SHAFAQNA (International Shia News Agency) –
يَا بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ اذْكُرُواْ نِعْمَتِيَ الَّتِي أَنْعَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ وَأَنِّي فَضَّلْتُكُمْ عَلَى الْعَالَمِينَ2:47
وَاتَّقُواْ يَوْمًا لاَّ تَجْزِي نَفْسٌ عَن نَّفْسٍ شَيْئًا وَلاَ يُقْبَلُ مِنْهَا شَفَاعَةٌ وَلاَ يُؤْخَذُ مِنْهَا عَدْلٌ وَلاَ هُمْ يُنصَرُونَ2:48
2:47O Children of Israel! call to mind My favor which I bestowed on you and that I made you excel the nation.
2:48And be on your guard against the day when one soul shall not avail another in the least; neither shall intercession on its behalf be accepted, nor shall any compensation be taken from it, nor shall they be helped.
Qur’an: And be on your guard against the day when one soul shall not avail another in the least:
The temporal power and authority, with all its various systems and varying conditions, is based on a necessity of life – the only justification of this institution is that it fulfils this need in the framework of the prevailing factors of the society. It some times exchanges a commodity for another, gives up a benefit for another, substitutes an order with another – without any hard and fast criterion to regulate – such dispensations. The same phenomenon is observed in their judiciary. Logically, a crime must be recompensed with punishment. Yet some times the judge, because of some extraneous reasons, decides not to punish the criminal. Some times the criminal rouses in the judge an overwhelming feeling of pity by his passionate appeal for mercy. Or he wins him over by bribe which induces him to deliver an unjust judgment. Or an influential man intercedes with the judge on behalf of the said criminal and the judge cannot ignore that intercession. Or, the said criminal becomes a state witness leading to the conviction of even greater criminals, and is himself, thus, released without any punishment. Or his tribe or colleagues get him freed from the clutches of the authorities. Whatever the cause may be, it is a well-established custom in the worldly governments and human societies to let the wrong-doers go free at times.
The ancient tribes and the idol-worshippers believed that the life hereafter was an extension of this one; that the customs of this world were valid for that one too, and that the next world was permeated by the same actions and reactions which prevailed in this one. Thus they offered sacrifices and offerings to their deities seeking forgiveness for their sins or assistance in their needs; the offerings were supposed to intercede on their behalf. Some times a sin was expiated or help was sought by offering even a human sacrifice. They carried this idea of continuation of the life so far as to bury with a man all types of necessities of life, not forgetting his ornaments and arms, in order that he might use them on his onward journey; some times even his concubines and soldiers were buried alive with him to keep him company. You may see a lot of such finds in archaeological museums around the world. Some such ideas have persisted even among the Muslims – with all their diverse cultures and languages, albeit in modified forms.
The Qur’an has rejected all such superstitious beliefs and baseless ideas in no uncertain terms:
…and the command on that day shall be entirely Allah’s (82:19).
…and they see the chastisement and their ties are cut asunder(2:166).
And certainly you have come to Us alone as We created you at first, and you have left behind your backs the things which We gave you, and We do not see with you your intercessors about whom you asserted that they were (Allah’s) associates in respect to you; certainly the ties between you are now cut off and what you asserted is gone from you (6:94).
There shall every soul become acquainted with what is sent before, and they shall be brought back to Allah, their true Master and what they did fabricate shall escape from them (10:30).
There are many similar verses; and they show that the life hereafter is cut off from the natural causes which govern this life, and is quite separate from material connections. Once this principle is understood all the above-mentioned myths would automatically be cleared away. But the Qur’an is not content with this general declaration; it refutes each and every myth and superstition described above:
And be on your guard against the day when one soul shall not avail another in the least;- neither shall intercession on its behalf be accepted, nor shall any compensation be taken from it, nor shall they be helped (12:48)
…before the day comes in which there is no bargaining, neither any friendship nor intercession (2:254)
The day on which a friend shall not avail (his) friend aught… (44:41).
…there shall be no savior for you from Allah… (40:33).
What is the matter with you that you do not help each other? Nay! on this day they are submissive (37:25 – 26).
And they worship beside Allah what can neither harm them nor profit them, and they say: “These are our intercessors with Allah” Say: “Do you (presume to) inform Allah of what He knows not in the heavens and the earth?” Glory be to Him, and supremely exalted is He above what they set up with Him. (10: 18).
…the unjust shall not have any friend nor any intercessors who should be obeyed (40:18).
So we have no intercessors, nor a true-friend (26:100-101).
There are many other verses of the same theme, all rejecting the intercession on the Day of Resurrection.
On the other hand, the Qur’an does not totally reject the intercession; rather it confirms it to a certain extent. For example, it says:
Allah is He Who created the heavens and the earth and what is between them in six periods and He is firmly established on the throne; you have not besides Him any guardian or any intercessors; will you not then mind? (32:4)
…there is no guardian for them, nor any intercessor besides Him(6:51).
Say: Allah’s is the intercession altogether” (39:44).
…whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth is His; who is he that can intercede with Him but by His permission? He knows what is before them and what is behind them (2:255).
Surely your Lord is Allah, Who created the heavens and the earth in six periods; and He is firmly established on the throne; regulating the affair; there is no intercessor except after His permission (10: 3).
And they say,- “The Beneficent God had taken to Himself a son.” Glory be to Him! Nay! they are honored servants; they do not precede Him in speech and (only) according to His commandment do they act. He knows what is before them and what is behind them, and they do not intercede except for whom He approves, and for fear of Him they tremble (21:26 – 28).
And those whom they call upon besides Him have no authority for intercession, but he who bears witness of the truth, and they know(him) (43:86).
They shall have no authority for intercession, save he who has made a covenant with the Beneficent God (19:87).
On that day shall no intercession avail except of him whom the Beneficent God allows and whose word He is pleased with. He knows what is before them and what is behind them, while they do not comprehend Him in knowledge And intercession will not avail aught with Him save of him whom He permits (34:23).
And how many an angel is there in the heavens whose intercession does not avail at all except after Allah has given permission to whom He pleases and chooses (53: 26).
Some of these verses (like the first three) say that intercession is reserved for Allah, while the rest declare that others too may intercede with Allah’s permission. In any case, all of them confirm the intercession per se. How are these verses related to the preceding ones which totally reject intercession? It is exactly the same relation that exists between the verses that say that the knowledge of unseen is reserved to Allah and those which declare that others too may have that knowledge with the permission of Allah. As Allah says:
Say: “No one in the heaven and the earth knows the unseen but Allah” (27:65).
And with Him are the keys of the unseen, does not know it any except He (6:59).
The Knower of the unseen! so He does not reveal His secrets to any, except to him whom He chooses of an apostle (72:27).
The same is the case with various verses on the subjects of creating, sustaining, giving death, causality, command, authority and similar things. Some verses reserve them for Allah, while some say that others too may do these things. It is a well-known style of the Qur’an: first it rejects the idea that anyone other than Allah has any virtue or perfection; thereafter it confirms the same virtue or perfection for others depending on the permission and pleasure of Allah. When read together, the verses show that nobody has any virtue by his own power and right; whatever excellence there may be, he has got it because Allah has given it to him. Allah puts much emphasis to this fact; He attaches the proviso of His will even for those things which are firmly decreed by Him. For example:
So as to those who are unhappy, they shall be in the fire; for them shall be sighing and groaning in it; abiding therein so long as the heavens and the earth endure, except as your Lord please; surely your Lord is the (mighty) doer of what He intends. And as to those who are made happy, they shall be in the garden, abiding in it as long as the heavens and the earth endure, except as your Lord please; a gift which shall never be cut off (11:106 -108).
Note that abiding for ever is made dependent on the pleasure of Allah, even in case of the garden, although it is a gift which shall never be cut off. It emphasizes the fact that even when Allah firmly decrees a thing, it does not pass out of His control or authority; “Surely your Lord is (mighty) doer of what He intends” (11:107). When Allah gives a thing, it does not go out of His total possession. When He denies some thing to someone, it is not done to protect Himself against any need or poverty!
In short, the verses that reject intercession – albeit talking about the Day of Resurrection – do so in the context of intercession independent of Allah’s authority; while the ones proving it, prove it basically for Allah and then, depending on His pleasure, for others.
Thus the intercession is proved for other than Allah with His permission.
Now we should see what is the meaning of intercession? Who may intercede? On behalf of whom? And when? How is it related to the divine forgiveness?
Qur’anic Discourse About Intercession
1. WHAT IS THE MEANING OF INTERCESSION?
“Ash-Shafa’ah” (intercession) is derived from “ash-shaf'” whichmeans “even” as opposed to odd – the interceder adds his own recommendation to the plea of the petitioner; in this way the number of pleaders becomes even, and the weak plea of the petitioner is strengthened by the prestige of the intercessor. We are accustomed in our social and communal life to seek others’ intercession and help for fulfilling our needs. We resort to it to get an advantage or to ward off a disadvantage. Here we are riot talking about an advantage or a disadvantage, a benefit or a harm that is caused by natural causes, like hunger and thirst, heat or cold, illness or health; because in such cases we get what we want through its natural remedies, like eating and drinking, wearing clothes, getting treatment and so on. What we are talking here about is the benefit and harm, punishment and reward resulting from the social laws made by civil authorities. Rising from the very relationship of mastership-and-servitude and for that matter, between every ruler and ruled – there are some commandments, orders and prohibitions; one who follows and obeys them is praised and rewarded, and the one who disobeys is condemned and punished; that reward or punishment may be either material or spiritual. When a master orders his servant to do or not to do a thing, and the servant obeys him he gets its reward, and if he disobeys he is punished. Whenever a rule is made, the punishment for its infringement is laid down too. This is the foundation which all the authorities are built upon.
When a man wants to get a material or spiritual benefit but is not suitably qualified for it; or when he desires to ward off a harm which is coming to him because of his disobedience, but has no shield to protect himself, then comes the time for intercession.
In other words, when he wants to get a reward without doing his task, or to save himself from punishment without performing his duty, then he looks for someone to intercede on his behalf. But intercession is effective only if the person for whom one intercedes is otherwise qualified to get the reward and has already established a relationship with the authority. If an ignorant person desires appointment to a prestigious academic post, no intercession can do him any good; nor can it avail in case of a rebellions traitor who shows no remorse for his misdeeds and does not submit to the lawful authorities. It clearly shows that intercession works as a supplement to the cause; it is not an independent cause.
The effect of an intercessor’s words depends on one or the other factor which may have some influence upon the concerned authority; in other words, intercession must have a solid ground to stand upon. The intercessor endeavors to find a way to the heart of the authority concerned, in order that the said authority may give the reward to, or waive the punishment of, the person who is the subject of intercession. An intercessor does not ask the master to nullify his mastership or to release the servant from his servitude; nor does lie plead with him to refrain from laying down rules and regulations for his servants or to abrogate his commandments (either generally or especially in that one case), in order to save the wrong-doer from the due consequences; nor does he ask him to discard the canon of reward and punishment, (either generally or in that particular case). In short, intercession can interfere with neither the institution of mastership and servantship nor the masters authority to lay down the rules; nor can it effect the system of reward and punishment. These three factors are beyond the jurisdiction of intercession.
What an intercessor does is this: He accepts the inviolability of the above-mentioned three aspects. Then he looks at one or more of the following factors and builds his intercession on that basis:
a. He appeals to such attributes of the master as give rise to forgiveness, e.g., his nobility, magnanimity and generosity.
b. He draws attention to such characteristics of the servant as justify mercy and pardon, e.g., his wretchedness, poverty, low status and misery.
c. He puts at stake his own prestige and honor in the eyes of the master.
Thus, the import of intercession is like this: I cannot and do not say that you should forget your mastership over your servant or abrogate your commandment or nullify the system of reward and punishment. What I ask of you is to forgive this defaulting servant of yours because you are magnanimous and generous, and because no harm would come to you if you forgive his sins; and/or because your servant is a wretched creature of low status and steeped in misery; and it is befitting of a master like you to ignore the faults of a slave like him; and/or because you have bestowed on me a high prestige, and I implore you to forgive and pardon him in honor of my intercession.
The intercessor, in this way, bestows precedence on the factors of forgiveness and pardon over those of legislation and recompense. He removes the case from the latter’s jurisdiction putting it under former’s influence. As a result of this shift, the consequences of legislation (reward and punishment) do not remain applicable. The effect of intercession is, therefore, based on shifting the case from the jurisdiction of reward and punishment to that of pardon and forgiveness; it is not a confrontation between one cause (divine legislation) and the other (intercession).
By now it should have been clear that intercession too is one of the causes; it is the intermediate cause that connects a distant cause to its desired effect.
Allah is the ultimate Cause. This causality shows itself in two ways:
First: In creation: Every cause begins from Him and ends up to Him; He is the first and the final Cause. He is the real Creator and Originator. All other causes are mere channels to carry His boundless mercy and limitless bounty to His creatures.
Second: In legislation: He, in His mercy, established a contact with His creatures; He laid down the religion, sent down His commandments, and prescribed suitable reward and appropriate punishment for His obedient and disobedient servants; He sent prophets and apostles to bring us good tidings and to warn us of the consequences of transgression. The prophets and apostles conveyed to us His message in the best possible way. Thus His proof over us was complete: and the word of your Lord has been accomplished with truth and justice, there is none to change His words… (6: 115).
Both aspects of causality of Allah may be, and in tact are, related to intercession.
1. Intercession in creation: Quite obviously the intermediary causes of creation are the conduits that bring the divine mercy, life, sustenance and other bounties to the creatures; and as such they are intercessors between the Creator and the created. Some Qur’anic verses too are based on this very theme: whatever is in the heavens and what is in the earth is His; who is he that can intercede with Him but by His permission (2:255); Surely your Lord is Allah, who created the heavens and the earth in six periods, and He is firmly established on throne, regulating the affair; there is no intercessor except after His permission (10: 3).
Intercession in the sphere of creation is only the intermediation of causes between the Creator and the created thing and effect, in bringing it into being and regulating its affairs.
2. Intercession in legislation: Intercession, as analyzed earlier, is effective in this sphere too. It is in this context that Allah says: On that day shah no intercession avail except of him whom the Beneficent God allows and whose word He is pleased with (20: 109);And intercession will not avail aught with Him save of him whom He permits (34:23); And how many an angel is there in the heavens whose intercession does not avail at all except after Allah has given permission to whom He pleases and chooses (53:26); and they do not intercede except for him whom He approves… (21:28); And those whom they call upon besides Him have no authority for intercession, but he who bears witness of the truth and they know(him) (43:86). These verses clearly affirm intercessory role for various servants of Allah both men and angels — with divine permission and pleasure. It means that Allah has given them some power and authority in this matter, and to Him belongs all the kingdom and all the affairs. Those intercessors may appeal to Allah’s mercy, forgiveness and other relevant attributes to cover and protect a servant who otherwise would have deserved punishment because of his sins and transgressions. That intercession would transfer his case from the general law of recompense to the special domain of grace and mercy. (It has already been explained that the effect of intercession is based on shifting a case from the former’s to the latter’s jurisdiction-, it is not a confrontation between one law and the other.) Allah clearly says: …so these are they of whom Allah changes the evil deeds to good ones (25:70). Allah has the power to change one type of deed into other, in the same way as He may render an act null and void. He says: And We will proceed to what they have done of deeds, so We shah render them as scattered floating dust (25:23); …so He rendered their deeds null (47:9); If you avoid the great sins which you are forbidden, We will expiate from you your (small) sins (4:31); Surely Allah does not forgive that any thing should be associated with Him, and forgives what is besides that to whomsoever He pleases (4:48). The last quoted verse is certainly about the cases other than true belief and repentance, because with belief and repentance even polytheism is forgiven, like any other sin. Also Allah may nurture a small deed to make it greater than the original: These shall be granted their reward twice (28:54);Whoever brings a good deed, he shall have ten like it (6:160). Likewise, He may treat a nonexistent deed as existing: And (as for)those who believe and their offspring follow them in faith, We will unite with them their offspring and We will not diminish to them aught of their work; every man Is responsible for what he has done(52:21).
To make a long story short, Allah does what He please, and decrees as He wills. Of course, He does so pursuant to His servants’ interest, and in accordance with an intermediary cause – and intercession of the intercessors (e.g., the prophets, the friends of Allah and those who are nearer to Him) is one of those causes, and certainly no rashness or injustice is entailed therein.
It should have been clear by now that intercession, in its true sense, belongs to Allah only; all His attributes are intermediaries between Him and His creatures and are the channels through which His grace, mercy and decrees pass to the creatures; He is the real and all-encompassing intercessor: Say: “A1lah’s is the intercession altogether” (39:44); …you have not besides Him any guardian or any intercessor (32:4), …there is no guardian for them nor any intercessor besides Him (6:51). The intercessors, other than Allah, get that right by His permission, by His authority.
In short, intercession with Him is a confirmed reality – in cases where it does not go against the divine glory and honor.
2. THE OBJECTIONS AGAINST INTERCESSION
Intercession, as explained above, is a confirmed reality not in every case but in approved ones. The Qur’an and the traditions do not prove more than this. A little meditation on the meaning of intercession is enough to lead to this conclusion. Intercession is mediation in causality and effectiveness. Obviously causality cannot be limitless and unconditional. No cause can be a cause of every effect, nor can an effect be governed by every cause – otherwise it would render the system of cause and effect null and void. Those who do not believe in intercession have fallen in this very trap – they thought that we affirm the intercession in its totality without any condition or limit. All their objections emanates from this very misunderstanding:
First Objection: Allah has threatened to punish the wrongdoer; now supposedly He waives the punishment on the Day of Judgment. The question is whether this waiver is justice or injustice. If it is justice, then the original promise of punishment would be injustice, quite unworthy of divine majesty; and if it is injustice, then the intercession of the prophets, for example, would be a plea for injustice, and it is a folly that should not be attributed to the prophets.
Reply – First: What will they say about those, orders that are given only to test the royalty of a servant and are changed at the last moment, like the order to Ibrahim to kill Isma’il? Surely its waiver too like the original order was based on justice. Such orders are given only to test the hidden quality of the servant concerned. Likewise, it may be said that salvation is written for all the believers. The laws of the shari’ah were ordained with punishments prescribed for transgressors – in order that the disbelievers should perish because of their disbelief. As for the obedient believers their rank would be enhanced by their good deeds. And as for the disobedient believers, they would be rescued by intercession: that intercession might be effective either totally or partially; in later case, they would have to suffer some of the punishments in al-Barzakh or on the Day of Judgment itself and then they would get deliverance.
Thus the original law with the prescribed punishment for the defaulters is nothing but justice, and, the subsequent waiver of that punishment too is nothing but justice.
Second: The waiver of the prescribed punishment as a result of intercession could be compared with the previous order – in being based on justice or injustice – only if that waiver were a contradiction of the previous order. But we have explained that it is not so. Intercession is not a contradiction of, or confrontation between one cause (divine legislation) and the other (intercession); it is in tact shifting his case from one jurisdiction (reward and punishment) to the other (mercy and forgiveness).
Second Objection: It is the established practice of Allah, that His actions are safe from contradiction and conflict. Whatever He decrees and orders, without any exception, runs on an established pattern. And this is the foundation which the system of cause and effect has been built upon. Allah says: This is a straight path with Me, Surely, as regards My servants, thou hast no authority over them except those who follow thee of the deviators. And surely Hell is the promised place of them all (15:41-43); And (know) that this is My path, the straight one, therefore, follow it, and follow not (other) ways, for they will scatter you away from His way (6:153); For you shall not find any alteration in the course of Allah; and you shall not find any change in the course of Allah (3 5:43). And intercession, if effective, would certainly create conflict and contradiction in the actions Allah: If intercession caused waiver of punishment from all the sinners, of all their sins, then it would defeat the very purpose of the shari’ah and would turn the whole system into a joke. And if only some of the sinners, or only some of their sins were forgiven, then there would occur contradiction in divine actions and change and alteration in Allah’s established course. Certainly, all the sinners are transgressors and every sin is disobedience of divine command. Therefore, forgiving only some of them or only some of their sins, because of intercession, would be impossible.
Intercession is used in this life of ours, where people are influenced by their desires or social connections. It cannot work in the affairs of the shari’ah nor can it influence the divine Judgment in any way.
Reply: No one doubts that the path of Allah is straight and His course without any change or conflict. But it should not be forgotten that this one and unchanged course is based on all His relevant attributes, not on only one or two of them.
Allah is the One Who bestows on every creature diverse things like life death, sustenance, bounty and so on. These are the decrees that are contradictory or unrelated to each other; they do not have the same connection with the issuing authority i.e. God. Otherwise the relationship of cause and effect would become null and void. For example, Allah does not restore a sick man to health by virtue of His death-giving power; rather He does so because He is Merciful, Benevolent, Giver of health and Bestower of bounties. Likewise, He does not destroy an arrogant tyrant by His mercy and beneficence, but because He is the Avenger, the Omnipotent and the Subduer. The Qur’an is the best witness of this fact: Whenever it ascribes an event or affair to Him, it invariably always mentions the appropriate attribute by which that affair or event was decreed and managed.
You may say that every affair and every thing is decreed by Allah because of its underlying benefit and good. And He does whatever He does by His all relevant attributes, and not by only one or some of them. There is always action and reaction between benefits and good of various courses of a certain affair; and Allah issues His decree as a result of His knowledge that encompasses ail those aspects; His vision is not limited to one or two sides only. Had there been one fixed cause or attribute, there would have been no change or difference between a believer and a non-believer, between a pious person and a debauchee; but there are numerous causes and attributes, and their sum-total often has effects quite different from the effect of its individual parts.
Therefore, intercession, and the consequent waiver of punishment – based on sum-total of numerous causes like mercy, pardon, Judgment, and giving everyone his due right – does not entail any change in the established course, nor any deviation from the right path.
Third Objection: Intercession, according to common understanding, prevails upon the authority to do against his original will. In other words, the original will is abrogated and changed because of the intercessor. A just judge would never accept an intercession unless his knowledge is changed, e.g., his original Judgment was wrong, and then he was made to realize that justice demanded a course opposite to his original plan. An unjust judge would accept intercession of his friends knowing fully well that the course suggested was wrong; but he values his personal relations more than the demands of justice and equity. Obviously, both these alternatives are impossible so far as Allah is concerned; His will is related to His knowledge, and His knowledge is eternal and unchangeable.
Reply: Intercession has nothing to do with change of will or knowledge. What actually changes is the thing willed about or known. Allah knows that a certain man will pass through various stages in his life; for a time his condition will be excellent – and Allah wills about him a certain will, and He knows that later his condition will change – and He wills about him another will; and every day He is in a (new) state (of glory). And He has said: Allah effaces what He pleases and establishes (likewise), and with Him is the bases of the Book (13:39); Nay, both His hands are spread out, He expends as He pleases (6:64). The same happens with out knowledge and will. We know that soon night will come and we will not be able to see in darkness, but a few hours later the sun will rise dispelling the darkness. When night comes out will is directed to light a lamp, and later when the morning comes the will is directed to extinguish that lamp. In this case, there was no change at all in out knowledge and will; what changed was the objects of that knowledge and will. And consequently they ceased to be governed by that knowledge and that will. After all, not every knowledge is related to every known object, nor every will is connected to every purpose.
What is impossible for Allah is disagreement of His knowledge with the thing known, or of His will with its object – while that thing or object remains unchanged. In other words, it is impossible for Him to be mistaken in His knowledge or for His will to be ineffective. We see an apparition far away and take it to be a man; on coming nearer we find that it was a horse. In this case, out “knowledge” did not agree with its object; it was a mistake.
Likewise, we intend to do a certain work, then we realize that it would be wrong to do so; here our “will” was cancelled and became ineffective. But in these cases the objects of our knowledge and will had not changed. Such “disagreement” is certainly impossible for Allah. But as we have seen, intercession and the subsequent waiver of punishment does not come into this category.
Fourth Objection: Had Allah promised intercession, or had His prophets brought this message to their nations, the people would have been emboldened to disobey the commandments of Allah, and to transgress the limits of the shari’ah. It would have defeated the whole purpose behind the institutions of prophethood and religion. If we are to avoid this inherent difficulty, we shah have to interpret the relevant Qur’anic verses and traditions in a way that does not collide with this basic concept.
Reply – First: What will they say about the verses showing that Allah’s mercy and forgiveness is all-encompassing? For example:Surely Allah does not forgive that any thing should be associated with Him, and forgives what is besides that to whomsoever He pleases (4:48). This verse, as explained earlier, covers the cases other than repentance, as the exception of polytheism shows – because in cases of repentance even polytheism may be forgiven.
Second: The promise or message of intercession could incite people to disregard the rules of the shari’ah, if it were accompanied by one of the following factors:
1. If it had pin-pointed either the sinner – by name or description – who was to be forgiven through intercession; or the particular sin that was to be wiped off – unconditionally, definitely and without any ambiguity.
2. Or, if intercession were effective against all types of punishment and at all times.
Read the following sentences to understand what the above conditions mean:
“All men, or a named group of men, will never be held responsible for any sins they commit; nor they ever be punished for their transgressions.”
“A particularly named sin will never be punished for.”
Obviously, such declarations would defeat the basic purpose of theshari’ah.
But Allah has kept both things vague. He has never said what sins or which sinners might benefit from intercession, nor has He Said whether all or only some of the punishment would be waived; nor has He made it clear whether or not the intercession would be effective in every condition and at all times. As all these things have been kept vague, no one could be sure of getting the benefit of intercession. In view of this uncertainty, he cannot feel bold to trespass the limits of Allah. On the other hand the possibility of intercession would save him from losing the hope of divine mercy, will keep him away from despair and despondency, from pessimism and hopelessness. Then there is the verse: If you avoid great sins which you are forbidden, We will expiate from You your (small) sins… (4:31). It clearly says that Allah will forgive small sins and waive the punishment, provided the servant shuns great sins. If Allah can say, “If you avoid great-sins, I shall forgive the small ones”, He can as easily say, “If you keep your belief pure until you come to Me with unpolluted faith, I shall accept the intercession of intercessors on your behalf.” The important thing is to keep the faith strong; the sins weaken the faith, harden the heart and lead to polytheism. Allah has said: But none feels secure from Allah’s plan except the people who shah perish (7:99); Nay! rather what they used to do has become like rust upon their hearts (83:14); Then evil was the end of those who did evil, because they rejected the signs of Allah… (30:10).
The hope of divine mercy (generated by the belief of intercession), in many cases, leads to repentance, piety and good deeds – and often the servant reaches a stage where intercession is not needed after all. It is in fact the most important benefit of this belief.
Likewise, if it were mentioned who would benefit from intercession or which sins were likely to be interceded about, but it was declared that it would nevertheless entail some types of punishment up to a certain period, the man could not feel bold to commit sins.
And the fact is that the Qur’an has nowhere pin-pointed the sin or the sinner likely to benefit from intercession. On the contrary, it speaks only of averting the punishment from some people. And no objection can be leveled against such a vague expression.
Fifth Objection: Utmost that reason may prove is the possibility, and not the actuality, of intercession – in fact, it does not prove even that much. So far as the Qur’an is concerned, it does not show that intercession will actually take place. Some verses refute the idea of intercession altogether, e.g., …the day comes in which there is no bargaining, neither any friendship nor intercession (2:254). Other verses say that intercession shall be of no avail, e.g., So the intercession of intercessors shall not avail them (74:48). Still others, after refuting the actuality of intercession, add the proviso like, but by His permission (2:255), except after His permission (10:3), except for him whom He approves (21:28). This style (a negative followed by exception of divine permission or approval) is used in the Qur’an invariably always to emphasize the negative statement; for example, it says: We will make you recite so you shall not forget, except what Allah pleases (87:6-7); Abiding therein so long as the heavens and the earth endure, except as your Lord pleases (11:107). Obviously, there is no definite declaration in the Qur’an proving the actuality of intercession. As for the traditions, those giving its details are not reliable; and the reliable ones do not say more than the Qur’an does.
Reply: As for the verses refuting the intercession we have already explained that what they reject is the intercession without the permission of Allah. The verse 74:48, which says that “the intercession of intercessors shall not avail them”, is not a proof against intercession; on the contrary it proves its actuality. The verse is in the Chapter, “The Clothed One’ and speaks about “them”, i.e., a particular group of wrong-doers mentioned in verses 41 to 47; it is they who shall not benefit from the intercession of intercessors; it does not speak about all the sinners. Moreover, it uses the phrase, “the intercession of intercessors.” There is a difference between saying, “Intercession shall not avail them”, and saying, “Intercession of intercessors shall not avail them.” When an infinitive verb or verbal noun is used in genitive or possessive case, it proves its actual existence, as ash-Shaykh ‘Abdu’l-Qahir has clearly written inDala’ilu’l- I’jaz. Therefore, the expression, “intercession of intercessors” proves that some intercession shall definitely take place on that day, although that particular group shall not be able to benefit from it. Also, the plural, “intercessors” points to the presence of a group of intercessors. Look for example at the phrases: she was of those who remained behind (7:83); and he was one of the unbelievers covenant does (2:34); so he is of those who go astray (7:175); My convenant does not include the unjust ones(2:124). The plurals in all these phrases would have been irrelevant if they did not mean existence of more than two persons having the attributes mentioned. Likewise, the verse: So the intercession of intercessors shall not avail them, instead of refuting the intercession, clearly proves the existence of intercessors and, therefore, intercession. As for the verses that contain the exceptions, “but by His permission”, “except after His permission”, they clearly prove the actuality of intercession, especially as the infinitive verb “permission” is used in genitive case (His permission).No one having a taste of Arabic literature can entertain any doubt about it.
It is childish to say that the two phrases, “but by His permission” and “except for him whom He approves” mean the same thing, i.e., the divine will. Moreover, the Qur’an has used various phrases of exception in various places, e.g., “but by His permission”, “except after His permission”, “except for him whom He approves” and “but he who bears witness of the truth and they know (him).” Even if we accept that the divine permission and divine approval mean the same thing, i. e., divine will, can it bc said that the last-mentioned phrase (but he who bears witness of the truth…) too implies the same? Such interpretation implies such inexactness and laxity in talk as even an ordinary Arab would not like attributed to him, let alone an eloquent one. Can we accuse the most eloquent divine speech, i.e., the Qur’an, of such inarticulateness?
As for the traditions, we shall show later that they too follow the line adopted by the Qur’an.
Sixth Objection: The verses do not say clearly that on the Day of Judgment, the punishment would be averted from the wrong-doers, after the sin has been proved and the sentence pronounced. The intercession attributed to the prophets means that they were the intermediaries between the Lord and His servant, they received revelation from their Lord and conveyed it to the people and guided them to the right path, leading them to spiritual and ethical perfection. In this sense, they are the intercessors for the believers in this world as well as in the hereafter.
Reply: No doubt, it is one of the aspects of intercession; but intercession is not limited to this much. The prophets called their people to the true faith and repentance, and this is the intercession mentioned by the objector. Now let us look again at the verse:Surely Allah does not forgive that any thing should be associated with Him, and forgives what is besides – that to whomsoever He pleases (4:48). As described earlier, this verse covers the cases other than the true faith and repentance. (True faith and repentance would wipe out the polytheism too.) The exception of polytheism shows that here the talk is about other things – and intercession, in themeaning explained by us, is one those cases.
Seventh Objection: Reason does not prove that intercession really exists; and the Qur’anic verses on this subject are ambiguous – in one place they prove it, at others refute it; sometimes they add some proviso, at the other they speak unconditionally. Therefore, the ethics of religion demands that we should believe in all of them and leave their meaning to Allah.
Reply: The ambiguous verses, when referred to the decisive ones, become decisive themselves. It is an easy process which is not beyond our ability and power. We shall explain this subject when writing about the verse: of it there are some verses decisive, they are the basis of the Book, and others are ambiguous… (3:).
3. WHO WILL BENEFIT FROM INTERCESSION?
As explained earlier, it was not in the best interest of religious guidance to pin-point who should benefit from intercession on the Day of Judgment. But vague hints and ambiguous statements can do no harm, and the Qur’an has used them to give us a general idea. Allah says: Every soul is held in pledge for what it has earned, except the people of the right hand, in gardens; they shall ask each other about the guilty: “What has brought you into hell?” They shall say:”We were not of those who prayed, and we used not to feed the poor; and we used to enter (into vain discourse) with those who entered (into vain discourse); and we use to call the Day of Judgment a lie, till death overtook us.” So the intercession of intercessors shall not avail them (74:38-48). The verses declare that every soul shall remain mortgaged on the Day of Judgment for the sins it has earned, held responsible for the wrongs done in this life. The only exception is of the people of the right hand – they shall be released from that pledge, and shall settle in the gardens. They shall see the wrongdoers who shall be held captive of their sins, and herded into hell; they shall ask them for the reason of their entering into hell, and the guilty shall reply by enumerating four sins as the cause of their disgrace and punishment. And because of those sins, they shall lose the benefit of the intercession of intercessors.
It implies that the people of the right hand would be free from those sins which deprive a man of the benefit of intercession. Allah shall release them from the fetters of sins and wrongs; and this release shall be as a result of the intercession of intercessors.
The verses are a part of the Chapter 74, (The Clothed One); it was revealed at Mecca at the beginning of the Call, as its contents amply prove. At that time the prayer and zakat as known to us were not promulgated. In this context the prayer, mentioned in the verse, “We were not of those who prayed”, could only mean turning one’s face towards Allah with humility and submission; likewise, the verse, “and we used not to feed the poor”, could only refer to general spending on the poor in the way of Allah. Al-Khawd (=translated here as entering into vain discourse) literally means to wade into water, to plung or rush into something. The verse, “we used to enter (into vain discourse)…”, implies entanglement in the vain things of this life, which distract a man from remembrance of the hereafter; it may also mean vilification of the verses which remind one of the Day of Reckoning.
Those wrongdoers, therefore, shall be guilty of four sins: (1) Not turning their faces towards Allah with humility and submission; (2) not spending in the way of Allah; (3) vilification – of divine revelations; and (4) calling the Day of Judgment a lie. These four evils destroy the foundation of religion. Religion demands following the purified guides, setting one’s face towards Allah, turning away from the worldly distractions, setting one’s eyes on the Day of Judgment. If a man succeeds in it, he will be free from the third and the fourth sins, i.e., vilification of divine revelation and calling the Day of Judgment a lie. When, in this way, his fundamental belief is secured, he shall feel the urge to turn towards Allah and to help fellow human beings. These two factors are represented in these verses by prayer and spending in the way of Allah. Faith and deed all would thus combine to build the structure of religion. Other elements, like belief in Oneness of God and the prophethood, would naturally follow.
The people of the right hand are the ones who shall benefit from the intercession; and they are the ones whose religion and faith Allah is pleased with. They may come on the Day of Judgment with perfect deeds – and in that case there will be no need for any intercession; or they may come burdened with some sins and it is they who shall benefit from the intercession. Therefore, the intercession shall be for those people of the right hand who may have committed some sins.
Allah says: If you avoid the great sins which you are forbidden, We will expiate from you your (small) sins (4:31). Therefore, anybody coming on the Day of Judgment with a sin not expiated, shall certainly be guilty of a great sin; had it been a small one it would have been expiated long ago. We have to conclude from this verse that the intercession shall be for those people of the right hand who shall be guilty of great sins. The Prophet has said: “Verily my intercession is for those of my ummah who shall have committed great sins; as for the good doers, there shall be no difficulty for them …”
The designation, “the people of the right hand”, is the opposite of “the people of the left hand.” These Qur’anic terms are based on the fact that man, on the Day of Judgment, shall be given his book of deeds either in his right hand or in the left. Allah says: (Remember)the day when We will call every people with their Imam; then whoever is given his book in his light hand, these shall read their book; and they shall not be dealt with a whit unjustly. And whoever is blind in this, he shall (also) be blind in the hereafter; and more erring from the way (17:71-72). We shall describe, when writing about this verse, that getting the book in the right hand is synonymous with following the rightful Imam; likewise getting the book in the left hand means following a misguiding leader or lmam. Allah says about Pharaoh: He shall lead his people on the resurrection day, and bring them down to the fire (11:98). It means that not only the required four qualities but even the nomenclature, “the people of the right hand”, is based on the fact that they followed an approved religion, that Allah was pleased with them.
Allah says in another place: and they do not intercede except for him whom He approves (21:28). This approval is general and without any condition or qualification. It is not like the one mentioned in verse: …except of him whom the Beneficent God allows and whose word He is pleased with (20:109), where approval or pleasure is related to the servant’s word. In the verse under discussion the pleasure or approval is related to them, not to their deed; in other words, “whom He approves” means ‘whose religion He approves’. Accordingly this verse too has the same import as the previous ones.
Again Allah says: The day on which We will gather the pious ones to the Beneficent God as the guests of honor, and We will drive the guilty to hell like (thirsty) herd (to the watering place). They shall own not any intercession, save he who has made a covenant with the Beneficent God (19:85-87). The one who has made a covenant with Allah shall be given possession of intercession. It should not be forgotten that not every guilty servant is an unbeliever. Allah says:Whoever comes to his Lord (being) guilty, for him is surely hell; he shall not die therein nor shall he live; and whoever comes to Him a believer (and) he has done good deeds indeed, these it is who shall have the high ranks (20:74-75). According to these verses, anyone who is not a good-doing believer is guilty, no matter whether he is an unbeliever or a wrong-doing believer. The latter group, i.e., those who have true belief but have also committed sins, is the one that has made a covenant with God. Allah says: Did I not enjoin you(make a covenant with you), O children of Adam! that you should not worship the Satan? Surely he is your open enemy, and that you should worship Me; this is the straight path (36:60-61). The phrase, ” and that you should worship Me”, is a covenant in the meaning of order, enjoinment; and the sentence, “this is the straight path”, is also a covenant by implication because the straight path leads to felicity and safety. However, such believers shall enter the hell because of the sins they had committed, then they shall be rescued by intercession. It is to this covenant that the verse 2:80 alludes: (The Jews) Say: “Fire shall not touch us but for a few days. Say: “Have you received a promise (covenant) from Allah?” These verses too, therefore, lead us to the same conclusion, namely, the group that shall benefit from intercession on the Day of Judgment is that of the believers who would have committed great sins; it is they whose religion and belief Allah is pleased with and has approved.
4. WHO ARE THE INTERCESSORS?
It has been described that intercession takes place in two spheres: in creation and in legislation. So far as the intercession in creation is concerned, all intermediary causes are intercessors because they are placed between the Creator and the created.
As for the intercessors in the sphere of legislation and Judgment, they may be divided into two categories: (1) intercessors in this life, and (2) those in the hereafter.
Intercessors in this life: All the things that bring a man nearer to Allah and make him eligible for divine forgiveness. The following come into this category:
a. Repentance: Allah says: Say: …O my servants! who have acted extravagantly against their own souls, do not despair of the mercy of Allah; surely Allah forgives the faults altogether; surely He is the Forgiving, the Merciful. And return to your Lord…(39:53 – 54). It covers all the sins, even polytheism; if one repents from it and believes in One God, one’s previous polytheism is wiped out and forgiven.
b. True faith: Allah says: 0 you who believe! Fear Allah and believe in His Apostle: He will give you two portions of His mercy, and make for you a light with which you will walk, and forgive you… (57:28).
c. Good deed: Allah has promised those who believe and do good deeds (that there is) for them pardon and great recompense (5:9); 0 you who believe! Fear Allah and seek an approach (medium) to Him… (5:35). There are many verses of this theme.
d. The Qur’an: Indeed has come to you from Allah a light and a manifest Book whereby Allah guides him who follows His pleasure, into the ways of peace, and takes them out from darkness towards the light by His will and guides them to the straight path (5:16).
e. * Any thing related to a good deed, like the mosques, holy places and auspicious days.
f. The prophets and the apostles, as they seek forgiveness for their people. Allah says: and had they, when they were unjust to themselves, come to you and asked forgiveness of Allah, and the Apostle had (also) asked forgiveness for them, they would have found Allah oft-returning (to mercy), Merciful (4: 64).
g. The angels, as they too ask forgiveness for the believers. Allah says: Those who bear the throne and those around it celebrate the praise of their Lord and believe in Him and ask forgiveness for those who believe (40:7); …and the angels celebrate the praise of their Lord and ask forgiveness for those on earth… (42:5).
h. The believers themselves, as they seek pardon for their believer brothers and for themselves. Allah quotes them as saying: and pardon us, and forgive us, and have mercy on us, Thou art our Guardian… (2:286).
Intercessors in the hereafter: We use the term, intercessor, in the meaning explained in the beginning. The following come into this category:
a. The prophets and the apostles: Allah says: And they say: “The Beneficent God has taken to Himself a son.” Glory be to Him. Nay! they are honoured servants,- they do not precede Him in speech and (only) according to His commandment do they act. He knows what is before them and what is behind them, and they do not intercede except for him whom He approves… (21:26-28). Those who were called ‘son’ of God, are in fact His honoured servants and they do intercede for him whom He approves. Among them is ‘Isa, son of Maryam, and he was a prophet. It means that the prophets do intercede for approved persons.
Again Allah says: And those whom they call upon besides Him have no authority for (or, do not own) intercession, but he who bears witness of the truth and they know (him) (43:86).
b. The angels: The preceding two verses prove that the angels too may intercede, because they too were called daughters of Allah. M, Allah says: And how many an angel is there in the heavens whose intercession does not avail at all except after Allah has given permission to whom He pleases and chooses (53:26) On that day shall no intercession avail except of him whom the Beneficent God allows and whose word He is pleased with, He knows what is before them and what is behind them… (20:109-110).
c. The witnesses: Allah says: And those whom they call upon besides Him have no authority for (or, do not own) intercession, but he who bears witness of truth and they know (him) (43:86). This verse shows that those who bear witness of the truth do own (or, have authority for) intercession. The witness mentioned here does not mean the one killed in the battlefield. It refers to the witness for the deeds, as was described in the Chapter of the Opening, and will be further explained under the verse: And thus we have made you a medium(i.e. just) nation that you may be witnesses over the people and (that) the Apostle may be a witness over you… (2:143).
d. The believers: They shall be joined to the witnesses on the Day of Judgment; it follows that they too may intercede like the witnesses. Allah says: And (as for) those who believe in Allah and His apostles, these it is that are the truthful and the witnesses with their Lord…(57:19).
5. INTERCESSION: ABOUT WHAT?
The intercession in creation is related to every cause in this world of the cause and effect.
As for the intercession in matters of legislation and Judgment, some of them wipe out every sin and its punishment, right from polytheism to the smallest one. For example, repentance done, and true faith acquired, before the Day of Resurrection. Some wipe out effects of some particular sins, like some specified good deeds. As for the issue under discussion, i.e., the intercession of the prophets and other believers on the Day of Judgment, we have already explained that it shall avail those believers who might have committed big sins, but whose faith Allah is pleased with.
6. WHEN WILL INTERCESSION BE EFFECTED?
We are talking here too about the intercession on the Day of Judgment to waive off the punishment of sins. We have earlier quoted the verses of the Chapter 42 (The Clothed One): Every soul is held in pledge for what it has earned, except the people of the right hand, in gardens they shall ask each other about the guilty (74:38-41). As explained earlier, the verses clearly say who would benefit from the intercession, and who wont. They also imply that the intercession will get the wrongdoing believers released from fetters of their sins, and protect them from abiding for ever in the hell.
But there is nothing to show that intercession might avail against the turmoil of the Day of Resurrection. Rather, the verse proves that it will be effective only for rescuing the guilty believers from the hell, or preventing them from entering into it.
It may be inferred from the verses that this talk will take place after the people of the garden have settled in the gardens, and the people of the hell in the hell; and that the intercessors shall then intercede for a group of the guilty ones and rescue them from the hell. The phrase, “in gardens”, implies it, as does the question, “What has brought you into hell?” Both phrases imply a more or less permanent abode. Likewise, the comment, “so the intercession… avails them not”, denotes something occurring in present time i.e. after both groups have settled in their abodes.
As for al-Barzakh (the period between death and the Day of Resurrection) and presence of the Prophet and the lmams of the Ahlulbayt (a.s.) at the time of death and at the questioning in the grave and the help given by them to the believer to overcome those difficulties (as will be described under the verse: – And there shall not be any one of the people of the book but he must certainly believe in him before his death (4:159), these things have nothing to do with intercession. It is rather exercising the authority given to them by Allah over the creation. Allah says: …and on the most elevated places there shall be men who know all by their marks, and they shall call out to the dwellers of the garden: “Peace be on you; they shall not have yet entered it, though they hope”…And the dwellers of the most elevated places shall call out to men whom they will recognize by their marks, saying: “Of no avail were to you your amassing and your behaving haughtily. Are these they about whom you swore that Allah will not bestow mercy on them?” “Enter the garden; you shall have no fear nor shall you grieve” (7:46-49). It gives a glimpse of the authority or rule vested in them by the permission of Allah. If we look at the verse 17:71 from this angle, it too throws light on this aspect: (Remember) the day when We will call every people with their Imam; then whoever is given his book in his right hand. The intermediary position of the lmam in calling every people and giving them their books is a sort of authority and rule vested in him by Allah.
To make a long story short, intercession shall happen at the very last stage on the Day of Judgment; it shall bring the divine forgiveness to the guilty believers, prevent them from entering into hell and take those out who would have entered into it; it shall be by extension of mercy and/or manifestation of benevolence and magnanimity.
Al-Husayn ibn Khalid narrates from ar-Rida (a.s.), who narrated through his forefathers from the leader of the faithful (a.s.) that he said: “The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) said: ‘Whoever does not believe in my reservoir, and whoever does not believe in my intercession, may Allah not extend to him my intercession.’ Then he (s.a.w.) said: ‘Verily my intercession is for those of my ummah who shall have committed great sins; as for those good-doers, there shall be no difficulty for them.'” Al-Husayn ibn Khalid said: “I asked ar-Rida (a.s.): ‘O son of the Messenger of Allah! What is then the meaning of the words of Allah, Mighty and Great is He: and they d not intercede except for him whom He approves?’ He (a.s.) said ‘They do not intercede except for him whose religion Allah is pleased with.'” (al-Amali as-Saduq)
The author says: The tradition of the Prophet, “Verily my intercession is…”, has been narrated by both sects with numerous chains; and we have shown earlier that it is based on the theme of the Qur’anic verses.
Suma’ah ibn Mihran narrates from Abu Ibrahim (a.s.) that he said about the words of Allah: may be your Lord will raise you to a praised position: “The people, on the Day of Resurrection, will remain standing for forty years; and the sun will be ordered so that it will ride over their heads and they will be bridled by sweat – and the earth will be told not to accept any of their sweat. So they will approach Adam to intercede for them and he will direct them to Nuh, and Nuh will direct them to Ibrahim, and Ibrahim will direct them to Musa, and Musa will direct them to ‘Isa, and ‘Isa will direct them saying: ‘You should seek the help of Muhammad, the last prophet.’ Thereupon, Muhammad (s.a.w.) will say: ‘I’ll do it;’ and will proceed until, arriving at the door of the garden, he will knock at it. It will be asked, ‘Who is it?’ (while Allah knows better!), and he will say: ‘Muhammad.’ Then it will be said: ‘Open for him.’ When the door will be opened he will turn to his Lord, falling in sajdah. He will not raise his head until he is told: ‘Speak up and ask, you will be given; and intercede, your intercession shall be granted.’ He will raise his head and turning to his Lord will fall (again) in sajdah. Then he will be promised as before; then he will raise his head. (Thereupon, he shall intercede) until he will intercede even for him who would have been burnt in the fire. Therefore, on the Day of Resurrection, no one among all the nations will be more eminent then Muhammad (s.a.w.); and it is (the meaning of) the words of Allah: May be your Lord will raise you to a praised position.” (al-‘Ayyashi)
The author says: This meaning is narrated by both sects in great number, in detail as well as in short, with numerous chains; and it proves that the “praised position” means the position of intercession. This tradition is not in conflict with intercession of other prophets, because probably their intercession will be an offshoot of our Prophet’s, and it will begin on his hand.
‘Ubayd ibn Zurarah said: “Abu ‘Abdillah (a.s.) was asked whether a believer would have the right of intercession. He said: ‘Yes.’ Then someone said: ‘Will even a believer need the intercession of Muhammad (s.a.w.) on that day?’ He said: ‘Yes. The believers too will come with wrongs and sins; and there will be none but he shall need the intercession of Muhammad on that day.'” (‘Ubayd) said: “And someone asked him about the words of the Messenger of Allah: ‘I am the Chief of the children of Adam, and I say this without boasting.’ He said: ‘Yes.’ (Then) he said: ‘He will hold the chain-link of the door of the garden and open it; then he will fall in sajdah, and Allah will tell him ‘Raise your head, do intercede, your intercession shall be granted, and ask, you shall be given.’ Thereupon he will raise his head and intercede – and his intercession will be accepted; and he will ask and be given.” (ibid)
Muhammad ibn al-Qasim narrates through his chains from Bishr ibn Shurayh al-Basri that he said: “I said to Muhammad ibn ‘Ali (a.s.): ‘Which verse in the Book of Allah is the most hope-inspiring?’ He said: ‘And what do your people say (about it)?’ I said: ‘They say, (it is the verse), Say: “O my servants! Who have acted extravagantly against their own souls, do not despair of the mercy of Allah.”‘ He said: ‘But we, the people of the house, do not say so.’ I said: ‘Then what do you say about it?’ He said: ‘We say (it is the verse), And soon will your Lord give you so that you shall be well pleased. (It means) the intercession, by Allah the intercession, by Allah the intercession.'” (at-Tafsir, Furat ibn Ibrahim)
The author says: The words of Allah, may be your Lord will raise you to a praised position, refers to the Prophet’s glorious position of intercession, as the numerous traditions of the prophet himself prove. Moreover the wording of the verse too supports it: “will raise you” shows that it is a position which he will attain in future, i.e. on the Day of Judgment; “praised” is general and unconditional, and implies that he shall be praised by all men, past and present. Al-Hamd means to praise someone for a good done to you intentionally. This definition shows that the Prophet will do something by his own will and power which will benefit all of them and in return everyone will praise him. That is why the Imam said in the tradition of ‘Ubayd ibn Zurarah, “and there will no one but he shall need the intercession of Muhammad that day.”
BY: Allameh Muhammad Hussein Tababaei