Permissibility of Tabarruk in Islam
Tags: Holy Quran, Imam Husain (a.s.), Sahaabah, Salafi, Sunnah, Tawheed, Visiting graves (Ziyaarat), Waseelah
A view among the so-called puritanical Muslims with regards seeking grace and blessings (also called Tabarruk) is that it is contrary to religion and the principle of Tauheed. They argue that we should seek help and blessings and grace only from Allah and never from the effects (aathaar) of the infallible personas (a.s.) like the soil of Imam Husain’s (a.s.) shrine or the shrines of holy Imams (a.s.) or the standard of Hazrat Abbas (a.s.) in Muharram processions, among other sources.
We will go on to prove how the objections to Tabarruk are baseless and un-Islamic just like the nonsensical hostility towards other actions like seeking mediation (tawassul) and intercession (shefa’at) that pass for ‘Tauheed’.
To be sure seeking blessings (Tabarruk) from all of the following are perfectly harmonious with Islam and Tauheed espoused by the Majestic Quran and the reliable Sunnah:
i. Holy Kaaba and its precincts
ii. All mosques recommended by the reliable Sunnah and not just the three mosques of Masjid al-Nabawi, Masjid al-Haraam and Masjid al-Aqsa
iii. Shrines of infallible divine proofs (a.s.)
iv. Shrines of righteous sons of infallible Imams (a.s.)
v. Shrines of parents of infallible Imams (a.s.)
vi. Shrines of righteous wives of infallible Imams (a.s.)
vii. Shrines of righteous companions of infallible Imams (a.s.)
viii. Shrines of righteous scholars (r.a.)
ix. Houses of infallible Imams (a.s.)
x. Places frequented by the infallibles divine proofs (a.s.) like a mosque, school, meadow, well and so on
xi. The archetype (shabeeh) of any of the above
xii. Garment, ring, book, rosary (tasbeeh), shroud and other personal effects wiped against any of the above
xiii. Standard, flag, foodstuff or anything that is organized to evoke remembrance of the infallibles (a.s.)
This is but a brief list of the Tabarrukaat (singular Tabarruk) respected, frequented and sought eagerly by the Muslims in general and Shias in particular because they conform to Islam as advocated by the Holy Quran and the traditions of the infallible Imams (a.s.).
A) Holy Quran validates Tabarruk
Those who object to Tabarruk must familiarize themselves with the Holy Quran. There are many verses that point to the importance and application of Tabarruk.
i. Signs of Allah
Allah commands the Muslims to respect the ‘Signs of Allah’:
ذَلِكَ وَمَن يُعَظِّمْ شَعَائِرَ اللَّهِ فَإِنَّهَا مِن تَقْوَى الْقُلُوبِ
‘That (shall be so); and whoever respects the signs of Allah, this surely is (the outcome) of the piety of hearts.’ (Surah Hajj (22): Verse 32)
What are the ‘Signs of Allah’?
It can be anything that reminds man about Allah the Almighty. It is the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) as also his shrine. Turning to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) during his lifetime for Tabarruk is the same as turning to his shrine after his (s.a.w.a.) martyrdom. Both scenarios are pure monotheism and there is absolutely no element of polytheism. If the skeptics protest that it is polytheism to seek Tabarruk from the shrine because it is other than Allah the Almighty, they must answer the question why it is permissible to seek blessings in the Holy Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) lifetime because even here the Muslim is approaching someone other than Allah the High for blessings. If it is polytheism in death, it has to be polytheism during the Holy Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) lifetime.
The skeptics have no answer except to advance lame comparisons between Tabarruk and idol-worship. But the two are as different as chalk and cheese. Idols are created by idolators to rival Allah the High. The idolators reject monotheism and Allah’s Godhood per se. But the shrines of the infallible guides (a.s.) are a means of respecting individuals who reminded Muslims about Allah the Almighty in their lifetime and continue to do so even after their martyrdom. Therefore, any comparison between shrines and idols is nothing but mischievous, preposterous and baseless.
Just like Allah’s instruction to the angels to prostrate to our father Adam (a.s.) is pure monotheism even if it appeared polytheistic to the Satan, in the same way respecting the ‘Signs of Allah’ by seeking blessings from the holy shrines is pure monotheism, even if it appears like polytheism to the skeptics.
ii. Blood-stained shirt of Prophet Yusuf (a.s.)
The Holy Quran furnishes a fitting reply to the skeptics of Tabarruk through the incident of the Prophets Yaqoob (a.s.) and Yusuf (a.s.).
Prophet Yaqoob (a.s.), who lost his eyesight due to continuous weeping after separation from Prophet Yusuf (a.s.), was eventually healed when the blood-stained shirt of Prophet Yusuf (a.s.) was cast over his eyes.
اذْهَبُوا بِقَمِيصِي هَٰذَا فَأَلْقُوهُ عَلَىٰ وَجْهِ أَبِي يَأْتِ بَصِيرًا
“Take this my shirt and cast it on my father’s face, he will (again) be able to see…” (Surah Yusuf (12): Verse 93)
Why can’t we seek blessings from the shrines or the blood-stained soil of Imam Husain’s (a.s.) grave? After all, if Prophet Yaqoob (a.s.) was granted Tabarruk from a lifeless shirt, what is wrong if Muslims expect the same from the soil of Imam Husain’s (a.s.) grave?
iii. Soil of Jibraeel’s (a.s.) mount’s footsteps
Prophet Moosa (a.s.) was summoned by Allah the High on Mount Tur, when the deviant and corrupt Saameri fashioned a calf and spread the message that Moosa (a.s.) had gone for good and the calf is the Lord of Moosa (a.s.)!
The Bani Israel were duped by his deceit and began worshipping the calf. When Prophet Moosa (a.s.) returned, he (a.s.) was dismayed to see his followers in that state. When he (a.s.) learnt of Saameri’s handiwork he demanded – O Saameri, why and how were you able to successfully deviate my followers?
Saameri replied – I saw what they did not see, so I took a handful (of the dust) from the footsteps of the messenger, then I threw it in the casting; thus did my soul commend to me. (Surah Taha (20): Verse 96)
If the soil from JIbraeel’s mount’s footsteps can infuse life in a lifeless figure, why is there an objection to benefitting from the soil of Imam Husain’s (a.s.) shrine?
JIbraeel is after all the servant of Imam Husain (a.s.) and other members of the cloak.
(Madinah al-Ma’aajiz by Sayyed Hashim Bahraani (r.a.), vol 2 p. 395, vol. 4 p. 56 narrating from Tafseer al-Qummi (r.a.) under the above verse)
B) Sunnah validates Tabarruk
1. Reality of al-Hajar al-Aswad (the Black Stone)
2. Healing from earth of Medina mixed with spit of companions
3. Earth of Medina cure for leprosy
4. Healing from the wings of fly
5. Healing from the urine of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.)
6. Consuming the blood of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) post-Hijamat (cupping)
7. The ‘fragrant’ dung of Ayesha’s camel
8. Water from Ibn Taimiyyah’s funeral bath taken as Tabarruk
9. Grave of Ibn Taymiyyah center of Tabarruk
Back to Top1. Reality of al-Hajar al-Aswad (the Black Stone)
The critics can harp all they want about how Tabarruk is wrong or un-Islamic. Let them remove the al-Hajar al-Aswad from the Holy Ka’bah if they feel so strong about Muslims seeking blessing from the lifeless. Let them not pay their respects to the al-Hajar al-Aswad and ignore it as if it were meaningless (Allah forbid).
As advocated by reliable Sunnah, all Muslims accept the reality of al-Hajar al-Aswad as a witness on the Day of Resurrection for the pilgrimage of all pilgrims. Muslims take great pains to salute it or acknowledge it, no matter how far they are from it while circumambulating it, so as to ensure the Black Stone remembers them on the Day of Resurrection.
By way of example, we have mentioned a few reports on the importance of al-Hajar al-Aswad:
Aabis Ibn Rabeea narrates:
Umar came near the al-Hajar al-Aswad and kissed it and said – No doubt, I know that you are a stone and can neither benefit anyone nor harm anyone. Had I not seen Allah’s Messenger (s.a.w.a.) kissing you I would not have kissed you.
- Sahih Bukhari, Book 25, Hadith 83 Vol. 2, Book 26, Hadith 667
- Sahih Muslim 1270 Book 15, Hadith 275, Book 7, Hadith 2914
Deliberating on the above tradition underlines two important facets:
It was the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) to kiss the al-Hajar al-Aswad
The belief and Islam of Umar comes under a huge question mark as he did not believe in the al-Hajar al-Aswad despite acknowledging the fact that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) used to consider it as sacred.
The blessings of Hajar al-Aswad – the so-called lifeless stone – are a sure sign for the deniers of Tabarruk.
Back to Top2. Healing from earth of Medina mixed with spit of companions
There are many instances where sick people have consumed the pure earth of Imam Husain’s (a.s.) shrine and were cured. Traditions to this effect are widely documented in many reliable books and their chains of narrators are verified. However, the skeptics reject these traditions under the guise of polytheism, non-permissibility, innovation and so on.
We would like to draw the attention of the critics to their own books that have painstakingly documented numerous instances of the sick being treated after consuming earth.
For the sake of brevity we mention only a few. It must be noted that the Shias don’t necessarily take these traditions as true since these books are not a proof for them. The reports are being reproduced only to complete the argument and silence the skeptic.
Ayesha narrates: Whenever a person complained to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) about blisters or wounds, he reported that he (s.a.w.a.) took some sand in his finger and lowered his forefinger on the earth, raised it in the name of Allah and mixed our earth (i.e. earth of Medina) with the spit of one of us so that we were cured with the permission of our Lord. Ibn Abi Shaibah and Zuhair have reported likewise with slight variation.
- Sahih Muslim, vol. 4, p. 1,724, tradition 2,194, ‘Book of Salaam’, chap 31, under ‘Istehbaab al-Reeqiyyah’ (Recommendation of using saliva)
Readers must also refer to:
- Sahih Bukhari vol. 5 p. 2,168, tradition 5,414, chap 37 under ‘Reeqiyyah al-Nabi’ (s.a.w.a.)
- Sahih Bukhari Book 79, ‘Book of Medicines’
Back to Top3. Earth of Medina cure for leprosy
Indeed skeptics will admit to the healing powers of all cities but find it challenging to accept the healing nature of the earth of Imam Husain (a.s.)! Here we can see how their records speak highly of Medina’s earth.
Ismail Ibn Muhammad Ibn al-Thabit Ibn Qais Ibn al-Shammaas reports from his father that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) informed – The dust of Medina is a cure for leprosy.
- Jaame’ al-Ahadith vol. 5 p. 237 by Hafiz Jalaal al-Deen al-Suyuti
- Subul al-Huda wa al-Rashaad by Muhammad Ibn Yusuf al-Saalihi al-Shaami (exp. 942 A.H.
- Kanz al-Ummaal vol. 12 p. 106, tradition 34,728
Why is Tabarruk a sign of polytheism in Karbala and a sign of monotheism in Medina?
Back to Top4. Healing from the wings of fly
While Shias are ridiculed for resorting to the healing power of Imam Husain’s (a.s.) shrine, the cynics must reflect on their own books which give a very different meaning to the ‘fly in the soup’ problem.
Abu Hurairah relates from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) – When the fly drops in one of your bowls, then its whole body should be taken with food or should be swallowed with the drink because one of its wings is a cure while the other one is a medicine!
- Sahih Bukhari vol. 5 p. 2,180, chapter 57, ‘When a fly drops in the bowl’, Book 79, ‘Book of Medicines’
Back to Top5. Healing from the urine of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.)
The skeptics mock the Shias over their belief about their Imams (a.s.) being pure and clean from all aspects. They either don’t know or forget that their own books mention many such reports about the Holy Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) stool and urine being pure and a medium of healing and intercession.
Umm Ayman narrates – Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) found a bowl and discharged urine in it and in the morning he said – O Umm Ayman discard the contents of the bowl. I rose in the night while I was thirsty I mistakenly ingested the contents of the bowl. Later the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) asked – O Umm Ayman did you empty the contents of the bowl. I said – O Prophet of Allah (s.a.w.a.) – I rose at night feeling thirsty and consumed its contents. He (s.a.w.a.) said – From today, you will never complain about abdominal pain.
- Tarikh Dimishq vol. 4 p. 303
- Al-Bedaayah wa al-Nehaayah vol. 5 p. 326
- Al-Khasaaes al-Kubra vol. 1 p. 122
Hakimah Bint Amimah narrates from her mother – Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) discharged the urine in a vessel and placed it beneath the bed. He woke up at night and searched for the vessel but couldn’t find it. He (s.a.w.a.) was informed that ‘Barrah’ the Ethiopian servant of Umm Salmah consumed it. He (s.a.w.a.) informed – With this he has protected himself from the fire of hell.
- Al-Mojam al-Kabeer vol. 24 p. 205
- Al-Khasaaes al-Kubra vol. 2 p. 441
There are plenty of reliable and authentic traditions of Ahle Tasannun on the subject with authentication from the likes of Qazi Ayaaz al-Maaliki, who writes:
‘The tradition where it is mentioned that the women ingested urine of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) is authentic because Daar Qutni reports on them thus – Bukhari and Muslim had themselves mentioned in their respective Sahih, that the name of the woman was Barkah (Barrah). The above traditions are validated by many great scholars of the Ahle Tasannun and Salafis like Ibn Hajr Asqalini, Ibn Hajr Haithami, Abu Hamid Ghazzaali, etc. Many others likewise considered as pure the Holy Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) body waste and passed rulings (fatwa) based on it.
- Fath al-Baari fi Sharh Sahih al-Bukhari vol. 1 p. 272
- Al Fataawaa al-Faqihah al-Kubra vol. 4 p. 117
- Kitab al-Shifaa vol. 1 p. 59
Back to Top6. Consuming the blood of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) post-Hijamat (cupping)
It is strange how the puritanical Muslims take exception to the bloodstained earth of Karbala when their books advocate consuming the blood of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) to gain security from Hellfire.
Abu Hamid Ghazzali records – One of the youngsters of Quraish saw the blood of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) dropping in the vessel after cupping and when it was concluded, he glanced left and right and whisked away the vessel behind the wall and consumed it without anybody seeing him. After some time the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) saw him and said – Woe on you, why did you consume the blood? He replied – I hid behind the wall. He (s.a.w.a.) asked – Why were you hiding? Youth said – O Prophet of Allah, I thought it unfitting to let your blood spill on the soil, so I consumed it instead. He (s.a.w.a.) said, ‘You have protected yourself from Hellfire.’
- Al-Elal al-Mutanaahiyah vol. 1 p. 186
- Al-Badr al-Muneer vol. 1 p. 473
- Al-Khasaaes al-Kubra vol. 2 p. 440
This is the same Ghazzali who justifies spilling of Imam Husain’s (a.s.) blood by defending Yazid and then goes on to record traditions that show it is unfitting to spill the Holy Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) blood! Conveniently forgetting that the blood of Imam Husain (a.s.) is that of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) who declared in no uncertain terms, “I am from Husain and Husain is from me.”
Back to Top7. The ‘fragrant’ dung of Ayesha’s camel
It is shocking how the earth of Imam Husain’s (a.s.) shrine is a matter of raging debate among the self-proclaimed flag bearers of Tauheed, but there is no objection on the filth that is taken for Tabarruk by other Muslims.
Sample this incident:
A group of Muslims from the tribes of Zabbah and Azd followed Ayesha’s camel around in the Battle of Jamal. They secured the dung of Ayesha’s camel, toyed with it and inhaled it and exclaimed – The dung of our mother’s camel smells of musk!
- Tarikh al-Umam wa al-Muluk by Muhammad Ibn Jurair al-Tabari vol. 3 p. 48
- Al-Kaamil fi al-Tarikh by Ibn Atheer, vol. 3 p. 134
- Nehaayah al-Arab fi Funoon al-Adab vol. 20 p. 43
Back to Top8. Water from Ibn Taimiyyah’s funeral bath taken as Tabarruk
Ibn Kathir Dimishqi – one of Ibn Taymiyyah’s foremost students – records how the Muslims accompanying Ibn Taymiyyah’s funeral took the water left over from his funeral bath as Tabarruk.
- Al-Bedaayah wan Nehaayah vol. 5 p. 326
Back to Top9. Grave of Ibn Taymiyyah center of Tabarruk
There are many incidents of Muslims seeking blessing from Ibn Taymiyyah’s grave. They took the soil of his grave as a healing agent to treat body pain like sore eyes. Shocking that the grave of a person Ibn Taimiyyah, who was and is condemned a large section of Muslims – Shias as well as Sunnis – for his outrageous beliefs and some have even gone to declare him as a non-Muslim, is considered as tabarruk, while the same act is considered as polytheism if taken from the grave of the Chief of the Leader of the youth of the Paradise.
Clearly seeking blessings is mandated by the Majestic Quran as also the Sunnah. When sweat, urine, blood and camel dung can double up as Tabarruk, why are the skeptics so adamant on treating the chaste soil of Karbala as unworthy of Tabarruk. Clearly this is not a case of monotheism and polytheism, as is made out to be. It is a case of envy regarding the innumerable merits of Aale Muhammad (a.s.). How else can one explain a different definition of monotheism for the companions and wives from the one used in the case of Aale Muhammad (a.s.)?