The narrations just mentioned, prove beyond doubt
that intercedence is a given fact and a right granted to some chosen worshippers
Yet, some heedless Muslims argue that intercedence is a sort of polytheism, as if they have not read the Holy Quran. The following Quranic verses explicitly speak of intercedence on the Day of Rising.
"Who is there can intercede in His presence except as He permitteth?" (2: 255)
"And they offer no intercession except for those who are acceptable." (21: 28)
"No intercessor (can plead with Him) except after His Leave." (10: 3)
"None shall have the power of intercession, but such a one as has received permission (or promise) from the Most Gracious (Allah)." (12: 87)
"On that Day shall no intercession avail except for those for whom permission has been granted by (Allah) the Most Gracious." (20: 109)
"No intercession can avail His presence, except for whom He has granted permission." (34: 23)
"Their intercession will avail nothing except after
Allah has given leave for whom He pleases and that he is acceptable to
Him." (53: 26)
These verses speak of intercedence on the Day of Rising. There are also Quranic verses, which prove intercedence in this world; some of these verses are:
1. "If they had only, when they were unjust to themselves, come unto thee and asked Allah's forgiveness, and the Apostle had asked forgiveness for them, they would have found Allah indeed oft-returning, Most merciful." (4: 64)
2. They said: "O our father! Ask for us forgiveness
for our sins, for we were truly at fault." (12: 97)
3. 'And ask forgiveness for thy fault, and for the men and women who believe." (67: 19)
4. 'And pray on their behalf, verily thy prayers are a source of security for them." (9: 103)
5. "Whoever recommends and helps a good cause becomes
a partner therein." (4: 85)
Moreover, Sayyid Muhammad Hussain Tabataba'i explained what intercession means in his Al-Mizan v.1, pp.227-265. He says:
"When he (man) wants to get a reward without doing his task; or to save himself from punishment without performing his duty, then he looks for someone to intercede on his behalf. But intercession is effective only if the person for whom one intercedes is otherwise qualified to get the reward and has already established a relationship with the authority. If an ignorant person desires appointment to a prestigious academic post, no intercession can do him any good; nor can it avail in case of a rebellious traitor who shows no remorse for his misdeeds and does not submit to the lawful authorities. It clearly shows that intercession works as a supplement to the cause; it is not an independent cause. The effect of an intercessor's words depends on one or the other factor, which may have some influence upon the concerned authority; in other words, intercession must have solid ground to stand upon. The intercessor endeavors to find a way to the heart of the authority concerned, in order that the said authority may give the reward to, or waive the punishment of, the person who is the subject of intercession. An intercessor does not ask the master to nullify his mastership or to release the servant from his servitude; nor does he plead with him to refrain from laying down the rules and regulations for his servants or to abrogate his commandments (either generally or especially in that one case), in order to save the wrongdoer from the due consequences nor does he ask him to discard the canon of reward and punishment, (either generally or in that particular case). In short, intercession can interfere with neither the institution of mastership and servantship, nor the master's authority to lay down the rules; nor can affect the system of reward and punishment. These three factors are beyond the jurisdiction of intercession.
What an intercessor dose is this: He accepts the inviolability of the above-mentioned three aspects. Then he looks at one or more of the following factors and builds his intercession on that basis:
a. He appeals to such attributes of the master as give rise to forgiveness, e.g., nobility, magnanimity and generosity.
b. He draws attention to such characteristics of the servant as justify mercy and pardon, e.g., his wretchedness, poverty, low status and misery.
c. He puts at stake his own prestige and honor in the eyes of the master.
Thus, the import of intercession is like this: I cannot and do not say that you should forget your mastership over your servant or abrogate your commandment or nullify the system of reward and punishment. What I ask of you, is to forgive this defaulting servant of yours because you are magnanimous and generous, and because no harm would come to you if you forgive his sins; and/or because your servant is a wretched creature of low status and steeped in misery; and it is befitting of a master like you to forgive and pardon him in honor of my intercession.
The intercessor, in this way, bestows precedence on the factors of forgiveness and pardon over those of legislation and recompense. He removes the case from the latter's jurisdiction putting it under the former's influence. As a result of this shift, the consequences of legislation (reward and punishment) do not remain applicable. The effect of intercession is, therefore, based on shifting the case from the jurisdiction of reward and punishment to that of pardon and forgiveness; it is not a confrontation between one cause (divine legislation) and the other (intercession).
By not it should have been clear that intercession too is one of two causes; it is the intermediate cause that connects a distant cause to its desired effect.
Allah is the ultimate Cause. This causality shows itself in two ways:
First: IN CREATION. Every cause begins from Him and ends up to Him; He is the first and the final Cause. He is the real Creator and Originator. All other causes are mere channels to carry His boundless mercy and limitless bounty to His creatures.
Second: IN LEGISLATION. - He, in His mercy, established a contact with His creatures; He laid down the religion, sent down His commandments, and prescribed suitable reward and appropriate punishment for His obedient and disobedient servants; He sent Prophets and apostles to bring us good tidings and to warn us of the consequences of transgression. The prophets and apostles conveyed to us His message in the best possible way. Thus, His proof over us was complete: and the word of your Lord has been accomplished with truth and justice, there is none to change His words... (6: 115).
Both aspects of causality of Allah may be, and in fact are, related to intercession.
1. Intercession in creation: Quite obviously the intermediary causes of creation are the conduits that bring the divine mercy, life, sustenance and other bounties to the creatures; and as such they are intercessors between the Creator and the created. Some Quranic verses, too, are based on this very theme: `Whatever is in the Heavens and whatever is in the Earth is His: who is he that can intercede with Him but by His permission' (2: 255);
`Surely your Lord is Allah, who created the Heavens and the Earth in six periods, and He is firmly established on throne, regulation the affair; there is not intercessor except after His permission' (10: 3). Intercession in the sphere of creation is only the intermediation of causes between the Creator and the created thing and effect, in bringing it into being and regulating its affairs.
2. Intercession in legislation: Intercession, as analyzed earlier, is effective in this sphere too. It is in this context that Allah says:
`On that day shall no intercession avail except
of him whom the Beneficent God allows and whose word He is pleased with'
(20: 109); And intercession will not avail aught with Him save of
him whom He permits' (34: 23); And how many an angel is there in
the Heavens whose intercession does not avail at all except after Allah
has given permission to whom He pleases and chooses' (53: 26); ...and
they do not intercede except for him whom He approves...' (21: 28);
And those whom they call upon besides Him have no authority for intercession,
but he who bears witness of the truth-and they know (him)' (43: 86).
These verses clearly affirm intercessory role for various servants of Allah-both men and angels-with divine permission and pleasure. It means that Allah has given them some power and authority in this matter, and to Him belongs all the kingdom and all the affairs. Those intercessors may appeal to Allah's mercy, forgiveness and other relevant attributes to cover and protect a servant who otherwise would have deserved punishment because of his sins and transgressions. That intercession would transfer his case from the general law of recompense to the special domain of grace and mercy. (It has already been explained that the effect of intercession is based on shifting a case from the former's to the latter's jurisdiction; it is not a confrontation between one law and the other.) Allah clearly says; so these are they of whom Allah changes the evil deeds to good ones' (25: 70). Allah has the power to change one type of deed into another, in the same way as He may render an act null and void. He says: And We will proceed to what they have done of deeds, so We shall render them as scattered floating dust' (25: 23); so He rendered their deeds null' (47: 9); `If you avoid the great sins which you are forbidden, We will expiate from you your (small) sins' (4: 31); `Surely Allah does not forgive that anything should be associated with Him, and forgives what is besides that to whomsoever He pleases' (4: 48).
The last verse quoted, is certainly about the cases other than true belief and repentance; because with belief and repentance even polytheism is forgiven, like any other sin. Also Allah may nurture a small deed to make it greater than the original: `These shall be granted the reward twice' (28: 54); `whoever brings a good deed, he shall have ten like it' (6: 160); Likewise, He may treat a nonexistent deed as existing: And (as for) those who believe and their offspring and We will not diminish to them aught of their work; every man is responsible for what he has done' (52: 21).
"To make a long story short, Allah does what He pleases; and decrees as He wills. Of course, He does so pursuant to His servants' interest, and in accordance with an intermediary cause and intercession of the intercessors (e.g., the prophets, the friends of Allah and those who are nearer to Him) is one of those causes, and certainly no rashness or injustice is entailed therein.
It should have been clear by now that intercession, in its true sense, belongs to Allah only; all His attributes are intermediaries between Him and His creatures and are the Channels through which His grace, mercy and decrees pass to the creatures; He is the real and all-encompassing intercessor: Say: `Allah's is the intercession altogether' (39: 44) ..you have not besides Him any guardian or any intercessor' (32: 4); ...there is not guardian for them nor any intercessor besides Him' (6: 51). The intercessors, other than Allah, get that right by His permission, by His authority.
In short, intercession with Him is a confirmed
reality-in cases where it does not go against the divine glory and
Sayyid Tabatabai also answers the following question:
Who are the Intercessors?
"It has been described that intercession takes place in two spheres: in creation and in legislation. So far as the intercession in creation is concerned, all intermediary causes are intercessors because they are placed between the Creator and the created.
As for the intercessors is the sphere of legislation and judgment, they may be divided into two categories:
(1) Intercessors in this life, and (2) those in
Intercessors in this life: All the things that brings a man nearer to Allah and make him eligible for divine forgiveness. The following come into this category:
a. Repentance: Allah says: `Say: O my servants! who have acted extravagantly against their own souls, do not despair of the mercy of Allah; surely Allah forgives the faults altogether; surely He is the Forgiving, the Merciful And return to your Lord...' (39: 53-54). It covers all the sins, even polytheism; if one repents from it and believes in One God, one's previous polytheism is wiped out and forgiven.
b. True faith; Allah says: `O you who believe! 'Fear Allah and believe in His Apostle: He will give you two portions of His mercy, and make for you a light with which you will walk, and forgive you...' (57: 28).
c. Good deed: Allah has promised those who believe and do good deeds (that there is) for them pardon and great recompense' (5: 9); `O you who believe! fear Allah and seek an approach (medium)to Him...' (5: 35). There are many verses with this theme.
d. The Quran: `Indeed has come to you from Allah a light and a manifest Book whereby Allah guides him who follows His pleasure, into the ways of peace, and takes them out from darkness towards the light by His will and guides them to the straight path' (5: 16).
e. Anything related to a good deed, like the mosques,
holy places and auspicious days.
f. The prophets and the apostles, as they seek forgiveness for their people. Allah says: `And had they, when they were unjust to themselves, come to you and asked forgiveness of Allah, and the Apostle had (also) asked forgiveness for them, they would have found Allah oft-returning (to mercy), Merciful' (4: 64).
g. The angels, as they too ask forgiveness for the believers. Allah says: `Those who bear the throne and those around it, celebrate the praise of their Lord and believe in Him and ask forgiveness for those who believe' (40: 7); and the angels celebrate the praise of their Lord and ask forgiveness for those on earth...' (4: 5).
h. The believers themselves, as they seek pardon for their believer brothers and for themselves. Allah quotes them as saying. - `and pardon us, and forgive us, and have mercy on us. Thou art our Guardian...' (2: 286).
Intercessors in the hereafter: We use the term intercessor, in the meaning explained in the beginning. The following come into this category:
a. The prophets and the apostles: Allah says: And they say: "The Beneficent God has taken to Himself a son. Glory be to Him. Nay! They are honored servants; they do not precede Him in speech and (only) according to His commandment do they act. He knows what is before them and what is behind them, and they do not intercede except for him whom He approves...' (21: 26-28). Those who were called `son' of God, are in fact His honored servants and they do intercede for him whom He approves. Among them is Isa (Jesus), son of Maryam, and he was a prophet. It means that the Prophets do intercede for approved persons.
Again Allah says: And those whom they call upon besides Him have no authority for (or, do not own) intercession, but he who bears witness to the truth and they know (him)' (43: 86).
b. The angels: The preceding two verses prove that the angels too may intercede, because they too were called daughters of Allah. Moreover, Allah says: And how many an angel is there in the Heavens whose intercession does not avail at all, except after Allah has given permission to whom He pleases and chooses' (53: 26); `On that day shall no intercession avail except of him whom the Beneficent God allows and whose word He is pleased with. He knows what is before them and what is behind them...' (20: 109-110).
c. The witnesses; Allah says: And those whom they call upon besides Him have no authority for (or, do not own) intercession, but he who bears witness of truth and they know (him)' (43: 86). This verse shows that those who bear witness of the truth do own (or, have authority for) intercession. The witness mentioned here, does not mean the one killed in the battlefield. It refers to the witness for the deeds, as was described in the Chapter of the Opening.
d. The believers: They shall be joined to the witnesses
on the Day of Judgment; it follows that they, too, may intercede-like the
witnesses. Allah says: And (as for) those who believe in Allah and His
apostles, these it is that are the truthful and the witnesses with their
Lord..." (57: 19).
It is noticeable that Sayyid Tabataba'i did not mention
the Imams or Fatima (A) in his categorization of the intercessors. This
is because the Imams are among the witnesses that he spoke of. In his explanation
of the sixth verse of chapter one (1), and verse 143 of chapter two (2),
he implicitly stated that what is meant by the witness on the right path,
are the Imams (A). In addition to this, there are various narrations, which
clearly state that they (A) are the ones meant by the witnesses.
Lady Fatima (A) undoubtedly is included among the
believers who are intercessors on the Day of Rising. If a certain class
of believers have the right of intercession, then it is only reasonable
that she (A) is at the top of the category. Nevertheless, the previously
mentioned narrations regarding her intercession deem it unnecessary for
us to speak further about this matter.
Traditions Regarding Intercession
Sayyid Tabataba'i has also selected several traditions
which speak of intercession on the Day of Rising by the Prophet (S)
and Ahlul-Bayt (A). In order to become more familiar with the subject
from this viewpoint, some of these narrations are mentioned here:
1. Al-Hussain Ibn Khalid narrates from Al-Ridha (A), who narrated through his forefathers from the Leader of the Faithful (A) that he said:
"Messenger of Allah (S) said: `Whoever does not
believe in my reservoir, may Allah not bring him to my reservoir, and whoever
does not believe in my intercession, may Allah not extend to him my intercession.'
Then he said: `Verily, my intercession is for those of my Ummah who shall
have committed great sins; as for the good-doers, there shall be no difficulty
for them. " Al-Hussain Ibn Khalid said: "I asked Al-Ridha (A); `O
son of the Messenger of Allah! What is then the meaning of the words of
Allah, Mighty and Great is He: `and they do not intercede except for him
whose religion Allah is pleased with, "' (Al Amali, As-Saduq).
2. "Suma'ah Ibn Mihran narrates from Abu Ibrahim (A)
that he said about the words of Allah:
`May be your Lord will raise you to a praised position':
The people, on the Day of Resurrection, will remain standing for forty
years; and the sun will be ordered so that it will ride over their heads
and they will be bridled with sweat, and the earth will be told not to
accept any of their sweat. So, they shall approach Adam to intercede for
them, and he will direct them to Nuh, and Nuh will direct them to Ibrahim,
and Ibrahim will direct them to Musa, and Musa will direct them to Isa,
and Isa will direct them saying: `You should seek help from Muhammad, the
last Prophet.' Thereupon, Muhammad (S) will say: `I'll do it'; and will
proceed until arriving at the door of the Garden; he will knock on it.
It will be asked, `Who is it?' (While Allah knows better), and he will
say: `Muhammad,' then it will be said: `Open for him'. When the door will
be opened, he will turn to his Lord, falling in sajdah. He will not raise
his head until he is told: `Speak up and ask, you shall be given; and intercede,
your intercession shall be granted.' He will raise his head and turning
to his Lord, will fall (again) in sajdah. Then he will be promised as before;
then he will raise his head.- Thereupon, he shall intercede until he will
intercede even for him who would have been burnt in the fire. Therefore,
on the Day of Resurrection, no one among all the nations will be more eminent
than Muhammad (S); and this is (the meaning of) the words of Allah:
`May be your Lord will raise you to a praised position."(Al
3. Ubayd Ibn Zurarah said:
'Abu Abdillah (A) was asked whether a believer
would have the right of intercession. He said: Yes.' Then someone said:
`Will even a believer need the intercession of Muhammad (S) on that day?'
He said: Yes, the believers too will come with wrongs and sins; and there
will be none but shall need the intercession of Muhammad on that day."'
(Ubayd) said: 'And someone asked him about the words of the Messenger
of Allah: `I am the Chief of the children of Adam, and I say this without
boasting.' He said: Yes,'then he said: He will hold the chain-link of the
door of the garden and open it; then he will fall in sajdah, and Allah
will tell him: `Raise your head, to intercede, your intercession shall
be granted; ask, you shall be given.' Thereupon, he will raise his head
and intercede and his intercession will be accepted; and he will ask and
be given. `
4. Al-Qumi narrates a tradition in his Tafseer, under
the verse: 'and intercession will not avail aught with Him save of him
whom He permits," (34:23), that Abu Al-Abbas al-Mukabbar said:
'A servant of a wife of Ali Ibn Al-Hussain (A),named
Abu Ayman, came (to the fifth Imam- (A)) and said: `O Abu Ja'far! You mislead
the people, saying intercession of Muhammad, intercession Muhammad.' (Hearing
this) Abu Ja'far became so angry that his face took a glowering expression;
then he said: `Woe unto you! O Abu Ayman! Are you deluded by chastity of
your stomach and genitals? Why, when you will see the terror of resurrection,
you shall certainly be in need of intercession of Muhammad. Fie on you!
Would he intercede except for him who would have been sentenced to the
fire?' (Then) he said: `There is not one from the early people to the later
ones but he will need the intercession of Muhammad (S) on the Day of Resurrection.'
Then again Abu Ja'far said: `Certainly the Messenger of Allah has (authority
of) intercession for his Ummah, and we have (authority of) intercession
for our Shiites, and our Shiites have (authority of) intercession for their
families.' Then he said: And surely a believer shall intercede for (very
large numbers of)
people like the tribes of Rabi'ah and Mudhar.
And surely a believer shall intercede for his servant, saying: "O my Lord!
I owe this to him, he protected me from heat and cold.""
5. The (fifth) Imam said about the verse, 'And intercession will not avail aught with Him save him whom He permits:
"No prophet or apostle may intercede until Allah
permits him, except the Apostle of Allah; because Allah has already given
him permission before the Day of Resurrection; and intercession is (allowed)
to him and to the Imams from his progeny, and after that to the prophets."
6. Ali (A) said:
"The Apostle of Allah (S) said: `Three (groups)
shall intercede with Allah and their intercession will be accepted: The
prophets, then the (religious) scholars, then the martyrs. " (Al-Khis?l)
7. Abu Abdillah narrates through his father and grandfather,
from Ali (A) that he said:
"The garden has eight gates: one for the entry
of prophets and the truthful ones, the other for the martyrs and the good
ones; and five gates are for the entry of our Shiites and lovers-I shall
be standing on the As-Sir?t (the path, the bridge over hell) praying and
saying: `My Lord! Save my Shiites and my lovers and my helpers and those
who followed me in the (life of the) world.' When all of a sudden there
will come a voice from inside the throne: Your prayer is granted and your
intercession for your Shiites accepted.' And every Shiite of mine and everyone
who loves me, helps me and fights my enemies by (his) deed or word, shall
intercede for seventy thousand of his neighbors and relatives; and (there
is) a gate from which shall enter all the Muslims who witness that there
is no god except Allah and in whose heart there is not an iota of enmity
towards us, the people of the cause."
8. Al-Kadhim (A)narrated from his father, through
his forefathers, from the Prophet that he said:
"My intercession is for those of my Ummah who would have committed big sins; as for the doers of good, there shall be no difficulty for them." He was asked: "Oson of the Messenger of Allah! How can the intercession be for those who have committed big sins; while Allah says, `and they do not intercede except for him whom He approves' (21:28); and a committer of big sins cannot be approved?" He (A) said: "No believer commits a sin but he regrets it and feels ashamed. And the Prophet has said:
Enough is regret as repentance, 'and also he has
said: `Whoever is pleased by a good deed and displeased by a bad deed,
he is a believer.' Therefore, if there is someone who does not feel remorse
for a sin he has committed, he is not a believer, and intercession will
not avail him, and he will be an unjust one. And Allah says: `The unjust
shall have no true friend nor any intercessor who should be obeyed'
It was said to him: "O son of the Messenger of Allah! How is it that
he who is not sorry for a sin he has committed, he does not remain a believer?"
He said: 'Anyone who commits a big sin, knowing that he must be
punished for it, will certainly feel remorse for what he has done. And
as soon as he is sorry, he is repentant, eligible for intercession. But
if he is not sorry, then he is persisting in it, and a persistent (sinner)
is not forgiven; because he does not believe in the punishment of what
he has done. Has he believed in that punishment he would have been sorry.
And the Prophet has said: `No big sin abides with apologizing, and no small
sin remains (small) with persistence.' And as for the words of Allah, "and
they do not intercede except for him whom He approves, " it means that
they do not intercede except for him whose religion He approves. Religion
is an acknowledgement that good and bad deeds have to be recompensed. If
one's religion were approved, one would feel remorse for the sins one would
have committed, because he would know what their result would be on the
(Day of) Resurrection." (At-Tawhid)
9. A similar theme is found in a tradition quoted
in `Ilalu-Sh-Sharaye' from Abu Ishaq al-Laythi that he said:
`O son of the Messenger of Allah! Tell me about
a believer, possessing religious understanding when he reaches (a high
point in) knowledge and becomes perfect, does he commit fornication?' He
said `By God! No.' I said: `Then does he indulge in sodomy? He said: `By
God! No.' I said: `Then does he steal?' He said: 'No.' I said: `Then does
he drink intoxicant?' He said: `No.' I said: `Then does he commit any of
the big sins or indulge in any of these indecencies?' He said: `No.' I
said: `Then does he commit a sin?' He said: `Yes, and he is a believer,
sinner, submissive.' I said: `What does submissive mean?' He said: `The
submissive (servant) does not persist in it, does not keep doing it..."
10. Al-Ridha (A) narrated through his forefathers
that the Messenger of Allah said:
"When the resurrection comes, Allah, Great and
Mighty is He, will manifest himself to His believer servant, and will remind
him of his sins one by one; then Allah will forgive him; Allah will not
let (even) a near angel or an apostle prophet know of his (sin), and will
cover it least anyone becomes aware of it. Then He will say to his bad
deeds `Be good deeds." (Al-Khis?l)
11. Abu Dharr said:
"The Messenger of Allah (S) said: A man
will be brought on the Day of Resurrection; and it will be said: "Show
him his small sins; and keep back from him his big sins." Then it will
be said to him: "You did so and so on such and such a day." And he will
go on confessing, while apprehensive of his big sins. Then it will be said:
"Give him a good deed in place of every bad deed." Then he will say: "I
had done some which I do not see- (mentioned) here. "Abu Dhar said:
'And I saw the Messenger of Allah laughing until his teeth were shown."
12. As-Sadiq (A) said:
"When the Day of Resurrection comes, Allah Glorified
and Sublime is He, shall spread His mercy until even Iblis will hope for
His mercy." (Al-Amali, As-Saduq)