Although the practice of waseelah (medium) and tawassul (imploring Allah through a medium) are established practices that find mention in the Holy Quran and Sunnah, we still face objections from certain bigots.
For instance, some question– why should we ask through the waseelah of the Ahle Bait (a.s.), after all Allah is closer to man than his jugular vein? He knows best what is in the hearts. We should seek directly from Allah.
Islamic beliefs are derived based on the Noble Quran and Sunnah (tradition). Even if a single verse from Allah’s Book mentions a point, it is sufficient to prove its validity. Objection against that belief or injunction is tantamount to disbelief resulting in one’s ejection from the pale of Islam.
- Waseelah in the Holy Quran
The term ‘waseelah’ features not once but twice in the Holy Quran.
Allah the Almighty says:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ اتَّقُواْ اللّهَ وَابْتَغُواْ إِلَيهِ الْوَسِيلَةَ وَجَاهِدُواْ فِي سَبِيلِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ‘
O you who believe! Be careful of (your duty to) Allah and seek means of nearness to Him and strive hard in His way that you may be successful.’ (Surah Maaedah (5): Verse 35)
Again, He mentions Waseelah:
أُولَـئِكَ الَّذِينَ يَدْعُونَ يَبْتَغُونَ إِلَى رَبِّهِمُ الْوَسِيلَةَ أَيُّهُمْ أَقْرَبُ وَيَرْجُونَ رَحْمَتَهُ وَيَخَافُونَ عَذَابَهُ إِنَّ عَذَابَ رَبِّكَ كَانَ مَحْذُورًا
‘Those whom they call upon, themselves seek the means of access to their Lord — whoever of them is nearest — and they hope for His mercy and fear His chastisement; surely the chastisement of your Lord is a thing to be cautious of.’ (Surah Bani Israel (17): Verse 57)
Clearly seeking nearness to Allah through a medium is an Islamic practice and is in fact Allah’s command to all believers.
In the face of such verses, to advance a contrarian view that rejects waseelah amounts to rejecting the Noble Quran.
- Allah closer than the jugular and Knower of secrets
As for the argument advanced by some Muslims that Allah is closer than the jugular vein and therefore needs no waseelah – let us examine this and similar verses in detail.
Allah –Glorified be He – says He is the closest thing to man:
وَلَقَدْ خَلَقْنَا الْإِنسَانَ وَنَعْلَمُ مَا تُوَسْوِسُ بِهِ نَفْسُهُ وَنَحْنُ أَقْرَبُ إِلَيْهِ مِنْ حَبْلِ الْوَرِيدِ
‘…and We are nearer to him than his life-vein.’ (Surah Qaaf (50): Verse 16)
And nothing in man’s heart is concealed from Allah the All-Knowing:
وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَن يَقُولُ آمَنَّا بِاللَّهِ فَإِذَا أُوذِيَ فِي اللَّهِ جَعَلَ فِتْنَةَ النَّاسِ كَعَذَابِ اللَّهِ وَلَئِن جَاء نَصْرٌ مِّن رَّبِّكَ لَيَقُولُنَّ إِنَّا كُنَّا مَعَكُمْ أَوَلَيْسَ اللَّهُ بِأَعْلَمَ بِمَا فِي صُدُورِ الْعَالَمِينَ‘
‘…is not Allah the best knower of what is in the breasts of creation.’ (Surah Ankaboot (29): Verse 10)
These verses highlight the Power and Authority of Allah. They are related to Divine Monotheism.
These verses do not reject Waseelah.
Else why would Allah – who is closer to man than his jugular vein – need to employ angels to capture man’s soul?
قُلْ يَتَوَفَّاكُم مَّلَكُ الْمَوْتِ الَّذِي وُكِّلَ بِكُمْ ثُمَّ إِلَى رَبِّكُمْ تُرْجَعُونَ
‘Say: The angel of death who is given charge of you shall cause you to die, then to your Lord you shall be brought back.’ (Surah Sajdah (32): Verse 11)
Can’t Allah who is closer to man than his jugular vein capture the soul Himself?
Or why does Allah – the knower of all secrets in hearts of men – command man to supplicate to achieve his hearts’ desires. Why can’t Allah fulfill man’s desires without need for supplication?
وَقَالَ رَبُّكُمُ ادْعُونِي أَسْتَجِبْ لَكُمْ إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَسْتَكْبِرُونَ عَنْ عِبَادَتِي سَيَدْخُلُونَ جَهَنَّمَ دَاخِرِينَ
‘And your Lord says: Call upon Me, I will answer you; surely those who are too proud for My service shall soon enter hell abased.’ (Surah Ghaafir (40): Verse 60)
Allah knows man’s desires and can fulfill them without the need for supplications or other forms of worship. The command for worship is a test for man – it is to establish whether he submits or is arrogant.
- Waseelah – A Test
Allah is All-Powerful and Needless. He does not need man’s supplications and worship. The worship does not provide any benefit to Allah; rather it is for man’s benefit. Likewise the command for waseelah does not point towards any short-coming in Allah’s authority as these skeptics claim. It is an examination for man, whether he adopts the waseelah appointed by Allah – viz. the Ahle Bait (a.s.) or remains arrogant by claiming that one should approach Allah the High directly.
Clearly, in their enthusiasm to reject waseelah, these skeptics have taken the verses of the Holy Quran out of context. Verses that prove one aspect of belief are being mischievously misinterpreted to reject another aspect. The fact of the matter is both aspects of the belief are right and do not contradict each other in any way.