In Defense of At-Tawassul – A Reason for the Fulfillment of Needs
Praise be to Allah. I ask Allah humbly to raise the rank of Prophet Muhammad, his Al and Companions, and to protect his nation from that which he fears for it. I ask Allah to teach us that which we have forgotten, to add to our knowledge, and to grant us the sincere intentions. I humbly ask Allah to facilitate for us the routes of goodness and to protect us from the routes that lead to Hellfire. Thereafter:
In Al-Mu^jam Al-Kabir and Al-Mu^jam AsSaghir, Imam at-Tabaraniyy related the hadith about the Prophet from the route of ^Uthman Ibn Hunayf who was in a circle with the Prophet when a blind man came to address Prophet Muhammad, sallallahu alayhi wa sallam:
The blind man addressed the Prophet by saying, "O Prophet of Allah, ask Allah for me to cure my blindness." The Prophet replied by saying, "If you wish, you would be patient with your calamity, and if you wish, I will ask Allah to cure your blindness."
However, the blind man told the Prophet: "The loss of my sight is a great hardship for me, and there is no one near to guide me around."
At this moment, the Prophet ordered the man to go to the place where al-wudu' would be performed, perform alwudu', pray two rak^ah, end his salat by saying as-salamu ^alaykum, and then say the following words:
which mean: <<O Allah, I ask You, and I direct myself to You in supplication by our Prophet Muhammad, the Prophet of Mercy. O Muhammad, I direct myself to Allah by you, so my need [here the specific need is mentioned] would be fulfilled.>> The blind man went and did as the Prophet ordered. Shortly thereafter, he returned to the Prophet's session with his blindness cured.
Then, after the death of the Prophet, and during the time of the caliphate of ^Uthman Ibn ^Affan, a man came to ^Uthman Ibn Hunayf. This man complained to ^Uthman Ibn Hunayf about a matter which he needed to be fulfilled through the caliph, but which was not being fulfilled. ^Uthman Ibn Hunayf ordered the man to go to the place where al-wudu' would be performed, perform al-wudu', perform two rak^ah, and after saying assalam to say the following words: 'O Allah, I ask You and I direct myself to You in supplication by our Prophet Muhammad, the Prophet of Mercy. O Muhammad, I direct myself to Allah by you, so my need [specify need] would be fulfilled.
^Uthman Ibn Hunayf told him to return after doing this, and they would go together to the caliph. This man went and performed what ^Uthman Ibn Hunayf ordered him to do. However, instead of returning to ^Uthman Ibn Hunayf, he elected to go on his own to the caliph–which he did. When he reached the door of the caliph, the gateman took him by the hand to the caliph. ^Uthman Ibn ^Affans at him on a carpet next to him and asked him, "What is your need that you wanted fulfilled? I forgot all about it until just now." The man informed the caliph about his need, which he fulfilled. The caliph told him, "Whenever you have a need, come to me and I will satisfy it for you."
It is because of the prayer this man performed, and the du^a' that he made–asking Allah for his need by the Prophet–that Allah made the heart of the caliph move towards fulfilling the need of that man. This prayer and the du^a' afterwards in which one is asking Allah to fulfill a need is called 'Salat al-Hajah'. Let the one who has a need: perform al-wudu', pray two rak^ah, and then say that du^a' as mentioned, and in sha' Allah, his need will be fulfilled.
This hadith was narrated by many scholars of hadith. Some of them related the part of the hadith which occurred during the lifetime of the Prophet, and some narrated both parts of the hadith, i.e., the part which took place during the lifetime of the Prophet and the part which took place after his death and during the caliphate of Sayyidina ^Uthman Ibn ^Affan. Imam atTabaraniyy is among those scholars who narrated the entire hadith, in both parts–the part that took place during the life of the Prophet, as well as the part that took place after the death of the Prophet. After narrating that hadith, he said, "The classification of this hadith is sahih."
Ahl as-Sunnah wal Jama^ah said that it is permissible to make tawassul during the lifetime of the Prophet and after his death
This hadith carries the proof that it is permissible in Islam for one to ask Allah for things by the Prophet during the lifetime of the Prophet and after the death of the Prophet. Hence, there is no difference in the permissibility of asking Allah for things by the Prophet, whether done during the lifetime of the Prophet or after his death. The scholars of Ahl as-Sunnah wal Jama^ah said that it is permissible to make that tawassul during the lifetime of the Prophet and after his death. Knowing that, one concludes that the claim of some people that it is not permissible to ask Allah for things except by he who is alive and present, is something which is rejected.
The first person to make this false claim was a man who lived some 600 years ago, by the name of Ahmad Ibn Taymiyah. This man falsely stated that it is not permissible to ask Allah for things except by he who is alive and present. This is wrong! It is contrary to what is stated in the rules of the Religion of Islam. During the time of Ahmad Ibn Taymiyah, scholars of Ahl as-Sunnah refuted his argument, and as a result his false claim did not spread at that time. However, some 200 years ago, a man named Muhammad Ibn Abdul-Wahhab emerged in a place in the Arabian Peninsula called Najd which the Prophet dispraised. Al-Bukhariyy related a hadith about the Prophet in which he said:
This means: <<From this spot, [which is called Najd] the tribulations and the sedition will occur.>> The Prophet conveyed the truth. Many tribulations and sedition have occurred from that region. Among the most recent was this man by the name of Muhammad Ibn ^Abdul-Wahhab. Muhammad Ibn ^Abdul-Wahhab followed Ahmad Ibn Taymiyah in the aforementioned case and in other cases as well. He started repeating the false statement of Ibn Taymiyah that it is not permissible for one to ask Allah for things except by he who is alive and present. This rule
has no foundation whatsoever in the Religion of Allah. Rather, this rule and this statement were innovated by Ahmad Ibn Taymiyah an innovation of misguidance.
As a result of their stubbornness and arrogance, the leaders of the Wahhabiyyah movement rejected the part of the hadith which signifies the man asking Allah for things by the Prophet, after the Prophet's death. The great scholars of Ahl as-Sunnah told these people that the scholars classified that entire hadith as sahih, i.e., the part that took place during the lifetime of the Prophet and the part that took place after his death. Hence, one must reject the false claim of Ibn Taymiyah and Muhammad Ibn ^Abdul-Wahhab, because it stands against the sayings of those reliable and dependable scholars of hadith. AlHafidhatTabaraniyy narrated that hadith, among others, including al-Hafidh al-Bayhaqiyy and al-Hafidh asSubkiyy and alHafidh al-^Ala'iyy; they all classified it as sahih. The status of those huffadh, i.e., their high knowledge and high level in the Science of Hadith, is a case of unanimous agreement among the scholars of Islam.
However, those Wahhabis, in an attempt to back their stubbornness and their false claim, rejected the sahih hadith of the Prophet; may Allah protect us from such misguidance. They refuted and rejected that which was proved to be mentioned by the Companions. It is obvious they are not following a correct methodology on their part. What is correct is for one to follow the path of the Prophet and the path of his Companions. One must adhere to that which the Prophet prescribed, and that which was put forth by the Companions, and one does not adhere to the example of someone deluded about things.
Asking Allah for things by the good deeds of a person, is permissible
There are other ahadith that stand as a proof to the validity and the correctness of the statements of Ahl asSunnah. Among of which is the hadith narrated by Imam al-Bukhariyy and others about three people from a previous nation who went inside a cave seeking protection from a heavy rain they encountered in their travels. A big rock rolled down from the top of the mountain shutting off the mouth of the cave and blocking their exit. One of the three men suggested they all make du^a' to Allah by virtue of their good deeds. The first one stood up and made a du^a' to Allah asking Him by one of the good deeds that he had done. He said, 'O Allah, if that good deed I did previously was done in sincerity to You, then I ask You to relieve us of this calamity we are facing.' Once he finished his du^a', the rock moved slightly; however, it did not move enough for them to come out of the cave. The second man stood up and asked Allah to relieve them of their calamity by virtue of a good deed which he had done in the past. Again the rock moved a little bit more; however, it was still not enough for them to be able to leave the cave. The third man did the same as the first two, and the rock was moved completely out of the way, and the men were able to leave the cave. This hadith is very famous. It is confirmed and is classified as sahih. It was narrated by Imam al-Bukhariyy and others and confirms those three people asked Allah for something, i.e., to relieve them of their calamity, by their good deeds.
If asking Allah for things by the good deeds of a person, is something permissible in the Religion, then asking Allah for things by the Prophet takes precedence–since the good deed is a creation of Allah, and the best of all the creations is the Prophet. Moreover, one should note that the good deeds of those people are not categorized as 'alive' or 'present,' as Ibn Taymiyah made a condition. From where did Ibn Taymiyah bring this condition? It is only a delusion on his part. He deduced that from his own delusions, and it is not founded on sound religious proofs.
The Prophet, his Companions, the followers of those Companions, and the followers of those followers of the Companions are all in unanimous agreement that it is permissible to ask Allah for things by the Prophet and by the good and pious Muslims, whether during their life or after their death. All the scholars from among the four reputable schools, i.e., the school of Imam ash-Shafi^iyy, the school of Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, the school of Imam AbuHanifah, and the school of Imam Malik, concur on this issue.
Ahmad Ibn Taymiyah and his followers among the Wahhabis claim that he who asks Allah for things by the Prophet after his death or during his absence is doing an act of shirk, i.e., associating partners with Allah. Again, this is contrary to what is founded in the Religion of Allah. The hadith of the blind man previously mentioned indicates that this blind man left the session of the Prophet, i.e., he went away and was no longer in the presence of the Prophet when he made his wudu', performed his salat, and made his du^a'. How could this be classified as a shirk? If it had been a shirk, then the Prophet would not have ordered the blind man to do as he did. The Prophet is more knowledgeable than Ibn Taymiyah and all the others like him.
The scholars of Islam opposed those who claimed that the one who asks Allah for things by the Prophet after his death or during his absence is doing an act of shirk. The Wahhabis claim they are following the school of Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal. However, Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal and the scholars who belong to his school all agree that it is permissible to ask Allah for things by the Prophet–during his lifetime and after his death. Even the grandfather of Ahmad Ibn Taymiyah, himself, who was among the great scholars following the school of Imam Ahmad, used to say it is permissible to ask Allah for things by the Prophet during his lifetime and after his death. This was narrated by one of the greatest students of Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, Abu Bakr alMarwaziyy. This scholar, in copying the saying of Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, said that it is liked during drought to ask Allah for rain by the Prophet. Imam Ahmad told about one of the great followers of the companions, Safwan Ibn Sulaym, who was a pious, humble, and very knowledgeable Muslim, that just by mentioning his name a person would hope the rain would come down as a sign of Allah's mercy to the people. The meaning is if the people mention the name of Safwan Ibn Sulaym in their session, it is because of his great status, and as a blessing from Allah, the rain would start falling. One can observe for himself that Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal was among those who established it is liked for one to ask Allah for things by the status of the pious Muslims and by the Prophet, yet those among the Wahhabis who claim to be followers of Imam Ahmad, say this is shirk if it is done after the death of the Prophet. Imam Ahmad is in one direction, and those Wahhabis are in a totally different direction.
The first case was mentioned about Imam Ahmad in a book compiled by his own son, ^Abdullah, containing questions and answers about Imam Ahmad. The second statement, about Safwan Ibn Sulaym, in was narrated by alHafidh al Mizziyy and al-Hafidh al-^Ala'iyy and azZabidiyy. In a matter such as this, i.e., asking Allah for things by the Prophet, the teachings of someone like Imam Ahmad would be followed as opposed to those of Ibn Taymiyah and his followers–the Wahhabis. All of these reliable scholars have praised Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal. He is the one among the scholars of hadith who narrated the most ahadith of the Prophet. It is not known among the scholars of hadith about another scholar who narrated in quantity as much as Imam Ahmad did. Those Wahhabis left Imam Ahmad and followed their own delusions. Those delusions are contrary to the rules of the Religion of Allah.
Be cautious! If you hear someone claim that it is not permissible to ask Allah for things in the absence of the Prophet or after his death, do not lend him a listening ear. Respond to him. Tell such a person about the hadith of the blind man, and the hadith of al-Bukhariyy regarding the three men who went into the cave. This is defending the Religion of Allah.
It is not permissible for one to remain silent when he sees someone perverting the Religion of Allah–if he is able to stand up to him. It is not permissible to leave the Muslims without guiding them and warning them against such people who pervert the Religion of Allah–once they are able to do so. This falls under the obligatory advice to the Muslims, as it was indicated by the Prophet. If the person leaves out ordering alma^ruf and forbidding almunkar, when it is obligatory on him, then this person is committing a sin. The scholars used to take many hardships to warn against someone perverting the Religion of Allah. This has great reward for them. If that obligation was left out in a community, those people would lose the support of Allah.
We ask Allah to bless us with the guidance and to make us steadfast in following the methodology and the path of the Prophet. We ask Allah to let us consume all of our life in following the methodology of the Prophet. We ask Allah to make us among those who order with alma^ruf and forbid al-munkar.
Praise be to Allah and Allah knows best.