“Al-Waseelah” AND “AL-SHAFA’AH”: In the light of Quran

Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) has used the word “Waseelah” and “Shafa’ah” at different places in His final Book Al-Qur’an specially the word “Shafa’ah” has been used extensively.

Many people misquote the word “Waseelah” and gave it the meanings of the word “Shafa’ah”.

Let’s analyze both these words in the light of Qur’an and let Qur’an decide itself what are the real meanings of these two important terms.

Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) Says

 يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آَمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَابْتَغُوا إِلَيْهِ الْوَسِيلَةَ وَجَاهِدُوا فِي سَبِيلِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُون۔(المائدہ: 35)

O ye who believe! do your duty to Allah, seek the means of approach unto Him, and strive with might and main In His cause: that ye may prosper. (Abdullah Yusuf Ali) [Maidah: 35]

Similarly Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) Says

 أُولَئِكَ الَّذِينَ يَدْعُونَ يَبْتَغُونَ إِلَى رَبِّهِمُ الْوَسِيلَةَ أَيُّهُمْ أَقْرَبُ وَيَرْجُونَ رَحْمَتَهُ وَيَخَافُونَ عَذَابَهُ إِنَّ عَذَابَ رَبِّكَ كَانَ مَحْذُورًا۔(الاسراء: 57)

Those whom They call upon do desire (for themselves) means of access to their Lord, – Even those who are nearest: They hope for His Mercy and fear His Wrath: for the wrath of Thy Lord is something to take heed of. [Abdullah Yusuf Ali] [Al-Isra: 57]

Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) has used the word “Waseelah” only twice in the Qur’an and it is clearly evident from the text of the Qur’an that it means “means of approach” not “intercession”…

Dr. Khalid Zaheer commenting on the verse of Al-Maidah while answering a question about Waseelah:

Had the commonly understood meaning of Waseelah been meant in this verse, then
the following verse of al-Zumur wouldn’t have made any sense:

أَلَا لِلَّهِ الدِّينُ الْخَالِصُ وَالَّذِينَ اتَّخَذُوا مِنْ دُونِهِ أَوْلِيَاءَ مَا نَعْبُدُهُمْ إِلَّا لِيُقَرِّبُونَا إِلَى اللَّهِ زُلْفَى إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَحْكُمُ بَيْنَهُمْ فِي مَا هُمْ فِيهِ يَخْتَلِفُونَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يَهْدِي مَنْ هُوَ كَاذِبٌ كَفَّارٌ۔(الزمر: 44)

“Beware! The pure religion (of seeking help) is for Allah alone. And those who seek helpers other than Him, (they say), ‘We don’t worship them except with a view to come closer to God’. Indeed, Allah is going to decide about them on the Day of Judgment on matters they are disputing. Indeed, Allah doesn’t guide those liars and rejecters of truth.” (Al-Zumr: 03)

Now let’s see what Qur’an says about the word “Shafa’ah”.

Here are the references from the Qur’an with the word “Shafa’ah”. There are other verses like (4:84) with the same word but that is not relevant to the topic because this topic exclusively deals with the issue of intercession between Allah and His Servants.

وَاتَّقُوا يَوْمًا لا تَجْزِي نَفْسٌ عَنْ نَفْسٍ شَيْئًا وَلا يُقْبَلُ مِنْهَا عَدْلٌ وَلا تَنْفَعُهَا شَفَاعَةٌ وَلا هُمْ يُنْصَرُونَ۔ (١٢٣البقرۃ: 123)

Then guard yourselves against a Day when one soul shall not avail another, nor shall compensation be accepted from her nor shall intercession profit her nor shall anyone be helped (from outside). (Abdullah Yusuf Ali) (Baqarah: 123)

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَنْفِقُوا مِمَّا رَزَقْنَاكُمْ مِنْ قَبْلِ أَنْ يَأْتِيَ يَوْمٌ لا بَيْعٌ فِيهِ وَلا خُلَّةٌ وَلا شَفَاعَةٌ وَالْكَافِرُونَ هُمُ الظَّالِمُونَ۔ (٢٥٤البقرۃ: 254)

O ye who believe! Spend out of (the bounties) We have provided for you, before the

Day comes when no bargaining (Will avail), nor friendship nor intercession. Those who reject Faith they are the wrong-doers. (Abdullah Yusuf Ali) (Baqarah: 254)

لا يَمْلِكُونَ الشَّفَاعَةَ إِلا مَنِ اتَّخَذَ عِنْدَ الرَّحْمَنِ عَهْدًا۔ (٨٧مریم: 87)

 None shall have the power of intercession, but such a one as has received permission (or promise) from ((Allah)) Most Gracious. (Abdullah Yusuf Ali) (Maryam: 87)

يَوْمَئِذٍ لا تَنْفَعُ الشَّفَاعَةُ إِلا مَنْ أَذِنَ لَهُ الرَّحْمَنُ وَرَضِيَ لَهُ قَوْلا۔ (طہ: 109)

 On that Day shall no intercession avail except for those for whom permission has been granted by ((Allah)) Most Gracious and whose word is acceptable to Him. (Abdullah Yusuf Ali)  (Taha: 109)

يَعْلَمُ مَا بَيْنَ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَمَا خَلْفَهُمْ وَلا يَشْفَعُونَ إِلا لِمَنِ ارْتَضَى وَهُمْ مِنْ خَشْيَتِهِ مُشْفِقُونَ۔ (٢٨الانبیاء: 28)

He knows what is before them, and what is behind them, and they offer no intercession except for those who are acceptable, and they stand in awe and reverence of His (Glory). (Abdullah Yusuf Ali) (Anbiya: 28)

وَلا تَنْفَعُ الشَّفَاعَةُ عِنْدَهُ إِلا لِمَنْ أَذِنَ لَهُ حَتَّى إِذَا فُزِّعَ عَنْ قُلُوبِهِمْ قَالُوا مَاذَا قَالَ رَبُّكُمْ قَالُوا الْحَقَّ وَهُوَ الْعَلِيُّ الْكَبِيرُ۔ (سبا: 23٢٣)

 No intercession can avail in His Presence, except for those for whom He has granted permission. So far (is this the case) that, when terror is removed from their hearts (at the Day of Judgment, then) will they say, ‘what is it that your Lord commanded?’ they will say, ‘That which is true and just; and He is the Most High Most Great’.” (Abdullah Yusuf Ali) (Saba:23)

أَأَتَّخِذُ مِنْ دُونِهِ آلِهَةً إِنْ يُرِدْنِ الرَّحْمَنُ بِضُرٍّ لا تُغْنِ عَنِّي شَفَاعَتُهُمْ شَيْئًا وَلا يُنْقِذُونِ۔ (٢٣یس: 23)

 Shall I take (other) gods besides Him? If ((Allah)) Most Gracious should intend some adversity for me, of no use whatever will be their intercession for me, nor can they deliver me. (Abdullah Yusuf Ali) (Yaseen: 23)

قُلْ لِلَّهِ الشَّفَاعَةُ جَمِيعًا لَهُ مُلْكُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأرْضِ ثُمَّ إِلَيْهِ تُرْجَعُونَ (الزمر:44٤٤)

 Say: “To Allah belongs exclusively (the right to grant) intercession: to Him belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth: In the End, it is to Him that ye shall be brought back.” (Abdullah Yusuf Ali) (Zumr: 44)

وَلا يَمْلِكُ الَّذِينَ يَدْعُونَ مِنْ دُونِهِ الشَّفَاعَةَ إِلا مَنْ شَهِدَ بِالْحَقِّ وَهُمْ يَعْلَمُونَ۔ (٨٦الزخرف: 26)

 And those whom they invoke besides Allah have no power of intercession;- only he who bears witness to the Truth, and they know (him). (Abdullah Yusuf Ali) (Zukhruf: 86)

وَكَمْ مِنْ مَلَكٍ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ لا تُغْنِي شَفَاعَتُهُمْ شَيْئًا إِلا مِنْ بَعْدِ أَنْ يَأْذَنَ اللَّهُ لِمَنْ يَشَاءُ وَيَرْضَى۔ (النجم: 26٢٦)

 How many-so-ever be the angels in the heavens, their intercession will avail nothing except after Allah has given leave for whom He pleases and that he is acceptable to Him. (Abdullah Yusuf Ali) (Najm: 26)

فَمَا تَنْفَعُهُمْ شَفَاعَةُ الشَّافِعِينَ۔ (٤٨المدثر: 48)

Then will no intercession of (any) intercessors profit them. (Abdullah Yusuf Ali) (Muddaththir: 48)

Now look at the difference of the meaning of these two words. There is a huge difference one is completely prohibited and the other is completely allowed. Now let’s see an example from the Qur’an which clears the concept of Waseelah in the light of Qur’an:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اسْتَعِينُوا بِالصَّبْرِ وَالصَّلاةِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ مَعَ الصَّابِرِينَ (١٥البقرۃ: 153)

O You who believe! Seek help In patience and As-Salât (the prayer). Truly! Allâh is with As-Sâbirin (the patient ones, etc.). (Abdullah Yusuf Ali) (Baqarah: 153)

Now in this verse Allah tells us that we can get His help by Sabr and Salah and Allah will only help us when we will be close to Him and the Proposition (ب) is pointing towards the same. And similarly in the verse of Surah Maidah Allah wants us to strive in His path so that we can be close to him. And the verse of Surah Isra completely negates the view point that we can approach to Allah by means of any human being, Jinn or Malaikah because these words “Those whom They call upon do desire (for themselves) means of access to their Lord, – Even those who are nearest:” give us the clear idea…….

And the word “Waseelah” can’t be taken in the meanings of the word “Shafa’ah” because the later is completely forbidden in the Qur’an. There is not a single verse which says that anybody can intercede for us in this world or next (only by the permission of Allah and that is too in the day of Judgment).

Everybody is requested to go through these lines and share their views and correct me if I have made any mistakes or wrongly interpreted the verses of the Qur’an because we cannot play with the words of Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala otherwise we’ll perish.

اللھم الجعل القرآن العظیم ربیع قلوبنا ونور ابصارناو جلاء احزانناو ذھاب ھمومنا وغمومنا۔۔۔(آمین)


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