MEDIATION (TAWASSUL)

Every path and vehicle that delivers the servant to the essential purpose of his existence is considered a means (wasilah). To mediate, or to seek tawassul, is the act of seizing these means to gain closeness to the Almighty. More specifically, it is to ask something from the Lord through the mediation of His Beautiful Names, the Quran, righteous deeds, prophets and saints, with the hope of increasing the likelihood of the acceptance of what is asked, to seek His refuge and aid in acquiring something desired or repelling something unwanted.

The 35th verse of al-Maidah states:

يَآ اَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ اٰمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللّٰهَ وَ ابْتَغُوا اِلَيْهِ الْوَسِيلَةَ

“O you who believe! Be careful of your duty to Allah and seek means of nearness to Him!”

The term wasilah is mentioned in the absolute sense; that is to say, without any limitations. Thus, the means one is required to search for in gaining closeness to the Lord are righteous deeds like ritual prayer, fasting and striving in His path (jihad). Some exegetes have also added that coming under the training of a murshid with the aim of embodying the moral conduct of the Blessed Prophet –upon him blessings and peace- is likewise a means.

The manner in which saints and scholars direct one to the path of the Lord is not priestly. It serves only to enlighten and to warn. They are like guides directing travelers on a beaten track. Catholicism, in contrast, has priesthood, according to which the priest serves as a necessary means between man and God. Islam rejects this; that is to say, between the Lord and man, a third person is unthinkable. One may personally and immediately turn to the Lord at any given moment and worship Him.

Be that as it may, some objections have been voiced concerning the role of the murshid, supposing that he, like a priest, comes in between the Lord and the disciple progressing on the spiritual path. But it must be remembered in the clergy, one is unable to do one’s duties of servanthood to the Lord without the intervention of a priest. This is a misconception wrought by the corruption of Christianity. The role carried out by scholars and saints therefore can never be compared to that of the clergy.

Related criticisms are therefore improper and irrelevant, and are caused by bringing to the fore the literal meaning of the term tawassul. This overlooks the true nature of mediation. In any case, such criticisms are generally raised by those outside the Sufi milieu, unable to understand the mindsets of the true murshid-i kamil. This prejudice is sometimes caused by the improper behavior of certain members of Sufi sects with a failure to properly internalize the methods of Sufism. Still, this cannot serve as an excuse. Just as it is unthinkable to criticize an entire movement based on the shortcomings and, at times, malicious intentions of a few of its members, it is equally wrong to ascribe personal faults to the movement itself. It is moreover illogical to attribute the personal mistakes of a few to the sublime values they claim to represent. No person of sound mind, for instance, could hold Islam responsible for the mistakes of Muslims.

As indicated above, true murshids offer guidance on the paths of spirituality, similar to that carried out by scholars in exoteric sciences. This is not to come in between the Lord and His servant. It simply consists of the murshid using his experience and expertise to warn the aspirant on the way to the Lord and throw light on the path, ensuring he passes the obstacles safe and sound, free of danger. Just as the vehicle we chose to take on a journey is not an end but only a means, a spiritual guide is a teacher who trains the heart of a disciple and adorns it with the morals of Allah, glory unto Him, and His Messenger. If able, many a disciple makes swift progress on the spiritual path to the point of even leaving behind his master, who had opened up new horizons for him in the beginning; as is the case with Shams Tabrizi and Mawlana Rumi -may Allah sanctify his secret-, when compared externally.[1]

So regardless of his importance and value, a murshid is never an end, but only a means.

In a sense, seeking means is to adopt a murshid-i kamil, which means none other than a mature and experienced believer, as a guide, to seek his support in passing unscathed the fine roads on which one may otherwise easily lose his footing and to make the most of the inspiring supervision he provides. In yet another sense, to seek means is for one to disclose his desire to the Lord and ask for its acceptance for the sake of those whom the Lord loves; it is thus an effort to ensure the prayer is thereby accepted. Otherwise, it is not to ascribe sacredness to the righteous servants of Allah, glory unto Him.

“Adopt the Messenger of Allah –upon him blessings and peace- in your prayers”, says Imam Malik –may Allah have mercy on him-.

Similar are the words of Imam Jazari -May Allah sanctify his secret-: “Adopt prophets and the righteous as means to have your prayers granted.”

In his Shifau’s-Saqam, Imam Subki writes:

“Mediating through the Noble Prophet –upon him blessings and peace- is permissible under all circumstances. Adopting the Prophet as means was possible before he was even created and afterwards during his life, just the same. The same goes right now following his passage from Earth while he is in Barzakh, as it will be when he is resurrected on the Plain of Judgment and in Paradise.”

Ibn Abbas –Allah be well-pleased with him- recounts:

“There was an ongoing war between the Jews of Khaybar and the tribe of Ghatafan, where the Jews were always routed. In the end they prayed, ‘Lord…we ask for victory in the name of the Unlettered Prophet whom You have promised will appear near the Final Hour’. After this, they decisively defeated Ghatafan. Yet, once Allah, glory unto Him, did make appear the Messenger of Allah –upon him blessings and peace- who they had used as means in their prayer, the Jews rejected his prophethood and the book revealed to him. Thereupon Allah the Almighty proclaimed:

وَكَانُوا مِنْ قَبْلُ يَسْتَفْتِحُونَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا

فَلَمَّا جَاءَهُمْ مَا عَرَفُوا كَفَرُوا بِهِ فَلَعْنَةُ اللّٰهِ عَلَى الْكَافِرِينَ

‘And when there came to them a Book from Allah verifying that which they have, and aforetime they used to pray for victory against those who disbelieve, but when there came to them (Prophet) that which they did not recognize, they disbelieved in him; so Allah’s curse is on the unbelievers.’” (al-Baqara, 89) (Qurtubi, II, 27; Wahidi, Asbabu’n-Nuzul, p. 31)

Medina was struck by a severe famine following the passing away of the Blessed Prophet –upon him blessings and peace-. The locals sought the opinion of Aisha –Allah be well-pleased with her-, who advised them that they should “…open up a hole in the ceiling above the grave of the Messenger of Allah –upon him blessings and peace- so that nothing stands between him and the skies.”

They did just that. They were soon inundated with heavy rain. Medina was covered in green and camels became fleshier than ever. The year came to be known as Amu’l-Fatk, the Year of Abundance. (Darimi, Muqaddimah, 15)

There was a man who would frequently go to Othman ibn Affan –Allah be well-pleased with him- to ask him to take care of what needs he would have; only to have Othman –Allah be well-pleased with him- all but ignore him. The man later came across Ibn Hunayf –Allah be well-pleased with him- and complained over the situation, but he was told to:

“Take ablution and offer two rakat of salat at the mosque and then say the following in your prayer:

‘O Allah…I am asking from You and turning to You in the name of our Messenger Muhammad –upon him blessings and peace-, the Prophet of Mercy. O Muhammad! I am turning to Your Lord with you…Take care of my need!’ And then mention what it is that you want.”

The man did exactly as he was told and appeared before the door of Othman ibn Affan –Allah be well-pleased with him- once again. The doorkeeper took him by the hand to Othman, who had him seated on the cushion next to him.

“What do you need?” he then asked the man. The man told him what he needed. His wish was granted immediately. As he was leaving, Othman –Allah be well-pleased with him- said:

“Why did you not tell us all this time that you were in need? Come to us, should you need anything else in the future!”

The man decided to go to Ibn Hunayf to thank him. On seeing him, he appreciatively said, “May Allah reward you with the best! He took little notice of me before I spoke to you!”

“I assure you by Allah”, said Ibn Hunayf, “that what I advised you with was not my personal opinion. It is based on what I had witnessed once. A blind man once arrived next to the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- and pleaded, ‘Pray to Allah to take this blindness away from my eyes. Life is difficult for a blind man!’

‘Keep patient, if you wish…that will be better for you’, counseled the Beloved Messenger –upon him blessings and peace-.

‘I have nobody to hold me by the hand, Messenger of Allah, and take me where I want to go’, he replied. ‘And this puts me under great duress. Please…Pray that I am cured!’ The Messenger of Allah –upon him blessings and peace- then told him to:

‘Go, take ablution and offer two rakat of ritual prayer. Then pray: O Allah! I am asking from You and turning to You in the name of Muhammad, Your Messenger, the Prophet of Mercy. O Muhammad! I am turning to Your Lord with you…My Allah! Allow him to intercede for me!’” (Tirmidhi, Daawat, 118; Ahmed ibn Hanbal, Musnad, IV, 138).

According to the narration of Hakim, by the time he completed his prayer, he was no longer blind. (Hakim, Mustadrak, I, 707-708)

Utbah ibn Ghazwan –Allah be well-pleased with him- reports the following words from the Blessed Prophet –upon him blessings and peace-:

“Should any one of you lose something in a place where there is nobody around or is left with no other option than to ask for help, call out‘Servants of Allah…help me!’; for Allah has servants you cannot see.” (Haythami, Majmau’z-Zawaid, X, 132; Imam Nawawi, al-Adhkar, 201)

Imam Nawawi, who narrates the above, adds his own personal experience:

“The man from who I took this hadith told me that he had undergone a similar encounter and testified that acting in line with the Prophet’s –upon him blessings and peace- advice was sure to acquire the desired result. I was somewhat astounded. Some time after, a camel belonging to this man next to me had fled. Though it was within reach, it would gallop every time someone drew near. I thereupon recounted this hadith to him. And then, for no observable reason, the camel came to a complete standstill, allowing its owner to freely grab its bridles.”

On the report of Ibn Abbas –Allah be well-pleased with him-, the Noble Messenger –upon him blessings and peace- has said:

“Apart from the guardian (hafazah) angels, Allah the Almighty has certain angels on Earth who record everything, to each falling leaf. Should anyone of you face a difficult situation in the desert or somewhere else, call out«َعِينُونِى عِبَادَ اللّهِ Servants of Allah…help me!’” (Haythami, Majmau’z-Zawaid, X, 132)

It has also been reported that during his own prayers, the Blessed Prophet –upon him blessings and peace- would often say: “For the sake of Your Prophet and the prophets before me…” (Haythami, Majmau’z-Zawaid, X, 132)

In another hadith, the Blessed Prophet –upon him blessings and peace- explains:

“‘Lord…I ask Your forgiveness for the sake of Muhammad!’ pleaded Adam –upon him peace- after realizing his error for committing the blunder that led to his expulsion from Paradise.

Then Allah, glory unto Him, asked:

‘How do you know Muhammad when I have not yet created him?’[2]

‘When You created me,’ said Adam –upon him peace- ‘and breathed into me from Your Spirit, I looked up and saw the words La ilaha ill’Allah Muhammadun Rasulullah inscribed above the pillars of the Throne. I knew there and then that You would only mention the most beloved of all creation next to Your Name.’ Thereupon Allah, glory unto Him, declared:

‘You have spoken the truth, Adam! Surely, he is the most beloved for Me of all creation! So implore me for his sake; and since you have, I hereby forgive you. Had Muhammad not been, you would not have been created!’ (Hakim, Mustadrak, II, 672)

On another note, according to the manners of prayer advised by Islam, all prayers begin and end with thanking Allah, glory unto Him, and saluting the Blessed Prophet –upon him blessings and peace-. A salutation (salawat) of the Prophet –upon him blessings and peace- is a prayer made to the Lord on his behalf. There is an established conviction that Allah, glory unto Him, never turns down a salawat’us-sharifah, which, in essence, is a prayer and plea to the Almighty; the precise reason as to why prayers are adorned with it, both in the start and in the end. That is to say, squeezing in personal prayers amid two, whose acceptances are highly expected, is to ensure their acceptance as well.

Indeed, the Noble Prophet –upon him blessings and peace- one day happened to see a man who, after ritual prayer, was praying without expressing thanks to Allah, glory unto Him, and sending blessings to His Messenger.

“The man rushed it”, the Prophet –upon him blessings and peace- then said, before calling him over to give advice:

“Upon wishing to make a prayer, one should first thank and praise Allah and send blessings to His Prophet…and then afterward continue in whichever manner desired.” (Tirmidhi, Da’awat, 64/3477)

Asking for the acceptance of a prayer for the sake of the honor of prophets, saints and the righteous servants of the Lord have in Divine Sight, to emotionally turn to and plead the Lord by resorting to them as means, is one of the most effective ways in attracting Divine Mercy and ensuring that the prayer is accepted. But a prayer is made to Allah, glory unto Him, alone. In seeking the mediation of the beloved servants of the Lord, one must therefore be careful not to refer their needs personally to them, but to the Almighty alone. Mentioning the beloved servants of the Lord in a prayer is only a method utilized to have a prayer, made exclusively to the Lord, accepted.

Mediating through persons of virtue, in actual fact, is nothing but seeking their righteous deeds and praiseworthy traits as means. After all, it is these deeds and traits that have rendered them precious in the sight of the Lord to begin with.

Thus, even the Blessed Prophet –upon him blessings and peace- himself use to mediate through the poor persons among the Muhajirun when praying for aid or victory,[3] and would say:  “Bring to me your weak; for it is only for the sake of your weak that you are nourished and aided.” (Abu Dawud, Jihad, 70; Ahmed ibn Hanbal, Musnad, V, 198)

It is certain that seeking, as means, these brokenhearted but righteous people, who rest content with the riches of their hearts despite not having a presence or a financial power that would yield them a social standing, would render a prayer worthier of acceptance.

With regard to seeking the dejected and brokenhearted as means in attaining to the pleasure of the Lord, the following parable of Malik ibn Dinar is deeply meaningful:

“Whilst praying to the Almighty, Musa –upon him peace- asked, ‘Where should I search for You, o Lord?’

‘Search for Me next to the brokenhearted’ answered He. (Abu Nuaym, Hilyah, II, 364)

Anas –Allah be well-pleased with him- reports that during the severe drought that struck during his caliphate, Omar –Allah be well-pleased with him- took the Prophet’s uncle Abbas –Allah be well-pleased with him- by his side and sought him as means while praying the Lord for a downpour of rain, pleading:

“My Lord…We use to seek our Prophet as means and You used to give us rain! Now, we are seeking the uncle of our Prophet as means. Give us rain!” The downpour soon came and the locals found their much needed water. (Bukhari, Istisqa, 3)

Another report depicts Omar –Allah be well-pleased with him- as shedding tears whilst humbly and emotionally pleading:

“My Allah…Both the cloud and the water is by Your side. Send the cloud and shower us in rain!” Shortly after the prayer, clouds of mercy began to cluster from all sides and hover above, releasing a massive rain. In response to this Divine blessing, Omar –Allah be well-pleased with him- addressed the crowd with the following:

“People! The Messenger of Allah –upon him blessings and peace- used to love and respect his uncle Abbas like a father and would consider an oath made by his uncle as if it was an oath made by himself. So people! Uphold the respect the Messenger of Allah –upon him blessings and peace- had for his uncle…Adopt him as means in praying to Allah to repel what troubles you may encounter!” (Hakim, Mustadrak, III, 377)

There is a further narration reported by Ibn Abdilbarr, which throws further light on the issue:

“Omar went outside with Abbas –Allah be well-pleased with them- by his side and prayed, ‘O Allah…We are seeking Your closeness (taqarrub) through the uncle of our Prophet and we wish for him to intercede (istishfa). Watch over him for the sake of Your Messenger, just as you watched over the two orphans for the sake of their parents’ virtue and goodness.[4] We have come to You having repented and seeking intercession!’ Turning towards the people who were present, he then recited the following from the Quran:

‘Then I said, Ask forgiveness of your Lord, surely He is the most Forgiving. He will send down upon you the cloud, pouring down abundance of rain. And help you with wealth and sons, and make for you gardens, and make for you rivers.’ (Nuh, 10-12)

Abbas –Allah be well-pleased with him- then also stood up and prayed. Tears were flowing freely from both his eyes, like a gushing spring. Once the long-awaited rain did fall, the public began patting him, remarking, ‘Congratulations to the cupbearer (saqi) of the Sacred House!’ (Ibn Abdilbarr, Istiab, II, 814-815)

The above incident serves as a clear evidence of a Companion seeking means through another Companion. But this has led some to argue that mediating through a righteous person is possible only as long as the person is alive and that seeking means through him after his death is impermissible. But restricting mediation through the Blessed Prophet –upon him blessings and peace- only to his life on Earth alone is merely a subjective opinion that does not reflect the truth of the matter. The words of Omar –Allah be well-pleased with him- where he suggests, in his prayer, how they used to seek mediation through the Prophet –upon him blessings and peace-, incorporates the periods both before his passing away and after. In any case, the sole reason as to why they nominated Abbas –Allah be well-pleased with him- as means was nothing other than that he was the uncle of the Blessed Prophet –upon him blessings and peace-. Simpler put, because it is this kindred with the Prophet that underlies their motivation for choosing Abbas, the means sought is actually that of the Blessed Prophet –upon him blessings and peace- himself. The same applies for some great saints; adopting them as means even after their death is possible and at times demanded.[5]

One of the most glaring examples of this is as follows:

It was common for scholars and people to visit the grave of the great Imam Abu Hanifah, seek him as means, a practice they found to be of benefit. One of them was Imam Shafii, who later said:

“On feeling in need for something, I would offer two rakat of ritual prayer. Then I would pay the grave of Abu Hanifah a visit, where I would pray to Allah the Almighty. And through his abundance, my need would be taken care of.”[6]

Also serving as means for salvation, on the other hand, are righteous deeds. In a hadith, the Blessed Prophet –upon him blessings and peace- recounts past the ordeal of three journeymen:

“Three friends, who were caught in the rain during their journey, entered a cave in order to spend the night. But then a large rock toppled down the mountain and blocked the entrance. One of them suggested, ‘We have no other choice than to pray to Allah through our righteous deeds; none other than Allah can rescue us from here.’

The first used his caring service to his parents as means. The rock moved slightly, yet not enough to provide a passage out. The second offered his fear of Allah, purity and virtue as means. The rock shifted a little more though the gap was still not wide enough. Then the third prayed to Allah using his observance of the rights of others as means. The rock thereupon moved completely out of the way and they were able to make their way out.”[7] 

Another influential factor in having a prayer acknowledged and accepted are the beautiful names of Allah, glory unto Him. It is therefore common to pray to the Lord, by the means of repetitiously mentioning the Divine Names.

The Quran declares:

“And Allah’s are the best names, therefore call on Him thereby…” (al-Araf, 180)

In relation, Aisha –Allah be well-pleased with her- narrates that the Blessed Prophet –upon him blessings and peace- used to pray with the following words:  “My Allah…I implore You for the sake of Your Name that is pure, pleasant, sacred and most adorable to You! It is that Name to which You respond when a prayer is made with it, give when something is wanted, provide Your mercy when needed and offer a way out, a breadth, when help is sought through that Name.”

In what follows, the Prophet –upon him blessings and peace- asked Aisha –Allah be well-pleased with her-:

“Did you know, Aisha, that Allah had taught me the name of His which is always responded to when a prayer is made with it?”

“May my parents be ransomed for you, Messenger of Allah! Please, teach me that name”, she insisted, on which the Blessed Prophet –upon him blessings and peace- said:

“You ought not to be taught that name!” Aisha –Allah be well-pleased with her- then moved away and sat by herself for a while. She returned a few moments later; and kissing the Blessed Prophet –upon him blessings and peace- on the forehead, repeated:

“Please, Messenger of Allah…Teach me that name!”

“I should not be teaching you that name, Aisha, for it would be inappropriate for you to pray for something worldly through it!” Aisha –Allah be well-pleased with her- explains what unfolded afterwards:

“I then got up and taking ablution, I offered two rakat of prayer. Afterwards, I prayed to Allah the Almighty as follows: ‘My Lord…I refer and pray to you as Allah…as the Merciful (ar-Rahman), the Compassionate (ar-Rahim), the Good (al-Barr). I hereby call onto You with all the names I know and I do not know. I pray to You to forgive me and show mercy!’ When I completed my prayer, the Messenger of Allah –upon him blessings and peace- smiled and said:

‘You most definitely mentioned that name in your prayer!’” (Ibn Majah, Dua, 9)

Anas ibn Malik –Allah be well-pleased with him- recounts the following:

“The Messenger of Allah –upon him blessings and peace- once heard a man pray, ‘My Allah…Praise is to You alone! There is no god but You! You are One, without any partners! You are the Benefactor (al-Mannan). You are the Creator of the heavens and earth (al-Badi’). You have Glory and Honor…’ The man then followed up by stating what he wanted in his prayer. The Messenger of Allah –upon him blessings and peace- thereupon said:

‘By Allah, the man asked with the Greatest Name of the Lord. Such is that Name that Allah gives whatever is wanted through it and responds to a prayer made with it.” (Ibn Majah, Dua, 9; Nasai, Sahw, 58)

It is therefore clear that seeking means through the beautiful names of the Divine is part of the Sunnah of the Prophet –upon him blessings and peace-.

Some scholars have states that there is essentially no difference in meaning between the Sufi terms tawassul, istianah, istighathah, istishfa, tashaffu, tawajjuh and tabarruk, which, in terms of content, denote seeking aid.[8] They express the desire for spiritual help (himmah) from saints, who possess a spiritual command, both in their presence and in absentia. Asking for himmah from a righteous servant of the Lord believed to be in possession of spiritual command, is to ask him to act as means (wasilah) on the path towards attaining to the ultimate purpose. And this attainment is brought about through his prayers and spiritual attention.

The word himmah, denoting spiritual aid, is generally used in reference to the help provided by the saintly servants of Allah, glory unto Him. Used to express the aid of the Lord, in contrast, are the terms nusrah and tawfiq, which mean Divine help and assistance.

Essentially, it is only Allah, glory unto Him, who can help. It would therefore be unbecoming to consider seeking means in prayers as asking the aid of someone else. It is only the Real who is called for help throughout.

The Quran is clear-cut on the matter:

وَمَا النَّصْرُ اِلاَّ مِنْ عِنْدِ اللّٰهِ

“…and there is no help except from Allah” (al-Anfal, 10)

“If Allah assists you, then there is none that can overcome you, and if He forsakes you, who is there then that can assist you after Him? And on Allah should the believers rely.” (Al-i Imran, 160)

Abdullah ibn Abbas –Allah be well-pleased with him- remembers the following advice given him by the Blessed Prophet –upon him blessings and peace- one day as he was riding behind him on his saddle:

“Let me teach you a few words, my dear. Observe Allah (His commands and prohibitions) so that He observes and protects you. Make the pleasure of Allah a priority in all your affairs so that You find Him in front of you. If you are to ask for something, ask it from Allah. If you are to seek aid, seek the aid of Him. And know that even if entire humankind was to gather to obtain something of benefit to you, they can only obtain that which is predestined for you by Allah. Again, if entire humankind was to convene to harm you, they may only inflict as much harm as predestined for you by Allah.” (Tirmidhi, Qiyamah, 59)

Since all Muslims embrace this reality as it is, they continually repeat it in the al-Fatiha which they recite in every rakah of their ritual prayers:

اِيَّاكَنَعْبُدُوَاِيَّاكَنَسْتَعِينُ

“You alone we worship and You alone we ask for help.”

Indeed, concerning the Divine aid the Blessed Prophet –upon him blessings and peace- was given during the Battle of Badr, the Almighty revealed, “…and you threw not when you threw but Allah threw” (al-Anfal, 17); that is, the real and the absolute doer and provider of all spiritual aid and grace is the Lord alone.

The sincere prayers made by some Muslims, motivated with the desire to gain closeness to the Lord without any intention of shirk of kufr whatsoever, which involves the anticipation of the spiritual aid of the righteous, is underlain by nothing but a hope of receiving Divine mercy, which mentioning the righteous is hoped to bring. In a sense, this is to bring about a spiritual atmosphere that would yield an abundance and inspiration spiritual. Everything occurs with the permission of the Lord; and the Lord alone. The person, through whom a spiritual aid is sought, is not an absolute doer and it is the Almighty alone who essentially provides the aid sought.

Asking directly from the righteous in absentia or during a visit of their graves and calling unto them by saying, “So-and-so! Cure me! Take care of this need of mine”, which some people tend to do, is extremely wrong and can open the door to shirk. Although some interpretations can no doubt be given to mitigate these statements, one must nonetheless categorically refrain from uttering them, in order not to harm the utterly delicate core of the belief in the Oneness of Allah, glory unto Him. Expressions alike which leave an impression that beings other than the Almighty, may possess absolute disposal in clearing troubles and governing the universe.[9]

[1]        Shams Tabrizi, who discovered the spiritual ocean hidden in Rumi’s spirit, was virtually like a flame, long awaited, to set alight a sea of petrol. That was what his duty and authority consisted of. Once he did set that sea alight, he met such a raging spiritual explosion that even he became trapped amid its roaring flames.

[2]        Existing alone in pre-eternity, the Almighty created the masiwa; that is everything other than Him, as He wished to be known by man and jinn to the degree of their capacities. The first to be created was the Muhammedan Light. It is for this reason that the Blessed Prophet –upon him blessings and peace- says. “I was a prophet when Adem was still between spirit and body.” (Tirmidhi, Manaqib, 1). In contrast to the fact that the Muhammedan Light, meaning the essence of the Blessed Prophet –upon him blessings peace-, was the first to be created, his appearance on Earth in the shroud of a body, marks the final link in the prophetic chain. The ‘not yet created Muhammad’ referred to above, therefore implies the physical ‘self’ of the Prophet and not his essence, the Muhammedan Light.

[3]        See, Bukhari, Jihad, 76; Tabarani, Mujamu’l-Kabir, I, 292.

[4]        Omar –Allah be well-pleased with him- is referring to the Quranic verse where Khidr explains to Musa –upon them peace- the reason as to why he repaired an almost derelict wall: “And as for the wall, it belonged to two orphan boys in the city, and there was beneath it a treasure belonging to them, and their father was a righteous man; so your Lord desired that they should attain their maturity and take out their treasure, a mercy from your Lord, and I did not do it of my own accord. This is the significance of that with which you could not have patience. ” (al-Kahf, 82)

[5]        For more detail on the subject, see, Zekeriya Güler, “Vesile ve Tevessül Hadislerinin Kaynak Değeri”, ILAM Academic Journal, v. II, n. 1, p. 83-132.

[6]        al-Haytami, al-Khayratu’l-Hisan, p. 94.

[7]        See, Bukhari, Adab 5, Anbiya 53, Dhikr, 100.

[8]        See, Subki, Shifau’s-Saqam fi Ziyarati Khayri’l-Anam, p. 133-134.

[9]        Those who have stated that such expressions can be used, have suggested that each of these expressions is to be regarded as rational simile (majaz-i aqli), a type of speech in the science of rhetorics. A rational simile is when an action is referred not to the real doer and agent of the action in question but to its visible cause as perceived in space and time. A striking example of the use of a rational simile in the Quran figures in the verse, “And when the earth throws up her burdens” (az-Zilzal, 2), where the act of ‘throwing out her burdens’ is ascribed to the space, or the Earth, in which this action is to take place, and to the Almighty, the real agent, in spite of Him being the One throwing the burdens out of Earth. Still, the reference is really to the Almighty, albeit in an indirect manner.

         Sufis, therefore, affirm and believe that the person through whom they are seeking means is not the real doer, who, in reality, can only be the Lord; and it is only the Lord whose aid they seek. They agree that any opinion contrary to this would be tantamount to brazen shirk.

         In relation, Muhammad Abu Zahra says:

         “The words of ordinary and naïve Muslims must be interpreted according to the nearest meanings they signify. Instead of downright prohibiting them from visiting the grave of the Prophet –upon him blessings and peace-, it would be better to instruct them. Explaining and informing them is preferable to indicting them with shirk. There is not a shadow of doubt that Allah the Almighty will preserve tawhid until the Final Hour. In his final days, the Prophet –upon him blessings and peace- gave believers the glad tidings that the Devil has forever lost hope of being worshipped, once again, in these lands. Ibn Taymiyya may therefore rest at ease regarding the well-being of tawhid.” (Abu Zahra, Ibnu Taymiyya, p. 326).

         ‘Meded ya Rasulallah’ (help, o Prophet), a phrase often repeated in Islamic literature, is a request made to the Blessed Prophet –upon him blessings and peace- in hope of receiving his intercession in the Hereafter. Considering this as shirk, as some do, is unwarranted, as each believer readily believes that even the intercession of the Prophet –upon him blessings and peace- may take place only with the permission of Allah, glory unto Him.