In the simplest of words, “intercession” means to act as a mediator on behalf of someone to get them some benefit or ward off harm from them.

Intercession on the Day of Resurrection is of two types:

1.     Accepted Intercession: This is intercession which is proven in the texts of Shariah. More details will be given below.

2.     Rejected Intercession: This is intercession which according to the texts of the Quran and Sunnah is invalid and ineffective as will be explained in Part 2.

There are two types of Accepted Intercession that will take place in the Hereafter:

A. Intercession Exclusive to the Prophet

The first type is an exclusive intercession that which will be granted only to Prophet Muhammad and no one else will share it with him. It is of various kinds:

1.     The Greatest Intercession also known as maqam-mahmood or the ‘station of praise and glory.’ The earlier and later generations will ask the Prophet to intercede for them with their Lord so that He might relieve them of the horrors of the Day of Judgement. This is the ‘station of praise and glory’ which Allah has promised to him in the Quran:

“And in some parts of the night (also) offer the prayer with it (i.e. recite the Quran in the prayer) as an additional prayer for you (O Muhammad). It may be that your Lord will raise you to maqam-mahmood.” (Quran 17:79)

The Prophet Muhammad will intercede for all of mankind so that the reckoning can begin. In a narration it states that mankind will be distressed and anxious and will reach a point where they can no longer bear the lengthy wait and will say, “Who will intercede for us with our Lord so that He will pass judgement among His slaves?”  So people will come to the prophets, each of whom will say, “I am not suitable for this position,” until they come to our Prophet, who will say, “I am able to do it.” So he will intercede for them that judgement may be passed.

This intercession belongs exclusively to the Prophet Muhammad.

There are many other reports that speak of this intercession: “The people will fall on their knees on the Day of Resurrection, each nation following its prophet, saying, ‘O So and so, intercede!’ until intercession is granted to Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). On that Day Allah will resurrect him to a station of praise and glory.”[1]

2.     Intercession of the Prophet Muhammad that the believers be granted permission to enter Paradise.

The Messenger of Allah said: “I will come to the gate of Paradise on the Day of Resurrection and will ask for it to be opened. The gatekeeper will say, ‘Who are you?’ I will say, ‘Muhammad.’ He will say, ‘I was commanded not to open it for anyone before you.’”[2]

According to another report narrated by Muslim, “I will be the first one to intercede concerning Paradise.”

3.     Intercession of Prophet Muhammad for his paternal uncle Abu Talib, so that the torment of the Fire be reduced for him. This applies only in the case of the Prophet and his paternal uncle Abu Talib.

Once, Abu Talib was mentioned in the presence of the Messenger of Allah. He said, “Perhaps my intercession will benefit him on the Day of Resurrection, and he will be placed in a shallow part of the Fire which will come up to his ankles and cause his brain to boil.”[3]

4.     Intercession that some people of his Ummah may enter Paradise without being brought to account.

This kind of intercession was mentioned by some of the scholars, who quoted as evidence the lengthy hadith which states:

“Then it will be said, ‘O Muhammad, raise you head; ask, it will be given to you; intercede, your intercession will be accepted.’ So I will raise my head and say, ‘My Ummah, O Lord; my Ummah, O Lord; my Ummah, O Lord.’ It will be said, ‘Admit those among your Ummah who are  not to be brought to account through the right-hand gate of Paradise. They will share the other gates with the people of other nations.’”[4]

B. General Intercession

Another type of intercession for those who committed sins will be granted to Prophet Muhammad and other prophets, as well as to angels, martyrs, scholars and righteous people. Even a man’s good deeds may also intercede for him. But the Prophet Muhammad will have the greatest share of intercession.

It is of various kinds:

1.     Intercession for believers, who committed major sins, to be taken out of Hell.

The Messenger of Allah said: “My intercession will be for those among my Ummah who committed major sins.”[5]

“By the One in Whose hand is my soul, none of you can be more insistent in asking Allah to restore his rights against his opponent than the believers who will ask Allah on the Day of Resurrection (to grant them the power of intercession) for their brothers who are in the Fire. They will say, ‘Our Lord, they used to fast with us and pray and perform Hajj.’ It will be said to them, ‘Bring out those whom you recognize, so the Fire will be forbidden to burn them.’ So they will bring out many people…and Allah will say: ‘The angels have interceded, the prophets have interceded, and the believers have interceded. There is no intercession remaining save that which belongs to the Most Merciful.’ Then He will seize a handful of the inhabitants of Hell who never did anything good.”[6]

2.     Intercession for people who deserve Hell, that they may not enter it.

The Prophet said: “When any Muslim dies and forty men, who associate nothing with Allah, pray the funeral prayer for him, Allah will accept their intercession for him.”[7]

This intercession happens before the deceased enters Hell as Allah accepts their intercession.

3.     Intercession for some believers who deserve Paradise for their status to be raised in Paradise. For example, the Prophet prayed for Abu Salamah: “O Allah, forgive Abu Salamah and raise his status among those who are guided, and take good care of his family that he has left behind. Forgive us and him, O Lord of the Worlds, make his grave spacious for him and illuminate it for him.”[8]

Conditions of Intercession

One of the most important matters to understand is that Allah and Allah alone ‘owns’ intercession.  No human being ‘owns’ intercession. 

Intercession in the Hereafter will only happen if the following conditions are met:

1. Allah must approve of the person for whom intercession is made.

“…and they cannot intercede except for him with whom He is pleased” (Quran 21:28)

One for whom intercession is made must be a believer in Tawheed because Allah is not pleased with the mushrikoon (polytheists).  . 

It was said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, who will be the most blessed of people by your intercession of the Day of Resurrection?’ The Messenger of Allah said:

“O Abu Hurayrah, I thought that no one would ask me about this hadith before you because I have seen how keen you are to learn hadith.  The people who will be most blessed by my intercession on the Day of Resurrection are those who say La ilaha illa Allah sincerely from the heart.’”

2.  Allah must give permission to intercede.

“Who is he that can intercede with Him except with His Permission?” (Quran 2:255)

3.  Allah must approve of the intercessor.

“…whose intercession will avail nothing except after Allah has given leave for whom He wills and is pleased with” (Quran 53:26)

Rejected Intercession

The Rejected Intercession is one that does not meet the conditions required for permission from Allah or His being pleased (with the intercessor or the one for whom intercession is made), such as the intercession which the people of shirk believe that their gods will be able to do for them.  Many of them only worship their gods because they believe that they will intercede for them with Allah, and that they are middle men between them and Allah.  Allah says: 

“Surely, the religion is for Allah only.  And those who take protectors besides Him (say): ‘We worship them only that they may bring us near to Allah.’ Indeed, Allah will judge between them concerning that wherein they differ.  Truly, Allah guides not him who is a liar, and a disbeliever” (Quran 39:9) 

Allah tells us that this kind of intercession is ineffective and of no benefit: 

“So no intercession of intercessors will be of any use to them” (Quran 74:48) 

“And fear a Day (of Judgement) when a person shall not benefit another, nor will intercession be accepted from him nor will compensation be taken from him nor will they be helped.” (Quran 2:48)

“O you who believe! Spend of that with which We have provided for you, before a Day comes when there will be no bargaining, nor friendship, nor intercession.  And it is the disbelievers who are the wrongdoers.” (Quran 2:254)

Hence, Allah did not accept the intercession of His Khaleel[1] Ibrahim for his father Azar who was a pagan.  The Prophet said:

“Ibrahim will meet his father on the Day of Resurrection, and Azar’s face will be dark and covered with dust.  Ibrahim will say to him, ‘Did I not tell you not to disobey me?’ His father will say, ‘Today I will not disobey you.'’ Ibrahim will say, ‘O Lord! You promised me not to disgrace me on the Day of Resurrection; and what will be more disgraceful to me than cursing and dishonoring my father?’ Then Allah will say, ‘I have forbidden Paradise to the disbelievers.’ Then he will be addressed, ‘O Ibrahim, what is beneath your feet?’ He will look and there he will see a dhabh (an animal,) blood-stained, which will be caught by the legs and thrown into the Fire.”[2]

Wisdom of Intercession

The point of intercession is to honor the person interceding.  It is Allah’s way of making the person stand out in front of His creation.  That is the reason why Prophet Muhammad and the prophets will be allowed to intercede as detailed above.

Furthermore, intercession should not make a person complacent about sins.  A person must never think that he can rely on intercession and sin all he wants!  For, he is not guaranteed that Allah will allow someone to intercede for him.  Furthermore, his sins might lead him into outright disbelief in which case no one’s intercession will benefit him.  Lastly, he might receive punishment before he is interceded for and released.

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