Unveiling Islam’s Real Savior and Middleman

Muslims often boast that Islam has no savior figure and no go-between man who brings people closer to Allah. They argue that Islam teaches that there is need for a middleman to try and bridge the chasm between God and man, in stark contrast to Christianity which emphasizes the centrality and necessity of the vicarious death and mediatorial work of the Lord Jesus for salvation. 

However, nothing could be farther from the truth since, contrary to this oft-repeated assertion, Islam does in fact affirm the need of a mediator and savior, one who procures Allah’s forgiveness and mercy for the so-called believers. That middleman whom Muslims are to look to for salvation is, for all intents and purposes, Muhammad himself.

For instance, the Quran repeatedly emphasizes the necessity of Muhammad’s prayers and intercession for the forgiveness of sins:

We sent no messenger save that he should be obeyed by Allah’s leave. And if, when they had wronged themselves, they had but come unto thee and asked forgiveness of Allah, and asked forgiveness of the messenger, they would have found Allah Forgiving, Merciful. S. 4:64 Pickthall

Of their goods, take alms, that so thou mightest purify and sanctify them; and pray on their behalf. Verily thy prayers are a source of security for them: And God is One Who heareth and knoweth. S. 9:103 Y. Ali

Only those are believers, who believe in God and His Apostle: when they are with him on a matter requiring collective action, they do not depart until they have asked for his leave; those who ask for thy leave are those who believe in God and His Apostle; so when they ask for thy leave, for some business of theirs, give leave to those of them whom thou wilt, and ask God for their forgiveness: for God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. S. 24:62 Y. Ali

So know (O Muhammad) that there is no God save Allah, and ask forgiveness for thy sin and for believing men and believing women. Allah knoweth (both) your place of turmoil and your place of rest. S. 47:19 Pickthall

The Quran further warns that Muslims are to perfectly submit to the wishes and desires of Muhammad if they want Allah to be pleased with them:

And they will not – I swear by thy Lord – they will not believe, until they have set thee up as judge between them on points where they differ. Then shall they not find in their own minds any difficulty in thy decisions, and shall submit with entire submission. S. 4:65 Rodwell

In fact, once a thing has been decided by Muhammad and his deity, a Muslim has no say so in the matter:

And it is not for a believer, man or woman, to have any choice in their affairs, when God and His Apostle have decreed a matter: and whoever disobeyeth God and His Apostle, erreth with palpable error. S. 33:36 Rodwell

Moreover, according to the allegedly sound ahadith Allah will give Muhammad wasila, e.g., the status of mediator/intercessor for Muslims:

‘Abdullah b. Amr b. al-As reported Allah’s Messenger as saying: When you hear the Mu’adhdhin, repeat what he says, then invoke a blessing on me, for everyone who invokes a blessing on me will receive ten blessings from Allah; then beg from Allah al-Wasila for me, which is a rank in Paradise fitting for only one of Allah’s servants, and I hope that I may be that one. If anyone who asks that I be given the Wasila, he will be assured of my intercession. (Sahih Muslim, Book 004, Number 0747 http://searchtruth.com/book_display.php?book=004&translator=2&start=0&number=0744)

And:

Narrated Jabir bin ‘Abdullah:

Allah’s Apostle said, “Whoever after listening to the Adhan says, ‘Allahumma Rabba hadhihi-d-da’ watit-tammati was-salatil qa’imati, ati Muhammadan AL-WASILATA wal-fadilata, wab’ athhu maqaman mahmudan-il-ladhi wa’ adtahu (O Allah! Lord of this perfect call (of not ascribing partners to You) and of the regular prayer which is going to be established! Kindly give Muhammad the right OF INTERCESSION and superiority and send him (on the Day of Judgment) to the best and the highest place in Paradise which You promised him)’, then intercession for me will be permitted for him on the Day of Resurrection”). (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 11, Number 588 http://searchtruth.com/book_display.php?book=11&translator=1&start=0&number=588)

This is precisely why we find scores of narrations stating that Muhammad will be the first person whose intercession will be accepted on the Day of Judgment:

Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger as saying: I shall be pre-eminent amongst the descendants of Adam on the Day of Resurrection and I will be the first intercessor and the first whose intercession will be accepted (by Allah). (Sahih Muslim, Book 030, Number 5655 http://searchtruth.com/book_display.php?book=030&translator=2&start=0&number=5655)

And:

Narrated ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar:

The Prophet said, “A man keeps on asking others for something till he comes on the Day of Resurrection without any piece of flesh on his face.” The Prophet added, “On the Day of Resurrection, the Sun will come near (to, the people) to such an extent that the sweat will reach up to the middle of the ears, so, when all the people are in that state, they will ask Adam for help, and then Moses, and then Muhammad.” The sub-narrator added, “Muhammad will intercede with Allah to judge amongst the people. He will proceed on till he will hold the ring of the door (of Paradise) and then Allah will exalt him to Maqam Mahmud (the privilege of intercession, etc.). And all the people of the gathering will send their praises to Allah. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Book 24, Number 553 http://searchtruth.com/book_display.php?book=24&translator=1&start=0&number=553)

Muhammad further taught that there would be others that would also intercede for believers, including Allah himself!

“… ‘Surely! Allah wrongs not even of the weight of an atom (or a smallest ant) but if there is any good (done) He doubles it.’ (4.40) The Prophet added, ‘Then the prophets and Angels and the believers will intercede, and (last of all) the Almighty (Allah) will say, “Now remains My Intercession.” He will then hold a handful of the Fire from which He will take out some people whose bodies have been burnt, and they will be thrown into a river at the entrance of Paradise, called the water of life…’” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 93, Number 532s https://www.searchtruth.com/book_display.php?book=93&translator=1&start=60)

And, as a direct result of Muhammad’s intercession, Allah will permit his messenger to take Muslims out of hell!

“‘… So they will come to me, and I will ask my Lord’s permission to enter His House and then I will be permitted. When I see Him I will fall down in prostration before Him, and He will leave me (in prostration) as long as He will, and then He will say, “O Muhammad, lift up your head and speak, for you will be listened to, and intercede, for your intercession will be accepted, and ask (for anything) for it will be granted”: Then I will raise my head and glorify my Lord with certain praises which He has taught me. Allah will put a limit for me (to intercede for a certain type of people). I will take them out and make them enter Paradise.’

“(Qatada said: I heard Anas saying that), the Prophet said, ‘I will go out and take them out of Hell (Fire) and let them enter Paradise, and then I will return and ask my Lord for permission to enter His House and I will be permitted. When I will see Him I will fall down in prostration before Him and He will leave me in prostration as long as He will let me (in that state), and then He will say, “O Muhammad, raise your head and speak, for you will be listened to, and intercede, for your intercession will be accepted, and ask, your request will be granted.”’ The Prophet added, ‘So I will raise my head and glorify and praise Him as He has taught me. Then I will intercede and He will put a limit for me (to intercede for a certain type of people). I will take them out and let them enter Paradise.’

“(Qatada added: I heard Anas saying that) the Prophet said, ‘I will go out and take them out of Hell (Fire) and let them enter Paradise, and I will return for the third time and will ask my Lord for permission to enter His house, and I will be allowed to enter. When I see Him, I will fall down in prostration before Him, and will remain in prostration as long as He will, and then He will say, “Raise your head, O Muhammad, and speak, for you will be listened to, and intercede, for your intercession will be accepted, and ask, for your request will be granted.” So I will raise my head and praise Allah as He has taught me and then I will intercede and He will put a limit for me (to intercede for a certain type of people). I will take them out and let them enter Paradise.’

“(Qatada said: I heard Anas saying that) the Prophet said, ‘So I will go out and take them out of Hell (Fire) and let them enter Paradise, till none will remain in the Fire except those whom Quran will imprison (i.e., those who are destined for eternal life in the fire).’

“The narrator then recited the Verse:– ‘It may be that your Lord will raise you to a Station of Praise and Glory.’ (17.79) The narrator added: This is the Station of Praise and Glory which Allah has promised to your Prophet.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 93, Number 532v https://www.searchtruth.com/book_display.php?book=93&translator=1&start=60)

However, Muhammad’s intercession/mediation isn’t limited to the Day of Judgment. The hadiths record plenty examples where people sought out Muhammad’s intercession and mediation.

First Example

For instance, according to some of the so-called authentic narrations, people were using Muhammad as their intermediary even before his birth!

As an example, the following verse,

And when there came to them (the Jews), a Book (this Qur’an) from Allah confirming what is with them [the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel)], although aforetime they had invoked Allah (for coming of Muhammad) in order to gain victory over those who disbelieved, then when there came to them that which they had recognised, they disbelieved in it. So let the Curse of Allah be on the disbelievers. S. 2:89 Hilali-Khan

Supposedly refers to the time before Muhammad when the Jews of Medina would ask Allah on the merits of Muhammad to give them victory over their enemies:

(… though before that they were asking for a signal triumph over those who disbelieved…) [2:89]. Said Ibn ‘Abbas: “The Jews of Khaybar were at war with Ghatafan, and whenever the two parties used to meet, Khaybar ended up in defeat. For this reason they devised the following supplication: ‘O Allah! We beseech You by the truth of the unlettered Prophet whom You promised to send forth to us at the end of time to give us victory over them’. And so whenever they said this supplication, Ghatafan was defeated. But when the Prophet was sent forth, they disbelieved in him. It is due to this that Allah, exalted is He, revealed (…though before that they were asking for a signal triumph over those who disbelieved) i.e. by means of you, O Muhammad, up to His saying (The curse of Allah is on disbelievers)”. And al-Suddi said: “The Arabs used to pass by the Jews and expose the latter to some harm. The Jews knew the description of Muhammad in the Torah and used to ask Allah to send him so that they could fight with him against the Arabs. When Muhammad came to them, they disbelieved in him out of resentful envy. They said: ‘all the messengers were from the descendents of Jacob, how is it that this one is a descendent of Ishmael?’” (‘Alī ibn Ahmad al-Wahidi, Asbab al-Nuzul http://altafsir.com/Tafasir.asp?tMadhNo=0&tTafsirNo=86&tSoraNo=2&tAyahNo=89&tDisplay=yes&UserProfile=0&LanguageId=2; bold emphasis mine)

Second Example

The Islamic sources also tell us that Muhammad personally told his pagan uncle to become a Muslim so that he could defend his case before Allah:

Narrated Al-Musaiyab:

When Abu Talib was in his death bed, the Prophet went to him while Abu Jahl was sitting beside him. The Prophet said, “O my uncle! Say: None has the right to be worshipped except Allah, an expression I will defend your case with, before Allah.” Abu Jahl and ‘Abdullah bin Umaya said, “O Abu Talib! Will you leave the religion of ‘Abdul Muttalib?” So they kept on saying this to him so that the last statement he said to them (before he died) was: “I am on the religion of ‘Abdul Muttalib.” Then the Prophet said, “I will keep on asking for Allah’s Forgiveness for you unless I am forbidden to do so.” Then the following Verse was revealed:–

“It is not fitting for the Prophet and the believers to ask Allah’s Forgiveness for the pagans, even if they were their near relatives, after it has become clear to them that they are the dwellers of the (Hell) Fire.” (9.113)

The other Verse was also revealed:– “(O Prophet!) Verily, you guide not whom you like, but Allah guides whom He will …….” (28.56) (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 5, Book 58, Number 223 http://searchtruth.com/book_display.php?book=58&translator=1&start=0&number=223)

Notice that Allah “revealed” to his “messenger” that he was not to pray for the disbelievers since intercession would be of no benefit.

Yet, despite these clear verses prohibiting him from praying for the disbelievers, Muhammad still believed that his intercession would still help his uncle on the last day by lessening his tortures in hell:

Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri: That he heard the Prophet when somebody mentioned his uncle (i.e. Abu Talib), saying, “Perhaps my intercession will be helpful to him on the Day of Resurrection so that he may be put in a shallow fire reaching only up to his ankles. His brain will boil from it.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 5, Book 58, Number 224 http://searchtruth.com/book_display.php?book=58&translator=1&start=0&number=224)

Third Example

Not only did Muhammad teach his followers to pray to Allah in his name, he even instructed them to address their invocations directly to him!

1385. It was narrated from ‘Uthman bin Hunaif that a blind man came to the Prophet and said to him: “Pray to Allah to heal me.” He said: “If you wish to store your reward for the Hereafter, that is better, or if you wish, I will supplicate for you.” He said: “Supplicate.” He said: “So he told him to perform ablution and do it well, and to pray two Rak’ah, and to say this supplication: “Allahumma inni as’aluka wa atawajjahu ilaika BI-MUHAMMADIN NABIYYIR-RAHMA.YA MUHAMMADU inni qad tawajjahtu bika ila rabbi fi hajati hadhihi Lituqda. Allahumma fashaffi‘hu fiya (O Allah, I ask of You and I turn my face towards You BY VIRTUE OF THE INTERCESSION OF MUHAMMAD THE PROPHET OF MERCY. O MUHAMMAD, I have turned to my Lord BY VIRTUE OF YOUR INTERCESSION concerning this need of mine, so that it may be met. O Allah, accept HIS INTERCESSION concerning me)”. (SAHIH) (English Translation of Sunan Ibn Majah: Compiled by Imam Muhammad Bin Yazeed Ibn Majah Al-Qazwini, Ahadith edited and referenced by Hafiz Abu Tahir Zubair ‘Ali Za’i, translated by Nasiruddin al-Khattab (Canada), final review by Abu Khaliyl (USA) [Darussalam Publications and Distributors, First Edition: June 2007], Volume 2, From Hadith no. 803 to 1782, 5. The Chapters Of Establishing The Prayer And The Sunnah Regarding Them, Chapter 189. What Was Narrated Concerning Prayer At Times Of Need, pp. 329-330; capital emphasis mine)

This same narration is also found in at-Tirmidhi’s ahadith collection:

3578. ‘Uthman bin Hunaif narrated that a blind man came to the Prophet and said to him: “Supplicate to Allah to heal me.” He said: “If you wish, I will supplicate for you, and if you wish, you can be patient, for that is better for you.” He said: “Then supplicate to him.” He said: “So he ordered him to perform Wudu’ and to make his Wudu’ complete, and to supplicate with this supplication: ‘O Allah, I ask You and turn towards You BY YOUR PROPHET MUHAMMAD, the Prophet of Mercy. Indeed, I have turned to my Lord, BY MEANS OF YOU, concerning this need of mine, so that it can be resolved, So Allah so accept HIS INTERCESSION for me (Allahumma Inni As’aluka WA MUHAMMADIN Nabi-Ir-Rahmati Tawajjahtu Bika Ila Rabbi Fi Hajati Hadhihi Lituqda Li, Allahumma Fashaffi‘hu Fiya).’” (SAHIH)

[He said]: This Hadith is Hasan SAHIH Gharib, we do not know of it except through this route, as a narration of Abu Ja‘far, and he is someone other than Al-Khatmi, [and Uthman bin Hunaif is the brother of Sahl bin Hunaif] (English Translation of Jami‘ At-Tirmidhi: Compiled by Imam Hafiz Abu ‘Eisa Mohammad Ibn ‘Eisa At-Tirmidhi, translated by Abu Khaliyl (USA), ahadith edited and referenced by Hafiz Tahir Zubair ‘Ali Za’i [Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, First Edition: November 2007], Volume 6, From Hadith No. 3291 to 3956, Various Narrations On The Chapters Of Supplications, Chapter 118, p. 283; capital emphasis mine)

Fourth Example

What makes this invocation rather troubling is that Muslims continued to use this same prayer long after Muhammad’s death!

THE HADITH OF THE MAN IN NEED

Moreover, Tabarani, in his “al-Mu’jam al saghir,” reports a hadith from ‘Uthman ibn Hunayf that a man repeatedly visited Uthman ibn Affan concerning something he needed, but Uthman paid no attention to him or his need. The man met Ibn Hunayf and complained to him about the matter – this being after the death (wisal) of the Prophet and after the caliphates of Abu Bakr and Umar – so Uthman ibn Hunayf, who was one of the Companions who collected hadiths and was learned in the religion of Allah, said: “Go to the place of ablution and perform ablution (wudu), then come to the mosque, perform two rak’as of prayer therein, and say:

‘O Allah, I ask You and turn to You through our Prophet Muhammad, the Prophet of mercy; O Muhammad (Ya Muhammad), I turn through you to my Lord, that He may fulfill my need,’ and mention your need. Then come so that I can go with you [to the caliph Uthman].” So the man left and did as he had been told, then went to the door of Uthman ibn Affan, and the doorman came, took him by the hand, brought him to Uthman ibn Affan, and seated him next to him on a cushion. ‘Uthman asked, “What do you need?” and the man mentioned what he wanted, and Uthman accomplished it for him, then he said, “I hadn’t remembered your need until just now,” adding, “Whenever you need something, just mention it.” Then, the man departed, met Uthman ibn Hunayf, and said to him, “May Allah reward you! He didn’t see to my need or pay any attention to me until you spoke with him.” Uthman ibn Hunayf replied, “By Allah, I didn’t speak to him, but I have seen a blind man come to the Messenger of Allah and complain to him of the loss of his eyesight. The Prophet said, “Can you not bear it?’ and the man replied, ‘O Messenger of Allah, I do not have anyone to lead me around, and it is a great hardship for me.’ The Prophet told him, ‘Go to the place of ablution and perform ablution (wudu), then pray two rak’as of prayer and make the supplications.'” Ibn Hunayf went on, “By Allah, we didn’t part company or speak long before the man returned to us as if nothing had ever been wrong with him.”

This is an explicit, unequivocal text from a prophetic Companion proving the legal validity of tawassul through the dead. The account has been classified as rigously authenticated (SAHIH) by Baihaqi, Mundhiri, and Haythami. (Nuh Ha Mim Keller, Tawassul: Supplicating Allah through an Intermediary (From Reliance of the Traveller): http://seekersguidance.org/ans-blog/2011/07/02/tawassul-supplicating-allah-through-an-intermediary/; bold and underline emphasis ours)

Thus, Muhammad not only taught Muslims to pray to him directly, his followers continued to do so even after he had died!

Fifth Example

This isn’t the only incident of Muslims praying to Muhammad after his demise. According to the Muslim interpreters, the following verse:

We sent no messenger save that he should be obeyed by Allah’s leave. And if, when they had wronged themselves, they had but come unto thee and asked forgiveness of Allah, and asked forgiveness of the messenger, they would have found Allah Forgiving, Merciful. S. 4:64 Pickthall

Resulted in some of Muhammad’s followers coming to his grave in order to directly ask him to intercede with Allah so that their Lord would forgive them!

(In this Qur’anic verse) Allah is exhorting the sinners and evildoers that when they commit sins and errors they should call on the Messenger of Allah and ask forgiveness from Allah. They should also request the Messenger of Allah to pray for them. When they do so, Allah will turn to them and forgive them and He will show mercy to them. That is why He used the words la-wajadullaha tawwaban-rahima (they (on the basis of this means and intercession) would have surely found Allah the Granter of repentance, extremely Merciful). Many have stated this tradition. One of them is Abu Mansur al-Sabbagh (some manuscripts say Abu Nasr) who writes in his book Al-Shamil Al-Hikayat-ul-mashhurah that, according to ‘Utbi, once he was sitting beside the Prophet’s grave when a bedouin came and he said, “Peace be on you, O Allah’s Messenger. I have heard that Allah says: ‘(O beloved!) And if they had come to you, when they had wronged their souls, and asked forgiveness of Allah, and the Messenger also had asked forgiveness for them, they (on the basis of this means and intercession) would have surely found Allah the Granter of repentance, extremely Merciful.’ I have come to you, asking forgiveness for my sins and I make you as my intermediary before my Lord and I have come to you for this purpose.” Then he recited these verses: “O, the most exalted among the buried people who improved the worth of the plains and the hillocks! May I sacrifice my life for this grave which is made radiant by you, the one who is of mercy and forgiveness.” Then the bedouin went away and I fell asleep. In my dream I saw the Holy Prophet. He said to me: O ‘Utbi, the bedouin is right, go and give him the good news that Allah has forgiven his sins. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir: Q. 4:64: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M-UZwjZSubE&feature=related)

All of these examples affirm one point: Allah isn’t Islam’s real savior, rather Muhammad. It is Muhammad who is the intercessor and redeemer that procures the salvation of Muslims. As such, Muhammad has, for all intents and purposes, replaced Christ by becoming the one to whom all Muslims must turn if they want to be saved from the wrath and displeasure of Allah.

FURTHER READING

Session on the Deification of Muhammad Pt. 1

Session on the Deification of Muhammad Pt. 2

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