Why is intercession important on the path of spiritual learning, and why may it seem controversial? Before we delve into this, however, we must first ask: what exactly is intercession?
Intercession is when Muslims supplicate and seek intercession from the Prophet and his Progeny. It is a common act not just for Muslims but for all religious people. We seek intercession when we do our supplications and ask Allah for him to grant our prayers, but why is it important in spiritual development?
As humans, it is only natural to seek and ask for things that we would like to have, and most of the times these things are materialistic things such as a certain toy for children, a car for the youth, or a house for adults. Everyone has certain materialistic desires or wishes that they want to come into existence, so we ask God for these things. But when we ask God for these things most of the times we seek intercession, and why is that?
The answer is straight forward, so let us put this situation in a scenario. If there is student who wants to ask for a few days off, does that student go to the principal straight away? No, the student goes to the teacher because the teacher has a stronger relationship with the principle than the student does, therefore the request becomes more powerful. This is the same thing with supplications.
Rather than asking God for something straight away, it is better to seek intercession from the individuals that are closest to him, and for certain schools of thought within Islam, these individuals are the Prophet Mohammed and his holy progeny. If the supplication is mostly for materialistic things, then this means that there are some who ask for non-materialistic things and spiritual things fall under that category. If we can ask Allah for spiritual enlightenment, we could empower that supplication through seeking intercession with the selected individuals.
This of course does not mean we are placing these individuals before Allah, and this is where the controversy stems from. When using intercession, we are not replacing Allah with the strength of individuals like the Prophet Mohammed or his holy family – rather in addition to our prayer directly to Allah, we can also seek spiritual guidance from the one who was closest to God Himself, the Holy Prophet Mohammed.
Another aspect to why intercession is important in spiritual development is that we know that there are perfect beings in spirituality which shows that there is no end towards being spiritual. This means that there is always room for improvement and development. When trying to improve, it is important to seek the the selected individuals to be able to ask Allah for you.
Intercession is an act that has been performed by many holy people, including prophets. They supplicated to Allah in the name of the last messenger. As Muslims we take our inspiration in being good believers from the prophets, and try our level best to follow their teachings. For this is what they have been sent for, to teach us the correct actions of prayer, whether in the methodology of supplications or in our fiqh.