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 Is Shafa’ah (Intercession) Right?

Shafa’ah means our Prophet’s making dua for His Ummah and His request to Allah (swt) so that His Ummah is forgiven in the Day of Judgment.


Sayyid Sharif Jurjani says as the following in Tarifat:

"Shafaah (intercession) is to demand forgiveness for major sins."


Tahanawi says it is “a request to attain a good situation or to get rid of a harm by way of invocation.” (Kashshafu Istilihatu’l-Funun / 1st Volume / p: 1034)

Translator of Kamus-u Muhit states: according to what author states in Basair, it means (شفع) (شفاعه), a helper, an assistant or to ask forgiveness for and on behalf of the sinner.

In few words, shafa’ah (intercession) means to seek help, wish something for somebody and to intercede.

Shafa’ah means our Prophet’s making dua for His Ummah and His request to Allah (swt) so that His Ummah is forgiven in the Day of Judgment.

DENIERS of SHAFA’AH (intercession):

As known the only sect in Islam History that denies the existence of shafa’ah of our Prophet (saw) or other prophet’s shafa’ah to their communities in the Day of Judgment is Mutazila sect. Ahl’al Sunnah Ulama refuted and disproved the idea of this deviant Mutazila sect with rational (aqli) and narrational (naqli) evidences. Nowadays, we similarly encounter people who deny shafa’ah likewise the deviant sect or people who suspiciously, out of curiosity ask questions regarding shafa’ah (intercession) topic. We will do our best to shed light on the subject mentioning the ayahs and ahadith regarding the shafa’ah topic.


We can separate the people who will gather in the judgment field into three:

Disbelievers (Kuffar),
Those whose sins are more than their thawab that deserve jahannam even for a short time,
Those whose thawab are more than their sins that deserve Jannah.

Disbelievers are not worthy of forgiveness for their disbelief. There will not be shafa’ah for them. There are ayahs in the Qur’an intended for disbelievers rejecting shafa’ah on them. For instance this ayah:

(فَمَا تَنفَعُهُمۡ شَفَـٰعَةُ ٱلشَّـٰفِعِينَ (المدَّثِّر/٤٨
Then will no intercession of (any) intercessors profit them. (Muddaththir, 74:48)

As to those whose thawab are more than their sins that deserve Jannah, they don’t need shafa’ah after all since they deserved it already.

As to those whose sins are more than their thawab that they deserve jahannam, There are so many expressions in ayahs in the Qur’an and in a lot of ahadith mentioning that our prophet (or some other prophets) will intercede (in other words do shafa’ah) for the forgiveness of some of those people.

We will tell the ayahs that are proofs of Shafa’ah:

لَّا يَمۡلِكُونَ ٱلشَّفَـٰعَةَ إِلَّا مَنِ ٱتَّخَذَ عِندَ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ عَهۡدً۬ا (مريم\٨٧) (1
“They will have no power of intercession, save him who hath made a covenant with his Lord.” (Maryam, 19:87)

2) (يَوۡمَٮِٕذٍ۬ لَّا تَنفَعُ ٱلشَّفَـٰعَةُ إِلَّا مَنۡ أَذِنَ لَهُ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنُ وَرَضِىَ لَهُ ۥ قَوۡلاً۬ (طٰه/١٠٩

“On that day no intercession availeth save (that of) him unto whom the Beneficent hath given leave and whose word He accepteth.” (Ta-Ha, 20:109)

3) (وَلَا تَنفَعُ ٱلشَّفَـٰعَةُ عِندَهُ ۥۤ إِلَّا لِمَنۡ أَذِنَ لَهُۚ ۥ حَتَّىٰٓ إِذَا فُزِّعَ عَن قُلُوبِهِمۡ قَالُواْ مَاذَا قَالَ رَبُّكُمۡۖ قَالُواْ ٱلۡحَقَّۖ وَهُوَ ٱلۡعَلِىُّ ٱلۡكَبِيرُ (سَبَإ/٢٣
No intercession availeth with Him save for him whom He permitteth. Yet, when fear is banished from their hearts, they say: What was it that your Lord said? They say: The Truth. And He is the Sublime, the Great. (Saba, 34:23)

4) (مَن ذَا ٱلَّذِى يَشۡفَعُ عِندَهُ ۥۤ إِلَّا بِإِذۡنِهِۦ‌ (البَقَرَة /٢٥٥

Who is he that intercedeth with Him save by His leave? (Baqara, 2:255)

5) (مَا مِن شَفِيعٍ إِلَّا مِنۢ بَعۡدِ إِذۡنِهِ... (یُونس/٣

“… There is no intercessor (with Him) save after His permission…” (Yunus, 10:3)

6) (وَلَا يَمۡلِكُ ٱلَّذِينَ يَدۡعُونَ مِن دُونِهِ ٱلشَّفَـٰعَةَ إِلَّا مَن شَہِدَ بِٱلۡحَقِّ وَهُمۡ يَعۡلَمُونَ (الزّخرُف/٨٦

And those unto whom they cry instead of Him possess no power of intercession, saving him who beareth witness unto the Truth knowingly. (Zukhruf, 43:86) (These exceptions here are Prophets I’sa (a.s) and Uzayr (a.s) and the angels.)

7) (وَكَم مِّن مَّلَكٍ۬ فِى ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٲتِ لَا تُغۡنِى شَفَـٰعَتُہُمۡ شَيۡـًٔا إِلَّا مِنۢ بَعۡدِ أَن يَأۡذَنَ ٱللَّهُ لِمَن يَشَآءُ وَيَرۡضَىٰٓ (النّجْم/٢٦

And how many angels are in the heavens whose intercession availeth naught save after Allah giveth leave to whom He chooseth and accepteth. (Najm, 53:26)

8) (يَعۡلَمُ مَا بَيۡنَ أَيۡدِيہِمۡ وَمَا خَلۡفَهُمۡ وَلَا يَشۡفَعُونَ إِلَّا لِمَنِ ٱرۡتَضَىٰ وَهُم مِّنۡ خَشۡيَتِهِۦ مُشۡفِقُونَ (الاٴنبیَاء/٢٨

He knoweth what is before them and what is behind them, and they cannot intercede except for him whom He accepteth, and they quake for awe of Him. (Al-Anbiya, 21:28)

In these ayahs, Allah does not say that “There will not be shafa’ah (intercession.)” but He says “Those whom Allah chooses and accepts will intercede.”

Our Prophet and Shafa’ah (intercession):

وَمَآ أَرۡسَلۡنَا مِن رَّسُولٍ إِلَّا لِيُطَاعَ بِإِذۡنِ ٱللَّهِ‌ۚ
وَلَوۡ أَنَّهُمۡ إِذ ظَّلَمُوٓاْ أَنفُسَهُمۡ جَآءُوكَ فَٱسۡتَغۡفَرُواْ ٱللَّهَ
وَٱسۡتَغۡفَرَ لَهُمُ ٱلرَّسُولُ لَوَجَدُواْ ٱللَّهَ تَوَّابً۬ا رَّحِيمً۬ا
We sent no messenger save that he should be obeyed by Allah's leave. And if, when they had wronged themselves, they had but come unto thee and asked forgiveness of Allah, and asked forgiveness of the messenger, they would have found Allah Forgiving, Merciful. (An-Nisa, 4:64)

(فَٱعۡلَمۡ أَنَّهُ ۥ لَآ إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا ٱللَّهُ وَٱسۡتَغۡفِرۡ لِذَنۢبِكَ وَلِلۡمُؤۡمِنِينَ وَٱلۡمُؤۡمِنَـٰتِ‌ۗ وَٱللَّهُ يَعۡلَمُ مُتَقَلَّبَكُمۡ وَمَثۡوَٮٰكُمۡ (محَمَّد/١٩
So know (O Muhammad) that there is no God save Allah, and ask forgiveness for thy sin and for believing men and believing women. Allah knoweth (both) your place of turmoil and your place of rest. (Muhammad, 47:19)
The command given to our prophet (saw) in this ayah “…ask forgiveness....” is a sign that Allah (swt) will accept the du’a. Because Allah does not break His word and reject the du’as after He says “ask forgiveness.” It does not make any difference if this seeking forgiveness dua is for this world or not. It will be very wrong and false assertion to say “It is only for and in this world.”
What is meant for the Prophet’s shafa’ah in the Day of Judgment is their interceding for the forgiveness of their Ummah, making dua for their community so that they can attain the pardon of Allah. We have already mentioned above that the word “shafa’ah” means to make dua and to intercede. Claiming that Prophets would not make dua in the Day of Judgment is a false statement and what is more it is a very dangerous assertion in that it is contradictory to the ahadith.
Allah mentions in Suratu’l Maida that I’sa (a.s) says as the following:

(إِن تُعَذِّبۡہُمۡ فَإِنَّہُمۡ عِبَادُكَ‌ۖ وَإِن تَغۡفِرۡ لَهُمۡ فَإِنَّكَ أَنتَ ٱلۡعَزِيزُ ٱلۡحَكِيمُ (المَائدة/١١٨

“ If Thou punish them, lo! They are Thy slaves, and if Thou forgive them (lo! they are Thy slaves). Lo! Thou, only Thou, art the Mighty, the Wise.” (Maeda, 5:118) Just as I’sa (a.s) makes dua, Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w)’s dua and supplications that is more comprehensive and extensive he makes for His Ummah and the acceptance of His dua should not be denied, too. Besides, while interpreting the following ayah;
(وَمِنَ ٱلَّيۡلِ فَتَهَجَّدۡ بِهِۦ نَافِلَةً۬ لَّكَ عَسَىٰٓ أَن يَبۡعَثَكَ رَبُّكَ مَقَامً۬ا مَّحۡمُودً۬ا (الإسرَاء/٧٩
And some part of the night awake for it, a largess for thee. It may be that thy Lord will raise thee to a praised estate (Maqam Mahmud). (Al-Isra, 17:79) Ulama interpreted it as Shafa’ah. Moreover, in his Tafsir book “Ad- Durru’l Manthur” Imam Suyuti mentioned twenty ahadith proving that “Maqam Mahmud (Praiseworthy Station)” is “Shafa’ah Uzma (Great Intercession).” (Vol.5)

Ahadith on Shafa’ah:

A great number of Hadith Ulama especially Bukhari and Muslim narrated many ahadith on our Prophet (s.a.w)’s doing shafa’ah in the Day of Judgment. Admitted to be the largest available unique Collection of Ahadith in the Islamic World, Kanzu’l-Ummal Book’s 14th Volume is full of ahadith regarding shafa’ah topic and the sum of these ahadith is 86. All these 86 ahadith are in quality to lead those who have iman and conscience to reach to a conclusion.

Kattani in his book Nazmu’l Mutanasir fil ahadithi’l mutawatir states that this hadith "For every prophet there is an invocation that surely will be responded by Allah," (or said), "For every prophet there was an invocation with which he appealed to Allah, and his invocation was accepted (in his lifetime), but I kept my (this special) invocation to intercede for my followers on the Day of Resurrection." is a mutawatir hadith and it was narrated as sahih by “Abu Huraira, Anas, Jabir, Abdullah b. Amr, Ubada b. Samit, Abu Said Al-Hudri, Abdurrahman b. Abi Uqayl”

Besides, the famous hadith regarding people’s going to prophets in the Day of Judgment and finally coming to our Prophet and seek for shafa’ah is narrated from 12 sahaba and is a mutawatir hadith. The aforementioned book of Kattani can be referred for more explanation on this subject.
Besides, the famous hadith regarding people’s going to prophets in the Day of Judgment and finally coming to our Prophet and seek for shafa’ah is narrated from 12 sahaba and is a mutawatir hadith. The aforementioned book of Kattani can be referred for more explanation on this subject.

It is a well-accepted method by all the ulama to interpret the Noble Qur’an with Qur’an and then with hadith and then with the words of sahaba while doing the Tafsir of Qur’an. It is dhalalah to interpret the Qur’an ayahs without turning to sahih ahadith or interpreting them by opposing the sahih ahadith.

Shortly; so far aforementioned ahadith and ayat prove crystal clear that people whom Allah (s.w.t) accepts and allows will intercede (do shafa’ah.)

General and Particular in the Qur’an

Some of the deniers of Shafa’ah deny it because they misunderstand shafa’ah ayahs. Before proceeding those misunderstood ayahs, we would like to attract the attentions to one of the expression methods in the Qur’an to understand Qur’an correctly.

There are some expressions in the Qur’an despite being seemingly general in fact they have exceptions and they are assigned to specific conditions. A general hukm (provision) is sometimes assigned by another ayah or by ahadith and they are specified but if there is no proof then assigning and specification does not take place. People who don’t know this could decide in false hukm and go astray. Besides, they accuse the people who don’t accept their ideas of deviance (as in this shafa’ah subject.)

For instance; a lot of ayahs in the Qur’an says “Give Zakah.” While seemingly this command is a general command for all muslims, in fact this zakah is a particular order intended only for rich muslims. Likewise it is in the surah Al-i Imram: ...(وَلِلَّهِ عَلَى ٱلنَّاسِ حِجُّ ٱلۡبَيۡتِ مَنِ ٱسۡتَطَاعَ إِلَيۡهِ سَبِيلاً۬‌... (آل (عِمرَان/٩٧
“…And pilgrimage to the House is a duty unto Allah for mankind, for him who can find a way thither...” (Al-i Imran, 3:97) In this ayah, the term “mankind” is a general term. However, children and insane people (people with impaired mental faculties) are exempted from this command while they are included in the “mankind” term.
Moreover; (وَٱلسَّارِقُ وَٱلسَّارِقَةُ فَٱقۡطَعُوٓاْ أَيۡدِيَهُمَا جَزَآءَۢ بِمَا كَسَبَا نَكَـٰلاً۬ مِّنَ ٱللَّهِ‌ۗ وَٱللَّهُ عَزِيزٌ حَكِيمٌ۬ (المَائدة/٣٨
“As for the thief, both male and female, cut off their hands. It is the reward of their own deeds, an exemplary punishment from Allah. Allah is Mighty, Wise.” (Al-Maida, 5:38) The Hukm in this ayah is general. According to the external and apparent meaning of this ayah; the hand of a person who stole an egg must be cut off, whereas according to ahadith statements this general statement is assigned to “a specific amount.”

In Surah Baqara ayah 173, it is said that ٱلۡمَيۡتَةَ (dead animal flesh) is haram. Fish should have been also haram according to the apparent meaning of this ayah but ahadith Sharif assigned the ayahs stating that dead fish flesh is permissible.

While 228th ayah in surah Baqara which commands for divorced women to wait for 3 menstruation periods is general, Allah (s.w.t) customized this general ayah to a specific condition by another ayah, 49th ayah of surah Ahzab saying brides who got married (get the nikah) but have not consummated this nikah with the zifaf (consummation of marriage) do not have to observe this iddah period.

There are many examples in the “Usul wa Fiqh” books of these ayahs that Allah reveals generally and then assigns and customizes it by another ayah.

The shafa’ah (intercession) topic that we dwell on is also “generally” negated by some ayahs. However, despite being seemingly general, these ayahs actually veils exceptions and customized conditions. Ayat (verses) that we mentioned above assigns and customizes the ayahs that generally negates intercession with the expressions “save (that of) him unto whom He permits.” (Surah Ta-Ha verse 109 is as the following: save (that of) him unto whom the Beneficent hath given leave and whose word He accepteth.)

Deniers will put forward this ayah to us as proof:

(يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوٓاْ أَنفِقُواْ مِمَّا رَزَقۡنَـٰكُم مِّن قَبۡلِ أَن يَأۡتِىَ يَوۡمٌ۬ لَّا بَيۡعٌ۬ فِيهِ وَلَا خُلَّةٌ۬ وَلَا شَفَـٰعَةٌ۬‌ۗ وَٱلۡكَـٰفِرُونَ هُمُ ٱلظَّـٰلِمُونَ (البَقَرَة/٢٥٤
O you who believe! Spend of that wherewith We have provided you ere a day come when there will be no trafficking, nor friendship, nor intercession. The disbelievers, they are the wrong-doers. (Baqara, 2:254)
Whereas, this ayah is assigned and customized by its continuation ayah which is Baqara, 255 as the following:
(مَن ذَا ٱلَّذِى يَشۡفَعُ عِندَهُ ۥۤ إِلَّا بِإِذۡنِهِۦ‌ (البَقَرَة /٢٥٥
Who is he that intercedeth with Him save by His leave? (Baqara, 2:255)

In other words “There is no intercession without His permission.”

Similar ayat must be evaluated as to this measurement. Kaynak: http://askaquestionto.us - Is Shafa’ah (Intercession) Right?

Author: Idris Tuzun

Source: The Pen Magazine

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