How do we know there is a Day of Judgement?


There is a very deliberate nature to the world around us. Every single thing, from a mountain to a sea, from a star to an atom, is governed by laws. When contemplating the wondrous universe, it is obvious that there was deliberation, intention, and purpose to creation, to our creation. A given purpose also means that there is an expectation for how one lives, and that there must be a way to be held accountable and rewarded. God has created a set of physical and spiritual laws by which all creation is bound: physical laws such as gravity, and spiritual laws such as rewarding good and punishing evil. The physical laws are very apparent in the world around us. However, the spiritual laws are not always quite so visible. Given that both laws were created and are maintained by the same God, why is there a difference in their application? This world does not have the capacity to bring all spiritual laws to fruition. This world is limited by time. Each creation is bound by the span of its own life, making it impossible to mete out justice for every good or evil done. Thus, there must be another time, another place where God shall carry out His justice. This time and place is the Day of Judgement.

Full Answer

Judgement as an Extension of Tawhid

Once the existence of an all-powerful and knowledgeable God is recognized, so too is His role in creation. All that has been created from the numerous stars and galaxies, to the mountains and seas, to the various creatures, everything down to the minute atom has been created with deliberation and is bound by laws that regulate their functioning. It is illogical to presume that this wondrous system has been created without a purpose, as it does not befit a wise creator to act without purpose (Lari, n.d.). In the Quran, Allah (s) Himself speaks to the intentionality behind His creation by saying, “We did not create as a game the heavens and the earth and all they contain; We created them in justice and in accordance with wisdom, but most men know not” (The Quran 44:38-39). Here, He calls on the reader to think about how the justice and wisdom seen in creation are indicative of the fact that the creation has a higher purpose, that it was not made as a game. If Allah (s) created this world as a transient place where one can exercise free will and is expected to live a certain way, then there must be a way for one to be held accountable. There must be a way for one to be rewarded for making the right decisions and face the consequences for one’s wrong choices.

The same God who created the physical realities of the world and the physical laws that govern existence, such as fire-burning and gravity, created the spiritual realities of existence too. Allah (s) has prescribed a religion for His creation and decreed that kindness will be returned with kindness and that being unjust will bring harm unto oneself. The physical laws are very observably consistent, while the application of the spiritual laws is not as apparent. However, given that both sets of laws were created and are maintained by the same All-Powerful Being, it only makes sense that they are applied in the same manner. If the physical laws are unchangeable, the spiritual laws must be so as well. Thus, it stands to reason that God’s promise of justice will come to fruition at a later point in time if it has not already (Rizvi, 1994). Note that the when and where of how this judgement will come to pass cannot entirely be reasoned out. Thus, the guidance of God through His divinely appointed representatives is required to clarify the specifics of humanity’s accounting (Rizvi, 1994). Through this guidance, it is understood that the justice of God will be served in the form of the Day of Judgement.

Why Judgement in the Next Life?

A good question that comes to mind is, why must God’s justice occur in the next life in the form of a day of judgement, rather than now? To put it simply, the world as one knows it has a limited capacity to reward all good and punish all wrongs. 

The constraint of time: The finite and unidirectional nature of time that structures this world limits its capacity to mete out justice (Lari, n.d.). Not all consequences (positive or negative) can take place during one’s lifespan. If they were to be limited in this way, then what justice would there be for one who spent their life in the service of others? Surely the good they did is equal to multiple lifetimes, for they have touched many lives. 

Accounting for one’s last day: If all justice were to be dispensed in this lifetime, how would all the deeds done on the last day of one’s life be rewarded? It is not possible. Thus, there needs to be a time independent of this life where all of one’s actions can be separately weighed and rewarded.

God’s role in this world and free will: As God has gifted humans with free will-the ability to make their own decisions-judgement becomes necessary in the next life. This world is influenced by the free will of humans and God does not interfere with their actions. If He were to completely mete out justice, this would remove from the free will one has. Directly serving justice or directly removing injustice from the world is a limitation on one’s free will, as it removes their ability to make choices (Lari, n.d.)

True justice requires absolute knowledge and power: There is no creation with the authority or knowledge to fairly reward all virtues, or allocate retribution for all wrongs, because no one has complete knowledge of all actions, the intentions behind them, and their complete outcomes (Lari, n.d.). Even if there was a creation with this knowledge, they would also need the power to mete out justice. There is no creation with these abilities. This further supports the need for a day of judgement in which God, the all-knowing and all-powerful, can reward every, “atom’s weight of good” (The Quran 99:7) and punish every “atom’s weight of evil” (The Quran 99:8).

Putting It Together

God created a deliberate system in his infinite power and wisdom. Recognizing this, it only makes sense to think that God has given humans a purpose and placed expectations on how one should exercise his or her free will. If expectations are placed, there will be a time for accounting and judgement as well, so that recognition can be given to those who struggled in God’s way. Allah (s) honours the believers by acknowledging that one who believes is not like one who does not (The Quran 32:18), and thereafter treats each group differently. This system of reward and punishment is a promise of God which cannot be entirely fulfilled in this world due to its limitations. Thus, one knows that there must be a day of judgement where justice will take place. Note that it is important to remember that God is He who introduces Himself as Merciful and that the truth and infinite nature of God’s mercy will never change. Even in one’s death and the next world, God is still the Loving and Merciful Lord who brought about one’s creation, nurturing, sustenance, and guidance. Thus, in His justice, there is also mercy and beauty.


Lari, S. M. M. (n.d.). Resurrection, Judgement and the Hereafter: Lessons on Islamic Doctrine.   

(H. Algar, Trans.; Vol. 1). Islamic Education Center.

Rizvi, S. S. A.  (1994). Day of Judgement (4th ed.). Bilal Muslim Mission of Tanzania.

How Can a Good God Punish Us?


God doesn’t punish us because He is evil or wants revenge. Though punishment may seem harsh, there are individualistic and societal benefits to it. In Islam, every action – whether large or small – is accounted for in the Hereafter. Punishment exists in order to promote good behaviour in this world, and to hold individuals accountable for their actions. At the same time, God is also merciful alongside being just, which can be demonstrated in the way God amplifies a person’s good deeds, but not their bad deeds. While bad deeds are accounted for at a 1:1 value, good deeds are rewarded tenfold. All in all, divine punishment is not given out lightly, but when it is given, it befits the individual that faces it.

Full Answer

God is good, and part of being good entails being just. Each person should be held accountable for their actions, whether they be positive or negative. Every action in this world has a consequence, both in this world and in the next. The fact that one might receive punishment is not because God is evil or intends harm. Rather, it is part of His justice. Without this justice, an oppressor would not be held accountable for their misdeeds, which could suggest that God is not good because He does not hold people accountable for how they use their free will. Some punishment is necessary for God to be a ‘good’ God. At the same time, God is also merciful alongside being just, which can be demonstrated in the way God amplifies a person’s good deeds, but not their bad deeds. While bad deeds are accounted for at a 1:1 value, good deeds are rewarded tenfold, as God tells humans, “He that doeth good shall have ten times as much to his credit: He that doeth evil shall only be recompensed according to his evil…” (The Quran 6:160). It is important to discuss the purposes and benefits of punishment, explain punishment in this world versus in the hereafter, and touch on how some philosophers argue that eternal punishment could be considered a mercy in itself. 

Both Muslim (Mutahhari, 2020/1970) and non-Muslim (Miethe et al., 2005) writings agree that punishments have healing effects for the victims and benefits for the perpetrator. The most prominent reasons for using punishment are for retribution of the oppressed, future crime deterrence, rehabilitation of the perpetrator, and restoration for all parties involved (Miethe et al., 2005). Punishments in this world are important because crime has an immediate negative impact on society, and punishment helps prevent crime from reoccurring while paving the way for the growth and rehabilitation of society. For this reason, Islam dictates certain punishments for crimes like adultery, slander, and murder, that are to be applied in this world. In addition to worldly punishments, however, there is also a dimension of punishment described in Islam that is meant specifically for the hereafter. In the Quran, Allah (s) describes the Day of Judgement as:​​ “The day when every soul will find present whatever good it has done; and as for the evil, it has done, it will wish there were a far distance between it and itself” (The Quran 3:30). He also says, “On that day, mankind will issue forth in various groups to be shown their deeds. So, whoever does an atom’s weight of good will see it, and whoever does an atom’s weight of evil will see it” (The Quran 99:6-8).

Ayatullah Mutahhari explains this by saying that every deed has an earthly and a spiritual dimension, such that when one performs a deed in this world, it has a spiritual representation that will present itself back to oneself in the Hereafter (Mutahhari, 2020/1970). The spiritual representation is part of the essence of the deed itself.

One might ask, what is the point of punishment in the Hereafter? In this world, it makes sense to incarcerate someone dangerous to protect society and deter individuals from committing a crime in the future. But the Hereafter is not a realm for performing further deeds, nor does society need protecting, nor does God have a need for revenge. So, what is the point of Hell other than eternal pain for someone with no power to change their situation? 

First of all, Islam teaches that on the day of judgement, God’s mercy will be present as well as His justice: there will be chances for people to forgive each other and have reconciliations, and chances for intercession by Prophets, Imams and others (Rizvi, 1994). At the same time, a person’s deeds do not end with one’s death – while one cannot perform further deeds themselves, their deeds’ repercussions can continue to have an effect on the record, whether positive or negative. Thus the records continue to be written even after death (think of those who started schools for the impoverished, creating a positive ripple effect for generations after their passing; or alternatively, those who initiated massacres, impacting victims negatively even after their own demise). It is only fair that final judgements cannot be made until the records of all humans across time have concluded (Rizvi, 1994). 

Most Islamic scholars and philosophers believe that Hell and its punishment are eternal. This viewpoint of eternal punishment stems from the Quranic verse, “Indeed, the criminals will be in the punishment of Hell, abiding eternally” (The Quran 43:74). It is commonly accepted that not all who go to Hell will remain in it for eternity: however, some sinners will abide in Hell forever, as proven by verses in the Quran. 

When considering the Hereafter though, the first point to consider is that eternity would feel ‘normal’. Everything in the Hereafter is eternal – souls, the environment, and experiences. The laws of physics and ephemerality experienced in this world do not apply there. So although it may be unfathomable to endure something eternal right now, one may find some comfort in the fact that one is not supposed to fully understand it until one makes it there.

A viewpoint of Mulla Sadra and Ibn Sina was that the punishment in the Hereafter is for those who are not yet psychologically or spiritually ready to enjoy the fruits of Heaven. For example, a jealous person in heaven would see others with plenty of rewards and would not enjoy his or her own reward, but would find pain in that situation. If the punishment of Hell is a manifestation of the soul being distanced from God, as is the view held by Sadra, then the punishment would not be eternal because the soul must eventually reach proximity to God, making the experience a part of God’s mercy (Rustom, 2017). 

It is worth noting that punishment in the Hereafter is not given out lightly. It is only for those who have deliberately done sins of great magnitude, and do not repent for them. There are many opportunities in this life to turn back to God and seek repentance for one’s deeds, as well as to make amends with anyone one has hurt. Indeed many times in the Quran God reminds humans to take advantage and seek repentance before it is too late, and that He is always with them, ready to forgive those that ask for it. A supporting verse from the Quran:

Say [that Allah declares,] ‘O My servant who have committed excesses against their own souls, do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Indeed Allah will forgive all sins…. Turn Penitently to Him and submit to Him before the punishment overtakes you…’ (The Quran 39:53-54)

From these points, one sees that (1) there is justice behind punishment, (2) there are benefits to punishment in this world for the perpetrator and for society, (3) the inhabitants of Hell are meant to dwell there, and may in fact find it suitable and appropriate, (4) there are many opportunities to seek forgiveness in this world to avoid the punishment of the Hereafter.


Miethe, T. D., Miethe, of C. J. T., & Lu, H. (2005). Punishment: A Comparative Historical Perspective. Cambridge University Press.

Mutahhari, M. (2020, June 10). Divine Justice (S. H. Abidi, M. Alidina, S. A. Mirza, Trans.). (Original work published 1970).

Rizvi, S. S. A.  (1994). Day of Judgement (4th ed.). Bilal Muslim Mission of Tanzania.Rustom, M. (2017). A Philosopher’s Itinerary for the Afterlife: Mullā Ṣadrā on Paths to Felicity. In Roads to Paradise: Eschatology and Concepts of the Hereafter in Islam (2 vols.) (pp. 534–551). Brill.

What is the Book of Deeds?


The book of deeds is a record of all the deeds a human being performs in their lifetimes, and is the basis for which people are held accountable by Allah on the Day of Judgement. While some scholars believe that the ‘book’ of deeds may not necessarily be a physical book, but rather a metaphorical explanation for the record of one’s deeds, it is possible to explain the book of deeds as being a physical record of the actions we performed in this world. Overall, the Quranic descriptions of the Day of Judgement may seem to ignite fear in one’s heart, but it serves the purpose of bringing awareness of the future to the believers, allowing them to act accordingly in this world. 

Full Answer

What is the Book of Deeds?

In simple terms, the book of deeds is a record of all the deeds a human being performs in their lifetime on the basis of which they are held accountable by Allah (s) on the Day of Judgement. 

Allah (s) says in the Quran, “And most surely there are keepers over you. Honourable recorders, they know what you do” (The Quran 82:10-12). 

“And We have made every man’s actions to cling to his neck, and We will bring forth to him on the resurrection day a book which he will find wide open: Read your book; your own self is sufficient as a reckoner against you this day” (The Quran, 17:13-14). 

According to these verses, it is clear that Allah (s) has appointed angels to be the recorders of the actions  of every human being during this lifetime. The words, “every man’s actions clinging to his neck” (The Quran 17:13-14) here can remind us that just as a person cannot survive being separated from their neck, the records of one’s deeds will never be separated from him or her until the Day of Judgement, where they will be able to witness what it was that they did in this life. It reminds one of the inseparability of one’s deeds from oneself when it comes to accountability in front of Allah (s). This in itself is an example of God’s justice. 

Is the Book of Deeds a Physical Book?

The word “book” in the above verse may raise the question of whether this record signifies a physical book in which the deeds of a human being are recorded? Some scholars believe that it is symbolic of one’s deeds in their complete form, embodied exactly how they were done in this world. On the other hand, others believe that based on the Quranic verses above, the term “book” can simply be understood as a physical “record” of our deeds. Given the amount of information physical handheld electronic devices can store in the twenty-first century, envisioning an even more advanced physical record that holds all one’s deeds seems quite plausible and can easily be comprehended.

The Quran also states, “And the Book shall be placed, then you will see the guilty fearing from what is in it, and they will say: Ah! woe to us! what a book is this! it does not omit a small one nor a great one, but numbers them (all); and what they had done they shall find present (there); and your Lord does not deal unjustly with anyone” (The Quran 18:49). This means that on the Day of Judgement, the deeds of a human being will be presented to them in a way whereby they will be able to observe what happened as if it were currently taking place (Amini, 2011). In this way, the veil would be lifted off of the eyes of the human being and they would not be able to deny any detail.

Putting Understanding Into Practice

These verses are not meant to solely ignite fear within one’s heart, but to encourage human beings to become aware of the importance and weight of every action carried out in this lifetime. While this allows one to remove themselves from ignorance, it is also important to recognize the compassion, mercy, and forgiveness of Allah (s) and turn to Him through repentance. 

“And Allah makes you to be cautious of (retribution from) Himself; and Allah is Compassionate to the servants”.

The Quran 3:30


Amini, I. (2011). Resurrection (Ma’ad) in the Quran.

Gulpaygani, A. R. (2015). Discursive Theology (Volume 2). 

Who Will Be Witnesses for or Against Us on the Day of Judgement? 


The Quran describes various people and items that will be used as witnesses for one’s actions on the Day of Judgement. These are: Allah himself, one’s body parts, the prophets and friends of God, and one’s own deeds. The purpose of these witnesses is to provide evidence for each individual of the deeds they performed, leaving no room for denial or refutation of their sins.

Full Answer

Who Will Be Witnesses for or Against Us on the Day of Judgement? 

The Quran describes a detailed series of witnesses that will be present on the Day of Judgement to testify the good and bad deeds each person has performed. What is the purpose of these witnesses? The witnesses are not there because God needs them in order to execute justice. They are there for the sake of the individuals being judged, to show in as much detail to each person exactly what they performed in their lifetime, leaving no room for denial or refutation.

The Quran describes people and items which will be used as witnesses for a person’s actions on the Day of Judgement. It mentions:

  1. Allah Himself
  2. One’s body parts – hands, feet, eyes, ears, skin
  3. Prophets, martyrs, and friends of God
  4. One’s own deeds

Allah (SWT)

First and foremost, God is, and always will be, a witness to every action done in this world. This is in accordance with his Omniscience. God says, “Why do they not believe in the signs of God? He is a witness to all that you do” (The Quran 3:98). On the Day of Judgement, people will deny the account of their sins and “swear lyingly”, fearing punishment (Lari, 1992). This is mentioned in the verse, “On the day when God shall resurrect them all and they will swear lyingly to God as they once swore lyingly to you” (The Quran 58:18). According to Tafsir al-Qummi, it is at this point that God will place a seal on their tongues and cause their body parts to testify about what they have done (Lari, 1992).There will be no way to deny this testament.

One’s Body Parts

The Quran describes that a person’s own body parts will testify against them about the actions they committed and be used as witnesses. It mentions, “Let them fear a day on which their tongues, their hands and their feet shall bear testimony against them” (The Quran 24:24). 

It also says:

“… their ears, their eyes and the skin on their bodies shall testify to the sins they have committed. They will address their limbs in astonishment, saying, ‘How do you testify concerning our deeds?’ They will answer, ‘God who gave speech to all creatures has also given us speech. First He created you, and now He brings you back to Him. You concealed your ugly deeds not in order that your ears, eyes and skins should not give witness today, but because you imagined God unaware of what you hid from other men. It is this groundless assumption that has brought about your perdition, for today you are in the ranks of the losers.’” (The Quran 41:19-23)

God will give a person’s body parts speech, and the sinners will stand, astonished, in response to the testimonies presented to them.

Prophets, Martyrs, and Friends of God

The Quran also mentions that those who are in proximity to God, namely the Prophets and friends of God, will also bear witness to the actions done by the people that lived amongst them. This is mentioned in the verse:

“The earth will shine with the light of its Lord. The record of men’s deeds will be brought forth and the prophets and the martyrs shall be summoned to bear witness and judge among men so that none shall be wronged” (The Quran 39:69).

The Quran 39:69

The fact that these individuals are able to bear testimony indicates that they had a certain special awareness in this world, that they were able to observe – with understanding – the actions of ordinary people. Notably, this status is reserved specifically for those whose souls are near to God and have been gifted with the ability to understand the inner and outer aspects of the deeds of others (Lari, 1992).

One’s Deeds

On the Day of Judgement, each person’s deeds will take on a physical form, present themselves to their owner, and bear testimony. This is alluded to in the verse, “On the day of resurrection they will find whatever they have done confronting them” (The Quran 18:49). Another verse mentions that, “There will be a day on which everyone who has done a good deed will find it confronting him, and those who have done evil will wish that it were kept far distant from them. God warns you against His punishment for He is in truth compassionate toward His servants” (The Quran 3:30). From this, it is evident that both good deeds and bad deeds will be presented on that Day, and there will be no way to deny them or make them disappear.

The Day of Judgement will be a time for everyone to account for their deeds – both good and bad. Witnesses will be present to provide testaments to the deeds performed.


Lari, S. M. M. (1992). Resurrection, Judgement and the Hereafter. Foundation of Islamic Cultural Propagation in the World.

How Can Body Parts Testify Against a Person?


A central aspect of the belief in the afterlife is responsibility for one’s beliefs and actions in this world. The Quran inculcates this sense of responsibility by reminding people that they are being watched by their organs and that all their deeds are being recorded. Allah is all-Powerful and He can have the body parts testify against a person in a non-verbal manner because the body parts are not spiritually dead. One’s body parts exist, therefore they have the ability to witness reality and testify against the self. 


  1. Many verses of the Quran mention that one’s body parts will testify against a person on the day of judgement 
  2. One’s body parts will testify against oneself in a non-verbal manner
  3. Allah is all-Powerful and has the ability to do things beyond humans’ limited imagination
  4. Human body parts are not spiritually dead
  5. Shahadah (witness) involves two things: witnessing what happened and testifying to what was witnessed
  6. Everything that exists has the ability to witness the reality

Full Answer

There are numerous verses of the Quran that support the claim that one’s body parts can testify against him or her through the will and power of Allah (s). In the Holy Quran, Allah (s) states “That Day, We shall seal up their mouths, and their hands will speak to Us, and their legs will bear witness to what they used to earn” (36:65). In Surah Yāsīn, Allah (s) highlights how he will cause the body parts to testify on the day of resurrection. On the Day of Judgement, the testimony given by one’s body parts will reveal the hidden sins that an individual committed during their life in the temporary world. 

Sayyid Abdul Husayn Dastghaib Shirazi mentions that on the Day of Judgement, one’s body parts will testify against them in a non-verbal manner. 

“The Almighty Lord of the Worlds Who made His Might manifest in this manner will make your fingers talk on the Day of Judgement. What difference is there between this part of the body and that? Do you remember that with this very finger you had pointed to such and such person to humiliate him? Or what you wrote, holding a pen by these fingers. You had misused these fingers to slap a believer. It is narrated that even the hair on one’s body will begin to speak and testify.”

Shirazi, 2014

One’s fingers and other body parts will testify against oneself and recall one’s sins on the Day of Judgement in a non-verbal manner (Shirazi, 2014). Allah has not given them a tongue to physically speak and voice coherent words; however, that doesn’t prevent them from testifying. On the Day of Judgement, each body part will recall one’s sins and bad actions in a non-verbal manner using the specific body part. No matter how much an individual tries to hide their bad deeds or deny them committing the sin, the body parts will be a witness as they recall one’s sins in front of Allah (s). 

Many people question the argument of one’s body parts testifying against a person on the Day of Judgement because of its physical limitations. However, Allah (s) is all-Powerful and all-wise. He is capable of doing things that defy the laws of physics and that may not make sense to people in this temporary world but are a reality in the Hereafter. Therefore, if one accepts the power and wisdom of Allah, one must accept the possibility of one’s body parts testifying against oneself on Judgement Day.

Humans’ body parts are not spiritually dead, therefore they have the ability to testify against a person. Scholars emphasize that the object couldn’t have been dead for it to be a mouthpiece (Raja, 2018). If the object or body part was dead then it wouldn’t have the ability to testify against a person. 

In Islam, scholars emphasize that Shahadah, the act of witnessing, involves two main criteria. The first criterion is to witness what happened. The second criterion is to testify in regard to what was witnessed (Raja, 2018). Similarly, throughout life, one’s body parts have witnessed a person committing numerous sins. To rightfully witness in the eyes of God, one’s body parts must testify and explain what they witnessed. Given that Allah is Adil (just), it would be against His justice if He allowed the body parts to witness the sin yet, not be able to testify for it on the Day of Judgement. 

Scholars highlight that everything that exists, including non-animated objects, has a life and the ability to witness reality. In the Quran, Surah Ahqaf verse 5-6, Allah (s) highlights that, “these same idols that these people used to worship are going to reject the people that used to worship them” (45:5-6). Through the verse, Allah (s) emphasizes that oftentimes individuals view stones as lifeless. They believe that a stone does not have the ability to testify against them. However, on the Day of Judgement, the stone will be given life and the ability to witness. 

The understanding of the reality that people’s body parts could testify against them should create a greater sense of humility and shame that one thinks they are alone while committing a sin. Through numerous verses and examples, Allah (s) has emphasized the fact that people’s body parts can testify against them. People should always be aware that their hands, eyes, and tongue are constantly witnessing them committing sins, and have the ability to testify against them on the Day of Judgement. 


Raja, T. (2018, April 18). The witnessing and recording of deeds. AI Islam. Retrieved November 4, 2021,  

Shirazi, S. (2013, January 18). Ayat no. 63-65. Al Islam. Retrieved November 4, 2021, from

Surah Al-Ahqaf – 1-35. Surah Al-Ahqaf – 1-35 | (n.d.). Retrieved November 4, 2021, from

Surah Ya-Sin – 65. Surah Ya-Sin – 65 | (n.d.). Retrieved November 4, 2021, from

What Does Receiving Shafa’a (Intercession) Mean on the Day of Judgement?


Shafa’a is to attach oneself to an individual with status in the eyes of Allah (s) in order to seek Allah (s)’s forgiveness. It is a system that provides hope and removes despair from those who have sinned by giving them optimism for Allah (s)’s mercy. It also acts as a motivation to seek nearness to the friends of Allah (s) who have been granted permission to give shafa’a, and to do good deeds to be worthy of it. Shafa’a is part of Allah’s (s) system of cause and effect in which Allah (s) is the ultimate cause and He has created mediums for His servants to both receive bounties from Him and seek closeness to Him. It is important to note that the blessings received through these mediums (e.g. quenching thirst through the medium of water) is only made possible by Allah (s) giving these mediums the capacity to do so. Similarly, the capacity to give shafa’a and receive shafa’a is only with Allah’s (s) permission. Giving shafa’a is only granted to specific groups of people with a high status in His eyes and receiving shafa’a is only granted to those with faith and who are not wrongdoers.

Full Answer

What Is Shafa’a?

Shafa’a refers to the action of intercession in which an intercessor asks Allah (s) for forgiveness on behalf of another person. The literal meaning of shafa’a is to be attached to someone. These two meanings put together create a better understanding of shafa’a. Essentially, when one asks for shafa’a they are asking the intercessor to be their partner in approaching the forgiveness of Allah (s) (Banu, 2012). This beautiful system is one that will be explored here to understand its role on the Day of Judgement where Allah (s) has granted some individuals and entities the permission to grant shifa’ to others. 

The Functions of Shafa’a

Given that Allah (s) is the ultimate power and source of mercy and forgiveness, one might wonder why He has granted the privilege of giving shafa’a to some of His creation. It indeed serves functions beyond its literal value of simply receiving forgiveness. Consider the case of Prophet Yaqub’s sons who turned to him after they felt shame for throwing their brother Prophet Yusuf into the well, asking for him to pray to Allah (s) for their forgiveness (The Quran, 12:47). Sayyid Muhammad Rizvi explains that they did this as they felt ashamed of their deeds and recognized that as a nabi, Prophet Yaqub held a high spiritual status and closeness with Allah (s) (Rizvi, 2011). In this way, shafa’a acted as a source of hope to the sons of Prophet Yaqub. Similarly, shafa’a acts as a source of hope and removes the despair of people who have recognized their sins (Banu, 2012). 

To have an alternate means to reach Allah’s (s) forgiveness is a blessing that He has given to His servants, for in doing so, Allah (s) has created more means to reach Him. Note that when feeling shameful of one’s deeds, one may find it easier to indirectly approach Allah (s) through the status of those who have the ability to grant shafa’a. This idea is related to another benefit of shafa’a; developing a spiritual relationship with the friends of Allah (s) (Banu, 2012). In seeking an intercessor to God, one also needs to establish a relationship with this intercessor. This requires an individual to recognize the status of the friends of Allah (s) and familiarize oneself with them. This means working to be close to the intercessor and worthy of their intercession through one’s deeds. Thus the act of seeking shafa’a brings a person closer to Allah (s).

A System Based on Mediums Between Humans and God

To better understand shafa’a, it is important to consider the system of cause and effect that Allah (s) has created. Although He is the ultimate cause, many of the blessings that reach a person will come to them through a chain of effects and not directly from Allah (s) (Dhalla, 2007). For instance, water is drunk to quench one’s thirst as Allah (s) created it to be the means to quench thirst and sustain life. It is not enough to simply ask Allah (s) to be quenched, water must be drunk. Similarly, one’s parents are a means to their creation and sleep is a means to finding strength. In all these cases, it is important to acknowledge that Allah’s (s) creation leads to blessings in one’s life that would not otherwise exist. Allah (s) is the ultimate cause, and water, parents, and sleep are some mediums in the many chains of effects that lead to the blessings in one’s life. 

The system of cause and effect goes in two ways; downwards from Allah (s) in which individuals receive from Him through mediums, and upwards in which individuals seek Allah (s) through mediums (Dhalla, 2007). In the Quran, Allah (s) tells believers that using means to reach Allah (s), called tawassul, is required to be successful. The recipe for success in Surah 5, ayah 35 is to believe, be God-conscious, use mediums to reach Allah (s), and struggle in His way (Dhalla, 2007). Note that these mediums include Allah (s) Himself through His qualities, actions which bring a person closer to Allah (s), places of spiritual status such as Masjid an-Nabawi, objects such as the black stone, and people (Dhalla, 2007). Seeking shafa’a, to ask for forgiveness through intercessors, is part of this upward system of reaching Allah (s) that He has established. Note that in all of these cases, it is only with the permission of Allah (s) that nearness to Him can be achieved.

Shafa’a on the Day of Judgement

On the Day of Judgement, Allah (s) will give individuals permission to intercede for others and seek forgiveness for them. Essentially these individuals will ask Allah (s) to save those they are interceding for from hell and to grant them entry to heaven (Banu, 2012). Note that both giving shafa’a and qualifying to receive it can only take place with Allah’s (s) permission, for He says, “Who can intercede with Him without His permission?” (The Quran 2:255) and, “Say: To God belongs exclusively [the right to grant] intercession,” (The Quran 39:44). As for those who can give shafa’a, Prophet Muhammad is reported to have said, “There are seven groups of people who, like prophets, can intercede: muadhins (chosen person to recite adhan at mosque), Imams, martyrs (or witnesses), the bearers of the Quran (i.e. those who memorize it), scholars, students, and the repentant” (Banu, 2012). As for those who are granted intercession on the Day of Judgement, they must have faith, “And they offer no intercession except for those who are acceptable, and they stand in awe and reverence of His (Allah’s (s) [Glory]” (The Quran 21:28). Allah (s) further clarifies that wrongdoers, interpreted as polytheists, hypocrites, oppressors, disbelievers (Banu, 2012), will not have intercession, as “No intimate friend nor intercessor will the wrong-doers have, who could be listened to” (The Quran 40:18). Let this system of shafa’a act as a source of hope and a motivation towards gaining His pleasure and closeness to His friends. 


Rizvi, A. (2011, March 14). The Philosophy of Tawassul and Intercession | Sayyid Muhammad Rizvi | English [Video]. Youtube. 

Banu, A. (2012, Summer). An Inquiry into Intercession (Shafa‘ah). Message of Thaqalyn, 13(2)., K. (2007). The Divine Link. Tabligh Centre – KSI Jamaat – DSM.

If evil only comes from man, and not from God, then how can we explain natural disasters that kill innocent people or mental illnesses that cause one to be more aggressive towards others?

Considering something evil is relative rather than absolute. Human beings consider something evil because their judgement is limited to their immediate time and circle. What we sometimes term as evil could be reconsidered as difficult challenges that are tests for people. They nurture growth and bring out potential. A comfortable smooth life with no bumps in it would not help the human being to grow towards perfection, which is the purpose of life on earth. The worldview of Islam sees the world as an opportunity for growth and perfection, the fruits of which will be reaped in the hereafter. It looks at the human being as a soul that is housed in a body. It is the soul that will remain forever and is most important, not the body which will perish.  

Events in the world are inter related. They are links in a chain of events taking place throughout the universe. There is a connection between these events and the systems that are present on earth. Human beings also have a role to play in the way they interact with the earth and with each other.  Earthquakes for example are said to be caused by the moon’s attraction to the dry outer layers of the earth or by heat and gases within the earth. Whatever theory is true, we should take its other consequences into consideration. The earth’s internal heat affects things such as the formation of fossil resources like oil and coal inside the earth. There is an entire system running in the universe.

People who have mental illness are not responsible for their actions. But society needs to care for them appropriately. When they are treated with love and respect, the chances of them committing violence are very slim. Often, the broken systems in society lead to much of the evils committed in society. This is very evident in the increase of violence we see in today’s times.

It is important to consider the big picture when judging something as evil. Like the Quran tells us; 

you have not been given of knowledge but a little 

Holy Quran (17:85)

How is it fair for God to “test” us, make us work on our souls, and oblige us to follow religious rules when we did not ask to be born and be placed on earth?

To say that we did not ask to be created so religious obligations are unfair, is a logical fallacy. To be asked, the human being would have to be created already. A being that is not born, or created, cannot be asked about anything.

Also, think about the following points;

1) God is a being far removed from us created beings. We are not equals that we should be asked before being created. To say why He didn’t ask us is to reduce Him to our level. God is the ultimate authority. He created for a purpose, according to the infinite wisdom He possesses. He does not need to ask permission to create. The Creator does not ask the created. 

2) Creation is a manifestation and reflection of the glory of Allah. The human being has the potential to manifest His attributes best. This requires servitude and growth through challenges. 

3) The ability to choose whether you want to be created or not depends on free will and knowledge. Both would be lacking for the created being unless the Creator decided to give them to it. Free will was given for life on earth and applies to the actions the created being will perform. Knowledge is acquired through life. Without these qualities no choice can be made.

4) Existence is better than non-existence. Life is a gift and is beautiful when creation lives according to the expectations of the Creator. Being created can be viewed with gratitude and appreciation rather than as a burden that should be avoided. With the correct mindset, we can view challenges as opportunities for growth and attaining true happiness.

Is it true that when a man and a woman are getting to know each other for the purpose of marriage, the man is allowed to see the woman without the physical hijab once prior to nikah? What are the conditions for this?

When a man and woman are getting to know each other for the purpose of marriage, the man can see the woman without her hijab one time only, with the following conditions:

a) The relationship has reached a stage where marriage is intended and the man wants to see her before finalizing.

b) It is not done with the intention of seeking pleasure or doing anything wrong.

c) The man has not previously seen the girl without her hijab.

d) Only the hair, neck, hands and feet should be exposed. Exposure of other parts of the body is not allowed.

Modesty is a big part of Islamic teachings. All aspects of a close relationship between a man and woman who are non-mahram to each other must be within the boundaries of marriage. Marriage is highly recommended and many rulings facilitate and encourage marriage. This ruling is part of that outlook. It is not setting aside modesty, there are conditions still in place. No touching is allowed. A limited, conditional gaze exception is made when the intention of marriage is serious and requires this last step to finalize it.

Why does Allah (s) test us? Is it normal to want to stop being tested, or be tired of getting tested?

Almighty Allah in His wisdom makes the human being go through various tests in life. He says in the Quran:

 Do people suppose that they will be let off because they say, ‘We have faith,’ and they will not be tested? 


He also says:

 We will surely test you with a measure of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth, lives, and fruits; and give good news to the patient.


Tests of Allah are different from the tests human being conduct for each other. The objective of Allah’s test is not to gain information and insight because in the universe there is nothing which is hidden from Allah. Rather it is for training and discipline purposes. The tests of Allah can be seen as challenges to rise up to, or opportunities for growth. When a gardener wants a strong tree he will start with planting a seed and make it face adversity as it grows so that it becomes strong and resilient. Similarly, the military will make its soldiers go through almost brutal exercises so they can become excellent soldiers. We see in these and other similar examples of this world that there cannot be a successful achievement without trials and hardship. 

To understand more clearly why Allah tests us, consider the following points.

1) Nurturing of Potential. Human beings have a lot of capabilities within them for virtue and nobility. These qualities can remain dormant. Tests and trials reveal these abilities and allow them to manifest and grow. For example, a person may have a lot of inner strength but this can only manifest itself when there is a barrier to overcome. How the barrier is overcome reveals the strength and can even enhance it. There is then reward and status for the strength displayed. There can be no reward and status for hidden qualities.

2) Sifting of true believers. Those who have true faith will respond to trails with patience and acceptance of His decree. Despite the pain there will be an inner peace. But those with weak or no faith will turn away from Allah and be filled with resentment and anger. The Quran says:

And among the people are those who worship Allah on the [very] fringe: if good fortune befalls him, he is content with it; but if an ordeal visits him he makes a turnabout, to become a loser in the world and the Hereafter. That is manifest loss.


3) Getting closer to Allah. When life is comfortable and easy it is easy to become heedless. But when there is pain and sorrow, a believer inclines even more towards God and seeks His help. The spirituality gained and the sweet taste of connecting with the Divine becomes a fruit of the test. It is only some people who are able to get such gains from tests.

It is human to feel discouraged sometimes and feel tired of tests in life. Tests are not easy to face, that is why they are called tests. This type of feeling can be countered through reminding oneself of the purpose of life on earth, seeking closeness to God, and also most importantly being grateful for the blessings in life. Sometimes we focus on the test only and ignore all other things that are good in our life. God cushions our difficulties with ease – Indeed with difficulty there is ease (94:5-6), but we don’t see the ease, only the difficulty. A constant reminder to be grateful, even for difficulties is a good way to strengthen oneself to face the challenges of life. The Prophet (s), when he thanked God for what he was pleased with, said اَلْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ عَلَي هَذِهِ النِّعْمَةِ  Praise be to Allah for this blessing. And when something happened that distressed him he would say اَلْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ عَلي كُلِّ حَال Praise be to Allah in every situation. (Hadith narrated in al-Kafi, v.2, p.97)

To conclude, a hadith of Imam Ali (a) is a powerful reminder of how to face tests:

Never say O Allah! I seek refuge from tests and trials from You, because, there is no one who is not put to trials. Rather say, O Allah! I seek refuge from You from such trials which may cause me to go astray (Nahjul Balagha, H#93).