Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Examining More of Abdullah Kunde’s Inconsistencies Pt. 3b

Analyzing God’s Perfection 
In Light of the Islamic Doctrine of Mediation and Intercession

Sam Shamoun

Continuing our rebuttal we now begin our examination of what the Islamic sources teach concerning the issue of mediation and intercession.

Islamic sources that speak against the need for mediation/intercession

A cursory reading of the Islamic data seems to confirm Kunde’s assertion that mediation and/or intercession limits Allah since it implies that there is an imperfection in Allah’s knowledge, just as the following verse indicates:  

And they worship besides Allah things that hurt them not, nor profit them, and they say: "These are our intercessors with Allah." Say: "Do you inform Allah of that which He knows not in the heavens and on the earth?" Glorified and Exalted be He above all that which they associate as partners with Him! S. 10:18 Hilali-Khan

Here the Muslim scripture is presuming here that an intercessor or mediator would only be needed if Allah were ignorant of certain details and didn’t have full knowledge of the situation. Therefore, since Allah’s knowledge is perfect he is not in need of a mediator to come before him on behalf of his servants.

As the late Muslim scholar Muhammad Asad noted concerning this text:

27 Thus, belief in the efficacy of anyone's unqualified intercession with God, or mediation between man and Him, is here equated with a denial of God's omniscience, which takes all the circumstances of the sinner and his sinning a priori into consideration. (As regards God's symbolic grant of permission to His prophets to “intercede” for their followers on the Day of Judgment, see note 7 above.) (Message of the Qur’an; bold and underline emphasis ours)

This means that the author(s) of the Quran is/are employing the following rationale: 

An intercessor or mediator is unnecessary in light of Allah knowing everything since intercession and mediation presupposes ignorance. 

Seeing that Allah knows best and knows all, what can any intercessor or mediator possibly tell him that he doesn’t already know? 

In other words, there isn’t anything that Allah is unaware of which would require an intercessor or mediator to inform him of the situation, thereby enabling him to judge righteously.

This emphatically agrees with Kunde since the writer(s) and/or editor(s) of the Quran took mediation/intercession as implying that these intercessors/mediators were/are in some sense better informed, and possess(ed) more knowledge in certain regards, than the Islamic deity himself. And seeing that there is no one better informed than Allah, since there is no one who knows all that he knows, it is therefore impossible for anyone to intercede before him.

Here is a specific Quranic tale which clearly makes this very point:

And it was revealed to Noah, saying, 'None of thy people shall believe but he who has already believed; so be thou not distressed by that they may be doing. Make thou the Ark under Our eyes, and as We reveal; and address Me not concerning those who have done evil; they shall be drowned.' So he was making the Ark; and whenever a council of his people passed by him they scoffed at him, He said, 'If you scoff at us, we shall surely scoff at you, as you scoff and you shall know to whom will come a chastisement degrading him, and upon whom there shall alight a lasting chastisement.' Until, when Our command came, and the Oven boiled, We said, 'Embark in it two of every kind, and thy family -- except for him against whom the word has already been spoken and whosoever believes.' And there believed not with him except a few. He said, 'Embark in it! In God's Name shall be its course and its berthing. Surely my Lord is All-forgiving, All-compassionate.' So it ran with them amid waves like mountains; and Noah called to his son, who was standing apart, 'Embark with us, my son, and be thou not with the unbelievers!' He said, 'I will take refuge in a mountain, that shall defend me from the water.' Said he, 'Today there is no defender from God's command but for him on whom He has mercy.' And the waves came between them, and he was among the drowned. And it was said, 'Earth, swallow thy waters; and, heaven, abate!' And the waters subsided, the affair was accomplished, and the Ark settled on El-Judi, and it was said: 'Away with the people of the evildoers!' And Noah called unto his Lord, and said, 'O my Lord, my son is of my family, and Thy promise is surely the truth. Thou art the justest of those that judge.' Said He, 'Noah, he is not of thy family; it is a deed not righteous. Do not ask of Me that whereof thou hast no knowledge. I admonish thee, lest thou shouldst be among the ignorant.' He said, 'My Lord, I take refuge with Thee, lest I should ask of Thee that whereof I have no knowledge; for if Thou forgivest me not, and hast not mercy on me, I shall be among the losers.' S. 11:36-47

Allah was essentially telling Noah that he had no business interceding for his son since he didn’t know what Allah knew about him. 

This basically exposes the folly of intercession and mediation according to the Quranic perspective.

This, perhaps, explains why there are so many verses denying the permissibility and possibility of intercession:

Children of Israel, remember My blessing wherewith I blessed you, and that I have preferred you above all beings; and beware of a day when no soul for another shall give satisfaction, and no intercession shall be accepted from it, nor any counterpoise be taken, neither shall they be helped. S. 2:47-48

Children of Israel, remember My blessing wherewith I blessed you, and that I have preferred you above all beings; and beware a day when no soul for another shall give satisfaction, and no counterpoise shall be accepted from it, nor any intercession shall be profitable to it, neither shall they be helped. S. 2:122-123

O believers, expend of that wherewith We have provided you, before there comes a day wherein shall be neither traffick, nor friendship, nor intercession; and the unbelievers -- they are the evildoers. S. 2:254

This also may explain why the Quran tells believers to ask Allah directly:

And when My slaves ask you (O Muhammad) concerning Me, then (answer them), I am indeed near (to them by My Knowledge). I respond to the invocations of the supplicant when he calls on Me (without any mediator or intercessor). So let them obey Me and believe in Me, so that they may be led aright. S. 2:186 Hilali-Khan

Hence, the argument set forth by both Kunde and Q. 10:18 implies that if there are specific Islamic references which affirm that Allah actually permits his servants to mediate for others, then this would conclusively prove that the Islamic deity is imperfect and ignorant.

Islamic sources which affirm mediation

Here is where the problem lies for Kunde since the Islamic sources affirm that Allah accepts the intercession and mediation of his creatures! Note what the following passages claim:

On that Day shall no intercession avail except for those for whom permission has been granted by (Allah) Most Gracious and whose word is acceptable to Him. S. 20:109

No intercession can avail in His Presence, except for those for whom He has granted permission. So far (is this the case) that, when terror is removed from their hearts (at the Day of Judgment, then) will they say, “what is it that your Lord commanded?” they will say, “That which is true and just; and He is the Most High Most Great”. S. 34:23

In these next verses, the Quran refers to those who seek a means of access to Allah and even encourages the faithful to do the same:

Those whom they call upon do desire (for themselves) means of access (al-waseelata) to their Lord, - even those who are nearest: they hope for His Mercy and fear His Wrath: for the Wrath of thy Lord is something to take heed of. S. 17:57 Y. Ali 

O you who believe! Do your duty to Allah and fear Him. Seek the means of approach (al-waseelata) to Him, and strive hard in His Cause as much as you can. So that you may be successful. S. 5:35 Hilali-Khan

Waseela, or wasila, refers to closeness or seeking a means of getting closer to Allah. Thus, these passages are actually encouraging Muslims to find a way of accessing their god! As we shall see a little later on, one of the ways in which Muslims were encouraged to do this is by asking or praying to Muhammad to mediate on their behalf.

The Islamic scripture even refers to individuals who pray to Allah to forgive the sins of the believers. For example, we are told that there are angels that are interceding before the throne: 

Those who bear the Throne, and those round about it proclaim the praise of their Lord, and believe in Him, and they ask forgiveness for those who believe: 'Our Lord, Thou embracest every thing in mercy and knowledge; therefore forgive those who have repented, and follow Thy way, and guard them against the chastisement of Hell. Our Lord, and admit them to the Gardens of Eden that Thou hast promised them and those who were righteous of their fathers, and their wives, and their seed; surely Thou art the All-mighty, the All-wise. And guard them against evil deeds; whomsoever Thou guardest against evil deeds on that day, on him Thou hast had mercy; and that is indeed the mighty triumph. S. 40:7-9

We are also told that Muhammad himself was commanded to pray for the forgiveness of his companions:

It was by some mercy of God that thou wast gentle to them; hadst thou been harsh and hard of heart, they would have scattered from about thee. So pardon them, and pray forgiveness for them, and take counsel with them in the affair; and when thou art resolved, put thy trust in God; surely God loves those who put their trust. S. 3:159

Know thou therefore that there is no god but God, and ask forgiveness for thy sin, and for the believers, men and women. God knows your going to and fro, and your lodging. S. 47:19

The Muslim scripture takes this a step further by claiming that Muhammad’s presence among his people was a means of security for the disbelievers: 

And (remember) when they said: “O Allah! If this (the Qur'an) is indeed the truth (revealed) from You, then rain down stones on us from the sky or bring on us a painful torment.” And Allah would not punish them while you (Muhammad) are amongst them, nor will He punish them while they seek (Allah's) Forgiveness. S. 8:32-33 Hilali-Khan

If that weren’t enough to establish mediation, the hadiths come right out and admit that Muhammad will be given the right of wasila or mediation:

'Abdullah b. Amr b. al-As reported Allah's Messenger as saying: When you hear the Mu'adhdhin, repeat what he says, then invoke a blessing on me, for everyone who invokes a blessing on me will receive ten blessings from Allah; then beg from Allah al-Wasila for me, which is a rank in Paradise fitting for only one of Allah's servants, and I hope that I may be that one. If anyone who asks that I be given the Wasila, he will be assured of my intercession. (Sahih Muslim, Book 004, Number 0747*


Narrated Jabir bin 'Abdullah: 

Allah's Apostle said, “Whoever after listening to the Adhan says, ‘Allahumma Rabba hadhihi-d-da’ watit-tammati was-salatil qa'imati, ati Muhammadan AL-WASILATA wal-fadilata, wab' athhu maqaman mahmudan-il-ladhi wa' adtahu (O Allah! Lord of this perfect call (of not ascribing partners to You) and of the regular prayer which is going to be established! Kindly give Muhammad the right OF INTERCESSION and superiority and send him (on the Day of Judgment) to the best and the highest place in Paradise which You promised him)', then intercession for me will be permitted for him on the Day of Resurrection”).  (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 11, Number 588*)

This is precisely why we find narrations stating that Muhammad will be the first person whose intercession Allah will accept on the Day of Judgment:

Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger as saying: I shall be pre-eminent amongst the descendants of Adam on the Day of Resurrection and I will be the first intercessor and the first whose intercession will be accepted (by Allah). (Sahih Muslim, Book 030, Number 5655*)


Narrated 'Abdullah bin 'Umar:

The Prophet said, “A man keeps on asking others for something till he comes on the Day of Resurrection without any piece of flesh on his face.” The Prophet added, “On the Day of Resurrection, the Sun will come near (to, the people) to such an extent that the sweat will reach up to the middle of the ears, so, when all the people are in that state, they will ask Adam for help, and then Moses, and then Muhammad.” The sub-narrator added, “Muhammad will intercede with Allah to judge amongst the people. He will proceed on till he will hold the ring of the door (of Paradise) and then Allah will exalt him to Maqam Mahmud (the privilege of intercession, etc.). And all the people of the gathering will send their praises to Allah. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Book 24, Number 553*)

In fact, not only will Muhammad mediate or intercede for others, so will the prophets, angels, believers and Allah himself!  

“… ‘Surely! Allah wrongs not even of the weight of an atom (or a smallest ant) but if there is any good (done) He doubles it.' (4.40) The Prophet added, ‘Then the prophets and Angels and the believers will intercede, and (last of all) the Almighty (Allah) will say, “Now remains My Intercession.” He will then hold a handful of the Fire from which He will take out some people whose bodies have been burnt, and they will be thrown into a river at the entrance of Paradise, called the water of life…’” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 93, Number 532s*)

This is just the start of Kunde’s problems since there is a lot more to the story. However, we are going to have to pick it up in the next part of our reply.