Islam visualizes the existence of Jannat (Paradise) which is full of lust, worldly and sensuous pleasures. The idea of Paradise was mainly to lure the then Arabs and Bedouins living under extremely dry environment, devoid of worldly pleasures. Prophet Muhammad- an extremely intelligent, a great visionary and a practical man, realized that to materialize his narcissistic dream he needed to incite them for his theo political objective. In fact, early Islam was sustained by fear of Hell. Many Muslims throughout history are on record saying that Islam survived for so long only due to two factors- death penalty given to apostates (anyone leaving Islam) and fear of Hell.
Since the inception of Islam thousands of Muslim youths have been brainwashed and lured by the incredible lustful description of heavenly houries, wine, delicious foods and luxurious life in Paradise. In Islam, Allah first creates Jannat (Paradise) and then declares achieving it as the highest goal of life. “Only one who is admitted to the Garden (Paradise) will have attained the object of life” (3:187). Then assures Paradise as a reward to a martyr of Jihad, where he will be wedded with seventy-two virgin houries and will also be able to intercede for seventy of his relations for Paradise. Attempt is made here to examine: 1) Who is eligible for Paradise 2) Whether a martyr can intercede for any one else and 3) Whether he can enter into Paradise immediately, after being martyred.
Eligibility of Paradise
First of all the question arises who is eligible for Paradise and how can it be achieved? According to the Quran and Hadiths, the Islamic Paradise can be achieved by four types of persons:
1) One who has accepted Islam as his religion i.e. he must be a Muslim only and not of any other religion.
2) He should have complete faith only in Allah and Muhammad as His Messenger, and in whatever has been commanded in Quran and Hadiths and has acted accordingly while performing righteous deeds throughout his life.
3) One who has cheerfully sold his life and property for waging Jihad in the Way of Allah and fighting against the non-Muslims in exchange of the eternal pleasures of Paradise. And if killed during waging Jihad, he would become a martyr and will have several other special privileges in addition to achieving Paradise.
4) One who may not be directly participating in Jihad, but if associated with any of the activities of Jihad like, motivating, recruiting and training a person for Jihad, equipping him with war materials, supporting financially various Jihadi activities, looking after the family of that who has gone for Jihad till he returns back and even one who is intensely and mentally keen to participate in Jihad though he stays at home.
All persons of the above categories are fully eligible for entry and pleasures of Paradise. But among these a martyr will have the highest rank. In short, both Allah and Prophet Muhammad, appear so keen to entice and allure maximum numbers of their followers for waging Jihad against the non-Muslims and spread of Islam that they are prepared to grant Paradise to anyone associated with any trivial activity concerning Jihad. (For details see our Jihad and Jannat in Hadiths).
Special Privileges of a martyr
In the realm of Islam, a martyr has the highest rank and has been provided several special privileges in the Hadiths as below:
i. Miqdam b. Made kareb reports that the Messenger of Allah said: “A martyr has in the sight of Allah six characteristics:
1) He forgives him at the first gush
2) He will directly go to Paradise
3) He is delivered from the torment of the grave; he is safe from the great alarm (fear)
4) He is made to wear the garment of Faith
5) He will be married to seventy two wives of large dark eyed virgins (of Paradise) and
6) His intercession for seventy persons of his kith and kin will be granted.”
(Majah, Vol 4: 2799, p 159; Mishkat, Vol 2: 44, p 352,Tirmizi)
ii. Abu al Darda reported the Apostle of Allah saying: “The intercession of a martyr will be accepted for seventy members of his family”. (Dawud, Vol 2: 2516, p 699)
Here, out of these six privileges, we are examining only two claims: one that a martyr can intercede for his seventy relations and second he will not have to wait in his grave till the Day of Judgement (Qiyamat) and will enter into Paradise immediately.
Can a Martyr Intercede for Others
It is widely publicized amongst the Muslims that on the Day of Judgement, a martyr will have the privilege to intercede for seventy of his relatives i.e. he can recommend Paradise for them and Allah will accept his recommendations. (Dawud, Vol 2: 2516)
Authority of Intercession rests with Allah Only
An in-depth scrutiny and critical analysis of the Islamic scriptures reveals that on the Day of Judgement only Allah will be the Supreme Master and Judge, and none else; and there will be no intercession, as Islam believes in true justice. In this context Quran says:
(a) “(Allah is the) Master of the Day of Judgement.” (Chapter 1, Verse 4)
(b) “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.” (Chapter 2, Verse 254)
(c) “Ye have none, besides Him, to protect or intercede (for you).” (Chapter 32, Verse 4)
(d) Say, “To Allah belongs exclusively (the right to grant) intercession.” (Chapter 39, Verse 44)
(e) “Give this warning to those in whose (hearts) is the fear that they will be brought (to judgement) before their Lord: except for Him they will have neither protector nor intercessor: that they may guard (against evil).” (Chapter 6, Verse 51)
(f) “It will find for itself no protector or intercessor except Allah.” (Chapter 6, Verse 70)
(g) “Then will no intercession of (any) intercessors profit them.” (Chapter 74, Verse 48)
(h) “Now, then, we have none to intercede (for us).” (Chapter 26, Verse 100)
(i) “No intercessor will they have among their partners, and they will themselves reject their partners.” (Chapter 30, Verse 13)
(j) “Whether you ask for their forgiveness, or not (their sin is unforgivable): if you ask seventy times for their forgiveness, Allah will not forgive them.” (Chapter 9, Verse 80)
The above Quranic injunctions clearly show that on the Day of Judgement only Allah will be the Supreme Judge; and He will decide the fate of every Muslim strictly according to his/her deeds as found in Allah’s records (36:12), with no forgiveness; and will there be no intercession and no intercessor, even the Prophet.
This concept is quite rational and reasonable as Islam believes in full justice to one and all equally; and it strongly negates the doctrine of intercession because it is a form of gross violation and deviation from the path of justice; and is also a great source of injustice. If intercession is accepted by Allah, then all crooks, criminals and con-men who may be relatives of a martyr, will be eligible for Paradise. Thus the doctrine of intercession will be an insult of Allah- the Just God.
Intercession by Allah’s Permission
But to our great surprise, there are some ayats in Quran which reflect that the same Just Allah discriminately allows intercession in case of those whom He pleases as below:
(a) “No intercessor (can plead with Him) except after his leave (has been obtained).” (Chapter 10, Verse 3)
(b) “On that day shall no intercession avail except for those for whom permission has been granted by the Most Gracious and whose word is acceptable to Him.” (Chapter 20, Verse 109)
(c) “No intercession can avail with Him, except for those for whom He has granted permission.” (Chapter 34, Verse 23)
(d) “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.” (Chapter 53, Verse 26)
(e) “None shall have the power of intercession but such a one has received permission (or promise) from (Allah) Most Gracious.” (Chapter 19, Verse 87)
In the above ayats Allah takes a new twist, contradicts Himself and allows intercession by those whom He pleases and permits intercession. But here also, He does not specify the person and category of people whom this privilege is granted. It is not any soul; and is neither any indication of Prophet Muhammad nor of the Martyrs. But this sort of contradiction and authority of Allah is nothing new as we find several deviations and self-contradictions in the Quran.
Prophet Muhammad was Denied Intercession
Probably on the basis of the above ayats, Muhammad hoped to get permission, and will then be the first intercessor on the Day of Judgement. But Allah does not seem to oblige His Messenger to intercede for his own family members. In a Hadith, Muhammad claims: “I will be the first intercessor and the first (person) whose intercession will be accepted (by Allah).” (Sahih Muslim Vol 1 : 5655, p 1478). But in this same Hadith -Sahih Muslim, Muhammad himself accepts that his intercession was not accepted fully even for his mother (Amina) and his all life protector, uncle Abu Talib (who did not accept Muhammad’s religion until the end) as below:
(a) The Prophet said: “I (Muhammad) sought permission (of Allah) to beg forgiveness for my mother, but He did not grant it…(permission) to me.” (Sahih Muslim, Vol 2: 2129, p 557)
(b) Narrated by Abbas b. Abd-al-Muttalib that he said: “Messenger of Allah, have you benefited Abu Talib in anyway for defended you and was fervent in your defense?” The Prophet said: “Yes: he would be in the most shallow part to fire: and but for me he would have been in the lowest part of Hell.” (Sahih Muslim Vol 1: 408, pp 166-167).
Thus Prophet’s intercession was not fully accepted by Allah and the Prophet could not save his own mother and fatherly uncle from the Hell-Fire. It is because the Prophet knew that he had no power of his own as evident from the Quran below:
(a) “I have no power over any good or harm to myself except as Allah willeth. If I had the knowledge of the Unseen, I should have multiplied all good, and no evil should have touched me.” (Chapter 7, Verse 188 of the Holy Quran)
(b) The Messenger of Allah said, “O People of Quarish! Buy yourself from Allah, I cannot avail you at all against Allah: O sons of Abd al-Muttalib, I cannot avail you at all against Allah: O Abbas b Abd al Muttalib I cannot avail you at all against Allah. O Sahiya (aunt of the Messenger of Allah) I cannot avail you at all against Allah; O Fatima, daughter of Muhammad, ask me whatever you like, but I cannot avail you at all against Allah.” (Sahih Muslim, Vol 1: 402, p 165)
Despite this, the Prophet assures his seven thousand (7000) Ummah to intercede for them provided Allah approved his request and he would be the first for this purpose as below:
(i) The Prophet said, “There is for every apostle a prayer which is granted, but every Prophet showed haste in his prayer. I have, however, however reserved my prayer for the intercession of my Ummah on the Day of Resurrection and it would be granted if Allah so willed in case of everyone amongst my Ummah provided he dies without associating anything with Allah.“ (Sahih Muslim Vol 1: 389, p 162)
(ii) The Prophet said, “Seventy thousand people of my Ummah would be admitted into Paradise without rendering any account. They (the companions) said: Who would be those (fortunate persons)? He (the Holy Prophet) said, “Those who do not cauterize and practice charm but repose trust in their Lord.” (Sahih Muslim Vol. 1: 422, pp 169-170).
(iii) The Prophet said, “I would be the first among people to intercede in the Paradise and amongst the apostles I would have the largest following (on the Day of Resurrection)”. (Sahih Muslim Vol 1: 381, p 161)
From the above hadiths it can be broadly concluded that:
1) Intercession even of Prophet Muhammad was not accepted by Allah and will not be accepted of anybody else without the approval of Allah.
2) However, if approved by Allah, the Messenger of Allah will be the first person whose intercession will be accepted and not of anybody else; and that too will be on the Day of Judgement and not before it.
3) Intercession of a martyr, even if approved by Allah, will be accepted after Muhammad on the Day of Judgement and not before it.
It is neither surprising nor illogical, if Prophet Muhammad’s intercession was not accepted by Just Allah, before the Day of Judgement because as per our studies of the Quran, Allah had not allowed the permission and authority to Muhammad to intercede in his personal matter and also those of his relatives and followers including the martyrs. And it is quite rational and logical as per the doctrine of Justice in Islam. Yet the Muslim apologists go on harping on the intercessory powers of Prophet Muhammad and the jehadi martyrs.
In the Quran, no forgiveness is enjoined to anybody but in a Hadith Prophet Muhammad is claimed to seek forgiveness for himself from Allah.
“Aisha reported that Allah’s Messenger at the time of breathing his last was reclining against her chest and she was learning over him and listening to him as he was saying: O Allah, grant me pardon, show mercy to me, enjoin me to companions (on High)” (Sahih Muslim Vol 4: 5986, p 1564)
In this context Anwar Shaikh rightly comments: “It is obvious that a person who himself needs mercy and begs for it, is in no position to intercede for others.” (Islamic Jihad by Anwar Shaikh, page 72). It may not be lost sight of the fact that Muhammad was also a man and a mortal. he lived like a man and died as a man and was buried like a common man in his grave. The Quran says: “Truly you will die (one day), and truly they (too) will die (one day). In the End will you (all) dispute on the Day of Judgement in the presence of your Lord?” (Chapter 39, verses 30-31)
Not only this, he is subject to God’s punishment like all other mortals. While quoting the Quran, Anwar Shaikh writes, “Set not up with God another God, or you (Muhammad) will be cast into Gehenna (Jahannum i.e. Hell), reproached and condemned.” (Chapter 17,Verse 39 of the Quran quoted in Islam and Human Rights by Anwar Shaikh, p 73) This indicates that Prophet Muhammad will also be judged and resurrected like any common man and therefore, he will have no intercessory authority, what to say of a martyr.
Can a Martyr Enter Paradise Immediately?
The Quran is silent on this issue except when it says:
1) “Think not of those who are slain in Allah’s cause as dead, Nay, they are alive, finding sustenance in the presence of their Lord.” (Chapter 3, Verse 169)
2) And say not of those who are slain in the way of Allah: “They are dead”. May they are living though you perceive it not.” (Chapter 2 Verse 154).
This is ambiguous in several respects.
However according to the Hadith referred earlier (Majah 4: 2799) a martyr will have not to wait in his grave; and is shown his abode in Paradise only. Thus he does not enter into the Paradise immediately but is shown his abode therein.
Further a close examination of various hadiths indicates that a martyr and even the Prophet will have to wait till the Day of Judgement as below:
a. The Messenger of Allah said: The first group will enter Paradise on the Resurrection Day with shining faces like the brightness of the moon in the full moon light and the second group like mot shining and resplendent star in the firmament.” (Mishkat, Vol 4: 23, p 167)
b. Sulaiman b. Yasar heard the Prophet saying: “The first of men (whose case) will be decided on the Day of Judgement will be a man who died as a martyr.” (Sahih Muslim Vol 3: 4688, p 1270)
c. Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah said, “Surely the first men who will be brought for the Judgement on the Resurrection Day will be one who was (well known as) a martyr. He will be brought and be reminded of favors on him, which he will recognize. Then he will ask, what did you do therein? He will reply: I fought for you till I was martyr. (Mishkat Vol 1 : 114 page 411)
d. Imam Muslim writes, “Ibn Umar reported that Allah’s Apostle said: ‘When a person dies, he is shown his seat in morning and evening. If he is one among the inmates of Paradise, he is shown his seat in Paradise and if he is amongst the denizens of Hell Fire, he is shown his seat in Hell-Fire. Then it is said to him “That is your seat where you be sent on the Day of Resurrection.”‘” (Sahih Muslim, Vol 4: 6858 page 1795)
e. The Prophet said, “Amongst the apostles, I would have the largest following on the Day of Judgement and I would be the first to knock at the door of Paradise.” (Sahih Muslim Vol 1: 382, p 181)
f. The Messenger of Allah said, “I will come to the gate of Paradise on the Day of Resurrection and would seek its opening, and the keeper would say: ‘Who are you?’ I would say: ‘Muhammad.’ He would then say ‘It is for you that I have been ordered and not to open it for anyone before you.’ “ (Sahih Muslim Vol 1: 384, page 161)
All the above hadiths clearly confirm that:
1) Even the first batch of martyrs and inmates of Paradise will enter on the Day of Judgement.
2) The martyrs will be shown only their place in Paradise but they would enter only on the Day of Judgement, and not immediately.
3) Prophet Muhammad will be the first person to reach at the gate of Paradise which will not be opened to anybody else before him.
4) Even he will also have to wait till the Day of Judgement. Hence no martyr will enter immediately after martyrdom and will enter only after Muhammad on the Day of Judgement.
Now the question arises: How long a devout Muslim or a martyr will have to wait for Paradise? The Muslims of early Islamic period became impatient to know from Prophet Muhammad the exact time when the Day of Judgment would be. In this context the Quran says: “They ask you (Muhammad) about the final Hour- when will be it appointed time? Say (O Muhammad): The knowledge thereof is with my Lord (alone); none but He can reveal as to when it will occur: Heavy were its burden through the heavens and the earth, only, all of a sudden will it come to you.” (Chapter 7, Verse 187).
Thus Prophet Muhammad expressed his ignorance about the time of Day of Judgement. However, the Quran and Hadiths describe the various damaging and alarming conditions in the world and moral degradation in people, but give no exact time of the Day of Judgement. In short, it will be sudden.
Hence, there is the complete uncertainty about the exact date and time of Day of Judgement and so is the uncertainty of getting Paradise by a martyr and a pious Muslim; and till that time, all Muslims will remain buried in their graves.
Surprisingly this idea has a resemblance with the idea of the Day of Judgement of Christianity where Jesus also did not know the exact Day of Judgement. Bible says, “But of the Day of Judgement and the Hours knoweth no man, not the angels which are in the Heaven, neither the Son (Jesus), but the Father.” (Mark 13: 32-33)
Besides this there is another problem due to the explanation given by the Prophet of the Quranic Ayats (3:169) on martyrdom referred earlier. In this context Imam Muslim writes in his Hadith:
“The followers asked the meaning of the Ayat: ‘Think not those who are slain in of their Lord….” (3:169). The Prophet said: “The souls of the martyrs live in the bodies of green birds who have their nests in chandeliers hung from the throne of the Almighty. They eat fruits of Paradise from wherever they like and then nestle in the chandeliers. Once their Lord asked them, “Do you want anything?”….Then Lord asked them the same question thrice, then they said: “O Lord! We wish that you may return our souls to our bodies so that we may be slain in Your way once again.” (Sahih Muslim Vol 3, No 4651, p 1261) In the note no 2345 of this Hadith the editor explains that this idea of the soul in the body of the bird is found in Jewish Encyclopedia as “The souls of righteous live like birds in cages guarded by angels. The souls of the martyrs have a special place in Heaven.” (Vol VI, p 566).
While commenting on this topic Serge Trifkovic writes:
“The reports both in the Quran and the Hadith concerning Paradise, the houris, and the silk-adorned youths, the jinn and the angel of death have been directly taken from the ancient books of the Zoroastrians.” (W. St. Clair Tisdall, Sources of Islam). “The Persians have also originated the story that on the Day of Judgement all people will have to cross a bridge stretched across hell leading to Paradise, on which the unbelievers will stumble and fall”. (The Sword of the Prophet by Serge Trifkovic , p 70)
If, according to Prophet Muhammad, “The souls of martyrs live in the bodies of green birds”, then how can a martyr become a youth of 33 years with virility of 100 men to enjoy seventy-two maidens provided so generously to each inmate of the Paradise?
The aforementioned evidences lead us to conclude that on the Day of Judgement there would be no intercession and no one can intercede except Allah, and neither Muhammad nor any angel or martyr of Jihad is authorized to intercede for any one for Paradise. It is so because intercession is totally against the basic doctrine of Justice in Islam. And yet this is contradicted many times in the Hadiths and also in the Quran as we have seen. So when the Quran and the Hadiths themselves cant properly tell what exactly is the scope of Intercession, then how can one assume that Islam is true?
Moreover, even if we presume for a moment that Allah may permit intercession to whoever He pleases, it is not likely to be executed before the Day of Judgement whose time is unknown even to the Prophet, and only Allah knows. Hence intercession is quite uncertain. Further Allah, in Quran does not specify that he would authorize a martyr of Jihad to intercede for his seventy relatives as claimed in Hadith. Therefore possession of intercedary powers by a martyr or any human soul is unfounded and is a myth as the Quran explicitly says: “It will be the Day when no soul shall have power to do aught for another: for command that Day will be wholly with Allah.” (Chapter 82, Verse 19). Hence claiming any sort of intercession by a martyr of Jihad is not only against the basic commands of Quran but is also an insult of Allah- the Lord of Justice.
Further the Hadiths confirm that a martyr will be shown only his seat in Paradise but his entry will be only after the Prophet on the Day of Judgement (Qiyamat) and not immediately. Till that day he will have to wait in his grave. Since the time and date of Day of Judgement is quite uncertain and unknown, so is the entry of a martyr, a Jihadi an Islamist or a righteous Muslim into Paradise in uncertain. Hence Paradise is a MIRAGE for the Muslims. Note how many contradictions we have seen in all this- having zero intercession powers at times, partial intercession and whole intercession (for Muhammad only). From all these mistakes and contradictions it should be very obvious that JANNAT IS A MIRAGE.