Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

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

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

Sam Shamoun

Continuing our examination it is now time for us to peruse some of the tafsir and hadith literature to see what we can find concerning Muhammad’s role as mediator and intercessor.

First Example

In addition to the Qur’anic verses that we looked at, the sayings attributed to Muhammad and the teachings of the scholars provide further evidence that the “believers” relied on their “prophet” as a source of intermediation not only during his earthly life, but also before his birth and even long after his death!

According to many Muslim expositors, the following passage:

And when there came to them (the Jews), a Book (this Qur'an) from Allah confirming what is with them [the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel)], although aforetime they had invoked Allah (for coming of Muhammad) in order to gain victory over those who disbelieved, then when there came to them that which they had recognised, they disbelieved in it. So let the Curse of Allah be on the disbelievers. S. 2:89 Hilali-Khan

Refers to the Jews, who lived in Medina before Muhammad was born, asking God on the basis of Muhammad’s mediation to grant them victory over against their enemies. 

For instance, the renowned Muslim expositor Imam Qurtubi, relates a tradition through Ibn ‘Abbas, which says that, 

“The Jews of Khaybar were often at war with the Ghatafan. When they confronted each other the Jews were defeated. They attacked again, offering this prayer, ‘We beg You through the mediation of the Unlettered Prophet about whom You have promised us that you will send him to us at the end of time. Please help us against them.” Ibn ‘Abbas adds: Whenever they faced the enemy, they offered this prayer and defeated the Ghatafan. But when the Prophet was sent, they denied (him). So Allah the Exalted revealed the verse: “And before that they themselves had (prayed) for victory (through the mediation of the last Prophet Muhammad and the Book revealed to him) over the disbelievers,” that is, through your mediation, O Muhammad. (Tafsir Qurtubial-Jami li Ahkam al-Quran, Q. 2:89, Volume 2, pp. 89-90) 

Al-Qurtubi wasn’t the only Muslim scholar that mentioned this narration:

(… though before that they were asking for a signal triumph over those who disbelieved…) [2:89]. Said Ibn 'Abbas: “The Jews of Khaybar were at war with Ghatafan, and whenever the two parties used to meet, Khaybar ended up in defeat. For this reason they devised the following supplication: 'O Allah! We beseech You by the truth of the unlettered Prophet whom You promised to send forth to us at the end of time to give us victory over them'. And so whenever they said this supplication, Ghatafan was defeated. But when the Prophet was sent forth, they disbelieved in him. It is due to this that Allah, exalted is He, revealed (…though before that they were asking for a signal triumph over those who disbelieved) i.e. by means of you, O Muhammad, up to His saying (The curse of Allah is on disbelievers)”. And al-Suddi said: “The Arabs used to pass by the Jews and expose the latter to some harm. The Jews knew the description of Muhammad in the Torah and used to ask Allah to send him so that they could fight with him against the Arabs. When Muhammad came to them, they disbelieved in him out of resentful envy. They said: 'all the messengers were from the descendents of Jacob, how is it that this one is a descendent of Ishmael?'” ('Alī ibn Ahmad al-Wahidi, Asbab al-Nuzul)


“The Jews used to pray for victory over the Arab polytheists through the mediation of Muhammad.” (Ibn Kathir, Tafsir-ul-Qur’an al-‘azim, Volume 1, p. 124)


The Jews of Banū Qurayzah and Banū Nadīr used to pray for victory over the disbelievers and the infidels before the Prophethood of Muhammad. They said: O Allah, bless us with victory through the mediation of the Unlettered Prophet, and they were blessed with victory. 

The Jews of Medina, before the arrival of the Holy Prophet, in their war against the (tribes of) Arab disbelievers – Asad, Ghatafān, Juhaynah and ‘Udhrah – prayed for victory over them and sought help by invoking the name of Allah’s Messenger. They said: O Allah, our Lord, grant us victory over them through the name of Your Prophet and through Your Book to be revealed to him whose Prophethood You have promised us at the end of time. (Al-Suyuti, ad-Durr-ul-manthur, Volume 1, p. 88)

According to Muslim scholar Dr. Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri, the following Muslim authorities also made mention of this report:

Mahmud ‘Alusi, Ruh-ul-ma‘ani (1:320).

Ar-Razi, at-Tafsir-ur-kabir (3:180).

‘Abdullah bin Muslim bin Qutaybah, Tafsir gharib-il-Qur'an (p. 58).

Ibn Jarir Tabari, Jami‘-ul-bayan fi tafsir-il-Qur’an (1:325).

Baghawi, Ma‘alim-ut-tanzil (1:93).

Abu al-Fadl al-Mibadi, Kashf-ul-asrar wa ‘uddat-ul-abrar (1:272).

Ibn-ul-Jawzi, Zad-ul-masir fi ‘ilm-it-tafsir (1:114).

Mujahid bin Jubayr, Tafsīr (1:83).

Al-Baydawi, Tafsir (1:122).

Nasafi, al-Madarik (1:61).

Khazin, Lubab-ut-ta’wil fī ma‘ani at-tanzil (1:65).

Muhammad bin Yusuf Abu Hayyan Andalusi, Tafsir-ul-bahr-il-muhit (1:303).

Ibrahim bin ‘Umar Biqa‘i, Nazm-ud-darar fi tanasub-il-ayat was-suwar (2:36-7).

Muhammad bin ‘Abd-ur-Rahman Hasani Husayni, Jami‘-ul-bayan fi tafsir-il-Qur’an (1:23).

Abu Sa‘ud ‘Amadi, Irshad-ul-‘aql-is-salim ila mazaya al-Qur’an al-karim (1:128).

Isma‘īl Haqqi, Tafsir ruh-ul-bayan (1:179).

Sulayman bin ‘Umar, al-Futuhat-ul-alihiyyah (1:77-8).

Shawkani, Fath-ul-qadir (1:112).

Muhammad Rashid Rada, Tafsir-ul-manar (1:381).

Ibn Juzayy, Kitab-ul-tashil li-‘ulum-it-tanzil (1:53).

Khatib Shurbini, as-Siraj-ul-munir (1:76).

Wahbah Zuhayli, at-Tafsir-ul-munir (1:219-20).

Tantawi Jawhari, al-Jawahir fi tafsir-il-Qur’an al-karim (1:96).

Hakim in al-Mustadrak (2:263).

Ajurri in ash-Shari‘ah (pp. 446-8).

Bayhaqi in Dala’il-un-nubuwwah (2:76-7).

Abu Nu‘aym in Dala’il-un-nubuwwah (pp. 44-5).

Ibn Kathir in al-Bidayah wan-nihayah (2:274-5). (Islamic Conception of Intermediation, Chapter 5, Section One)

Second Example 

This next tradition is culled from the sahihayn, i.e. those hadiths that are reported by both al-Bukhari and Muslim: 

Narrated Al-Musaiyab: 

When Abu Talib was in his death bed, the Prophet went to him while Abu Jahl was sitting beside him. The Prophet said, “O my uncle! Say: None has the right to be worshipped except Allah, an expression I will defend your case with, before Allah.” Abu Jahl and ‘Abdullah bin Umaya said, “O Abu Talib! Will you leave the religion of ‘Abdul Muttalib?” So they kept on saying this to him so that the last statement he said to them (before he died) was: “I am on the religion of ‘Abdul Muttalib.” Then the Prophet said, “I will keep on asking for Allah’s Forgiveness for you unless I am forbidden to do so.” Then the following Verse was revealed:-- 

“It is not fitting for the Prophet and the believers to ask Allah's Forgiveness for the pagans, even if they were their near relatives, after it has become clear to them that they are the dwellers of the (Hell) Fire.” (9.113) 

The other Verse was also revealed:-- “(O Prophet!) Verily, you guide not whom you like, but Allah guides whom He will .......” (28.56) (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 5, Book 58, Number 223*)  



It is reported by Sa'id b. Musayyib who narrated it on the authority of his father (Musayyib b. Hazm) that when Abu Talib was about to die, the Messenger of Allah came to him and found with him Abu Jahl ('Amr b. Hisham) and 'Abdullah b. Abi Umayya ibn al-Mughirah. The Messenger of Allah said: My uncle, you just make a profession that there is no god but Allah, and I will bear testimony before Allah (of your being a believer). Abu Jahl and 'Abdullah b. Abi Umayya addressing him said: Abu Talib, would you abandon the religion of 'Abdul-Muttalib? The Messenger of Allah constantly requested him (to accept his offer), and (on the other hand) was repeated the same statement (of Abu Jahl and 'Abdullah b. Abi Umayya) till Abu Talib gave his final decision and he stuck to the religion of 'Abdul-Muttalib and refused to profess that there is no god but Allah. Upon this the Messenger of Allah remarked: By Allah, I will persistently beg pardon for you till I am forbidden to do so (by God), It was then that Allah, the Magnificent and the Glorious, revealed this verse:

“It is not meet for the Prophet and for those who believe that they should beg pardon for the polytheists, even though they were their kith and kin, after it had been made known to them that they were the denizens of Hell" (ix. 113)

And it was said to the Messenger of Allah: 

“Verily thou canst not guide to the right path whom thou lovest. And it is Allah Who guideth whom He will, and He knoweth best who are the guided” (xxviii, 56). (Sahih Muslim, Book 001, Number 0036*)

This particular narration presupposes that Muhammad’s mediation/intercession is only efficacious or effectual for the believers. Muhammad’s mediation cannot save an idolater who dies in disbelief from being eternally tortured in the hell-fire.

Third Example

This next tradition has Muhammad commanding his followers to invoke his mediation during his lifetime:

3718. As it is narrated from ‘Amr bin Shu‘aib, from his father, that his grandfather said: “We were with the Messenger of Allah when the delegation of Hawazin came to him and said: ‘O Muhammad! We are one of the Arab tribes, and a calamity has befallen us of which you are aware. Do us a favor, may Allah bless you.’ He said: ‘Choose between your wealth or your women and children.’ They said: ‘You have given us a choice between our families and our wealth; we choose our women and children.’ The Messenger of Allah said: ‘As for that which was allocated to myself and to Banu ‘Abd-ul-Muttalib, it is yours. When I have prayed Zuhr, stand up and say: “We seek THE HELP of the Messenger of Allah in dealing with the believers, or the Muslims, with regard to our women and children.”’ So when they prayed Zuhr, they stood up and said that…” (Hasan) (English Translation of Sunan An-Nasa’i: Compiled by Imam Hafiz Abu Abdur Rahman Ahmad bin Shua‘ib bin ‘Ali An-Nasa’i, Ahadith edited & referenced by Hafiz Abu Tahir Zubair ‘Ali Za’i, translated by Nasiruddin al-Khattab (Canada), final review by Abu Khaliyl (USA) [Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, First Edition: January 2008], Volume 4, From Hadith no. 3087 to 3970, 32. The Book Of Gifts (Al-Hibah), Chapter 1. A Gift Given To Everyone, pp. 389-391; capital and underline emphasis ours) 

Fourth Example 

The following report not only provides a further example of Muhammad approving his followers to invoke Allah on the basis of his mediation, it also shows Muhammad speaking to and praying for the dead!

It is narrated by Anas bin Malik. He said: When the mother of ‘Ali bin Abu Talib — Fatimah bint Asad bin Hashim — died, Allah’s Messenger called on her and sat down by the head of the bed and said, “O dear mother, may Allah have mercy on you. After my mother, you were the one I regarded as my mother. When I was hungry you fed me to the point of saturation while you yourself remained hungry. Then you helped me put on clothes and instead of eating yourself, you gave me nice things to eat. You did all this for Allah’s pleasure and for a good reward in the Hereafter.” Then he (the Prophet) commanded to bathe her three times. When camphor water was brought, Allah’s Messenger poured some water into his hands. Then Allah’s Messenger took off his shirt and clothed her with it and used his own sheet of cloth as her coffin. Then Allah’s Messenger sent for Usamah bin Zayd, Abu Ayyub al-Ansari and ‘Umar bin al-Khattab and the negro slave to dig up the grave. So they dug her grave. When they reached near the land, Allah’s Messenger dug it up and drew the soil out with his own hands. When he finished, Allah’s Messenger entered and lay down in (the grave), and said, “It is Allah Who controls life and death, and He is Ever living and will never die. (O Allah,) forgive my mother—Fatimah bint Asad— and help her answer properly at the time of questioning and THROUGH THE MEDIATION of Your Prophet (Muhammad) and the former prophets, make her grave capacious. Surely You are infinitely Merciful.” Then he repeated, “God is Great” four times (i.e. led the funeral prayer). Then he, ‘Abbas and Abu Bakr as-Siddiq lowered her into the grave.

Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri lists a host of scholars that narrated this tradition:

Tabarani related it in al-Mu‘jam-ul-kabir (24:351-2, #871) and al-Mu‘jam-ul-awsat (1:152-3, #191) and its men are those of sound hadith except Rawh bin Salah who is da‘if (weak), while Ibn Hibban and Hakim declared him thiqah (trustworthy). Haythami also cites it in Majma‘-uz-zawa’id (9:256-7); Ibn-ul-Jawzi in al-‘Ilal-ul-mutanahiyyah (1:268-9, #433); Abu Nu‘aym in Hilyat-ul-awliya’ wa tabaqat-ul-asfiya’ (3:121); and Mahmud Sa‘id Mamduh graded it hasan (fair) in his Raf‘-ul-minarah (pp. 147-8). (Islamic Conception of Intermediation, Chapter Four, fn. 24)

Fifth Example

According to the following passage, forgiveness of sins is directly connected to Muhammad’s intercession:

We sent no messenger save that he should be obeyed by Allah's leave. And if, when they had wronged themselves, they had but come unto thee and asked forgiveness of Allah, and asked forgiveness of the messenger, they would have found Allah Forgiving, Merciful. S. 4:64 Pickthall

Allah makes it clear to his followers that if they want to be assured that their transgressions have been pardoned they have to ask Muhammad to basically intercede for them.

However, since Muhammad has been dead for nearly fifteen centuries it would seem that Muslims can no longer carry out this rather important injunction which instructs them on the means of procuring forgiveness from Allah. 

Yet such is not the case since Muslims found a way of asking Muhammad to pray for their forgiveness even after his demise. 

(In this Qur'anic verse) Allah is exhorting the sinners and evildoers that when they commit sins and errors they should call on the Messenger of Allah and ask forgiveness from Allah. They should also request the Messenger of Allah to pray for them. When they do so, Allah will turn to them and forgive them and He will show mercy to them. That is why He used the words la-wajadullaha tawwaban-rahima (they (on the basis of this means and intercession) would have surely found Allah the Granter of repentance, extremely Merciful). Many have stated this tradition. One of them is Abu Mansur al-Sabbagh (some manuscripts say Abu Nasr) who writes in his book Al-Shamil Al-Hikayat-ul-mashhurah that, according to ‘Utbi, once he was sitting beside the Prophet’s grave when a bedouin came and he said, “Peace be on you, O Allah’s Messenger. I have heard that Allah says: ‘(O beloved!) And if they had come to you, when they had wronged their souls, and asked forgiveness of Allah, and the Messenger also had asked forgiveness for them, they (on the basis of this means and intercession) would have surely found Allah the Granter of repentance, extremely Merciful.’ I have come to you, asking forgiveness for my sins and I make you as MY INTERMEDIARY before my Lord and I have come to you for this purpose.” Then he recited these verses: “O, the most exalted among the buried people who improved the worth of the plains and the hillocks! May I sacrifice my life for this grave which is made radiant by you, the one who is of mercy and forgiveness.” Then the bedouin went away and I fell asleep. In my dream I saw the Holy Prophet. He said to me: O ‘Utbi, the bedouin is right, go and give him the good news that Allah has forgiven his sins. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, 1:519-20) 


He (Utbi) said: “As I was sitting by the grave of the Prophet, a Bedouin Arab came and said: ‘Peace be upon you, O Messenger of Allah! I have heard Allah saying: “If they had only, when they were unjust to themselves, come unto thee and asked Allah's forgiveness, and the Messenger had asked forgiveness for them, they would have found Allah indeed Oft-returning, Most Merciful” (4:64).’ Then he recited these verses: ‘O, the most exalted among the buried people who improved the worth of the plains and the hillocks! May I sacrifice my life for this grave which is made radiant by you, the one who is of mercy and forgiveness.’ Then the bedouin went away and I fell asleep. In my dream I saw the Holy Prophet. He said to me: ‘O ‘Utbi, the bedouin is right, go and give him the good news that Allah has forgiven his sins.’” (Imam an-Nawawi, Kitab ul-Adhkaar, pp. 92-93) 


Its related from Abu Sadiq that Imam Ali said: “Three days after burying the Prophet, an Arab came and threw himself on the grave of the Prophet, took the earth and threw it on his head. He said: ‘Ya Rasulallah! You did speak and we did hear, you learned from Allah and we did learn from you. Between those things which Allah did send you, is the following… Q. 4:64). I am the one who is a sinner and now I did come to you, so that you may ask for me.’ After that a call FROM THE GRAVE came: ‘There’s no doubt, you are forgiven!’” (Tafsir al-Qurtubi, Volume 6, p. 439) 

Here are examples of Muslims who, on the basis of Q. 4:64, actually went to Muhammad’s grave, greeted a dead man, and invoked a corpse to pray to Allah to forgive them!

Tahir-ul-Qadri lists the following authorities that also narrated this tradition:

Bayhaqi in Shu‘ab-ul-iman (3:495-6#4178).

Ibn Qudamah in al-Mughni (3:557).

Ibn ‘Asakir in Tahdhib tarikh Dimashq al-kabir, popularly known as Tarikh/Tahdhib Ibn ‘Asakir as quoted by Subki in Shifa’-us-siqām fi ziyarat khayr-il-anam (pp. 46-7).

Ibn Hajar Haythami in al-Jawhar-ul-munazzam (p. 51). (Ibid., Chapter Five, Section Three)

We now arrive at the conclusion of this part of the discussion. Please move on to the final segment.