Category Archives: E-Call Upon Allah by the Status of the Prophet (saw)

E-Call Upon Allah by the Status of the Prophet (saw)

To call upon Allah alone, asking Him by His Prophet is a valid difference of opinion in Fiqh where none is censured. For example: O Allah! I ask you alone by Your noble Prophet!

This type of tawassul does not entail Shirk by agreement, but it is, nevertheless, a bida’i tawassul, over which the scholars have differed.

Bida’i tawassul is, as al-‘Allama Hasan al-Shatti al-Dimashqi al-Hanbali says while commenting on Matalib Ulin-Nuha, quoting Ibn ‘al-Imad al-Hanbali: ‘Tawassul through the righteous is for one to say: O Allah! I make tawassul to you through your Prophet Muhammad SallAllahu ‘alaihi wa-sallam, or someone else, that you fulfil my need’
Take note, that the tawassul referred to here involves directly calling upon Allah and addressing Him alone, by the right of His creation. It does not involve calling upon anyone other than Allah, for that will be dealt with later on.

This type of Tawassul is differed over amongst the scholars, including the Hanbalis.

Some scholars, including Ibn Qudama allow this type of Tawassul, while other scholars, such as Ibn Taymiyya do not allow it.

The issue of tawassul is linked to swearing an oath by the Prophet – SallAllahu ‘alaihi wa-sallam.
Most of the scholars prohibit one from doing so, including a number of prominent Hanbalis, such as Ibn Qudama, Shams al-Din al-Maqdisi, Ibn Munajja, Ibn Taymiyya and others.

Most of the Hanbalis, however, allow one to swear an oath by the Prophet only, and this opinion is from the mufradat of the Madhab – meaning, no other Madhab holds this opinion but the Hanbali Madhab.

Those who favour this opinion argue that i) there is an explicit text from Imam Ahmad concerning this, and ii) since the Prophet is part of la ilaha illallah, it implies that when one swears by the Prophet, it is as if he is swearing by Allah, and therefore, the oath is enacted, the violation of which obligates kaffara (expiation).

Based on Imam Ahmad’s narration on swearing an oath by the Prophet, Imam Ahmad also opined that it is permissible to make tawassul through the Prophet – asking Allah directly by the right of the Prophet (and not asking the prophet).
However, in another narration, Imam Ahmad does not allow one to swear by the Prophet. Hence, it could be deduced from this narration that tawassul through the right of the Prophet is not allowed. This is known as al-riwaya al-mukharraja in the Madhab; and hence, two narrations from Imam Ahmad concerning tawassul; riwaya mutalaqa and riwaya mukharraja

This is the opinion of Ibn Taymiyya, mentioned in all the major post-Ibn Taymiyya mu’tamad (reliable) books for fatwa.

Is Tawassul through the Prophet the Hanbali Madhab?

Firstly, hardly any of the Hanbali books before Ibn Taymiyya, deal with the topic of tawassul through the Prophet – SallAllahu ‘alaihi wa-sallam, bar al-Samurri in his al-Mustaw’ib. Ibn Qudama fails to discuss it in any of his works, as well as Majd Ibn Taymiyya (Sheikh al-Islam’s grandfather) in his Muharrar. These two are known as the ‘two Sheikhs’ of the Madhab, and whatever they agree on is the Madhab. It seems both of them agreed not to even mention the topic of tawassul through the Prophet, let alone categorise it as the Madhab, wajh or even ihtimal (refer to the thread ‘Hanbali vs Salafi’ for the meaning of these terms).

Al-Mardawi, who authored his voluminous al-Insaf to determine what is or isn’t the Madhab mentions the issue of tawassul through the Prophet, without declaring it as the Madhab.

Secondly, the latter Hanbali scholars have two main methodologies of determining what is the Madhab. The easiest and the most common of them is by comparing between the twomu’atamad (reliable) works; i) al-Iqna’ and ii) al-Muntaha
Whatever al-Iqna’ and al-Muntaha agree on is the Madhab. When they differ, then whatever Ghayat al-Muntaha deems correct is the Madhab.

Now, al-Iqna’ mentions tawassul through the Prophet, while al-Muntaha remains silent and leaves the issue out completely.

Then Ghayat al-Muntaha, following al-Muntaha, also leaves the issue of tawassul out and gives no mention.
This further highlights that tawassul through the Prophet is not the madhab.

Furthermore, I do not know of a Hanbali who declared it to be the mu’tamad position in the Madhab, and if it was a mu’tamad position, al-Mardawi should have stated so, and if not, then it should have been stated in Ghayat al-Muntaha.
With respect to Ibn Qudama quoting al-‘Utbi’s narration in al-Mughni, then there are a few points we should bear in mind:
1) Ibn Qudama does not mention the narration as an evidence, but only as a citation, which is why he says: ‘yurwa’ – it has been narrated, indicating that the narration is weak, and therefore, not suitable as an evidence.

2) The ‘Utbi narration is not an evidence from what we know of Usul al-Fiqh, for evidence is what the Prophet said, did, or agreed to. The ‘Utbi incident – even if we were to assume it authentic – would have no bearing at all with respect to fiqh.

3) The narration does not – anywhere – indicate that ‘Utbi was making du’a to the Prophet. All it says is:
And it is narrated from al-`Utbi who said, ‘I was sitting at the grave of the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) when a Bedouin approached and said, ‘Peace be upon you, O Messenger of Allah. I have heard that Allah says {And if when they wronged themselves, they came to you and repented to Allah and the Messenger seeks their pardon they would have found Allah All-Forgiving and Most Merciful.} So I have come to you penitent for my sins seeking your intercession to my Lord.’

He does not say to the Prophet: ‘O Prophet, forgive me’, for that would be Shirk.
He simply did what he thinks he is told to do in the verse: ‘they came to you andrepented to Allah’.
It is like a person coming to the Black Stone saying: I have come to you, seeking forgiveness of my sins. Meaning, he is not seeking forgiveness from the stone, or calling upon the stone to help. He is merely expressing his emotions, while seeking forgiveness from Allah alone.

As far as addressing the Prophet directly and asking him for help is concerned, then we have covered it in detail in the posts above.
What should be emphasised here is that this type of tawassul through the Prophet, as Ibn al-‘Imad defines, is where difference of opinion is allowed and respected, even if we believe that it may lead to Shirk.
Hence, we end this section with the following words of al-Imam al-Mujaddid, Muhammad b. ‘Abd al-Wahhab al-Hanbali al-Najdi:
Regarding their statement with respect to al-Istisqa (praying for seeking rain): ‘There is no harm in making tawassul through the righteous’ and Ahmad’s statement: ‘tawassul is only allowed through the Prophet – SallAllahu ‘alaihi wa-sallam’, while they all say: ‘Istighatha (seeking aid) from the creation is not allowed’, then the difference (between the two is very clear, and it is irrelevant to what we are concerned with.

For some scholars to allow tawassul through the righteous, or for some to restrict it to the Prophet – SallAllahu ‘alaihi wa-sallam, while majority of the scholars forbidding and disliking it; these issues are from fiqhi issues. Even though the correct opinion in our view is the majority opinion that it is disliked, we still do not censure one who practises it (tawassul), for there is no censuring in issues of ijtihad.

However, our censure of one who calls upon the creation, is greater than the censure of one who calls upon Allah Ta’ala (alone); for he travels to the grave beseeching, next to al-Sheikh ‘Abd al-Qadir or others, seeking the alleviation of calamites, aiding the grief-stricken, attaining the desirables; where is this all from one who calls upon Allah, purifying His religion for Him, not calling upon anyone besides Allah, except that he says in his supplication: I ask you by Your Prophet, messengers, or the righteous servants, or travels to Ma’ruf’s grave or others’ to supplicate there, yet only supplicates to Allah, purifying the religion for Him, how is this relevant to what concerns us here?

(Fatawa wa masa’il al-Sheikh Muhammad b. ‘Abd al-Wahhab page 41)

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