THE CONCEPT OF INTERCESSION
There is a traditional view which exists among present day Muslims regarding the concept of intercession which is based on hadith literature. This view is not supported by the Quran. The Quran repeatedly holds each individual responsible for his or her own conduct. According to the Quran there are three important points to understand under the Law of Requital regarding rewards and punishments (The Law of Cause and Effect):
1. According to this law every human
action (individual's thoughts) produces its own effect
particularly on the personality - this is an unalterable law
implemented by God in the form of cause and effect.
2. Some actions produce good or constructive effects while others produce destructive effects. Every action simultaneously produces effects on the human personality.
3. The individual, whose balance sheet is full of constructive effects of his good deeds, will proceed ahead - this is known as reward or heavenly life of existence. The individual whose balance sheet is tilted towards destructive effects - will be punished or will live in a state of hell.
"Then shall anyone who has done an atom's weight of good, see it; And anyone who has done an atom's weight of evil, shall see it" (99:7-8)
"Then guard yourselves against a day, When one soul shall not avail another, nor shall intercession be accepted for her, nor shall compensation be taken from her, nor shall anyone be helped" (2:48)
"Then guard yourselves against a day, When one soul shall not avail another, nor shall compensation be accepted from her, nor shall intercession profit her, nor shall anyone be helped" (2:123)
"Not your desires, nor those of the people of the Book (can prevail): Whosoever works evil, will be requited accordingly. Nor will he find, besides God, any protector or helper. If any do deeds of righteousness, - Be they male or female - and have faith, they will enter Heaven, and not the least injustice will be done to them" (4:123-124)
The true concept of God who is running the affairs of the universe is only contained in the Quran, as it is given by god Himself to mankind. One of the attributes frequently mentioned by god about himself is 'Aziz-ul-Hakeem' which is translated as the Exalted in Power, the Wise. The very concept of intercession means to give someone advantage which one does not deserve and is against the concept of justice. God the Wise can never be expected to do that. This concept if accepted, brings down the whole building block of 'din' as presented in the Quran by god. We all know that a person who accepts intercession in worldly life can never expected to deliver justice.
Those who support intercession,
however, quote the following verse from the Quran to support
their views: 'God! There is no God but He, - the living, the
Self-subsisting, Eternal. No slumber can seize Him nor sleep. His
are all things in the heavens and on earth. Who is there to
intercede in His presence except as he permitteth? He knoweth
what (appeared to His creatures as) before or after or behind
them. Nor shall they compass aught of His knowledge except as He
willeth. His throne doth extend over the heavens and the earth,
and he feeleth no fatigue in guarding and preserving them. For He
is the most High the Supreme (in glory)' (2:255). It is
instructive to quote the verse immediately prior to the above
from the Quran:
"O ye who believe! Spend out of (the bounties) We have provided for you, before the Day comes when no Bargaining (will avail), nor Friendship nor Intercession. Those who reject faith - they are the wrong-doers" (2:254).
This verse puts beyond doubt that there is no intercession, as is repeated in the verse (4:123-124) quoted above. Clearly, there is no need to go into more detail regarding the interpretation of the verse (2:255), otherwise there appears to be a contradiction in the Quran which is not possible. According to the Law of Requital every human deed leaves its effect on the human personality. The Quran has used metaphor to draw parallels with our experience in society. For example, we see in a court how the accused is tried in the presence of witnesses for both the defence and the prosecution. Sentence is then pronounced based on the evidence produced.
The Quran has expressed the reality
by drawing on similar examples to make things clear to us:
"And there will come forth every soul; with each will be an (angel) to drive, and an (angel) to bear witness" (50:21).
"And behold! Ye come to us Bare and Alone as We created you for the first time: ye have left behind you all (the favours) which We bestowed on you: We see not with you your intercessors whom you thought to be partners in your affairs: so now all relations between you have been cut off, and your (pet) fancies have left you in the lurch" (6:94)
These witnesses will not
automatically stand with the person; but will be called upon and
allowed to give evidence. These are those intercessors (shafi -
means the one who stands with someone), who are mentioned in
verses like (2:255). The messengers of God will also be
witnesses. For example:
"One-day will God gathers the apostles together, and asks: 'what was the response ye received (from men to your teaching)'? They will say: 'We have knowledge: it is Thou who knoweth in full all that is hidden' (5:109)
Therefore in these verses 'shafaat'
means 'shahadat' or giving evidence - to support someone is a
great help as we see in the present life. Indeed the Quran itself
has explained it clearly in the following verses:
"And those whom they invoke besides God have no power of intercession;- only he who bears witness to the truth and they know (him)" (43:86)
Those who can read Arabic text with
understanding should look as the words of the above verse closely
and compare them with those used in (2:255). This is why the
Quran has called the last messenger as 'shaheed' and has nowhere
called him 'shafi':
"One day We shall raise from all peoples as witness against them, from amongst themselves: and We shall bring thee as a witness (Arabic equivalent used - Shaheed) against these (Thy people): and we have sent down to thee the Book explaining all things, a Guide, a Mercy, and Glad Tidings to Muslims" (16:89)
NB: Please note the wording 'the Book explaining all things' in the last part of the verse. The explanations - one only needs to accept the challenge.
Other faiths also support the
concept of intercessions, which has been repeatedly repudiated by
the Quran in an unambiguous tone:
"Then will no intercession of (any) intercessors profit them' (74:48) as the Law of Requital is based on:
" no bearer of burdens can bear the burden of another " (6:165)
The Quran has very clearly and
emphatically declared that each one of us will earn the heavenly
life through our own efforts and not as a result of any
intercession by other or of being born into a particular faith,
caste or creed. According to the Quran each one of us is equal
before Him and born with equal blessings:
"We have honoured the sons of Adam " (17:70)
"And the heaven one will get as
a result of one's desire for truth (Faith or Conviction) and
righteousness" (7:143) and:
"..no person knows what delights of the eye are kept hidden (in reverse) for them - as a reward for their (good) deeds" (32:17)
Even the last messenger of Allah has been asked to proclaim very clearly:
"Say: 'I would, if I disobeyed my Lord, indeed have fear of the penalty of Mighty Day' (6:15). Also see (10:15) and (39:13).
The Quran proclaims that such
beliefs were held by the Jews when they stooped very low and were
humiliated because of their own deeds:
"And they say: "The fire will not touch us but for a few numbered days': Say: 'Have ye taken a promise from God, for He never breaks His Promise? Or is it that ye say of God what ye do not know?" (2:280) and then the Quran goes on to declare:
"But those who have faith and work righteousness, they are companions of the Garden; therein shall they abide (forever)" (2:82).
We must remember that if we hold
beliefs for which there is no authority whatsoever in the Quran,
we will never get any reward for them on earth or in the