Intercession ( Shafa'ah )

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Intercession ( Shafa'ah )
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Belief in the intercession of intercessors on the day of resurrection, with God’s permission, is axiomatic in Islam. Intercession pertains to those individuals whose connection with God and religion has not been totally ruptured, and who are capable, despite being defiled by certain sins, of being embraced by the mercy of God through the blessed prayers of intercessors. Belief in the intercession is derived from the Quran and the Sunna, as we indicate below.

There are verses in the Qur’an which indicate the reality of the principle of intercession on the day of resurrection and this noble scripture elucidates both this principle and its dependence on the permission and good pleasure of God.

…and they cannot intercede except for him whom he accepts [1]

In another verse it is said,

There is no intercessor except after his permission [2]

Belief in the intercession of intercessors on the day of resurrection, with God’s permission, is axiomatic in Islam. Intercession pertains to those individuals whose connection with God and religion has not been totally ruptured, and who are capable, despite being defiled by certain sins, of being embraced by the mercy of God through the blessed prayers of intercessors. Belief in the intercession is derived from the Quran and the Sunna, as we indicate below.

Who are the intercessors?

From certain verses we learn that the angles are among those with the power to intercede,

And how many angels there are in the heavens whose intercession not avail will at all accept [only] after Allah has permitted [it] to whom He wills and approves. [3]

Exegetes have commented that the meaning of the ‘praised station’ [in the following verse] is the station of intercession proper to the prophet of Islam [4]

…it maybe that your Lord will raise you to a praised station [5]

The principle of intercession is mentioned also in many of the prophet’s sayings, some of which we mention below,
The prophet said,

My intercession is especially for the perpetrators of major sins [6]

It would seem that the reason why this should be the case is that God has explicitly promised that if people avoid major sins, they will be forgiven [7], hence there would be no need for intercession or the like.
The prophet has also said,

I have received five gifts from God, one of which is that of intercession, which I have in store for my community, my intercession is for those who have not associated any partner with God. [8]

Those wishing to investigate further the identity of the intercessors on the day of resurrection, apart from the prophet such as the infallible Imams, sages and martyrs and also those who are subject to intercession, should refer to the books of theology and Hadith.

It must be noted that belief in the intercession, like belief in the acceptance of repentance by God, must not become a means of emboldening people to commit sins; rather it should be seen as a ray of hope, in whose light forgiveness can be sought, so that one who has committed certain sins might be led back to the straight path, and not be reduced to despair, like those who feel that the divine mercy has passed them by and that they can never revert to the path of rectitude. [9]
 

[1] [21:28]
وَلَا يَشْفَعُونَ إِلَّا لِمَنِ ارْتَضَى
[2] [10:3]
مَا مِن شَفِيعٍ إِلَّا مِن بَعْدِ إِذْنِه
[3] [53:26]
وَكَم مِّن مَّلَكٍ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ لَا تُغْنِي شَفَاعَتُهُمْ شَيْئًا إِلَّا مِن بَعْدِ أَن يَأْذَنَ اللَّـهُ لِمَن يَشَاءُ وَيَرْضَى
[4] Tafsir al-Mizan, v.13, p.191. Majma al-Bayan, v.10, p.549.
[5] [17:79]
وَمِنَ اللَّيْلِ فَتَهَجَّدْ بِهِ نَافِلَةً لَّكَ عَسَىٰ أَن يَبْعَثَكَ رَبُّكَ مَقَامًا مَّحْمُودًا
[6]Man la yahduruhu al-faqih, v.3, p.376.
[7] [4:31]
If you avoid the major sins that you are forbidden, We will absolve you of your misdeeds and admit you to a noble abode.
[8] al-Khisal, ch.5. al-Bukhari,sahih, vol.1, p.42, Ibn Hanbal, Musnad, v.1, p.103.
[9] Doctrines of Shi’i Islam, by Ayatullah Subhani.

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Daily Hadith
الإخْوانُ في اللّهِ تعالى تَدُومُ مَودّتُهُم، لِدَوامِ سَبَبِها.
Brothers [whose brotherhood is] for the sake of Allah, enjoy an enduring Amity, due to the firmness of its foundation