Tawassul through the Awliya'
Is it permissible for a Muslim to make Tawassul (supplicate to Allah through a means) by virtue of the status of the prophets and the righteous people? I came across some opinions of scholars that Tawassul through the Awliya’ (pious people) is permissible, for Du’a (supplication) in this case is offered to Allah. However, other scholars said otherwise. What is the Shari`ah ruling on this matter?
A Waliy (pious person) is someone who believes in Allah, abides by His obligations and refrains from His prohibitions; the Messengers and the Prophets (peace be upon them) achieved the highest grade in this respect. Allah (Exalted be He) says, “No doubt! Verily, the Auliyâ’ of Allâh [i.e. those who believe in the Oneness of Allâh and fear Allâh much (abstain from all kinds of sins and evil deeds which he has forbidden), and love Allâh much (perform all kinds of good deeds which He has ordained)], no fear shall come upon them nor shall they grieve. Those who believed (in the Oneness of Allâh - Islâmic Monotheism), and used to fear Allâh much (by abstaining from evil deeds and sins and by doing righteous deeds).” [Yunus: 162-163]
Tawassul to Allah by virtue and honor of His Awliya’ is of several kinds:
Firstly, when a person asks a living Waliy to supplicate to Allah for them that Allah may extend their provision, cure their diseases, or guide them to the right path. This is permissible, and some of the Sahabah (Companions of the Prophet) asked the Prophet (peace be upon him) to supplicate to Allah for rainfall and the Prophet (peace be upon that) invoked his Lord who responded to his Du’a, and subsequently rain fell heavily. The Sahabah themselves asked Al-‘Abbas ibn ‘Abd Al-Muttalib to invoke Allah for rain during the caliphate of ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him). They called upon him to make Du’a to Allah for rain. Al-‘Abbas made Du’a to his Lord and they all said, “Amin” after him. There were other similar incidents that took place during the lifetime of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and after. Muslims used to ask others to supplicate to Allah for them to bring benefit or ward off harm.
Secondly, asking Allah through the love of His Prophet and following his Sunnah, and also through loving His Awliya’ by saying, “O, Allah, I ask you by my love for Your Prophet and my following his Sunnah, and by my love for Your Awliya’ to grant me such-and-such.” This is permissible because it is a Tawassul from a servant to his Lord through the good deeds he has done. It is authentically narrated in a Hadith that the people who were trapped in the cave asked Allah to save them by virtue of their righteous deeds.
Thirdly, asking Allah through the virtue and honor of His Prophets or one of His Awliya’ by saying, “O, Allah, I ask You by virtue of Your Prophet or by the honor of Al-Husayn…” and this kind of Tawassul is not permissible. Though the honor of the Awliya’ is great, especially that of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), it cannot be relied on as a means of answering the Du`a’. That is why when the Sahabah suffered from drought, they did not make Tawassul to Allah for rain by virtue of the Prophet’s honor. They asked the Prophet’s uncle Al-‘Abbas to supplicate to Allah, although the Prophet’s honor is the greatest. Moreover, it has never been narrated on the authority of any of the Sahabah (may Allah be pleased with them) that they made Tawassul through the Prophet (peace be upon him) after his death, while they are the best of Muslim generations, who knew well his esteem and were the most loving of him.
Fourthly, a servant asking His Lord for their need swearing by one of His Awliya’ or Prophets, or by their virtue saying, “O, Allah! I ask You to grant me such-and-such thing by virtue of so-and-so or by the right of Your Prophet so-and-so.” This again is impermissible because just adjuring a person by the life or virtue of another is prohibited; and is even more prohibited when it comes to Allah. Furthermore, no servant of Allah, no matter how pious and obedient they are, is entitled to such status that makes others adjure Allah or beseech Him by their virtue. This opinion is supported by legal proofs, and on the basis of which the Islamic creed is protected, and is regarded a means to block the ways leading to Shirk.
May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.
Date: Dhu al-Hijjah 7, 1441 AH
Source: Fatawa Al-Lajnah Ad-Da'imah no. 1328-2
Shaykh Abdullah ibn Ghudayyan
Shaykh Abdul-Aziz ibn Baz
Shaykh Abdul-Razzaq al-Afify
Shaykh Abdullah ibn Sulayman Ibn Mani`