9. Latter-day saints (Pirs)1
A large number of men in the Muslim world have captured the hearts and minds of ordinary people to such a degree that they have come to be regarded as saints (pirs). The saints can be divided into two categories:
(i) People who have studied and understood the Islamic faith in the Qur’anic sense, and have worked for the service of humanity; who have attained greatness on their own merit, never desiring that their graves become shrines for misguided people to pray at, with the vain intention of obtaining requests.
(ii) People who — in order to become rich and powerful — have claimed the status of saints. These people use paid hirelings to propagate stories of their ‘miraculous’ powers; a ploy to which most human weaknesses fall prey. These are the sharks of the Islamic world and almost invariably the ruling politicians will have close connections with these people. The standard practice of these people is to put it about that they have the capacity to plead with Allah on our behalf in order to get us a place in Heaven. Thus, to assure one’s place in Heaven, one must become their disciple by paying them appropriate homage and fees. They hold annual gatherings in order to increase their membership. Through these gatherings they advertise their ‘miraculous’ powers by using paid people who are ready to swear to the genuineness of these powers. As their graves become shrines, these ‘saints’ also continue to exert influence even after their death. People go to their graves to ask for favours which no one can grant but Allah. The unscrupulous people who control these shrines invariably use the shrines as a source of income.
Unfortunately, the graves of the genuine saints are also used by people who control them in order to make money. These controllers hold annual gatherings and collect subscriptions in the name of maintaining the graves. They also impress upon people that donating money for their maintenance makes the saint plead on their behalf to Allah for a place in Heaven. A shining example of this is the shrine in Ajmeer, India, where people go in their thousands, praying and crying for days to gain favours from the dead saint. As far as a Muslim is concerned there is no harm in visiting the graves of anyone, but only to pay one’s respects and pray for the dead person’s salvation on the Day of Resurrection. People must understand that even the saints have no power to plead on anyone else’s behalf to Allah. Also, once dead, they will remain dead until the Day of Resurrection and, in fact, on the Day of Resurrection they will disown any association with any disciple. The following verses I hope, will illustrate my points.
(35:22) Nor are the living equal with dead. Lo! Allah maketh whom He will to hear. Thou canst not reach those who are in the graves.
(30:52) For, verily, thou canst not make the dead to hear, nor canst thou make the deaf to hear the call[…].
(46:5) And who is further astray than those who, instead of Allah, pray unto such as hear not their prayer until the Day of Resurrection, and are unconscious of their prayer.
(35:14) If ye pray unto them they hear not your prayer, and if they heard they could not grant it to you. On the Day of Resurrection they will disown association with you. None can inform you like Him Who is Aware.
(10:105) And (O Muhammad) set thy purpose resolutely for religion, as a man by nature upright, and be not of those who ascribe partners to (Allah).
(10:106) And cry not beside Allah, unto that which cannot profit thee nor hurt thee, for if thou didst so then wert thou of the wrong-doers.
(10:107) If Allah afflicteth thee with some hurt there is none who can remove it save Him; and if He desireth good for thee, there is none who can repel His bounty. He striketh with it whom He will of his bondsmen. He is the Forgiving, the Merciful.
(22:73) O Mankind! A similitude is coined, so pay ye heed to it: Lo! Those on whom ye call beside Allah will never create a fly though they combine together for the purpose. And if the fly took something from them, they could not rescue it from him. So weak are (both) the seeker and the sought!
(29:41) The likeness of those who choose other patrons than Allah is as the likeness of the spider when she taketh unto herself a house, and lo! The frailest of all houses is the spider’s house, if they but knew.
There are many more similar verses which make it clear that no one but Allah has the power to grant our prayers. One must remember that in Islam there is no intermediary between man and Allah. Note the force of the following verse:
(2:186) When my servants ask you concerning Me, tell them that I am always near. I hear the prayer of the suppliant whenever he calls out to Me. Therefore, let them hear My call and put their trust in Me, that they may be rightly guided.
It is unforgivable that, in spite of repeatedly committing ourselves to Allah every day (i.e. by reciting in Sura Fatiha: ‘Thee (alone) we obey; Thee (alone) we ask for help’ (1:4)), we turn aside to seek others’ help to plead on our behalf. How, then can we seriously claim to be ‘rightly guided’?
- A Restoration of Faith, by M. A. Malek. pp. 27, 28.