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TAWASSUL (MEDIATION) IN SUNNI ISLAM PT. 7

A REFUTATION OF ALBANI

FROM IMAM NAWAWI AND

IMAM IBN AL-HUMAM AL-HANAFI

A further proof that tawassul through the Prophet after his time is universally recognized and encouraged in the Shari`a is Imam Nawawi’s description of the etiquette of visiting the grave of the Prophet after the fulfillment of the Pilgrimage in the Book of Hajj in the Adhkar, where he says:

[After giving salam to the Prophet, Abu Bakr, and `Umar] Then he [the visitor] returns to his initial station opposite the Prophet’s face, and he uses the Prophet as his means in his innermost (fa yatawassalu bihi fi haqqi nafsihi)and seeks his intercession before his exalted and mighty Lord (wa yatashaffa`u bihi ila rabbihi subhanahu wa ta`ala)… and he avails himself of this noble spot, and glorifies and praises and magnifies Allah and invokes blessings on His Messenger. Let him do all that abundantly.[81]

Nawawi similarly says in the part devoted to visiting the Prophet in his book on Pilgrimage entitled al-Idah fi manasik al-hajj:

[The visitor stands and greets the Prophet, then he moves to greet Abu Bakr and `Umar] Then he returns to his original position, directly in front of Allah’s Messenger, and he uses the Prophet as his means in his innermost self (fa yatawassalu bihi fi haqqi nafsihi)and seeks his intercession before his exalted and mighty Lord (wa yatashaffa`u bihi ila rabbihi subhanahu wa ta`ala) and one of the best things that he can say is what has been narrated by our colleagues on al-`Utbi’s authority, and they admired what he said:

As I was sitting by the grave of the Prophet, a Bedouin Arab came and said: “Peace be upon you, O Messenger of Allah!  I have heard Allah saying: “If they had only, when they were unjust to themselves, come unto thee and asked Allah’s forgiveness, and the Messenger had asked forgive-ness for them, they would have found Allah indeed Oft-returning, Most Merciful” (4:64), so I have come to you asking forgiveness for my sin, seeking your intercession with my Lord…”[82]

Similarly the Hanafi faqih Kamal al-Din ibn al-Humam said in Fath al-qadir (2:337), book of hajj, chapter on visiting the Prophet:

wa yas’alu allaha hajatahu mutawassilan ilallah bi hadrati nabiyyihi thumma qala yas’alu al-nabiyya sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam al-shafa`ata fa yaqulu ya rasulallah as’aluka al-shafa`ata ya rasulallah atawassalu bika ilallah

Then let him ask Allah for his need, using Allah’s Prophet as his means to Allah; (then he said): Let him ask the Prophet for his intercession and say: O Messenger of Allah, I am asking you for your intercession; O Messenger of Allah, I am using you as my means to Allah.

It cannot be clearer that Albani is therefore innovating in:

  1. a) claiming that tawassulis no longer made by asking for the Prophet’s du`aafter he left dunya;
  2. b) claiming that tawassulis not made through the Prophet’s person or status.

That in the du’aa which Allaahs Messenger (SAW) taught him to say occurs, ‘O Allaah accept him as a supplicant [intercessor] for me’, and it is impossible to take this to mean tawassul by his (SAW) person, or his status, or his right, since the meaning is, ‘O Allaah accept his (SAW) supplication for You to restore my sight.’

Albani, Tawassul: Its Types and Rulings

The complete words of the du`a are as follows: “O Allah I ask you and turn to you by means of your Prophet Muhammad, the Prophet of Mercy. O Muhammad I turn by means of you to my Lord in this need of mine, so that it may be fulfilled for me, O Allah make him my intercessor (shaffi`hu fiyya).”

Therefore the du`a contains the following steps:

– Call and request to Allah stating that one uses the Prophet as means;

– Call to the Prophet stating that one uses him as means to Allah;

– Call and request to Allah to make the Prophet one’s intercessor.

This proves:

– that one may ask for the Prophet’s intercession in this life;

– that one takes for granted that the Prophet’s intercession is accepted;

– that one does not take for granted that his intercession is granted;

– and that such intercession is “by means of him,” period.

And shafaa’ah [the arabic word used in the hadeeth] in the language means: du’aa [supplication], and this is what is meant for the Shafaa’ah which is established for him (SAW) and for the other Prophets and the pious on the Day of Ressurrection.

Albani, Tawassul: Its Types and Rulings

Neither is the hadith taking place on the Day of Resurrection, nor is this hadith primarily about the Prophet’s blessed shafa`a, which is explained in countless other ayats and ahadith, but about tawassul through the Prophet, which is the modality and language of asking for his shafa`a here and now. Albani is trying to make one and the same thing of tawassul and shafa`a, and furthermore he is trying to make the language say other than what it states explicitly.

And this shows that shafaa’ah is more particular then du’aa since it will only occur if there are two people seeking a matter, so that one of them is a supplicant for the other, as opposed to a single person seeking something who does not have anyone else to supplicate for him. In Lisaan ul-Arab it says, ‘shafaa’ah [intercession] is the intercessor’s speaking to a king about a need which he is requesting for someone else, and the intercessor is the one seeking something for someone else, through whom he intercedes to attain what is desired…’  So it is established by this means also that the tawassul

of the blind man wa through his (SAW) du’aa and not his person.

Albani, Tawassul: Its Types and Rulings

Again: The hadith is about the asking for the intercession, not the intercession itself. Clearly, the one hoping intercession needs to ask, and the reason he is asking is because of the intercessor’s status. Is this not obvious?

That from what the Prophet (SAW) taught the blind man was, ‘And accept my supplication [shafaa’ah] for him’… This sentence is an authentic part of the hadeeth, it is reported by Ahmad and al-Haakim who authenticated it with adh-Dhahabee agreeing. And it alone is a decisive proof that taking the hadeeth to refer to tawassul by his person is futile, that being the position of some recent writers – and it seems that they realise this point and therefore do not mention this sentence at all – which shows how far they can be trusted in reporting narrations. And close to this is their quoting the

previous sentence, ‘O Allaah accept his shafaa’ah for me’, as a proof for tawassul by his person – but as for explaining how it shows that then they do not explain that to the readers, since one not having something cannot give it to others.

Albani, Tawassul: Its Types and Rulings

The proof for tawassul through the Prophet’s  person does not lie in the particular part of the du`a which says “O Allah accept his shafa`a for me” but in the du`a as a whole, as has been shown above.

Albani’s contempt and mistrust of the scholars whose view invalidates his typifies his tendency to disrespect persons on the basis of his disagreement and that is the general tendency of his admirers also. What can be meant by his phrase “some recent writers”? Are Nawawi and Ibn al-Jawzi, who respectively state that tawassul is through the Prophet’s person and status, “recent writers”? The only “recent writer” here is Albani himself.

‘i.e. accept my shafaa’ah for him, i.e. accept my du’aa that you accept his ‘shafaa’ah’, i.e. his du’aa that You restore my sight.’ And it is not possible to understand  anything but this from this sentence.

Albani, Tawassul: Its Types and Rulings

The above impossibility seems axiomatic to Albani perhaps, but to others it is clear that the statement quoted also refers to the phrase: “I ask you and turn to you by means of your Prophet” and so the full meaning is: “Accept my du`a and accept the request that I may make this du`a to you by means of him.” As much as Albani tries to conceal this basic meaning he cannot.

This is why you find the opponents feigning ignorance of it and not making mention of it since it demolishes their building from the foundations and tears down it’s walls, and when they hear it you will see them looking at you like one in a swoon. This is because they (think that they) understand the shafaa’ah of the Messenger (SAW) for the blind man, but what can the blind man’s shafaa’ah for the Messenger (SAW) mean? They have no answer for that at all. And the fact that they percieve this nullifies their misinterpretation is that you will not find a single one of them using it in practice, i.e. supplicating, ‘O Allaah accept Your Prophets’ shafaa’ah for me and my shafaa’ah for him.’

Albani, Tawassul: Its Types and Rulings

The blind man was merely blind in the eyes, but Allah spoke of those who are blind-hearted and this is a graver illness.

The shafa`a of the Messenger for the blind man benefits the blind man. The shafa`a of the blind man for the Messenger benefits the blind man also! The former is the Prophet’s request on behalf of the blind man. The latter is the blind’s man request that he be given permission to have the Prophet request for him. It is very clear, but it seems Albani ekes out his argument only in order to confuse the issue, just as he shuffled the lexical meanings of tawassul and shafa`a.

the saying of the blind man in his du’aa, ‘O Allaah I ask You and turn to You by means of your Prophet Muhammad (SAW)’ means, ‘I seek a means of nearness to You by means of the du’aa of your Prophet’, with the governing word [i.e. du’aa] omitted – and this is something well known in the language – as occurs in the saying of Allaah, ‘the town and caravan…’ (12:82), i.e. ‘the PEOPLE of the town, and the COMPANIONS of the caravan..’ [with the governing

words PEOPLE and CARAVAN omitted]. And we and the opponents agree upon that, i.e. that we have to come up with the governing word which has been omitted.

Albani, Tawassul: Its Types and Rulings

The above is a good illustration of Albani’s method of narrowing down the outward sense of the du`a, which is: “I am turning to You by means of your Prophet” to a specific sense: “I am turning to You by means of your Prophet’s du`a.” In order to achieve this he comes up with terms that are not in the hadith — “by means of the du`a” — and he dictates that they are the governing terms around which the sole meaning of the hadith revolves — that is: Albani’s meaning.

And in our view it is the same case as with the du’aa of Umar and his tawassul by means of al-Abbaas – either it is taken to be, ‘I turn to You by means of the (status) of Your Prophet’, and ‘O Muhammad I turn by your (person) or your (position) to my Lord’ – as they claim – or to be, ‘I turn to you by means of the (du’aa) of Your Prophet’, and, ‘O Muhammad I Turn to you by your (du’aa) to my Lord’ – which is our saying. And one of these must be preferred due to a proof which shows it. So as for their saying that the missing governing word is (status/position) then they have no proof for it, neither in this or any other hadeeth, since there is nothing mentioned along with it which suggests or states any mention of (status) or indicates it at all.

Albani, Tawassul: Its Types and Rulings

This is perhaps the greatest fallacy in his entire argument, since in making it he completely ignores the countless verses and hadiths which show the Prophet’s tremendous status, including his own explicit statements that he is the Master of the children of Adam and the noblest of them in Allah’s sight, and the ijma` of Muslims concerning his praiseworthy station.

Just as they have nothing from the Qur’an and Sunnah, or from the practice of the Companions where there is tawassul by anyone’s status. So this preferred view of theirs has nothing to support it and so is rendered baseless and not taken into any further consideration. As for our view then it is supported by many proofs which have preceded.

Albani, Tawassul: Its Types and Rulings

The lexical “proof” has been rejected as shafa`a is not the same as tawassul. And the “proof” that the wasila is purely the Prophet’s du`a has been rejected, as it was shown that the wasila is the Prophet himself in addition to the du`a which he taught the blind man, and the du`a which he himself made on his behalf.

And I also say: Even if it were correct that the blind man sought to make tawassul by his (SAW) person, then it would be something particular to him, not something shared by the rest of the Prophets and the pious. And joining them in it along with him is something not acceptable, since he (SAW) was the leader and the most noble of them all, so it could have been something which Allaah particularised him like many others reported in authentic narrations, and matters of particularised qualities are not within the scope of analogy. So he who thinks that the blind man’s tawassul to Allaah was by means of his (SAW) person – then he should halt at that and not add others to it, as is reported from Imaam Ahmad and Shaikh al-Izz bin abdis-Salaam (RH).

Albani, Tawassul: Its Types and Rulings

One goes to one’s nearest means among the salihin or saintly people, as is established by `Umar’s tawassul through al-`Abbas the Prophet’s uncle. This is not only permissible but recommended by all Four Schools. As for Imam Ahmad, he made tawassul through the Prophet a part of every du`a as has been reported, nor did he try, unlike Albani, to alter the modality of the tawassul or its meaning.

Note that Albani moved from denying that the tawassul can be made through the Prophet’s person to accepting it, then denying that it be made by other than the blind man, then accepting it, and finally denying that it be made through other than the Prophet!

If it were forbidden to seek the Prophet’s person as a means for obtaining cure and blessings in this life, then why did the Companions and the Followers seek such blessings through the hair of the Prophet, his minbar, his sweat, his saliva, his grave, and other items which we shall not mention? If one cannot deny the benefit derived by a mere particle of the Prophet’s body long after his time, they surely one cannot deny the benefit derived by his noble person — except one whom Allah has deprived of true understanding, such as those who insist on denying even when the proofs are brought right under their nose. And Allah knows best.

REFUTATION OF THOSE WHO QUESTION

TABARRUK BI AL-ATHAR (“SEEKING BLESSINGS

FROM THE PROPHET’S RELICS”)

AS A VALID ISLAMIC PRACTICE

Tabarruk“: deriving blessing from something

once owned or touched by a holy person.

Athar“: relics.

As for those who reject the validity of tabarruk or seeking blessings through the relics of the Prophet, we warn them that Allah Himself mentioned the tabarruk of the Prophet Ya`qub with the relic of his son Yusuf as well as the tabarruk of the Banu Isra’il with the relics of the Family of Musa and the Family of Harun; and that the evidence for the tabarruk of the Companions and the Tabi`in through the Prophet and the saints is innumerable.

  • Allah said: “Go with this my shirt, and cast it over the face of my father: he will come to see (clearly)… When the Caravan left (Egypt), their father said: I do indeed scent the presence of Yusuf… Then, when the bearer of glad tidings came, he laid it on his face and he became a seer once more. He said: Said I not unto you that I know from Allah that which ye know not?” (12:93-96).
  • And He said: ” And their Prophet said unto them: Lo! the token of his kingdom is that there shall come unto you the ark wherein is peace of reassurance from your Lord, and a remnant of that which the house of Moses and the house of Aaron left behind, the angels bearing it. Lo! herein shall be a token for you if (in truth) ye are believers.” (2:247)

The Companions’ Seeking of Blessings

With the Prophet’s Person and His Relics

  1. Tabarrukwith the Prophet’s hair and nails. There are countless hadiths on this.

– Bukhari narrates in his Sahih in the Book of Clothing, under the chapter entitled “What is mentioned about gray hair,” that `Usman ibn `Abd Allah ibn Mawhab said: “My family sent me to Umm Salama with a cup of water. Umm Salama brought out a silver bottle which contained one of the hairs of the Prophet, and it used to be that if anyone came under the evil eye or ill health they used to send her a cup of water through which she would pass this hair (for drinking). We used to look into the silver bottle: I saw some reddish hairs.”

– Anas said: “When the Prophet shaved his head (after pilgrimage), Abu Talha was the first one to take of his hair.” Bukhari.

– Anas also said: “The Prophet threw stones at al-Jamra, then sacrificed, then told the barber to shave his head right side first, then began to give the hair away to the people.” Muslim.

– Anas said: “Talha was the one distributing it.” Muslim, Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud.

– He also said: “When the Prophet shaved his head in Mina, he gave me the hair from the right side and he said: Anas! take it to Umm Sulaym [his mother]. When the Companions saw what the Prophet gave us, they began to compete to take the hair from the left side, and everyone was getting a share from that.” Ahmad narrated it.

– Ibn al-Sakan narrated through Safwan ibn Hubayra from the latter’s father: Thabit al-Bunani said: Anas ibn Malik said to me (on his death-bed): “This is one of the hairs of Allah’s Messenger, Allah’s blessings and peace upon him. I want you to place it under my tongue.” Thabit continued:  I placed it under his tongue, and he was buried with it under his tongue.”[83]

– Abu Bakr said: “I saw Khalid [ibn Walid] asking for the Prophet’s forelock and he received it. He used to put it over his eyes and then kiss it.” It is known that he then placed it in his qalansuwa (head cover around which the turban is tied) and never faced battle again except he won. Narrated by Ibn Hajar in his Isaba. Ibn Abi Zayd al-Qayrawani relates that Imam Malik said: “Khalid ibn al-Walid owned a qalansiyya which contained some of the Prophet’s hair, and that is the one he wore the day of the battle of Yarmuk.[84]

– Ibn Sirin (one of the Tabi`in) said: “One hair of the Prophet in my possession is more precious to me than silver and gold and everything that is on the earth and everything that is inside it.” Bukhari, Bayhaqi (Sunan kubra), and Ahmad.

– In Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 72, Number 784: `Uthman bin `Abd Allah ibn Mawhab said, “My people sent me with a bowl of water to Umm Salama.” Isra’il approximated three fingers indicating the small size of the container in which there was some hair of the Prophet. `Uthman added, “If any person suffered from evil eye or some other disease, he would send a vessel (containing water) to Umm Salama (and she would dip the Prophet’s hair into it and it would be drunk). I looked into the container (that held the hair of the Prophet) and saw a few reddish hairs in it.”

Hafiz Ibn Hajar in Fath al-bari, Volume 10, page 353, said: “They used to call the silver bottle in which the hair of the Prophet was kept jiljalan and that bottle was in the home of Umm Salama.” Hafiz al-`Ayni said in `Umdat al-qari, Volume 18, page 79: “Umm Salama had some of the hairs of the Prophet in a silver bottle. When some people got ill, they would go and obtain blessings from these hairs and they would be healed by means of their blessings. If a person were struck by the evil eye or any sickness, he would send his wife to Umm Salama with a mikhdaba or water-pail, and she would pass the hair through that water and then drink the water and he would be healed, after which they would return the hair to the jiljal.”

– Imam Ahmad narrates in his Musnad (4:42) from `Abd Allah ibn Zayd ibn `Abd Rabbih with a sound (sahih) chain as stated by Haythami in Majma` al-zawa’id (3:19) that the Prophet clipped his nails and distributed them among the people.

  1. Tabarrukwith the Prophet’s sweat.

– Anas said: “The Prophet stayed with us, and as he slept my mother began to collect his sweat in a flask. The Prophet awoke and said: O Umm Sulaym, what are you doing? She said: This is your sweat which we place in our perfume and it is the best perfume.” Muslim, Ahmad.

– When Anas was on his deathbed he instructed that some of this flask be used on his body before his funeral and it was done. Bukhari.

– Ibn Sirin also was given some of Umm Sulaym’s flask. Ibn Sa`d.

  1. Tabarrukwith the Prophet’s saliva and ablution water. These hadiths are extremely numerous.

– In Bukhari and Muslim: The Companions would compete for whoever would get the remnant of the Prophet’s ablution water in order to put it on their faces. Nawawi in Sharh Sahih Muslim said: “In these narrations is evidence for seeking blessings with the relics of the saints” (fihi al-tabarruk bi athar al-salihin).

– The Prophet used to heal the sick with his saliva mixed with some earth with the words: “Bismillah, the soil of our earth with the saliva of one / some of us shall heal our sick with our Lord’s permission.” Bukhari and Muslim.

Regarding this hadith Ibn Hajar says in Fath al-bari (1989 ed. 10:255-256):

The Prophet’s words “with the saliva of one or some of us” indicate that he would spit at the time of using a protective invocation (ruqya). Nawawi said (in Sharh Sahih Muslim): “The meaning of the hadith is that the Prophet put some of his saliva on his forefinger then placed it on some earth and formed some clot with it with which he wiped the place of the ailment or the wound, pronouncing the words of the hadith at the time of wiping.” Qurtubi said: “The hadith shows the permissibility of using protective invocations against any and all ailments, and it shows that this was an open and widely-known matter among them.” He also said: “The Prophet’s placing of his finger on the earth and of the earth on his finger indicates the desirability of doing this when using a protective invocation…. This falls under none other than the heading of obtaining blessing (tabarruk) through Allah’s Names and through what His Prophet left us.” Ibn Hajar concludes: Protective invocations (ruqa) and those hanged upon oneself (`aza’im) have wondrous effects, the true nature of which boggles the mind.

– The Prophet had everyone in Madina bring their newborn, whom he would read upon and into whose mouth he would do nafth and tifl (breath mixed with saliva). He would instruct their mother not to suckle them that day until nightfall. He did the same later in Mecca. Bukhari, Abu Dawud, Ahmad, Bayhaqi (Dala’il), etc.

– The names of over 100 of the Ansar and Muhajirin who received this particular blessing have been transmitted with isnads, and are found in the main books of biographies.

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