Doubt

Some so-called Muslims object to the practice of seeking medium (waseelah) through divine personalities.  Their initial take is that we should seek only from Allah. Then they grudgingly accept that we can also seek through the medium of divine personalities like the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and his successors (a.s.), martyrs, scholars and so on, albeit with one condition i.e. we can only seek from them while they are alive and not after they have passed away. According to them, once dead and buried under the ground, the person is lifeless like the earth and stone and cannot hear the pleas and supplications of the living for help. So beseeching the ‘dead and lifeless’ is tantamount to idol-worship and takes one outside the pale of divine monotheism (tauheed) into polytheism (shirk).

Reply

If seeking from other than Allah is polytheism as they claim, then how does it matter whether the person is dead or alive? It should be polytheism in either case. If it is permissible when the personality is alive, then it should also be permissible when the personality has passed away especially since the intercession of the person is not linked to his life/death status; rather, it is linked to his position in front of Allah the High. The high position of the personality near Allah, the High is permanent – it does not fluctuate with life or death.

1. Ahle Bait’s (a.s.) high status is permanent
2. Muslims are alive even after death
3. The Ahle Bait (a.s.) will survive even after all have perished
4. Even stones are not lifeless
5. Waseelah is related to Allah’s Power and Mercy

Back to Top1. Ahle Bait’s (a.s.) high status is permanent

The Ahle Bait (a.s.) have always enjoyed a high status in front of Allah the Almighty, even before they assumed their physical shape on this earth. Since creation was initiated, many Prophets (a.s.) in moments of certain destruction have beseeched Allah through the Ahle Bait (a.s.) and have been granted respite.

Prophet Adam (a.s.):

Then Adam received (some) words from his Lord, so He turned to him mercifully; surely He is Oft-returning (to mercy), the Merciful.

Adam’s (a.s.) lapse was forgiven through the intercession of the Ahle Bait (a.s.) centuries before they descended on the earth in physical form. Without the intercession of the Ahle Bait (a.s.) he would not have been forgiven. In fact, without them (a.s.) he wouldn’t even have been created nor the earth, the sun, the moon, the Throne, the Chair, the heavens…

  • Al-Durr al-Manthoor by Al-Haafez Jalaal al-Deen Abd al-Rahman Ibn Abu Bakr al-Suyuti under the exegesis of this verse in vol. 1 pp.58,60
  • Al-Manaaqeb of Ibn al-Maghaazeli p. 63
  • Al-Tabaraani in Al-Mo’jam al-Sagheer
  • Al-Mustadrak by Haakem Neshapuri
  • Hilyah al-Awliya by Abu Noaim Isfahani
  • Sunan al-Baihaqi
  • Tarikh al-Dimishq by Ibne Asaakir
  • Faraaed al-Simtain Fi Fazaael al-Murtaza wa al-Batool wa al-Sibtain by Shaikh al-Islam Hamweeni

If seeking from the Ahle Bait (a.s.) was resorted to by the divine prophets (a.s.) even before the Ahle Bait (a.s.) assumed a physical form, why is there an objection to taking them as intercessors after their physical departure from this world?

These so-called Muslims object that once they have died, they lack the power to serve as intercessors.

We ask these Muslims: How did they (a.s.) acquire the power to intercede for Prophet Adam (a.s.) while they lacked physical form? It is the same power that helps them intercede even after their death.

This reminds us about the objection of the infidels of Mecca and Allah’s response to them.

And he strikes out a likeness for Us and forgets his own creation. Says he: Who will give life to the bones when they are rotten? Say: He will give life to them Who brought them into existence at first, and He is cognizant of all creation. (Surah Yaseen (36): Verses 78-79)

If the waseelah of the Ahle Bait (a.s.) was helpful earlier, it can benefit again. And it is easier as the Holy Quran says.

 ‘And He it is Who originates the creation, then reproduces it, and it is easier for Him…’ (Surah Rum (30): Verse 27)

If they were the waseelah for the first time, it is easier to be the waseelah again.

Back to Top2. Muslims are alive even after death

There are certain Muslims who are alive even after their death. Allah the Almighty has identified two groups in the Majestic Quran who are alive till date and will continue to do so till Allah wishes.

  1. Martyrs are alive after death

 ‘And reckon not those who are killed in Allah’s way as dead; nay, they are alive (and) are provided sustenance from their Lord.’ (Surah Ale Imran (3): Verse 169) 

  1. Those who migrated in Allah’s way are also alive after death

 ‘And (as for) those who migrate in Allah’s way and are then slain or die, Allah will most certainly grant them a goodly sustenance, and most surely Allah is the best Giver of sustenance.’ (Surah Hajj (22): Verse 58)

The Ahle Bait (a.s.) have all been martyred in Allah’s way and this is an undisputable fact. Also the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) and Ameerul Momineen, Ali ibne Abi Talib (a.s.) were among the foremost of emigrants. So, these personalities are alive as per both verses of the Holy Quran i.e. for martyrs as also emigrants.

Therefore, to say that the dead are lifeless like stones goes against the Holy Quran and one who contradicts Allah’s Book should worry about his own faith rather than calling others apostate.

Not just great personalities like the Ahle Bait (a.s.) or companions of the Imams (a.s.) or revered scholars, even one’s parents are a waseelah in distress. There are traditions which emphasis visiting the parents’ graves to seek waseelah in difficulty.

Back to Top3. The Ahle Bait (a.s.) will survive even after all have perished

There are two verses of the Holy Quran that clearly show that after all have perished there is one thing that will survive.

Everyone on it must pass away. And there will endure forever the person of your Lord, the Lord of glory and honor.’ (Surah Rahman (55): Verses 26-27)

 ‘…everything will be annihilated but He…’ (Surah Qasas (28): Verse 88)

Under the exegesis of these verses we find many traditions that the وجه الله are the Ahle Bait (a.s.).

We introduce two traditions over here as illustration:

Abdul Salaam b. Saleh al-Hirvi (famous as Abu Salt) says: I asked Imam Ali ibne Moosa al-Reza (a.s.) – O son of Allah’s Messenger – what is the meaning of the tradition that the reward of reciting لا إله إلا الله equals glancing at the Face of Allah the High.

He (a.s.) replied: O Aba Salt, one who describes Allah with a face like faces (of creatures) is an apostate. Rather, the face of Allah is His Prophets (a.s.), His Messengers and His Proofs (a.s.). They are the ones through whom one turns towards Allah, the Almighty, and towards His Religion and towards His Recognition. As Allah says – Everyone on it must pass away. And there will endure forever the person of your Lord, the Lord of glory and honor.’ (Surah Rahman (55): Verses 26-27)

  • Oyoon-o-Akhbaar al-Reza (a.s.) vol. 1 p. 115

 Al-Haaris b. al-Mughairah says – We were with Abu Abdillah – Imam Sadiq (a.s.) when a man asked him (a.s.) about Allah, the Almighty’s word – ‘Everything will be annihilated but He’ (Surah Qasas (28): Verse 88). Imam (a.s.) asked, ‘What do they say regarding it?’ I said, ‘They say all things will be perished except His Face’. He (a.s.) retorted, ‘Glory be to Allah. Most surely, they have made a most grievous claim. It only means everything is perishable but His Face through which He is approached and we (Ahle Bait) are the Face of Allah through which he is approached.

  • Basaaer al-Darajaat vol. 1 p. 65

Back to Top4. Even stones are not lifeless

Those who claim the dead are lifeless like stones must first review the Islamic belief of ‘lifeless’ creation like stones in light of the Holy Quran.

  1. Stones in the Quran

Stones are not lifeless; rather they are brimming with Tauheed and are constantly glorifying Allah along with everything else in the heavens and the earth.

‘Whatever is in the heavens and the earth declares the glory of Allah.’ (Surah Hadeed (57): Verse 1)

But we do not perceive their glorification and consider them to be lifeless.

The seven heavens declare His glory and the earth (too), and those who are in them; and there is not a single thing but glorifies Him with His praise, but you do not understand their glorification; surely He is Forbearing, Forgiving.” (Surah Bani Israel (17): Verse 44)

If Allah the All-Powerful wishes He can make these stones display untold wonders that would boggle the mind, like quenching the thirst of an entire nation.

And when Musa prayed for drink for his people, We said: Strike the rock with your staff. So there gushed from it twelve springs; each tribe knew its drinking place…’ (Surah Baqarah (2): Verse 60)

In fact Allah the Almighty has praised stones and rocks so much so that even man is considered lower in status than this so-called ‘lifeless’ creation.

Then your hearts hardened after that, so that they were like rocks, rather worse in hardness; and surely there are some rocks from which streams burst forth, and surely there are some of them which split asunder so water issues out of them, and surely there are some of them which fall down for fear of Allah, and Allah is not at all heedless of what you do.’ (Surah Baqarah (2): Verse 74)

  1. Stones in the traditions

If Allah the High wants he can make the stones a waseelah in times of difficulty and Muslims have been ordered to take Allah’s creation as waseelah even if it is a stone.

Abul Hasan al-Daee b. Nawfal al-Salmi says, “I heard Allah’s Prophet (s.a.w.a.) say, ‘Surely, Allah created creation from His Mercy, for His Mercy, with His Mercy. And they (creation) fulfill the needs of the people. Then, one who can full his needs through them, should do so’.”

  • Behaar al-Anwaar vol. 53 p. 254

Imam Hasan b. Ali al-Askari (a.s.) informed, “Have a good opinion even if it involves a stone. Allah may ward off His evil through it then seek your provision from it.” I asked (surprised), ‘May Allah assist you, even if through a stone?’ He (a.s.) retorted, ‘Have you not seen the Hajar al-Aswad?

  • Behaar al-Anwaar vol. 53 p. 254
  1. Al-Hajar al-Aswad

Nothing need be said about the Black Stone (al-Hajar al-Aswad) in the Masjid al-Haram. It provides benefit to Muslims and accepts their covenants. Then, whoever claims that it neither harms nor benefits have disbelieved because the traditions are replete with its benefits and importance.

So, these so-called Muslims should be careful about describing the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) as a lifeless rock (we seek refuge in Allah!).

Back to Top5. Waseelah is related to Allah’s Power and Mercy

These so-called Muslims are harping about the adequacy of the waseelah, particularly after death. They have missed the point entirely. Tawassul is not about the power of the waseelah; rather, it is about the Power and Mercy of Allah, the Almighty. The role of the waseelah is related to its status and dignity regardless of whether it’s dead or alive and the Ahle Bait (a.s.), as we have seen, are too high in status to be discussed by lowly creatures like us. Even stones have a status in front of Allah through the waseelah of which He grants succor to the creation.

Therefore, those who claim that we must seek waseelah only from something that has life and power are wrong. Even the apparently lifeless can be a waseelah, with Allah’s permission, be it a stone.

With their petty and baseless objections against the waseelah, these so-called Muslims are defining limits for Allah’s power and are dictating what He can do and what He cannot do. They have disbelieved in Allah’s power and have rejected the Noble Quran which has repeatedly stressed, ‘Surely, Allah has power over all things.’

Finding fault with the waseelah, is akin to finding fault in Allah’s boundless power and mercy. When Prophet Moosa (a.s.), due to incomplete knowledge, repeatedly faulted Khizr (a.s.), it ultimately led to his separation from his waseelah.

So to say that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) or Ameerul Momineen – Ali b. Abi Talib (a.s.) are waseelah so long as they are alive and have power is just plain wrong. Their being alive is not the point. It is their status in front of Allah and Allah’s Permission and Mercy that makes them a waseelah for the Muslims. So long as this holds true, they are a permanent waseelah – a waseelah before creation, a waseelah with creation and a waseelah after creation.