Just as man may ask same of his friends in case of need regarding things which fall within their power. What is denied here and condemned is not this kind of intercession, but that which is asked for at the graves of the saints, or outside, in matters which fall only under the jurisdiction of Allah. To ask the prophets on the Day of Judgment to ask Allah -- and that is all that the hadith claims -- is perfectly legitimate. There is nothing wrong in asking for this m order to bring the people who earned Paradise to their just reward and in getting the final judgment executed. There is nothing wrong in any man's visiting another and asking him to pray to Allah on the former's behalf. The Prophet's companions asked likewise during his lifetime; but none of them ever entertained the idea of asking for this at his grave. Our predecessors condemned such requests when they were made by anyone at the Prophet's grave. The requests made to the ordinary dead man must then be condemnable a fortiori.
12. Another argument is claimed by the modern associationists, namely, that when Ibrahim was cast into the fire, Angel Jibril appeared to him and asked him if he needed anything. Ibrahim answered: "I have no need of you." From this they conclude that if intercession amounted to unbelief, Jibril would not have offered it to Ibrahim.
The answer is simple. Jibril offered to intercede for Ibrahim in that of which he was capable. Allah has described Jibril as possessed "of tremendous strength." Had he been permitted by Allah to pull him from the fire, to take away the fire to the ends of the earth, or to raise Ibrahim to heaven, he would have certainly been capable of doing so. The case is like that of the poor man who is visited by the rich. The latter offers to help him with money and all that money can buy, but the poor man rejects the offer, preferring to suffer in patience until Allah provides for him. This has nothing to do with intercession as a form of worship and unbelief.
Let us conclude with another important problem about which much has been said before. There is no disagreement that tawhid must take place in the heart, in the mouth, and in the arm. If it is deficient m any of these areas, there is no Islam Whoever knows the principles of tawhid and does not act on them is an unbeliever, on a par with Pharaoh and Iblis (Satan) or their likes. Such people claim that tawhid is true, that they understand and hold it as such, but that they are incapable of pur- suing it in deed. Others hold that their people will not permit them to differ from established practice, or they give other excuses. They forget that even the great men of unbelief have known the truth and have not left it without implementation except for some excuse. Allah has said of them,
"They exchanged My signs for a mean
price." Qur'an 53: 5
"They know the truth as well as they know
their own offspring." Qur'an 9:l0
On the other hand, if implementation was made without understanding, without sincere commitment, that would by hypocrisy, a more evil crime than unbelief. Allah said of it:
"Those who are guilty of insincerity and
pretence take their seats in the bottom of hell" Qur'an 2:146
The question of insincere pretence is a long one. To study it in the careers of men yields the conviction that truth is never forsaken but fora cause, such as advantage, personal glory and fame. Allah said to the insincere:
"Make no excuse! You have committed
unbelief after your confession of faith." Qur'an 9:67
Some companions of the Prophet were declared unbelievers because of a word they said in jest. The former kind is the more grave. In another verse, Allah said:
"Whoever disbelieves in Allah after his
confession of faith and does so, not because of coercion where his heart
continues firmly as before, but deliberately, has merited Allah's anger and dire
punishment. Such people have preferred the advantage of this world to that of
the next." Qur'an 16. l06
Only the coerced are excused. All the others are condemned, whether they commit their unbelief out of fear, distress, loyalty to others, love of money, or out of jest.
The verse is clear in its exception of the person under coercion. It is obvious that man may be coerced either to say or to do, but not to believe. That is why the verse qualified the one who yields under coercion but whose heart remains firm in faith. The second point to note is the verse's explanation: "For they have preferred the advantage of this world to that of the next." Thus, Allah established that unbelief and its consequent punishment are not caused by belief, ignorance, hatred for religion and love for unbelief, but rather, to obtam advantage in this world. They are brought about by preference of such advantage over the religion, over Allah Himself -- May He be praised and glorified.
Wa salla Allahu 'ala Muhammad wa 'ala alihi wa sahbihi wa sallam.