Archive for December, 2015

Abu Hanifa & Tawassul

Abu Hanifa & Tawassul
by Shaykh Gibril Haddad

Imam Abu Hanifa: His Supposed Objection to Tawassul (Using Intermediaries)

Imàm Abu Hanïfa nowhere objected to tawassul but only – as narrated from Abu Yosuf in Kitàb al-Àthàr–to the use of a specific wording in supplication, namely, “by the right You owe to So-and-so” (bi-haqqi fulàni ‘alayk), or “by the joints of power and glory in Your Throne” (bima ‘àqidal-‘izzmin‘arshik).[1] The reason for this is that, on the one hand, Allàh owes no-one any right whatso­ever except what He Himself conde­scends to state on His part as in the verse [To help believers is incumbent upon Us (haqqun ‘alaynà)](30:47). On the other hand, “by the right owed so-and-so” is an oath and is therefore a formula restricted to Allàh Himself on pains of shirk. Imàm Abu Hanïfa said: “Let one not swear any oath except by Allàh alone, with a pure affirmation of tawhïd and sincerity.”[2] A third reason is that the expression “the joints of power and glory in Your Throne” is a lone-narrator (àhàd) report and is therefore not retained nor put into practice, in accordance with the rule for any such reports that might suggest anthropomorphism.

Those that claim[3] that the Imàm objected to tawassul altogether are unable to adduce any­thing to sup­port such a claim other than the above caveat, which is not against tawassul but against a specific, prohibitive wor­ding in tawassul. A proof of this is that it is permissi­ble in the Hanafï School to say “by the sanctity/honor of so-and-so in Your presence” (bi-hurmati/bi-jàhi fulàn). This is stated in the Fatàwà Bazzàziyya (6:351 in the margin of the Fatàwà Hindiyya) and is also the position of Abþ al-Layth al-Samarqandï among the major Hanafï Jurists, not to mention that of Imàm Ibn ‘Àbidïn among the later ones.

Even so there is authentic evidence in[1]the hadïth of Fàtima bint Asad, [2] the hadïth of “the right of those who ask You,”[3] the hadïth: “O Allàh, I ask you by the joints of power in the Throne,” and [4] the hadïth: “Do you know the right owed to Allàh by His slaves and the right owed by Allàh to his slaves?”[4] to support the permissibility of such a wording. If the above objection is authentically reported from Abu Hanïfa then either he did not deem these hadïths authentic by his standards, or they did not reach him. An illustration of this is that Abu Yusuf permitted the formula “By the joints of power…”. [5] Further, the oppo­site is also reported from him, namely, that he per­mitted tawassul using those very expressions. Ibn ‘Àbidïn said: “In the Tatàrkhàniyya: The Àthàr also report what shows permissibility.” Then he cites–from al-Qàrï’s Sharh al-Niqàya, al-Munàwï quoting Ibn ‘Abd al-Salàm (cf. the very first of his Fatàwà in the printed Risàla edition), and al-Subkï – fur­ther explanations that it is permitted, then he cites the fatwa by Ibn Amïr al-Hajj in the thir­teenth chapter of Sharh al-Munya that such permissibility is not limited to tawassul through the Prophet e. i.e. it extends to the Sàlihïn.

[1] Cf. al-Zabïdï, It hàf (2:285) and Ibn Abï al-‘Izz, Sharhal-‘Aqïda al-Tahàwiyya (1988 9th ed. p. 237).

[2]Cf. al-Kasànï, Badà’i‘ al-Sanà’i‘ (3:8).

[3]Cf. Ibn Taymiyya, Majmþ‘ al-Fatàwà (1:202-203) and his imitators.

[4]The first hadïth is narrated from Anas by al-Tabarànï in al-Kabïr (24:351) and al-Awsat. (1:152) and Abu Nu‘aym in his Hilya (1985 ed. 3:121) with a chain contain­ing Rawh ibn Salàh concerning whom there is difference of opinion among the authorities. He is unknown according to Ibn al-Jawzï in al-‘Ilal al-Mutanàhiya (1:260-270), Ibn ‘Adï in al-Kàmil (3:146 #667), and al-Dàraqutnï in al-Mu’talif wal-Mukhtalif (3:1377); Ibn Màkþlà in al-Ikmàl (5:15) declared him weak while al-Hàkim asserted was trustwor­thy and highly dependable (thiqa ma’mun) – as men­tioned by Ibn Hajar in Lisàn al-Mïzàn (2:465 #1876), Ibn Hibbàn in­cluded him in al-Thiqàt (8:244), and al-Fasawï considered him trustworthy (cf. Mamdoh, Raf‘ [p. 148]). Al-Haythamï (9:257) said: “Al-Tabarànï narrated it in al-Kabïr and al-Awsat and its chain contains Rawh ibn Salàh whom Ibn Hibbàn and al-Hàkim declared trustworthy although there is some weakness in him, and the rest of its sub-narrators are the men of sound hadïth.” I was unable to find Abu Hàtim’s declaration of Rawh as trustworthy re­ported by Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Alawï in his Mafàhïm (10th ed. p. 145 n. 1). Nor does Shaykh Mahmod Mamdohin his discussion of this hadïth in Raf‘ al-Minàra (p. 147-155) mention such a grading on the part of Abu Hàtim although he con­sid­ers Rawh “truthful” (sadaq) and not “weak” (da‘ïf), according to the rules of hadïth science when no reason is given with regard to a nar­rator’s purported discreditation (jarhmubham ghayr mufassar). Mamdoh(p. 149-150) noted that al­though Albànï in his Silsila Da‘ïfa (1:32-33) claims it is a case of explicated discreditation (jarh mufassar) yet he himself de­clares identi­cally-formulated dis­creditation cases as unexplicated and therefore unaccept­able in two dif­ferent contexts! Ibn ‘Alawï adds that the hadïth is also narrated from Ibn ‘Abbàs by Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr – without specifying where – and from Jàbir by Ibn Abï Shayba, but without the du‘à. Imàm al-Kawtharï said of this hadïth in his Maqàlàt (p. 410): “It provides textual evidence whereby there is no difference between the living and the dead in the context of using a means (tawassul), and this is explicit tawassul through the Proph­ets, while the hadïth of the Prophet from Abu Sa‘ïd al-Khudrï ‘O Allàh, I ask You by the right of [the promise made to] those who ask You (bihaqqi al-sà’ilïna ‘alayk)’* constitutes tawassul through the generality of Muslims, both the living and the dead.”

*A hasan hadïth of the Prophet according to Shaykh Mahmod Mamdoh who showed in his mono­graph Mubàhathat al-Sà’irïn bi Hadïth Allàhumma Innï As’aluka bi-Haqqi al-Sà’ilïn, narrated from Abu Sa‘ïd al-Khudrï by Ahmad in his Musnad with a fair chain according to Hamza al-Zayn (10:68 #11099) – a weak chain according to al-Arna’þt(17:247-248 #11156) who considers it, like Abu Hàtim in al-‘Ilal (2:184), more like­ly a mawquf saying of Abu Sa‘ïd himself; Ibn Màjah with a chain he declared weak, Ibn al-Sunni in ‘Amal al-Yawm wa al-Layla (p. 40 #83-84), al-Bayhaqï in al-Da‘awàt al-Kabïr (p. 47= 1:47 #65), Ibn Khuzayma in al-Tawhïd (p. 17-18) [and his Sahïh (2:458?) as indicated by al-Busïrï in his Zawà’id (1:98-99)], al-Tabarànï in al-Du‘a (p. 149=2:990), Ibn Ja‘d in his Musnad (p. 299), al-Baghawï in al-Ja‘diyyat (#2118-2119) and – mawquf – by Ibn Abï Shayba (6:25=10:211-212) and Ibn Abï Hàtim in ‘Ilal al-Hadïth (2:184). Al-‘Iràqï in Takhrïj Ahàdïth al- Ihyà’ (1:291) graded it hasan as a marfu‘ Prophetic hadïth, as did the hadïth Masters al-Dimyàtï in al-Muttajir al-Ràbihfï Thawàb al-‘Amal al-Sàlih (p. 471-472), Ibn Hajar in Amàlï al-Adhkàr (1:272) and al-Mundhirï’s shaykh the hadïth Master Abu al-Hasan al-Maqdisï in al-Targhïb (1994 ed. 2:367 #2422=1997 ed. 2:304-305) and as indicated by Ibn Qudàma in al-Mughnï (1985 Dàr al-Fikr ed. 1:271). Shaykh Mamdohin his monograph refuted the reasoning of Nàsir Albànï and Hammàd al-Ansàrï in declaring this hadïth weak. The third hadïth is narrated from [1] the Companion Qayla bint Makhrama by al-Tabarànï in al-Kabïr (25:12) with a fair chain according to al-Haythamï (10:124-125); [2] Ibn Mas‘ud by al-Bayhaqï in al-Da‘awàt al-Kabïr (2:157 #392) – Ibn al-Jawzï in al-Mawdu‘àt (2:142) claimed that it was forged as cited by al-Zayla‘ï in Nasb al-Ràya (4:272-273) but this ruling was rejected by al-Suyutï in al-La’àli’ (2:68); [3] maqtþ‘ from Wuhayb by Abu Nu‘aym in the Hilya (1985 ed. 8:158-159); [4] Abþ Hurayra by Ibn ‘Asàkir with a very weak chain cf. Ibn ‘Arràq, Tanzïh al-Sharï‘a (1:228); and [5] Abþ Bakr in al-Tadwïn and al-Firdaws. The fourth is narrated from Mu‘àdh in the Six Books and Ahmad except for al-Nasà’ï.

[5]Cf. al-Kàsànï, Badà’i‘ al-Sanà’i‘ (5:126).

[6]Ibn ‘Àbidïn, Hàshiya (6:396-397).


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Seeking Aid with the Prophet
Shaykh al Islam Ibn Hajar al*Haytamī


From amongst the untruths of Ibn Taymiyya which no scholar before him had*said, and*whereby he created*dissent between the people of Islām, is that he denounced tawassul and istighātha (seeking aid) through him ; and*that is not as he (Ibn Taymiyyah) had*decreed* (i.e. that it is impermissible). Rather, tawassul through him is hasan (good) in every state: before his creation and*after his creation, in the dunya and*in the ākhira. That which proves seeking tawassul through him before his creation and*that it is the path taken by the pious predecessors, the Prophets, the Awliyā and*others (and thus the view of Ibn Taymiyya has no basis [and*is] from his concoctions) is: that which al* Hākim transmitted*and*declared*sahīh that he said:

“When Ādam committed his mistake he said: O my Lord, I am asking you to forgive me for the sake of Muhammad. Allāh said: O Ādam, and how do you know about Muhammad whom I have not yet created? Ādam replied, O my Lord, after You created me with your hand and breathed into me of Your Spirit, I raised my head and saw written on the heights of the Throne: lā ilāha illallāh muhammadun rasūlallāh. I understood that You would not place next to Your Name but the Most Beloved One of Your creation. Allāh said: O Ādam, I have forgiven you, and were it not for Muhammad I would not have created you.”

The meaning of ‘for his sake’ (bi*haqqihi) is his rank and*station in His sight Most High, or the right (haqq) that Allāh made for him over creation, or the right which Allāh Most High made obligatory on Himself over him by His grace as in a sahīh Hadīth,

“He said: what is the right (haqq) of the servants over Allāh?”

not [that it is] incumbent (wājib) [upon Allāh] since nothing is incumbent upon Him.
Furthermore, asking by him is not actually asking him such that it may be considered*associating [partners with Allāh]. It is truly but asking Allāh Most High through one who has a high estimation, an elevated rank and*a great distinction with Him. From amongst his miracles from his Lord*is that He does not fail one asking

through him, and*seeking intermediary to Him through his rank. It suffices as humiliation for one who denies this that he is deprived*of this [blessing].
[That which proves seeking tawassul through him] during his lifetime is that which was transmitted*by al*Nasā’ī and*al*Tirmidhī who declared*it sahīh that:

“An afflicted man approached the Prophet and said, ‘supplicate to Allāh on my behalf that He cures me’. He said, ‘if you wish, I will supplicate (to Allāh on your behalf) and if you wish you can remain patient and that is better for you.’ He said, ‘supplicate to Him.’”

And*in (another) narration (he said):

“’I have no guide and it is difficult for me’, so he (the Prophet) instructed him to perform wudū and perfect his wudū and supplicate with this supplication: ‘Oh Allāh, I ask You and turn to You through my Prophet Muhammad, the Prophet of Mercy; O Muhammad, I seek your intercession with my for my need, that it may be fulfilled. O Allāh! grant him intercession for me.’”

Al*Bayhaqī also declared*it sahīh and*added,

“he stood and was able to see”.

And, in [another] narration,

“O Allāh! Grant him intercession for me and grant me intercession for myself”

The Prophet knew that but did*not supplicate for him because he desired*to achieve from him concentration and the toil of poverty, brokenness and*desperation, seeking istighātha through him , so as to attain for him the perfection of his objective. And*such an implication is attainable in his life and*after his death; and*therefore the Salaf have used*this supplication in their needs after his death. `Uthmān ibn Hunayf taught it to a Sahābī…*al*Tabarānī and al*Bayhaqī narrated it and*at*Tabarānī narrated*with a jayyid (good) chain that,

“He mentioned in his supplication ‘for the sake of Your Prophet and the Prophets before me.’”

There is no difference between the mention of tawassul, istighātha, tashaffu` and*tawajjuh (directing/turning) through him or through others of the Prophets and likewise the Awliyā. This is because the permissibility of tawassul with actions as in the sahīh Hadīth of the cave has been mentioned*despite them (the actions) being transitory; therefore pious souls are more preferable, and*(also) because `Umar ibn al*Khattāb sought tawassul through al*`Abbās for seeking rain and*(al*`Abbās) did*not repudiate this. It is as though the wisdom of his tawassul through him and*not the Prophet and*his grave was to display humility on his behalf, and*elevation of his relatives, and*thus in his tawassul through al*`Abbās he is performing tawassul through the Prophet and*more.

It is not to be said*that the expressions tawajjuh and*istighātha presuppose that the one by whom aid*is sought (al*mustaghath bihi) is higher than the one whose aid*is sought
(mustaghāth ilayhi). That is because tawajjuh comes from [the word] jāh which is a high status. Tawassul could be sought from a possessor of rank unto one who possesses a higher rank than him.


Istighātha is seeking aid, and the one seeking aid is seeking from the one from whom aid is sought in order to obtain aid from other than him, even if that other is greater than him. So tawajjuh and istighāthah with him and others than him does not have a meaning in the heart of the Muslims other than that and they do not intend by these two matters (i.e tawajjuh and istighātha) anyone besides Him . So, whoever’s breast is not opened with this, then let him cry over himself. We ask Allāh for well being. The one in whom aid is sought in reality is Allāh the Exalted, and the Prophet is an intermediary between Him and the one seeking aid. So aid is sought from Him, the Exalted, and the aid comes from Him both in creating and bringing fourth. The Prophet is the one whose aid*is sought and aid is from him by way of intermediary means and*kasb (acquisition) and aid is sought from him metaphorically.

So in general, using the term istighātha in an unrestricted sense for the one from whom aid is obtained, even if only by way of intermediary means and kasb, is something well known and*there is no doubt regarding it; not in the language, or in the Sacred*Law. Therefore, there is no difference between it and*asking, especially in light of the narration that has been mentioned*in al*Bukhārī concerning the intercession on the day of judgement:

“As they were in that state, they sought aid (istaghāthū) from Ādam , then Mūsa , then Muhammad ”

Tawassul could also mean seeking supplication from him for indeed*he is living and knowing the question of the one who asks him. It has been authentically reported from a long Hadīth:

The people suffered a drought during the successorship of `Umar ,
whereupon a man came to the grave of the Prophet and said:“O Messenger of Allāh, ask for rain for your Community, for verily they have but perished,” after which the Prophet appeared to him in a dream and told him that the rain shall come. And in it also it appears: “Go to `Umar and give him my greeting, then tell him that they will be watered. Tell him: You must be clever, you must be clever!”

Meaning, gentleness, because he was severe in the religion of Allāh.

So he came to him and informed him, after which he cried and then said: “O my Lord, I spare no effort except in what escapes my power!”

In another narration it states that the one who saw the dream was Bilāl ibn Hārith al Muzanī, the companion .

And Allah knows best.

1 Ibn Hājar al*Haytamī, al*jawhar al*munazzam; as cited by al*Qādi Yūsuf al*Nabhānī in shawāhid al*haqq fīl*istighātha bī*sayyid al*khalq (The Proofs of Truth in the Seeking of Aid with the Master of Creation )

2. The people were gripped by famine during the tenure of ‘Umar (bin al-Khattāb). Then a Companion walked up to the Prophet’s grave and said, “O Messenger of Allah, please ask for rain from Allah for your Community who is in dire straits.” Then the Companion saw the Prophet Sall Allahu Alayhi Wasallam in a dream. The Prophet Sall Allahu Alayhi Wasallam said to him, “Go over to ‘Umar, give him my regards and tell him that the rain will come to you. And tell ‘Umar that he should be on his toes, he should be on his toes, (he should remain alert).” Then the Companion went over to see ‘Umar and passed on to him the tidings. On hearing this, ‘Umar broke into a spurt of crying. He said, “O Allah, I exert myself to the full until I am completely exhausted.” ( Related by Ibn Abū Shaybah in al-Musannaf (12:31-2#12051); Bayhaqī, Dalā’il-un-nubuwwah (7:47); Ibn ‘Abd-ul-Barr, al- Istī‘āb fī ma‘rifat-il-ashāb (2:464); Subkī, Shifā’-us-siqām fī ziyārat khayr-il-anām (p.130); ‘Alā’-ud-Dīn ‘Alī, Kanz-ul-‘ummāl (8:431#23535); and Abū Ya‘lā Khalīl bin ‘Abdullāh Khalīlī Qazwīnī in Kitāb-ul-irshād fī ma‘rifat ‘ulamā’-il-hadith (1:313-4), as quoted by Mahmūd Sa‘īd Mamdūh in Raf‘-ul-minārah (p.262). Ibn Taymiyyah has endorsed its authenticity in his book Iqtidā’-us-sirāt-il-mustaqīm mukhālifat ashāb-il-jahīm (p.373). Ibn Kathīr has confirmed the soundness of its transmission in al-Bidāyah wan-nihāyah (5:167). Ibn Abū Khaythamah narrated it with the same chain of transmission as quoted by Ibn Hajar ‘Asqalānī in al-Isābah fī tamyīz-is-sahābah (3:484), while the latter writes in Fath-ul-bārī (2:495-6): “Ibn Abū Shaybah transmitted it with a sound (Sahih) chain of transmission and Sayf bin ‘Umar Tamīmī has recorded it in al-Futūh-ul-kabīr that the dreamer was a Companion known as Bilāl bin Hārith Muzanī.” Qastallānī has remarked in al-Mawāhib-ulladuniyyah (4:276) that Ibn Abū Shaybah has narrated it with a sound chain of transmission while Zurqānī has supported Qastallānī in his Commentary (11:150-1))





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