Imam Abu Hanifah on Tawassul with essence (zaat)
Words of the Mufti of Ahnaf of his time Mahmud Al-Alusi
Imam Mahmud Al-Alusi said in his “Ruh ul-Ma’ani” in Tafsir of the verse “Seek Wasilah to Him” (Maidah: 35):
“This has the form of “Fa’ilatun” with the meaning of (the means) with one does Tawassul among actions of obedience and leaving sins… and Anbari and others narrated from Ibn Abbas that Wasilah means need (Hajah) and recited for him the poem of ‘Anzatu…(to justify meaning of Wasilah also comes for need) and then the meaning is “ask your hands by turning your attention towards Allah, because in His Hands are the keys of the heavens and earth, and do not ask your needs turning to other than Allah” …, and some explained “Wasilah”, as a level (Manzilah) in paradise, and this is not evident in this meaning because this is among the particularities of the Prophet (saw) based on what Muslim reported and others : “It is a level in paradise, Allah has made it for (only) one of His slave and I hope that it will be for me, so ask Wasilah for me” …
And some people took proof from this verse to legislate Istighathah (seeking assistance) from saints, making them Wasilah (intermediaries) between Allah and slaves, and swearing upon Allah with them by saying : “O Allah we swear upon you with so and so that you give us that” and some of them say to the absent or dead from pious slaves of Allah: “Ya Fulan (O so and so), invoke Allah that He gives us subsistence, this and that”, and they think that it is from the chapter of seeking Wasilah, and they tell that the Prophet (saw) : “When things are difficult for you, then go to the people of graves or seek help from the people of graves” (a fabricated narration), and all of this is far from the truth from great distances.
And Tahqiq of Kalam (verified speech) in this place is that Istighathah with creation, and making it a Wasilah in the meaning of asking Du’a to them, there is no doubt in its permissibility if the sought person is alive, and we do not restrict this to the case of the one being asked is superior, rather one can ask the superior and the inferior, and it has been authenticated that he (saw) asked Umar (to make du’a for him) when he sought for permission for Umrah: “ Do not forget your brother in your du’a” and he ordered him as well to seek Uwais AL Qarni so he seeks forgiveness for him, and he (saw) ordered the community to ask Wasilah (place in paradise) for him as it has just been mentioned and by they sending Sala upon him.
As for when the sought person is dead or absent, it is not hidden for scholars that it is not permissible and it is from innovations that none of the Salaf did…
And it did not come from any of the Sahabah – and they are among the most desiring people from creation to seek any good- that they asked the dead anything, rather it is authentically reported from Ibn Umar that he used to say when he entered prophetic chamber when making Ziyarah (visit of the grave): “As-Salam Aleyka Ya Rasula Allah, As-Salam Aleyka Ya Aba Bakrin, As Salam Aleyka Ya Abati” (Peace be upon you O messenger of Allah, peace be upon you O Abu Bakr, peace be upon you O my father), then he left and he did not add to that and he did not seek anything from the leader of the universe (saw) or from his two nobles companions lying next, and they are the most virtuous from what surface can ever gather and have the highest value from what all containing places can ever contain.
Yes Du’a near the noble presence and holy Garden (Rawdah), Sahabah used to invoke Allah here facing the Qiblah and it did not come from them that they would face the sacred grave during Du’a while it is better than ‘Arsh (Throne of Allah). The Imams differed whether to face it for sending Salam, according to Abu Hanifah, one should not face it but put it at his back and face the Qiblah, and some said that one should face (the grave) for Salam and then face the Qiblah and turn back (from grave) for Du’a, and the authentic view (of Abu Hanifah), what is depended upon, is that one should face (the grave) for Salam and for Du’a he should face the Qiblah and put the noble grave on his right or left.
If this is what is legislated for the Ziyarah (visit of the grave) of the leader of creation…so what about Ziyarah of others compared to his Ziyarah? Wherever it happens and what is added or is sought from the one visited, what is not the right of the leader of the creation (to have such things done, and yet none of the Salafi did such, showing it should not be done)?
As for swearing upon Allah with one of His creation such as saying: “Allah I swear upon You or I ask you with so and so (Fulan) that you fulfill my need, then (‘Izz) Ibn Abdis Salam permitted that for the Prophet (saw) because he is leader on sons of Adam, and this is not permissible to swear upon Allah with other (than him) from Prophets, angels, and saints as they are not from his level. And this has been quoted from him by Al-Manawi in his “Sharh Kabir” of “Jami us Saghir”, and the prove of it is what At-Tirmidhi narrated …(Hadith of the blind Man)
And among people, some forbade Tawassul with essence (Dhat) and swearing upon Allah with any of the creation at all and this is the view of Al Majd Ibn Taymiyah (in fact this is a mistake, it is not Al-Majd but At-Taqi, as said by Dr Shamsudin Al-Afghani in his “Juhud”) and he quoted this from Imam Abu Hanifah and Abu Yusuf and others from the great scholars, and he answered the Hadith that some part (as Mudhaf) is omitted and it is Du’a or Shafa’ah of Your Prophet (saw), so in making Wasilah with the Du’a (of the Prophet (saw)), this is permissible, rather recommended, and the proof on what is omitted is the saying at end of the Hadith: “Allah accept his Shafa’ah (intercession) for me” and also there is in the beginning what constitutes a proof for that (as the blind man came and sought the Prophet’s dua)
And Taj As-Subki insulted Al-Majd (in fact At Taqi Ibn Taymiyah), as he us used to and said : “And Tawassul is recommended, and likewise Istighathah with the Prophet (saw) to the Lord, and none of the Salaf or Khalaf denied this until Ibn Taymiyah came, and he denied this, and deviated from the right path and innovated….”
(Al-Alusi answered) “And you know that Du’a reported in narrations from pure Ahlul Bayt (household of the Prophet (saw)) and others from Imams, there is not in them Tawassul with his noble essence (Dhat)…the one who claims a text, then he should present it”
As for what Abu Dawud reported in his “Sunnan” and others “That a man said to the Prophet (saw) : “We seek your Shafa’ah (intercession) to Allah and seek Allah’s Shafa’ah (intercession) to you” and the Prophet (saw) glorified Allah until it was seen in the faces of his Sahabah (that the Prophet (saw) was angry), and he said “May calamity be on you, do you know who Allah is? Allah’s intercession is not sought to anybody from His creation, the status of Allah is greater than that” then it is not a proof for our topic, as he denied his saying “seek Allah’s Shafa’ah (intercession) to you” and did not deny his saying: “We seek your Shafa’ah (intercession) to Allah”, because the meaning of Istishfa’ (seeking intercession) is seeking Du’a from him, and it does not mean swearing with it upon Allah.
If swearing had the meaning of Istishfa’ why did the Prophet (saw) denied what is contained in the second sentence and not in first? So based on this, the information is not satisfactory to stand as a proof, nor what is before for the one who claims permissibility of swearing with his essence (saw) alive and dead, and the same for essence of others among saint souls in an absolute way, making Qiyas (analogy) of him (saw) with all people of importance, although there is difference in strength and weakness. And this because what is in second sentence is seeking intercession and not swearing, and what is in the first sentence, it does not constitute a clear proof in subjects of difference,
And if we suppose it (that Istishfa in this Hadith means swearing upon Allah with essence of the Prophet) there is not (in this Hadith) but swearing with alive people and Tawassul with him, and making his (saw) state of life as his state of death in this topic needs a clear text and probably the clear text is contrary to this, as there is in “Sahih ul Bukhari” from Anas that ‘Umar ibnul Khattab when they faced drought, sought rain with Abbas and said : “O Allah we used to do Tawassul with Your Prophet (saw) and You gave us rain, and now we do Tawassul to You with the uncle of our Prophet, give us rain” and they were given rain. And if there was Tawassul with him (saw) after his death from this world, why did they turn to other? Rather they would have said : “O Allah we do tawassul with Your Prophet, give us rain”
And they are far away from turning from the Tawassul of Prophet (saw) to the Tawassul with his uncle Abbas…while they were the first forerunners, and they were more knowledgeable than us about Allah and His Prophet (saw), and the rights of Allah and His Prophet (saw), what is legislated in du’a and what is not legislated, and they were in time of huge need, they were seeking relief from difficulties and easiness of difficult, and descent of rain with all ways, this is clear proof that the legislated is what they did without others.
And what is mentioned in Qiyas of him with other saint souls with difference of status – (difference) that is denied by none except a hypocrite – this is from what is not possible to accept, and you came to know that for swearing with him (saw) unto his Lord alive or dead, there is no clear text to justify it, and it is not said that what is in the narration of Al-Bukhari constitutes a proof for authenticity of swearing with him (saw) alive and the same for other people.
As for first (information), the saying of Umar: “We used to do Tawassul with Your Prophet (saw)” and as for the second of his saying: “And now we do Tawassul with uncle of our Prophet (saw)” because it is said: this Tawassul is not from chapter of swearing rather it is from categories of seeking intercession, and this is to seek du’a from an individual and his Shafa’ah, and seeking from Allah that he accepts his du’a and Shafa’ah. And this is supported by the fact that Abbas was invoking and they were trusting his du’a until rain came.
And Al-Majd (At-Taqi) mentioned that there is Ijmal (general sense) and Ishtirak (different meanings) in (the word) Tawassul with an individual and Tawajjuh (turning) to him, according to the Istilah. The meaning in the language of the Sahabah is to seek from him Du’a and Shafa’ah, so the Tawassul and Tawajuh is in truth with his du’a and his Shafa’ah, and this is from what is not forbidden, as for what is in language of a lot of people, that meaning is to ask Allah with him, and to swear upon Him with him, this is the subject of dispute, and you have known the speech on it, and it has been put in swearing not legislated the saying of someone: “O Allah, I ask you with the status ( Jah) of so and so” because this is not proven from any of the Salaf that he invoked like that…
As for what the laymen mention from his (saw) saying: “If you have a need to Allah, ask with my status, because my status is great towards Allah” then none of the people of knowledge narrated it, and it does not exist in books of Hadith, and for what Al-Qushayri mentioned from Ma’ruf Al-Karkhi, that he said to his students: “If you have any need to Allah, then swear upon Him with me, because I am an intermediary between you and Him”, then there is no Sanad (chain of narrators) found for that on which Muhadith depend.
As for what is reported from Ibn Majah from Abu Said Al Khudri from the Prophet (saw) in the du’a after prayer: “O Allah, I ask you with right of the people who ask You (Sailiin)…” then there is Awfi in the Sanad and there is weakness in him…
And people have exceeded limits nowadays in swearing upon Allah, they swear upon Him with what is nothing and with what has no status in front of Allah. And worse than that, they seek from people of graves matters like cure for sick, wealth for poor, and finding lost things, and relief from all difficulty, and their devils inspired them this narration: “When you are invaded with troubles until end (go and seek help from people of graves)” and this Hadith is a lie on the Prophet (saw) by consensus of the people of knowledge of the science of Hadith, and none of the scholars narrated it, and nothing of that is found in reliable books of Hadith, and the Prophet (saw) forbade to take graves as mosques (places of worship) and cursed those doing that, so how can one imagine the order to do Istighathah (seeking assistance) and asking from its people (of graves) ? Subhanallah this is a great lie!
And it is quoted from Abu Yazid Al-Bastami: “Istighathah of creation by creation is like seeking help of a prisoner by a prisoner” and from words of As-Sajjad that “the needy asking to the needy is stupidity in his opinion and misguidance in his intelligence”, and from du’a of Musa (aley salam) “And to You we seek help” , and he (saw) said to Ibn Abbas: “When you seek help, then seek from Allah…” and He said: “You alone do we worship and from You alone do wee seek help” (Fatihah)
And after (saying) all this, I do not see any wrong in Tawassul to Allah with status (Jah) of the Prophet (saw) alive or dead, and what is meant by “Jah” returns to attributes from attributes of Allah… so the meaning of the saying of the one who say: “Allah, I do Tawassul with status of Your Prophet (saw) that you fulfill my need” will be: “Allah, make Your love for him as a Wasilah in fulfilling my need”. And there is no difference between this and your saying: “Allah, I do Tawassul with Your Mercy that you do this and that”, as the meaning is also: “Allah make your Mercy as a Wasilah for me in this action” and I do not see any wrong in swearing upon Allah with status of him (saw) in this meaning, and the kalam in Hurmah is same as kalam in Jah, and this does not come in tawassul and Iqsam with dhat at all.
Yes, the Tawassul with Jah (status) and Hurmah (dignity) did not come from any of the Sahabah. Maybe this is because they were fearing that people found in their minds something (confusing), as they left Tawassul with idols, and then pure Imams coming after them followed them (in not doing Tawassul with Jah). And the Prophet (saw) left the destruction of the Ka’bah and its building on the foundations of Ibrahim (aley salam) as people were close from time of Kufr as it is established in the “Sahih”.
And what we mentioned, it is only to prevent difficulty for people (who do Tawassul with Jah) and running away from the claim of their misguidance, as some people claim… and the best for us are reported du’a that come in the Book and the detailed Sunnah because it is not hidden for people of fairness that what Allah taught him, what the Messenger (saw) (taught), what the Sahabah did, and what people after them accepted fully is better, more complete, more beneficial and more secure…
They remain two points. First that the Tawassul with Jah of other than the Prophet (saw), there is no wrong in it if the one who is done Tawassul with is known for sure that he has a status in front of Allah, as the certainty in his piety and Wilayah , as for the one about whom there is no certainty for his right, then Tawassul is not done with his status…
Second, that people have increased in du’a to other than Allah from loved Awliay among dead and others, as “Ya Sayidi So and So (Fulan) Aghithni (help me)” and this is not from the permitted form Tawassul in anyway…a great number of scholars have considered that as Shirk…and I do not see anybody who says this except that he believes that the invoked alive absent or dead hidden knows the invisible or hears his saying and is powerful with his essence or with other to bring good and remove problems, and if not he would not have called him nor opened his mouth, and in this there is a great test from Allah…
There is no doubt that Istighathah from people of graves… is a matter that is obligatory to be avoided, and it is not suitable for people of intelligence to do that, and you should not be deceived if the seeker of help can have his need fulfilled and his matter asked being granted, because this is a test and trial (Fitnah) from Him (Azza wa Jalla), and Shaytan can take appearance of the one whose help was sought, and people can think that it is a Karamat (miracle) from the invoked, far away far away, it is only Shaytan who misguides him and deceives him, and he makes beautiful his desire, this is like Shaytan speaking in idols to misguide their worshipers. And the misguided people think that it is from the emanation of the soul of the invoked for help, or an angel in the form of the invoked as a Karamat for him, and this is very bad how they judge, because Tatawur and Zuhur (apparition of miracles) although they are possible, but not in cases like this after doing these kinds of sins, and we ask Allah with His Names to protect us from that.”
End of Al-Alusi’s words
One can see different things
1) Al-Alusi forbade Istishfa from people of graves, asking them Shafa’ah, as none of Salaf did that, and he said that the Hadith of seeking help from people of graves as a lie and opposing the Sahih Hadith about not taking graves as mosques (places of worship).
2) Al-Alusi denied Tawassul with Dhat, and he answered that there is nothing in Quran, Hadith, and practice of Sahabah to justify that.
3) He allowed Tawassul with Jah (status) in meaning of Allah’s love, and this is Tawassul with Allah’s attributes like saying Allah do this with Your Love for the Prophet (saw). He gave reason for allowing Tawassul with Jah, and it is not because Salaf did it, but later people did it and he did not want to say they were mistaken.
Yet one should not do this, as none understand with the status of someone that it means Allah’s love for someone, rather one should do Tawassul with Allah’s names and attributes and not use another word to refer to Allah’s attributes.
4) He agreed that the best invocations are those reported in the Quran, Sunnah, and told by Sahabah.
5) Invoking “Ya Ghaus Shayan Lillah” and other calls to saint are not Tawassul but shirk, and this sickness is done my many misguided people.
Anwar Shah Kashmiri being hesitant about Tawassul with essence
In “Faydul Bari”, Kitab Jihad, v 3 p 434, Molana Anwar Shah Kashmiri wrote:
“Chapter: “One who seeks help with weak and saints”: Know that the Tawassul for the Salaf was not as it is practiced between us, because when they wanted to do Tawassul with someone, they went to the one they wanted to do Tawassul with, also with him, so he makes du’a for them, and they sought help from Allah, making du’a to Him, hoping His answer…
As for the Tawassul with names of saints, as it is known in our time, in which the one who is done Tawassul with is not aware of our Tawassul, rather his being alive is not a condition, and Tawassul is only done with mention of their names, thinking they have a status in front of Allah, and acceptation, so Allah will not make (du’a) vain with the mention of their names.
This matter, I do not like to enter it, nor do I claim any proof from the Salaf, nor do I object to it. Look at Shami (“Darul Muhtar” of ibn Abidin) for that.
As for His Saying: “Seek Wasilah to Him”, this, even if it necessitates seeking of intermediaries, there is no proof for Tawassul with only names, and Ibn Taymiyah went to its forbiddance, and the author of “Durul Mukhtar” allowed it, but he did not give any text from the Salaf.” End of Kashmiri’s words
Anwar Shah Kashmiri said in “Faydul Bari”, Abwabul Witr v 2 p 379:
“Allah we used to do Tawassul with our Prophet (saw)” : There is not in this (legislated Tawassul done with Abbas) the Tawassul known (nowadays), that is done secretly, until he has no perception at all (meaning the one who is done Tawassul with has no knowledge of that), rather there is in this the Tawassul of Salaf, and it is to come to a man of status in front of Allah, and he asks him to invoke Allah…as was done with Abbas, uncle of the Prophet (saw). If it was Tawassul of late scholars (mutaakhirun), then why did they need to go to Abbas with them, Tawassul with their Prophet (saw) after his death was sufficient for them, or with Abbas without his presence, and this kind of things is allowed for Mutakhirun, and Hafiz ibn Taymiyah forbade this, and I am hesitant (Mutraddidun) in this, because a text from the Imam (Abu Hanifah) came as quoted by Qaduri that swearing upon Allah without His Names is not permissible, and he took from negation of swearing negation of Tawassul, and if Tawassul is swearing, then the case is as said by Ibn Taymiyah, and if it is not swearing, it remains permissible.
As for taking (a proof) from his saying (saw): “You are given subsistence with your weak” then this is not justifying this, because it is not Tawassul, but the meaning is that Allah gives you your subsistence with the taking care of the weak and their being with them, not the Tawassul with tongue: “Allah give us subsistence with Wasilah of so and so”…
End of Kashmiri’s words
Allamah Anwar Shah Al-Kashmiri also elsewhere said that the Hadith of the blind man has been answered by Hafiz Ibn Taymiyah, so it is not a clear proof. So the greatest of the deobandi Muhadith could not find any clear proof from Hadith and the Salaf for Tawassul with essence, and he even claimed that there were words of Abu Hanifah in this topic seeming to be contrary to this. This is a lesson for people who give their own meanings to the verse “Seek Wasilah to Him” and other Ahadith.
Clear saying of Imam Abu Hanifah
Quotes below are taken from Shaykh Shams Af-Afghani’s “Juhud Ulema Hanafiyah”:
Al-Hasakafi said in “Durul Mukhtar”, Fasl fil Bay’: “And in “Tatar Khaniyah”…, from Abu Yusuf from Abu Hanifah: “One should not invoke Allah except with Himself, and the Du’a permitted in it and prescribed is what is taken from His Saying : “And for Allah are beautiful Names, invoke with them” (A’raf, 180), and this saying is Makruh (forbidden): “Bi Haqq of Your Prophets or Nabi or Awliya…”
Ibn Abideen As Shamee said in explanation of “except with Himself” : “Meaning with His essence (dhat), His attributes and His names”
So if it is not restriction of Tawassul to Allah’s essence, attributes and Names then what is it?
Allamah Rustami said about words of Abu Hanifah quoted above: “Know that in this saying (of Abu Hanifah) there is restriction to Tawassul of Tawassul Ismi in du’a to Names of Allah and His attributes. And the condition of these Muqalids is that they leave the saying of their Imam, and follow their desire without knowledge…and our Shaykh (Ar-Ribati) Al-Fadil Al-Allamah Al-Adeeb, gathering rational knowledge and that of texts, one of the senior Hanafi in refuting Quburiyah, has some important words in taking a proof from this saying of Imam Abu Hanifah, and he quoted sayings of Hanafi scholars cutting the backs of the Quburiyah…” (“Tibyan” p 182 of Rustami, see also “Kawakib Ad-Duriyah fi Tahqiq Al-Wasilah Ash-Shar’iyah” p 125 of Ar-Ribati Al Hanafi”
About the Ayah “Seek Wasilah to Him”, Hanafi scholars said in Tafsir “Seek Qurbah (proximity) of Allah with actions of obedience and leaving sins”
Abu Layth Samarqandi, one of the big Hanafi scholar said about this Ayah : “Meaning seek Qurbah (proximity) and nobility with good deeds”
Abu Su’ud Al ‘Imadi al-Hanafi said in its Tafsir : “It is Fa’eelatun with meaning what we do Tawassul with to Allah from actions of obedience and leaving sins”
Also An-Nasafi mentioned in “Madariku Tanzil” that Tawassul as been used to “What we do Tawassul with to Allah with actions of good and leaving sins”
May Allah send Salah and Salam on the Prophet (saw), his companions, his household and those who follow them
Compiled by Ali Hassan Khan