Is it permissible to make tawassul while praying and asking the help of awliya of Allah?

The Details of the Question
Is it permissible to make tawassul while praying and asking the help of awliya of Allah?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Seeking assistance is something and wasila (tawassul) is something else. Seeking assistance means asking for help. Wasila (tawassul) is a means to the end.

It is not permissible to ask for help from non-living things or a creature without intelligence even if it has a lot of service like the sun or the moon, even if it is holy like the Kaaba and the Black Stone (Hajar al-Aswad).

As for asking for help from people with intelligence, if the person is not a believer and a person with good deeds, it is not permissible to ask for help from him whether he is present or not. However, if he is a person with good deeds it is permissible to ask for help from him in order to ask intercession (shafa’ah), whether in his presence or near his grave.

Although the dead person has gone to the world of barzakh (veil), he has a kind of life peculiar to him. Our Prophet (PBUH) stated the following: "Prophets are alive in their graves." (Ibn Majah, Janaiz 65) Another evidence that prophets are alive in their graves is that Hazrat Prophet (pbuh) met the spirits of all of the prophets in Masjid al-Aqsa and greeted every prophet he met and those prophets replied his greeting. He also said the following about the polytheists who died during the Battle of Badr: "You cannot hear more than those; but they cannot answer.

According to the people of tariqah (religious order) today, the help of a wali (saint) with a rank, whether he is dead or far away, can be asked for. He has the authority to help. Especially the people of tasarruf (authorized to do extraordinary things) can help both when they are alive and after they die; their help goes on.

As for wasila, as we have just mentiond, it is something to be used as a means to reach the end. There are some kinds of wasila:

1- To use the names of Allah for tawassul: Ibn Majah narrated the following from Hazrat Aisha: ‘The Prophet said the following in a supplication, " O Allah, I ask from you for the sake of your clean, nice and holy name"’

2- To make the supplication of the person as a wasila for whom tawassul is asked.

3- To make tawassul by using the personality of a great man with good deeds as an intermediary. For instance, to say something like ‘O Allah! I make the Prophet or Hazrat Abu Bakr a wasila in order to realize this wish of mine. Hazrat Umar made Hazrat Abbas (the Prophet’s uncle) a wasila in the supplication for rain by saying: “O Allah! We make the Prophet’s uncle a wasila, send us rain." (Bukhari).

4- To make tawassul by using the good deeds as an intermediary: For instance, to say something like “O Allah! I make this hajj or worship that I performed for you a wasila; relieve me of this misfortune or trouble”.

The kinds of wasila we listed above are present in Islam. It is not possible to deny them. The person to be made a wasila does not necessarily have to be superior to the person making tawassul. The Prophet (PBUH) said to Hazrat Umar, who wanted permission to go and make umrah, “Brother! Do not forget to pray for us”. He also ordered Hazrat Umar to tell Uways al-Qarani to pray for him. However, to imagine the prophet or any person independently and ask his help may cause a person to become an unbeliever. One should be careful about it. That is, it is permissible to think and to know that that person is a beloved slave of Allah and he does those things by the permission of Allah and to ask.
According to Ahlu Sunnah scholars, it is permissible to make tawassul as long as one does not go beyond it.
Those who regard wasila as completely haram are kharijites and and those who imitate them.

The information that angels protect people is present in the Quran itself: “For each (such person) there are (angels) in succession, before and behind him: they guard him by command of Allah”(ar-Rad, 13/11). That truth is pointed out in the verse.

The protection of the angels is not polytheism, similarly, the help and protection of other creatures should not be polytheism. However, we should not raise them from the level of being a means, a cause to the level of creation. It is a necessity of our belief that “there is no real creator other than Allah in the universe.”

Is there mediation, wasila in religion?

Wisdom is one of the indispensable elements of life and success; it is also a leaven and an important law in the management and control of all of the beings.

Men make achievements and maintain them by observing that rule and principle called wisdom.

Wisdom makes cause, means, wasila necessary between the Creator and the creatures.

The loftiness and greatness of the creator, the relationship and the balance among the beings are related to wisdom. In addition, the fact that beings serve as proof to their creator, the fact that they are searched and studied like a book by qualified people, and the most important of all, the fact that men are tested and tried for their achievements in the world and in the hereafter, depend on wisdom and a serious relationship with wisdom.

Men who have been given wisdom are the most honorable and valuable beings.

Based on this principle, the general term denoting the phenomenon of relationship between beings, things, man and the creator is wisdom.

In the connections between non-living things and living things,

in the veils between being created and creating,

in the causes between illness and health,

in slavery and its consequences,

in the relationship between conveying the message and guidance,

in the consequences and relationships of agriculture, trade, art and worship, wisdom is essential; and the causes, wasilas and means are the prerequisites of wisdom and they will always be present naturally.
Here, although the existence of means is necessary in terms of wisdom due to divine power and greatness, the oneness and majesty of Allah eliminates their effects. Wisdom necessitates that they remain only as means.

So, means are an essential of creation due to Allah’s name, the Wise.

So, the means like those are existent and necessary in our religion naturally.

For instance, the means of hidayah (guidance) are prophets.

The means of Allah’s orders to His prophets are the angels.

The means of pre-eternal speech are the Books and Pages.

The means of manifestations are miracles and arts.

The means of forgiveness and reward are bounties and Paradise.

The means of suffering and punishment are measures and Hell.

The means of worshipping and slavery are worships.

The means of approaching Allah are knowledge and taqwa (piety).

So, there is no place, state and time without means.

The most important point of the things that we have mentioned so far is as follows: Those means should not be something more than a wasila; they should be transparent and decent; they should not hide and cover the realities; in particular, they should strengthen not break the relationship between the slave and Allah.

If the means that exist between the realities and the people as a necessity of wisdom become dense and break the connection, then wisdom disappears and obstacles emerge. The means loses its property of being a means.

For instance, if a teacher enters between a mathematics book and the students, he integrates the students with the book. He increases the love. He also strengthens knowledge. Teachers form a great amount as means.

Artists are means of transferring the skill between the apprentices and art. Otherwise the arts and skills would cease and die.

Similarly, great religious people are transparent means to ensure and maintain the relationship between Allah and the slave. If they stop acting as intermediaries, the slave will spoil the relationship and break the connection.

However, being an intermediary is not something easy. The most important thing is to be capable and qualified.

That is, a teacher should act as an intermediary between the mathematics book and the student. However, if the teacher is a music teacher, it won’t do any good.

A doctor, who is a transparent means, should act as an intermediary between the patient and the illness in terms of wisdom. However, if an engineer instead of a doctor acts as an intermediary, he will only serve the angel of death.

Glasses become intermediaries between the eyes and things. Hearing aids become intermediaries between the ears and the sounds. As intermediaries, they serve those with ordinary eyes and ears to see and hear better.

Similarly, if qualified and capable people become intermediaries between the realities and ordinary people, they increase those people’s knowledge and virtues. Their spiritual lives become orderly and tidy. Ordinary people cannot see the naked realities and cannot perceive them. They can understand the realities only through some means.

The similes, metaphor and usual examples in the Quran are holy and transparent means like eyeglasses or binoculars between men and the realities that are difficult to perceive.

Therefore, to deny the means (wasila) means to deny wisdom, help, benefit, order, goodness and affair. It is an attitude contrary to creation and reality.

However, as there are always exceptions and misuse, the means deteriorated and misused in time; and bad examples reached present time. While it is necessary to correct, put into order and change them, it will be consciencelessness to wear mediation down and to deny it wholly and radically.

It will be a great mistake to prefer its demolition although it is possible to correct it.

So, mediation is a divine approbation that establishes the connection with reality like transparent glass, and that puts the relationships in order.

As it is present everywhere, there is and will be mediation in our religion. However, intermediaries that are very dense like priesthood, that confine the interest and respect only to themselves and break the relationship with Allah are a kind of hidden polytheism. Mediation like that does not exist in man’s nature and creation; it does not and cannot exist in our religion.
To see the means from the point of view of the evaluations above will protect us from excessiveness and negligence in terms of thoughts and attitudes, will drive all of our feelings and thoughts to the medium way, will provide our life with direction, peace and happiness.

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