Intercession (Shafaa`ah) In Islaam: The Permissible And Impermissible: Shaikh Ahmad an-Najmee’s “Kitaab at-Tawheed” Chapter 16

“Ash-Sharh al-Moojaz al-Mumahhad li Tawheed al-Khaaliq al-Mumajjad alladhi allafahu Shaikhul-Islaam Muhammad”
(The Concise, Simple and Straight-forward Explanation of the Tawheed of the Exalted Creator – which was Authored by the Shaikhul-Islaam Muhammad b. Abdul-Wahhaab)

Sharh-Moojaz-An-Najmee

This is an explanation of Kitaab at-Tawheed of Shaikhul-Islaam Muhammad b. Abdul-Wahhaab (d. 1206H, rahimahullaah) by ash-Shaikh al-Allaamah Ahmad b. Yahyaa an-Najmee (rahimahullaah).

So Shaikhul-Islaam Muhammad b. Abdul-Wahhaab (rahimahullaah) said:

Chapter 16: Intercession (Shafaa`ah)

The saying of Allah, the Most High:

وَأَنذِرْ بِهِ الَّذِينَ يَخَافُونَ أَن يُحْشَرُوا إِلَىٰ رَبِّهِمْ ۙ لَيْسَ لَهُم مِّن دُونِهِ وَلِيٌّ وَلَا شَفِيعٌ

“And warn therewith (the Quran) those who fear that they will be gathered before their Lord, when there will be neither a protector nor an intercessor for them besides Him.”(Al-An`aam: 51)

قُل لِّلَّهِ الشَّفَاعَةُ جَمِيعًا ۖ

Say: “To Allah belongs all intercession..” (Az-Zumar: 44)

مَن ذَا الَّذِي يَشْفَعُ عِندَهُ إِلَّا بِإِذْنِهِ ۚ

“Who is he that can intercede with Him except with His Permission?” (Al-Baqarah: 255)

وَكَم مِّن مَّلَكٍ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ لَا تُغْنِي شَفَاعَتُهُمْ شَيْئًا إِلَّا مِن بَعْدِ أَن يَأْذَنَ اللَّهُ لِمَن يَشَاءُ وَيَرْضَىٰ

“And there are many angels in the heavens, whose intercession will avail nothing except after Allah has given leave for whom He wills and pleases.” (An-Najm: 26)

قُلِ ادْعُوا الَّذِينَ زَعَمْتُم مِّن دُونِ اللَّهِ ۖ لَا يَمْلِكُونَ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَلَا فِي الْأَرْضِ

“Say: (O Muhammad to those polytheists) “Call upon those whom you assert (to be associate gods) besides Allah, they possess not even the weight of an atom, either in the heavens or on the earth.”

وَلَا تَنفَعُ الشَّفَاعَةُ عِندَهُ إِلَّا لِمَنْ أَذِنَ لَهُ

“Intercession with Him profits not, except for him whom He permits.” (Saba’a: 22-23)

Abul-Abbaas (Shaikhul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah) said:

“Allaah negated everyone besides Himself all those affairs that the polytheists are attached to. So he negated that there is any ownership of it or share of it besides Him – or that there is any helper to Allah in that. And there remains nothing further except the affair of intercession. He therefore made clear that intercession will not benefit anyone except for the one whom the Lord (Allah) has permitted it for, just as Allah stated:

وَلَا يَشْفَعُونَ إِلَّا لِمَنِ ارْتَضَىٰ

“..and they cannot intercede except for him with whom He is pleased..” (Al-Anbiyaa’: 28)

So this intercession that the polytheists believe in, will be rejected on the Day of Resurrection just as the Qur’an has rejected it. And the Prophet (ﷺ) informed us that he will come forward on the Day of Judgement and prostrate before his Lord, and praise Him and extol Him – He will not begin straight away with any intercession. Then it will be said to the Prophet (ﷺ):

“Raise your head, speak and you will be listened to, ask and you will be given, seek intercession and your intercession will be granted.” (A portion of the hadeeth of Ash-Shafaa`ah reported by Al-Bukhaaree (no. 4476) and Muslim (no. 193) from Anas (radiyallaahu `anhu).

Abu Hurairah (radiyallaahu `anhu) asked the Messenger (ﷺ): “Who will be the most deserving or most fortunate of people to receive your intercession?” He replied:

“The one who says Laa ilaaha illallaah sincerely from his heart.” (Al-Bukhaaree (no. 99))

So this intercession is for the sincere people of Tawheed by the permission of Allah. And it is not for those who associate partners in worship with Allah. The reality is that it is Allah, the Perfect and free of all imperfections, who favours the sincere people of Tawheed – and He forgives them through the supplication of those He permits to intercede. This is so that He (the Most High) may honour the intercessor and permit him to attain the Praiseworthy Station (al-Maqaam al-Mahmood).

So the intercession that is negated by the Qur’an is that which entails Shirk. For this reason the Qur’an affirms intercession with Allaah’s permission in various places – and the Prophet (ﷺ) made it clear that intercession will not take place except for the people of Tawheed and sincerity.”

(See Majmoo` al-Fataawaa 7/77-78)

Explanation:

Ash-Shafaa`ah is when an intercessor (Shaafi`) intercedes for the one who seeks his need to be fulfilled wherein the the seeker of the need to be fulfilled is alone in his seeking. So then the intercessor includes him alongside himself – so now there is the seeker of a need and the one who supports him.

And this term is derived from Ash-Shaf` and that is the opposite of water – and watr is when something is an odd number such as one, three, five, seven, nine, etc.

And Ash-Shaf` is that which the number two can divide into without any any remainder – so it begins with the number: Two, then four, then six, then eight, and so on.

When the polytheists used to worship other than Allah alongside the fact that they affirmed and believed that Allah was the sole Creator (Al-Khaaliq), the Sustainer (Ar-Razzaaq), the Giver of Life, the Bringer of Death, yet still they still worshipped these other objects and beings, all along claiming that they were merely intercessors (shufa`aa’) between them and Allah. So Allah rejected this claim of theirs.

And Allah stated intercession is for Allah, and none has ownership over it besides Him alone – neither an Angel drawn close, nor a Messenger that was sent – and thus it is obligatory that you seek intercession from Allah because it will not occur except with His permission. It is not possible for anyone to intercede except and until after He is pleased. And in this, truly, is honour for the intercessor (ash-shaafi`), and a mercy for the one being interceded for (al-mashfoo`u lahu), after the fact that Allaah’s pleasure is also for the one being interceded for. Allah stated this fact in these verses. He said:

قُل لِّلَّهِ الشَّفَاعَةُ جَمِيعًا ۖ

“Say: To Allah belongs all intercession.” Meaning that He alone is the owner of it to the exclusion of anyone besides Him. And He, the Most High, said:

مَن ذَا الَّذِي يَشْفَعُ عِندَهُ إِلَّا بِإِذْنِهِ ۚ

“Who is he that can intercede with Him except with His Permission?” The “who” here is a question intending negation and rebuttal, meaning that none is able to intercede in front of Him except by His permission. And Allah, the Majestic and Most High, said:

وَكَم مِّن مَّلَكٍ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ لَا تُغْنِي شَفَاعَتُهُمْ شَيْئًا إِلَّا مِن بَعْدِ أَن يَأْذَنَ اللَّهُ لِمَن يَشَاءُ وَيَرْضَىٰ

“And there are many angels in the heavens, whose intercession will avail nothing except after Allah has given leave for whom He wills and is pleased with.” So He, the Majestic and Most High is saying that the Angels who are close to Him, even they cannot intercede for anyone except after seeking Allaah’s permission and His pleasure for the one being interceded for.

And whoever believes in the intermediaries between himself and Allah, and he seeks intercession from them – and in doing so, he makes an analogy with the kings of the world from whom a person seeks his needs through intermediaries, then this analogy is false and futile because an analogy cannot be made between the Creator and His creation. He (the Majestic and Most High) is not in need of anyone from His creation, whereas the kings are need of those around them due to the fact that the creation complete each others existence due to their interdependency, and they support each other. As for Allah, the Mighty and Majestic, then all of the creation turns to Him for their needs, and He is not in need of them and is free of all needs:

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ أَنتُمُ الْفُقَرَاءُ إِلَى اللَّهِ ۖ وَاللَّهُ هُوَ الْغَنِيُّ الْحَمِيدُ

“O mankind! It is you who stand in need of Allah, but Allah is Rich, free of all wants and needs, worthy of all praise.” (Faatir: 15)

So intercession is not attained from Allah except after Allah’s pleasure with the one being interceded for (al-mashfoo` lahu) and His giving honour and nobility to the one interceding (shaafi`).

Abu Hurairah (radiyallaahu `anhu) asked the Messenger (ﷺ): “Who is the most deserving or most fortunate of people to receive your intercession?” He replied: “The one who says Laa ilaaha illallaah sincerely from his heart.”

So from the conditions of intercession is that it is for the people of Tawheed (al-Muwahhideen), and it does not take place except after the good pleasure of the Lord of the Worlds – and for this there are overwhelming evidences. And whoever seeks it from other than Allah, he will be deprived of it. Whoever dies upon polytheism (devoting aspects of worship to other than Allah), then intercession will not benefit such a person, and he will not receive intercession. For this reason Allah stated:

قُلِ ادْعُوا الَّذِينَ زَعَمْتُم مِّن دُونِ اللَّهِ ۖ لَا يَمْلِكُونَ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَلَا فِي الْأَرْضِ وَمَا لَهُمْ فِيهِمَا مِن شِرْكٍ وَمَا لَهُ مِنْهُم مِّن ظَهِيرٍ

“Say: (O Muhammad to those polytheists) “Call upon those whom you assert to be gods besides Allah, they possess not even the weight of an atom, either in the heavens or on the earth, nor have they any share in either, nor there is for Him any supporter from among them.”

وَلَا تَنفَعُ الشَّفَاعَةُ عِندَهُ إِلَّا لِمَنْ أَذِنَ لَهُ

“Intercession with Him profits not, except for him whom He permits.” 

And when it is the case that the kings of the world have those partners in their sovereignty who aid and support them, then Allah rejects and negates from Himself and in His dominion all associates even if it be a mustard seed – He negates any helper in His creation of all that exists, regardless of whether that is an Angel that is close to Him or a Prophet that was sent by Him. He has no supporter, nor associate, no aid and no minister. Alongside these facts, He said:

وَلَا تَنفَعُ الشَّفَاعَةُ عِندَهُ إِلَّا لِمَنْ أَذِنَ لَهُ

“Intercession with Him profits not, except for him whom He permits.” (Saba’a: 22-23) and He said:

وَلَا يَشْفَعُونَ إِلَّا لِمَنِ ارْتَضَىٰ

“..and they cannot intercede except for him with whom He is pleased..” The Prophet (ﷺ) will not intercede for any one of his close relatives who dies upon polytheism (shirk) except in the case of his uncle Abu Taalib wherein he (ﷺ) will intercede so that his punishment is lessened for him, and not that his punishment is stopped or that he be removed from it.

Likewise there is a narration wherein the Prophet (ﷺ) said:

“On the Day of Resurrection Ibraaheem will meet his father whose face will be dark and covered with dust. Ibraaheem will say to him: “Did I not tell you to not disobey me?” His father will reply: “Today I will not disobey you.” Ibraaheem will say: “O my Lord! You promised not to disgrace me on the Day of Resurrection – and what is more disgraceful to me than cursing and dishonouring my father?” Then Allah will say to him: “I have forbidden Paradise to the disbelievers.” Then Ibraaheem will be addressed with the following words: “O Ibraaheem, look what is beneath your feet?” He will look and there he will see a dheekh (a hyena – an animal) bloodstained, which will be caught by the legs and thrown into the Hell Fire.” Reported by Bukhaaree (no. 3350).

A “dheekh” is the offspring of a hyena. And the meaning here is that he is stained with filth, the stain of polytheism and disbelief. And in this is an indication and proof of the absence of the acceptance of intercession for his father, even if it be the case that the son is the Khaleel (the close friend) of the Most Merciful, as Ibraaheem (`alaihis-salaam) was.

The rejected intercession:

This is the intercession that is sought from other than Allah, or the intercession that is sought for a polytheist.

The affirmed intercession:

This is the intercession that is sought from Allah.

If it is asked: How then is it possible that you will seek intercession from the Prophets in the Hereafter so that the Judgment should begin? Then in response: That is because at that time all of the Prophets [and other than them] will be brought to life by Allah in the life of the Hereafter. Therefore it is permitted to request that from them directly. The seeking of intercession that is forbidden is that which is sought from other than Allah – and that is the intercession sought from the dead or those who are absent. However, the Messengers on that Day will be present and alive, so it will be permitted to seek intercession from them. So no one from the polytheists, who desires to make permissible that which is impermissible, can cling on to this doubt [after knowing the reality of intercession].

The Types of Intercession & Their Categories:

The categories of intercession are seven in number. Three of them are specifically for the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) and not shared with anyone else. They are as follows:

1. The intercession for the Judgement to begin. It is this intercession that is termed as “Al-Maqaam Al-Mahmood” (The Praiseworthy Station). Imaam Al-Bukhaaree reports (no. 4718) from Ibn `Umar (radiyallaahu `anhumaa) who said: “The people will fall down on their knees on the Day of Resurrection. Every nation will follow its Prophet – they will say: ‘O so-and-so intercede for us [with Allah]! O so-and-so intercede for us [with Allah],’ until they reach the Prophet [Muhammad] (ﷺ) and the right of intercession will be given to him – and on that  Day Allah will raise him to Al-Maqaam Al-Mahmood (An honourable praiseworthy station).”

2. The intercession for the opening of the Gates of Paradise. Imaam At-Tirmidhee reports (no. 3148) from the Hadeeth of Abu Sa`eed (radiyallaahu `anhu) that: Anas (radiyallaahu `anhu) said: It is as if I see the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) saying: “I will take hold of a ring of a gate of Paradise to rattle it, and it will be said: ‘Who is there?’ It will be said: ‘It is Muhammad.’ They will open it for me, and they will welcome me and say: ‘Welcome.’ I will fall prostrate and Allah will inspire me with words of gratitude and praise for Him. Then it will be said to me: ‘Raise your head, ask and you shall be given, intercede and your intercession shall be accepted; speak and your saying will be heard.’ And that is Al-Maqaam Al-Mahmood  about which Allah said: 

عَسَىٰ أَن يَبْعَثَكَ رَبُّكَ مَقَامًا مَّحْمُودًا

“It may be that your Lord will raise you to a Maqaaman Mahmoodan (a station of praise and glory, i.e. the highest degree in Paradise!).” (Al-Israa: 17:79)

Shaikh Al-Albaanee said: “It is Saheeh li-ghayrihi” in Saheeh At-Targheeb wat-Tarheeb, no. 3543.

3. The intercession of the Prophet (ﷺ) for his uncle Abu Taalib so that his punishment is reduced. Bukhaaree (no. 6564) and Muslim (no. 210) report from Abu Sa`eed al-Khudree (radiyallaahu `anhu) that he heard Allaah’s Messenger when his uncle Abu Taalib was mentioned in his presence, so he (ﷺ) said: “Perhaps he will benefit from my intercession on the Day of Resurrection so that he may be placed in a shallow place of the Hellfire, with the fire reaching his ankles and causing his brain to boil.” 

As for the rest of the types of intercession:

4. Those deserving of Hellfire, but they are not cast into it.

5. Those already cast into the Hellfire, but then they are removed from it.

6. The intercession for Ahlul-A`raaf (i.e. the people of the Elevations) whose good deeds are the same as their sinful deeds, so they are entered into Jannah.

[TN: Ibn `Uthaimeen (rahimahullaah) said:

“الناس إذا كان يوم القيامة انقسموا إلى ثلاثة أقسام: قسم ترجح حسناتهم على سيئاتهم فهؤلاء لا يعذبون ويدخلون الجنة، وقسم آخر ترجح سيئاتهم على حسناتهم فهؤلاء مستحقون للعذاب بقدر سيئاتهم ثم ينجون إلى الجنة، وقسم ثالث سيئاتهم وحسناتهم سواء ، فهؤلاء هم أهل الأعراف ، ليسوا من أهل الجنة ، ولا من أهل النار ، بل هم في مكان برزخ عالٍ مرتفع يرون النار ويرون الجنة، يبقون فيه ما شاء الله وفي النهاية يدخلون الجنة، وهذا من تمام عدل الله سبحانه وتعالى أن أعطى كل إنسان ما يستحق، فمن ترجحت حسناته فهو من أهل الجنة، ومن ترجحت سيئاته عذب في النار إلى ما شاء الله، ومن كانت حسناته وسيئاته متساوية فهو من أهل الأعراف لكنها -أي الأعراف- ليست مستقراً دائماً، وإنما المستقر: إما إلى الجنة، وإما إلى النار، جعلني الله وإياكم من أهل الجنة” انتهى .
فضيلة الشيخ محمد بن عثيمين رحمه الله .
“لقاءات الباب المفتوح” (1/408) ]

7.  Intercession for those in Jannah to raised in levels.

So these final four categories of intercession are general and shared between: the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ), and the other Prophets, the Siddiqeen (the staunchly truthful believers), the martyrs and the rest of the believers. So in total there are seven categories of intercession. O Allah! Make us from those for whom your Prophet (ﷺ) intercedes.

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