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Aqeedah of Ahle Sunnah Wal Jummah regarding Tawassul

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Tawassul and Waseelah literally means to make a request or supplicate through a means. It is permissible for one to request Allah Ta'ala to accept his du'aa through the medium of some deeds or the rank of certain individuals as this may be closer to acceptance.

 

There are various forms of Tawassul and Waseela:

 

1. To make Tawassul to Almighty Allah that He accepts the Du'aa due to one having performed a certain good deed is permissible and unanimously accepted. It is supported by the Hadith of Sahih Bukhari in which three people were trapped in a cave. Each of them made Du'aa to Allah Ta'ala to move the obstructing rock and they requested Allah Ta'ala to accept their du'aas due to some good deed that each of them had done.

 

2. To make Tawassul with the names and attributes of Almighty Allah: This is also permissible and is supported by the following verse, 'And Allah has beautiful names, so call unto Him through them.' (Surah A'araaf v.180). Example: If someone says, 'Oh Allah, I ask you through your attributes and beautiful names to grant my specific wish.'

 

3. To make Tawassul to Allah Ta'ala through the rank and position of certain individuals, alive or deceased, in the sight of Almighty Allah This includes the Prophets [alayhimus salaam], the martyrs and any other pious servant of Allah. Example: If one says, 'Oh Allah, I beseech you to accept my du'aa due to the status of Rasulullah [sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam] in Your eyes.' This form of Tawassul is also permissible according to the vast majority of the Ulama (scholars) and it has in fact remained part of their practise.

 

4. Some scholars even mention a fourth type of Tawassul, where a person requests some living pious servant of Allah to make du'aa for him: This is also unanimously accepted.

 

The only type of Tawassul that is disputed is number3, where one makes Tawassul through individuals that are alive or deceased by saying, 'O Allah, I besech you to accept my Du'aa due to the status that Rasulullah [sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam] (or some other pious person) hold in Your eyes.' The first opposition against this form of Tawassul was in the 7th century of Islam. (shifaa-u-siqaam)

 

There are numerous proofs that support the permissibility of Tawassul through individuals. The following are some substantiations:

 

 

1. Sayyiduna Uthmaan ibn Hunayf [radhiallaahu anhu] narrates that once a blind person came to Rasulullah [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] and said, 'Oh Rasulullah [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam]! Ask Allah to cure me.' Rasulullah [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] replied, 'If you wish I will make Du'aa or else you may be patient and this is better for you.' The man said, 'Make Du'aa instead', Rasulullah [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] then commanded him to make Wudhu properly and that he recites the following Du'aa, 'Oh Allah, verily, I ask of you and I turn to you through your prophet, the prophet of mercy, O Muhammad [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam], verily, I have turned to my Lord through you so that my need be fulfilled. Oh Allah, accept his intercession on my behalf.' (Musnad Ahmad vol.4 pg.138; Sunan Tirmidhi; Sunan ibn Majah; Mustadrak Haakim and others). Imaams Tirmidhi, ibn Khuzaymah and Haakim have classified this Hadith as authentic. The words, 'I turn to you through your prophet' clearly proves Tawassul through the position of a person. Rasulullah [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] also told him that he should make the same supplication whenever he needed to. (al-Raddul Muhkamul Mateen pg.145)

 

2. Sayyiduna Uthmaan ibn Hunayf [radhiallaahu anhu] taught this du'aa to someone after the demise of Rasulullah [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam]. That person's need was also fulfilled.

Abu Umaamah ibn Sahl ibn Hunayf [radhiallaahu anhu] reports that a person requested Sayyiduna Uthmaan ibn Affaan [radhiallaahu anhu] to fulfil his need. Sayyiduna Uthmaan [radhiallaahu anhu] did not attend to him. The person complained to Sayyiduna Uthmaan ibn Hunayf [radhiallaahu anhu] about his plight. Sayyiduna Uthmaan ibn Hunayf [radhiallaahu anhu] told him to make Wudhu, go to the Musjid, offer 2 Rakaats of Salaat and recite the following Du'aa: 'O Allah, verily I ask you and I turn to you through our prophet, the prophet of mercy (Rasulullah - sallallaahu alayhi wasallam). O Muhammad! Verily, I have turned to our Lord through you so that He may fulfil my need.'

 

The person then went to Sayyiduna Uthmaan ibn Affaan [radhiallahu anhu] who then [radhiallaahu anhu] immediately fulfilled his need and told him to return whenever he had any need in the future. (al-Mu'jamus sagheer vol.1 pg.184; al-Mu'jamul Kabeer vol.9 pg.17; Dalaailun-nubuwwah of Imaam Bayhaqi vol.6 pg.167-168)

 

Imaam Tabrani has mentioned that this Hadith is authentic. (al-Mu'jamus sagheer vol.1 pg.184). Allamah Mahmood Zaahid Al- Kawthari has also classified the chains of Baihaqi to be Saheeh (authentic). (Maqaalatul-Kawthari pg.391). For a detailed analysis refer to al-Raddul Muhkamul Mateen of Shaykh Abdullah Siddique al-Ghumarie pgs.141-157; Raf'ul Manaarah of Shaykh Mahmood Sa'eed Mamdooh pgs.125-131

 

3. Sayyiduna Anas ibn Maalik [radhiallaahu anhu] reports that when the mother of Sayyiduna Ali [radhiallahu anhu] passed away (Faatima bint Asad - radhiallaahu anha], Rasulullah [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] made the following Du'aa before burying her: 'O Allah, The One who gives life and death, and Who is living and will never die, forgive my mother Faatima bint Asad [radhiallaahu anha], and make her arguments known to her, i.e. make the answering of Munkar and Nakeer easy, and make her grave spacious for her. (I ask you) through the right of your prophet and all the prophet's before me, for verily You are Most Merciful.' (al-Mu'jamul awsat vol.1 pg.152; Hilya vol.3 pg.121)

 

'Bi haqqi nabiyyika' (through the right of your prophet). This narration is classified as authentic according to the standards of Imaam ibn Hibbaan and Haakim. (Raf'ul Manaarah pg.147; Maqaalaatul Kawthari). Haafiz Ibn Hajar Al-Haytami(RA) that its chain of narrators is good.(Refer to his footnotes on Al-Manaasik of Imaam Nawawi(RA) pg.500…)

 

4. When a person leaves the Musjid, the following du'aa is recorded, 'Allaahumma inniy as-aluka bi haqqis-saa-ileena alayka, wa bi haqqi mamshaaya haaza…'. (Translation: Oh Allah, I ask you through the right of those who ask you and through the right of the act of my walking…)

 

In this narration, Tawassul through people is established, '…through the right of those who ask' and Tawassul through one's deeds is supported by the second part. This Hadith is recorded in Sunan ibn Maajah, Musnad Ahmad (vol.3 pg.21), Musannaf ibn Abi Shaybah and others. The following Muhadditheen have regarded it as authentic: Imaam ibn Khuzaymah (Kitaab Tawheed pg.17), Hafiz Abdul-Ghani al-Maqdisi (al-Naseehah), Hafiz Abul-Hasan al-Maqdisi - teacher of Allaamah Munzhiri (refer al-Targheeb vol.3 pg.273), Allamah al-Iraqi - Ustaadh of Hafiz ibn Hajar (Takhrijul Ihyaa), Hafiz ibn Hajar al-Asqalaani (Nataa-ijul Afkaar vol.1 pg.272), Hafiz Dimyati (Al-Matjarur-raabih). These are six great Muhadditheen that have accepted this Hadith to be authentic, hence, there remains no doubt at all concerning its acceptability.

 

The following two proofs illustrate to us the practise of the Sahaaba [radhiallaahu anhum] as well.

 

5. Sayyiduna Maalik al-Daar, the treasurer of food during the time of Sayyiduna Umar ibn al-Khattaab [radhiallaahu anhu], reports that once the people had been experiencing a drought in the era of Sayyiduna Umar [radhiallaahu anhu], a man went to the grave of Rasulullah [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] and said, 'O Rasulullah [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam], ask for rain on behalf of your Ummah, for verily, they are being destroyed.' Thereafter this person was instructed in a dream to go to Sayyiduna Umar [radhiallaahu anhu] and tell him that, 'the rains will soon come and say to him, Be intelligent', When Umar [radhiallaahu anhu] was informed of this, he began to cry and he said, 'O My Lord, I will only leave out what I am unable to do.' (Musannaf ibn Abi Shaybah vol.12 pg.31-32; Dalaailun-nubuwwah of Imaam Bayhaqi vol.7 pg.47). Hafiz ibn Katheer [ra] has stated that the chain of narrators is 'good and strong' (Musnadul Faarooq vol.1 pg.223). Hafiz ibn Hajar has also indicated to its authenticity in Fathul Bari.

 

6. Abul-Jawzaa - Aws ibn Abdullah [radhiallaahu anhu] reports that once, the people of Madinah were experiencing a severe drought. They complained to Sayyidatuna Aaisha [radhiallahu anha]. She advised them that they should make a hole in the tomb of the roof of Rasulullah [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] so that the grave is exposed to the skies. He says, 'When they made a hole, heavy rains came down and crops also began to grow.' (Sunan Darimi vol.1 pg.56)

 

7. Imaam Haakim and others have narrated on the authority of Sayyiduna Umar ibn al-Khattaab [radhiallaahu anhu] that Rasulullah [sallallahu alayhi wasallam] said, 'When Adam [alayhis salaam] ate from the forbidden tree, he said, 'O My Lord, I ask you through the right of Muhammad [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] that you forgive me.' The words used were, 'Bi haqqi Muhammad' Allah Ta'ala accepted Aadam's [alayhis salaam] repentance. (al-Mustadrak vol.2 pg.615; Dalaailun-Nubuwwah of Imaam Bayhaqi vol.5 pg.489; al-Mu'jamus saghir of Imaam Tabrani vol.2 pg.82)

 

The status of this narration has been extensively disputed by the various Muhadditheen. Some have accepted it to be authentic and others rejected it. However, there is another narration that supports this narration recorded by Imaam Abul-Hasan ibn Bishraan [ra] on the authority of Sayyidatuna Maysarah [radhiallaahu anha]. The chain of narrators for this Hadith is totally different from the previous one. And in fact, Hafiz ibn Hajar [ra] has stated concerning a completely different narration which has the very same chain of narrators, that this chain of narrators is strong.

 

(al-Raddul Muhkamul Mateen pgs.138-139; al-Ahaadeethul Muntaqaa pg.14, both of Shaykh Abdullah Siddique al-Ghumarie). These narrations have all proven beyond a shadow of doubt that this form of Tawassul is permissible and was widely practised as well.

 

 

Hereunder follows a list of some of the many illustrious Ulama of the past who had practised upon Tawassul through the rank of the pious, deceased or alive:

 

 

1. Imaam Hasan ibn Ibrahim al-Hallal [ra] has stated that whenever he had any urgent need, he would go to the grave of Imaam Moosa ibn Ja'far [ra] and make Tawassul through him. Allah Ta'ala would fulfil his need. (refer Taarikh Baghdaad)

 

2. Imaam Shaafi'ee [ra] would make Tawassul at the grave of Imaam Abu Hanifa [ra]. (Taarikh Baghdaad). Allaamah al-Kawthari has classified this incident as authentic. (Maqaalaatul Kawthari pg.381)

 

3. Allaamah Taajuddeen al-Subki [ra] has mentioned that the people would go to the grave of Imaam ibn Foorak(ra), the teacher of Imaam Bayhaqi [ra] and make Du'aa and their Du'aas would get accepted.

 

4. Hafiz Al-Zarkashi [ra] has made Tawassul in the introduction to his commentary to Sahih al-Bukhari entitled, 'al-Tanqeeh'.

 

5. Hafiz Taqi-u-ddin al-Subki [ra], the father of Taajuddin al-Subki [ra], has approved of this firm of Tawassul and he has written a detailed treatise on this topic. (See his book: Shifaa-u-Siqaam pgs.293-318)

 

6. Allamah Nawawi [ra] has mentioned that from among the etiquettes of visiting the grave of Rasulullah [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] one should make Tawassul through Rasulullah [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] to Allah Ta'ala to accept his Du'aas. Thereafter, Allamah Nawawi states, '…and one of the best things that one should do is what has been related by Allaamah al-Mawardi [ra], al-Qaadhi Abu Teeb [ra] and all our Ulama and they have all regarded it as commendable, and that is the incident of Imaam al-Utabi [ra] that he said, 'I was once seated by the grave of Rasulullah [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam], when a Bedouin came and said, 'Peace be upon you, oh, Messenger of Allah. O Messenger of Allah, I have heard Almighty Allah say in the Qur'aan "And if they, when they had been unjust to themselves, had come to you (Muhammad Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) and begged Allah's forgiveness and the messenger had begged forgiveness for them, indeed they would have found Allah All-Forgiving. Most merciful.(Al-Nisaa:64) hence, I have come to you in a state that I seek forgiveness of my sins by seeking your intercession by my Lord', thereafter he recited a few couplets and departed. Imaam al-Utabi [ra] states, 'I then fell asleep and I saw Rasulullah [sallallahu alayhi wasallam] instructing me by the words, 'O Utabi, go to that Bedouin and give him the glad tidings that Almighty Allah has forgiven him.' (Refer al-Majmoo vol.8 pg.456 - Cairo and Manaasikul-Imaam-Al-Nawawi pg.498-499 Maktabah Salafia). This incident has been related by many Ulama in their respective compilations. Some of them are: Haafiz Ibn-Katheer in his Tafseer, Allamah Abu-Muhammad ibn Qudaamah in Al-Mughni vol.3 pg.556, Imaam Abul-Faraj in Al-Sharhul-Kabeervol.3 pg.495, etc.)

 

7. Imaam Ahmad bin Hambal(RA) has also encouraged making Tawassul through Rasulullah [sallallahu alayhi wasallam] in ones duas. (Fataawa ibn Taimiyyah vol.1 pg.140, Also see Mafaaheem pg.137)

 

8. Haafiz Shamsud-Deen Al-Sakhawi (RA), the grand student of Haafiz ibn Hajr Al-Asqalaani(RA) made Tawassul on many occasions through Rasulullah [sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam] in his books, see for example Al-Tuhfatul-Lateefah vol.1 pg.3, 17; al-Ibtihaaj bi azkaaril musaafiril haaj

 

9. Allamah Muhammad ibn-ul-Jazri(RA) the famous Muhaddith and Master of Qira'aat has mentioned that from amongst the Aadaab etiquettes of dua is that one makes Tawassul with the Ambiyaa and the pious ones.(Al-Hisnul Haseen)

 

10. Imaam Al-Shawkaani Al-Salafi(RA) has also permitted Tawassul. (Tuhfatu-Zaakireen pg.50)

 

 

These are ten Different types of Ulama (i.e. some are Fuqahaa, some Muhadditheen and some are Qurraa). All have either practised on Tawassul or at least permitted it. And the list could go on….(refer to Maqaalatul Kawthari pg.378-397). After contemplating on all that was mentioned above, any person with sound intelligence would believe without a shadow of doubt in the permissibility of this form of Tawassul.

 

More so when one realizes that this remained the practise of the Ummah for centuries. Allamah Taqee-ud-Deen Al-Subki(RA) and other Muhadditheen have stated that Haafiz Ibn-Taimiyyah(RA) - who passed away in the year 728 Hijri - was the first to refute the permissibility of this form of Tawassul (Shifaa-us-Siqaam pg.293) In fact, Abu-Abdillah Al-Tilmisani Al-Maaliki(RA) (a renown scholar of the 7th century) has written a book concerning how this remained the practise of the entire Ummah since its existence. (Refer Maqaalatul Kawthari pg.397)

 

Lastly, we would like to draw your attention to the fact that the above permissibility is in regard to one who asks Allah Ta'ala for a particular need and in doing so, he uses some honourable personality as his Waseela (means) without thinking or believing that the person is being supplicated to or that he will fulfil his need. Yes, if one asks directly from the deceased and he believes that the Anbiyaa [alayhimus salaam] and the pious [rahimahumullah] independently possess the power to provide, then this would be Shirk (polytheism) because he is now ascribing partners to Allah in the quality of 'Providing'.

 

Many contemporaries have mixed both these forms up; a) asking directly from the deceased and, b) asking Allah Alone, through the medium of some deceased) and have passed one ruling of Shirk for both forms. This is clearly a gross oversight on their path.

 

and Allah Ta'ala Knows Best

Ml. Muhammad ibn Moulana Haroon Abasoomar

FACULTY OF SPECIALTY IN HADITH SCIENCES

CHECKED & APPROVED: Mufti Ebrahim Desai (Fatwa Dept.)
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Various Forms of Tawassul and Istighatha and their Rulings

 
<QUESTION>

I wanted to know the Islamic position on seeking intermediaries to Allah, and on seeking help from the dead and calling onto them. Some say it is allowed, and others say it is major shirk. Can you please explain in detail?

 

<ANSWER>
In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,

You have asked about two different issues; and, as such, both will be treated separately. The first relates to supplicating Allah using an intermediary (known as Tawassul), and the second relates to calling upon and seek the help of other than Allah (known as Istighatha and Isti’ana).

 

Supplicating Allah through Intermediaries (Tawassul)

A detailed answer on this issue was previously posted (on our website). Nevertheless, here is a summary of what was outlined in that answer:

There are three ways of supplicating Allah through a means or intermediary:

 

1) Seeking intermediary through one’s actions (tawassul bi ‘l-a’mal)

This refers to using one’s good deeds and righteous acts as an intermediary when supplicating Allah Most High. For example, one says, “O Allah, please fulfil my need in consideration of such-and-such good deed I carried out on that particular day.”

 

This type of Tawassul is permitted, and even recommended, according to all major classical Imams – with no disagreement on its permissibility.

 

The proof for its permissibility is the famous incident described by the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) of three people from a nation before us who were blocked in a Cave. Each one of them beseeched Allah by naming a righteous deed, and then said, “O Allah, if I did this seeking only your pleasure, then relieve us [from this distress].” Consequently, Allah made the rock to move away and they all came out of the cave. (Bukhari and Muslim)

 

2) Seeking intermediary through living persons (tawassul bi ‘l-ahya)

This refers to using a living person as an intermediary when supplicating Allah Most High, due to his righteousness and closeness to Allah. For example, one says, “O Allah, please fulfil my need in consideration of such-and-such pious slave of yours and your love for him.”

 

This type of Tawassul is also permitted according to all major classical Imams and jurists, with no disagreement on its permissibility.

 

The proof for its permissibility, amongst others, is that which is related by Sayyiduna Anas ibn Malik (Allah be pleased with him) that the Companion Sayyiduna Umar ibn al-Khattab (Allah be pleased with him) sought rain from Allah at the time of drought through the intermediary of the uncle of the Prophet, al-Abbas ibn Abd al-Muttalib (Allah be pleased with him). (Sahih al-Bukhari)

 

3) Seeking intermediary through deceased persons (tawassul bi ‘l-amwat)

This refers to using a person who has passed away – such as a Prophet or saint – as an intermediary when supplicating Allah Most High, due to his righteousness and closeness to Allah. For example, one says, “O Allah, please fulfil my need in consideration of your Prophet whom you love” or “O Allah, I ask you through your Prophet.”

 

This form of Tawassul is permitted according to the vast majority of classical Imams (salaf) and jurists (fuqaha) including the four Sunni Schools of Islamic law. Only Imam Ibn Taymiya and those who followed him object to it, saying that it negates the concept of Tawhid.

 

Among the many proofs of its permissibility is the Hadith of Uthman ibn Hunayf (Allah be pleased with him) in which the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) advised a man complaining of blindness to offer two Rak’ats prayer and then supplicate saying, “O Allah, I ask you and turn to you through my Prophet Muhammad, the Prophet of Mercy...” (Tirmidhi) The same Uthman ibn Hunayf, after the passing of the Prophet (peace be upon him), advised a person who visited him repeatedly, concerning something he needed, to do the same. (Al-Mu’jam al-Kabir of Tabarani and classed as authentic (sahih) by al-Bayhaqi, Mundhiri, al-Haythami and others).

 

Moreover, if the second form of Tawassul (through living persons) is permitted, then the third form (through deceased persons) should also be allowed, since in both cases one supplicates Allah and not the individual. It is not through a physical body or through life or death; rather, through the positive meaning attached to the person in both life and death.

 

In reality, both the second and third forms can simply be considered as manifestations of the first form, i.e. seeking intermediary through one’s actions. This is because when one uses Tawassul in supplication, one merely highlights the lofty position of the person before Allah and one’s love for him, i.e. saying, “O Allah, this certain Prophet of yours is very close to you. I do not possess any good deeds, but I have love for the pious. Pardon me and forgive my sins due to this love I have with this pious servant of yours”. As such, the thing being presented before Allah is the ‘love’ and ‘connection’ with the Prophet, which in reality is a righteous deed.

 

Before ending this section, it is important to note that one’s supplication (dua’) is not in need of Tawassul. To believe that Dua’ is not accepted, or the chances of its acceptance are less, should Tawassul not be carried out, is an erroneous understanding. One may never use an intermediary in supplication, and by doing so, would have not done anything wrong. And Allah knows best.

 

Calling Upon and Seeking the Help of other than Allah (Istighatha and Isti’ana bi ‘l-ghayr)

There are various ways of calling upon and seeking the help of other than Allah:

 

1) Calling upon others in imaginary terms

This is when a poet – for example – addresses a Prophet, saint or even inanimate objects in imaginary and figurative terms, merely to express love and desire. Such poetry has been related from a number of Imams and great scholars of Islam in which they address the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace), pious individuals, the city of Madina, birds, mountains, and so on and so forth. 

 

This type of calling out is, in of itself, permitted because the intention is not to call upon the addressee and the belief is not that they are directly hearing; rather, it is done out of mere longing and love. However, in an atmosphere where such words may be misconstrued or lead to incorrect beliefs, they should be avoided. (Fatawa Usmani by Mufti Taqi Usmani 1/58-5)

 

2) Seeking help from one another in worldly matters

This refers to asking help from a living person in matters ordinarily in his control or in apparent causes (al-asbab al-zahira). For example, seeking help from a medical doctor for treatment, taking medicine, or asking an engineer to fix one’s vehicle.

 

This obviously is permitted and does not require any proof, provided one holds the one whose help is being sought merely as a means, and Allah alone as the true effecter.

 

3) Requesting living persons for Dua’

This refers to requesting a living person such as a scholar, pious individual, parent, friend or traveller to supplicate on one’s behalf, with the understanding that the chances of his Dua’ being accepted are great because of his rank, location or situation.

This also is without doubt permitted. The proof for its permissibility is the Hadith in which the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said to Sayyiduna Umar (Allah be pleased with him) when the latter was departing for Umra, “O my brother, do not forget us in your supplications.” (Abu Dawud and Tirmidhi)

 

4) Requesting deceased persons for Dua’

This is done in two ways:

 

a) Going to the grave of a Prophet or pious individual and requesting him to supplicate on one’s behalf. For example, one says, “Oh such-and-such person, pray for me that Allah Most High fulfils my work.”

 

The ruling concerning this returns to the issue of whether the dead are able to hear in their graves. There is a ‘legitimate’ difference of opinion between the Companions and classical scholars on this issue, with many – such as Imams Ibn Abd al-Barr, Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, Ibn Qutayba and Ibn Kathir (Allah have mercy on them) – affirming the hearing (sima’) of the dead, and this is also the position of the Companion Abdullah ibn Umar (Allah be pleased with him).

 

Among the proofs supporting this position is the Hadith narrated by Anas ibn Malik (Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, “Verily when the servant is put in his grave, and his companions turn away from him, he hears the noise of their sandals.” (Sahih Muslim)

 

Secondly, the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) addressed the disbelievers from the dead of Badr saying, “We have found true what our Lord promised us, did you find true what your Lord promised you?” Umar (Allah be pleased with him) said, “O Messenger of Allah! You are speaking to bodies that have no souls?”  The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) replied, “You do not hear better [than them] to what I say to them, except that they are unable to reply.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

 

Thirdly, the great exegete (mufassir) Imam Ibn Kathir (Allah have mercy on him), under the commentary of Surah al-Rum (3:438), relates a Hadith from Imam Ibn Abd al-Barr, who authenticated it, from Ibn Abbas (Allah be pleased with him), from the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace)  that, “None passes by the grave of his Muslim brother that he knew in the world and greets him except Allah restores his soul to him and he returns the greeting to him.”(Tafsir Ibn Kathir)

 

On the other hand, the position of Sayyida A’isha (Allah be pleased with her) and a group of scholars is that the dead do not hear, using as proof the statement of Allah Most High, “Truly you cannot cause the dead to listen.” (Qur’an 27:80)

 

As such, in accordance with the position that the dead can hear in their graves, it would be permitted to request the deceased for Dua’ and intercession at his grave. Conversely, in accordance with the position that the dead are unable to hear in their graves, it would not be permitted. Since, this is a matter of genuine scholarly difference, no one position should be considered as absolute and decisive. It is possible that Allah Most High makes the dead in the grave hear a speech out of His Infinite Power, and Allah knows best.

 

b) Requesting a Prophet or deceased saint from a distance (and not at his grave) to supplicate on one’s behalf. For example, whilst sitting at home, one says, “O Prophet, please pray for me that Allah forgives my sins.”

 

Since, there are no such examples in Hadith literature or from the practice of the Companions and early Muslims, this is best avoided. Most scholars consider it to be impermissible, given that there is no ‘clear’ evidence suggesting that one’s request will be heard or conveyed to the deceased person. Indeed, the Hadith mentions that salutations (salawat) recited upon the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) are conveyed to him [by the angels], but there is no mention of Dua’ requests being conveyed to him.

 

Indeed, it is ‘possible’ that Allah Most High conveys the message to the deceased, but since there are no proofs or examples, it is best to refrain – especially in the case of deceased persons besides the Prophet such as saints and the righteous.

 

5) Calling upon and seeking help from deceased persons in worldly matters through Allah’s granting

This means asking help from a deceased person in matters ordinarily in the control of living persons or in apparent causes (al-asbab al-zahira). For example, asking a deceased person for money or asking him to help fix one’s vehicle – believing that he is merely a means and not independent of Allah, and that only Allah helps in absolute terms and without Him no one can help.

 

6) Calling upon and seeking help in matters of the unseen through Allah’s granting

This refers to asking a deceased (or living) person such as a Prophet or saint for help in matters of the unseen (al-umur al-ghaybiyya) which are not ordinarily in the control of humans. For example; asking for good weather, children, prosperity or help in times of distress such as saying “O Messenger of Allah, help me (Ya Rasul Allah Madad)” or addressing the person in the grave and saying “Assist me in my trial” or “O Saint, grant me children” – believing that the one whose help is being sought is merely a means and not independent of Allah, and that only Allah helps in absolute terms and without Him no one can help.

 

Although some scholars may allow these two types of Istighatha (5 and 6) subject to one having a sound belief that it is only Allah who helps in absolute terms, the opinion of many other scholars including most of my teachers (and the position which I hold to be correct) is that such type of Istighatha is an ‘expression’ of Shirk and hence prohibited even if done with a sound belief. Seeking help in a matter not ordinarily in the control of the one whose help is being sought may create a doubt that he is independent in that action, because there is no immediate external reason from Allah’s design in His creation. Since it is a practical expression of Shirk, means to Shirk and resembles the Shirk of the Polytheists (mushrikun), it is forbidden. It is in order to block the means to ‘clear’ Shirk, especially in our times, given the widespread nature of ignorance and corrupt beliefs within the masses.

 

However, the perpetrator of such Istighatha will not be guilty of actual Shirk and disbelief (kufr), rather a sinful act. One must be careful in deeming other Muslims as polytheists (mushrikun) or out of the fold of Islam, especially when the person in question may be a scholar and generally has sound beliefs.

 

7) Calling upon and seeking help from deceased (or living) persons in absolute terms

This refers to asking a Prophet or saint directly for help, believing that Allah Most High has delegated some of his powers to him in a particular area, after which he has become independent in those powers, and can do whatever he wants, whenever he wants, gives to whoever he wants and withholds from whoever he wants, without needing permission from Allah in each and every moment of executing those powers (like the King’s delegation of powers to his viceroy and other officials). For example, asking a saint to grant children with the belief that he has been given complete control of this area by Allah Most High.

 

Istighatha with this type of belief is clear and major Shirk, and takes one out of the fold of Islam, because one is assuming that the deceased shares a certain characteristic of Allah Most High.

 

This was the type of Shirk committed by the idolaters and polytheists of Makka, and severely condemned by Allah Most High. Unlike worldly kings, Allah does not have such subservient rulers working under Him who, after having received powers from Allah, become independent themselves. The worldly kings require such deputies because of their weaknesses, whilst Allah Almighty has no such need. All matters are in His hands, and nothing is in the hand of another in an independent fashion.

 

Allah Most High says, “Whatever you worship, other than Him, are nothing but names you have coined, you and your fathers. Allah has sent down no authority for them. Sovereignty belongs to none but Allah. He has ordained that you shall not worship anyone but Him. This is the only right path. But most of the people do not know” (Qur’an 12: 40)

 

And, “Say, Who is the One in whose hand lies the kingdom of everything and who gives protection, and no protection can be given against him, if you have knowledge?” (Qur’an 23: 88)

 

It is in this independent fashion we have been taught to seek only Allah’s help in Surat al-Fatiha, “You alone do we worship, and from You alone do we seek help.” (Qur’an 1: 5).

 

The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said, “When you ask, ask [only] Allah; and when you seek help, seek help [only] from Allah.” (Bukhari)

 

This is even more serious when the one whose help is being sought is regarded as omnipotent (qadir al-mutlaq), i.e. he has absolute, permanent and intrinsic powers in which he is not always dependent on the Will of Allah, and that this power was not given to him by Allah. Such a belief was not even held by the disbelievers and idolaters of Makka about their objects of worship.

 

And Allah knows best 

[Mufti] Muhammad ibn Adam

Darul Iftaa

Leicester , UK

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