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Concepts of tawassul through the Prophet

Published: 25/08/2011 12:32:00 PM GMT
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My question is regarding the differences of opinion amongst scholars with respect to tawassul through the Prophet (peace be upon him). It seems that a number of prominent scholars of the Sunnah allowed this. Was their opinion based upon weak hadîth? Can you tell me if anyone from the first three generations allowed this, and specifically the Companions and their students? How do you respond to the allegation of the Sûfîs that Ibn Taymiyah “was the first one to disagree with tawassul through Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him), and thus he rejected the Salaf and fell into innovation, and the scholars after him rejected his opinion on tawassul.” How much truth is there in these claims? Please provide proof and references.


Answered by

Sheikh `Abd al-`Azîz al-Râjihî

The concept of tawassul (seeking a means) through the Prophet (peace be upon him) is a broad one that deeds to be discussed in detail, since there is more than one way of engaging in tawassul through the Prophet (peace be upon him), and each has its own ruling.

The first way is to use one’s love of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and belief in his prophethood as a means of nearness to Allah. This is, in fact, obligatory as a basic tenet of the Islamic faith. Whoever does not seek nearness to Allah through love for His Messenger (peace be upon him) and belief in his message is not a believer.

The second way is to seek the supplication of the Prophet (peace be upon him) as a means when the Prophet (peace be upon him) was alive. The Companions would beseech I him to supplicate on their behalf and they would say âmîn to the supplication. They did this for the supplication for rain (al-istisqâ’).

A blind man came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and asked him to ask Allah to return his sight to him. The Prophet (peace be upon him) supplicated on his behalf and at the same time instructed him to perform ablution and ask Allah to let His Prophet (peace be upon him) intercede for him, saying “O Allah accept his intercession on my behalf.”

The third way is seeking nearness to Allah through the person of the Prophet (peace be upon him) or by asking Allah in his name or by swearing an oath to Allah in his name. This is an innovation that the Companions never engaged in. They only sought nearness to Allah through the supplication of the Prophet (peace be upon him) during his lifetime.

After the death of the Prophet (peace be upon him), none of the Companions would come to his grave and ask him for any supplication regardless of whether the supplication was general or personal. When a famine occurred during the reign of `Umar B. al-Khattâb, he told the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) uncle: “O, `Abbas, ask Allah for us” and said: “O, Lord, we were soliciting you by our Prophet and you would answer us and let us have rain, now we are soliciting you by the uncle of our Prophet so we ask you to answer us”. Neither `Umar nor another Companion went to the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) grave and ask him for rain. No one used to go the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) grave to seek forgiveness.

The Companions clearly made a distinction between the living and the dead in this matter.

Therefore, seeking nearness to Allah by invoking the mention of the Prophet (peace be upon him) is an unfolded innovation. Our Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “ Whoever innovates in our religion something not part of it then this thing is rejected” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî and Sahîh Muslim]

The fourth way is to supplicate directly to the Prophet (peace be upon him) instead of Allah. This is an act of major polytheism that takes a person out of the fold of Islam. It is the very thing that the Prophet (peace be upon him) came to condemn, put an end to, and declare as unbelief.

Allah says: “And do not call upon besides Allah who will neither benefit you nor harm you. If you do so, then you are among the wrongdoers.” [Sûrah Yûnus: 106]

He says: “So do not call upon another god with Allah, and thus be of those who are punished.” [Sûrah al-Shu`arâ’: 213]

He also says: “And that the mosques are for Allah, so do not call upon anyone along with Allah.” [Sûrah al-Jinn: 18]

Allah calls such supplications an act of worship, saying: “And who is more astray than he who calls upon other than Allah those who do not answer to the Day of Judgment, and who (in fact) are heedless of their call? And when humanity is gathered together, they will be hostile to them and reject their worship.” [Sûrah al-Ahqâf: 5-6]

Allah describes such supplications to other than Him as being polytheism: “To Him belongs all Dominion. And those whom you invoke besides Him have not the least power. If you invoke them, they will not listen to your call, and if they were to listen, they cannot answer you. On the Day of Judgment they will reject your polytheism. And none can inform you like the One who is acquainted with all things.” [Sûrah Fâtir: 13-14]

Allah describes supplications to other than Him as unbelief: “And whoever invokes with Allah another god-- he has no proof of this-- his reckoning is only with his Lord; surely the unbelievers shall not be successful.” [Sûrah al-Mu’minûn: 117]

From all of this, it should be clear that there are four ways of engaging in tawassul through the Prophet (peace be upon him), and each has its own ruling supported by evidence.

And Allah is the one who guides to success.

Source: Islam Today




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