Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The Hadith Proofs for Tawassul

Tawassul [defined by Shaykh Nuh as "supplicating Allah by means of an intermediary, whether it be a living person, dead person, a good deed, or a name or Attribute of Allah Most High" ] has sadly become a source of great controversy.

Not much is available in English in the way of clarifying the issue of Tawassul through the Prophet [salallahu alayhi wa sallam].
As most are aware the "salafis" have labelled this act as 'a means to "shirk"' or in some cases a 'manifest "shirk"'.
One book in English I recently came across in clarification of this issue is the following [please click on link]:

The Islamic Concept of Tawassul-Intermediation

The book is quite useful in highlighting the Qur'anic, Hadith and rational basis for this practice.The author often mentions in his notes a reference to a certain text of Sh. Mahmud Mamduh which was kindly posted on Sunniforum by Sidi Abul Hasan [may Allah swt allow us to continue to benefit from him].
Whilst on the subject of Tawassul it may be worthwhile to first post the correct explanation of some of the ayaat quoted by the "salafis" against the ahadeeth whose authenticity we seek to establish in the next few posts.

Imam Shawkani RH [a major authority for the "salafis" due to his stance on Taqlid] says in al-Durr al-nadid fi ikhlas kalimat al-tawhid:

There is no harm in tawassul through any one of the Prophets or Friends of Allah or scholars of knowledge... One who comes to the grave as a visitor (za'iran) and invokes Allah alone, using as his means the dead person in the grave, is as one who says: "O Allah, I am asking that you cure me from such-and-such, and I use as a means to You whatever this righteous servant of Yours possesses for worshipping You and striving for Your sake and learning and teaching purely and sincerely for You." Such as this, there is no hesitation in declaring that it is permitted...

He also says in al-Durr al-nadid:

Regarding what those who forbid tawassul to Allah through the Prophets and the saints cite to support their position, such as Allah's sayings:

· "We only worship them in order that they may bring us nearer" (39:3)

· "Do not call on any other god with Allah, or you will be among those who will be punished" (26:213)

· "Say: Call on those besides Him whom ye fancy; they have no power to remove your trouble from you or to change them. Those unto whom they cry seek for themselves the means of approach to their Lord, which of them shall be the nearest; they hope for His mercy and fear His wrath: for the wrath of thy Lord is something to take heed of" (17:57)

These verses are irrelevant.
Rather: they support exactly the reverse of what the objectors to tawassul claim, since the verses are related to another issue.
To wit: the verse "We only worship them in order that they may bring us nearer" explicitly states that they worship them for that purpose, whereas the one who makes tawassul through a scholar, for example, never worships him, but knows that he has a special distinction (maziyya) before Allah for being a carrier of knowledge; and that is why he uses him as a means.

Similarly irrelevant to the issue is Allah's saying: "Do not call on any other god with Allah." This verse forbids that one should call upon another together with Allah, as if saying: "O Allah and O So-and-so." However, the one who makes tawassul through a scholar, for example, never calls upon other than Allah. He only seeks a means to Him through the excellent works that one of His servants achieved, just as the three men in the cave who were blocked by the rock used their good works as a means to have their petition answered.

Similarly irrelevant to the issue is Allah's saying: "Those unto whom they cry..." for it refers to people who call upon those who cannot fulfill their request, at the same time not calling upon Allah Who can; whereas one who makes tawassul through a scholar, for example, never called except upon Allah, and none other besides Him.

The above shows the reader that these objectors to tawassul are bringing forth evidence that is irrelevant to the issue at hand. Even more irrelevant is their citing of the verse:

· "The Day when no soul shall have power to do anything for another: for the Command, that Day, will be all with Allah." (82:19)

for that noble verse contains nothing more than the fact that Allah alone decides everything on the Day of Judgment, and that none other will have any say at that time. However, the maker of tawassul through one of the Prophets or one of the scholars, never believes that the one through whom he makes tawassul is in partnership with Allah on the Day of Judgment! Whoever believes such a thing in relation to a Prophet or non-Prophet is in manifest error.

Equally irrelevant is their objection to tawassul by citing the verses:

· "Not for you is the decision in the least" (3:128)

· "Say: I have no power over over good or harm to myself except as Allah wills" (7:188)

for these two verses are explicit in that the Prophet has no say in Allah's decision and that he has no power to benefit or harm himself in the least, let alone someone else: but there is nothing in those two verses to prevent tawassul through him or any other of the Prophets or Friends of Allah or scholars.

Allah has given His Prophet the Exalted Station (al-maqam al-mahmud) -- the station of the Great Intercession (al-shafa`a al-`uzma), and He has instructed creation to ask for that station for him and to request his intercession, and He said to him:
"Ask and you shall be granted what you asked! Intercede and you shall be granted what you interceded for!" And in His Book He has made this dependence on the fact that there is no intercession except by His leave, and that none shall possess it except those whom He pleases...

Equally irrelevant is their adducing as proof against tawassul:

· "And admonish your nearest kinsmen" (26:214)

whereupon the Prophet said: "O So-and-so son of So-and-so, I do not have any guarantee on your behalf from Allah; and O So-and-so daughter of So-and-so, I do not have any guarantee on your behalf from Allah."
For in the preceding there is nothing other than the plain declaration that he cannot benefit anyone for whom Allah has decreed harm, nor harm anyone for whom Allah has decreed benefit, and that he does not have any guarantee from Allah from any of his close relatives, let alone others. This is known to every Muslim. There is nothing in it, however, that prohibits making tawassul to Allah through the Prophet, for tawassul is a request from the One Who holds power to grant and deny all requests. The petitioner who makes tawassul only desires to place, at the front of his petition, what may be a cause for the granting of his petition by the One Who alone gives and withholds, the Owner of the Day of Judgment.

Next, a small quote from Tuhfat uth-Thaakireen of Imam Shawkani [translation kindly provided by Sidi Rashad]

Fasl salawaat ul-Mansoosaat :

Section on the Prayers which have been ordained (By Allah in the Kitab and the Sunnah)


Salat ud-Durri wal-Haaja

[The Prayer of Need]

Hadith number 253:

Yutawad-daa wa yusalli rakatayn thumma yad’oo/Make wudu, and pray two rakah (cycles) of prayer and then make the following supplication: Allahumma inni as’aluka, wa atawajjahu ilyaka bi-Nabiyyika Muhammad (saw) Nabiyyi-Rahma, Yaa Muhammad innee atawajjahu bika ilaa rabbiy fee haaajatee hathihi lituqdaa lee, Allahummah fashaf-fi-hu fee/O Allah! Verily I ask you, and turn to you through your Prophet Muhammad (saw) the Prophet of Mercy, O Muhammad verily I turn towards my Lord through you to my Lord in this need of mine, to fulfill it, O Allah intercede/cure this!

This hadith has been extracted by Tirmidhi, al-Hakim in his Mustadrak and Nisa’I, and it is from the hadith of Uthman bin Hanif may Allah be pleased with him. He said a blind man came to the Messenger of Allah (saw) and said: O Messenger of Allah Pray for me! He (saw) said: If you wish I will pray for you, but if you wish, you have been patient and this is better for you. He preferred to be supplicated for. The Messenger (saw) instructed him to make Wudu, and to make a perfect Wudu – Nisai’s narration adds in some of the reports (turuq) to make Wudu and pray two Rakah and then the supplication (as above). It was also extracted by Ibn Majah , and al-Hakim in his mustadrak who stated that it is sahih (authentic) according to the criterion of the two shaykhs (Imam Muslim and Imam Bukhari) and his narration had the addition: so he supplicated with this Dua and he arose and was able to see. Tirmidhi said the Hadith is Hasan Sahih (good and authentic) gharib (singular in chain) and we know this narration through this channel only from the Hadith of Abu Jafar and that is not al-Khatmi, these and other Imams have authenticated this narration, Nisa’I is alone in mentioneing the prayer, but Tabarani agreed with him and in mentions the same in some of his reports (turuq) it reports.

In the narration there is dalil (evidence) of the permissibility of Tawassul (taking a means) through the Messenger of Allah (saw) to Allah azza wa-jal with the firm belief (I’tiqad) that the only active agent (Faa’il) is Allah subhanahu wa’ta’aala, for verily He alone is the giver and the preventer, what He wishes, is, and what He does not wish never can be.

Anyways, on to the subject of this series!
After reading some of the false information posted on certain "salafi" sites, [see, for example, Islamtomorrow] I just wanted to put together all available texts in English on some of the ahadith graded as Sahih or Hasan by the scholars of hadith which are used in conjunction with various qur'anic ayaat and other proofs to prove the permissibility of Tawassul through the Prophet [salallahu alayhi wasalam].

TAWASSUL - Some Hadith Proofs