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Tawassul - Seeking a Way unto Allah (Part 2)


2. Opinion on Aversion

The jurist Abu Yusuf relates from his teacher Abu Hanifah that it is not right for anyone to call Allah except through (the Names and Attributes) Allah, since He says

“And to Allah belong the beautiful Names, so call on Him thereby.”‌ (7:180).

Abu Hanifah, Abu Yusuf and Muhammad Shaybani also feel averse in invoking God by means (tawassul) of the Prophet (PBUH) and his position, on the assumption that the creatures have no right on the Almighty Creator, and He showers His mercy on whomever He likes.

Ibn 'Abidin, however, says in this regard True, the creatures have no right whatsoever upon the Creator, but the Creator through His favours has given rights to mankind. On this basis, he relates a hadith concerning the manners of supplication and Tawassul “Allahumma inni asaluka bi-haqqi al-sa'ilina 'alayk”‌ (O Allah! I beseech you for the rights that seekers have upon you).10

Except for this narration of Ibn 'Abidin, we find no opinion or view from either Abu Hanifah or his friend Abu Yusuf in the books of Hanafi scholars concerning tawassul to God through the wasilah (means) of the Prophet (PBUH).11

Opinion of Contemporary Hanafi Scholars on Permissibility

Here, we will study the legal opinions (fatwa) of contemporary Hanafi scholars on permissibility of tawassul to the Prophet (PBUH).Alusi al-Baghdadi quotes Ibn 'Abd al-Salam as saying that it is permissible to invoke Allah for the sake of the Prophet (PBUH),

Since Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is the leader of the children of Adam. Alusi bases his reasoning on the hadith (hasan and sahih) related by both Tirmidhi and Ahmad ibn Hanbal on the authority of 'Uthman bin Hunayf, which says that , Once when a blind man asked the Prophet (PBUH) to pray to Allah to grant him eyesight, he was told to make wudu' and recite the following supplication.

“O Allah! I request you and I have turned to you through Your Prophet, the Prophet of Mercy, O Messenger of Allah! I have turned to you as a means towards My God for fulfillment of this wish of mine O Allah! Accept his (Prophet's) intercession (shafa'at) for me”‌.

Alusi thus believes that there is no objection in making tawassul to God by means of the dignity (jah) and prime position of the Prophet (PBUH), whether it is in his lifetime or after his death, since dignity here refers to an attribute which is one of the attributes of Almighty Allah. Alusi also says that tawassul by means of dignity of a person other than the Prophet (PBUH) is also permissible, provided that the one who is being considered a wasilah has a station and position of dignity in the sight of Allah.12

The famous Sunni scholar of India, Shaykh Khalil Ahmad Saharanpuri in his book al-Muhannad 'ala al-Mufannid has collected the fatwa or legal opinions of 75 leading Sunni scholars from different parts of the Islamic world on the permissibility of tawassul to the shrine of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

He writes in our opinion and that of our teachers, pilgrimage to the shrine of the Master of Messengers (my soul be sacrificed for him) is the most exalted of proximities, the most important of blessings, and the greatest of means (wasilah) for attaining lofty ranks. It could be said that it is an enjoinment almost to the degree of obligations, even if it requires the trouble of a journey to perform it and there is no other option other than to make efforts with life and wealth.

Tawassul to the Prophets, saints, pious persons, martyrs and the righteous during supplications, whether in their lifetime or after their death, is permissible in the following manner.

Allahumma inni atawassalu ilayka bi-fulan an tujiba da'wati wa taqdia hajati (O Allah! I beseech you by means of so and so a person, accept my supplication and grant my request).13

Tawassul in the View of Prominent Imami 'Ulama

According to such prominent Imami 'ulama' as Shaykh al-Ta'ifah Tusi, Shaykh Amin al-Islam Tabrisi, 'Allamah Sayyid Muhammad Hussein Tabataba'i, Sayyid Ruhullah Khumayni and others, wasilah means faith, love and reverence for the Prophet (PBUH) and obedience to him.

'Allamah Tabataba'i writes in his monumental exegesis on the Holy Qur'an that the word al-wasilah or 'approach' as used in the Ayah “and seek an approach unto Him”‌ (5:35) confirms the reality of worship and means turning submissively and supplicatingly to God, with knowledge and practice serving as the requisite instrument for this connection.14

Furthermore, elaborating on the narration found in the Tafsir of 'Ali bin Ibrahim Qummi that the Ayah “and seek an approach unto Him”‌ means seeking Allah's proximity through the Infallible Imam (A.S), 'Allamah Tabataba'i, says that this refers to obedience or adhering to the path of the Imam (A.S) in order to reach Allah.15

It is evident that the Prophet (PBUH) and the Infallible Imams (A.S) who are considered the practical models of divine law and the finest exemplars of morals and etiquette, are the wasilah, since it is through obedience to them and adherence to their path that one can attain proximity to God.

Likewise, as stated by prominent Imami or Shia jurists, the laws of the Shari'ah are the wasilah, on the basis of adherence to which, proximity of Almighty Allah is attained. Accordingly, some prominent Imami jurisprudents like Shaykh Hurr al-'Amili, Ayatullah Abu al-Hassan Isfahani and Sayyid Khumayni have used the title wasilah for their jurisprudential treatises such as Wasa'il al-Shia, Wasilah al-Najat and Tahrir al-Wasilah, respectively. Wasilah al-Najat or the 'Means of Salvation' is the title of over 40 scientific treatises written by Shia 'ulama'.16

Thus, as ascertained by Imami scholars, the Prophet (PBUH) is the wasilah towards God for Muslims since he is the best exemplar and is in fact the 'Practical Qur'an'. So also is the Prophet's (PBUH) infallible progeny (A.S), who along with the Book of Allah (Holy Qur'an), is the immortal legacy of the Prophet and continuation of his path as borne out by the Hadith al-Thaqalayn which is unanimously confirmed by both Shia and Sunni 'ulama'.

Muslims, through the wasilah of these two, hold fast to divine laws and strive to attain Allah's proximity, since good deeds, obedience and adherence to the Qur'an, the Prophet (PBUH) and his Infallible Ahl- ul-Bayt (A.S) are the basis of shafa'at.

This is better explained by 'Allamah Tabataba'i in his exegesis , Persons who lack any ability to attain the required perfection are like the illiterate who wants to become the doyen of scholars merely through recommendation, since he neither has any basic learning nor has he the required connection with the one who could intercede.

Or they could be compared to a slave who is disobedient to his master, but without coming out of this state of insubordination and disobedience wants to be forgiven through intercession (shafa'at). In none of these two cases intercession is beneficial, since shafa'at is the wasilah or means for accomplishment of a cause and is not a cause in itself to make him a doyen of scholars in the first case, and in the second case to avail forgiveness from the master in the state of disobedience.17

Therefore, as it has been clearly mentioned in the Holy Qur'an, if a person does not fulfill his obligations and adherence to the path of the Prophet (PBUH) and the Infallible Imams (A.S), he will not be considered worthy of shafa'at, even if the Prophet (PBUH) were to intercede on his behalf.

“Alike it is for them whether you seek forgiveness for them or seek not forgiveness for them never will God forgive them...”‌ (63:6)

Source: al-islam.org


Al-Mausu'ah al-Fiqhiyyah, section 14, p. 160.

11. Ibid.

12. Tafsir Ruh al-Ma'ani, vol. 6, 128

13. Shaykh Khalil Ahmad Saharanpuri, 'Aqa'id Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jama'ah fi radd al-Wahhabiyyah wa al-Bid'ah, translated into Persian by 'Abd al-Rahman Sarbazi, p. 86.

14. Al-Mizan fi Tafsir al-Qur'an, vol. 6, p. 328-332

15. Ibid.

16. Refer to Shaykh Aqa Buzurg Tehrani, al-Dhari'ah ila Tasanif al-Shi'ah, vol. 25, p. 69-92.

17. Tafsir al-Mizan, vol. 11, p. 15 (Dar al-'Alami print, Beirut).

Other links:

Muslims visiting tombs in order to Invoke Blessings

Views of Sunni thinkers on visiting tombs to invoke blessing

To ask intercession or blessing through relics of Prophet Muhammad and pious people

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