Answering MIAW’s second principle of Shirk

Muhammed bin Abdul Wahab then writes:

The second principle: That they (the mushrikeen) say: “We do not call upon and turn towards them except to seek nearness and intercession (with Allaah)”. So the proof against seeking nearness (through awliyaa) is His, saying, “And those who take awliyaa besides Him (say): “We worship them only that they may bring us near to Allaah.” Verily, Allaah will judge between them concerning that wherein they differ. Truly, Allaah guides not him who is a liar, and a disbeliever.” [az-Zumar (39):3]

And the proof against intercession (through awliyaa) is His, the Most High’s saying, “And they worship besides Allaah things that hurt them not, nor profit them, and they say: “These are our intercessors with Allaah.” [Yunus 10:19]

Refutation:

The proofs invalidating this ambiguous “second principle” are the following:

1)    He cites Quranic verses [39:3] and [10:19] as evidences against seeking nearness and intercession to Allah.  But those verses merely present the statement that polytheists “say” so and so. If the proof against seeking intercession is being ascertained by what polytheists “say”, then by this same standard of evidence, one has to also conclude that verses such as {Say [Prophet], ‘Who owns the earth and all who live in it, if you know [so much]?’ and they will reply, ‘God.’}[Quran 23:84-85], is a proof for Muslims to reject attributing Lordship to Allah, because even the polytheists also “say”, that Lordship is of Allah.

There is therefore no proof that can be necessarily obtained by this manner of inference.

2)    He cares not to explain, define or even highlight the word “worship”, despite the verses explicitly stating that the polytheists were worshiping entities besides Allah, to obtain nearness and intercession:

{…..‘We only worship them because they…….}[Quran 39:3]

{…..They worship alongside God things that….} [Quran 10:18]

This fundamental difference warrants the classification of the intercession polytheists were seeking to be conditional upon worshiping an entity besides Allah. Their intercession was polluted by shirk in worship.

The purification of intercession from polytheism is by devoting worship to Allah alone; as Allah’s says :{ there is no one that can intercede with Him, unless He has first given permission: this is God your Lord so worship Him.}[Quran 10:3]. These verses then cannot be a proof against intercession when no object besides Allah is being worshiped.

3)      He explains not the nature of the object from which the polytheists were seeking intercession, despite the Quranic verse, that he himself related, mentioning right next to it: {God could have chosen any of His creation He willed for offspring, but He is far above this! He is the One, the Almighty.}[Quran 39:4]. This is proof that the polytheists were not seeking to attain nearness to Allah with the belief that they were merely His Prophets or devoted servants of Allah, but instead with the belief that they are gods who are partners to Allah, as Allah says: {….those they set up as gods besides God to bring them nearer to Him….} [Quran 46:28].  The Quranic commentators too  have explained this verse [i.e. Quran 39:3] as a revelation against the tribal clans called Amir, Kinanat and Bani Salmat; further mentioning that these polytheists were a people who held onto the belief that the angels were daughters of Allah (See Imam Suyuti’s Durrul Manthur and Imam Razi’s Tafsirul Kabir). It is therefore not true that the polytheists were worshiping these objects with the mere belief of gaining nearness and intercession, and nothing else. These objects were on the contrary seen as Lords besides Allah in the form of offspring’s.

That, this belief was the fundamental reason for their worship, is proven in absolute terms from the Quranic verse: {Say [Prophet], ‘If the Lord of Mercy [truly] had offspring I would be the first to worship [them],  but–exalted be the Lord of the heavens and earth, the Lord of the Throne– He is far above their false descriptions.’ }[Quran 43:81-82]. In this verse, Allah has, by way of argument put the existence/non-existence of these alleged offspring’s to be the argumentative basis for acceptance and rejection of the validity of worshiping them. The essential reason for the worship the polytheists gave these objects, thereby, consists in their belief they are offspring’s of Allah. They were seeking nearness and intercession through such partner gods. The intercession is polluted with shirk in Lordship. The  purification of intercession from polytheism is therefore by rejecting the attribution of them as Lords or partners to God, as Allah had denied of them: {nor do We see those intercessors of yours that you claimed were partners of God} [Quran 6:94].

4)    He makes no distinctions between intercessions that would constitute shirk and that which does not constitute shirk. Examples where intercession constitutes shirk is when it is believed that an object could intercede to Allah as equivalent to a minister interceding by position of his power with the King or by overpowering Allah or with the belief that Allah is incapable of rejecting the interceder, or is in need and dependent on the interceder, or because these intercessors have more knowledge than Allah and so forth. While, the intercession a person with tawhid believes in, is that of a created slave with total servitude to his Master, interceding from his Master, which therefore can only occur by absolute permission and will of the Master.

But note that, it is not intercession by itself that does shirk. The occurring of shirk is when intercession is compounded with a belief that constitutes shirk, and this happens due to the attribution of divinity or lordship to the interceder, in one form or the other. Such a belief would be shirk, irrespective of whether intercession is being practically sought or not, because, the essence of shirk was in their belief that attributed divinity to others besides Allah. This way of isolating the belief as the essence and foundation of an action, is something that does not pass the minds of the wahhabiyyah. They instead bend focus towards mere superficial outward appearances of actions. As highlighted previously, shirk of the polytheists was in their belief, not mere action. If intercession is shirk then the belief in intercession itself would be shirk and the outward actions would only be a secondary consequence of that belief. This entails that, if seeking intercession from a servant of Allah, despite affirming knowingly the oneness of Allah, constitutes shirk; then the mere belief in obtaining intercession during the Day of Judgment (which is in fact an established creed of Sunni Muslims), would itself be shirk. The outward consequential action or its time and place, cannot be held in isolation and made the distinguishing factor between tawhid and shirk.

5)     He develops an incoherent classification of intercession, in the form of a “prohibited” and “permissible” intercession. He says:

And intercession is of two types: The prohibited intercession and the affirmed intercession. The prohibited intercession is that which is sought from other than Allaah concerning that which only Allaah is able to do. And the proof is His, the Most High’s, saying, “O you who believe! Spend of that with which We have provided for you, before a Day comes when there will be no bargaining, nor friendship, nor intercession.  And it is the disbelievers who are the Dhaalimun (wrong-doers, etc).” [al baqarah 2:254]

And the affirmed intercession is that which is sought from Allaah while the intercessor is honoured with the intercession and the one interceded for is someone who deeds and speech are pleasing to Allaah, after He gives permission, as He, the Most High, said, “Who is he that can intercede with Him except with His Permission ?” [al baqarah 2:255]

a)    Firstly, this classification of intercession into “sought from Allah” and “sought from other than Allah” is itself an innovation. Therefore, as per their own criteria, it has to be rejected as a misguidance leading to the hell fire. Furthermore, the verse quoted does not lend any support to this ambiguous classification.

b)    As pointed out previously, tawhid and shirk is an issue of belief. But by this classification he diverts it into an isolated issue of outward actions, rather than a difference originating from internal belief.

c)    He uses the verse {…before a Day comes when there will be no bargaining, nor friendship, nor intercession…} [2:254] as proof, for the prohibition of intercession. But interpretations such as that would cause the same verse to be even a proof against seeking friendship and bargain, from others besides Allah. Yet they wouldn’t dare make such a simplistic prohibition when it comes to these matters.

d)    He ingeniously introduces into the first classification, a specific clause: “Allah alone is capable”. This clause has no proof whatsoever in the verse he quotes. By introducing this clause into the definition of prohibited intercession, he has, in a way, implied that others besides Allah are capable alongside Allah, when it comes to certain matters. This would be a case of attributing partners in Allah’s Power because of the division of His Power, and from that sense a real case of shirk.

If someone is to explain this as intending bestowed dependent capability, and not independent capability, then, in that case, this specific clause “that which Allah alone is capable”, would be an admission that intercession is permitted through that which the creation of Allah is capable of. The ability to worship Allah is a power endowed upon mankind, as it is the very purpose of creation, as Allah says: {I created jinn and mankind only to worship Me”} [51:56]. The clause then is forced to admit that intercession can be sought from the ability of a creation to worship Allah and beseech Allah for his intercession.  Furthermore, Allah provides His Messengers and friends limitlessly, of which includes miracles, as Allah says {God provides limitlessly for whoever He will.}[3:37]. Hence, the clause is also forced to admit that seeking from the miracles that have been provided by Allah is not prohibited.

If someone instead says, what is meant by this prohibited intercession is the absolute prohibition of seeking intercession from others besides Allah, then, this clause “in matters only Allah is capable”, would have to be rendered pointless. Moreover, this would also contradict the specific classification made right after it of a “permitted intercession”, because, an intercession by nature requires the existence of an intermediary between Allah and the person in need. The intermediary would thereby be necessarily sought in one way or the other.

e)    The commentator to this book, Muhammed bin Abdir Rahman al Khumayyis provides an example where no one besides Allah is to be sought or made intermediary. He says: “As for the intercession that Allah has negated in his book then it is the intercession that is sought from other than Allah in matters that no one has control over except Allah, such as a person who seeks entrance into paradise from other than Allah, for example, or to be saved from the hellfire.”

Yet it is from the fundamental creedal established doctrine of Islam that the Muslim community would seek intercession from the Prophet in this very matter i.e. paradise and hell, during the Day of Judgment. This commentator has thereby invented personal legislation’s into Islam by declaring prohibited that which Allah permitted and honored the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) with.

f)     The prohibition of seeking intercession directly from others besides Allah, would also be an open contradiction to the Quran, such as with the verse :{ The [brothers] said, ‘Father, ask God to forgive our sins– we were truly in the wrong.’ He replied, ‘I shall ask my Lord to forgive you: He is the Most Forgiving, the Most Merciful.’} (Quran 12: 97-98).  With these self concocted definitions, he has implicated the Quran of teaching shirk. [1]

g)    As for the definition he gives for “permitted intercession”, if what he meant by it, is to outwardly or directly seek from Allah only and not through His creation, then this would again be an actual case of shirk, that he has categorized as permitted.  Because Allah cannot be made an intermediary in the real sense of it. The permission to intercede could be sought from Allah and so can a person act as an interceder, but intercession cannot be sought from Allah, simply because Allah is not an intermediary. There certainly are different ways of outwardly seeking intercession from the Prophet (peace be upon him) and it is not limited to seeking his prayer to Allah. Greetings and blessings can be sent upon the Prophet, or the resting place of the Prophet can be visited, the love of the Prophet can be increased, or poetic couplets can be recited in honor and defense of the Prophet or even the testifying of Islam could be made with the added hope of obtaining intercession of the Prophet (peace be upon him). But none of that constitutes seeking Allah for intercession.

If someone says, what he meant by permitted intercession is only in the sense that the ultimate objective of intercession or ultimate hope of cause and effect or harm and benefit, is to be expected from Allah only; then there is no one in the Muslim community who believes other than this. He is with this, conjuring up imaginary accusations upon the Muslim Ummah. Moreover, this would also be a question of shirk in the Lordship of Allah, and hence would contradict the assertion made in the first principle that polytheists possessed belief in the oneness of Lordship.

h)    Finally, if it said in apology that what he meant by such a classification is only to clarify to whom intercession benefits and to whom it does not benefit, then this would be an admission that it is not seeking intercession or nearness itself, that is prohibited. It would  be in accordance with the subjective state of the individuals that  beneficial and non-beneficial intercession is differentiated, irrespective of whether intercession is practically/outwardly sought or not.

Moreover, even though he mentions that intercession requires the permission of Allah, he leaves unexplained the criteria upon which Allah grants the power of intercession. The Quran has provided the criteria: {Those gods they invoke besides Him have no power of intercession, unlike those who bore witness to the truth and recognized it} [43:86]. Hence, bearing witness to the truth (of His Oneness) with recognition is the bounds Allah Himself has determined, for having the power of intercession. The criteria therefore to distinguish between a valid and invalid intercession, as per Quran, is in knowingly bearing witness to the Truth, which is an issue of internal belief rather than mere outward actions.

 

6)    The author of this principle in any case refrains from making an absolute prohibition of intercession and instead ambiguously recognizes the existence of a valid intercession. This implies that believing an object to be an intercessor is not by itself equivalent to shirk or enough to implicate one of taking the object as an ilaah besides Allah.

This would force the wahhabiyyuun to admit even more, because it would be absurd for one, to claim as valid the belief that an object is an intercessor yet accuse someone of shirk when one seeks intercession from this very attribute of intercessor. It is equivalent to claiming that it is permissible to believe someone could be a doctor yet it is not permissible to seek from the attribute of doctor-ship that is being applied to the doctor.

Conclusion:

The principle is an incoherent assertion framed in a poorly phrased ambiguous manner containing nothing by which it could be qualified as a valid principle, let alone being a principle beneficial in understanding the fundamentals of shirk.

________

Notes:

[1] This invented logic that intercession cannot be sort from the interceder and instead only from Allah, is an inherent Wahhabi doctrine, although modern day Wahhabis don’t make it explicit. The following quote is from an early senior Wahhabi grand sheikh, where he not just argues for this ridiculous doctrine of theirs but also applies it in objecting to the intercession on the Day of Judgement and thereby an indirect denial/attack on the great intercession in the hereafter, which is a fundamental doctrine of Ahlus Sunnah and denied by the early Muatazilites and Kharijites :

Sulayman ibn ‘Abd-Allah Aal al-Shaykh (1780–1818) while objecting to the Burda of Imam al-Busiri (May Allah have mercy on him), writes:

He asked him to intercede for him in the words: “undoubtedly your high position will enable you to help me when al-Kareem [Allah] takes the name of al-Muntaqim [the Avenger – i.e., on the Day of Resurrection].” This is what the mushrikoon sought from those whom they worshipped, relying on their high position and intercession before Allah, and this is shirk. Moreover, intercession cannot be granted except with the permission of Allah, so it makes no sense to seek it from anyone else. Allah is the One who gives permission to the intercessor to intercede; no intercessor can initiate his intercession.

(…..)

This is a great contradiction and obvious shirk, because he is asking first and not doubting that his high position will enable him to help him, then he asks him to take him by the hand out of generosity and kindness, otherwise he will be doomed.

It may be said: How can you ask him first for intercession, then ask him to be kind to you? If you say that intercession can only come after permission from Allah, then how can you call upon the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) and ask him to intercede? Why don’t you ask for intercession from the One under Whose authority all types of intercession come, the One Who is the Sovereign and Controller of heaven and earth, the One Who there is no intercession except after His permission. This renders invalid your seeking intercession from anyone other than Allah.

If you say: All I want is to seek his help by means of his high position and intercession, by the permission of Allah.

The response is: How can you ask him (the Prophet) to be generous to you and take you by the hand on the Day of Recompense, when this is contrary to the words of Allah, “And what will make you know what the Day of Recompense is? 18. Again, what will make you know what the Day of Recompense is? 19. (It will be) the Day when no person shall have power (to do anything) for another, and the Decision, that Day, will be (wholly) with Allaah” [al-Infitaar 82:17-19]? How can belief in both this and that coexist in one heart?

If you say: I asked him to take me by the hand and be kind to me by virtue of his high status and intercession,

The response is: It comes back to seeking intercession from someone other than Allah, and that is the essence of shirk.

End quote

[Tafseer al-‘Azeez al-Hameed fi Sharh Kitaab al-Tawheed, 1/187-189]

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