Question # 350: If asking for dua through wasela is wrong and that a dead man has no power or strength to help even himself and we don’t know what condition they are in but is it the same for the personalities who have lost their lives in zihad…if not, what does Allah mean in the verse “And reckon not those who are killed in Allah’s way as dead; nay they are alive (and) are provided sustenance from their Lord (3:169)
bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,
Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,
All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).
First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.
Shorter Answer: The life of the Prophets, martyrs and the rest of the righteous (in their graves) is the life of al-barzakh, the real nature of which no one knows except Allah. It is not like the life they had in this world. The dead in general, including the Prophets (عليه السلام) and martyrs, cannot hear those who call them in the sense of responding. They cannot answer the one who calls upon them or comply with whatever he tells them or forbids them to do. And hence, one should not ask any martyr, including Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) when he is in his grave anything that was asked of him, when he was alive, in this world in terms of meeting needs and solving problems – the Sahabah (رضي الله عنه) did not ask any such thing of him, because they knew that it is not permissible. In fact, Allah Alone is the One Who has created us and Who provides for us; in His hand is the dominion and He is Able to do all things. He says in the Qur’an that He respond to the invocations of the supplicant when he calls on Him (without any mediator or intercessor). [Therefore,] calling upon anyone other than Allah to meet one’s needs, relieve distress or heal disease is insanity caused by lack of understanding and considered shirk in Islam, the greatest of all sin – association of others with Allah (سبحانه و تعالى). Furthermore, seeking intercession from the dead and occupants of graves, or from a living person who is absent, believing that he is able to hear and meet one’s need also constitutes shirk.
Long Answer: With regard to the life of the martyrs with their Lord, it is the life of al-Barzakh, where their Lord honors them with the delights of Paradise, where their position varies according to their deeds and intentions in this world.
Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says in the Qur’an:
- “169. Think not of those as dead who are killed in the way of Allah. Nay, they are alive, with their Lord, and they have provision. 170. They rejoice in what Allah has bestowed upon them of His Bounty and rejoice for the sake of those who have not yet joined them, but are left behind (not yet martyred) that on them no fear shall come, nor shall they grieve. 171. They rejoice in a grace and a bounty from Allah, and that Allah will not waste the reward of the believers” (Soorah Aal ‘Imran, 3:169-171)
- “And say not of those who are killed in the way of Allah, ‘They are dead.’ Nay, they are living, but you perceive (it) not” (Soorah al-Baqarah, 2:154)
Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen said: What is meant is that they are alive with their Lord, as it says in the verse from Aal ‘Imran, but it is the life of al-barzakh and we do not know how it is. They have no need for food, drink or air, hence Allah says “but you perceive (it) not” i.e., you do not perceive that they are living, because it is the life of al-barzakh in the unseen. If Allah had not told us about it we would have no knowledge of it.
Another thing we learn from the verse is that the martyrs are alive, but it is the life of al-barzakh which is nothing like life in this world, rather it is better and greater, but we do not know how it is.” (Tafseer Soorat al-Baqarah)
Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali (may Allah have mercy on him) said, under the heading: Chapter on the location of the souls of the dead in al-Barzakh: “As for the martyrs, most of the scholars are of the view that they are in Paradise. There are many ahadith which speak of that.
In Saheeh Muslim, it is narrated that Masrooq said: We asked ‘Abd-Allah ibn Mas’ood about this verse: “Think not of those as dead who are killed in the way of Allah. Nay, they are alive, with their Lord, and they have provision” (Soorah Aal ‘Imran, 3:169). He said: We also asked about that, and he (the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Their souls are in the crops of green birds, which have lamps hanging from the Throne, and they roam freely wherever they want in Paradise, then they return to those lamps…”
Imam Ahmad, Abu Dawood and al-Haakim narrated, in a report that was classed as hasan by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Targheeb, from Sa’eed ibn Jubayr, that Ibn ‘Abbas said: The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “When your brethren were slain at Uhud, your Lord put their souls in the crops of green birds that go to the rivers of Paradise and eat of its fruits, then they go back to lamps of gold that are hanging in the shade of the Throne. When they find their food and drink and abode they said: Who will convey to our brethren that we are alive in Paradise and receiving provision, so that they will not give up fighting or turn away from jihad? And Allah said: I shall tell them about you. Then Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) revealed the verse: ‘Think not of those as dead who are killed in the way of Allah. Nay, they are alive, with their Lord, and they have provision’ (Soorah Aal ‘Imran 3:169).”
Al-Tirmidhi and al-Haakim narrated, in a report that was classed as sahih by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Targheeb from Ibn ‘Abbas that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “I saw Ja’far ibn Abi Taalib as an angel flying in Paradise with the angels, with two wings.”” (Ahwaal al-Quboor)
The scholars of the Standing Committee for Issuing Fatwas said: “The life of the Prophets, martyrs and the rest of the righteous (in their graves) is the life of al-barzakh, the real nature of which no one knows except Allah. It is not like the life they had in this world. (Fataawa al-Lajnah ad-Daa’imah)
[As for the view of one who says that they can hear and respond…,] the scholars of the Standing Committee for Issuing Fatwas said: “The dead in general, including the Prophets (عليه السلام) cannot hear those who call them in the sense of responding. They cannot answer the one who calls upon them or comply with whatever he tells them or forbids them to do. This is something that Allah has stated does not happen, as He (صلى الله عليه و سلم) says in the Qur’an: “Verily, you cannot make the dead to hear” (Soorah an-Naml 27:80). With regard to what is mentioned in as-Saheehayn about the deceased when he is placed into his grave, and the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “He can hear the sound of their sandals when they turn to leave him”; and what the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said to the slain mushrikeen on the day of Badr when they were dragged and thrown into the dried well of Badr, and he said to them: “Have you found what your Lord promised you to be true?” and he said: “They can hear what I am saying now”; and like the deceased’s hearing the two angels when he is placed in his grave and they ask him about his religion and his Prophet etc.; and other things that are narrated in the shar‘i texts, that is the hearing of al-barzakh, and Allah knows best what its real nature is. The deceased cannot hear all the time; rather it is only at these particular times, and his hearing is not like his hearing in the life of this world; rather it is particular to the circumstances of al-barzakh, and no one knows how it really is except Allah. This hearing does not result in any benefit for the deceased or any harm for the living, because no one has power over that except Allah (سبحانه و تعالى). As for what is narrated about the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) saying: “No one sends greetings of salaam upon me but Allah will restore to me my soul so that I may return his greeting of salaam,” that is something that is unique to him (صلى الله عليه و سلم) and that does not result in the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) benefitting or harming the living person who does that, apart from the reward that Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), bestows upon the one who sends blessings and peace upon the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم). And one should not ask of him (صلى الله عليه و سلم) when he is in his grave anything that was asked of him in this world of meeting needs and solving problems, because the Sahabah (رضي الله عنه) did not ask any such thing of him, because they knew that it is not permissible. (Fataawa al-Lajnah ad-Daa’imah)
[Hence, Allah is the only One who can listen and respond to one’s supplication.] Allah is close to His slaves; he sees where they are and He knows their situation. He hears what they say and responds to their du’aa’ (supplication). Nothing about them is hidden from Him, as He says in the Qur’an: “Truly, nothing is hidden from Allah, in the earth or in the heaven” [Soorah Aal ‘Imran, 3:5)
Allah Alone is the One Who has created us and Who provides for us; in His hand is the dominion and He is Able to do all things as He says in the Qur’an: “To Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth and all that is therein, and He is Able to do all things” (Soorah al-Maa’idah, 5:17)
In Allah’s hand alone is all goodness. When He calls mankind to something good in His Book or on the lips of His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم), they should obey that command and respond to it, as He says in the Qur’an: “O you who believe! Answer Allah (by obeying Him) and (His) Messenger when he calls you to that which will give you life, and know that Allah comes in between a person and his heart (i.e. He prevents an evil person to decide anything). And verily, to Him you shall (all) be gathered” (Soorah al-Anfaal, 8:24)
Allah is Able to do all things, and He hears the supplication of His slaves. He responds to them at all times and in all places, no matter what their various needs and languages, as He says in the Qur’an: “And when My slaves ask you (O Muhammad) concerning Me, then (answer them), I am indeed near (to them by My Knowledge). I respond to the invocations of the supplicant when he calls on Me (without any mediator or intercessor). So let them obey Me and believe in Me, so that they may be led aright.” (Soorah al-Baqarah 2:186)
[Therefore,] calling upon anyone other than Allah to meet one’s needs, relieve distress or heal disease is insanity caused by lack of understanding, as He says in the Qur’an: “Say (O Muhammad): ‘Shall we invoke others besides Allah (false deities), that can do us neither good nor harm, and shall we turn back on our heels after Allah has guided us (to true Monotheism)?’” (Soorah al-An’aam, 6:71)
If a person calls upon one who cannot bring benefit or cause harm, who cannot command or prohibit, who cannot hear or respond, whether that is a Prophet, a Messenger, a jinn or an angel, or a star or planet or rock or tree, or one of the pious dead person – all of that is serious wrong-doing, and a going astray from the Straight Path. It is shirk, the association of others with Allah the Almighty, as He says in the Qur’an: “And invoke not besides Allah any such that will neither profit you nor harm you, but if (in case) you did so, you shall certainly be one of the Zaalimoon (wrongdoers)” (Soorah Yoonus 10:106) and “And who is more astray than one who calls on (invokes) besides Allah, such as will not answer him till the Day of Resurrection, and who are (even) unaware of their calls (invocations) to them.” (Soorah al-Ahqaf, 46:5)
Calling upon anyone or anything other than Allah is shirk, and shirk is a great sin, indeed it is the greatest sin. Allah will forgive any sin for whomever He wills, except for shirk, as Allah says in the Qur’an: “Verily, Allah forgives not that partners should be set up with Him (in worship), but He forgives except that (anything else) to whom He wills.” (Soorah an-Nisaa’, 4:48)
On the Day of Resurrection, Allah will gather the mushrikeen and everyone who was worshipped instead of Him, then those who were worshipped instead of Allah will disavow those who worshipped them, and they will deny their association with Allah, as Allah says in the Qur’an: “13. And those, whom you invoke or call upon instead of Him, own not even a Qitmeer (the thin membrane over the date stone). 14. If you invoke (or call upon) them, they hear not your call; and if (in case) they were to hear, they could not grant it (your request) to you. And on the Day of Resurrection, they will disown your worshipping them. And none can inform you (O Muhammad) like Him Who is the All‑Knower (of everything). 15. O mankind! it is you who stand in need of Allah. But Allah is Rich (Free of all needs), Worthy of all praise” (Soorah Faatir, 35:13-15)
[Furthermore,] …seeking intercession from the dead and occupants of graves, or from a living person who is absent, believing that he is able to hear and meet one’s need. This is the kind of intercession that constitutes [also] shirk, which is clearly forbidden in many verses of the Qur’aan and ahadith from the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم), because it ascribes to them attributes which belong only to the Creator, for He is the Ever-living Who never dies.
Their specious argument is that the awliya’ (“saints”) and Sayyids intercede for their relatives and for those who call on them and take them as friends and love them, and because of that they ask them for intercession. This is exactly what Allah described the early mushrikeen as doing, when they said, “These are our intercessors with Allah” (Soorah Yoonus, 10:18) –referring to those whom they worshipped among the angels, righteous people and others, and meaning that they would intercede for them with Allah. In the same way, the contemporary mushrikoon say “the awliya’ (‘saints’) intercede for us; we cannot ask of Allah (directly) so we ask them and they ask of Allah.” And they say that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) and all the Prophets and righteous people were given the power of intercession, and we call upon them and say, intercede for us as Allah has given you the power of intercession. They give the example of kings in this world, and say that the kings of this world can only be approached through intercession; if you need something, you go to their friends and those who are close to them, their ministers, gatekeepers, servants, etc., to intercede for you so that the king can deal with your matter; so we reach Allah by approaching and asking His awliyaa’ and the Sayyids who are close to Him. By doing this they fall into the same shirk as those who came before them, and they compare the Creator to His creation.
Allah tells us of a righteous man in Soorat Ya-Seen, who said: “‘Shall I take besides Him aalihah (gods)? If the Most Gracious (Allah) intends me any harm, their intercession will be of no use for me whatsoever” (Soorah Ya-Seen, 36:23)
The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم), even though he will be given the power of intercession on the Day of Resurrection, will not be able to use it until after Allah has given him permission and has approved of the one for whom intercession is to be made.
Hence he (صلى الله عليه و سلم) did not let his ummah ask him to intercede for them in this world, and that was not narrated from any one of his Sahabah (رضي الله عنه). If that had been a good thing, he would have conveyed it to his ummah and called them to do it, and his Companions who were keen to do good would have hastened to do it. Thus we know that seeking intercession from him [or any dead person] now (in this world) is a great wrong, because it involves calling upon someone other than Allah and doing something which is an obstacle to intercession, for intercession is available only to those who sincerely believe in Allah alone (Tawheed)
The people in the place of standing (on the Day of Resurrection) will only ask the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) to intercede for them so that judgement will be passed, because he will be there with them and because he will be able to turn to his Lord and ask Him. This is like asking a person who is alive and present to do make du’aa’ for one, which is something that he is able to do.
Hence it is not narrated that any of the people in the place of standing will ask him (صلى الله عليه و سلم) to intercede for them that their sins might be forgiven.
Those who ask him for intercession now, based on the fact that it will be permissible to ask him for that in the Hereafter, if their claims were justified, would have to limit what they say to, “O Messenger of Allah, intercede for us that judgment may be passed”! But they do something other than that. They do not limit it to a request for intercession, rather they ask the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) – and others – to relieve their distress and send down mercy; they turn to him at times of calamity; they pray to him on land and sea, at times of ease and times of difficulty, ignoring the words of Allah: “Is not He (better than your gods) Who responds to the distressed one, when he calls on Him, and Who removes the evil, and makes you inheritors of the earth, generations after generations?” (Soorah al-Naml, 27:62)
From the above it is clear to every fair-minded person that the …kind of intercession which is forbidden is asking someone other than Allah to do something that no one is able to do except Allah, because intercession belongs to no one besides Allah, and no one can do it unless Allah grants him leave and approves of him. So, whoever seeks intercession from anyone else has transgressed upon the exclusive preserve of Allah and has wronged himself, and has exposed himself to being deprived of the intercession of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) on the Day of Resurrection.
(The above reply is based on various answers by Shaykh Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid)
Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.