For the majority of Muslim's for the last 1400 years it has been acceptable to seek intercession(or Tawassul in Arabic) with Muslim saints who have past on to the spiritual world. Due to the mass propagation of Salafi aqidah(Theology) by the Saudi Arabian Kingdom( thanks in part to Western petro-dollars), many non-Muslims and even some Muslims may not know anything about tawassul(intercession). Salafi's have waged a well funded and planned campaign to cover up this traditional Islamic doctrine, to the point of even scrubbing hadeeth(oral and written traditionals of Muhammad) literature of previously accepted hadeeth (previously graded authentic and acceptable by Islam's leading scholars).
Two hundred years ago most Muslims in the Islamic world belonged to tareeqahs or Sufi lodges, headed by spiritual masters who instructed their murids(followers) in the Islamic science of taṣawwuf or the science of purifying the heart from spiritual diseases. One of the methods of preparing the heart for its reckoning with Allah was seeking intercession with departed pious Muslims of note, who were thought to have higher standing in Allah's sight then the average Muslim. The idea was that these saints would take the requests of the one seeking intercession before Allah in prayer, and because it was coming from a Muhsin(Literally a good doer, a Muslim who had reached the highest spiritual station of Ihsan due to his strong beliefs and striving in good deeds) it would be more likely to be answered.
The bases for Islamic intercesson are many, but the first one is its possibility, which is affirmed by the beliefs that the Prophets(and by extension the pious) are alive in their graves, and that death, the ground, and the maggots do not eat or decay their bodies. This beliefs also concludes that the Prophets worship Allah in the grave and that specifically Muhammad is aware of what his nation is doing whether good or evil.
The following two Hadeeth are proof Muhammad is believed to be still alive in his grave.
The first narration:
On the authority of Aws ibn Aws al-Thaqafi:"Allah has defended the earth from consuming the bodies of Prophets". Another version in Ibn Maja has this addition "And the Prophet of Allah is alive and provided for." Bayhaqi mentions it also in the Sunan al-kubra.
This hadeeth was graded Sahih by the following Hadeeth masters: Ahmad in his Musnad, Ibn Abi Shaybah in the Musannaf, Abu Dawud in the Sunan, Nisa'i in his Sunan, Ibn Majah in his Sunan, Darimi in his Musnad, Ibn Khuzaymah in his Sahih, ibn Hibban in his Sahih, Hakim in the Mustadrak, Tabarani in his Kabir, Bayhaqi in Hayat al-anbiya', Suyuti in Anba' al-adkhiya, Dhahabi who confirmed Hâkim's grading, and Nawawi in the Adhkar
The second Narration:
On the authority of Anas ibn Malik: "The Prophets are alive in their graves, praying to their Lord".
This was graded Sahih(Authentic) by the following hadeeth masters including Muhammad Nasr Albani: al-Bazzar in his Musnad, Abu Ya`la in his Musnad, Ibn `Adi in al-Kamil fi al-du`afa', Tammam al-Razi in al-Fawa'id, al-Bayhaqi in Hayat al-anbiya' fi quburihim, Abu Nu`aym in Akhbar Asbahan, Ibn `Asakir in Târeekh Dimashq, al-Haythami in Majma` al-zawa'id (8:211), al-Suyuti in Anbâ' al-adhkiya' bi-hayat al-anbiya' (#5), and al-Albani, in Silsilat al-ahadith al-sahihah (#621)
Now here is a proof that Muhammad can interact & communicate with the non-spiritual world from his grave.
Abu Hurayra said Muhammad said "No-one greets me except Allah has returned my soul to me so that I can return his salâm"
This was graded Sahih(Authentic) by Abu Dawud.
As a theological note on this hadeeth, Imam Suyuti said that this "returning" really means his ruh(spirit) has returned to him permanently, and Ibn al-Qayyim said in Kitab al-RuH p. 58: "It is obligatory knowledge to know that his body is in the earth tender and humid (i.e. as in life)...". Ibn Hajar al-Haythami wrote in al-jawhar al-munazzam that "The proofs and the transmitted texts have been established as authentic in the highest degree that the Prophet is alive and tender... that he fasts and performs pilgrimage every year, and that he purifies himself with water which rains on him."
And finally a proof Muhammad can intercede in this life before the Day of Judgement for his followers who adore his gave.
"Whoever visits my grave, it becomes incumbent upon me to intercede for him."
Narrated by al-Daraqutni, al-Dulabi, al-Bayhaqi, Khatib al-Baghdadi, al-`Uqayli, Ibn `Adiy, Tabarani, and Ibn Khuzaymah in his Sahih, all through various chains going back to Musa ibn Hilal al-`Abdiyy from Ubayd Allah Ibn Umar, both from Nafi`, from Ibn `Umar. Ad-Dhahabi declared it's chain hasan(Good) in Mizan al- i`tidal, vol. 4, p. 226,
So as you can see Muslim scholars of the past before the advent of Ibn Abdul Wahhab and the mass marketing of new glossy versions of hadeeth books cleansed of these narrations by his followers accepted that:
1. Prophets did not decay in the grave
2. Muhammad's life was returned to him after his death
3. Muhammad is made aware of everyone who mentions him, and that Muhammad intercedes to Allah for those who offer praise upon him in his grave.
So this all begs the question how do Muslim preachers and apologists dare to mock Christianity in the light of all this? I know they will trip over themselves to deny these hadeeth and question their status, but it is clear their predecessors accepted and acted upon them. It's not the image of Islam most non-Muslims in the west see, but in the Muslim world hundreds of graves of dead Islamic saints are decorated, visited and worshiped. The greatest of all these venerated graves is Muhammad's, which sits inside the great Mosque of Medina and which millions of Muslim make pilgrimage to every year.
According to the hadeeth presented here Muhammad is the intercessor, mediator or dare I say a kind of High priest before Allah interceding and making atonement for the Ummah's(Muslim nation) sins and evil perpetually day and night. When the Muslim while performing his five daily prayers says "
Heb_7:25 Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.
http://www.livingislam.org/, http://marifah.net, http://www.seekingilm.com, http://www.sufism.org