Shaykh Muhammad b. Alawi al-Maliki On The Intermediary of Shirk

 [This is an extract from “Notions That Must Be Corrected” by Shaykh Muhammad b. Alawi al-Maliki al-Hasani]

“Many people err in their understanding of the reality of intermediaries, and recklessly rush to the judgement that any intermediary is shirk, and that he who takes an intermediary, whatever the fashion, has associated partners with Allah, and that his state in this affair is that of the pagans, who said { We do not worship them except that they might bring us near to Allah. }  (al-Zumar: 3)

This statement is rejected, and the attempt to use this verse as evidence here is misplaced. This is because the noble verse is explicit in its censure of the pagans for their worship of idols and taking them as gods besides Allah, the Exalted, and their association of them with Him in His Godhood, claiming that their worship of these idols is nothing more than a means of drawing nearer to Allah. The disbelief and paganism of their action stems from both their worship of these idols, and their belief that they are lords besides Allah. Something of great importance which must be explained here is that this verse confirms that the pagans were not sincere in their justification for their worship of idols by claiming that they used them to draw closer to Allah. For had they been truthful in this, Allah would have been greater to them than their idols, and they would not have worshipped other than Him.

Allah forbade the Muslims from insulting the idols of the pagans. He said: { Do not curse those upon whom they call beside Allah, lest they wrongfully curse and revile Allah through ignorance. Thus to every nation have we made their deeds seem fair. Then to their Lord is their return, when He will inform them of that which they used to do. } (al-An’am: 108)

It is narrated from ‘Abd al-Razzaq, ‘Abd b. Hamid, ibn Jarir, Ibn al-Mundhir, Ibn Abi Hatim, and Abu al-Shaykh, from Qatada (rA`), who said: “The Muslims used to curse and revile the idols of the disbelievers, and so the disbelievers reviled and cursed Allah, the Mighty, the Magnificent. So Allah revealed { Do not curse those upon whom they call beside Allah, lest they wrongfully curse and revile Allah through ignorance. )”

This is the reason for the revelation of this verse, which strongly forbids the believers from insulting the idols that the pagans used to worship in Mecca, because such insults would enrage those who believed in their hearts that those statues and idols were gods, with the ability to grant benefit and harm. This rage would drive them to meet the believers with similar insults against the One whom they worshipped, the Lord of the worlds, and so they would ascribe to Him defects, though He is far removed from all defects.

Again, if they were truly sincere in their claim that their idol worship was only a means of drawing nearer to Allah, they would not have dared insult Him to avenge their idols when they were insulted. It is explicitly clear from this that the pagans held Allah in far less esteem than they held their own idols. Similar can be said with regards to Allah’s words: { And if you were to ask them who created the heavens and the earth, they would surely say “Allah!” } (al-‘Ankabut: 6l)

If the pagans truly believed that Allah, the Exalted, is the only Creator, and that their idols had not created anything, they would have worshipped Allah instead of their idols, or at the very least, their reverence toward Allah would have been greater than their reverence toward their stones and statues. Is this consistent with their insults toward Allah, the Mighty, the Magnificent, out of jealousy for their own idols against Him? It is abundantly clear that it is not consistent in the least. Furthermore, the verse that we are considering is not the only proof that Allah was lower in the esteem of the pagans; rather, there are many similar examples. Among them is the statement of Allah the Exalted:

In those times, the Prophet ( sallAllahu `aleihi wa sallam ), never said to them: “You have committed idolatry and disbelief! It is not permissible to complain to me, or to seek anything from me; rather, you must go and supplicate and ask Allah yourselves, for verily Allah is closer to you than I am!” On the contrary, he ( sallAllahu `aleihi wa sallam ) would stand and supplicate for them, although they knew full well that the Bestower in reality is Allah, and that the Preventer, and the Expander, and the Provider is Allah alone, and they knew also that the Prophet ( sallAllahu `aleihi wa sallam ) would not avail them anything save with the permission of Allah, and through His Bounty. The Prophet himself ( sallAllahu `aleihi wa sallam ) said “I am nothing but an apportioner; Allah is the One who bestows.”

Therefore, it becomes clear that it is permissible and correct to describe any ordinary person as one who “delivers from distress,” and “satisfies needs,” that is, he is an intermediary for them, so what of the noble Master and esteemed Prophet, the most illustrious of mankind and jinn, the undisputed Best of creation?

Did the Prophet ( sallAllahu `aleihi wa sallam ) not say—as reported in the Sahih collection of al-Bukhari: “He who delivers a Muslim from distress, Allah delivers him from the distress on the Day of Resurrection”? So the Believer is a deliverer from distress and crisis. Did he not say ( sallAllahu `aleihi wa sallam ) “He who fulfils the need of his brother, I will stand at his balance (on the Day of Judgement), and if (his good deeds) do not outweigh (his bad), I will intercede for him.”? So the believer is a fulfiller of needs. Did he ( sallAllahu `aleihi wa sallam ) not say in the Sahih collection: “He who shelters a Muslim, Allah will shelter him on the Day of Resurrection”? Did he ( sallAllahu `aleihi wa sallam ) not say “Verily, Allah has among His creation those who are sought for in times of need”? Did he not say in the Sahih collection: “Allah shall aid His servant as long as the servant is in the aid of his brother”? And did he ( sallAllahu `aleihi wa sallam ) not say: “He who comes to the aid of someone in need, Allah writes for him ninety-three good deeds”?( Narrated by Abu Ya’la, al-Bazzar, and al-Bayhaql.)

So the believer relieves hardships, aids, protects, fulfils needs, and is sought out in times of trial – although in reality, it is Allah, Exalted and Magnificent, who aids, fulfils, and protects.

However, as the believer is the intermediary in all of this and it is valid and correct to ascribe actions to him.

Many Prophetic Hadith have been related from the Messenger of Allah ( sallAllahu `aleihi wa sallam ) which illustrate that Allah (may His Majesty be exalted) repels punishment from the people on earth by means of those who seek His forgiveness and those who maintain His mosques, and that by their means, He provides the people of earth with sustenance and support and protects them from afflictions and drowning.

Al-Tabarani related in al-Mu’jam al-Kabir, and al-Bayhaqi in al-Sunan from Mani’ al-Daylami (rA`) that the Messenger of Allah ( sallAllahu `aleihi wa sallam ) said: “Were it not for the sake of the servants of Allah whom He makes bow to Him, infants whom He makes suckle, and cattle that He makes graze, He would unleash His punishment upon you all, and would destroy you utterly and completely.”

Al-Bukhari related from Sa’d b. Abl Waqqas (rA`) that the Messenger of Allah ( sallAllahu `aleihi wa sallam ) said: “Are you given victory and provision except by means of the weak ones among you?” Al-Tirmidhi related from Anas (rA`) that the Messenger of Allah ( sallAllahu `aleihi wa sallam ) said: “It may be that you are provided with sustenance by means of him.” Al-Hakim declared this Hadith to be rigorously authentic.

‘Abdullah b. ‘Umar (rA`) narrated that the Messenger of Allah ( sallAllahu `aleihi wa sallam ) said: “Verily, Allah has men whom He created for the needs of the people, who rush to them in times of crisis. They are those who are safe from the punishment of Allah the Exalted.”

Jabir b. ‘Abdullah (rA`) narrated that the Messenger of Allah ( sallAllahu `aleihi wa sallam ) said: “Truly, Allah confers righteousness upon a Muslim’s child, his grandchild, and his family, and the families of his neighbours, by means of that Muslim’s piety and righteousness, and they are in the protection of Allah as long as he is among them.”

Ibn ‘Umar (rA`) said: “Verily Allah, by the means of a pious Muslim, protects one hundred of his neighbours from hardship and strife.” Ibn ‘Umar then recited the verse: { And had Allah not repelled some people by means of others, the earth would have been corrupted.} (al-Baqara: 251) Al-Tabarani narrated from Thawban (rA`) a version of the aforementioned narration and ascribed it to the Prophet ( sallAllahu `aleihi wa sallam ) with the addition: “There will remain among you seven men by whom you will be given victory, rain, and sustenance, until the Affair of Allah arrives (the Day of Judgement).”

‘Ubâda b. al-Sâmit narrated that the Messenger of Allah ( sallAllahu `aleihi wa sallam ) said “The Abdâl (chosen saints) of my community are thirty: by means of them you are all provided with sustenance, rain and victory.” ‘Ubâda said “I hope Hasan is one of them.”

These four Hadîth cited above were mentioned by Hafiz Ibn Kathir in his explanation of the aforementioned Qur’anic verse: { And had Allah not repelled some people …} and they are fitting to be used as evidence, and when taken all together, they all reach the level of being rigorously authentic.

Anas b. Malik (rA`) narrated that the Messenger of Allah ( sallAllahu `aleihi wa sallam ) said: “The earth will never be deprived of forty men of the like of the Intimate friend (Khalîl) of Allah; by means of them you are given water and succour. Each time one of them dies, Allah substitutes another in his place.”


On the Day of Resurrection, the Day of Divine oneness, the Day of faith, the Day in which the Throne will appear manifest, the benefit of the greatest intermediary will come to light: that of the possessor of the lofty station (al-maqâm al-mahmûd), he whose intercession is never rejected, and whose surety is never dispelled by He who promised never to disappoint him, debase him, dismay him, or grieve him on account of his community— when all of creation seek him out and plead for his intercession, and he stands before his Lord and does not return except with the height of nobility and honour revealed to us by the words of Allah to him: “O Muhammad! Raise your head, and intercede, your intercession will be met; and ask, you shall be given!” May the prayers and peace of Allah be upon him, and upon his family, companions, and all those who follow them until the Day of Judgement.



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