Visiting graves, tawassul and shafa’ah are true

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The purpose of visiting graves, asking help from the dead (istighatha), making a prophet or a saint an intermediary in prayers/duas (tawassul), benefitting from the help of Allah’s beloved slaves in order to get rid of some hardships in the hereafter and pass some difficult places (shafa’ah) have been understood and misunderstood among Muslims, and have been debated among scholars. Those who regard the issues above permissible accuse those who do not of unbelief and being people of bid’ah and those who do not regard them permissible accuse the opposite group of shirk (polytheism).

When I observed those debates, the following issue attracted my attention: There are some exceptions but both parties mention the evidences of the other group in a way that are appropriate with their view and in a way that can be used as a support for their accusations, not as they exactly are. Then, they generally speak and write outside the boundaries of the ethics of justice and moderation.   

Both sides have evidences that are based on reason as well as verses and hadiths. They think, interpret and reach a conclusion based on those evidences. Since the conclusion is a human interpretation, they should say, “The evidences make us reach this conclusion and other views and interpretations are wrong. However, since it includes interpretation, we cannot say that those who hold opposite views are unbelievers.” If they say so, the debate will be over and the ummah will not be divided.

Nobody can help others unless Allah gives permission. It is necessary for a living or dead person to be given permission and opportunity by Allah to help another person. There are sound hadiths showing that the Prophet (pbuh) was given the authority to intercede and act as an intermediary in prayer (dua). Thus, it is never appropriate to accuse those who believe in tawassul with him (when he was alive or after his death) and his intercession (shafa’ah) in the hereafter of shirk. It is not appropriate to call those who do not regard them permissible based on evidences as unbelievers or people of bid’ah either. I believe that our beloved Prophet (pbuh) has the authority to intercede in the hereafter with the permission of Allah. I do not regard it objectionable to say, “O Allah! Accept my prayer for the sake of Your Prophet!”

There are sound hadiths showing that believers can intercede for one another in the hereafter along with prophets.

As for the people who are believed to be saints, I believe that it does not involve shirk to ask help from them and to use them as intermediaries based on inspiration, observation and news depending on them. For, those who believe in them and practice them believe that they can do so because Allah allows those beloved slaves to do so. They do not believe that they do so despite Allah and as the second authority along with Allah. In conclusion, we worship Allah and ask help from Allah. Allah gives us sustenance through His slaves; similarly, He uses some of His slaves for some of His help and grace. 

I had written about visiting graves before. According to hadiths, the purpose of visiting graves is not the benefit of the dead body in the grave but the benefit of the person who visits grave by remembering death and taking lessons. The spirits of the dead people left the dead bodies in the grave and they are in another realm called Barzakh. The prayers (duas) said for the dead people and good charities done for them will reach them in that realm and be beneficial if Allah permits.

They asked al-Azhar’s Research Institute about the issue a month ago and they made the following explanation:

It is mustahab to visit graves due to the following reasons: To take lessons, to remember death and the hereafter, (for the dead people) to benefit from the prayers(duas). 

The evidences for this decree are as follows: The Prophet (pbuh) prohibited visiting graves first but allowed it later. He said Allah gave him permission to visit the grave of Amina, his mother. He visited the martyrs of Uhud and the Cemetery of Baqi in Madinah. He greeted them, prayed for them and addressed them as follows: “O inhabitants of the land of believers and Muslims! As-Salamu alaykum! We will also join you when Allah wishes. I ask welfare for you and us from Allah.” It is known that Hz. Fatima visited the grave of Hamza, her paternal uncle, and that other Companions visited graves. The best day for visiting graves is Friday, or one day before or after it.

When man dies, his spirit leaves the body and the features like thinking, hearing, feeling pain and flavor belonging to the spirit leave the body. The body decays and mixes with non-living things. The spirit goes to Barzakh, which is a realm between the world and the hereafter, and remains there until the Day of Resurrection. It feels pain, agony, flavor and happiness there; it can meet the spirits of other dead people or living people there and get rid of loneliness. It becomes aware of those who visit its grave. That is the belief of the majority of Ahl as-Sunnah based on hadiths regarding the issue.

Questions on Islam

In order to make a comment, please login or register