There are some very important and fundamental questions, which we will briefly address here.
Intercession in a simple word is help of a strong to a weak in the way of perfection, so the weak can climb the steps to perfection fast and successfully. However, we usually use this word for the intercession for sinners. We must know that intercession includes all the elements of development. As an example: soil, water, air and light are all the four ingredients that help a seed to turn into a complete prolific tree or a beautiful flower. These four are the genetic guides and the intercessors of seed for perfection. If we understand the intercession in this way, we would not see the Intercessors as the restrictions for God’s power. They are the appliances for God to apply his power in this world and all of them get their efficiency from Allah. With this point of view, all of them will be the sign of God’s power and they work only for performing God’s will.
Unfortunately, some of us think about the intercession as an immoral social phenomenon like. Awkwardly it causes some people to think that we can sin as much as we want and as much as we can, and then we can hold onto the intercession of our Imam.
As we have pointed out, intercession for humans is like the seed and its genetic Intercessors. If a seed does not have the potential for growing, the Intercessor of nature cannot help it. The soft bed of soil, life giving sunlight, breeze of spring and the refreshing drops of rain have the same effect on that seed and piece of pebble. Intercession of Imams or any righteous will not affect those who did not prepare the basis of development in their soul. Also our wise Imams will not waste their intercession for them.
Intercession needs adequacy between the Intercessor and the one who wants to get the intercession. Those who want to receive the intercession must make a connection of compatibility with their Intercessors. This connection is a tool for preparing the one who will receive the intercession to be more like his Intercessor. In this way, intercession makes us more responsible and gives us hope to get better, and it is not a method of escaping our duty and responsibilities. This also makes it clear that the intercession does not stand against God’s will when he wants to punish the sinner. In the other hand, it gives opportunity to be more like those who God loves and prepares them to be forgiven by Allah’s mercy.
Intercession is a Quranic subject and no one can deny it. The rejection expressed by some newly invented political group such as Wahabism is not strong or worthy enough, and the root of this denial is due to their ignorance towards Quran. Some of the Quranic verses clearly talk about intercession on the Day of Judgment, such as, “…no one will be able to intercede for the others except those whom the Beneficent God has given authority.1”
“On that day no one's intercession will be of any benefit unless he has received permission from the Beneficent God and whose word is acceptable to Him.2”
“No intercession with Him will be of any benefit except that of those whom He has granted permission. The angels cannot intercede. They are always submissive to their Lord. Fear vanishes from their heart when (they receive a message from their Lord).They ask each other, "What did your Lord say?" Others answer, "He spoke the Truth. He is the Most High and the Greatest."3”.
Allameh Majlisi in regards to his discussion about the proofs of intercession and the opinion of other Islamic sects for intercession says, “Whatever we have said proves that all of the Ummah accept the concept of intercession. Though there are some differences in opinion about its condition. In Shia ideology, the effect of intercession is removing the harms and the punishment of sins from the faithful. However the Motazeleh4 say that the intercession is just for increasing the rewards of good action for the submissive and repentant but it does not benefit sinners.5
After the above argument, a question may arise in our mind that whether Prophet Muhammad has the right for intercession. And if so, then what is the proof for it?
We have to say that the perfect example of those named in the Holy Quran as the intercessors is our beloved Prophet. In addition, there are many Ahadith narrated by Shia and Sunni sources that tell us about the superiority of his intercession. In this short record, we cannot mention many of them but we will try to name some that show the important quality of his intercession. In these Ahadith, even other prophets seek the intercession of Prophet Muhammad.
Ali Ibn Ibrahim Qumi in his great and precious interpretation narrates from Samaaeh. He says, “I asked from Imam Sadiq about intercession of Prophet. Imam answered, “On the Day of Judgment people will be drowning in their sweat (they will sweat a lot because of hardships) so they will say to each other to go and ask Adam to intercede for them. They will come to Adam and say intercede for us. Prophet Adam will say, “I have guilt. Go to Prophet Noah.” Then people will go to Noah but he will send them to next prophet and that will repeat until they will come to Jesus and Prophet Jesus will send them to Prophet Muhammad. Prophet Muhammad will tell them, “Come with me” then Prophet will take them to the door of Heaven, the door of mercy.
Then the Prophet will prostrate and he will remain in that posture for as long as God’s will. Then God will say, “Lift your head and intercede. We will accept your intercession and ask me to give you” then Imam said, “This is the real story behind the verse, “pray your special (tahajjud) prayer during some part of the night as an additional (obligatory) prayer for you alone so that perhaps your Lord will raise you to a highly praiseworthy position.6”.Another interesting point is that even the Ahlul Bayt are included in the Prophet intercession. In relation to the interpretation of the verse “Your Lord will soon grant you sufficient favors to please you” Ibn Abbas is reported to have said, “the interpretation is that soon God will accept your intercession about all of your Ahlul Bayt. So they all enter the heaven and you become glad7”.8
There is also an interesting Hadith about the place of intercession.
عَنْ جَعْفَرِ بْنِ مُحَمَّدٍ عَنْ أَبِيهِ ع عَنْ جَابِرِ بْنِ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ الْأَنْصَارِيِّ عَنْ عَلِيِّ بْنِ أَبِي طَالِبٍ ع قَالَ قَالَتْ فَاطِمَةُ ع لِرَسُولِ اللَّهِ ص يَا أَبَتَاهْ أَيْنَ أَلْقَاكَ يَوْمَ الْمَوْقِفِ الْأَعْظَمِ وَ يَوْمَ الْأَهْوَالِ وَ يَوْمَ الْفَزَعِ الْأَكْبَرِ قَالَ يَا فَاطِمَةُ عِنْدَ بَابِ الْجَنَّةِ وَ مَعِي لِوَاءُ الْحَمْدِ وَ أَنَا الشَّفِيعُ لِأُمَّتِي إِلَى رَبِّي قَالَتْ يَا أَبَتَاهْ فَإِنْ لَمْ أَلْقَكَ هُنَاكَ قَالَ الْقَيْنِي عَلَى الْحَوْضِ وَ أَنَا أَسْقِي أُمَّتِي قَالَتْ يَا أَبَتَاهْ إِنْ لَمْ أَلْقَكَ هُنَاكَ قَالَ الْقَيْنِي عَلَى الصِّرَاطِ وَ أَنَا قَائِمٌ أَقُولُ رَبِّ سَلِّمْ أُمَّتِي قَالَتْ فَإِنْ لَمْ أَلْقَكَ هُنَاكَ قَالَ الْقَيْنِي وَ أَنَا عِنْدَ الْمِيزَانِ أَقُولُ رَبِّ سَلِّمْ أُمَّتِي قَالَتْ فَإِنْ لَمْ أَلْقَكَ هُنَاكَ قَالَ الْقَيْنِي عَلَى شَفِيرِ جَهَنَّمَ أَمْنَعُ شَرَرَهَا وَ لَهَبَهَا عَنْ أُمَّتِي فَاسْتَبْشَرَتْ فَاطِمَةُ بِذَلِكَ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهَا وَ عَلَى أَبِيهَا وَ بَعْلِهَا وَ بَنِيهَ
Imam Sadiq narrates a hadith from Imam Baqir from Jabir Ibn Abdullah from Imam Ali. The Commander of faithful has said, “Fatima Al-Zahra asked the Prophet: “On the day of judgment, in that great place, in that horrifying day where can I meet you?” Prophet said, “O, Fatima at the door of heaven when I hold the flag of praise and I intercede for my Ummah.” Fatima said, “If I do not find you?” Prophet said, “On the bridge of Serat while I say, “O, God keep my Ummah safe.” Fatima said, “If I do not see you there?” Prophet answered, “By the scale of justice while I say, “O, God keep my Ummah safe.” Fatima said, “If I do not see you there?” Prophet replied, “At the edge of hell when I keep away the fire of hell from my Ummah.” Then Fatima became happy. May Allah send His peace and blessings on Fatima and her father and her husband and her children”.9
Also in Ahadith we find that Prophet Muhammad will use the intercession to save his Umah from hellfire.
عنْ أَنَسِ بْنِ مَالِكٍ قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ ص لِكُلِّ نَبِيٍّ دَعْوَةٌ قَدْ دَعَا بِهَا وَ قَدْ سَأَلَ سُؤْلًا وَ قَدْ أَخْبَأْتُ دَعْوَتِي لِشَفَاعَتِي لِأُمَّتِي يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَة
Anas Ibn Malik narrates from Prophet, “Every prophet has a demand and request from Allah (that it will not be rejected). All of them asked their request from Allah and I saved that request to intercede for my Ummah on the Day of Judgment.”10
It is an important question for some of us, because we want to know whether we will miss the chance to be interceded or not? According to Ahadith, intercession will include the sinners and some of those who have committed the great sins will be interceded too.
المجلسی بسنده عَنِ الرِّضَا عَنْ أَبِيهِ عَنْ آبَائِهِ عَنْ أَمِيرِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ ع قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ ص مَنْ لَمْ يُؤْمِنْ بِحَوْضِي فَلَا أَوْرَدَهُ اللَّهُ حَوْضِي وَ مَنْ لَمْ يُؤْمِنْ بِشَفَاعَتِي فَلَا أَنَالَهُ اللَّهُ شَفَاعَتِي ثُمَّ قَالَ ع إِنَّمَا شَفَاعَتِي لِأَهْلِ الْكَبَائِرِ مِنْ أُمَّتِي فَأَمَّا الْمُحْسِنُونَ فَمَا عَلَيْهِمْ مِنْ سَبِيلٍ
Allamah Majlesi in the great book of Bihar Al-Anwar narrates from Imam Ridha’ that he narrates from his honorable ancestors that Prophet Muhammad said, “Those who do not believe in my pool (of Kawthar) they will not enter it and those who do not believe in my intercession, God will not include them in my intercession”. Then he said, “My intercession is for those who have committed great sins from my Ummah however there is no blame on them”.11
Imam Sajjad in his last phrase of this Dua says, “O, Allah make him for me such interceptor that you accept his interception and make my way to you straight and smooth and make me the follower of the honorable man until the day of judgment, when I meet you, you are happy from me and forgive my sins meanwhile you obligate your mercy and grace upon me and inhabit me eternally between the righteous.”
- 1. لا يَمْلِكُونَ الشَّفاعَةَ إِلَّا مَنِ اتَّخَذَ عِنْدَ الرَّحْمنِ عَهْداً مريم87
- 2. يَوْمَئِذٍ لا تَنْفَعُ الشَّفاعَةُ إِلَّا مَنْ أَذِنَ لَهُ الرَّحْمنُ وَ رَضِيَ لَهُ قَوْلًا طه109
- 3. وَ لا تَنْفَعُ الشَّفاعَةُ عِنْدَهُ إِلاَّ لِمَنْ أَذِنَ لَهُ حَتَّى إِذا فُزِّعَ عَنْ قُلُوبِهِمْ قالُوا ما ذا قالَ رَبُّكُمْ قالُوا الْحَقَّ وَ هُوَ الْعَلِيُّ الْكَبيرُ
- 4. معتزله
- 5. بحار ج 8 ص 30
- 6. 79الاسراء
- 7. الضحی 5
- 8. عَنِ ابْنِ مَحْبُوبٍ عَنْ زُرْعَةَ عَنْ سَمَاعَةَ عَنْ أَبِي عَبْدِ اللَّهِ ع قَالَ سَأَلْتُهُ عَنْ شَفَاعَةِ النَّبِيِّ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ قَالَ يُلْجِمُ النَّاسَ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ الْعَرَقُ فَيَقُولُونَ انْطَلِقُوا بِنَا إِلَى آدَمَ يَشْفَعُ لَنَا [عِنْدَ رَبِّهِ] فَيَأْتُونَ آدَمَ فَيَقُولُونَ اشْفَعْ لَنَا عِنْدَ رَبِّكَ فَيَقُولُ إِنَّ لِي ذَنْباً وَ خَطِيئَةً فَعَلَيْكُمْ بِنُوحٍ فَيَأْتُونَ نُوحاً فَيَرُدُّهُمْ إِلَى مَنْ يَلِيهِ وَ يَرُدُّهُمْ كُلُّ نَبِيٍّ إِلَى مَنْ يَلِيهِ حَتَّى يَنْتَهُونَ إِلَى عِيسَى فَيَقُولُ عَلَيْكُمْ بِمُحَمَّدٍ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَ آلِهِ وَ عَلَى جَمِيعِ الْأَنْبِيَاءِ فَيَعْرِضُونَ أَنْفُسَهُمْ عَلَيْهِ وَ يَسْأَلُونَهُ فَيَقُولُ انْطَلِقُوا فَيَنْطَلِقُ بِهِمْ إِلَى بَابِ الْجَنَّةِ وَ يَسْتَقْبِلُ بَابَ الرَّحْمَنِ وَ يَخِرُّ سَاجِداً فَيَمْكُثُ مَا شَاءَ اللَّهُ فَيَقُولُ اللَّهُ عَزَّ وَ جَلَّ ارْفَعْ رَأْسَكَ وَ اشْفَعْ تُشَفَّعْ وَ سَلْ تُعْطَ وَ ذَلِكَ قَوْلُهُ عَسى أَنْ يَبْعَثَكَ رَبُّكَ مَقاماً مَحْمُودا بحارالأنوار ج : 8 ص : 36
- 9. بحار ج8ص 35
- 10. بحار 8 ص34
- 11. بحار ج 8 ص 34