Addressing prayers to the Prophet

Q17 :1. Is it true that to pray Allah to forgive our sins taking into consideration the love and affection Allah bears to the Prophet is a form of polytheism? I am at a loss to understand how it could be so. How then can we ask the Prophet on the day of judgement to plead for us, when Allah Himself is ever closer of access to us on that day? 2. It is our belief that the Prophet will make on the day of judgement recommendations to Allah for the forgiveness of his followers. Keeping this in mind, it is appropriate to supplicate and request the Prophet to recommend us for forgiveness? Could you also please explain whether there are differences of opinion among leading scholars in this respect, i.e., addressing Allah through an intermediary.

A17 : The first point which I would like to make regarding this question, which comes up time after time, is: Who needs an intermediary? Allah Himself tells us in the Qur'an that He is near to us and that He always answers prayers by His servants. He instructs the Prophet in the following term: "If My servants ask you about Me, I am near, I answer the prayer of anyone who prays to Me. Let them, then, respond to Me and belive in Me so that they may be rightly guided."(2:186). We also read in the Qur'an "Your Lord says: Pray to Me and I will respond to you."(40:60) There are several verses in the Qur'an which emphasize the fact that Allah answers prayers when we pray to Him. Furthermore, the instructions to address Him directly are very clear in the Qur'an and the Sunnah. Therefore, who needs an intermediary? Muslim scholars and those non-Muslims who study Islam agree that one of the sources of strength of the faith of Islam is the direct relationship it establishes between every individual and Allah. You are undoubtedly aware that Islam does not establish or recognize any clerical order. Individual responsibility is a fundamental principle of Islam and its correlation is the direct access which Islam establishes between the individual and his Lord. Furthermore, Islam tells us that our salvation in the hereafter depends on our actions. The Prophet tells his own daughter: "Fatima, work (for your salvation), because I will be of no benefit to you in front of Allah." Ask yourself: when do you need an intermediary to achieve a certain end? The answer will be that an intermediary may be needed when you do not have a direct access to the person to whom you want to put your case, or when your position in relation to him is very weak. In the latter case, you seek the help of someone who has some influence on the person concerned. Does either type apply to Allah? The answer is definitely not. It is an aspect of Allah's grace that He has given every single one of us direct access to Him. We address Him with our prayers, whether these prayers relate to matters of this world or of the hereafter. He listens to us and answers all our prayers. Moreover, in relation to Allah, we have an equal standing. It is our actions that draw us closer to Him. When any person addresses Allah, with sincerity and humility, he is certain to have his prayers answered. Indeed, Allah answers the prayers of people who may have been a short while earlier non-believers. The point is when they address Him, they recognize his Lordship over them and over the whole universe. When they seek His help they also recognize that the God-head belongs to Him. At that very moment of praying to Him, they, either directly or indirectly, believe in Him and in His power. He gives us in the Qur'an the example of the people who find themselves in a boat in the sea, and fierce wind blows and they are about to drown. At that moment, they pray to Him with total sincerity and devotion: Save us and we will ever be thankful to You. He saves them, but they nevertheless turn away from Him.(11:22) He also describes himself as the One "Who responds to a person in dire need when he prays to Him" (26:62) It is to be noted that this last description comes within the context of enumerating some of the most prominent of Allah's attributes. He does not describe Himself as answering the prayers of believers, but of those who are in dire need. The only requirement is that they recognize His Lordship over them, and the fact that they address their prayers to Him is such recognition. When we realize that by addressing a prayer to Allah we are demonstrating our recognition of His Lordship over the universe, it stands to reason that addressing our prayers through an intermediary is a form of associating an intermediary to Allah as a partner. Allah accepts no partners. He says in a qudsi hadith: "I am in no need of any partner. I abandon anyone who associates a partner with Me. He can take what he wants from that partner."

Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )