On Intercession and the Nature of Faith

Ahadith from a forthcoming book “Miftaahul Ma`ani” by Syed Iqbal Zaheer

Hadith No. 2: Sa`eed al-Maqburi reports Abu Hurayrah who narrated the Prophet as being asked, “Who is the most fortunate of men to earn your intercession on Judgment-day?” He replied, “Noting your eagerness for Hadith, I had guessed, O Abu Hurayra, that you would be the first to ask me this question.1 The most fortunate to earn my intercession2 on Judgment-day will be he who would have said in complete sincerity, ‘There is no deity save Allah.’”3 (Bukhari)

Commentary

  1. Plain and simple matters of religion are there aplenty in the sources for one and all to look into and seek answers for. But there are complicated affairs, subtle and profound, that are not for everyone to get to the bottom of, which are for the researchers and those of depth of knowledge. It is they who will delve deep, seek solutions, for their own benefit and for that of the rest of mankind. They will have the reward for their own actions, and of those who will act in their light, until the Judgment-day. (Ibn Battaal)
  2. Intercession of by the Prophet on Judgment-day will be of five kinds (all of them after the permission of our Lord: Au.)

a. It would be for mankind to be released of the eons of torturous waiting state in which they will find themselves after being raised. His intercession will help start the Reckoning. Nawawi has added that this is the Great Intercession (Shafaa`ah al-`Uzma) that the ahadith of this reference speak of to which we can add that this is the Praiseworthy Position (Maqamam Mahmudah) that has been detailed in the ahadith.

b. Ushering in of a group of people through the right-hand side door of Paradise, without they undergoing any reckoning.

c. A people destined to the Fire, but allowed entry into Paradise by his intercession.

d. A people who would have be in the Fire because of their sins. They would be brought out by the intercession of the Prophet. This prerogative will be shared by other Prophets, angels, and even other Believers, and

e. Intercession by which ranks of some people would be raised in Paradise. This last kind has not been denied even by the Mu`tazilah. (Badruddin `Ayni, Qastalani in Irshad al Saari).

3. If it is asked, would utterance of just the first part of the testimony suffice? The answer is a no. Utterance of just the first part of the testimony represents the rest. For example, you say, “I recited: Qul huwaAllahu Ahad…” (being the first verse of 112th chapter of the Qur’an) conveys the meaning that you recited whole of the chapter.

If it is asked, ‘Iman is testimony of the heart. Now, if the heart has testified, but a person did not actually say it, will that earn the right to be interceded for?’ The answer is, yes, so long as there was nothing that contradicted the testimony. For, the testimony is between a man and his Lord and He knows what is in the hearts. As for life in this world, a mere attestation at the heart-level is not enough. One must speak it out with his tongue, to be treated as a Muslim obliged with the general demands of Islam.

Hadith No. 3: Anas reported the Prophet: “Whosoever declared, ‘there is no deity but Allah’ will come out of the Fire, even if he had the weight of a barley seed of goodness1 in his heart. Whosoever declared, ‘there is no deity but Allah,’ and he had goodness in his heart of the weight of a grain of wheat will come out of the Fire. And whosoever declared, ‘there is no deity but Allah,’ and he had in his heart the goodness of the weight of the littlest of ants, will come out of the Fire.’”2 (Bukhari)

Commentary

  1. The allusion by the word ‘goodness’ is to Iman (testimony or attestation) – that is, belief in all that the Prophet (asws) has brought from his Lord. (Qastalani)
  2. The hadith implies that:

(a) Believers might enter Hellfire,

(b) Their stay therein would not be everlasting, and

(c) Major sins would not be a cause of everlasting stay in the Fire. (Qastalani)

In this hadith, the allusion is to the testimony. Now testimony cannot increase or decrease. Therefore, by the words: “weight of: ‘barley,’ ‘a grain of wheat,’ and ‘littlest of ants,’” the allusion can only be to deeds. Increase in good deeds leads to firmness of the testimony, not increase in testimony itself. Nonetheless, it can also be argued – as did Mahlab – that by the terms barley, littlest of ants, or a grain of wheat, the allusion is to attestation since the verbal testimony, ‘there is no deity except Allah,’ is not complete without the heart’s testimony.

People are of various grades in their belief in accordance with their knowledge or ignorance. He whose knowledge is little, will have an attestation of weight of a barley seed, while he who has knowledge of an upper level will be of stronger attestation. Consequently, the attestation of a heart cannot suffer decrease, but only gain increase. As for increase in testimonial strength with increase in knowledge, its evidence comes from the verse: “To, which of you then, did this cause increase in testimony?” (9: 24). This was revealed when Surah Tawbah was sent down demonstrating that strength of testimony can increase. As for increase in testimonial strength with increase in observation, it is supported by the verse: “Allah asked Ibrahim), ‘Do you not believe?’ He replied, ‘I do, but in order for my heart to be at rest.‘” (2: 260) – Ibn Battaal.

Another possible interpretation is that the man in question did not, after his declaration of belief, come up with any good deed, except for as much as the weight of a barley seed… et al (Manar al-Qari), and what destroys the belief is apostasy, that is, disbelief in Islam, or in Allah (swt), whether such disbelief is verbal or at the heart level, or through deeds. And, Ibn Hazm has defined ‘kufr’ as applicable to him who disputes one of the commandments of Allah (swt), after he has known its place in Islam: such disputation being either at his heart level or directly by his tongue; or he commits a deed which he knows as one of those which will remove him from Islam.

Subki has, however, removed the condition of ‘disputation.’ He says a man who denies an article that he knows is an integral part of Islam, is an unbeliever, whether he disputed or not. Ibn Taymiyyah added that denial of that over which there is consensus in the Ummah as an integral part of Islam also entails kufr. (`Ali b. Nayef, Al-Mufassal… Riddah)