“The Martyrs Are Alive, Therefore I Can Beseech My Favourite Saint For Help” Argument Debunked

One of the most abused and misapplied verses of the Qur’an are those about the martyrs (الشهداء) who are described as being alive (with their Rabb). The extremists from amongst the heretical sects, present those verses to the gullible and ignorant masses as proof and justification for the heresy and mother of all shirk (polytheism) that is the invocation of the saints (imams, Ahl al-Bayt, shaykhs, pirs, etc.) for one’s needs.

Allah ﷻ says:

وَلَا تَقُوۡلُوۡا لِمَنۡ يُّقۡتَلُ فِىۡ سَبِيۡلِ اللّٰهِ اَمۡوَاتٌ ؕ بَلۡ اَحۡيَآءٌ وَّلٰـكِنۡ لَّا تَشۡعُرُوۡنَ‏ ١٥٤

{And say not of those who are killed in the way of Allah, ‘They are dead.’ Nay, they are living, but you perceive (it) not.} [al-Baqarah 2:154]

وَلَا تَحۡسَبَنَّ الَّذِيۡنَ قُتِلُوۡا فِىۡ سَبِيۡلِ اللّٰهِ اَمۡوَاتًا ​ؕ بَلۡ اَحۡيَآءٌ عِنۡدَ رَبِّهِمۡ يُرۡزَقُوۡنَۙ ١٦٩

{And never think of those who have been killed in the cause of Allah as dead. Rather, they are alive with their Lord, receiving provision.} [Aal ‘Imraan 3:169]

Whether the Rafidah Twelver Shia or ghulat of the Sufiyyah such as the Barelvis (who just like the Rafidah peddle hideous polytheistic fabrication falsely attributed to the Ahl al-Bayt), all of them misapply the above verses and suddenly turn into ‘Wahabi-literalists’, ignoring major hadith and tafsir books of their own respective sects they would provide them and their gullible followers a holistic understanding of the verses (that do not support their heresy of invoking saints for help anyway).

Having heard the Church-version/Abu Jahl version of Islam by the Quburis, let’s view the verses holistically, especially in the light of the Sunnah and even the books of the Shia.

In the Sunnah we read:

Masrooq said: We asked ‘Abdullah ibn Mas‘ood about this verse, and he said: We also asked about that, and he (the Prophet ﷺ) said: “Their souls are in the crops of green birds, which have lamps hanging from the Throne, and they roam freely wherever they want in Paradise, then they return to those lamps. Their Lord looked down upon them and said: ‘Do you desire anything?’ They said: ‘What could we desire when we can roam freely wherever we want in Paradise?’ He did that with them three times, and when they saw that they would not be left without being asked, they said: ‘O Lord, we want You to restore our souls to our bodies so that we may be killed for Your sake again.’ When He saw that they had no need, they were left alone.” [Sahih Muslim]

Ibn Kathir (may Allah ﷻ have mercy on him) said:

With regard to the souls of the martyrs, they are in the crops of green birds, and they are like stars in comparison to the souls of the ordinary believers, for they fly by themselves.” [Tafseer Ibn Kathir 2/164]

In the musnad of Imam Ahmad we read:

Ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “The martyrs are on the banks of a river at the gate of Paradise in a green tent, and their provision comes out to them from Paradise morning and evening.” [Musnad Imam Ahmad]

Shia (Twelver Imamite) tafsir:

In Tafsir Noor al-Thaqalayn (written by ‘Abd ‘Ali b. Jumu’a al-‘Arusi al-Huwayzi, a Shiite scholar of jurisprudence and hadiths in the 12th/18th century), which is one of the most prominent Shi’ite hadith-Based exegeses of the Qur’an, we read under the tafsir of verse 154 of surah al-Baqarah:

– وعنه عن ابن ابى عمير عن حماد عن ابى بصير قال: سألت ابا عبد الله عليه السلام عن ارواح المؤمنين ؟ فقال: في الجنة على صور ابدانهم لورايته لقلت فلان، وفى الحديث انه يفسح له مد بصره ويقال له، نم نومة العروستفسير نور الثقلين, سورة البقرة 154

Ja’far ibn Muhammad (al-Sadiq) was asked about the souls of the believers so he replied that they are in paradise in the image of their bodies (i.e. like they used to look in the Dunya) and it is said to them that they shall sleep the sleep of a bride.

In tafsir Noor al-Thaqalayn (Muhammad b. Mas’ud al-‘Ayyashi (d. 320/932-933), which is one of the most prominent Shi’ite Hadith-Based exegeses of the Qur’an, we read under the tafsir of verse 169 in surah Aal ‘Imran:

في تفسير العياشى (سورة آل عمران 169 – 171) عن جابر عن ابى جعفر عليه السلام قال اتى رجل رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله فقال انى راغب نشط في الجهاد، قال فجاهد في سبيل الله فانك ان تقتل كنت حيا عندالله ترزق، وان مت فقد وقع اجرك على الله، وان رجعت خرجت من الذنوب إلى الله، هذا تفسير (ولاتحسبن الذين قتلوا في سبيل الله امواتا)

Ja’far ibn Muhammad (al-Sadiq) relates that he man informed the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) that he is actively participating in Jihad. Thereupon, the Apostle of Allah encouraged him and gave him the glad tidings that in case he gets killed, he will be with Allah and receive provision.

Notice: Whether in Sunni or Shia tafsir books, you won’t find a single word about calling upon saints for help or linking the practice of calling upon the saints/martyrs/prophets, etc. to that verse. The Prophet (ﷺ), his Ahl al-Bayt and Sahabah never understood those verses the way the distorters, the extremists do in the name of the saints (Awliya`)/Ahl al-Bayt.

Even without the above sahih reports in the Sunnah (that complement the verses about the martyrs in the Qur’an by revealing some beautiful details) and Twelver Shia tafsir (that are similar to Sunni reports), a believer with a sound fitrah and sound understanding of tawhid would never come to the absurd conclusion that those verses somehow justify Abu Jahl/Catholic-style paganism i.e. beseeching and imploring the saints for help in prayer (du’a). There is absolutely no correlation between the hideous act of calling upon other than Allah ﷻ and the martyrs being alive with their Rabb.

In the skewed understanding of the deviants, the martyrs are awaiting our madad (help) and other distress calls and have been given the power and/or task to deliver our prayers to Allah ﷻ (because comparing Allah ﷻ to a moody CEO who ought to be better approached by his secretaries is absolutely fine and makes total sense…). In fact, many of them believe that the spirits of their favourite saints have absolute control over every atom (tassarruf, Wilayah al-Takwiniyyah) and it is them who help when called upon i.e. they don’t need to ask Allah, they can be called upon directly (the merciful saints/pirs/imams do not require any intermediates…)  with the cop-out that all of this is done ‘with the permission of Allah’ (a permission Allah never gave, not even to the best of his creation).

A total distortion par excellence for which there is zero textual evidence (other than the get-out clause that is ‘with the permission of Allah‘ with which almost everything can be justified).

The verses stating that the martyrs are alive simply convey the lofty status of those who are killed in the cause of Allah ﷻ and how they are with their Rabb which does mean that their souls/spirits are floating around in our realm, awaiting our help (madad) distress calls and wishes whenever we call upon them. They can’t provide us with anything, the verse literally says they receive provision. It’s mind-gobbling how some suddenly turn into ‘literalist Wahhabists’ but even then manage to fail at literalism as the very literal text of the verse doesn’t support their bid’ah (heresy).

The Prophets and Martyrs are dead in our realm and have a special life in the Unseen (al-Ghayb)

The life of Barzakh is a special life. Technically speaking, all the dead, including the non-Muslims, are ‘alive’ after death as our souls do not cease to exist after death. So all of us, Muslim and non-Muslims, are alive after death, however, not in this world, in the next. Death is not the final and total annihilation of the soul nor is it the end of his existence that was created by Allah ﷻ. However, death is the time when the soul departs the body to live in another realm, the realm of the unseen (al-Ghayb).

In the worldly sense, all of us, including the martyrs and Prophets are dead, and the proofs for that are plenty, here are just a few:

  • The Sahabah/Ahl al-Bayt buried the Prophet (ﷺ). Nobody in his right mind would bury someone who is literally alive.
  • The Prophets were succeeded by the leading scholars and caliphs, and they run the people’s affairs, lead them in prayer, issue fatwas to them, judge between them, and so on.

So there is no doubt that the Prophet (ﷺ) and martyrs are dead in our realm i.e. the Dunya, this is why we bury them and this is why the property of the martyrs is inherited, and their wives are allowed to remarry after they die.

The Prophets (blessings and peace of Allah be upon them) are dead as far as the people of this world are concerned. The argument of some of the Sufis that it is disrespectful to describe the Prophet (ﷺ) as dead are refuted by the Qur’an, the words of Allah Almighty Himself:

إِنَّكَ مَيِّتٌ وَإِنَّهُمْ مَيِّتُونَ

{Surely you (i.e. Prophet Muhammad) shall die and they (too) shall surely die.} [Qur’an, 39:30]

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) died and was buried in his grave, hence al-Siddiq Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) said:

“Ibn Abbas reported: Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, went to the door of the mosque when he heard the news of the passing of the Prophet. Abu Bakr said, “To proceed: Whoever among you worships Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, then Muhammad has died. Whoever worships Allah, then Allah is alive and cannot die. Allah Almighty said: Muhammad is not but a messenger; messengers have passed before him. If he dies or is killed, will you turn back on your heels?” (3:144)

Ibn Abbas said, “By Allah, it was as if the people had not known that Allah revealed this verse until Abu Bakr recited it.”

[Sahih Bukhari]

The Prophets are alive in the Barzakh and enjoy what nobody else (not even the martyrs) enjoy:

“The Prophets are alive and they pray in their graves.” [Narrated by al-Mundhiri and al-Bayhaqi who classed it as sahih because of corroborating reports in al-Sahihayn. Also narrated in al-Bazzar; classed as authentic by al-Albani in Sahih al-Jaami’, 2790]

Imam al-Shawkani states: “The Prophet (ﷺ) is alive in his grave, as has been established in the Hadith “The Prophets are alive in their graves”. (See: Nayl al-Awtar, 5/101).

Of course, they are not literally alive as in alive in our realm, otherwise, they would not have been buried! However, they are alive before Allah ﷻ in a special sense (unlike other souls) and even in the worldly sense (to an extent) as their bodies are preserved and do not decay. Of course, none of that constitutes proof for calling upon the Prophets or martyrs and this is not restricted to their death (in Dunya). Even when the Prophets, Ahl al-Bayt, and other friends of Allah were alive, they were not given divine authority to listen to and respond to millions upon millions of madad (help) and distress calls, much less after their demise.

There is zero proof for this excessive (ghuluw) belief and a ‘with the permission of Allah‘ clause won’t prove it for many things are hypothetically possible but that doesn’t mean they are true. Islam is based on proofs, especially on such a crucial creedal matter such as invoking saints for help in one’s supplication like in the Church. Islam came to eradicate such nonsense, it certainly did not come to replace Ya Jesus, Mary, saint X, Y, etc. with Ya Ali, Fatimah, Husayn (much less Badawi, Jilani, Sufi pir, etc.).

And Ibn Abi al’-Izz writes:

وَالدُّعَاءُ مِنْ أَفْضَلِ الْعِبَادَاتِ وَالْعِبَادَاتُ مَبْنَاهَا عَلَى السُّنَّةِ وَالِاتِّبَاعِ لَا عَلَى الْهَوَى وَالِابْتِدَاعِ

Supplication is the greatest act of worship, and acts of worship must be based upon conformity to the Sunnah, not upon whims and innovations.

Source: Sharh al-‘Aqidah al-Tahawiyah 1/297

Supplication is the most basic and primal of all acts of worship and supplicating to others in a way only Allah deserves is an act of idolatry and unbelief. Doing so sets up intermediaries or rivals to the worship of Allah, whereas the fundamental belief in Islam is that every believer has a direct connection to his or her Creator through prayer.

In fact, idolatry was introduced to humankind when people started to glorify their ancestors, build statues of them, worship at their graves, and ascribe divine qualities to them.

al-Nu’man ibn Bashir reported: The Prophet (ﷺ) said:

الدُّعَاءُ هُوَ الْعِبَادَةُ

“Supplication is the essence of worship.”

Then, the Prophet (ﷺ) recited the verse:

وَقَالَ رَبُّكُمْ ادْعُونِي أَسْتَجِبْ لَكُمْ إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَسْتَكْبِرُونَ عَنْ عِبَادَتِي سَيَدْخُلُونَ جَهَنَّمَ دَاخِرِينَ

Your Lord says: Call upon Me and I will answer you. Verily, those who disdain My worship will enter Hell in humiliation. (40:60)

Source: Sunan al-Tirmidhi 3247, Grade: Sahih

In a similar narration it states:

الدُّعَاءُ مُخُّ الْعِبَادَةِ

“Supplication (du’a) is the essence of worship.”

Source: Sunan al-Tirmidhi 3371, Grade: Hasan li ghayrihi (fair due to external evidence) according to Al-Arna’ut

In another narration, the Prophet (ﷺ) said:

إِنَّهُ لا يُسْتَغَاثُ بِى إِنَّما يُسْتَغَاثُ بالله

My aid is not to be sought. Verily, one only seeks the aid of Allah.

Source: Majma’ al-Zawa`id 10/126

Ibn Abbas reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

إِذَا سَأَلْتَ فَاسْأَلْ اللَّهَ وَإِذَا اسْتَعَنْتَ فَاسْتَعِنْ بِاللَّهِ

If you ask, ask from Allah. If you seek help, seek help from Allah.

Source: Sunan al-Tirmidhi 2516, Grade: Sahih

Similar narrations (that are often concealed or at the very least watered down by the Shia clergy) can be found in the books of the Twelvers:

قال الامام الصادق، عليه السلام: «إنّ الدعاء هو العبادة « ثم تلا هذه الآية الكريمة التي تعبر عن هذا المعنى وقال: «هي والله العبادة، هي والله العبادة»، يريد الدعاء.

الكافي 2 : 339 / 7

Al-Kafi, Kitab al-Du’a, chapter 210, narrations 1 and 2:

1 – Ali ibn Ibrahim – father – Hammad ibn Eesa – Harith – Zurara – Abu Jafar (alaihi salam): Allah Azwajal said: “[Ghafir:60] And your Lord says: Call upon Me, I will answer you; surely those who are too proud for My service shall soon enter hell abased”. He (Imam) said: This is du’a, and the best kind of worship is Ddu’a.  I (narrator) said: (What about verse) “[Tawba:114] most surely Ibrahim was very tender-hearted forbearing”. He (Imam) said: Forbearing that (the one who makes often) du’a.

2 – Muhammad ibn Yahya – Ahmad ibn Muhammad – Muhammad ibn Ismail and ibn Mahboob – Hannan ibn Sadeer – Father, which said: I asked from Abu Jafar, alaihi salam: What kind of worship is best one? He said: There is nothing better in the view of Allah than asking and supplicating from Him for things which He have. And there is nothing worse in His view than making arrogance from worshipping Him, and not asking Him for things.


The very apparent meaning of the verses regarding the martyrs is proof against and not for those who call upon other than Allah.

From the verses, we clearly understand that Allah ﷻ  said:

  • The Martyrs are alive with their Lord i.e. in Barzakh, in another realm, in the Ghayb. عند in the Arabic language denotes close proximity.
  • The Martyrs receive provision from their Lord.

Allah ﷻ did not say:

  • The martyrs are alive with us i.e. in our realm.
  • The martyrs provide us with provision/madad (help) whenever they are called upon as the heretics claim.
  • Call upon the martyrs/saints/pirs/Ahl al-Bayt/Prophets/Angels

The Quburis/Quburiyyah superimpose their shirki beliefs on the verses as they are religiously bankrupt faced with a divine book (the Qur’an) that repeatedly commands the believers to invoke none but Allah in du’a and to refrain from invoking anybody (no matter how great) besides (or with) Allah in du’a.

The extremists who want us to believe that although one ‘can’ call on Allah directly and alone (which can never be as effective as calling on the saints first if one follows their logic), however, it is totally fine to call upon (directly, of course) and beseech the likes of ‘Ali b. Abi Talib (may Allah be pleased with him), a Persian-Arab Hanbali scholar buried in Baghdad (al-Jilani, may Allah have mercy on him whom the Sufis gave the divine title ‘the ultimate source of help’ i.e. al-Ghawth al-A’dham, a title that even a Hindu would understand befits none but Allah), and even Jesus (after all he’s alive) and Mary and an endless list of pirs/imams/shaykhs (who advise their naive followers to call upon them in du’a), etc. for madad (help) and the fulfillment of every imaginable need (hajah). To the Quburis and their ‘intellect’ that’s like ordering a pizza or asking your neighbour to lend you some salt:

‘Ya Ali/Jilani/Imam/Pir madad’ is like asking asking your neighbour a helping hand!

Rest assured, the distorters will be held accountable on Judgement Day for their lies about the Qur’an which are nothing less than a type of distortion (tahrif) that they commit for the sake of justifying the unjustifiable, namely the Abu Jahl/Church paganism of calling upon other than Allah in the very essence of worship that is supplication (du’a).

Related article:

Can The Dead Hear And Does That Prove The Legitimacy Of The Heresy Of Praying To The Buried Saints?

“Calling Upon Other Than Allah Is Like Asking Your Fellow Human Being For A Favour” FALLACY DEBUNKED

Shubhah: The Prophet (peace be upon him) can hear billions of salams so my favourite saint can do 24/7 madad

‘But Jesus raised the dead and the angel of death takes billions of souls’ argument debunked

Refutation Of The Misuse Of The Hadith Of The Blind Man & The Man In Need

Shubhah: Ibn ‘Umar invoked the Prophet (peace be upon him) for help! | ‘Ya Muhammad’