A New Analysis of Wahhab Doctrines
- :Muhammad Husayn Ibrahimi
A New Analysis of Wahhab Doctrines
Muhammad Husayn Ibrahimi
In the Name of Allah, the All-beneficent, the All-Merciful
The precious legacy left behind by the Holy Prophet’s Household [ahl al-bayt] (may peace be upon them all) and their followers’ preservation of this legacy from the menace of extinction is a perfect example of the all-encompassing school [maktab] that embraces all the different branches of Islamic knowledge. This school has been able to train many talented personalities by quenching them with this gushing fountain.
This school has presented scholars to the Muslim ummah who, by following the Holy Prophet’s Household (‘a), have occupied the station of clarifying doubts and skepticisms put forth by various creeds and intellectual currents both inside and outside Muslim society. Throughout the past centuries, they have presented the firmest answers and solutions to these doubts.
Anchored in the responsibilities it is shouldering, the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) World Assembly has embarked upon defending the sanctity of risalah [message] and its authentic beliefs—truths which have always been opposed by the chiefs and leaders of anti-Islamic sects, religions and trends.
In this sacred path, the Assembly regards itself as a follower of the upright pupils of the school of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a)—those who have always been ready to refute those accusations and calumnies and have tried to be always in the frontline of this struggle on the basis of the expediencies of time and space.
The experiences in this field, which contained the books of scholars belonging to the school of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a), are unique in their own right. It is because these experiences have been based upon knowledge [‘ilm] and the preeminence of the intellect and reasoning, and at the same time, they are completely devoid of blind prejudice,
whim and caprice. These experiences address experts, scholars and thinkers in a manner that appeals to healthy minds and the pure human natural disposition [fitrah].
In a bid to assist those who are in quest of truth, the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) World Assembly has endeavored to enter a new phase of these worthy experiences within the framework of research and translating the works of contemporary Shi‘ah writers or those who, through divine guidance, have embraced this noble school.
The Assembly is also engaged in the study and publication of the valuable works of pious predecessors and outstanding Shi`ah personalities so that those who search for the truth may quench their thirst from this refreshing fountain by listening and embracing this truth, which the the Holy Prophet’s Household (‘a) has offered as a gift to the entire world.
It is hoped that our dear readers would not deprive the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) World Assembly of their valuable opinions, suggestions and constructive criticisms in this arena.
We also invite scholars, translators and other institutions to assist us in propagating the pure Muhammadan (s) Islam.
We ask God, the Exalted, to accept this humble effort and enhance it further under the auspices of His vicegerent on earth, give us success to al-Mahdi (may Allah, the Exalted, expedite his glorious advent).
It is appropriate here to express our utmost gratitude to Hujjat al-Islam wa’l-Muslimin Shaykh Muhammad Husayn Ibrahimi for writing the book, and to Mr. Mansoor Limba for translating it, as well as all our honorable colleagues in accomplishing this task especially our close associates in the Translation Office for undertaking this responsibility.
The Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) World Assembly
In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful
Twelve years ago, the book, Tahlili Nu bar ‘Aqa’id Wahhabiyyan [A New Analysis of Wahhabi Doctrines], was written and it has been so far printed three times by the Publication Center of the Islamic Propagation Office of the Islamic Seminary in Qum.
With the help of God, a review of its content was undertaken for its fourth printing and new chapters and issues were added.
The distinctive features of this book
This book examines Wahhabi beliefs in the light of the beliefs of the Ahl as-Sunnah and the Shi`ah. 1 It endeavors to discuss their main ideological issues. The quotations in this book are cited from books published in the holy cities of Mecca and Medina such as the following:
1. Fath al-Majid written by Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab, one of the prominent figures of this movement, with a commentary by Shaykh ‘Abd ar-Rahman ibn al-Hasan al ash-Shaykh and footnotes by ‘Abd Allah ibn Baz.
2. Al-As’ilah wal-Ajwibah al-Usuliyyah written by ‘Abd al-‘Aziz Muhammad Sultan.
3. At-Tawhid bi’l-Lughah al-Farisiyyah (No. 27) published by the Saudi Ministry of Islamic Guidance and Endowments in 1374 AHS (circa 1995) and distributed freely to Iranian pilgrims.
In addition to these references, other sources written by Sunni and Shi`ah Imami ‘ulama’ in general, and Wahhabis in particular, are cited in the footnotes.
This book contains an examination of the views and outlook of the Wahhabis regarding the Shi`ah and the infallible Imams (‘a). 2 Be that as it may, it does not mean that intellectually, ideologically, and even politically and socially, the Wahhabis have no clash with the Ahl as-Sunnah. In this book, we will also deal with this point.
Is Wahhabism a movement?
Many socio-religious reforms and movements have already emerged among Muslims. Some of them are purely political such as those involved in changing the types of governments regardless of whether or not a preference for a particular type of government exists. Some others are purely religious and their concern is only reform in religious and ideological content.
Yet, others have been religious and socio-political such as the Islamic Revolution in Iran. These types of movements cannot be regarded as mere reformist movements as they have affected all aspects of life—religious, personal, social, etc. Indeed, the very word "revolution" is the best label for these kinds of movements.
In reply to the question being posed, it must be said that the truth of the matter is that Wahhabism is merely a political movement that emerged within a religious-ideological framework, and it has brought about a particular social outcome. Of course, the final view must be expressed by social and political scientists.
Explanation of some points
Wahhabism has been labeled with many various names among which is the appellation, "Salafiyyah". This name is used because they believe that for the reformation of their religion and beliefs, the present Muslims must go back to the early period of Islam ("salaf" means the past or preceding one). Ibn Taymiyyah has introduced the issue of "salaf" and his statements are a source of Wahhabi doctrines.
By "Wahhabism" it means that Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab must be followed in socio-political and religious issues because he has taught his followers the way to reform religion and society.
The members of these two sects, Wahhabism and Salafism, are followers of the madhhab [school of thought] of Ahmad ibn Hanbal. This group can also be called the "²ahiriyyah" because in interpreting the passages of the Qur’an and traditions, they content themselves with the outward [zahir] content of the texts. For example, when the Qur’an says:
And Your Lord and the angels arrive in ranks, 3
They interpret it as saying that God will also arrive on the Day of Resurrection in such a way that the people can see Him!
This writing contains subjects that explain the above headings and expresses the Shi`ah Imami beliefs regarding those subjects. At any rate, I will try to make it simple, easy-to-read and devoid of complex reasoning. It is hoped that this work will be acceptable to God, the Exalted, and approved by Hazrat sahib al-Amr [His Holiness Master of the Affair] (Imam al-Mahdi) (‘a). ?
Islamic Seminary of Qum
1379 AHS (Circa 2000)
The Holy Qur’an invites all human beings to unity—Muslims, Christians, Jews, etc.—and this invitation is not exclusive for the time of the Prophet (s) or a certain group of the People of the Book [ahl al-kitab]: 4
Say, ‘O People of the Book! Come to a word common between us and you: that we will worship no one but Allah, and that we will not ascribe any partner to Him, and that we will not take each other as lords besides Allah’. 5
The Glorious Qur’an speaks about the synagogue, temple, church and mosque in the same line because the Name of God is mentioned in all of them. As such, they must be held in high esteem and respect.
Although the blessed verse quoted invites all to unity, the greater emphasis is on the solidarity of Muslims. This is because, in addition to their unity and commonality in tawhid [unity of God], prophethood [nubuwwah] qiblah [the direction where one faces for prayer and other acts of worship], etc.,
Muslims also have a commonality with some branches of religion. Thus, among the followers of the various religions, Muslims are more deserving of having unity, and thus the possibility of scientific, cultural, political and other interactions among them is stronger.
Keeping aloof from spitefulness
The life conduct [sirah] of the Holy Prophet (s) 6 serves as a proof, guideline and model for all of us. Through compassion, magnanimity and endeavor, he (s) was able to unify the people of Hijaz, 7 most of whom had been idol-worshippers, under the banner of Islam.
After their acceptance of Islam, some of them, known as the munafiqun [hypocrites], engaged in open confrontation with the Prophet (s) who had to deal with them. They were those who ostensibly embraced Islam but in intention and practice they were not assisting him (s).
In spite of this, the Prophet (s) peacefully associated with them and his objectives were the accomplishment of the mission as well as imparting the understanding and implementation of the Holy Qur’an. The very same conduct was adopted by the infallible Imams (‘a) and they never kindled the flame of discord among Muslims.
We can see that although ‘Ali (‘a) had reproached the earlier caliphs as recorded in Nahj al-Balaghah, 8 in other instances he would laud them. All this was primarily to foster the freedom of thought and the spread of Islamic beliefs. The conclusion is that in the present age, indulging in magnifying Sunni-Shi`ah differences, apart from not being useful, will result in an irreparable loss.
Proximity between Sunnis and Shi`ah advances the interests of both. The Shi`ah in particular have not confined their thought, culture, jurisprudence [fiqh], exegesis of the Qur’an [tafsir], and beliefs to themselves and their seminaries. A survey of Muslim-populated countries substantiates this statement as the books of great Shi`ah figures such as Shaykh al-Mufid, Shaykh at-tusi, ‘Allamah Hilli, ‘Allamah T?abataba’i, and Professor Mutahhari can be easily found in these countries.
The proximity of Sunnis and Shi`ah opens the ways for the spread of Shi`ah thought and culture in the Muslim world, and as a result, makes the further proximity of these two sects even more possible.
More than anyone else, the Wahhabis are apprehensive and endangered by this proximity. It is for this reason that during the Hajj season, they prohibit the entry into the country all religious books including the Qur’an (in Persian translation), tafsir, history and hadith books, and even Iranian magazines and newspapers. This is because they are afraid that these printed materials would present facts against their particular policy and doctrines. This is in spite of the fact that those matters are never repugnant to the truth of Islam.
In terms of outlook, they oppose not only the Shi`ah but also the four Sunni schools of thought. They write books against the proximity of Sunnis and Shi`ah, campaigning against it, regarding it as an impossible venture, and claiming thus: "We shall never have an understanding with those who are engaged in speculative interpretation of the verses of the Qur’an and who disrespect the two sheikhs [shaykhayn]."
Why Wahhabism should be identified
The anti-unity campaign of Wahhabis reaches its peak during the Unity Week. 9 One of the best means of replying to such a plot is that the ‘ulama’ of the Hajj caravans and pilgrims should be the promoters of unity more than anyone else. They should be familiar with the methods of dealing with them and understand their views and opinions so that during confrontations and argumentations, they could reply to them consciously and intellectually.
It is necessary for some Muslims who are following the Sunni school to be properly informed about the opinions of the Sunni imams so as to realize that the Wahhabis also have views difference to them and even regard many of the beliefs of the Ahl as-Sunnah as polytheistic and, worse still, prone to infidelity [kufr].
In reality, Wahhabism is a political movement under the religious cover of identifying with the Sunnis and it wants to prevent the unity of the Islamic schools of thought [madhahib]. It is trying to kindle the flame of discord among Muslims especially between the two main sects—Sunni and Shi`ah—so as to make the imperialist hegemony permanent over the Muslim nation.
Unfortunately, with the acquisition of the oil-rich land of Arabia and reliance on the enormous God-given wealth, Wahhabism has succeeded in becoming a potent force and has established innumerable offices and organizations throughout the world for the propagation of its dogma. In the Sunni-populated regions of Iran and Pakistan where most of the people are suffering from poverty and deprivation, the Wahhabis are making huge investments,
constructing religious schools [madaris], spending large amounts of money upon their students and others, and attracting people to Wahhabi doctrines. Since most of our Sunni brothers are living on the border regions of Iran, they are more subjected to the influence of the propaganda of the imperialist Wahhabis.
As the ‘Alawi Shi`ah and Muhammadi Sunnis have risen up now hand in hand against their enemies and can clearly see the hand of imperialism behind the curtain of Wahhabism, it is necessary for Sunni and Shi`ah ‘ulama’ to conduct research about Wahhabism and identify it well so as to make it clear that this group has differences of opinion not only with the Shi`ah but also with the Ahl as-Sunnah.
Although the Wahhabis are always playing the Sunni card and try to portray themselves as the well-wishers and sympathizers of the Sunnis, Sunnis in turn have to know that the issues regarded by Wahhabis as their points of departure with the Shi`ah are the same issues that are common between the Sunnis and the Shi`ah. They also have to know that the Shi`ah school is closer to the Ahl as-Sunnah than Wahhabism is.
Leaders and unity
During the past decades, there were figures who regarded the unity of Muslims as their ideal and aspiration, but they did not realize this precious aspiration, or if they ever took steps for its realization, they were very insignificant and rudimentary. In the recent period, the late ayatullah Burujerdi (r) 10 gave an affirmative reply to this aspiration by approving the Jami‘ah at-Taqrib bayn al-Madhahib al-Islamiyyah [University or Forum for the proximity of the Islamic schools of thought].
There have been other ‘ulama’ and fuqaha who upheld the approach of the late Burujerdi. In this context, the viewpoint and outlook of the late Had?rat 11 Imam Khomeini (r) and his efforts are well known to all. At the present time also, in a bid to extend the scope of this unity further, ayatullah Khamene’i (may his sublime presence endure) has issued a decree for reviving the foundation of unity and the forum for proximity, which is itself worthy of gratitude and a source of hope.
It is appropriate for us to note at this juncture that the Shi`ah ‘ulama’ and fuqaha of the past, such as Shaykh al-Mufid (d. 413 AH), Sayyid Murtad?a ‘Alam al-Huda (d. 436 AH), and Shaykh at-tusi (d. 460 AH), among others, have also emphasized unity between Sunnis and Shi`ah, and have written valuable books on this subject such as al-Khilaf which enumerates the common points of belief between the two groups. ‘Allamah Hilli has also written a book on the basis of the jurisprudence [fiqh] of the Shi`ah and the four Sunni schools.
All these are proofs for the proximity of jurisprudential views of the two schools and of the interest of leading figures in jurisprudence in establishing mutual understanding. Of course, at the present time there are treatises on jurisprudence written by Sunnis in which the views of the Sunnis and the Shi`ah on the branches of religion and jurisprudence have been compared. For example, the books Mawsu‘ah Jamal ‘Abd al-Nasir and Al-Fiqh ‘ala’l-Madhahib al-Khamsah can be cited. ?
A cursory glance at the life account of Shaykh Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab
In this section, we deemed it fitting to take a survey of the life of Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab, known as the Shaykh, and Muhammad Sa‘ud.
The sons and grandsons of the Shaykh are still living in the Arabia, some of whom are known by the family name, "al ash-Shaykh". The children of Muhammad al as-Sa‘ud some of whom are holding the reins of government in Arabia are known as "al Sa‘ud". The country had been known before as "Hijaz", but it was changed into the "Kingdom of Saudi Arabia" [al-Mamlakah al-‘Arabiyyah Sa‘udiyyah] during the reign of King ‘Abd al-‘Aziz.
Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab came from the region of Najd who was born in 1114 AH in one of the cities of Najd named as "‘Ayniyyah". His father, Shaykh ‘Abd al-Wahhab, was a scholar [‘alim] and the judge [qazi] of that region. As such, the creed of Shaykh Muhammad had been ascribed to his father. After learning the basics of religion from his father, Shaykh Muhammad went to Medina and learned from the ‘ulama’ of that region.
Due to his personal interpretations of some issues regarding belief and his opposition to the ‘ulama’ of Medina, he was expelled from the city. He then went to Iraq where he stayed in Basrah. In that city he got acquainted with a person named Shaykh Muhammad Majmu‘i and adopted his ideas. Finally, the two believed in a certain creed.
The other ‘ulama’ of Basrah and the believers of the region that were mainly of Iranian origin, had opposed him and ousted him from Basrah.
When Shaykh Muhammad was driven out of Basrah, he proceeded to Damascus, which had a pleasant climate, but because of his unusual belief and difficulties in life he was unable to remain there. Since he could not return to Medina or Mecca, he went back to the Najd of his father, Shaykh ‘Abd al-Wahhab, who was then still the ‘alim of the region.
The Shaykh had a brother named Shaykh Sulayman ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab who was at loggerheads with him in terms of belief. His brother was the first person to write a book refuting his doctrines. His father also opposed him and sided with Shaykh Sulayman. In addition to the opposition of his father and brother, he also faced the opposition of ‘ulama’, and this dispute continued until the death of his father.
Shaykh Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab after the death of his father
After the death of his father, Shaykh Muhammad enjoyed great freedom in propagating his doctrines and views. As such, he went to other places and become acquainted with ‘Uthman ibn Ahmad ibn Muhammad, who was then the emir of ‘Ayniyyah, and married his daughter Jawharah. Although it is said that the people there accepted some of his beliefs, because he went to extremes in opposing their customs, they expelled him from the region. For instance, he had ordered the destruction of a dome belonging to Zayd ibn al-Khattab, brother of ‘Umar. He had also issued a decree for an old tree, which was venerated by the people of the region, to be uprooted.
In sum, on account of his peculiar doctrines, among which was his disregard for the leaders of the Ahl as-Sunnah, the Shaykh lost his esteem in the people’s sight and earned their wrath. From there he went to the region of Dar‘iyyah.
Nowadays, pilgrims—Iranian and non-Iranian—can still see the relics related to the rule of ‘Uthman in Arabia such as the holy shrine of the Holy Prophet (s) and the graves surrounding it, the lanterns of Masjid an-Nabi, and the inscriptions on that sacred mosque.
The children and students of Shaykh Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab
Shaykh Muhammad had a number of sons and daughters and married one of his daughters to Muhammad ibn Sa‘ud, the tribal chief. His sons, Husayn, ‘Abd Allah and Ibrahim, became judges after their father. Even now, his sons, one after another, hold religious positions in Saudi Arabia.
During his lifetime, apart from training students, the Shaykh wrote some books which nowadays have caught the attention of ‘ulama’ and students of the region. These books are as follows:
1. Kitab at-Tawhid; a collection of his doctrines;
2. Kitab Kashf ash-Shubahat, which is written in defense of his doctrines vis-à-vis Sunni ‘ulama’;
3. The merits and issues of some stories in the Qur’an;
4. Kitab al-Kaba’ir, which has been written about the major sins;
5. Masa’il al-Jahiliyyah, in which he compares the pre-Islamic period of ignorance of Arabia with his own time;
6. Fawa’id as-Sirah an-Nabawiyyah, which is well-known as Sirat ar-Rasul. This book examines the entire course of the lives of some Companions of the Prophet (s), his battles and the prevalent beliefs during that time;
7. Ikhtisar ash-Sharh al-Kabir; and
8. adab al-Mashyi ila’s-salah (These two books have been written about issues related to jurisprudence and the branches of religion).
These books are still available at the present.
The Death of Shaykh Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab
After engaging in religious and political debates, successive travels to a number of cities in the Muslim world, and enduring the wrath and anger of the ‘ulama’, Shaykh Muhammad was able to find his own supporters and votaries, who are nowadays known as the Wahhabis.
According to historical sources which have been written in his praise and appreciation and negating the deviant nature of his doctrines, the Shaykh passed away in 1206 AH at the age of 92 in Dar‘iyyah after traveling to Basrah, Najaf, Karbala’, and probably, Is?fahan and Shiraz.
In short, after the death of the Shaykh, his beliefs and views were promoted and propagated with the support and blessing of external and domestic political brokers in such a manner that at the present, most of the current rulers of Arabia and a number of religious scholars and judges there follow him and other Muslim countries such as Afghanistan,
Pakistan and boarder communities in Iran have come under the influence of these doctrines. The Wahhabis are spreading this creed in the various countries in Europe, America and Asia by building mosques and libraries, printing copies of the Holy Qur’an, dispatching religious missionaries, and the like.
This creed is called Wahhabism derived from the name of the Shaykh’s father. Although the Shaykh seemed to be a follower of the Hanbali school of thought, the truth of the matter is that he was not so, and he was distinctively different from the other ‘ulama’. In fact, he regarded himself as free to think, choose and formulate his own beliefs pertaining to religion. Since he considered himself an initiator of a new set of beliefs, he expressed his beliefs in the following points:
1. He treated all Muslims as infidels or polytheists while thinking of himself as the true Muslim;
2. He declared visiting the graves and constructing domes and courtyards around the cemetery of the Companions of the Prophet (s) and his descendants as unlawful [haram];
3. He regarded making vows, requests and offering sacrificial animals beside the shrine of saints [awliya’] as unlawful;
4. He used to reckon as haram entreating [istighathah] and resorting to the intermediation [tawassul] of the saints of God;
5. He considered it obligatory to wage jihad against those who opposed his creed, saying: "Wage war against the infidels and polytheists until there is no more sedition [fitnah] and the religion is solely for God:
Fight them until faithlessness is no more. 12
What is meant by the Shaykh in this verse is jihad against Muslims and for him the pure religion is referred to his creed.
This is the summary of the life account and beliefs of Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab as taken from Kitab At-Tawhid bi’l-Lughati al-Farisiyyah. 13 Of course, other points shall also be mentioned in other discussions.
To whom was Shaykh Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab indebted
During the period of his stay in Mecca and Medina, Shaykh Muhammad came across books that had a role in the formation of his thought. Among them are the books of Ahmad ibn Hanbal, his Musnad in particular; the books of Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah; and the writings of Ibn Taymiyyah. Contrary to other ‘ulama’ of the Ahl as-Sunnah, they expressed new beliefs and opinions which can be extracted from their books on jurisprudence and history. Of course, the Shaykh was largely influenced by the views of Ibn Taymiyyah.
Ibn Taymiyyah lived during the 8th century AH. In terms of belief, he was follower of Ahmad ibn Hanbal who lived in the 3rd century AH. Ibn Taymiyyah believed in a sort of anthropomorphism concerning God maintaining that God has a hand, foot, eye, tongue and mouth, and occupies a space! In order to prove his case, he resorted to the literal text of Qur’anic verses, maintaining that God is sitting on a throne in heaven.
Ibn Taymiyyah is the epithet and title of Abu’l-‘Abbas Taqi ad-Din Ahmad ibn ‘Abd al-Halim. He was born in the territory of Harran in present-day Turkey. He then migrated with his father to Damascus, Syria, and there he acquired learning in religion and jurisprudence. In many ideological and intellectual issues, he held extreme and radical views.
In addition to his anthropomorphic beliefs concerning God, he prohibited visitation of the graves and seeking the intermediation [tawassul] of the Prophet (s) while deeming it permissible to abuse Imam ‘Ali ibn Abi talib (‘a). On issues in jurisprudence, he opposed the predecessors of the four Sunni schools. From the above points, it can be understood that the Shaykh was not the first person to have expressed such beliefs, for individuals such as Ibn Taymiyyah had advanced similar ideas prior to him.
Like Shaykh Muhammad, Ibn Taymiyyah earned the wrath and stern criticism of the ‘ulama’ of his time and for a time he was exiled to Egypt. But through the help of the government of the time, he returned to Damascus. During the last period of his life, he was imprisoned for his opposition to the ‘ulama’ of Damascus and finally expired in the castle of Damascus and was buried there. 14
In the territory of Dar‘iyyah in the region of Hijaz, which is a mountainous territory with a pleasant climate, a person named Muhammad ibn Sa‘ud assumed the chieftainship of his tribe. The Shaykh became acquainted with Ibn Sa‘ud and relayed to him his new doctrines, and Ibn Sa‘ud in turn accepted them.
They agreed together to set up a government encompassing the entire region where religious and judicial affairs, issues concerning propagation, and the leadership of the Friday prayers would be assumed by the Shaykh while the political, social, military, and security affairs would be under Ibn Sa‘ud.
The government in Hijaz at that time was tribal and ethnic, and like many Muslim countries, was under Ottoman rule whose capital was present-day Turkey. With al Sa‘ud’s ascension to power, Hijaz seceded from Ottoman rule and in the course of time, it fell under the control of Britain. On course, the British role in this change of the government should not be overlooked. ?
Points of View
The negation of reasoning [ta‘aqqul] in the Wahhabi school and its consequence
A kind of intellectual negation can be observed in the school of Wahhabism. Although Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab regarded himself an enlightened person, criticizing the four Suuni schools of thought, some Shi`ah beliefs, and reproaching them for speculatively interpreting the verses of the Qur’an, he used to resort to secondary issues concerning the teachings about God, the Exalted. He believed in a sort of anthropomorphism for God and in this regard he used to content himself with the outward purport of the verses.
His supporters also reject reflection and reasoning about the verses of the Qur’an and the Prophetic traditions, negating the rational sciences, philosophy and mysticism [‘irfan].
They are afflicted with a close-mindedness and intellectual frigidity to the extent that they are incapable of applying the precepts of the school [madrasah], the Qur’anic verses and the traditions to the demands of time. It was for this reason that they initially declared the telephone, mass communication devices and others as religiously unlawful, and strongly resisted them, but later they finally relented.
Since they are incapable of applying the concepts such as intercession [shafa‘ah], tawassul and infallibility [‘ismah] of the Prophet (s) in the light of contemporary thinking their viewpoint concerning the prophets, the Holy Prophet (s) in particular, and the saints is narrow. They treat the spiritual station of the prophets and the saints as identical with the rest of people,
thinking them as being annihilated and nonexistent after death, while the Shi`ah and other Islamic schools of thought consider them to be present and watching over us. In a result, the Wahhabis consider tawassul to the prophets and awliya’, entreating them and asking for their shafa‘ah an innovation in religion [bid‘ah] and polytheism.
A few words from Martyr Professor Murtaza Mutahhari
Martyr Professor Murtada Mutahhari says:
The Wahhabis believe that God has two realms. One is related to His Essence and no one has the right to enter into this realm. Worship [‘ibadah] and tawassul pertain to God and are exclusive to this axis. The other realm is related to the natural affairs of the world in which the will and discretion of man have a role and it has nothing to do with God. 15
He also says:
According to us, however, conceiving of two realms for the creation; thinking of God as belonging to one realm and the creatures, man in particular, to be in the other realm; and considering these two as distinctly separated is unacceptable and itself as a kind of polytheism. We should not separate God from His acts and His creatures; for, we believe that:
That power, altogether, belongs to Allah, 16
"There is no might and power except from Allah, the Exalted and Great." 17
Then, he says:
Contrary to common notions, Wahhabism is not only an anti-Imamate theory but rather, before being anti-Imamate, it is anti-tawhid and anti-human. It is anti-tawhid because it advocates the division of work between the Creator [khaliq] and the creature [makhluq]. In addition, it upholds a sort of hidden polytheism in Essence [shirk-e dhati].
It is anti-human because it fails to comprehend the talent of man that makes him superior to the angels, and according to the text of the Qur’an, elevates him to the status of vicegerency of Allah [khilafat Allah] who ordered the angels to prostrate before him. It reduces him into a mere natural animal." 18
Tawhid according to the Shi`ah philosophers and scholastic theologians [mutakallimun]
In the light of the blessed Surah at-Tawhid (or al-Ikhlas), the following headings about the cognition of the Essence and Attributes of God can be deduced:
Tawhid of Essence [Tawhid-e dhati]:
God has a Perfect Essence and the Attributes of Perfection and Beauty. Thus, this Essence must be regarded as One and Unique. That is, whatever we say concerning His Oneness and Unity, we have to believe also with respect to His Essence. Those who acknowledge such Essence also believe in the Tawhid of Essence.
Shirk [polytheism] in Essence:
This means that we believe in two or more essences for God, the Exalted. This type of polytheism is called "polytheism in Essence". God is One in Essence and has no partner. So, those who maintain that God has a son or equal, or that He has been begotten profess polytheism in Essence. The Holy Qur’an strongly condemns this type of belief.
Tawhid in Attributes:
The Essence of God has Attributes which we can understand through Their effects, such as the Knowledgeable [al-‘Alim], the Living [al-Hayy], the Wise [al-Hakim], and the Ever-Living [al-Qayyum]. We relate these Attributes to the Essence, saying that God, the Blessed and Exalted, is One in Essence and Attributes.
Since all these Attributes relate back to the Essence, there is no multiplicity in the Attributes and all Attributes are one. Every Attribute is identical with the other Attribute. For example, His Knowledge [‘Ilm] is His Power [Qudrah]. Therefore, the plurality of Attributes according to our understanding is related to the effects of the Single Essence. As such, His Attributes and Essence are One and not that He has One Essence and many Attributes.
Tawhid in Actions:
Tawhid in Actions is also like Tawhid in Essence in the sense that the origin of every action in the world of being is the Divine Sacred Essence, and will finally relate to Him. We should know that every Action that we ascribe to Him will be the same as His other Action, and there is no difference and distinction among the Actions of God, and the apparent duplicity in the Actions of God is caused by our perception:
Do not say about anything, ‘I will indeed do it tomorrow,’ without [adding], ‘if Allah wishes.’ And when you forget, remember your Lord. 19
So, all our wishes are within the domain of His will and all the actions of God are one:
"There is no might and power except from Allah, the Exalted and Great."
Those who have such belief, attributing all actions to God have the belief in Tawhid in Action.
Polytheism in Action [shirk-e af‘ali]:
Polytheism in Action [shirk-e af‘ali] means to believe that a creature has a divine will independent of the will of God in the sense that whatever the said creature does is outside the domain of God’s will. This is contrary to what God has attributed to Himself as stated in the Holy Qur’an, thus:
And you did not throw when you threw, rather it was Allah who threw. 20
While we all know that the Prophet (s) threw earth and stones toward the enemy during the Battle of Badr.
Tawhid in worship:
Having attributed the Tawhid of Essence, Attributes and actions to God, Tawhid in worship is confirmed for Him in the sense that only His Essence is worthy of worship, and if we consider anyone as His partner in worship, as the idol-worshippers and others do, it means that we are afflicted with polytheism in worship. The following verses of the Qur’an express this Tawhid in worship:
You [alone] do we worship, and to You [alone] do we turn for help. 21
And along this line, another verse states:
Say, ‘Indeed my prayer and my worship, my life and my death are all for the sake of Allah, the Lord of all the worlds’. 22
Tawhid in worship is understood from the phrase, "indeed my prayer and my worship" while Tawhid in Lordship [rububiyyahi] is discerned from the phrase, "my life and my death".
The foundations of Tawhid according to the Wahhabis
The Wahhabis regard Tawhid as having three parts: (1) Tawhid in Lordship [rububi], (2) Tawhid in Divinity [uluhi], and (3) Tawhid in the Names and Attributes [asma’ wa sifat].
Tawhid in Lordship [rububi]:
It means that only the Essence of God has all the absolute and perfect Attributes. In other words, Tawhid in Lordship is the Tawhid in recognizing and proving God whose proofs are the verses of Surah al-Kafirun, 23 the verse,
Say, ‘O People of the Book! Come to a word common ... 24
and other verses.
Tawhid in Divinity [uluhi or uluhiyyah]:
It is the belief in the fact that only God is worthy of worship and praise, and there is not other that god worshipped being beside Him. Tawhid in the Names and Attributes:
The Attributes and Names of God are pre-eternal [qadim]. 25 The Wahhabis consider this aspect of Tawhid in the place of the Tawhid in Attributes, worship and actions. This belief is traceable from the belief of the Ash‘arites [asha‘irah], a group of scholastic theologians [mutakallimun] during the 2nd century AH. The Ash‘arites also believed in the "pre-eternality" [qidmah] of the Divine Names and Attributes. Anchored on this belief, the Wahhabis reckon the Qur’an as pre-eternal and the attribute of an act of God. They also consider the dotted Arabic letters [huruf al-mu‘jam] as pre-eternal.
They regard as Attributes of the Essence those attributes such the Eye [‘ayn]; Soul [nafs]; Knowledge [‘ilm]; Life [hayah]; Hearer [sami‘]; Seer [basir]; Face [wajh]; Speech or Word [kalam]; Pre-existence [qidam]; Hand [yad]; Foot [rijl] (The Wahhabis believe that God—God forbid—has hands and feet!), Dominion [mulk];
Grandeur [‘azamah]; Greatness [kibriya’]; Eminence [‘uluww]; Richness [ghina]; Mercy [rahmah]; Power [qudrah]; Wisdom [hikmah]; etc. They consider as Attributes of Act the attributes such as surprise [ta‘ajjub]; laughing [zahik]; satisfaction [riza]; anger [ghazab]; aversion [karahah]; equality [istiwa’]; coming [maji’] (the alleged appearance of God on the Day of Resurrection); coming down [nuzul] (it refers to the belief of the Wahhabis that God is sitting on the Throne and He descends from heaven at the dawn!); disagreement; and gladness. 26
After stating the parts and examples of Tawhid from the point of view of Wahhabism, it is now proper to examine polytheism [shirk] according to this sect. Thereafter, we shall compare it with Shi`ah monotheistic thought.
Shirk [polytheism] and its limits according to the Wahhabis
Shirk [polytheism] from the viewpoint of Wahhabism means associating partner with God and considering other beings as independent from Him. Wahhabism also regards turning for help to the prophets and seeking the intermediation [tawassul] of the saints as acts of polytheism.
According to this viewpoint, kissing and visiting the graves of the infallible Imams (‘a) and the Prophet (s) are all acts of polytheism, unlawful and religious innovation [bid‘ah]. According to the Wahhabis, the Shi`ah are polytheists or at least their beliefs have elements of polytheism.
The socio-political consequences of Tawhid and shirk [polytheism] according to the Wahhabis
The late Muhammad Jawad Mughniyyah thus writes:
Based on the Wahhabi creed, mere utterance of "La ilaha illallah wa ashhadu anna Muhammadan rasul Allah" [There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah] is not enough for the acceptance of Islam. After uttering it, one should rather not seek the intermediation of other than God; not have the intention of paying homage to the Prophet (s); not touch and kiss his grave; not swear by the Prophet (s); and not call on him and addressing him, thus: "O the Messenger of Allah!" and "O my master!"
During his control of Mecca, Muhammad ibn Sa‘ud (one of the rulers of Saudi Arabia) had said in his speech that with the exception of the Wahhabis, all Muslims are polytheists and must be reformed at the point of the sword so as to embrace Wahhabism. Contrary to his statement, however, King Faisal, the king of the Wahhabis, in his message issued in 1342 AH, says while addressing the Wahhabis: "And all Muslims, from Egypt, India, etc. are your brothers."
This means that, "You should not be pessimistic with respect to the Muslims and you are not supposed to act according to this creed of Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab."
Maintaining this belief by the Wahhabis would have such socio-political consequences as considering all Muslims as polytheists and spreading sedition [fitnah] and chaos, for such a belief is an imperialist and anti-Islamic one.
The Wahhabi-Shi`ah difference of perspective on Tawhid
As stated earlier, there are qualitative and quantitative differences between the Wahhabis and the Shi`ah about Tawhid.
We shall find out later on that this classification from the perspective of Wahhabism has significant political implications.
It can probably be argued that there is no problem with the classification of the Wahhabis. In addition, this issue is only an intellectual limitation, and difference of opinion between Muslim philosophers and mystics [‘urafa’] concerning this issue can also be observed. But that which cannot be ignored is the difference in understanding.
Shi`ah ‘ulama’ have divided Tawhid into (Tawhid in) Essence, Attributes, acts and worship while the Wahhabi ‘ulama’ have divided it into (Tawhid in) Lordship, Divinity and the Names and Attributes. 27 If we compare them, and pair Tawhid in Essence with that of Lordship and Tawhid in Divinity with that of Tawhid in acts and worship, nothing remains to compare with Tawhid in the Names and Attributes. Meanwhile, to believe in the pre-eternity [qidmah] of the Names and Attributes demands the acceptance of "the multiplicity of pre-eternals", and this is an Ash‘arite belief which is false.
Shi`ah ‘ulama’ believe that the Names of God can be divided into two: particular and general. The particular aspect pertains specifically to the Essence of God, the Exalted, such as "Allah". The general aspect relates to the Attributes of God which can also be applied to His servants such as rahman [All-beneficent], rahim [All-merciful] and karim [All-kind]. The intellect of man has separated this aspect of Attributes and ascribed it to God.
If this difference merely had an ideological dimension, it would not then be so acute and sensitive, but since they are utilizing it for a political end, it ought to be analyzed.
The Wahhabis have taken this way of dividing the levels of Tawhid from Ibn Taymiyyah who, in turn, had adopted it from Ahmad ibn Hanbal.
Similarly, by dividing the Attributes into Acts and Essence, the Wahhabis have ended up believing that God has an actual hand and foot and that He can physically come and have an appearance. They have contented with the literal meaning of the verses in this regard while rejecting rational understanding and analysis.
They reject as "mu’awwilun" [allegorical interpreters] those who oppose this creed, particularly the Shi`ah who, by taking inspiration from the lofty teachings of the Prophet (s) and the infallible Imams (‘a), interpret the verses related to God’s seeing, hearing, His having a hand, foot and His coming on the Day of Resurrection as allegorical. For instance, the Shi`ah regard the verse,
The All-beneficent settled on the Throne, 28 to mean the sovereignty and authority of God on the Throne and not in the sense of God’s actual sitting on the Throne.?
Tawassul according to the Wahhabis
In this chapter, tawassul [resorting to intermediation] according to Wahhabism shall be examined. The ‘ulama’ of this sect believe that
Tawassul to other than God, paying homage [ziyarah] to a grave and praying in a place where there is a grave in front of the person praying are not consistent with Tawhid in Lordship. According to them, the requisite of Tawhid is that one should not resort to the intermediation of other than God even if he is the Prophet of Islam (s), because tawassul, shafa‘ah [intercession] and the like are outside the Sunnah of the Prophet and the pious predecessors [as-Salaf as-salih], and the Qur’an also regards this belief as polytheism. 29
It is thus stated in the book, al-Tawhid bi’l-Lughati al-Farisiyyah:
Seeking the help of other than God is polytheism and seeking refuge in other than God is also within the sphere of polytheism… The Words [kalimat] of God are identical with the uncreated [qadim] Essence of God. So, for this reason, one may entreat [istighathah] these Words otherwise, such act of entreating will be regarded as polytheism. 30
In refuting this proposition, it must be stated first of all that the pertinent verse had been revealed with respect to the jinn. Concerning the circumstances surrounding the revelation of this verse, it must be said that the Arabs used to believe that the jinn live in the desert, and during the pre-Islamic period of ignorance [al-Jahiliyyah], they used to turn to the "chief of the jinn" at the time of going out of the city for help, addressing him thus: "O chief of the jinn! Save us from the evil of the jinn and preserve us from their annoyance."
Of course, resorting to the jinn is absolutely unlawful because God has explicitly prohibited this practice. In addition to this, seeking help from anyone who denies God is obviously more so. Secondly, there are a lot of differences between the prophets [anbiya’] and messengers [rusul] who have direct connection with God, and the receivers of the divine revelation, on one hand, and the jinn who do not recognize God on the other. Therefore, the Islamic belief demands that we have to beseech and entreat God, the Exalted, and seek the intercession of those who are closer to Him.
We have mentioned earlier the viewpoint of the Wahhabi ‘ulama’ regarding the status of tawassul to other than God. Now, we shall examine their reasons:
First reason: By citing as proof the noble verses,
Say, ‘Invoke those whom you claim [to be gods] besides Him. They have no power to remove your distress nor to bring about any change [in your state]. They [themselves] are the ones who supplicate, seeking recourse to their Lord, whoever is nearer [to Him], expecting His mercy and fearing His punishment.’ Indeed your Lord’s punishment is a thing to beware of, 31
they have concluded that one should never seek help and resort to anyone other than God.
Analysis of the above verses:
If one contends oneself with the literal meaning and not take into consideration other Qur’anic verses, these two verses will conform to the statements of the Wahhabi ‘ulama’ because based on these words of God, when man abandons the "nearer means" (that is, God Himself) in order to get closer to God and resorts to a "remote means" (that is, "other than God" [min duni allahi]) and one who has no power to remove distress and the like, it will fall within the spheres of polytheism in Lordship [shirk-e rububi]. It must be noted, however,
that there are other verses indicating that with God’s permission, one may also resort to other than God, in which case, the issue of polytheism would be irrelevant, and one could turn for help from the individuals approved by God. If these ‘ulama’ had only paid attention to these other verses, they would have never committed such a glaring mistake.
Turning for help [istimdad] of the weak to the strong
In principle, tawassul is one of the laws of creation and it means resorting to a superior means in order to attain an objective. One manifestation of tawassul is a child’s tawassul to his mother when something happens to him. This meaning is true in all spheres of human life—social, political, ideological, material, and spiritual.
Tawassul to God is the same tawassul to that which is perfect in power and force. Tawassul to the prophets and the saints of God is a case of the tawassul of the weak to the strong, because the prophets are stronger than other human beings. One may resort to the prophets and saints for help and take their practical conduct, which we called sunnah, as models for ourselves.
Tawassul in the Qur’an
Many verses of the Qur’an and Prophetic traditions speak about the subject of tawassul to the awliya’. As an example, one may refer to the verses related to the sons of Ya‘qub (Jacob) (‘a):
They said, ‘Father! Plead [with Allah] for forgiveness of our sins! We have indeed been erring’. He said, ‘I shall plead with my Lord to forgive you; indeed He is the All-forgiving, the All-merciful’. 32
In these verses, the sons of Ya‘qub (‘a) resorted to the intermediation of their father. They had committed mistakes so many times; they had annoyed and disturbed two prophets of God (Ya‘qub and Yusuf (Joseph) (‘a)), and transgressed the command of God by annoying their parents and telling lies. Since those mistakes required the sons to seek forgiveness, they took their father as their intercessor; so this action has not been denied or rejected in the Qur’an.
Since God does not reproach the sons of Ya‘qub for resorting to two persons of those who are near to Him [muqarrabun], it can be concluded that there is nothing wrong in entreating the Prophet (s) especially since the eminence of his rank and the loftiness of his station are not hidden to anyone.
The other verse which may be cited is the following:
Had they, when they wronged themselves, come to you and pleaded Allah for forgiveness, and the Apostle had pleaded for forgiveness for them, they would have surely found Allah All-clement, All-merciful. 33
It can be deduced from this verse that the intermediation of the Holy Prophet (s) can also be resorted to in asking God for forgiveness of sins.
It is possible to criticize the deduction based on the first verse with the answer that the tawassul of the sons of Ya‘qub (‘a) to their father had been confined to their own time; that is, one may seek the help of the living and not the dead. We shall talk about this point later on in the section concerning tabarruk.
What can be inferred from the second verse is that tawassul to the Prophet (s) is in a general sense. That is, it includes both the time when the Prophet (s) was alive and the time afterward. And there is no reason to distinguish between tawassul during and after his lifetime.
Since the following verse reproaches tawassul to idols and regards it as a form of polytheism, some individuals might cite it as proof that tawassul to other than God leads to misguidance:
They say, ‘Do not abandon your gods. Do not abandon Wadd, nor Suwa‘, nor Yaghuth, Ya‘uq and Nasr,’ and they have certainly led many astray. Do not increase the wrongdoers in anything but error’. 34
In reply, it must be said that if what is meant by "other than God" are idols, then one cannot find fault with this statement, but if "other than God" includes the prophets and awliya’, then it would be contrary to the truth because these beloved ones are approved by God and are vicegerents of Allah [khulafa' Allah].
Idols are in contrast and contradiction with God while the prophets (‘a) and saints are concordant with Him and are means of His grace. In the same manner, idols are a source of deviation from God while the prophets (‘a) are means of guidance and righteousness. In sum, the comparison between tawassul to the prophets (‘a) and tawassul to the idols is an asymmetrical and false analogy.
The other point is that an idol is basically an object of worship and not a means of nearness to God [taqarrub]. There are two types of means of nearness to God: One is legitimate, referring to the prophets (‘a) and the saints, and the other is illegitimate such as idols and the like which religion has made forbidden to man.
Death according to the Wahhabis
There are different viewpoints concerning death, and we shall deal with the viewpoint of the Wahhabis on the subject. Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah is reported to have said:
Tawassul to the dead, even if he be the Prophet of Islam (s), is an act of polytheism because based on the statement of the Qur’an, he is dead and extinct:
You will indeed die and they [too] will die indeed. 35
He then continues:
Entreating the dead and uttering words such as: "O my master, O the Messenger of Allah! Help me," "O my master ‘Ali ibn Abi talib! Assist me," and the like are acts of polytheism. 36
It is indeed amazing that Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah and the Wahhabis could have no belief in the purgatorial life [hayat al-barzakh], thinking that the dead cannot establish spiritual relations with others, while the Qur’an affirms that those who are in the barzakh are alive. 37 How could the Wahhabis regard the martyrs [shuhada’] as dead while the Qur’an says,
Do not suppose those who are slain in the way of Allah to be dead; rather they are living and provided for near their Lord. 38
Accordingly, how could Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab also say that "Anyone who dies would be annihilated," 39 while the Holy Qur’an says,
We have removed your veil from you, and so your sight is acute today. 40
In another place, it states thus,
And therein they will have their provision morning and evening. 41
Since there is morning and evening in the world of barzakh according to the verse quoted, and that the dead have provisions, those who are in the world of sojourn (barzakh) cannot be regarded as nonexistent [ma‘dum]. Of course, morning and evening are special characteristics of barzakh because there is no sun on the Day of Resurrection which could portray this case. So, death is not equivalent to nonexistence, and the theory of the Wahhabis is consequentially rendered false.
The permission to resort to the sacred personages
In the following verse, the Holy Qur’an regards it permissible and acceptable to resort to and seek the intermediation of the chosen ones of God in seeking nearness to Him [taqarrub]:
O you who have faith! Be wary of Allah, and seek the means of recourse to Him, and wage jihad in His way, so that you may be felicitous. 42
Although in this verse seeking the means of recourse is discussed in a general sense, based on the other proofs and pieces of evidence mentioned in the Holy Qur’an and the traditions, one of its vivid manifestations is the prophets and saints. Therefore, the purport of this verse may be expressed in the following words:
Though approaching God is the outcome of grace, you have to observe God-wariness [taqwa] perfectly and since it is possible that the persons resorted to have no independence of their own and have obtained such station through sincerity [ikhlas] and God-wariness [taqwa], you also have to maintain God-wariness in resorting to them.
Istimdad and tawassul to the living ones
Seeking help and assistance from the living is permissible and it cannot be treated as a form of polytheism. This is a point which has been endorsed and affirmed by stories in the Qur’an. For example, when Had?rat Yusuf (Joseph) (‘a) was in prison he requested his cellmate, that if the latter was released, he should mention his case to the king:
Mention me to your master. 43
Or, when Had?rat Musa and Khizr (‘a) arrived at a certain village, they made a request to the inhabitants of the village, hence:
So they went on. When they came to the people of a town, they asked its people for food. 44
It can be said that the acts of these three great personalities, apart from not being acts of polytheism, they are rational and customary behaviors, having no inconsistency with their infallibility [ismah]. Also, in confirming this statement, the following verse, which is addressed to the Prophet (s), can be cited as proof:
Had they, when they wronged themselves, come to you and pleaded Allah for forgiveness, and the Apostle had pleaded for forgiveness for them, they would have surely found Allah all-clement, all-merciful. 45
Based on this verse, the Prophet (s) has been granted the permission to be the intercessor of sinners. According to the Shi`ah, this intercession is still valid and is not confined to the lifetime of the Prophet (s).
The preeminence of tawassul to the Divine Essence
Before ending the discussion, it is necessary to pose this question: Which is superior, tawassul to God, or tawassul to the saints of God? It can be concluded from the verse,
"whoever is nearer [to Him]" 46
that tawassul to God is superior. That is, as much as possible, one must seek help from God and this is a principle to which Muslim mystics are steadfast. But just as he makes use of his intellect, natural instinct and other means in managing his life, man also seeks the assistance of intermediaries in the domain of spirituality and seeking nearness to Allah.
Tawassul as identical with servitude [‘ubudiyyah]
Since tawassul to the prophets and the awliya’ of God is like the angels’ act of prostration (to Adam) with the permission and command of God, resorting to these beloved ones is identical with servitude [‘ubudiyyah] and worship [‘ibadah]. Among the Muslim sects, only the Wahhabis do not believe in tawassul and its devotional dimension. It must be noted that this sect is trying to make its incorrect and false ideas dominant.
Of course, if we ever regard the Wahhabis’ opposition to tawassul as incorrect, it is because there are authoritative traditions and hadiths that prove the incorrectness of this sect’s belief. For example, after the demise of the Prophet (s) a certain Arab came to the grave of the Prophet (s) and threw himself on the holy shrine.
While pouring the soil of the grave over his head, he said: "O Messenger of Allah! I heard from you the verse, "Had they, when they wronged themselves, come to you..." And now I have wronged myself and I have come here to ask you to plead for forgiveness for me." At the end of the hadith, it is thus stated regarding this episode: "Then a voice from the grave was heard: ‘You are forgiven!’" 47
In another tradition, it has been narrated that there was once a famine in Medina. Bilal ibn Harith, one of the Companions, went to the grave of the Prophet (s) and said: "O Messenger of Allah! There has been no rain for quite sometime. Pray to God to shower the rain of His mercy upon us. During the night, Bilal saw the Prophet (s) in a dream, saying: "You shall soon benefit from the rain of the Lord."
It is not useless to note the fact that Muhammad ibn Idris ash-Shafi‘i, one of the leading figures of the Ahl as-Sunnah, regards tawassul to the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) as permissible, thus saying:
The family of the Prophet is my shelter
and they are means of my nearness to Him (God).
Regarding Had?rat Fatimah az-Zahra (‘a), the following tradition has been narrated:
"Fatimah (‘a) went to the grave of the Messenger of Allah (s); picked up some soil from the grave, put it on her eyes and cried."
It can be inferred from the above hadith that to seek the help of the Prophet, the infallible Imams and the pioneers of religion is not against the religion because a personage such as Fatimah az-Zahra (‘a) used to go to the grave of her great father and seek this beloved’s assistance. There is another hadith which is as follows:
Because of the effect of famine and the lack of rain, a number of people went to the house of ‘a’ishah (wife of the Prophet (s)), asking for her guidance. She said to them: "Make holes on the holy shrines of the Prophet (s) in such a way that the sky would become the watcher of the holy grave of the Prophet (s) so that it would shower rain in respect for the Prophet (s). When the people followed ‘a’ishah’s instruction, the rain came.
Many traditions have been recorded in the book, At-Tabarruk, 48 all of which show the tawassul of the Companions to the soil of grave of the Messenger of Allah (s) for cure and blessings [tabarruk].
Based on some verses of the Qur’an, Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab, Ibn Taymiyyah and the contemporary Wahhabis regard seeking help from other than God or asking for their intercession [shafa‘ah] as an act of polytheism. Their main proof is the phrase, "other than God" in verse 18 of Surah Yunus. 49 The Wahhabis regard the prophets, saints, idols, the jinn, and the dead as the most vivid manifestations of this verse.
In reality, they have not made any distinction between the idols during the pre-Islamic period of ignorance [jahiliyyah], which were taken by the people as their intercessors and were held in high esteem by their forefathers, and the person of the Prophet (s) because they believe that the Prophet (s) has passed away, and as such, he could not do anything and nothing could not be expected from him anymore. Therefore, they imagine the intercession of God on the Day of Resurrection as positive, and that of the Prophet (s) or other awliya’ as negative.
It can perhaps be inferred from the apparent purport of their contention that this sect rejects intercession in general. They have divided intercession into positive and negative in the following manner:
1. Positive intercession is that which comes from God. There are many verses that substantiate it, and there is no debate and dispute concerning this type of intercession.
2. Negative intercession is that which comes from other than God such as the Prophet (s), other prophets (‘a) and the awliya’—of course, when they are not alive.
The most fundamental basis for this belief of the Wahhabis is the following blessed verse:
They worship besides Allah that which neither causes them any harm, nor brings them any benefit, and they say, ‘These are our intercessors with Allah’. 50
An analysis of the quoted noble verse:
What the apparent purport and text of the verse substantiates is that God rejects the intercession of idols, not the intercession of human beings. In other words, "besides Allah" refers to idols and it is these idols whose intercession is not acceptable to God. The following verse also confirms this contention:
Neither intercession shall be accepted from it, nor any ransom shall be received from it, nor will they be helped. 51
The absolute negation of intercession of other than God can be deduced from the phrase, "besides Allah" which is mentioned many times in the Holy Qur’an. The absoluteness and generality of "besides Allah", however, is mitiga
Share this article