"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Muhammad or Jesus - Who is interceding for you?

I think I understand it better now! Someone brought this hadith to my attention and now I see why Muslims revere Muhammad almost to the extent Christians revere Jesus, whom most of us believe is the Savior of our souls. (For those interested, I found this site on a quick Google search. It shows some verses about Jesus being God, the Savior.)

Check out this hadith (# 3) from Bukhari ... source

For sure Muhammad is more favored here than any of the previous prophets mentioned or maybe I am reading too much into it. Am I?

Narrated Anas: The Prophet said, "On the Day of Resurrection the Believers will assemble and say, 'Let us ask somebody to intercede for us with our Lord.' So they will go to Adam and say, 'You are the father of all the people, and Allah created you with His Own Hands, and ordered the angels to prostrate to you, and taught you the names of all things; so please intercede for us with your Lord, so that He may relieve us from this place of ours.' Adam will say, 'I am not fit for this (i.e. intercession for you).' Then Adam will remember his sin and feel ashamed thereof. He will say, 'Go to Noah, for he was the first Apostle, Allah sent to the inhabitants of the earth.' They will go to him and Noah will say, 'I am not fit for this undertaking.' He will remember his appeal to his Lord to do what he had no knowledge of, then he will feel ashamed thereof and will say, 'Go to the Khalil--r-Rahman (i.e. Abraham).' They will go to him and he will say, 'I am not fit for this undertaking. Go to Moses, the slave to whom Allah spoke (directly) and gave him the Torah .' So they will go to him and he will say, 'I am not fit for this undertaking.' and he will mention (his) killing a person who was not a killer, and so he will feel ashamed thereof before his Lord, and he will say, 'Go to Jesus, Allah's Slave, His Apostle and Allah's Word and a Spirit coming from Him. Jesus will say, 'I am not fit for this undertaking, go to Muhammad the Slave of Allah whose past and future sins were forgiven by Allah.' So they will come to me and I will proceed till I will ask my Lord's Permission and I will be given permission. When I see my Lord, I will fall down in Prostration and He will let me remain in that state as long as He wishes and then I will be addressed.' (Muhammad!) Raise your head. Ask, and your request will be granted; say, and your saying will be listened to; intercede, and your intercession will be accepted.' I will raise my head and praise Allah with a saying (i.e. invocation) He will teach me, and then I will intercede. He will fix a limit for me (to intercede for) whom I will admit into Paradise. Then I will come back again to Allah, and when I see my Lord, the same thing will happen to me. And then I will intercede and Allah will fix a limit for me to intercede whom I will let into Paradise, then I will come back for the third time; and then I will come back for the fourth time, and will say, 'None remains in Hell but those whom the Quran has imprisoned (in Hell) and who have been destined to an eternal stay in Hell.' " (The compiler) Abu 'Abdullah said: 'But those whom the Qur'an has imprisoned in Hell,' refers to the Statement of Allah: "They will dwell therein forever." (16.29) (emphasis in the text mine)

At least we know from this hadith that Muhammad was not sinless and, in all fairness, he did ask Allah for permission. Contrast this with the teachings of Paul who said in I Timothy 2:5 that the only mediator between God and man is Jesus. Also Hebrews 7 says,

23Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; 24but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.

and finally the last few verses of Romans 8, notice verse 34.

31What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36As it is written:
"For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered."
37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Thoughts anyone?


Wrestling With Religion said...

My husband said last night that one reason to be Muslim is to get in on this intercession thing.

I don't understand why a person could influence God's judgment, really. But that's opening a whole can of worms because then I don't know why God would answer prayer. :S

Achelois said...

Hmm. There are other versions of this hadith. In one Muhammad will sit on God's throne. In another, Jesus is supposed to say "God is angry with me today, He will not listen to me. Go to Muhammad."

The thing is no one can actually say if Muhammad ever really said this. But then if a hadith appears in more than one version from more than one person, it is usually authentic. So I don't know.

In the end there is belief in intercession in Islam and in Christianity but which is something Quran rejects. But then Quran asks people to obey both Allah and His Last Prophet.

I think every human being is responsible for their own sins. There were sinners before Jesus and Muhammad who knew neither and believed in neither. What happens to them if they repented?

Anyone can sin. Repentance, I think, is important.

Suroor said...

I also think coming to God through Jesus means following Jesus and accepting him as a guide and when you accept him as your guide, you just don't sin.

I know that I struggle everyday. Sometimes I slap my hand or bite my tongue because I think "what would Jesus have done?" Following him as an example is very difficult because he was perfection. It is humbling and so full of peace. That is why so many Sufis accept Jesus as their role model and guide.

Susanne said...

Sarah, yes, those are puzzling and interesting things you brought up. It seems God loves when we pray just like a father or mother loves when their children ask them for things knowing their parents are *good* and *love them* and want the best for them.

Interesting comment by your husband...hmmmm. Seems he is counting on Muhammad's intercessory ability. I found this hadith telling.

Achelois, you wrote:

"Muhammad will sit on God's throne"

:-O :-O :-O

And this is not shirk?

So the Quran rejects intercession, yet this *authentic* hadith says this about Muhammad?? HOW can one believe this is authentic if it contradicts the "literal words from God" (Quran)??

Thanks for what you said about following Jesus. I love how you speak of Him. You actually make me love Him more. :)

Amber said...

Hah. My first, unhelpful, thought was, 'Well, you can bet it's not Mohammed...'

I think Jesus can intercede, because He *is* God, so He could say that something will be, and it will be, but for a human to claim that he can approach God and God will just *do* whatever he says...it's like God's just changing reality for that persons whims and desires.

And yes, Susanne, before you say it, I do believe in Saints. But, when we speak with the Saints, we're not asking them to do whatever it is, or to ask God *for* us, but to add their prayers to ours. We're still praying *to* God directly.

And, I really think the point of prayer is not to ask for such and such an outcome, but to pray that God's Will be done, and that your human will may be conformed to His, so that you accept the outcome, whatever it is, as the correct one.

Susanne said...

Amber, praying to Saints didn't even cross my mind 'til you reminded me. :) Thanks for explaining about that. You all get that from tradition, right? If it's in the Bible, please explain. I'm interested in learning from you!

I agree that we pray according to God's will, not that our will is accomplished because God knows best.

Thanks for chiming in. :)

Susanne said...

Oh, Amber, I had a devoted Canadian friend explain praying to saints to me a long time ago. (She was the only devoted Catholic I knew until I met you and Angie online last year.) She said they pray "through them" because - as Stacey put it - God can't say "no" to His mother. Is this how you think? I forgot to ask where she got this so I'm guessing from tradition or some Bible passage I interpreted differently.

Thus why I want your explanation.

Please. :)

Amber said...

Well, that'll teach me to open *my* big mouth. :)

'She said they pray "through them" because - as Stacey put it - God can't say "no" to His mother.'

I've heard this said, but only in connection to Mary. She's a Saint, of course, and the 'theory' seems to go: "Mary was a 'good Jewish mother' and Jesus was a 'good Jewish boy', and a 'good Jewish boy' can't say no to his mother!' So, if you ask Mary to intercede with her son for you, He'll be more inclined to grant your petition." Meh. While I would agree that Mary, as the Theotokos garners a special place in Heaven, I don't really view her as being over and above all the other Saints, in the sense that, should I pray through her, and she take my request to God, that He'll do what I asked because it's Mary.

Now, Saints:

Amber said...

First, this is just from what I can remember, so it's not perfect. (Control your shock!) I'm only giving the references I can recall (I did look up the exact scripture references that I could remember so I got the references right).

Second, we believe that all Tradition is rooted in Scripture, it's all about understanding/ interpreting it rightly.


We believe that the Saints are alive, in Heaven, at this very moment with God. (The cloud of witnesses of Hebrews 12:1-3 and the thief on the cross (Luke 23: 32-43). There is no division between the Church Militant (visible, on earth) and the Church Triumphant (invisible, in Heaven). We are one Church, now and forever.

We are told to pray for one another, to intercede on other Christians' behalf. (1 Timothy 2: 1-4, Rom. 15:30–32, Eph. 6:18–20, Col. 4:3, 1 Thess. 5:25, 2 Thess. 3:1, 2 Thess. 1:11, Matt. 5:44). Jesus regularly performed miracles for people on the strength of another persons faith in Him (Matt. 8:13, 15:28, 17:15–18, Mark 9:17–29, Luke 8:49–55). So the intercession of one Christian on anothers behalf is Biblical. And, based on the fact that we do not view the Saints as dead, but alive in Christ, in Heaven, it's not necromancy or the occult summoning of the dead that is condemned in Deuteronomy 18:10–15.

The prayers of the righteous are even more efficacious than those of us poor 'normal' people. (James 5: 16-18) And who could be more righteous than those who have 'made it'? Those who are in the very presence of God as we speak?
There is also reference to the Saints offering our prayers up to God (Revelation 5:8), as well as praying *for* us (Revelation 8: 3-4).

There's nothing above that says one *must* pray through the Saints, or ask for their prayers to be added to our own, but the option is clearly there, and I don't know of any Christian who has a problem asking for prayers during times of struggle, or need. This is the same concept, expanded to include the *entire* Body of Christ.

Susanne said...

Amber, thanks for explaining all that. I really liked your answer and I am glad to know Tradition is based on Scripture. For some reason I thought it was pretty much separate.

Thanks for including all those references, too. I'm always happy to see things supported by Scripture (as long as they aren't stupid things where people take verses out of context.)

I'd never really thought of it like that, and I guess the only problem I still have is that it just seems odd to PRAY to anyone except God. Ask me to pray for you and I will. But it seems weird for you to pray to me so I'll pray for you. But I guess this praying is really asking since you can't just e-mail or call up a Saint requesting they pray for you.

So I guess it makes some sense to me now. Makes it much more "likable" in my mind anyway. :-) I appreciate your taking the time to teach me these things that seem a bit odd to me.

Thank you!

Amber said...


But of course!

The two things, Tradition and Scripture, are always meant to work together. It's sort of why we see Protestant's as...limping along? They've cut themselves off from half of the faith.

Actually, my job (I work with lawyers and legal notices) helped me with that! We use 'pray' in legal documents, to this day. Part of the definition is 'to make earnest petition to'. While most people think of 'pray' as related only to worship, that's not it's only use. In the 'olden days' they used it in conversation. A person might ask a judge or a landowner, or even just someone they needed a favor from, 'I pray you...' It's not a manner of speech we use anymore, so it sounds weird to us. So you could, if so inclined, go up to another person and say, 'I pray you remember me in your prayers.'

Here's some of the definitions for pray:
v. intr.
1. To utter or address a prayer or prayers to God, a god, or another object of worship.
2. To make a fervent request or entreaty.
v. tr.
1. To utter or say a prayer or prayers to; address by prayer.
2. To ask (someone) imploringly; beseech. Now often used elliptically for I pray you to introduce a request or entreaty: Pray be careful.
3. To make a devout or earnest request for: I pray your permission to speak.
4. To move or bring by prayer or entreaty.

Susanne said...

Ahhhh, I see. Actually I have used "pray" in that old-fashioned way. Usually I am being silly and somewhat "mocking" of an old country/rednecky type.

Like saying, "Pray tell...what in the world did you do to your hair?"

So, yes, I totally forgot about that different way of praying. Thanks for the reminder. :)