WHAT EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT ISLAM/Interval between Death and Resurrection

Regarding the basic reality of Resurrection and life after death, our faculty of reason proves it for us however regarding the quality and how it is supposed to be, the reason cannot be our guide; instead we are helpless but to benefit from verses of the Holy Qur’an and sayings of divine messengers and religious saints. It could be understood from the Holy Qur’an, traditions of the Holy Prophet (S) and Infallible Imams (a.s.) that before the Day of Judgment and general resurrection, another world exists where human souls live between death and resurrection called barzakh which is a means between the world and hereafter.

When a person dies in the beginning he enters into barzakh, where he would have some sort of special life. In the beginning of the spiritual life that starts from the grave an overall questioning is conducted in which a person’s faith and belief are reviewed; if his beliefs were true and he had righteous deeds, a door from paradise opens and he is assigned on the path of paradise. He utilizes bounties of paradise and remains in waiting for the occurrence of resurrection and to receive eternal heavenly bounties.

If a person happens to be with bad belief and deeds he is assigned to the path of hell and a door from the door of hell opens for him. He would remain in punishment and torture until the occurrence of the resurrection and would suffer a bitter and unpleasant life and have fear of the arrival of the Day of Judgment and severe punishment of hell; he would remain in anxiety and horror.


Death means separation of the soul from the body; Islam tells us: A human being is not annihilated through the means of death; instead it is transferred to another world and from this life enters into another form of life. The Holy Prophet (S) said: “You have not been created for annihilation instead for eternal life; it is not but your transfer from this world to another world.

From the Islamic point of view the separation of the soul from the body is not done for all human beings in a similar manner; individuals who are sinners, their inclination is more towards the world are not linked with the hereafter are hopeless, and give up their soul with hardship and difficulty. But the individuals whose deeds are decent and do not have much attachment with this world, instead they have more inclination and attachments towards God and hereafter give their soul comfortably and with ease.


All divine Prophets and Holy Scriptures are unanimous about this point that the life of a human being does not end at his death. After it another world exists where human beings would see the rewards of their deeds and character. The pious individuals would see a joyful and happy life and would be blessed with dignity and plenty of divine bounties; while the wicked and lewd would have a harsh and painful life and would have a life of torture and punishment. The reality of Judgment and a world after death is a necessity of all heavenly religions, and whoever accepts the Prophets must also accept the Day of Judgment. In order to prove this matter we would describe the following two simple arguments:

First Argument

If you pay attention, proof of the Day of Judgment would become clearly explicated for you:

1. None of the acts are without an aim and objective; whoever does some work also has an objective and goal. The aim and ultimate objective is a thing that motivates the subject to do his work, and in order to accomplish it he makes efforts and endeavors.

2. Although each task is not without an aim and objective, the aims and objectives are not similar; instead they vary with respect to individuals and their tasks. The more a subject is knowledgeable, powerful, and possesses a rational program; he pursues superior and valuable objectives. A young child who peruses a goal in a childish play would never be equivalent to the goals of an engineer, intellectual and director.

3. The human beings whatever tasks they pursue, desire that through the means of the objective and result of that task, to remove a defect from them in order to achieve more perfection. For example when we eat food it is because of the reason that we feel in ourselves a feeling of hunger, we eat food in order to remove the defect caused by hunger. But for divine acts this context is not valid, because God is not imperfect so that through the means of a result or objective, a task should remove His defect and achieve more perfection.

Therefore, it could be said that the result of a task is not applicable to Him but it reaches to his creatures. The objective is not to achieve perfection or to be benefitted rather it is to enrich and to bestow perfection upon His creatures.

Persian Verse:

“Man na kardam khalq ta sudi kunam,

Balkeh ta bar bandgan judi kunam.”

English Translation:

I did not create creation to be benefited

Instead it was to bestow mercy upon my servants.”

4. God has created human beings with a most superior existence and in the structure of his existence and has utilized thousands of delicacies and sophistications that the intellectuals, no matter how hard they try to comprehend it, they encounter extremely amazing mysteries in a manner that it could be said:

God, the Wise, has made the small-world (jah’an-e-asghar) the human being’s skeleton as a sample of the greater world’s (jah’an-e-akbar) existence and has placed a vast universe in his limited body structure. He has created water, earth, air, plants, animals, stars and other existences to meet his requirements; has accumulated thousands of amazing mysteries in the heart of the material world so that the human being could utilize it.

Also he has equipped the human existence with amazing intellectual thoughts in order to explore the hidden mysteries of the world of existence, and to utilize the precious treasures of the material world as well as to conquer it. Because of the above mentioned matters, now let us think; could it be said that: The God, the Wise, created amazing and mysterious human existence, and for his utilization commissioned a most outstanding organization of the material world, only for an insignificant period to live in this world and should simply change the vast divine bounties into a different form, then should die and be annihilated? If such is the case then is not the entire creation of God nonsense, null and void?

Your faculty of reason would never believe about such an issue and the sacred existence of God is too glorified for such a nonsensical task. Non- existence and annihilation could not be the ultimate goal of creation and ultimate result of the human being’s lives, because the accomplishment of a cherished goal requires that the existence should be made more perfect and precious instead of terminating his existence and destroying the book of his age.

Our faculty of reason states that: Since God does not have any need of creation of existences, He does not create them with the intention of earning a profit, and a nonsensical and null and void act is not issued by Him. Therefore, inevitably He has created human beings for the objective of a higher, superior, and precious objective and their lives are not limited to only a transient few days of life of this world and through the arrival of his death, their lives are not ended and the book of their deeds are not closed.

Our faculty of reason states that: After this world there should be another world or hereafter; the period of his transient living in this world with so many hardships should only be a preliminary for an eternal life in the hereafter and achieving the prosperity and infinite ease and comfort in the next world. God’s intentions were that a human being in this world should make progress and should acquire for him perfections and excellent habits in order to live a prosperous life full joy and heavenly bounties forever in the eternal world.1

Second Argument

Some human beings are pious and righteous; they are well-farers of the people, help their inferiors and fellow human beings, treat orphans with compassion, do favors towards the destitute and distressed, their conduct is good, they do not speak lies, cheat, oppress others, usurp people’s belongings; they offer their prayers and fast, practice their mandatory obligations and prevent others from committing sins.

Another group is wicked and indecent, they oppress and do injustice to their fellow human beings, usurp rights of the others, are liars rude, and traitors, do not offer divine mandatory obligations, neither do they offer prayers nor do they fast, they do not feel the least embarrassed from indulging in illegitimate and shameful acts, and like beasts day and night are busy in oppression, transgression, and fulfilling their carnal desires.

These two groups continuously had been existing and would remain always, and do not see the punishment of their deeds in this world. We know so many such persons that throughout their lives were engaged in the path of oppression, transgression, usurpation of people’s belongings, sinning, and perusing their carnal desires. They left the world in affluence, luxuries, and joyful without seeing the retribution of their evil deeds. On the other side there were many pious and righteous individuals who remained in complete poverty and harsh conditions without seeing rewards of their good deeds.

Therefore, should there not be another world where deeds of the people could be scrutinized, where the righteous ones should obtain excellent rewards for their good deeds and the wicked ones should be punished for their evil deeds? If the age of the people would end in this very world and their book of deeds becomes completely closed and annihilated then in that case would not the creation of human beings be a nonsensical act opposite to the justice and wisdom of God-Almighty?

Would your faculty of reason like it, that the righteous and pious individuals would be treated similarly like the wicked and lewd people and their deeds should not be scrutinized? Can such an indecent and inappropriate thing be related to God?2

If there is no Hereafter and the Day of Judgment of deeds, dispatching of the divine messengers for implementation of divine Command of encouraging good and forbiddance of evil would be irrational and without any profit; if there exists no accounting of deeds and reward and retribution then why should people obey the commands of God and heavenly messengers?

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Twelve-significant-points--about-intercessionResembling Polytheists

In the glorious Qur’an, God considers the polytheists of the time of the Prophet (s) polytheist because they ask Shafa’a from other than God, “They worship besides Allah that which neither causes them any harm, nor brings them any benefit, and they say, ‘These are our intercessors with Allah.'” (10:18)

Answer: There is no doubt that polytheists of the time of the Prophet (s) considered the rights to make Shafa’a for their idols and gods, but this verse implies that they worshiped idols and also considered the rights to make Shafa’a for them and thus believing in their Shafa’a together with worshiping them led to their criticism.

Polytheists considered unconditional rights to make Shafa’a for their idols which God never had given them such position. Also, they believed in their divinity and worshiped them; while if one believes in someone’s rights to make Shafa’a God has given him and that using such rights is by the permission of God, then there would be no problem. On the other hand, no Muslim considers the position of divinity for intercessors to worship them so that his act resembles the acts of the polytheists.

It is obvious that only showing respect and kissing Zarih in holy shrines without believing in divinity would not be considered as worship; for if it was considered so, then respecting and kissing the hands of parents would also be considered as worshiping them.

Another point is that idols made of stone and wood had no permission for making any harm or benefit and it was only the claim of idol-worshipers who believed in the effects of those stone and wood and their beliefs are different from the effects believed to exist in the Shafa’a of the intercessors by the permission of God.[Qur’an 10:18]

In this verse, God addresses the idol-worshipers that, “you believe in positions for idols I have not given to them. Do you want to give news to God about what (idols’ effects) He does not have news about?” and this is different with asking the friends of God for Shafa’a.

This verse has not mentioned anything about asking for Shafa’a; rather it addresses believing in the Shafa’a of idols, “they say, ‘These are our intercessors with Allah.'” (10:18) and it has not said, “they say, make intercession for us before Allah.'”

Therefore, if Wahhabi’s reasoning is right, then believing in Shafa’a would be totally polytheistic and this includes Wahhabis as well, because they believe in Shafa’a in general.

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Twelve-significant-points--about-intercessionThe most important criticisms about intercession

Asking Shafa’a from the intercessor means to call anyone other than God and this is polytheism in worshipping, because God says, “so do not invoke anyone along with Allah.” (72:18)

Answer: The above criticism comes from Wahhabis’ misunderstanding of the meaning of unity of God and polytheism. The true understanding of polytheism and unity of God implies that invoking anyone other than God does not mean polytheism in itself and it is not even forbidden since polytheism refers to cases in which one believes an independent divinity and lordship other than God and Shi’a never believe as such either about their Imams (a) or any other beings but for God alone.

Undoubtedly, invoking Muslims and requesting them for help is a permissible action and they need to help such an invoker as much as they can. On the other hand, when an action is permissible for a person, asking him to do that is permissible as well. When Shafa’a would be permissible for the Prophet (s) and other intercessors, asking Shafa’a from them would also be permissible.

Asking people for making du’a for one is permissible in the view of all Muslims such as that we ask someone, “make du’a for me”; therefore, asking Shafa’a from a person who has permission for that from God, such as he is asked, “make Shafa’a for me before God” is also permissible.

To forgive sins, God invites people to ask the Prophet (s) to make du’a for their forgiveness,

“Had they, when they wronged themselves, come to you and pleaded to Allah for forgiveness, and the Apostle had pleaded for forgiveness for them, they would have surely found Allah all-clement, all-merciful.” (4:64)

Some tried to explain the meaning of this verse so that, people harassed the Prophet (s) and needed to ask him for forgiveness; but through a more careful look into the verse, wrongness of this interpretation can be understood so that, if the Prophet (s) was about to forgive people’s sin about his own rights, the verse needed to say “وَ غَفَرَ لَهُمُ الرَّسولُ” [and the Prophet forgave them] while the verse says, “وَ اسْتَغْفَرَ لَهُمُ الرَّسولُ”” [the Prophet (s) made du’a for their forgiveness.]

Moreover, the verse Wahhabis refer to (72:18) prohibits Muslims from partnership and association, i.e. that Muslims do not consider anyone at similar level with God. The verse actually addresses polytheists who regarded the means independently. Also, if asking from anyone other than God is a polytheistic act, there would be no difference between the life and after death of people and thus no one should ever ask the Prophet (s) or another even during their lifetimes.

In authentic Sunni hadiths, it is mentioned that Tirmidhi quoted from Anas b. Malik that he asked the Prophet (s) to make Shafa’a for him on the Day of Judgment. He is quoted saying, “I asked the Prophet (s) to make Shafa’a for me on the Day of Judgment. The Prophet (s) said, ‘I will.’ I said, ‘where should I look for you then?’ He (s) said, ‘first near Sirat Bridge.'”[Tirmidhi, Sunan, vol.4 p.621]

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Twelve-significant-points--about-intercessionDeniers of Shafa’a

Those who have basically denied Shafa’a have mentioned some reasons:

Shafa’a Causes Boldness over Sinning

Some believe that believing in Shafa’a causes boldness over sinning in people and revives the spirit of transgression in sinners and criminals; thus, believing in it is not compatible with the spirit of the Islamic law and other laws.

Answer: firstly, if it is so, repentance which brings the forgiveness of sins can be considered as encouraging people to sin again; while, repentance is an original Islamic belief and agreed by all Muslims.

Secondly, Shafa’a would lead to transgression only if includes all criminals in general; but, if it becomes ambiguous that for what sins and sinners and when on the Day of Judgment, Sahfa’a would be used, then it would not lead to encouragement of sinning.

There is no Need for a Mediator between God and Human Being

God is closer to human beings than their veins and more merciful than anyone to His creation, thus why would we go to anyone other than Him for any request.

Answer: It is true that God is closer to us than our vein, but the wisdom of creation of human being on earth has required that God sends His messengers to guide people than speaking directly to them and that wisdom also required that the position of these messengers would be high before people so that the guidance would be accomplished in a better way, therefore God granted them infallibility from sinning and error so that human being would follow them confidently and gave them positions in appearance so that their great positions before God is better known to people and attracted people’s hearts to them.

In the Qur’an, God mentions some cases and tells people to take these people as mediator in order to reach better results, cases such as the brothers of prophet Joseph (a) who asked their father to intercede for them and ask God for their forgiveness, or elsewhere introduced the Last Prophet’s (s) asking for forgiveness more effective than people’s own supplication or mentioned that people referred to prophet Jesus (s) as the divine proof of their time to heal their sick ones and solve their problems. If it was wrong to take a mediator while knowing the closeness of God, it must have been criticized in the Qur’an, not introducing it to people as a recommended act.

The Punishment of a Sinner can either be Practicing Justice about him or Shafa’a

Shafa’a removes the punishment, which is either justice or oppression. If it is justice, then punishment has been God’s oppression (God forbids), and if it is basically oppression and punishment and justice, then Sahfa’a of intercessors and their action in removing the punishment is oppression.

Answer: removing the punishment can be mercy and neither labels of justice or punishment applies about it. In other words, removing punishment is mercy and above justice. God, the Immaculate has determined punishment for wrongdoers according to His justice, but removing punishment due to Shafa’a is mercy and kindness. God has taught His servants to be just and ordered them to try to reach the level higher than justice which is kindness, “Indeed Allah enjoins justice and kindness,…” (19:90). He also taught His servants that if one did wrong about you, you can punish him due to justice, however it would be better if you forgive him due to patience and kindness.[1]
1)Qur’an, 16:126

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Twelve-significant-points--about-intercessionEffects of Shafa’a
The nature of Shafa’a is neither encouraging to sin, nor a green light for sinners. It is not a cause of staying behind or mediation either; rather, it is an important educational issue which has constructive effects, some of which are mentioned below:

Raising hope:
Usually, the power of the self and lowly desires leads to committing great sins and following it, a spirit of disappointment takes over the person and this disappointment leads the person to more pollution. On the contrary, being hopeful in Sahfa’a of the friends of God, as a preventive factor, gives people hope that if they correct themselves, their bad past could be compensated through shafa’a of the righteous and the pure.

Establishing spiritual connection with friends of God:
Obviously, someone who hopes in Shafa’a, tries to establish such a relation and does something which pleases them and does not break his cord of love with them, which can lead to doing more good deeds.

Trying to Acquire the Prerequisites of Sahafa’a:
The hopeful in Shafa’a need to review their deeds in the past and make better decisions about the future for Sahfa’a would not happen without proper background; and that is because Shafa’a is a kind of bestowing mercy which actualizes due to the proper background of the one who is interceded for and also because of the honor, dignity and righteous deeds of the intercessor.[22]

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Shafa’a in creation as the influence of causes exists in whole creation. Therefore, in hadiths, the right to make Shafa’a is also mentioned for some places as well as for people and groups and it refers to the effect of such issues in the guidance of people. In Shafa’a of legislation, intercessors are either among the righteous acts of a person, prophets (s), friends of God or other issues.

  • The Prophet (s): the Prophet’s (s) Shafa’a is called Shafa’a t al-Kubra [great intercession]. In different hadiths, it is mentioned that his Shafa’a will include those believers who have committed greater sins.
  • Imam ‘Ali (a)
  • Imams (a)
  • Lady Fatima (a)
  • The glorious Qur’an
  • Prophets (s) and friends of God.[1]
  • Repentance: The superiority of prophets (s) and angels over repentance is that their Shafa’a is effective also on the Day of Judgment; while, repentance is only for this world.
  • Angels[2]
  • Religious scholars[3]
  • Martyrs
  • God, the Almighty: Since God is All-merciful, after that intercessors make Shafa’a for people on the Day of Judgment, many people who will be deprived of all intercessors’ Shafa’a will receive God’s Sahfa’a and mercy.[8]
    1)Himyari, Qurb al-isnad, p.64; Qazwini, Sunan ibn maja, vol.2 p.724
    2) Qur’an, 21:28
    3) Himyari, Qurb al-isnad, p.64; Qazwini, Sunan ibn maja, vol.2 p.724
    4) Fayd al-Kashani, ‘Ilm al-yaqin, vol.2 p.1325; Bukhari, Sahih, vol.4 p.392; Majlisi, Bihar al-anwar, vol.8 p.362

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Twelve-significant-points--about-intercessionRequirements of the One to be Interceded for

Shafa’a is the very same forgiveness and mercy of God and God does not exclude anyone from His mercy, but sometimes people fail to receive mercy due to incompetence. Therefore, for Shafa’a, it is necessary that the person for whom intercession is going to be made has the necessary competence.

Due to the educational purpose and avoiding people from being bold in committing sins, the Qur’an and hadiths have not mentioned all the details and requirements for one to be interceded for; however, they have mentioned some necessary requirements.

The most important requirement for one to be interceded for is that God approves of him, “…and they do not intercede except for someone He approves of,…” (21:28)

It is obvious that one who needs Shafa’a of forgiveness because some sins, God does not approve his act; rather, it means that God approves of that person’s religion and beliefs. In other words, the one who is going to be interceded for even if is a sinner and has committed greater sins, he must have not cut his relation with God and leaders of religion.

The Obstacles of Shafa’a

From the Qur’an, it can be understood that some issues are obstacles for benefiting from Shafa’a. Some groups who are deprived of Shafa’a are as follows:

  1. Disbelievers and polytheists
  2. Oppressors
  3. Enemies of the Ahl al-Bayt (a) of the Prophet (s) (Nawasib)
  4. Those who harassed the progeny and children of the Prophet (s)
  5. Deniers of Shafa’a
  6. Traitors
  7. Those who do not take prayer seriously
  8. Deniers of the Wilaya of Imam ‘Ali (a) and other Imams (a)
  9. Hypocrites
  10. Those who abandon prayer[1]

From the verse of the Qur’an, two requirements can be understood for those who are going to be interceded for:

  1. To have taken a covenant with God[2]
  2. To be witness to the truth[3]

1)Jawadi, Ma’ad dar Qur’an, vol.2 p.145
2)Qur’an 19:87
3)Qur’an 43:86



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Twelve-significant-points--about-intercessionTypes of Shafa’a

Shafa’a in Creation and Legislation

Shafa’a in creation means that the origin of any action or effect is God and all other causes and means are only means which deliver God’s mercy to lower levels by His permission. This way, all the causes in the world are intercessors of their effects since they deliver God’s mercy to lower levels. For example, the sun is the intercessor of the wheat grain to make it grow.

In the Glorious Qur’an we read, “To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. Who is it that may intercede with Him except with His permission?” (2:255)

Shafa’a in legislation means that God, out of His mercy, has sent laws for people which guide them and in fact intercede them to enter the paradise. All religious rulings are of this type.

True and False Shafa’a

False Shafa’a is that the wrongdoer acts against the law and influences the will of the lawmaker through an illegal way. Such kind of Shafa’a in this world is an act of oppression and impossible in the hereafter.[1] The objections to Shafa’a are mostly of this kind and this is rejected in the glorious Qur’an as well.

The false Shafa’a originates from the belief in Tafwid [unrestricted human delegation] which is a wrong belief meaning that after creating the world, God delegated its management to others and He has no role in it and thus people would be able to make Shafa’a independently and if one can attract the intercessors’ favor, he would not need God. True Shafa’a as mentioned in the Qur’an which is believed by Shi’a and supported by Imams (a) is that Shafa’a in its wholeness belongs to God and no one can make Shafa’a without His permission.Prophets (s) and Imams’ (a) Shafa’a never means that they have an independent role or that to be privileged by their Shafa’a, one would need to do anything other than what God has ordered. On the contrary, they would only make Shafa’a for someone, God would be pleased with, “…and they do not intercede except for someone He approves of,…” (21:28)

Shafa’a for Forgiveness and Shafa’a for Propmotion

Sometimes, Shafa’a is for promotion which is accepted by all Islamic schools and sometimes, it is for forgiveness of the sins which some schools of Islam such as Mu’tazilites andKharijites reject. These two schools do not accept that Shafa’a would be made about those who commit greater sins and those who are entered to the hell. They says that, “one who has entered the hell would not exit it.”[2]

Someitmes, Shafa’a is about issues in the hereafter, such as the Shafa’a of the Prophet (s) for the sinners on the Day of Judgment and it is sometimes about issues of this world. If some actions are good, Shafa’a for them is also good, and if it is about sins, it is not only bad but also the intercessor needs to take the responsibility for a part of it.[3]
1)Mutahhari, ‘Adl-i ilahi, p.234
2)Ash’ari, Maqalat al-islamiyyin, vol.1 p.168,334; Zamakhshari, al-Kashshaf, vol.1 p.152
3)Qur’an 4:85