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View Full Version : All about Istighatha, Istishfa', and Tawassul, etc...

Ibn Abi Ahmed
03-22-2007, 01:51 PM

This a series of posts on another forum made by Br. Abuz Zubair found *here* which I figured would be beneficial to put here as well.

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Ibn Abi Ahmed
03-22-2007, 01:52 PM
The following is a loose compilation of what I have written on this issue on various forums. I have tried to organise it in a logical fashion:

Let me try to clarify the different types of tawassul/istighatha that we often discuss:

1) To call upon other than Allah for a need, such as rain, etc, while believing that the one being addressed will answer the call is Shirk by agreement. For example: O Prophet! Send us rain!

2) To call upon other than Allah for a need, such as rain, etc, while believing that only Allah will answer the call is Shirk, by agreement. For example: O Prophet! Send us rain!

3) To call upon other than Allah, asking them to intercede for us with Allah is also Shirk. For example: O Prophet! Intercede for us with Allah!

4) To call upon the Prophet, asking him to make du’a for us is Shirk. For example: O Prophet! Ask Allah to grant us rain!

5) To call upon Allah alone, asking Him by His Prophet is a valid difference of opinion in Fiqh where none is censured. For example: O Allah! I ask you alone by Your noble Prophet!

Ibn Abi Ahmed
03-22-2007, 01:58 PM
1) To call upon other than Allah for a need, such as rain, etc, while believing that the one being addressed will answer the call is Shirk by agreement. For example: O Prophet! Send us rain!

The following is what I wrote about this on another forum:

This is the most important of all issues that the Muslims must be very clear about, for this is the very foundation of our religion.

The danger of this issue must also be made clear, that if one is ignorant in this issue, and calls upon other than Allah, then he has absolutely nothing to do with Islam.

1) Remember, that as a rule, there are aspects of this religion that are clear cut and well-established, whereby a person does not even need textual proof to believe in those aspects, and from them, worshipping Allah alone. Yet, the heretics and pagans will always bring arguments, as they did at the time of the Prophet – SallAllahu ‘alaihi wa-sallam – to cast doubt on that which is already established. Hence, they will bring arguments to suggest that making vows to idols is not Shirk, because making a vow itself is not worship. They can even argue that prostrating to someone other than Allah, or praying to him is not Shirk, because a Salah is not exactly an act of worship.

Here, a Muslim who has no knowledge, surely knows that idols are bad. No matter how corrupt a Muslim is, everyone knows that Islam is a monotheistic religion, which does not allow one to worship anyone besides Allah. Even a sinful Muslim knows that he should not prostrate to anyone besides Allah.

Yes, he might not be able to answer the counter-arguments, but he should still stick to the well-established facts about Islam. And hence, Allah’s censure of those in the Quran who leave the clear-cut Muhkam verses, and instead follow the ambiguous Mutashabihat, seeking thereby pure fitnah.

Meaning, if we have clear cut verses in the Quran, often repeated in nearly every Surah: Do not call upon anyone besides Allah; one seeking the truth knows that such verses are certainly clear-cut and open to no doubt. If one leaves these clear-cut verses and follows the twisted arguments of the pagans, he has surely followed the mutashabihat and therefore, led astray.

Please remember this principle, for this is applicable to host of issues where a layman like ourselves has little knowledge.

If someone argues with you how there is not Hadd for theft, etc, leave the doubts, and follow that which you know for certain.

2) One who advocates, or legitimises calling upon other than Allah is alien to Islam and its history. The Arabs before ‘Amr b. Luhay were upon the monotheistic religion of Ibrahim. When ‘Amr went to Syria, he saw people worshipping idols. He liked the idea, and brought one of the idols with him, and therefore, he became the first to introduce idols amongst the Arabs. And important point to note here is: The Arabs, in spite of worshipping idols, believed themselves to be on the religion of Ibrahim, and hence, they would make Hajj as they were taught to. They would even say: Labbayk Allahumma Labbayk, as we do today. The difference was, that they added to that: La sharika lak, illa sharikan huwa lak, tamlikuhu wa ma malak (You have no partner, except for whom You choose as a partner, whom you own along with what he owns). Read their Talbiyya for Hajj, for they clearly believed that Allah is the supreme God and He owns all other Gods, yet only by His power and decision, he makes other gods his partners. However, there kept appearing men – before the Prophet – who would abandon idol worshipping and tell the pagans that this is all bid’a. The Quraish will obviously pay no heed, for this is what they saw their forefathers doing. The Prophet – SallAllahu ‘alaihi wasallam – was sent as a Messenger to revive the religion of Ibrahim. Thus, his call was to abandon all acts of worship directed towards other than Allah. The Quran is filled with condemnation of these pagans, arguing that the pagans call upon those who cannot benefit them! And guess what? The Pagans do not disagree that the idols do not benefit them! Their only argument was: These are our intercessors with Allah. This is exactly what the pagans today claim.

3) The Quran is so crammed full of verses condemning – specifically – calling upon other than Allah, that as Sh Muhammad b. ‘Abd al-Wahhab says: Whoever has a copy of the Quran, and still calls upon other than Allah, is in no need of any evidence being established upon him. SubhaanAllah! Is there any evidence after the explicit and clear cut text of the Quran?! And if the Quran is not a sufficient evidence, then what use is the Quran which cannot even prove something as basic as this?!

For example, Allah says, and we are ordered to recite in every raka’ah: ‘You alone we ask for help

These Mushriks say: Erm… not exactly, we ask others besides You too…

Allah says: ‘Indeed the Mosques belong to Allah, so do not call upon anyone besides Allah

These Mushriks say: You may call upon others besides Allah

Allah says: ‘Who is more astray than the one who calls upon other than Allah, one who cannot respond until the Day of Resurrection, while they are unmindful of their invocation?

These Mushriks say: ‘In fact the dead do respond to us, and hence you can call upon other than Allah’

Allah says: ‘Those you call upon besides Allah are servants just like you, so call upon them, and let them respond to you if you are truthful

Mushriks say: ‘Yes, they are servants just like us, and yes, we would call upon them’

No need for me to keep quoting verses upon verses, for anyone who reads the Quran, I do not understand, how on earth he would miss such clear cut verses, unless if Allah has made him for the Fire. For how can one establish evidences against a person who recites iyyaka nasta’een in every raka’ah, yet still calls upon other than Allah!

4) Calling upon other than Allah is Shirk by agreement of the Muslims, past and present.

Mullah ‘Ali al-Qari al-Hanafi says commenting upon Hadeeth about the worst of sins where the Prophet said: ‘To make a rival unto Allah, while He created you’; Al-Qari says: ‘Meaning: To make someone his equal in your invocation and worship

The Hanbalis have unanimously agreed that whoever takes an intermediary between himself and Allah, calls upon them and asks of them, has disbelieved by consensus. See for reference al-Furu’, al-Insaf, Kashaf al-Qina’, Sharh al-Muntaha and Ghayat al-Muntaha.

This consensus was also referred to by Ibn Hajar al-Haytami in his al-I’lam bi qawati’ al-Islam, even though he permits tawassul, i.e. asking Allah directly by the right of the Prophet, and not asking the Prophet instead!

Ibn al-Subki in his Shifa al-Saqam also regards asking other than Allah is Shirk, while arguing that Istighatha (seeking aid) through the Prophet is not Shirk. He says: ‘(by seeking aid)… we are not asking other than Allah, nor are we calling upon anyone but Him. Hence, the one asked in such invocations is Allah alone who has no partners, while the one on whose behalf the question is made varies. This does not necessitate Shirk, nor asking other than Allah. Likewise, asking by the virtue of the Prophet, is not actually asking the Prophet (directly), rather it is asking Allah (directly), by the virtue of the Prophet’. Meaning, if one were to ask the Prophet directly, it would be, not doubt, Shirk with Allah.

Al-Taftazani states in Sharh al-Maqasid that the Shirk which the early pagans were guilty of was making statues of righteous people and glorifying them in order to seek their intercession with Allah.

Al-Zabidi the Ash’arite theologian also concurred with the so-called ‘wa habbi’ understanding of ‘invocation being the act of worship’.

Moreover, what would al-Zahawi do with the following Hadeeth: ‘When you ask, only ask from Allah. When you seek aid, only seek aid from Allah’?

Al-Qurtubi also states in the tafseer of the verse: ‘Your Lord said: Call upon Me, and I will respond to you!’, this proves that invocation is the act of worship, and this is what most of the mufassirin are upon’.

Fakhr al-Razi al-Ash’ari said: ‘The majority of the greatest intellectuals said: the Dua is the greatest of all stations of worship’ (Sharh Asma Allah) Hence, if Dua is from the greatest of stations of worship, could it be directed to one other than Allah? And one guilty of it, could he be called anything but a Mushrik?

Furthermore, Fakhr al-Razi in his Tafseer reports al-Khattabi commenting on the Hadeeth: ‘The Dua is in fact worship’, meaning: that it (dua) is the greatest of acts of worship’!

5) It is important to understand that the modern pagans are not different to the early pagans. In fact the modern pagans are worse. This is because the early pagans, when they were caught in a difficulty, they would call upon Allah alone, as Allah says: ‘When they aboard a ship, they call upon Allah, purifying the religion for Him. Yet, when He saves them and brings them to the land, they are instantly committing Shirk’

The pagans of today call upon other than Allah, even during hardships.

The only difference between the pagans of the old and 21st century pagans, is that the first ones actually called their idols ‘gods’ and acknowledged that they worshipped them; while the modern pagans – most of them – do not call their saints ‘gods’, nor do they claim to worship them, yet the actions they perform towards these saints are exactly the same as the actions performed by the early pagans to their gods. Hence, their actions in reality are the same, the difference between them is restricted to terminology.

I said ‘most of them’ for some of them actually refer to the Prophet – SallAllau ‘alaihi wa-sallam – as al-Awwal, al-Aakhir, al-Dhahir al-Batin! This Shirk was printed and distributed by ‘Alawi al-Maliki, the ‘Amr b. Luhay of the age who brought idolatry back to the Arabs after 1400 years!

Ibn Abi Ahmed
03-22-2007, 02:00 PM
2) To call upon other than Allah for a need, such as rain, etc, while believing that only Allah will answer the call is Shirk, by agreement. For example: O Prophet! Send us rain!

This is what I wrote some time ago on a different forum:

Firstly, The Prophet – SallAllahu ‘alaihi wa-sallam – made takfeer of the pagans for merely calling upon other than Allah, even though they explicitly declared that Allah is the only Lord, the Creator, the Provider.

This is reflected in the following verse:

‘Say: Who provides for you from the heavens and the earth? Or who controls hearing and sight and who brings the living out of the dead and brings the dead out of the living and who arranges [every] matter? They will say: Allah. So say: Then will you not fear Him?’

As it is clear that although the pagans believed that Allah is the only provider, they still called upon their idols, claiming that they are merely their intercessors.

Similarly, Allah said of the pagans: ‘Most of them do not believe in Allah, except that they associate partners unto Him’

al-Tabari says in his tafseer: Their belief in Allah is their saying: Allah is our Creator, our Provider, who gives us death and gives us life; while their Shirk is to attribute partners unto Allah in His worship and invocation.

Secondly, when the Hanbali scholars and others explicitly stated the apostasy of the one who calls upon other than Allah, they do not differentiate between one who does so believing the response would come from Allah, and one who does so believing the response would come from the creation.

To differentiate between the two only first appeared after the Da’wah of Sheikh Miuhammd b. ‘Abd al-Wahhab. The advocates of this idea were simply seeking justification for one to call upon others besides Allah. Hence, they argued that when one says: ‘O Sidi ‘Abd al-Qadir, help me!’ He is in reality addressing Allah, while mentioning ‘Abd al-Qadir only allegorically, because he believes in his heart that the response will only come from Allah.

In response, we say that the statement: ‘O so-and-so, help me!’ is Sarih al-Kufr – an explicit statement of Kufr, which does not accommodate Majaz. Just like the word Talaq, is an explicit statement of divorce, and if one says it to his wife even in jest, his wife is divorced. He cannot claim: I only intended it allegorically, whereas my intention was not to divorce her. Similarly, when one makes a statement of clear-cut apostasy, such as: O Sidi fulan, help me! He becomes an apostate, and his claim that he intended something else would be of no use to him.

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Ibn Abi Ahmed
03-22-2007, 02:02 PM
3) To call upon other than Allah, asking them to intercede for us with Allah is also Shirk. For example: O Prophet! Intercede for us with Allah!

The following verdict from Allah about intercession should suffice:

“They worship besides Allah that which neither harms them nor benefits them, saying: These are our intercessors with Allah. Say: Do you inform Allah of something He does not know in the heavens or on the earth? Exalted is He and high above what they associate with Him!” (Yunus 18)

The Hanafi Maturidi theolgian, al-Taftazani states that the Shirk only occured amongst the pagans when "one of them died, who possessed a high station with Allah, they took an sculpture resembling him and exalted him, thereby seeking his intercession (tashaffu'an) and and taking him as means (tawassulan)." Sharh al-Maqasid

The Shafi'i-Ash'arite theologian, al-Razi states in his Tafseer: "Those who said: 'We only worship these idols, which are sculptures of angels, so that they intercede for us. Hence, Allah falsified their claim saying: 'No intercession will be of benefit with Him, except for one He permits'. Hence, there is no benefit in you worshiping other than Allah, for Allah does not permit intercession for one who worships other than Him. You, by asking for intercession, have lost the right of intercession."

He also says: "Be certain, that the Kuffar said: 'We do not worship these idols because we believe they are gods that bring about benefit or harm. We only worship them... because these great beings become intercessors for us with Allah. Hence, Allah responded to them saying: 'Have they taken others besides Allah as intercessors? Say: Even if they do not posses a thing, nor do they understand?'

Ibn Taymiyya says in reference to this verse: ‘He – Subhaanahu – informed about the pagans – as has preceded – that they took intermediaries between themselves and Allah, calling upon them and taking them as intercessors without Allah’s permission. Allah Ta’ala said: “They worship besides Allah that which neither harms them nor benefits them, saying: These are our intercessors with Allah. Say: Do you inform Allah of something He does not know in the heavens or on the earth? Exalted is He and high above what they associate with Him!” Hence, Allah informed that those who took them as intercessors are Mushrikun.’ Majmu’ al-Fatawa 3/105

Ibn Taymiyya also says regarding the intersession of the pagans (al-Radd ‘ala al-Bakri): ‘The origin of the pagan misguidance was that they thought that the intercession with Allah is like intercession with someone else – to his words – Allah is the Lord of everything, the owner and the creator, and therefore, none intercedes with Him except after his permission, and none intercedes on behalf of anyone, except one for whom Allah has allowed the intercessor to intercede. If Allah has not allowed (for him to intercede), the intercession is of no use, just as the intercession of Nuh was of no use for his son, or that of Ibrahim for his father, or that of Lut for his people, or the Prophet’s – SallAllahu ‘alaihi wa-sallam – prayer over the Munifiqin and his seeking forgiveness for them’

This shows that the early pagans were called Mushrikun for taking intermediaries as intercessors, without Allah’s permission.

This equally applies to those who take the Prophet as an intercessor without Allah’s permission.

Yes, the Prophet will be given the permission to intercede, which Ahl al-Sunnah firmly affirm. However, his intercession solely depends on Allah’s permission for him to intercede, and only for those whom the Prophet has been given the permission to intercede for.

For one to ask the Prophet to intercede for him, without Allah’s permission, is exactly like the pagans who interceded through al-Lat and ‘Uzza, without having any authority from Allah. There exists absolutely no difference between the two sets of pagans, the old and the modern.

Also, the fact that the Prophet will be given the right of intercession on the Day of Resurrection does not justify calling upon him in this world asking for his intercession. For the martyrs will also intercede, and so would the child who dies in infancy, etc. Yet, we all agree that taking all these people as shufa’a (intercessors) with Allah, is the very Shirk of the old pagan who would also take their prophets, righteous and angels as intercessors with Allah, having no authority from Allah.

This puts the modern pagans in a dilemma, for they have the choice of either taking the prophets, the angels, the truthful ones, the awliya and the shuhada, all as intercessors and intermediaries and join the pagan camp; or of leaving them all and taking none as an intercessor with Allah.

Lastly, Ibn al-Qayyim says in Madarij al-Salikin (1/332):
“From the forms (of Shirk): Requesting the dead for needs, seeking their aid and turning to them.

This is the basis for Shirk in the world. This is because the actions of the dead have ceased. He is not able to harm or benefit himself, let alone the one who seeks his aid, or asks him to fulfil his need, or asks him to intercede for him with Allah, for this is from his ignorance with respect to the intercessor and the one interceded for, as has preceded. This is because he (the intercessor) is not able to intercede for him with Allah, except with His permission. Allah did not make his ‘seeking aid’ and petitioning, a cause for Allah’s permission to be granted. The only cause that grants Allah’s permission (for intercession) is the perfection of Tawheed. Yet, this Mushrik comes along, with a cause that only prevents Allah’s permission (for intercession)!”

This should, at least, show that asking the Prophet for intercession being Shirk is not a ‘wa habbi’ invention. How could it be when Allah is classified this act to be Shirk and further ordered the Prophet to fight the pagans for this very Shirk? And if the Quran is not a Hujjah (proof) for someone, then could there possibly be any other proof to satisfy him?

Ibn Abi Ahmed
03-22-2007, 02:05 PM
4) To call upon the Prophet, asking him to make du’a for us is Shirk. For example: O Prophet! Ask Allah to grant us rain!

Some of the contemporary scholars (I think Salah al-Sawi and may be Ibn Uthaymin) opined that if one were to ask the Prophet to make dua to Allah at his grave, it would not be Shirk, but Bid’ah being on the brink of Shirk. The reason for this, as they say, is that if one believes in two premises;

i) The dead can hear (understanding of some evidences)
ii) the dead can supplicate (unsubstantiated assumption)

He can then ask the dead to make du’a for him, just as he would when he was alive.

They argue on this basis that it is not Shirk, but definitely a door to Shirk and a despicable bid’a which none of the early Muslims performed.

They also back their claim with a misunderstood statement of Ibn Taymiyya where he says that such action is a bid’a.

I find this opinion very problematic due to a number of reasons:

1) We all agree that seeking intercession from the dead is an act of Shirk and this is exactly what the pagans of the old would do. What is the difference between asking them to intercede on your behalf, and asking them to make dua on your behalf?

2) Although the Salaf differed whether or not the dead can hear, but they certainly did not believe that the dead can make du'a on their behalf, and hence never requested them to make dua.

3) Based on the second premise, asking the dead to make dua for a person, is asking him for that which he is not able to do, and that is how we defined Shirk: To ask the creation of something which only Allah can do at that particular instance. Hence, for example, if one were to ask his absent son to give him water, that would be foolish unless he believes his son has the power to hear him and answer his call, and that would be Shirk.

4) Are we to exempt the people of Shirk, if their Shirk is based on false assumptions? We surely did not exempt the early pagans of Shirk when they assumed the idols can hear and moreover intercede for them on their behalf. Why should we then exempt those who ask the Prophet to intercede for them assuming that he can? In other words, if a Mushrik were to say: O Lat! O ‘Uzza! Intercede on our behalf! Would that not be Shirk but merely bid’a?

5) The statements of Ibn Taymiyya, al-Subki, Ibn Hajar al-Haytami and the rest of the Fuqaha merely discuss calling upon the dead and the absent. The statements do not seem to distinguish between calling upon the dead for help, or calling upon them for dua. In fact, the scholars, including Ibn Taymiyya, explicitly regarded that to be Shirk. Yes, there is found one statement of Ibn Taymiyya where he calls it bid’a. However, bid’a is a general term and could equally include bid’a kufriyya which expels one from Islam, and this certainly happens to be the case when Ibn Taymiyya categorically considers calling upon the dead to make dua, as Shirk.

Ibn Taymiyya comments on those who ask the Prophet to call upon Allah in Iqtida al-Sirat al-Mustaqim:

‘It is from the Mercy of Allah that the du’a which necessitates Shirk, such as to call upon someone to do something, or to call upon someone to make du’a, it does not fulfil the need of the person, and even the fulfilment of need does not create any misconception except in minor cases. As for major cases, such as to seek rain during draught, or to avert an impending punishment, then this Shirk is of no use.’

Statements like above are plenty, not only from Ibn Taymiyya but also other scholars, and there is a consensus amongst the Muslims on not taking intermediaries and making them intercessors between ourselves and Allah, for that was the very Shirk for which the Quraysh were fought.

6) Assuming that the dead can hear and they can supplicate too, those who consider it bid’a and not Shirk, insist that it must be done at the grave of the Prophet alone, for asking the Prophet from one’s home is like calling upon the absent, which is Shirk. This has two problems:

i) If one considers that the dead can hear and therefore allow for one to ask the Prophet to ask Allah, should allow the same with the rest of the dead. Hence, he should allow one to go to any grave and ask the dead therein to make dua to Allah. As we can see, this is quite clearly problematic.

ii) Even if the dead can hear, practically speaking, I think it would be impossible for one to speak loud enough at the Rawdha of the Prophet – SallAllahu ‘alaihi wa-sallam – for the Prophet to hear would be quite impossible; knowing a) the construction around the grave, b) the crowd, c) the Mutawas with the stick and more importantly d) Allah’s command to lower our voices in presence of the Prophet.

Hence, practically speaking, even according to those who say it is merely a bid’a on the bring of Shirk, if one were to supplicate besides the grave in a manner where the Prophet cannot hear him, it would be akin to calling upon the absent, and therefore Shirk.

7) Lastly, although some of the modern day respected scholars differed whether it is Shirk or not, they have surely agreed that it is a bid’a, and no doubt that if it is not Shirk, it is still on the brink of it. A Muslim who values his faith should avoid that which is disputed over its permissibility, so how about avoiding that which is disputed over its apostasy?

Finally, the modern pagans who justify calling upon the Prophet and asking him to call upon Allah bring forth two arguments:

a) The Prophets are alive in the grave, so we can ask them to ask Allah, as we would before he was burried

b) The Prophet - SallAllahu 'alaihi wasallam - returns our Salams, and therefore, if we ask him to make du'a, he would do so.

In response to that we say:

i) Yes, the Prophets are alive in their graves, but their life is not in the worldly sense. The nature of their life we do not know. What we know for certain is that the Prophet died, as Allah says in the Quran: 'You will die'. What we also, therefore, know for certain that he will be resurrected. So if he was alive, as we understand life, there will be no meaning to his resurrection.

ii) Some of what is established for the Prophets, is also established for non-Prophets, such as being alive in the grave, praying, or even returning Salam. Yet, the Ummah is unanimous that taking people as intercessors with Allah is Shirk, and the Quranic verse is clear cut in that regard, whether they are prophets, angels, jinns, righteous and martyrs (who are also alive as Allah states). It is already established that when a Muslim gives Salam to his dead brother, his soul is returned so that he may respond to his Salam.

iii) Again, this is not an evidence that the dead is an intercessor with Allah. This idea is the making of the pagans, quite like the pagans of the old.

Final Word:

Remember, all people of misguidance have misconceptions and they all have misconstrued proofs, including the old pagans. Yes, they might not have a proof from the revelation, but they still believed their objects of worship to be righteous people who are closer to Allah. Point being, based on this evidence of theirs, be it textual or rational, they made such people as intercessors between themselves and Allah, without Allah giving them the permission to do so. On this account alone they were condemned as pagans.

The modern pagans also take the Prophet as an intercessor between themselves and Allah, while they have no proof, neither textual nor rational, that Allah has given the Prophet the permission to intercede for them or not, or whether or not they can ask the dead Prophet to make du'a for them in his grave.

Ibn Abi Ahmed
03-22-2007, 02:08 PM
5) To call upon Allah alone, asking Him by His Prophet is a valid difference of opinion in Fiqh where none is censured. For example: O Allah! I ask you alone by Your noble Prophet!

This type of tawassul does not entail Shirk by agreement, but it is, nevertheless, a bida'i tawassul, over which the scholars have differed.

Bida’i tawassul is, as al-‘Allama Hasan al-Shatti al-Dimashqi al-Hanbali says while commenting on Matalib Ulin-Nuha, quoting Ibn ‘al-Imad al-Hanbali: ‘Tawassul through the righteous is for one to say: O Allah! I make tawassul to you through your Prophet Muhammad SallAllahu ‘alaihi wa-sallam, or someone else, that you fulfil my need’

Take note, that the tawassul referred to here involves directly calling upon Allah and addressing Him alone, by the right of His creation. It does not involve calling upon anyone other than Allah, for that will be dealt with later on.

This type of Tawassul is differed over amongst the scholars, including the Hanbalis.

Some scholars, including Ibn Qudama allow this type of Tawassul, while other scholars, such as Ibn Taymiyya do not allow it.

The issue of tawassul is linked to swearing an oath by the Prophet – SallAllahu ‘alaihi wa-sallam.

Most of the scholars prohibit one from doing so, including a number of prominent Hanbalis, such as Ibn Qudama, Shams al-Din al-Maqdisi, Ibn Munajja, Ibn Taymiyya and others.

Most of the Hanbalis, however, allow one to swear an oath by the Prophet only, and this opinion is from the mufradat of the Madhab – meaning, no other Madhab holds this opinion but the Hanbali Madhab.

Those who favour this opinion argue that i) there is an explicit text from Imam Ahmad concerning this, and ii) since the Prophet is part of la ilaha illallah, it implies that when one swears by the Prophet, it is as if he is swearing by Allah, and therefore, the oath is enacted, the violation of which obligates kaffara (expiation).

Based on Imam Ahmad’s narration on swearing an oath by the Prophet, Imam Ahmad also opined that it is permissible to make tawassul through the Prophet – asking Allah directly by the right of the Prophet (and not asking the prophet).

However, in another narration, Imam Ahmad does not allow one to swear by the Prophet. Hence, it could be deduced from this narration that tawassul through the right of the Prophet is not allowed. This is known as al-riwaya al-mukharraja in the Madhab; and hence, two narrations from Imam Ahmad concerning tawassul; riwaya mutalaqa and riwaya mukharraja

This is the opinion of Ibn Taymiyya, mentioned in all the major post-Ibn Taymiyya mu’tamad (reliable) books for fatwa.

Is Tawassul through the Prophet the Hanbali Madhab?

Firstly, hardly any of the Hanbali books before Ibn Taymiyya, deal with the topic of tawassul through the Prophet – SallAllahu ‘alaihi wa-sallam, bar al-Samurri in his al-Mustaw’ib. Ibn Qudama fails to discuss it in any of his works, as well as Majd Ibn Taymiyya (Sheikh al-Islam’s grandfather) in his Muharrar. These two are known as the ‘two Sheikhs’ of the Madhab, and whatever they agree on is the Madhab. It seems both of them agreed not to even mention the topic of tawassul through the Prophet, let alone categorise it as the Madhab, wajh or even ihtimal (refer to the thread ‘Hanbali vs Salafi’ for the meaning of these terms).

Al-Mardawi, who authored his voluminous al-Insaf to determine what is or isn’t the Madhab mentions the issue of tawassul through the Prophet, without declaring it as the Madhab.

Secondly, the latter Hanbali scholars have two main methodologies of determining what is the Madhab. The easiest and the most common of them is by comparing between the two mu’atamad (reliable) works; i) al-Iqna’ and ii) al-Muntaha

Whatever al-Iqna’ and al-Muntaha agree on is the Madhab. When they differ, then whatever Ghayat al-Muntaha deems correct is the Madhab.

Now, al-Iqna’ mentions tawassul through the Prophet, while al-Muntaha remains silent and leaves the issue out completely.

Then Ghayat al-Muntaha, following al-Muntaha, also leaves the issue of tawassul out and gives no mention.

This further highlights that tawassul through the Prophet is not the madhab.

Furthermore, I do not know of a Hanbali who declared it to be the mu’tamad position in the Madhab, and if it was a mu’tamad position, al-Mardawi should have stated so, and if not, then it should have been stated in Ghayat al-Muntaha.

With respect to Ibn Qudama quoting al-‘Utbi’s narration in al-Mughni, then there are a few points we should bear in mind:

1) Ibn Qudama does not mention the narration as an evidence, but only as a citation, which is why he says: ‘yurwa’ – it has been narrated, indicating that the narration is weak, and therefore, not suitable as an evidence.

2) The ‘Utbi narration is not an evidence from what we know of Usul al-Fiqh, for evidence is what the Prophet said, did, or agreed to. The ‘Utbi incident – even if we were to assume it authentic – would have no bearing at all with respect to fiqh.

3) The narration does not – anywhere – indicate that ‘Utbi was making du’a to the Prophet. All it says is:
And it is narrated from al-`Utbi who said, ‘I was sitting at the grave of the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) when a Bedouin approached and said, ‘Peace be upon you, O Messenger of Allah. I have heard that Allah says {And if when they wronged themselves, they came to you and repented to Allah and the Messenger seeks their pardon they would have found Allah All-Forgiving and Most Merciful.} So I have come to you penitent for my sins seeking your intercession to my Lord.’
He does not say to the Prophet: ‘O Prophet, forgive me’, for that would be Shirk.

He simply did what he thinks he is told to do in the verse: ‘they came to you and repented to Allah’.

It is like a person coming to the Black Stone saying: I have come to you, seeking forgiveness of my sins. Meaning, he is not seeking forgiveness from the stone, or calling upon the stone to help. He is merely expressing his emotions, while seeking forgiveness from Allah alone.

As far as addressing the Prophet directly and asking him for help is concerned, then we have covered it in detail in the posts above.

What I would like to emphasise here is that this type of tawassul through the Prophet, as Ibn al-‘Imad defines, is where difference of opinion is allowed and respected, even if we believe that it may lead to Shirk.
Hence, I would end this section with the following words of al-Imam al-Mujaddid, Muhammad b. ‘Abd al-Wahhab al-Hanbali al-Najdi:

Regarding their statement with respect to al-Istisqa (praying for seeking rain): ‘There is no harm in making tawassul through the righteous’ and Ahmad’s statement: ‘tawassul is only allowed through the Prophet – SallAllahu ‘alaihi wa-sallam’, while they all say: ‘Istighatha (seeking aid) from the creation is not allowed’, then the difference (between the two is very clear, and it is irrelevant to what we are concerned with.

For some scholars to allow tawassul through the righteous, or for some to restrict it to the Prophet – SallAllahu ‘alaihi wa-sallam, while majority of the scholars forbidding and disliking it; these issues are from fiqhi issues. Even though the correct opinion in our view is the majority opinion that it is disliked, we still do not censure one who practises it (tawassul), for there is no censuring in issues of ijtihad.

However, our censure of one who calls upon the creation, is greater than the censure of one who calls upon Allah Ta’ala (alone); for he travels to the grave beseeching, next to al-Sheikh ‘Abd al-Qadir or others, seeking the alleviation of calamites, aiding the grief-stricken, attaining the desirables; where is this all from one who calls upon Allah, purifying His religion for Him, not calling upon anyone besides Allah, except that he says in his supplication: I ask you by Your Prophet, messengers, or the righteous servants, or travels to Ma’ruf’s grave or others’ to supplicate there, yet only supplicates to Allah, purifying the religion for Him, how is this relevant to what concerns us here?

(Fatawa wa masa’il al-Sheikh Muhammad b. ‘Abd al-Wahhab page 41)

Ibn Abi Ahmed
03-22-2007, 02:15 PM

Insha'Allaah this clarifies many of the issues. May Allaah keep us firm upon Tawheed.

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