- Translated by: Aliaa Rafea
A’ Shafa'a is an aspect of the holistic law of Mercy that does not contradict with divine justice; rather it is integrated with it. When we understand it this way we shall exert ourselves sincerely so as not to lose our light, our life, or the word of Allah within.
This also urges us not to give up hope in Allah’s mercy, Allah’s forgiveness, and the intercession of the Messenger of Allah. As for those who lost their light, and their life and the inner messenger of God, they are not part of his Nation (Umma). A’ Shafa'a is a process that has many phases, and starts while we are still in the dwelling of struggle, where we can earn our lives.
Our religion reveals for us the laws that govern our life on earth and also beyond. Henceforth, our minds get to understand about the phenomenal world and gain sound knowledge about it as much as our God-given capabilities allow us to grasp.
We are also able to comprehend laws that are related to the hereafter on an abstract level. In order to understand those laws, we are committed to arrive to conclusions that are related to the meanings and connotations of the words used in the holy verses and the way they are structured. We are also committed to open our minds in order to receive knowledge that is transmitted to us through embedded energy. This energy could convey meanings that are greater than the literal meanings of the words. That is the way we could get to understand our after life destiny; what awaits us there and how we will transform.
This knowledge about our afterlife is necessary to prepare us for what we will face after the end of our earthly journey. That is the reason why we read in our Holy Book verses that deal with issues that are related to what will await us in the after life. Otherwise, they would not have been mentioned.
One of the issues that we come across through verses in the Holy Qur'an is the law of “Intercession" (Shafa’a)(1)
“ Who is there that can intercede with Him unless He permits?” (HQ: 2: 255)
(Though this verse tells of how someone’s intercession is accepted), there are other verses that speak of those whose intercession will not be accepted. This paradox is meant to be as such in order for us to learn how to solve it through deep thinking.
Actually such paradoxes are not exclusive to “intercession”; we are faced (in the Holy Qur’an) with paradoxes in relation to other issues. There are verses that support a certain stand in one context and criticize it in others. This should lead a reader to contemplate more about the meanings of the verses thus enabling him to reach a proper understanding that would eliminate this apparent contradiction.
Those who cannot find a synthesis that combines two contradictory issues, make rigid and distorted judgments as they adopt one side and overlook the other completely. When a person thinks of A’Shafa'a as similar to mediation that people practice in this life, he rejects it justifying his stand by proclaiming that the absolute justice of Allah would not allow Shafa'a to take place:
Can they who know and they who do not know deemed equal? (HQ 39: 9)
And So he who shall have done an atom's weight of good, shall behold it. And he who shall have done an atom's weight of evil, shall behold it.(HQ: 99: 7, 8)And that nothing shall be accounted unto man but what he is striving for (HQ 53: 39)
So, how can there be intersession (Shafa’a)?
(Having read the previous verses), some people may think that any Shafa'a violates the law of Divine justice, asserting that Allah does not accept any mediation. Those people interpret all holy verses related to A’Shafa'a as mere metaphors. Moreover, they deny the credibility of the Prophet's sayings that contradict with their view. When they read the Hadiths in which the Prophet addresses the Divine saying,
"O my people! My people! If they do good, the reward is theirs, and if they do evil, I will secure them".
"I will never be satisfied if one of my people (Ummah) is in Hell",
they reject those prophetic sayings on the basis that they defy reasonxe "reason".
All of these (controversies) have been emerged as a result of the misconception of what the Shafa'a really means.
A’Shafa'a transcends all those distorted interpretations. It is a law like all divine laws that govern this life and beyond
A’ Shafa'a is an aspect of the holistic law of Mercy that does not contradict with divine justice; rather it is integrated with it. Man, who is entrusted with the word of Truth, the secret of Allah, and the trust of life may not appreciate what he is endowed with, and as a result he possibly wastes his life, and exceeds the limits. Yet, there may remain a living part of the word of Truth, and the light of Allah, within his soul. Once this person starts to realize that he was mistaken, and to learn from his flaws, he will be given another chance to start anew and develop what remains of God’s light within him. The Divine says:
"O Servants of mine who have transgressed against your own selves! despair not of God's mercyxe "God's mercy": behold, God forgives all sins for, verily, He alone is much-forgiving, a dispenser of grace!” (HQ 39: 53)Allah forgives not (the sin of) joining other gods with Him; but He forgives whom He pleases other sins than this: (HQ: 4: 116)
(HQ 4: 48)
The Day of Judgment points to the day when man’s spiritual gain is evaluated. As part of this evaluation, those who have a spark of life, an atom of goodness, are, according to the law of A’Shafa’a, granted a chance to further develop it, and regain what they have lost. Those, however, cannot be equated with others whose hearts have attained life and became true Servants of God. Each has their spiritual status.
"He has raised some of you by degrees above others " (HQ 6:156)
This is the law of the Divine that is implicit in the holy verse:
“ Who is there that can intercede with Him unless He permits?” (HQ: 2: 255)
Who is there can intercede unless His law permits, His wisdom allows, and His will works?
As for those for whom the Shafa’a is not accepted, they are the ones who are not worthy of the law of A’Shafa’a to be applied on them. They are those who lost till that last atom of life. Those become spiritually dead, submerged in darkness over darkness, without a glimpse of light. They have another path to take; a path that has been referred to in the holy verses and symbolized by Hell or Fire in all its forms and manifestations.
When the Prophet (pbuh) said I will not be satisfied if one of my people (Umma) is in Hell, he refers to those who belong to him, who still have seeds of goodness and atoms of light within . As for those who lost their light, and their life and the inner messenger of God, they are not part of his Umma.
A’Shafa'a is a process that has many phases, and starts while we are still in the dwelling of struggle, where we can earn our lives. When we are worthy of the intercession of the Prophet (Peace upon him), he will guide our way and we will change our direction from darkness towards light.
Allah is the protector of those who have faith: from the depths of darkness He will lead them forth into light. (HQ: 2: 257)
Leading them out of darkness is an aspect of A’Shafa’a. Those who believe in Allah and His Messenger are those who come to the Messenger of Allah and ask him to pray to God for forgiving them.
If they had only, when they were unjust to themselves, come unto you and asked Allah's forgiveness, and the Messenger had asked forgiveness for them, they would have found Allah indeed Oft-Returning, Most Merciful.(HQ: 4: 64)
In each phase, A’Shafa’a works in a way that is befitting the stage in which man is passing through whether he is in the stage of earning or in a later stage. We do not want to detail the various ways and forms in which the law of A’Shafa’a can be applied as this will distance us from the abstract concept leading us to be imprisoned in certain images.
We just fully believe that the law is applied in many ways that are suitable to man in his many phases and forms, for man does exist in various forms.
O man! what has seduced you from your Lord Most Beneficent? Him Who created you, fashioned you in due proportion, and gave you a just bias; In whatever form He wills, does He put you together. (HQ: 82: 6-8)
We pray to Allah that we become worthy of His mercy, and worthy of the intercession of the Messenger of Allah.
To sum up, Holy verses guide us to look at any issue from different perspectives in order that we may be on the middle path, and the straight way, and not to take an extreme stand.
The Shafa’a is mentioned in various verses in the Holy Qur’an. In certain verses the meaning is very clear that the Shafa’a works according to Allah’s permission and Allah’s law.
Some other verses, however, speak of cases in which the Shafa’a will not be accepted. This seems paradoxical but by looking deeply into that paradox, we find that there’s a solution for the paradox, and even an explanation of the meaning of the Shafa’. That paradox reveals that the Shafa’a does not involve only one party. Rather the person on whom the Shafa’a is applied also has a role to play.
If a person is eligible for the Shafa’a, that is he has done wrong but still has an atom of light within him, then he will be given another chance and another push according to a perfect law so that the word of truth within him may grow, and his darkness may be replaced by light. But, he who had lost all life, and is devoid of even a single atom of light, cannot be eligible for the law of the Shafa’a. This is a natural outcome according to the perfect law.
Thus we realize that when a Holy verse mentions clearly that the Shafa’a is applied, and when another verse says that it is not, that does not form a contradiction. Rather it refers to the actual application of the concept and the law so that we may understand it properly.
We have to understand that the issue (of Shafa’a) is subject to a comprehensive and integrated law. When we understand it this way we shall exert ourselves sincerely so as not to lose our light, our life, or the word of Allah within. This also urges us not to give up hope in Allah’s mercy, Allah’s forgiveness, and the intercession of the Messenger of Allah. So, if we go astray, we return to Allah, rather than accumulate darkness on top of our darkness; we return to Allah so that He may remove our darkness.
Perform an act of kindness following a bad one, and the former will be got erased (PH)
Allah will change the evil of such persons into good, and Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful (HQ: 25: 70)
We are always hopeful in Allah's mercy and in the Shafa’a of His Messenger.
- There is no precise word that translates Shafa'a. Intercession or mediation are two possible alternatives. The religious connotation of the word is widely understood to refer to the event in which the Prophet Mohammad will defend his followers before Allah on the Day of Judgment and ask Allah to forgive them.
- This is part of a Prophetic saying narrated by al Bukhary, Muslem and Ibn Hanbal to be quoting his prayers of intercession for his people on the Day of Judgment.
- Another prayer of intercession in which the Prophetxe "the Prophet" tells his people, “on the Day of Judgment all your deeds are demonstrated before me. When I see your good deeds I shall thank God, when I see the evil deeds I shall pray God for your forgiveness.” It is narrated by Ibn Sa’d.
- It is narrated by Attabarani in this wording: “On the Day of Judgment I shall be trying to catch each one of you so as not to be driven into Hell.”
- The dormant seed can be refreshed, but the spoiled one cannot breed. (TN)
- In other words, the Prophet gives the word his Umma, not merely to those who superficially call themselves Muslims, but to those who are linked spiritually to the call of Truth, but for one reason or another missed their way. (TN)
- It is middle because it does not go to one extreme end. Yet it is not middle as a compromising view. I t includes the opposites, not as opposites but as integrative. (TN).
- Narrated by Attirmidhi.