Tawassul and Tabarruk of the Salaf
Tawassul and Tabarruk of the Salaf
I. Ibn Abī Shayba
‘Abd Allāh ibn Muh. ammad ibn Abī Shayba Ibrāhīm ibn ‘Uthmān ibn Khuwasta, Abū Bakr al-‘Abasī (d. 235), described by al- Dhahabī as the brother, father, and uncle of h. adīth Masters and their most prestigious representative, “the master of h. adīth Masters,” “one of those who have reached the sky, an apex of trustworthiness,” “one of the oceans of knowledge,” the author of al-Musnad, al-Ah. kām, al-Mus.annaf, and al-Tafsīr, “one of the peers of Ah. mad ibn H. anbal, Ish. āq ibn Rāhūyah, and ‘Alī ibn al-Madīnī in age, place of birth, and h. adīth memorization.” Abū Zur‘a al-Rāzī said: “I never saw anyone with more mastery of the h. adīth than Abū Bakr ibn Abī Shayba,” rather lavish praise in light of al-Rāzī’s familiarity with Ah. mad ibn H. anbal and al-Bukhārī. His scholarly relatives are: his brothers ‘Uthmān ibn Abī Shayba and al-Qāsim ibn Abī Shayba; his son Ibrāhīm ibn Abī Bakr ibn Abī Shayba; and his nephew Abū Ja‘far Muh. ammad ibn ‘Uthmān ibn Abī Shayba. (All are h. adīth Masters except al-Qāsim, who is weak.)
Ibn Abī Shayba narrates in the Mus.annaf, in the chapter entitled: “Touching the grave of the Prophet” with a s.ah. īh. chain according to Ibn H. ajar and al-Qād. ī ‘Iyād. in al-Shifā’ (in the chapter entitled: “Concerning the visit to the Prophet’s grave , the excellence of those who visit it and how he should be greeted”):
Yazīd ibn ‘Abd al-Mālik ibn Qusayt. and al-‘Utbī narrated that it was the practice of the Companions in the mosque of the Prophet to place their hands on the pommel of the hand rail (rummāna) of the pulpit (minbar) where the Prophet used to place his hand. There they would face the Qibla and supplicate to Allāh hoping He would answer their supplication because they were placing their hands where the Prophet placed his while making their supplication. Abū Mawdūda said: “And I saw Yazīd ibn ‘Abd al-Mālik do the same.”1
It is also narrated that Ibn ‘Umar would place his hand on the seat of the Prophet’s minbar then wipe his face with it2 and that Abū Ayyūb was seen resting his face on the Prophet’s grave.3 This practice of the Companions clariﬁes two matters. The ﬁrst is the permissibility of asking Allāh for things by the Prophet (tawassul) after his death since by their act the Companions were truly making tawassul. Likewise it is permissible to ask Allāh for things by means of other pious Muslims. The second is the permissibility of tabarruk or seeking blessing (baraka) from objects connected to the Prophet .
It is similarly related that in the year of the drought called al-Ramāda (17-18) during the successorship of ‘Umar the Companion Bilāl ibn al-H. ārith, while slaughtering a sheep for his kin, noticed that the sheep’s bones had turned red because the drying ﬂesh was clinging to them. He cried out “Yā Muh. ammadāh!” Then he saw the Prophet in a dream ordering him to go to ‘Umar with the
tidings of coming rain on condition that ‘Umar show wisdom. Hearing this, ‘Umar assembled the people and came out to pray for rain
with al-‘Abbās, the uncle of the Prophet .4
The same is related from the Companion or Successor Mālik ibn ‘Iyād. , also known as Mālik al-Dār:5 A man came to the grave of the Prophet and said: “Messenger of Allāh, ask for rain for your Community (istasqi li’ummatik), for verily they have but perished!” after which the Prophet appeared to him in a dream telling him: “Go to ‘Umar and give him my greeting, then tell him that they will be watered. Tell him: Be clever!” The man went and told ‘Umar. The latter wept and said: “My Lord! I spare no effort except in what escapes my power!”6 Ibn H. ajar identiﬁes Mālik al-Dār as ‘Umar’s treasurer and the man who visited and saw the Prophet in his dream as the Companion Bilāl ibn al-H. ārith, counting this h. adīth among the reasons for al-Bukhārī’s naming of the chapter “The people’s request to their leader for rain if they suffer drought.”
II. Ah. mad Recommended Tawassul in Every Du‘ā’
Abū Bakr al-Marwazī narrated in his Mansak that Imām Ah. mad preferred for one to make tawassul through the Prophet in every supplication with the wording: “O Allāh! I am turning to you with your Prophet, the Prophet of mercy. O Muh. ammad! I am turning with you to my Lord for the fulﬁllment of my need.” The report is mentioned in the books of the H. anbalī madhhab as it bears on the adab of du‘ā as a ﬁqh issue.7 Ibn Taymiyya cites it in his Qā‘ida fīl-Tawassul wal-Wasīla (p. 98 and 155) where he attributes it to “Imām Ah. mad and a group of the Salaf” from Mansak al-Marwazī as his source – and in his Radd ‘alā al-Akhnā’ī (p. 168) where he cites the text of the du‘ā in full, similar to the du‘ā of the blind man in al-Tirmidhī and elsewhere and with the wording Yā Muh. ammad.
The practice of tawassul is also reported from Imām al-Shāﬁ‘ī and Imām Mālik. Al-Khat.īb narrates in Tārīkh Baghdād that the truthful (s.adūq) qād. ī al-H. usayn ibn ‘Alī al-Saymarī narrated to them, that the trustworthy (thiqa) Imām ‘Umar ibn Ibrāhīm [ibn Ah. mad] al-Muqrī told him, that the trustworthy Shaykh Makram ibn Ah. mad told them, that ‘Umar ibn Ish. āq ibn Ibrāhīm told them, that the trustworthy Shaykh ‘Alī ibn Maymūn told them: “I heard al-Shāﬁ‘ī say: ‘I swear that I seek the blessing of Abū H. anīfa (innī la’atabarraku bi Abī H. anīfa) and come to his grave every day’ – meaning as a visitor. ‘Whenever I have a certain need I pray two rak‘as then I come to his grave and ask Allāh for my need at his grave, and little time passes until it is fulﬁlled.’”8 Al-Qād. ī
said: “The report is related by the two h. adīth Masters: Ibn Bashkuwāl and al-Qād. ī ‘Iyād. in al-Shifā’, and no attention is paid to the words of those who claim that it is forged purely on the basis of their idle desires.”12
III. Ah. mad Practiced Tabarruk or Blessing from Relics
Al-Dhahabī relates that Imām Ah. mad used to seek blessings from the relics of the Prophet . Al-Dhahabī then lambasts whoever would fault the practice of tabarruk or seeking blessings from blessed objects:
‘Abd Allāh ibn Ah. mad said: “I saw my father take a hair that belonged to the Prophet , put it on his mouth, and kiss it. I think I saw him put it on his eyes. He also dipped it in water and drank the water to obtain cure. I saw him take the Prophet’s bowl (qas.‘a), wash it in water, and drink from it. I saw him drink Zamzam water in order to seek cure with it, and he wiped his hands and face with it.” I say: Where is the quibbling critic of Imām Ah. mad now? It is also authentically established that ‘Abd Allāh asked his father about those who touch the pommel of the Prophet’s pulpit and touch the wall of the Prophet’s room, and he said: “I do not see any harm in it.” May Allāh protect us and you from the opinion of the Khawārij and from innovations!13
The above is a proof from Imām al-Dhahabī that he considers those who object to tawassul and tabarruk to be innovators and Khawārij. In the entry of his Mu‘jam al-Shuyūkh devoted to his Shaykh Ah. mad ibn ‘Abd al-Mun‘im al-Qazwīnī, al-Dhahabī writes the following lines:
Ah. mad ibn al-Mun‘im related to us... [with his chain of transmission] from Ibn ‘Umar that the latter disliked to touch the Prophet’s grave. I say: He disliked it because he considered it disrespect. Ah. mad ibn H. anbal was asked about touching the Prophet’s grave and kissing it and he saw nothing wrong with it. His son ‘Abd Allāh related this from him. If it is asked: “Why did the Companions not do this?” We reply: “Because they saw him with their very eyes when he was alive, enjoyed his presence directly, kissed his very hand, nearly fought each other over the remnants of his ablution water, shared his puriﬁed hair on the day of the greater Pilgrimage, and even if he spat it would virtually not fall except in someone’s hand so that he could pass it over his face. Since we have not had the tremendous fortune of sharing in this, we throw ourselves on his grave as a mark of commitment, reverence, and acceptance, even to kiss it. Do you not see what Thābit al-Bunānī did when he kissed the hand of Anas ibn Mālik and placed it on his face saying: “This is the hand that touched the hand of the Messenger of Allāh ”? Muslims are not moved to these matters except by their excessive love for the Prophet , as they are ordered to love Allāh and the Prophet more than their own lives, their children, all human beings, their property, and Paradise and its maidens. There are even some believers that love Abū Bakr and ‘Umar more than themselves...
Do you not you see that the Companions, in the excess of their love for the Prophet , asked him: “Should we not prostrate to you?” and he replied no, and if he had allowed them, they would have prostrated to him as a mark of utter veneration and respect, not as a mark of worship, just as the brothers of the Prophet Yūsuf prostrated to him. Similarly the prostration of the Muslim to the grave of the Prophet is for the intention of magniﬁcation and reverence. One is not to be accused of disbelief because of it whatsoever (lā yukaffaru as.lan), but he is being disobedient [to the Prophet’s injunction to the Companions]. Let him, therefore, be informed that this is forbidden. It is likewise in the case of one who prays towards the grave.”14
1Ibn Abī Shayba (4:121).
2Ibn Qudāma, al-Mughnī (5:468) and al-Buhūtī, Kashshāf (2:517) cf. al-Mardāwī, Insāf (4:54), Ibn Muﬂih, Furū‘ (3:523). Ibn Bāz had the effrontery
to call this act shirk.
3Narrated by Ahmad (38:558 #23585 isnād da‘īf), and al-Hākim (4:515=1990 ed. 4:560 sahīh), both with a weak chain because of Dāwūd ibn Abī
. . .
S. ālih. who is unknown.
4Narrated by al-Tabarī in his Tārīkh (2:509).
. . .
tāb’s freedman. He narrated from Abū Bakr and ‘Umar. He was known.” Ibn Sa‘d (5:12). “He is agreed upon (as trustworthy),
the Successors have approved highly of him.” Abū Ya‘lā al-Khalīl ibn ‘Abd Allāh al-Khalīlī al-Qazwīnī, Kitāb al-Irshād fī Ma‘rifat ‘Ulama’ al-
H. adīth, ed. Muh. ammad Sa‘īd ibn ‘Umar Idrīs, 1st ed., 3 vols. (Riyad : Maktabat al-Rushd, 1989), as quoted in ‘Abd Allāh al-Ghumārī, Irghām al-Mubtadi‘ al-Ghabī bi-Jawāz al-Tawassul bil-Nabī, ed. H. asan ‘Alī al-Saqqāf, 2nd ed. (Amman: Dār al-Imām al-Nawawī, 1992 p. 9). “Mālik ibn ‘Iyād. : ‘Umar’s freedman. He is the one named Mālik al-Dār. He saw the Prophet and heard narrations from Abū Bakr al-S. iddīq. He narrated from Abū Bakr and ‘Umar, Mu‘ādh, and Abū ‘Ubayda. From him narrated Abū S. ālih. al-Samān and his (Mālik’s) two sons ‘Awn and ‘Abd Allāh…” Is. āba (6:164 #8350 Mālik ibn ‘Iyād. ).
saying: “isnāduhu s.ah. īh. ” and he also declares its chain sound (isnāduhu jayyidun qawī) in his Jāmi‘ al-Masānīd (1:223) in Musnad ‘Umar. Ibn Abī Shayba cites it (6:352= 12:31-32) with a sound (s.ah. īh. ) chain as conﬁrmed by Ibn H. ajar who says: “rawā Ibn Abī Shayba bi’isnādin s.ah. īh. ” and cites the h. adīth in Fath. al-Bārī, Book of istisqā ch. 3 (1989 ed. 2:629-630= 1959 ed. 2:495) as well as in al-Is. āba (6:164 #8350=3:484) where he says that Ibn Abī Khaythama cited it. It is also thus narrated by al-Khalīlī in al-Irshād (1:313-314) and Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr in al-Istī‘āb (2:464= 3:1149).
Al-Albānī attempted to weaken this report in his al-Tawassul (p. 120) but was refuted in the lengthy analysis given by Mamdūh. in Raf‘ al-Mināra (p.
262-278), which refutes other similar attempts cf. Bin Bāz’s marginalia on Fath. al-Bārī, Abū Bakr al-Jazā’irī’s tract Wa Jā’ū Yarkud. ūn, H. ammād
al-Ans. ārī’s articles “al-Mafhūm al-S. ah. īh. līl-Tawassul” also titled “Tuh. fat al-Qārī fīl-Radd ‘alā al-Ghumārī,” and other such literature.
7Cf. Ibn Muﬂih. ’s Furū‘ (1:595=2:204); al-Mardawī’s Ins.āf (2:456); Ibn ‘Aqīl’s Tadhkira; al-Buhūtī, Kashshāf al-Qinā‘ (2:68); Shams al-Dīn ibn
Muﬂih. , al-Furū‘ (2:159); al-H. ajjāwī, al-Iqnā‘ (1:208).
8Narrated by al-Khatīb in Tārīkh Baghdād (1:123) cf. al-Kawtharī in his Maqālāt (p. 453) and by Ibn Abī al-Wafā’ in Tabaqāt al-Hanaﬁyya (p.
. . .
519) through al-Ghaznawī. Al-Haytamī cites it in the thirty-ﬁfth chapter of his book on Imām Abū H. anīfa entitled al-Khayrat al- H. isān. This is a strong rebuttal of those who claim that none among the Salaf visited the graves of the awliyā’ for the mere purpose of making du‘ā there, such as al-Shawkānī in al-Durr al-Nad. īd. , although he declares it permissible to make du‘ā once there.
Shawāhid al-Haqq (p. 186-188); and al-Khafājī, Nasīm al-Riyād (3:398).
11In Wasīlat al-Islām (p.
12In Hidāyat al-Sālik (3:1381), in reference to Ibn Taymiyya’s claims in his Fatāwā (27:166, 28:26). The report is also stated without attribution to Mālik by al-Bahūtī, Kashshāf al-Qinā‘ (2:516-517) and al-Shirwānī, H. awāshī Tuh. fat al-Muh. tāj (2:164) while ‘Iyād’s chain was graded “weak or forged” (sic) by Sulaymān ibn ‘Abd Allāh ibn Muh. ammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhāb in his book Taysīr al-‘Azīz al-H. amīd fī Sharh. Kitāb al-Tawh. īd
(p. 312) cf. al-Shawkānī in Nayl al-Awt. ār, following in this Ibn Taymiyya and his student Ibn ‘Abd al-Hādī in al-S. ārim al-Munkī (p. 244), although
al-Zurqānī in Sharh. al-Mawāhib rejects this claim as “stemming from either ignorance or arrogance” and stated that the books of the Mālikīs are replete with the stipulation that du‘ā’ be made while facing the grave cf. al-Qābisī, Abū Bakr ibn ‘Abd al-Rah. mān, Khalīl’s Mansak, al-‘Abdarī, al-Tāj wal-Iklīl (3:400), al-H. at. t. āb, Mawāhib al-Jalīl (3:400), and others. As for the words of Dr. Muh. ammad Sa‘īd al-Būt. ī in his Fiqh al-Sīra that du‘ā’ facing the Grave is an innovation and the act of the ignorant, see the reply of al-Zurqānī.
13Al-Dhahabī, Siyar (9:457). Ch. on Imām Ahmad, section entitled Min ādābih.
14Al-Dhahabī, Mu‘jam al-Shuyūkh (1:73
See on the prohibition of the prostration of respect the fatwa of the Mujaddid Imām Ahmad Ridā
#58). . .
Khān, titled al-Zubdat al-Zakiyya li-Tah. rīm al-Sujūd al-Tah. iyya.