O my Lord! I do seek refuge with Thee, lest I ask Thee for that of which I have no knowledge, and unless thou forgive me and have mercy on me, I should indeed be of the losers”
When prophet Ibrahim (a.s) was informed about impending destruction of the nation of Lut, he because of his compassionate nature asked Allah not to destroy them, however, was admonished by Allah for this not-on-merit, intercession.
11:74-76 فَلَمَّا ذَهَبَ عَنْ إِبْرَاهِيمَ الرَّوْعُ وَجَاءَتْهُ الْبُشْرَىٰ يُجَادِلُنَا فِي قَوْمِ لُوطٍ إِنَّ إِبْرَاهِيمَ لَحَلِيمٌ أَوَّاهٌ مُّنِيبٌ يَا إِبْرَاهِيمُ أَعْرِضْ عَنْ هَٰذَا ۖ إِنَّهُ قَدْ جَاءَ أَمْرُ رَبِّكَ ۖ وَإِنَّهُمْ آتِيهِمْ عَذَابٌ غَيْرُ مَرْدُودٍ
When fear had passed away from Ibrahim and the glad tidings had reached him, he began to plead with us for Lut’s people. For Ibrahim was, without doubt, forbearing, compassionate, and seeker of Allah. O Ibrahim! Turn away from this (pleading). The decree of your Lord has gone forth, for them there comes a penalty that cannot be turned back!
The angels are interceding for the steadfast people with whom Allah is pleased. The intercession is like commending the good deeds that a person has made in his life. Somewhat similar to a person getting ‘life time achievement award’ in the world and people coming forth and giving applause for his achievements.
53:26 وَكَم مِّن مَّلَكٍ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ لَا تُغْنِي شَفَاعَتُهُمْ شَيْئًا إِلَّا مِن بَعْدِ أَن يَأْذَنَ اللَّهُ لِمَن يَشَاءُ وَيَرْضَىٰ
How many-so-ever be the angels in the heavens, their intercession will avail nothing except after Allah has given leave for whom He pleases and that he is acceptable to Him.
Intercession is only for those who are worthy of intercession, i.e those who turn in repentance and follow the straight path of the Lord.
40:7 الَّذِينَ يَحْمِلُونَ الْعَرْشَ وَمَنْ حَوْلَهُ يُسَبِّحُونَ بِحَمْدِ رَبِّهِمْ وَيُؤْمِنُونَ بِهِ وَيَسْتَغْفِرُونَ لِلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا رَبَّنَا وَسِعْتَ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ رَّحْمَةً وَعِلْمًا فَاغْفِرْ لِلَّذِينَ تَابُوا وَاتَّبَعُوا سَبِيلَكَ وَقِهِمْ عَذَابَ الْجَحِيمِ
Those who sustain the Throne (of Allah) and those around it sing glory and praise to their Lord; believe in Him; and implore forgiveness for those who believe. “Our Lord! Your reach is over all things, in mercy and knowledge. Forgive, then, those who turn in repentance, and follow your path; and preserve them from the penalty of the blazing fire!
20:109 يَوْمَئِذٍ لَّا تَنفَعُ الشَّفَاعَةُ إِلَّا مَنْ أَذِنَ لَهُ الرَّحْمَٰنُ وَرَضِيَ لَهُ قَوْلًا
On that day, the intercession shall not benefit except for the one for whom permission has been granted by the most Gracious and his words are acceptable to Allah.
The above ayat says that only the one who’s words are acceptable to Allah and who has gotten permission from the Allah will be able to intercede. Who has got the permission of intercession from Allah? The below ayat informs of that person and his intercession:
5:116 -118 وَإِذْ قَالَ اللَّهُ يَا عِيسَى ابْنَ مَرْيَمَ أَأَنتَ قُلْتَ لِلنَّاسِ اتَّخِذُونِي وَأُمِّيَ إِلَٰهَيْنِ مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ ۖ قَالَ سُبْحَانَكَ مَا يَكُونُ لِي أَنْ أَقُولَ مَا لَيْسَ لِي بِحَقٍّ ۚ إِن كُنتُ قُلْتُهُ فَقَدْ عَلِمْتَهُ ۚ تَعْلَمُ مَا فِي نَفْسِي وَلَا أَعْلَمُ مَا فِي نَفْسِكَ ۚ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ عَلَّامُ الْغُيُوبِ مَا قُلْتُ لَهُمْ إِلَّا مَا أَمَرْتَنِي بِهِ أَنِ اعْبُدُوا اللَّهَ رَبِّي وَرَبَّكُمْ ۚ وَكُنتُ عَلَيْهِمْ شَهِيدًا مَّا دُمْتُ فِيهِمْ ۖ فَلَمَّا تَوَفَّيْتَنِي كُنتَ أَنتَ الرَّقِيبَ عَلَيْهِمْ ۚ وَأَنتَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ شَهِيدٌ إِن تُعَذِّبْهُمْ فَإِنَّهُمْ عِبَادُكَ ۖ وَإِن تَغْفِرْ لَهُمْ فَإِنَّكَ أَنتَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ
And when Allah said: O Essa, the son of Maryam, did you say to mankind ‘take me and my mother as gods instead of Allah?’ , he said, ‘Glory to You! Never could I say what I had no right. Had I said such a thing, You would have known it. You know what is in my ‘nafs’, though I know not what is in Your ‘Nafs’. Verily, You know all that is hidden.’ Never I said to them except what you commanded me to say, i.e serve Allah, my Lord and your Lord; and I was a witness over them while I was among them; and when You caused me to die, You were the watcher over them, and You are a witness to all things. If you punish them, they are Your servants. if you forgive them, You are the exalted in power, the wise.
However the result of intercession was again upon merit. Those who said that their Lord is God and they don’t mix others with God and His orders, and acted upon it truthfully, will be able to benefit on the day of judgement.
5:119 قَالَ اللَّهُ هَٰذَا يَوْمُ يَنفَعُ الصَّادِقِينَ صِدْقُهُمْ ۚ لَهُمْ جَنَّاتٌ تَجْرِي مِن تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا أَبَدًا ۚ رَّضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُمْ وَرَضُوا عَنْهُ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ الْفَوْزُ الْعَظِيمُ
Allah said, This is a day on which the truthful will profit from their truth; for them are gardens, with streams flowing beneath, their eternal home. Allah is pleased with them, and they are pleased with Allah, that is the great success.