"Whoever seeks a religion other than Islam,
it will not be accepted from him." Qur'an 3:85
If, therefore, intercession all belongs to Allah, that it cannot take place except by His leave, and that He will not permit it except on behalf of the adherents of tawhid, it follows that intercession belongs to Him and must be solicited directly from Him. Our prayer therefore should be: "0 Allah, do not deprive us of Muhammad's intercession. 0 Allah, permit him to intercede on our behalf," etc.
5. In case it is objected that the Prophet -- Salla Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam -- has been granted the power to intercede, and that it may therefore be asked of him to do what he had already been given the privilege to do, the answer is that, whereas Allah did grant him that privilege, He commanded you not to ask it of him. Allah said:
"Do not call unto anyone beside
Him." Qur'an 72: 18
Intercession has equally been granted to other beings beside the Prophet -- Salla Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam -- namely, to the angels, the leaders and saints. Would you then say the same of them, that Allah has granted them the power to intercede and that you may ask them therefor? If you do, you have relapsed back to your original situation described by Allah in His Book. If you do not, then your claim that you may ask the Prophet for his intercession because he was given that privilege is false.
6. If it is objected that one does not at all associate anything with Allah, and that recourse to the righteous is not associationism, then give the following answer: "You realize that Allah has forbidden shirk more strongly than He forbade adultery, that He will not forgive this offence. He cannot plead ignorance of the nature of that which Allah has so emphatically forbidden. Allah could not forbid us that which He did not clarify."
7. There is another objection. That is the claim that shirk is itself idol- worship, whereas none of us nowadays worship idols. This is answered by pointing to the meaning of idol-worship. Everyone knows that the associationists of pre-Islam did not believe that the wooden and stone idols created, provided, ruled or responded to their worshipper. Such is belied by the Qur'an itself:
"Ask them, 0 Muhammad, who sends down for
you your provision from the sky and who grows it out from the
earth?" Qur'an 10:31
If, moreover, the objector holds that shirk is to visit the wooden or stone idol, shrine or other holy object, to sacrifice and call unto it in the hope that it will bring him closer to Allah and protect him from evil with its grace, then tell him that that is precisely what the associationists of today do. He would then admit that associationism is idol-worship. But so is recourse to the righteous, any calling upon them. This is proven by Allah's treating as unbelief any devotion addressed to the angels, to Jesus and the righteous ancestors.
The crux of the matter is, of course, his denial of associationism. You must ask him to define it. If he defines it as idol-worship, press him for further clarification. He must present an explanation of what he means by 'I worship naught but Allah,' and you should press him for it until he defines worship in Qur'anic terms. Again, he cannot plead ignorance, for he does make a claim. If he defines the relevant terms differently, then inform him of their definitions as they came in the clear verses revealed by Allah. Tell him that what the modern associationists do is identically the same as that done by their ancestors. What is objected to in our restriction of worship and devotion to Allah is the same as was opposed to the Prophet, namely,
"Did he make all gods into One? That is
certainly something astounding!" Qur'an 38:5
In fact, what the modern associationists call the monotheistic creed is the same associationism which the Qur'an has come to refute, and which the Prophet has fought. The aberration of antiquity is even a lighter offence than that of modern times. First, the ancients did not call upon the angels, the saints and the idols except in prosperity. Whenever they were in distress, they sincerely worshipped Allah alone. Allah said of them,
"In adversity on the high seas, all those
to whom you pray will fail you, not Allah. When He brings you safely to shore,
you turn away. Man is ever thankless." Qur'an 17:67
"Say: Would you, if punishment from Allah
were to befall you, or the last hour were to seize you, call to any being other
than Allah for help? No! But unto Him alone will you call if you are truthful.
He will expose what you have prayed to and you will forget the partners you
ascribed to Him." Qur'an 6:4l