Notes on the
Isma` al-Arba`in fi Shafa`at Sayyid al-Mahbubin[i]
by Imam A`la Hazrat Ahmed Reza Khan Berelwi (ra)
Our Beloved Prophet (saw) has been granted the honour of the shafa`at al-kubra (‘supreme intercession’) and many narrations have attested to this fact. It is one of the innumerable distinctions given to our Prophet by Allah (swt). Some of these narrations include:
- Imam Ahmad b. Hanbal (ra) with a sahih (‘authentic’) isnad (‘chain of transmission’)[ii] reports in his Musnad from `Abd Allah b. `Umar (ra)[iii] that the Prophet (saw) said: “I was given the choice between the power of intercession or allowing my umma to continue going to Paradise. I chose the intercession because it is more all-embracing and beneficial. What, do you think it is only for the believers and God-conscious? No, it is also for the sinful and those who have erred.”[iv]
- Ibn `Adi mentions a narration from the mother of the believers Umm Salama (ra) that the Prophet (saw) said: “My intercession is for those amongst my umma destroyed [by sin].”[v]
- From Anas b. Malik[vi] by Abu Dawud,[vii] al-Tirmidhi,[viii] Ibn Hibban,[ix] al-Hakim and al-Bayhaqi; Jabir b. `Abd Allah[x] from al-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah and al-Hakim; `Abd Allah b. al-`Abbas[xi] from al-Tabarani; `Abd Allah b. `Umar[xii] from al-Khatib al-Bahgdadi as well `Umar and Ka`b b. `Ujra and Abu Hurayra[xiii] that the Prophet (saw) said: “My intercession is for those from my umma who commit the major sins.”[xiv]
- Abu Bakr b. `Ali al-Baghdadi reports from Abu ’l-Darda’ (ra) that the Prophet (saw) said: “My intercession is reserved for the sinful amongst my umma – even if he is a sinner or a thief despite Abu ’l-Darda’s reluctance.”[xv]
- Al-Tabarani and al-Bayhaqi report from Buryada (ra) and Anas b. Malik (ra) that the Prophet (saw) said: “I will grant intercession for people that will number more than the stones, trees and bits of soil of the entire earth.”
[i] A`la Hazrat, Isma` al-Arba`in, pp.8-10. Cf. also his Qur’anic commentary Kanz al-Iman on the verses related to the Prophet’s station of intercession. Question: ‘what do the religious scholars say regarding the issue of the Holy Prophet (saw) being the Intercessor? Are there any hadeesto prove this?’ Photo excerpt of the work is given above.
[ii] According to al-Suyuti in al-Budur al-Safira, 262 and al-Albani in his Sahih al-Jami`, no.3335.
[iii] Ahmad, Musnad, 7, 227 (A. Shakir’s edn. who grades the narration as da`if [‘weak’]). al-Hafiz al-Haythami comments that all the narrators in the isnad are of the sahih category except for Nu`man b. Qirad who is thiqqa (‘upright’). See Majma` al-Zawa’id, 10, 381.
[iv] See al-Mundhiri, al-Targhib wa’l-Tarhib, 4, 329 with a jayyid (‘good’) isnad; al-Dhahabi in Talhis al-`Ilal al-Mutanahiyya, 356 grading the isnad as salih (‘good’) and al-Haythami’s Majma` al-Zawa’id, 9, 195 where the narrators in the isnad of al-Bazzar’s version are all of the thiqqa category. See also his al-Zawajir, 2, 250.
[v] See Ibn `Adi’s al-Kamil fi’l-Du`afa’, 6, 261; al-Dhahabi, Lisan al-Mizan, 6, 228; Ibn al-Qaysarani, Dhakhirat al-Huffaz, 1, 425; al-Haythami, Majma` al-Zawa’id, 10, 381 and al-Albani, Da`if al-Jami`, no.971 (the latter two grading the hadith as da`if only).
[vi] Al-Hafiz Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani, Talkhis al-Habir, 3, 1150 commenting that Muslim narrated it but without the word “kaba’ir” (major sinner); al-Sakhawi, al-Maqasid al-Hasana, 301; Ibn al-Qaysarani, Dhakhirat al-Huffaz, 1, 561, 2, 999 and 3, 1501; al-Khatib al-Baghdadi, Ta’rikh Baghdad, 1, 413; Ibn `Adi’s al-Kamil fi’l-Du`afa’, 2, 7 and 4, 59; Ibn Abi Hatim, al-`Ilal, 3, 73 and 279; al-Ishbili, Ahkam al-Sughra, 92 (alluding to the isnad’s authenticity in his introduction); al-Mundhiri, al-Targhib wa’l-Tarhib, 4, 328 where he comments that the isnad is either sahih, hasan or close to both; Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyya, Sharh Hadith Jibril alluding to it being sahih, 358 and declaring it clearly as sahih in his Majmu` al-Fatawa, 7, 500 and indicating its near mutawatir status in 12, 481; al-Dhahabi in Mizan al-I`tidal, 2, 399; al-Haythami, Majma` al-Zawa’id, 10, 381; `Ali al-Qari in Sharh Musnad Abi Hanifa, 295 declaring it sahih and commenting elsewhere that it almost reaches the level of mutawatir, 501; al-Zarqani also mentions it as sahih in Mukhtasar al-Maqasid, 558 so too does in al-Sa`di in Nawafih al-`Itra, 171. Cf. also al-Albani: Sharh al-Tahawiyya, 233, Sahih Abu Dawud, no.4739; Sahih al-Jami`, no.3714, Sahih al-Targhib wa’l-Tarhib, no.3649, Sahih al-Tirmidhi, no.2435,his edn. of al-Tabrizi’s Mishkat al-Masabih, no.5528 and his Kitab al-Sunna, no.830-32.
[vii] Abu Dawud, Sunan, no.4739 over which he is silent meaning the grading is salih.
[viii] Al-Tirmidhi, Sunan, no.2435 where he grades it hasan sahih gharib (‘good and authentic but peculiar’).
[ix] Cf. his Kitab al-Majruhin, 2, 261.
[x] Abu Nu`aym, Hilyat al-Awliya’, 3, 233 and Ibn Kathir, Tafsir al-Qur’an al-`Azim, 2, 248.
[xi] Ibn `Adi’s al-Kamil fi’l-Du`afa’, 8, 66; Ibn al-Qaysarani, Dhakhirat al-Huffaz, 1, 254; al-Dhahabi in Mizan al-I`tidal, 4, 212 and al-Haythami, Majma` al-Zawa’id, 10, 381.
[xii] al-Haythami, Majma` al-Zawa’id, 7, 8 with all the narrators in the isnad being of the sahih category except Harb b. Surayj who he considers thiqqa (although al-Dhahabi said there is dispute over his probity in Mizan al-I`tidal, 1, 469) and else where in 10, 213 al-Haythami comments on a different isnad as jayyid.
[xiii] Ibn al-Qaysarani, Tadhkirat al-Huffaz, 210 and his Ma`rifat al-Tadhkira, 160.
[xiv] Imam Ibn Kathir’s comment that all the chains of transmission have weakness in them (see Tafsir al-Qur’an al-`Azim, 2, 248) is perhaps a slight overstatement. And Allah knows best.
[xv] Da`if with this wording. See al-Albani, Da`if al-Jami`, no.3404. Nevertheless, the optimism of a sinner and fornicator is considerable in that even they will enter Paradise and be forgiven (insha’allah). See al-Albani, Kitab al-Sunna, no.957.