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Tawassul (Supplicating Allah through an intermediary)


Question: This question is about ‘Tawassul’. Clearly, the sect of the Salafs state that it is shirk to do this act of worship and it breaks the Aqeedah of tawheed, even the people of the city of Saudi Arabia have dislike in this, and this Aqeedah has even been adopted by the Imams and Khateebs of the Harmain (two sacred Harams). Please give your words of wisdom on this controversial issue?

Answer: In the Name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,

Tawassul (using intermediaries in supplication to Allah) through the Prophet (Allah bless him & give him peace), Awliya and righteous believers is permitted, rather recommended according to the four schools of Sunni Islam.

This has been the mainstream belief held by scholars of this Ummah throughout the eras. The Salaf (predecessors) from the earliest generations had this understanding and this has been the way of the four Sunni Madhhabs in Fiqh.

The meaning of Tawassul is: To ask Allah Almighty through the medium and intercession of another person. For example, one says: “O Allah! I ask forgiveness for my sins through the Wasila (intercession) of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam)”.

Tawassul can be carried out through one’s own righteous deeds, the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), righteous people who have passed away and those who are still alive. All these types of Tawassul are permitted and acceptable.

The permissibility of ‘Tawassul’ is proven from the Qur’an, Sunnah, continued practice of the Ummah and reason.

Some of the proofs on the validity of Tawassul:

1.Allah Most High says:

 

“O you who believe! Fear Allah and seek a means (wasila) to him” (Surah al-Ma’ida, V: 35)

The word “Wasila” (a means of approach) in its general indication includes Tawassul (intercession) by persons, and through actions.

2.Allah Almighty says:

 

“If they had only, when they were unjust to themselves, come to you (Prophet, Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) and asked Allah’s forgiveness and the Messenger of Allah had asked forgiveness for them, they would have found Allah indeed forgiving and Most Merciful”. (Surah al-Nisa, V: 64)

These two verses are clear on the permissibility and recommendation of Tawassul. The distinction made by some, between the living and the dead in this matter only comes from one who believes in the perishing of souls upon death, which would lead to denying resurrection.

Also, when one uses Tawassul in supplication, one does not ask and seek from other than Allah. Only the high position, status and rank of the person through whom Wasila is carried out is used as intercession. In other words, the servant is saying: “O Allah! This certain Prophet or servant of yours is very close to you. I do not possess any good deeds, but I have love for the pious. O Allah! Pardon me and forgive my sins due to this love and connection I have with this pious servant of yours”.

Now, every person with a sound mind will determine the fact that there is no reason to distinguish and differentiate between the living and the dead. This is the reason why scholars such as Imam Subki, Hafidh Ibn Kathir, Imam an-Nawawi and many others have declared the permissibility of Tawassul through the righteous, whether alive or passed away to the Mercy of Allah.

3Imam al-Tirmidhi (Allah have Mercy on him) and others relate from Uthman ibn Hunaif (Allah be pleased with him):

“A blind man came to the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) and said: “I’ve been afflicted in my eyesight, so pray to Allah for me”. The Prophet (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “Go perform ablution (Wudu), perform two rak’at Salat and then say: “O Allah! I ask you and turn to you through my Prophet Muhammad, the Prophet of Mercy. O Muhammad! I seek your intercession with my lord for the return of my eyesight, that it may be fulfilled. O Allah! Grant him intercession for me”. The Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) then said: “and if there is some other need, do the same”. (Recorded by Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud, Nasa’i, Tabrani and others, with a sound chain of narrators).

The express content of this Hadith proves the legal validity of Tawassul through a living person. It implicitly proves the validity of Tawassul through a deceased person, as Tawassul through a living or dead person 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.

4Moreover, Tabrani relates in his ‘ Mu’jam al-Kabir ‘ reporting from the same Uthman ibn Hunaif that a person repeatedly visited him concerning something he needed, but Uthman paid no attention to him. The man met his son and complained to him about the matter- this was after the death of the Prophet (Allah bless him & give him peace) and after the caliphates of Abu Bakr and Umar (Allah be pleased with them)- so Uthman (who collected Hadith and was from the learned) said :

“Go to the place of Wudu, then come to the Masjid, perform two Rak’ats and then say : “O Allah!, I ask you and turn to you through our Prophet Muhammad, the Prophet of Mercy. O Muhammad! I turn through you to my lord, that He fulfil my need”……. until the end of the Hadith.

This is an explicit and clear text from a Companion proving the legal validity of Tawassul through the dead. The Hadith has been classed as authentic (Sahih) by al-Bayhaqi, Mundhiri, al-Haythami and many others.

5 In the Hadith recorded by Imam al-Bukhari and others, the Companion Umar (Allah be pleased with him) made Tawassul through the uncle of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace), Abbas (Radhi Allahu Anhu), in asking Allah for rain at the time of drought.

These and many other Ahadith are clear on the permissibility and validity of Tawassul. This is the reason, why the great traditional Sunni scholars have held this belief throughout the ages. Even in the present era, most of the Muslims who belong to the Ahl Sunnah Wa al-Jama’ah in most parts of the world have this belief.

Many books in Arabic and other languages have been written in refutation of those who regard Tawassul as Shirk. Scholars from Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Kuwait, Emirates, India, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia itself have rejected the position held by the minority -so called- Salafi sect.

As far as some of the scholars of the Haramayn are concerned, there views in matters of Aqida are generally from the blind following of Imam Ibn Taymiyya… The Imam, despite having great knowledge, in many issues chose a path which was different from the path of the majority of the Ummah, and the Scholars by and large did not accept his views.

At the same time, one should be precautious in not having any wrong belief in Aqidah. There should be the conviction that Allah Almighty alone has influence over everything, outwardly and inwardly. Also, one should not have the belief that the supplication (Dua) is not accepted without Tawassul.

This is the real Tawhid.

And Allah Ta’ala Knows Best

By Shaykh (Mufti) Muhammad Ibn Adam Kawthari (HA)


The Tawassul Challenge

By Ibn Saad

This is an open Challenge to those who are opposed to Tawassul. Please look at the quotes below and answer all of the following questions in the comment section:

 

1.Are the statements below correctly ascribed to their respective Imam, if not which is a false statement and why?

 

2 .If indeed these Imams did make these claims, should Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal, Imam Ibn Khuzaima, Imam Ibn Hibban, Imam Nawawi and Imam Shawkani be considered kuffar based on this?

 

3.If not, are they Muslims, but guilty of Shirk of some degree?

 

4.If not, are they mubtadi’een?

 

5.Were they jahils to allow/perform tawassul without (supposedly) any daleels?

 

If you have said NO so far, can we agree that Tawassul is a Fiqh issue instead of an Aqeedah one?

Imam Ahmad and Tawassul:

🙁 المرداوي في الإنصاف ( 2:456 “… يجوز التوسل بالرجل الصالح على الصحيح من المذهب، وقيل: يُستحب. قال الإمام أحمد للمروذي : يتوسل بالنبي صلى اله عليه وسلم في دعائه وجزم به في المستوعب وغيره..”

Al-Mardawi said: “The correct position of the [Hanbali] madhhab is that it is permissible in one’s du’a to use as one’s means a pious person (saalih), and it is said that it is desirable (mustahabb). Imam Ahmad said to Abu Bakr al-Marwazi: ‘Let him use the Prophet as a means in his supplication to Allah.'” (Al-Insaf 2:456) This is also cited by Ibn Taymiyyah in Majmu’ Al-Fatawa (1:140).

Imam Shawkani and Tawassul:

قال الشوكاني في تحفة الذاكرين: “وفي الحديث دليل على جواز التوسل برسول الله صلى اله عليه وسلم إلى الله عز وجل مع اعتقاد أن الفاعل هو الله سبحانه وتعالى، وأنه المعطي والمانع ما شاء .(10/ كان وما لم يشأ لم يكن” (تحفة الأحوذي 34

Al-Shawkani said, in Tuhfatul Dhakireen:

“And in this hadith is proof for the permissibility of tawassul through the Prophet [s] to Allah, with the conviction that the [actual] doer is Allah, and that He is the Giver and the Withholder. What He wills is, and what He does not will, will never be.”

Al-Albani on Imam Hanbal and Imam Al-Shawkani:

🙁 الألباني في “التوسل أنواعه وأحكامه” ( 38 “…مع أنه قد قال ببعضه بعض الأئمة، فأجاز الإمام أحمد التوسل بالرسول وحده فقط، وأجاز غيره كالإمام الشوكاني التوسل به وبغيره من الأنبياء والصالحي

Al-Albani in ‘Al-Tawassul’: “Even though some of them have been allowed by some of the Imams, so for instance Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal allowed tawassul through the Prophet alone, and others such as Imam Al-Shawkani allowed tawassul through his [pbuh] and through others from the Prophets and the righteous.”

Imam Nawawi on Tawassul:

النووي في المجموع شرح المهذب (كتاب الحج): ثم يرجع إلى موقفه الأول قبالة وجه رسول الله صلى اله عليه وسلم ويتوسل به في حق نفسه، ويستشفع به إلى ربه سبحانه وتعالى

[The pilgrim] should then face the shrine of the Messenger of Allah (s) , make him an intermediary [to Allah], and intercede through him to Allah… (Majmu’ Sharh Al-Madhhab – Kitab Al-Hajj)

Imam Ibn Khuzaymah and Tawassul:

🙁 7/ ابن حجر في تهذيب التهذيب ( 339 قال (الحاكم النيسابوري) وسمعت أبا بكر محمد بن المؤمل بن الحسن بن عيسى يقول خرجنا مع امام أهل الحديث أبي بكر بن خزيمة وعديله أبي علي الثقفي مع جماعة من مشائخنا وهم إذ ذاك متوافرون إلى زيارة قبر علي بن موسى الرضى بطوس قال فرأيت من تعظيمه يعنى ابن خزيمة لتلك البقعة وتواضعه لها وتضرعه عندها ما تحيرنا.

Ibn Hajar (Tahdhib 7:339) narrates the account of the Imam of Ahlul-Hadith Ibn Khuzaymah, under the entry of the same Ali bin Musa Al-Ridha. He relates that Ibn Khuzaymah also performed tawassul at the grave of Al-Ridha.

Ibn Hibban and Tawassul:

🙁 8/456/ ابن حبان في كتابه الثقات ( 14411 مات على بن موسى الرضا بطوس من شربة سقاه إياها المأمون فمات من ساعته وذلك في يوم السبت آخر يوم سنة ثلاث ومائتين وقبره بسناباذ خارج النوقان مشهور يزار بجنب قبر الرشيد، قد زرته مرارا كثيرة وما حلت بي شدة في وقت مقامى بطوس فزرت قبر على بن موسى الرضا صلوات الله على جده وعليه ودعوت الله إزالتها عنى إلا أستجيب لي وزالت عنى تلك الشدة وهذا شيء جربته مرارا فوجدته كذلك أماتنا الله على محبة المصطفى وأهل بيته صلى الله عليه وعليهم أجمعين.

In his Rijal book Al-Thuqat (8:456:14411), under the entry of Ali bin Musa al-Ridha, Ibn Hibban relates his own account of going to Al-Ridha’s grave, performing tawassul through him and states that whenever “I was afflicted with a problem during my stay in Tus, I would visit the grave of Ali bin Musa (Allah’s blessings be upon his grandfather and him) and ask Allah to relieve me of that problem and it (my dua) would be answered and the problem alleviated. And this is something I did, and found to work, many times …”

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