Tawassul – A Divine Command


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Until a few years or decades back, within the Shia community across the world, we did not hear people raising doubts over basic Shia beliefs. However, in the recent past, some so-called reformist Shias have emerged who seem to object to almost each and every fundamental Shia belief, be it the infallibility (Ismah) of the divine Prophets (a.s.), superiority of Ahlul Bait (a.s.) over the entire creation, considering Ameerul Momineen Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) as the rightful and immediate successor of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) or be it seeking mediation (Tawassul) through Ahlul Bait (a.s.). It is strange that earlier such objections were raised by the opponents of Shias such as the Wahhabis but now the same doubts are deliberately cultivated and perpetrated within the Shia masses.

One of the premises used to reject some of the basic Shia beliefs is that according to them most of the traditions on which Shia beliefs are formed are weak (dhaeef) from the aspect of chain of narrators (sanad) and hence such traditions cannot be used to rely upon for our Aqaed (beliefs). They claim that there is not a single tradition with Sahih Sanad (correct chain) with regards to using the Waseelah (mediation) of Ahlul Bait (a.s.) for praying to Allah.

For our Shia readers – please rest assured that the concept of Waseelah is a Quranic concept and also found in many Prophetic traditions. There have been multiple articles and treatises written on this belief. However, for completion of the argument, we present only one tradition for its permissibility whose chain of narrators consists of very strong and reliable scholars, companions and students of our Imams (a.s.).

المفيد في (الاختصاص): عَنْ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ عَلِيٍّ بْنِ بَابْوَيْه، عَنْ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ عَلِيٍّ مَاجِيلوَيه، عَنْ عَمِّهِ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ أَبِي الْقَاسِمِ، قَالَ حَدَّثَنِي أَحْمَدُ بْنُ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ خَالِدٍ، قَالَ حَدَّثَنِي ابْنُ أَبِي نَجْرَانَ، عَنِ الْعَلَاءِ، عَنْ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ مُسْلِمٍ، عَنْ أَبِي جَعْفَرٍ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ عَلِيٍّ الْبَاقِرِ (عليه السلام)، قَالَ: « سَمِعْتُ جَابِرَ بْنَ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ الْأَنْصَارِيَّ، قَالَ:

Shaikh Mufeed narrates in Al-Ikhtesaas from Muhammad Ibn Ali Ibn Baabwayh (i.e. Shaikh Saduq) from Muhammad Ibn Ali Maajeelwayh from his uncle Muhammad Ibn Abi al-Qasim who said that Ahmad Ibn Muhammad Ibn Khalid (i.e. Barqi) narrated to me from Ibn Abi Najraan from al-A’laa from Muhammad Ibn Muslim from Abi Jafar Muhammad Ibn Ali al-Baqir (a.s.) that I heard from Jabir Ibn Abdillah Ansari say:

قُلْتُ: يَا رَسُولَ اللهِ، َمَا تَقُولُ فِي عَلِيِّ بْنِ أَبِي طَالِبٍ (عليه السلام)؟ فَقَالَ: ذَاكَ نَفْسِي.

I asked: “O Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.)! What do you have to say about Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.)?” He (s.a.w.a.) replied: “He is my self (Nafs).”

قُلْتُ: فَمَا تَقُولُ فِي الْحَسَنِ وَ الْحُسَيْنِ (عليهما السلام)؟ قَالَ: هُمَا رُوحِي، وَ فَاطِمَةُ أُمُّهُمَا ابْنَتِي يَسُوؤُنِي مَا اَسَاءَهَا وَ يَسُرُّنِي مَا سَرَّهَا، أُشْهِدُ اللهَ أَنِّي حَرْبٌ لِمَنْ حَارَبَهُمْ، وَ سِلْمٌ لِمَنْ سَالَمَهُمْ.

I asked: “What do you say about Hasan and Husain (a.s.)?” He (s.a.w.a.) responded: “Both of them are my soul (Rooh) and their mother Fatima (s.a.) is my daughter. Whatever hurts her hurts me and whatever pleases her pleases me. I bear witness by Allah that I am at war with the one who fights with them and I am at peace with whoever is at peace with them.

يَا جَابِرُ، إِذَا أَرَدْتَ أَنْ تَدْعُوَ اللهَ فَيَسْتَجِيبَ لَكَ فَادْعُهُ بِأَسْمَائِهِمْ‏، فَإِنَّهَا أَحَبُّ الْأَسْمَاءِ إِلَى اللهِ عَزَّ وَ جَلَّ».

O Jabir! If you wish to pray to Allah and that He fulfils your supplication, then pray through their names. For surely these are the most beloved names near Allah, Mighty and Majestic be He.”

References:

  • Tafseer al-Burhaan, vol. 2, p. 618, H. 4095 under exegesis of the verse وَ لِلّٰهِ الْأَسْمَاءُ الْحُسْنٰى‏ فَادْعُوْهُ بِهَا “for Allah are the Beautiful Names, so call unto Him through them” [Surah A’raaf (7): verse 180]
  • Al-Ikhtesaas, p. 223, H. 14

Note:

  • The above tradition clearly outlines the fact that praying through the names of Ahlul Bait (a.s.) is not just permissible but emphasised by Allah and the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.)
  • In fact, praying through the means (Waseelah) of Ahlul Bait (a.s.) is the actual method of supplicating if we wish to ask our needs from Allah
  • If the names of Ahlul Bait (a.s.) are most beloved near Allah then one can only imagine how great must be their position in front of Allah
  • As far as the chain of narrators (sanad) of this tradition is concerned, it is an unbroken chain and a brief description about every narrator in this tradition is as follows –
    • Syed Hashim Bahraani (a.r.) has quoted this tradition in his Tafseer al-Burhaan from the book Al-Ikhtesaas of Shaikh Mufeed (a.r.)
    • In Al-Ikhtesaas, Shaikh Mufeed (a.r.) narrates this tradition directly from his teacher Shaikh Saduq (a.r.) who narrates it from Muhammad Ibn Ali Maajeelwayh
    • Muhammad Ibn Ali Maajeelwayh, son-in-law of Barqi, is one of the sources of Shaikh Saduq (a.s.) from whom the latter has narrated many other traditions
    • He narrates from Ahmad Ibn Muhammad Ibn Khalid al-Barqi, the author of the famous book Al-Mahaasin, and a very famous, reliable author and a disciple of THREE IMAMS viz. Imam Taqi (a.s.), Imam Naqi (a.s.) & Imam Hasan Askari (a.s.)
    • Barqi narrates from Abd al-Rahman Ibn Abi Najraan who was the companion of Imam Reza (a.s.) and Imam Kazim (a.s.) and has narrated traditions from Imam Reza (a.s.) whereas his father has narrated traditions from Imam Sadiq (a.s.)
    • Ibn Abi Najraan narrates from Al-A’laa Ibn Razeen who is a Thiqah (reliable) narrator
    • Al-A’laa narrates from Muhammad Ibn Muslim who was among the most reliable and noteworthy companions of Imam Baqir (a.s.) & Imam Sadiq (a.s.)
  • Thus, this tradition is extremely reliable, both from the aspect of content (matn) as well as chain of narrators (sanad)

Lastly, it should be noted that seeking mediation through the Ahlul Bait (a.s.) (Tawassul) does not mean to raise them to the status of divinity; rather, it means that they are a medium which Allah has created for us to reach Him.

May Allah hasten the reappearance of His last proof and the Imam of our time, Imam Mahdi (a.t.f.s.), and grant us the good fortune of Tawassul with our Imam (a.s.) each and every time we supplicate to Allah, the Ultimate Bestower.


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