The intercession of the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, has been mentioned at various places in the Holy Quran. As such, it states at one instance:
1قُلْ اِنْ كُنْتُمْ تُحِبُّوْنَ اللهَ فَاتَّبِعُوْنِيْ يُحْبِبْكُمُ اللهُ وَ يَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ ذُنُوْبَكُمْ
The translation is: say, if you love God, then come and follow me, so that God may love you as well and forgive you your sins. Now, observe how clearly this verse states that the necessary result of treading in the footsteps of the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, the requirements of which are to love, honour and obey him, is to make a person the beloved of God and absolved of their sins, in that if a person has consumed the poison of sin, then the antidote of love, obedience and subservience does away with the effects of this poison. Just as a person can be healed of their disease by the application of medication, so too can they be cleansed of sin. Then, just as light dispels darkness, an antidote counteracts the effect of venom, and fire burns, in the same way true love and obedience yield positive results. One may observe how fire consumes in an instant; similarly, virtue performed earnestly for the sole purpose of manifesting God’s glory acts like fire to consume the chaff and rubbish of sin. When a person believes sincerely in our Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, and recognises him in all his grandeur and eminence, and follows him with loyalty, purity, affection and subservience, so that on account of their complete resignation to him, they reach the stage where their inner self is effaced completely, the divine light which descended upon the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, is received in portion by this individual as well, due to their deep relationship with the Prophet. As light and darkness cannot coexist, the darkness in such a person begins to vanish until no part of it remains within. Being thus strengthened by light, virtue of the highest order proceeds from such people. The love of God shines out in their every limb. It is then that all their inner darkness is wholly dispelled. The intellect of such a one is illumined and so too their actions beam light. Finally, by the combination of these lights, the gloom of sin leaves their hearts.
It is obvious that light and darkness cannot coexist in the same place, and thus the light of faith and the darkness of sin can also not coexist. It is possible that such a person may never have had an occasion to commit a sin, but the benefit such a one derives from following the Holy Prophet(sa) is that the temptation to sin in the future is completely destroyed in them and a disposition to virtue is created. As such, Almighty Allah Himself says in the Holy Quran:
حَبَّبَ اِلَيْكُمُ الْاِيْمَانَ وَ زَيَّنَهٗ فِيْ قُلُوْبِكُمْ
2 وَ كَرَّهَ اِلَيْكُمُ الْكُفْرَ وَ الْفُسُوْقَ وَ الْعِصْيَانَ
Allah has endeared every good to you by making the holy spirit descend upon you, and He has rendered disbelief, transgression and disobedience hateful to you.
However, at this instance, a question may arise as to the nature of the light that is bestowed upon one who follows the Prophet, peace be upon him, and which subdues the passion of sin. The answer to this question is: It is a pure understanding untainted by the darkness of doubt and scepticism; it is a pure love unalloyed by any selfish motive; it is a pure delight which exceeds all pleasures, free from all impurity; it is a powerful allure that cannot be overcome by any other attraction; it is a potent antidote which rids all inner poisons. These are the five things which descend in the form of light upon the heart of a sincere follower as a light along with the Holy Spirit. Hence, such a heart not only abstains from sin, but instinctively begins to loathe it. To individually outline the powers of these five things requires a great length of detail. However, it should suffice to expound at some length the qualities of pure understanding, to grasp the underlying reality of how it wards off sin.
It is obvious that humans and even animals shrink away from what they know with sure and certain knowledge to be harmful. A thief can never dare rob a place where he is certain that a party of men lie in wait, hiding in order to lay their hands on him. In fact, even if a bird is able to identify that a snare has been laid out beneath the grains placed on the ground, it does not approach the grain. Similarly, even if the most exquisite and delicious of foods were prepared, this could never tempt a man, if he were certain that it is poisoned. Thus, all these observations evidently demonstrate that man never approaches a dangerous or harmful thing after having ascertained its nature, in fact he flees at the sight of it. Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that if a person came to know through some means that sin is a fatal poison that kills instantly, then without doubt, he would never commit sin after having attained this knowledge. However, the question that naturally arises here is what that ‘means’ is? Can ‘reason’ be that means? The answer is that reason cannot at all be a perfect means, unless aided by heavenly support. Firm heartfelt belief in the fact that there is definite punishment for committing of sin—and from which man cannot escape—is perfect belief, which can only be had when a person has full knowledge that God exists in the first place, and that He can punish a man for sin. A mere rationalist, who has not been blessed by heavenly light, cannot possess perfect belief in God Almighty because he has not heard the word of God and has not beheld His countenance. His knowledge of God Almighty, even if he arrives at a true conclusion after reflection on the creation he observes in the earth and heaven, is that all this ought to have a Creator. However, this does not take a person to the definite and categorical knowledge that that Creator exists. And it is obvious that there is a notable difference between ought to be and is. In other words, a person whose knowledge comes to a halt at the stage of ‘ought to be’ and for whom there is nothing but darkness beyond, cannot match the knowledge of a person who not only believes that this True Creator ought to exist but also feels that He does in fact exist by testimony of the light that is granted to him. This heavenly light not only allows man to witness the existence of God, but through its guidance, his faculties of reason and mind are sharpened to such an extent that even his own logical inferences are the most superb. And so, such a person believes in God Almighty with a two-fold power.
The heavenly light spoken of here means that the individual in question is blessed with unmistakable converse with God Almighty or they possess a very strong and deep relationship with a recipient of such converse. Converse with God does not refer to the dubious words for which common people claim the dignity of revelation. Questionable revelation amounts to nothing; in fact, it is even inferior to reason itself. On the contrary, what is referred to here is actually the sure and certain revelation of God Almighty, which is both pure and perfect, and which is necessarily accompanied by heavenly signs as a part thereof. Such revelation possesses an inherently sublime glory and grandeur, and penetrates the heart like an iron nail with its awe-inspiring and exquisite words, and bears the shining seal of divine signs and extraordinary phenomena.
The first thing a man requires to have perfect faith in God is that he himself is blessed with the revelation just mentioned, or that he holds a strong relationship with one who is blessed with it—one who draws hearts towards himself by his spiritual influence. Therefore, any religion that cannot claim fresh revelation accompanied by living signs may be likened to decaying bones that have more or less turned to dust. It is absolutely impossible for such a religion to bring about any real transformation. Only those individuals take pride in such doctrines who are content to follow in the footsteps of their ancestors and in their souls they neither search for the truth, nor do they desire it. In fact, due to their immense prejudice and fondness for misguidance, the inner condition of such people undergoes a degeneration. They are not bothered by how one can develop a certain belief in God, or the attributes that a True God ought to possess; a God in whom a person can hold firm faith; or the circumstances which can bring about complete assurance about the existence of God Almighty; or the signs of certainty that serve as the distinct hallmarks of those who are blessed with perfect faith. It ought to be kept in mind that even if a certain religion possesses an aspect of rationality, and an apparent decency and culture, this is not enough to claim that such a religion leads a person to the station of certainty with respect to the existence of God Almighty and His attributes. On the contrary, all the religions of the world are utterly vain and useless, absurd, lifeless and dead until they take a seeker to the pure fountain of certainty.
Alas! Most people do not understand what it means to believe in God’s existence and being, in His majesty and power and in His beautiful attributes. On the contrary, if someone were to tell them out of sympathy for their regrettable state that they are deprived of the pure fountain of certainty, and therefore, devoid also of true purity which is attained after certainty, they become enraged at this and vehemently proclaim: “Do we not have faith in God? Do we not believe in Him?” The only response to this is that they, in fact, neither have faith in God nor do they believe in Him. Sadly, they do not realise that although they would never thrust their hands into a hole, which they know for certain contains a poisonous snake, because in doing so they foresee their own death, yet they brazenly commit any sin. They do not consume a deadly poison knowing they will die, yet they commit the very deadliest of sins. Let alone certainty, even a high degree of probability holds them back from acting in a manner where harm may be sustained. For instance, such people would not approve of sleeping under a roof with a cracked beam, nor would they desire to remain in a village where cholera or the plague had broken out. Why then, despite their claim to belief, do they violate the commandments of God Almighty? Rest assured that such people do not truly possess certainty—not even a high degree of probability—that an Omnipotent Being exists who can destroy them in an instant.
1 Al-e-Imran, 3:32
2 al-Hujurat, 49:8