ObjectionThose who are against intermediation through the prophets, the righteous and the saints, argue that it is their deeds that particularize them and, therefore, serve as a source of intermediation for them. How can an intermediatee whose own salvation depends on his good deeds serve as a means of redemption for another man? Therefore, only good deeds serve as the basis of intermediation, not the personalities of the righteous people.
AnswerI do not consider this stand as valid. We rely on the prophets, the righteous and the saints and offer them as a means of access to Allah on account of our limitless love and devotion for them. The choice of means is justified only by the presence of love. It is also an established fact that to love those who are near and dear to Allah is in itself a virtuous act and this is obviously an argument which cannot be rebutted by any other argument, no matter how subtle or elaborate or tantalizing it may be.
1. Love of Allah’s favourites as a form of mediationThe petitioner is acting for himself because he loves those whom Allah loves. He is in fact saying: ‘O Lord, I love Your friend, the holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم), and I love the orthodox Caliphs, the Companions, the Successors and their followers, the saints and the righteous. I offer this love to You as the source of intermediation so that You grant my prayer and fulfil my need.’ It means love of Allah’s favoured ones becomes a means of the prayer’s acceptance. There is no doubt that love of Allah’s favourites is not only the fulfilment of a divine command but is also a great virtuous deed. It is narrated by Abū Hurayrah:
Allah’s Messenger (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) said: When Allah loves some person, He sends for Jibrīl and commands him: Verily, I love such and such person; you should also love him, so Jibrīl loves him as well. Then Jibrīl proclaims in the heavens that Allah loves such and such person; you should also love him. Then the residents of the heavens love him as well. Then his love is sent down to the earth (the world).First of all, Allah elevated His Own obedient servant to the status of His beloved, then He commanded Jibrīl and all other angels that they should love His servant. The angels, following the divine command, also made him their beloved. In this all the heavenly creatures shared the divine love for His beloved servant. But the matter does not end here. Allah descended this love for His servant down on this earth and then created a niche for the love and popularity of His servant in every heart and every creature fell in love with him. It follows that to love those who are loved by Allah is a divine command. From this point of view this act of loving is in itself a virtuous act in which Allah is not only Himself involved but He has also involved His angels as well as the creatures of the earth. When this act is endorsed not only by the practice of the prophets but also a popular act performed by the creatures of the earth and the heavens, then what could be a better virtuous act in favour of the petitioner.
2. Reciprocal nearness of lover and beloved on the Day of JudgementTrue love is that virtuous act which draws the lover increasingly closer to the beloved. It is narrated by Anas bin Mālik:
A person called on the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) and said to him: O Messenger of Allah, when is the Hour (the Day of Judgement)? The Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) stood up for prayer. After performing the prayer he said: where is the person who had asked about the Hour? That person replied: O Messenger of Allah, I am here. He said: what preparation have you made for that (Hour)? He submitted: O Messenger of Allah, I have offered neither many prayers nor kept many fasts, but I know that much that I love Allah and His Messenger. On hearing this, Allah’s Messenger (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) commented that (on the Day of Judgement) a person will be with him whom he loves and you will be judged along with him. It is reported that, after accepting Islam, this made the Muslims happier than anything else had made them in the past.This tradition proves that whereas prayer, fast, zakat and hajj are virtuous acts and their performance entitles a man to a set of rewards, similarly love is also an act of virtue, which results in nearness to his beloved. The words of the tradition themselves endorse love as a virtuous act. When the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) asked the petitioner: what preparation have you made for the Day of Judgement? He replied: ‘O Messenger of Allah! My acts do not include big-ticket deeds like prayer and fast, but the act of loving Allah and His Messenger (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) is one of my deeds.’ The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) replied that as each act has a reward, similarly the act of loving has also a reward. A person will be judged along with the man he loves and you will be judged on the Day of Judgement along with the man you love. It means that this man, simply on account of his love for the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم), will be judged with him. He will be in the Prophet’s company and this is a promise made by the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) himself and this is Allah’s promise as well. Besides, this promise is not restrictive; it has a general application; it applies to the Companions, the Successors, their followers, even the entire Muslim community.
Love of Allah’s Messenger (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) is an act, which not only earns the lover a number of blessings through the agency of his beloved on this earth but also brings him closer to his beloved in the next world. Since the word hubb (love) here is used in a generic sense, it equally applies to all forms and grades of love. Its litmus test is sincerity as insincere love is a travesty of true love and, therefore, not only repulsively hideous but also morally revolting. This comment is vindicated by the words of Anas bin Mālik that after accepting Islam, he had never found the Muslims happier than he found them on hearing this explanation.
This tradition conclusively proves that the love of Allah’s favoured people serves as a source of intermediation for divine blessings. And when the servant prays to Allah, he, in fact, is saying: My Master, the love I have for Your beloved Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم), and the love I have for the Companions, the Successors and the righteous on account of You, I offer this act of love as mediation to You and request You to grant my such and such need for their sake. The servant’s love for Allah’s favoured ones is an act that enjoys Allah’s blessings and this very act becomes a source of intermediation for the servant.
3. Love for Allah’s lovers is the cause of divine loveThe servant, following the divine commands, performs all kinds of worship: he offers prayer, keeps fast, performs hajj and pays zakat. In short, he fulfils all his obligations. These acts have a twofold significance. On the one hand, he is implementing the divine commands; on the other hand, he earns the reward for these acts. The range and scope of these rewards include a place in Paradise for him. But the highest and the most cherished prize is the pleasure of Allah. To secure this prize, he spends every moment of his life in doing things which please Allah. And he does not restrict his remembrance of Allah only to a specific schedule or timetable but it straddles his entire life. No matter where he is, or what he is doing, he never forgets the Lord. The focus of his love or enmity is Allah Alone. The following tradition is about such lovers of Allah:
It is narrated by Mu‘ādh bin Jabal that he heard the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) saying:
Allah the Exalted and Almighty said: My love has been made obligatory for those two persons who love each other on My count and spend time together for My sake, and see each other for My sake and give money to each other generously for My sake.Allah states in this tradition: those of My servants who love one another on My count, and also love those who love one another for My sake, then My love for them becomes mandatory and obligatory. I own them as my beloveds. Their object is not any ulterior gain. They spend time together in search of My pleasure. They spend money because they want only to please Me and not to display their riches and they call on each other, not out of any personal or selfish motive, but only out of their love for Me. Such are the people who deserve My love and uncounted blessings. Now a petitioner loves the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم), members of the Prophet’s family, the Companions, the saints and the righteous people simply because the basis of his love is the love of Allah. By loving these people, he himself in return is loved by Allah. Thus all these forms are various links in the chain of love which is ultimately the love of Allah, and these expressions and acts of love eventually draw him closer to Allah and he acquires a favoured status. Thus the petitioner’s act of love is regarded by Allah as a virtuous as well as a favourite act and it is graded higher than the other virtuous acts mainly because in this act the Lord Himself is one of the participants and it is uncertain whether the other acts will find divine acceptance or not. But love of the saints and the favourites of Allah is an act which transforms the petitioner into Allah’s beloved. In this way its acceptance is guaranteed.
4. Love for the sake of Allah results in higher gradesLove of the servants of Allah brings one not only nearer to Him but also helps him in securing higher grades.
It is narrated by ‘Umar bin al-Khattāb that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) said:
Among Allah’s servants there are some who are neither prophets nor martyrs but on the Day of Judgement the prophets and the martyrs will envy their grades. The Companions asked: O Messenger of Allah, tell us, who are those people? He replied: ‘those are the people who love one another on Allah’s count. They are neither related to one another nor do they have any property to exchange. I swear on Allah that they will have faces of light, they will be on pulpits of light. They will not have any fear when others will be afraid, they will not have any grief when others will be aggrieved.’ Then he recited the verse: Beware! No doubt, there is no fear for the friends of Allah nor shall they be sad and sorrowful. [Qur’an (Yūnus) 10:62].On the Day of Judgement when people will be scrambling selfishly for personal safety and survival, everybody will be overawed by the overwhelming presence of Allah, there will be a few people untouched by this pushing, shoving and jostling. They will be content and an unbelievable serenity will be visible on their faces. Everyone will envy their unruffled calmness; even the prophets and the saints will be deeply impressed by the halo of tranquillity hovering around their faces. Their highly-graded position will be a feast for every eye. The Companions asked in amazement: O Messenger of Allah, who are these people? The Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) replied: these are the people who love one another and the basis of their mutual love is neither blood relationship nor abundance of wealth, they love one another only for the sake of Allah. Thus the basis of their love is in fact their shared love of Allah. Their rewards and grades derive directly from this source. On this day their faces will emit rays of light and they will be seated on pulpits of light.
The tradition has clearly established the fact that people who love one another simply because they love Allah deserve high rewards and grades on the Day of Judgement and they will receive these precious gifts through the mediation of Allah’s favourites because their love of these intimate friends is based fundamentally on their love of Allah from which basic source it draws its strength and influence.
5. Love of Allah’s friends is the cause of Allah’s loveLove of holy men and saints is an act which earns the servant not only the love of Allah but also draws him closer to Him.
It is reported by Abū Hurayrah that the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) said:
If two persons love each other on Allah’s count, and if one of them is in the east and the other in the west, Allah will bring them together on the Day of Resurrection and He will say: This is the man you loved on my count.It is now established that intermediation through the prophets, the holy persons and the saints is quite valid whether it is by invoking their name in prayer, or by physical presence in their companionship or through expressions of love for them. This act of intermediation is correct and legally permissible. A detailed discussion on this issue will be found in the sixth chapter. For the time being, in the light of Qur’anic injunctions and relevant traditions, it should be kept in mind that intermediation through the servants of Allah, who are His favourites and who are the righteous, is quite valid and is compatible with Islamic teachings. The doubts and objections expressed against this form of intermediation are baseless and grounded in prejudice. People who oppose intermediation through Allah’s favourites and holy men need to revamp the very basis of their faith. I have made it clear that we rely on holy persons as sources of intermediation on account of our love for them and loving a holy person is in itself a virtuous act. Therefore, intermediation through these holy men is in fact intermediation through virtuous deeds and this kind of intermediation based on righteous deeds is universally permissible in Islam.
. Muslim transmitted it in his as-Sahīh, b. of birr was-silah wal-ādāb (virtue, good manners and joining of the ties of relationship) ch.48 (4:2030#2637); Bakhārī narrated it at three places in his as-Sahīh: b. of bad’-ul-khalq (beginning of creation) ch.6 (3:1175#3037), b. of adab (good manners) ch.41 (5:2246#5693), and b. of tawhīd (Islamic monotheism) ch.33 (6:2721#7047); Ahmad bin Hambal in Musnad (2:413); Mālik bin Anas in al-Muwattā, b. of sha‘ar (hair) ch.5 (2:953#15); and Muhammad Khatīb Tabrīzī in Mishkāt-ul-masābīh, b. of ādāb (good manners) ch.16 (3:74#5005).
. Tirmidhī narrated it in al-Jāmi‘-us-sahīh, b. of zuhd (piety) ch.50 (4:595#2385), and graded it sahīh (sound); Ahmad bin Hambal in Musnad (3:104, 168, 178, 200); Ibn Hibbān, as-Sahīh (1:182, 308-9#8,105; 16:345#7348); Baghawī, Sharh-us-sunnah (13:60-4#3475-9). Bukhārī also narrated it with different words in his as-Sahīh, b. of fadā’il-us-sahābah (merits of the Companions) ch.6 (3:1349#3485), b. of adab (good manners) ch.95, 96 (5:2282-3#5815-9), and b. of ahkām (judgements) ch.10 (6:2615#6734); Muslim in as-Sahīh, b. of birr was-silah wal-ādāb (virtue, good manners and joining of the ties of relationship) ch.50 (4:2032-3#2639); Ahmad bin Hambal in Musnad (3:110,165,167,172,173,207,208,255,276); ‘Abd-ur-Razzāq, al-Musannaf (11:199#20317); Humaydī, Musnad (2:502#1190); Ibn Abū Shaybah, al-Musannaf (15:169#19407); Abū Ya‘lā, Musnad (5:144#2758; 6: 36,256#3280-1, 3557); Ibn Hibbān, as-Sahīh (2:323-4#563-5); Tabarānī, al-Mu‘jam-ul-kabīr (3:183#3061); Bayhaqī, Shu‘ab-ul-īmān (1:380,387#462,498; 2:130-1#1379); and Muhammad Khatīb Tabrīzī in Mishkāt-ul-masābīh, b. of adab (good manners) ch.16 (3:75#5009).
. This sahīh (sound) hadith narrated by Mālik bin Anas in al-Muwattā, b. of sha‘ar (hair) ch.5 (2:954#16), and Ibn ‘Abd-ul-Barr said its chain is good. Ahmad bin Hambal also transmitted it in his Musnad (5:233); Hākim in al-Mustadrak (4:169), who graded it sahīh, and also confirmed by Dhahabī; Baghawī in Sharh-us-sunnah, (13:49-50#3463); Muhammad Khatīb Tabrīzī in Mishkāt-ul-masābīh, b. of ādāb (good manners) ch.16 (3:75#5011).
. Abū Dāwūd, Sunan, b. of ijārah (wages) 3:288 (#3527); Bayhaqī, Shu‘ab-ul-īmān, (6:486#8998,8999); Muhammad Khatīb Tabrīzī, Mishkāt-ul-masābīh, b. of adab (good manners) ch.16 (3:75-6#5012).
. Bayhaqī, Shu‘ab-ul-īmān, (6:492#9022); Muhammad Khatīb Tabrīzī, Mishkāt-ul-masābīh, b. of ādāb (good manners) ch.16 (3:77#5024); ‘Alā’-ud-Dīn ‘Alī, Kanz-ul-‘ummāl (9:4#24646).