Question # 521: Assalamualaikum are the following reports authentic? Did Sheikh al-Islam ibn Taymiyyah accepted waseela and istighatha through the deceased?
Ibn Taymiyya wrote a Hadith in his book Siratal Mustaqeem: A person came to the blessed grave of the Messenger of Allah ( صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم ) and requested food from the Prophet ( صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) and sat down. After a while a Hashmi [a member of the Prophet’s – صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم ] family came to him. He had with him a tray of food, and said, “this food has been sent by the Prophet, ( صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) and with it he gave a message: Eat it and leave from here because whoever loves us does not make this kind of desire”. (Iqtida as-Sirat al Mustaqim, page 290 by Ibn Taymiyya).
Ibn Taymiyya wrote – Some people came to the grave of our Prophet Mohammad ( صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم ) and requested something, and their needs were fulfilled. In the same way, the pious people can also fulfill the needs of people – and we do not deny this [Iqtida as Sirat al-Mustaqim, – page 373 by Ibn Taymiyya]
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: Before citing the story mentioned in the question in his book Iqtidhaa’ As-Siraat Al-Mustaqeem, Ibn Taymiyyah said, “…they consider such an act a Sunnah, as if a Prophet did it, while this is wrong….” In fact, it has been recorded that Shaikhul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah mentioned in al-Qaa’idatul-Jaliyyab that “Asking Him [Allah (سبحانه و تعالى)] by His creation is not allowed since the creation has no right over the Creator, therefore it cannot be allowed.”
In summary, Al-Istighatha (seeking help) with some creation for something that he cannot do such as seeking help for providing with progeny, raising from the dead, or relieving sorrows, including saying “Ya Rasool-u-Allah: O Allah’s Messenger, dispel my grief or grant me health” constitutes a form of shirk (polytheism) as stated by Muslim scholars. Also, if one calls upon the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) as a form of Tawassul (solicitation) saying: “O Allah’s Messenger! Be my intercessor or intermediary with Allah to dispel my grief” is also not permitted.
Long Answer: Shaykh Ibn Taymiyyah said in his book Iqtidhaa’ As-Siraat Al-Mustaqeem, “Thus, it was reported to us that some of the attendants of Al-Madeenah came to the grave of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) and asked him for some kind of food, then some Hashemites came to that person and said to him that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) sent him that food and said to him: ‘Go away because those who come to us do not desire such a thing.’”
Ibn Taymiyyah said before this, “It is based on this that many people commit a mistake as it was reported to them that some righteous people did an act of worship or said a supplication and then found the effect of that act of worship or supplication, so they use this as evidence that such an act of worship or supplication is desirable or consider such an act a Sunnah, as if a Prophet did it, while this is wrong as we have mentioned…”
Then he mentioned a number of stories among which is the one mentioned in the question.
There is no doubt that these stories are reported without ascertaining whether or not they are authentic, and it is likely that the Shaytaan had a role in these stories in order to confuse the people. Indeed, these stories do not lead to an Islamic ruling; and it is for this reason that Ibn Taymiyyah said in his statement above: “…they consider such an act a Sunnah, as if a Prophet did it, while this is wrong….”
Shaikh Muhammad Nassiruddeen Al-Albani mentions the following in his book ‘Tawassul – Its Types and its Rulings’:
- AJ-Qudooree said: “Asking Him by His creation is not allowed since the creation has no right over the Creator, therefore it cannot be allowed.” Shaikhul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah reports this in al-Qaa’idatul-Jaliyyab.
- Shaykhul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah said: “The basic principle with regard to worship is that all actions are forbidden and with regard to worldly affairs that all actions are permissible unless there is a text.”
[Furthermore,] Al-Istighatha means an appeal for help in case of distress. It is of two kinds: (1) Al-Istighatha with The Creator and (2) Al-Istighatha with creatures.
As for the first kind, it is not only legal for one who is in distress to seek Allah’s help since He is The Only One who can relieve sorrows whatever they are, but also it is a duty. Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says in the Qur’an: “And your Lord said: “Invoke Me, (and ask Me for anything) I will respond to your (invocation). Verily! Those who scorn My worship [i.e., do not invoke Me] they will surely enter Hell in humiliation!” (Soorah Ghafir, 40: 60)
Al-Istighatha is a high form of du’aa (supplication) as stated in the Qur’an: “(Remember) when you sought help of your Lord and He answered you …” (Soorah Al-‘Anfal, 8: 9).
As for Al-Istighatha with creatures, it is also of two types:
- The first type is Al-Istighatha with some creation for something that he can do. This type is good since Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) told us about a similar incident in the story of Prophet Moses (عليه السلام) “… The man of his (own) party asked him for help against his foe, so Musa (Moses) struck him with his fist and killed him. …” (Soorah Al-Qasas, 28: 15). So, one who is in distress can seek help from another one.
- The second type is Al-Istighatha with some creation for something that he cannot do such as seeking help for providing with progeny, raising from the dead or relieving sorrows, and so on. [This also includes saying “Ya Rasool-u-Allah: O Allah’s Messenger, dispel my grief or grant me health”]. Such an Istighatha constitutes a form of shirk (polytheism) as stated by Muslim scholars. Since the one who seeks Al-Istighatha thinks that this creation can do what the Creator does. Such a situation is completely forbidden and a form of shirk even if the one whom we seek his help is an angel, Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم), or a righteous man. If one believes that those are no more than means, he also comes under the same Shari’ah ruling, i.e., a form of shirk. Allah states in the Qur’an that those who take idols as a means between them and The Creator are Mushrik people (polytheists) and He orders Muslims to wage war against them. “… And those who take Auliya’ (protectors, helpers, lords, gods) besides Him (say): “We worship them only that they may bring us near to Allah”. …” (Soorah Az-Zumar, 39: 3). He also Says: “…, and they say: “These are our intercessors with Allah”. …” (Soorah Yunis, 10: 18).
Next, if one [calls upon the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم)] as a form of Tawassul (solicitation) as saying: ‘O Allah’s Messenger! Be my intercessor or intermediary with Allah to dispel my grief’. This form of al-Tawassul is also not permitted.
(Unless stated otherwise, the above reply is based on various answers on similar topics provided by Islamweb.net, a website belonging to the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs in the State of Qatar)
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.