From the Layman’s Desk: Islamic Article No.17:
In the Name of Allah, Most Beneficent, Most Merciful.
Praise be to Allah, Lord of all the worlds, and blessings and peace of Allah upon His Prophet and Messenger Muhammad (sal Allahu alayhi wasallam), his Family and all his Companions.
According to the Ahlu’s Sunnah, after death, it is forbidden for the Earth to consume the bodies of the Prophets ‘alaihimu’s salam. The bodies and even the shrouds of the Awliya and Shuhada are intact and they are given sustenance. Imam Subki writes in Shifa’ al-Siqam that: The life of the martyrs is very superior. The promise of life and sustenance is not given to anyone else but them. The life of the Prophets is the most superior because they are alive physically and spiritually as they were in this world and this will continue forever [Shifa’ al-Siqam, p.206].
Imam Mulla ‘Ali Qari writes: There is no real difference in the two states [life and death] of the Awliya. This is why it has been said that they do not die, rather, they go from one home to another [Mirqat Sharh Mishkat, vol.3, p.241].
Shaykh al-Hind Muhaddith Dihlawi writes: The friends of Allah go from the finite world to the eternal world. They are alive with their Lord and are given sustenance. They are happy but people cannot comprehend this [Ashi’atu’l Lum’aat Sharh Mishkat, vol.3, p.402].
Qadi Thana’ Ullah Pani Patti writes:
The Awliya say that our souls are our bodies, meaning, their souls perform the work of body and sometimes the bodies become so fine that they appear as the souls. It is said that RasulAllah sallAllahu 'alaihi wasallam did not possess a shadow. Their souls go wherever they wish in the heavens and the Earth and paradise. This is because the Earth does not consume their bodies and even their shrouds are untouched. Ibn Abi’d Dunya narrates from Malik that the souls of the believers go where they please. By believers is meant the accomplished [kamileen]. Allah gives their bodies the power of souls, hence, they offer Salah, perform Dhikr and recite the Qu’an in their graves [Tadhkiratu’l Mawta wa’l Qubur, p.75].
Imam Jalaluddin Suyuti has written some reliable reports regarding the life of the Awliya after their demise. Some are presented here:
Imam Abu’l Qasim Qushairi writes with his own sanad that Sayyidina Abu Sa’eed Kharraz said that I was once in Makka when I saw a youth lying dead at the Baab Bani Shayba. When I looked towards him, he saw me and smiled and then said: Oh Abu Sa’eed! Do you not know that the beloved of Allah are alive even when they die? They are only taken from one home to the other [Sharh al-Sudur, p.86]. The same person narrates from Sayyidi Abu ‘Ali that: I lowered a poor man into his grave. I opened his shroud and placed his head on the Earth so that Allah shows kindness due to his poverty. The man opened his eyes and said to me: Oh Abu ‘Ali! You dishonour me in front of Him who honours me. I said: Oh my leader! Is there life after death? He said: I am alive and all of Allah’s beloved ones are alive. Indeed I will help you on the day of judgement due to the esteem that will be granted to me on that day [Sharh al-Sudur, p.86].
The same person narrates from Ibrahim bin Shayban that: A young disciple of mine passed away and this caused great sadness for me. I began performing his bathing and due to my despondency, I started from the left. The youth turned around and bought his right side towards me. I said: My son! You are right and I was wrong [Sharh al-Sudur, p.86]. The same person narrates from Abu Ya’qub Sosi Nahrjori that: I placed one of my disciples on a board in order to bathe him. He grabbed my thumb. I said: My son! I know you are not dead, this is simply going from one abode to another. Let go of my hand [Sharh al-Sudur, p.86]. The same person narrates from the same person that: A disciple of mine said to me in Makka that: Oh guide of mine! I will die at the time of Dhuhr tomorrow. Take one Ashrafi [currency]; spend half on my burial and half on my shrouding. The next day, the disciple came and performed tawaf. He then moved away from the Ka’ba and lay down himself and his soul was taken. I lowered him into the grave and he opened his eyes. I asked: Is there life after death? He replied: I am alive and every friend of Allah is alive [Sharh al-Sudur, p.86].
The pious can talk after passing away:
Hafidh Ibn Kathir writes: Zaid bin Kharjah was one of the pious that talked after his death. When he died and was placed in his coffin, he started to talk, and he said I bear witness that Muhammad is Prophet of Allah and his name Ahmad was mentioned in the previous scriptures. (Old Testament and New Testament) and Abu Bakr and Umar were two Caliphs and now it is Usman’s government. Four years have passed and there are two years to go and conflicts will come and Muslims will become weak. A lot of scholars verify this narration including Imam Bukhari and Imam Bayhaqi. There was another pious person who talked after his death. Abdullah Ansari reports that in the time of Ali’s caliphate I was walking among the martyred and a person spoke: That Muhammad (May Allah bless him and grant him peace), and Abu-Bakar and Usman are all true. A group of Scholars says that talking after passing away is true and these are authentic narrations.
[Tareek Ibn Kathir and Sirat un-Nabi, chapter Al-Mujazaat by Hafidhh Ibn Kathir. Also Tareekh ul Kabeer, Tareekh Bagdad, Al-Jahrhu-Tadeel, Tahdeed al Tahdeeb, Usdul Gaba, Al Asabah biography of Zaid bin Kharjah by Imam Bukhari, Khateeb Ibn abi Hatam, Hafidhh Ibn Hajr Asqalani, Imam Ibn Atheer].
Hafidhh Ibn Kathir writes: That there was a Tabi’ee called Ribee bin Harraash, and he said I will not laugh until I know whether I am going to go to Heaven or Hell. When he died, and was bathed and placed in the coffin, he started to smile and started to talk. He said, “I met Allah and He was pleased with me and I asked him to give me permission to go back to the people and tell them that Allah is pleased with me, and He gave me permission. I am going back. “This is in accordance with saying of the, Prophet (May Allah bless him and grant him peace), he said that, there will be a follower and after his death he will speak and he will be the best among the tabi’een.
[Tareekh Ibn Kathir, Sirat un Nabi chapter on Miracles, Tareekh e Bagdad, Tahdeeb at Tahdeeb, Al Jahr hu wa Ta’deel by Hafidhh Ibn Kathir, Khateeb Baghdadi, Hafidhh Asqalani, Imam Ibn abi Khatam, biography of Ribee bin Harraash].
Hafidh Ibn Kathir writes: A young person used to come to the Mosque for his prayers. One day a woman with bad intentions invited him to her house, when he was in her house he recited a verse from the Holy Qur’an loudly and collapsed and died from the fear of Allah. The people prayed the funeral prayer and buried him. Umar may Allah be well pleased with him, asked: ‘Where is that young individual who used to come to the Mosque for his prayers?' They replied: 'He passed away and we have buried him'. Umar May Allah be well pleased with him, went to his grave and called out to him and recited a verse from the Holy Qur’an: ‘But for him who fears to stand before his Lord there are two Paradises' (Surah Al-Rahman, verse 46) The young man replied from his grave ‘Indeed Allah has given me two Paradises’. [Tafsir Ibn Kathir under Surah Al-’Araf, verse 202]
Calling upon someone who is absent, present, dead or alive is not Shirk. The Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wasallam) taught us to call for help. Ibn Taymiyya and Qadi Shawkani quote the following hadith: 'Abd Allah bin Mas'ud, may Allah be pleased with Him, reported that our Beloved Prophet, (May Allah bless him and grant him peace), stated: "If you ever find yourselves stranded alone in a desolate place or jungle, then say, 'O servants of Allah! Help me, Allah have mercy on you.'" [Al-Kalim al-Tayyib, page 69, by ibn Taymiyya, and Qadi Shawkani in Tufhat ad-Dhakireen, page 130. Ibn Sunni, Imam Bazaar, Hafidh al Hasamim and Imam Nawawi all quote this hadith also in their various books.] There are many Hadiths on this subject but this is not our purpose to show here. Suffice it to say that to think that Allah can only give when that saint is alive, and that when he is dead Allah does not give anymore, is to say that the source is the person and not Allah in the first place! But in reality it is Allah who is giving help in both cases: life or death.
One of the earliest examples in Islamic history regarding the seeking of Baraka is that of Hadrat Abu Bakr ® when he was buried near the Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wasallam). The second example is that of Hadrat Umar ® who had specifically requested that he be buried near the Holy Prophet (sal Alayhi wasallam) and Abu Bakr ®. When he finally got the confirmation of his burial next to Prophet’s (sal Allahu alayhi wasallam) grave, he said: "There was nothing more important to me than that." [Recorded by Imam Bukhari in his Sahih (Kitab al-Jana'iz, #1305, also 3424).] Why was that? This was because he knew greatest blessings emanated from those graves and he did not want to be deprived of those blessings. The foremost of the Companions would never indulge in any polytheistic act or Shirk, would they? As in life, they sought his (s) company in death knowing full well that the Holy Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wassallam) is alive in his grave. If there is no Barakah in the Rawdah of Rasool Allah (sal Allahu alayhi wassallam), then why all the Companions wanted to get buried near him (s) in the house of Aisha ®? Why all Sahaba considered the Rawdah of Rasool Allah (sal Allah alayhi wassallam) as sanctuary, instead of an idol place? Now do you see of the lies that are being perpetrated against Rasool-Allah (sal Allahu alayhi wassallam) and his Noble Companions ®? Ibn Hajar said in commentary on this Hadith (Fath 3:258, see also: 3:207), "From it we gain (the praise-worthiness) of having the desire for the proximity of the righteous in their graves, out of one's aspiration and hope for receiving the divine Mercy when it descends upon them, and (receiving) the Du'a of those who visit them among the pious living." Then he said this Hadith was also recorded: Muslim (#879), Ibn Sa'd (Tabaqat 3:363), Hakim (3:93), Tabarani in Mu'jam al-Awsat (from Ibn 'Umar, Sahih), Harith Ibn Abi Usama and Ibn abi Umar al-'Adabi in their Musnads, Abu Ya'la, Ibn Hibban, Abdur-Razzaq (5:474-80 #9775) and Ibn Abi Shayba (8:576-82).
In Ihya ul-Ulum it is stated that it is mustahab to visit the graves for remembering death and taking admonition from the dead and for receiving Baraka from the graves of Awliya and pious Muslims. Imam Shams-ud-din Sakhawi (ra) writes about the grave of Hamza ® that a “Qubba” (Tomb) was made on his grave and it was visited and was source of blessings (Barakah). [Sakhawi, Al-Tohfa-tul-Latifa 1:307]
Shah Abdul Azeez Dehlawi (d. 1239 H) writes: "It is in Sharh Maqasid that visiting graves is beneficial and the souls of the pious cause benefit. Indeed, after death the soul has a connection with the body and the grave. Hence, when someone comes to visit this shrine and turns towards the soul of the inmate, then the two souls (of the visitor and the inmate) form a connection. It is a point of contention whether the help of the living is stronger or that of the deceased. Some scholars have said that the deceased can help more and some have proved this from a narration from the dear Prophet (sallallahu 'alaihi wasallam) that when you need help in a matter, seek it from the people of the grave. The great Shaykh, Shah Abdul Haq Dehlwi (rahmatullah `alaih) has stated in Sharh Mishkat that there is nothing in the Qur'an and Sunnah nor the sayings of the Salaf which contradicts this position and forms a proof against it. (Fatawa Aziziya, vol.2 p.108). From this excerpt from the Fatawa of Shah Abdul Azeez, it is evident that to visit the graves of the pious is a meritorious act and to seek help from the person of the grave is totally permissible in the Shari'ah.
It is narrated in Sharh as-Sudur (Ch.51) by Imam Al-Suyuti that the Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wasallam) said that when one visits the graves, he should read Surah al-Ikhlas, Surah at-Takathur and Surah al-Fatiha, and present the reward of the recitations as a gift to the inhabitants of the graves. He also explained that these souls then ask forgiveness for him, asking Allah to forgive and bless him. This shows that the souls of the departed have the ability to make Du'a for the living, asking Allah to help those who visit them. This, then, is the source of the blessings gained by visiting the graves of the righteous. In a Hadith in (Kanzul Ummal by al-Imam al-Muttaqi) it is narrated by Sayyidina 'Ali ® that the Nabi Muhammad (sal Allahu alayhi wasallam) said: "Whoever goes to a graveyard or passes by a graveyard and recites Surat al-Ikhlas eleven times and gives the thawab (reward) of the recital to the dead buried there, will receive the same thawab for it as the dead people. We are thus encouraged to recite surat al-Ikhlas and present the thawab of it as a gift to the dead when we visit them. Today, some people are saying that making Dhikr at the graves is Bid`a!!! They must go and study Hadith.
Now, one of the reasons to go near pious people is because Allah loves them and we in turn love the pious and the Awliya Allah for the same of Allah. Many such examples could be cited to show the importance of being near a pious person brings Baraka:
To cite an example from the Holy Qur’an: Bibi Maryam was a Siddiqa and Prophet Zakariya (a.s.) noticed that Allah (swt) had granted her many miracles. As mentioned in Surah Aal-e-Imraan: “Whenever Zachariah went into the sanctuary where she was, he found that she had food. He said: O Mary! Whence cometh unto thee this (food) ? She answered: It is from Allah. Allah giveth without stint to whom He will. Then Zachariah prayed unto his Lord and said: My Lord! Bestow upon me of Thy bounty goodly offspring. Lo! Thou art the Hearer of Prayer. And the angels called to him as he stood praying in the sanctuary: Allah giveth thee glad tidings of (a son whose name is) John, (who cometh) to confirm a word from Allah lordly, chaste, a prophet of the righteous.” (3:37-39) So we see here that Prophet Zakaria (a.s.) prayed for a son in the sanctuary of Bibi Maryam and his prayers were answered immediately.
Then, we know that Imam Abu Hanifa (reh.) attended the Sohbat of Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq for two years. Why? Because in the words of the Imam-e-Azam: “Numan (i.e. he himself) would have perished if it weren’t for those two years.” Likewise, Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal used to seek the company of Bishr al-Hafi (reh.) in matters of Tasawwuf and even legal rulings. All of them were exemplers of piety! Imam Abu Hanifa and Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal were absolute Mujtahids and yet they chose to be with superiors of tasawwuf and attained Marifa and its fruits Iman al-Haqiqi. Even Imam Shafi’i, after he had shifted to Egypt, sought Nafisa at-Tahira ® to learn Ahadith and seek her prayers and blessings especially at times when he fell ill. He would then send a messenger to her with a request for Dua’ and the by the time the messenger returned he would find Imam Shafii already cured. It is evident that when Imam Shafi`i was in Baghdad, he would visit the grave of Imam Abu Hanifa, give him salam, and then ask Allah for the fulfillment of his need through his means(yatawassal ilallah ta`ala bihi fi qada' hajatihi). Imam Kawthari mentioned in his Maqalat (p. 412) that the hafiz al-Khatib al-Baghdadi mentions Shafi`i's tawassul through Abu Hanifa in the beginning of his Tarikh Baghdad with a sound chain.
Haytami also said in many places in his book al-Sawa`iq al-muhriqa li ahl al-dalal wa al-zandaqa: "Imam Shafi`i made tawassul through the Family of the Prophet [Ahl al-bayt] when he said:
Al al-nabi dhari`ati wa hum ilayhi wasilati
arju bihim u`ta ghadan bi yadi al-yamini sahifati
The Family of the Prophet are my means and my
intermediary to him. Through them I hope to be
given my record with the right hand tomorrow.
Now, sitting in the company of Awliya Allah when they are alive or sitting near their tombs or shrines after the passing away of Awliya Allah is the same. Their company sets the heart at rest and drives away many confusions and fears. Owing to our love and affection in the heart and also because supplications made there or near their grave are answered more readily. When Sayyidi Shamsudeen Hanafi was on his death-bed, he called his Mureeds and said: "If anyone has any wish or need, he should come to my grave, I will indeed help him in fulfilling it. Remember between you and me, there is merely a handful of sand, and how can a mere handful of sand be a screen between a Murshid and his Mureed. If the sand does become a screen, then the Murshid cannot be a perfect Man (Insaan-e-Kaamil)." Sayyidi Mohammed Farghal states: "I am indeed amongst those Saints who can assist you from the grave. If, therefore, you have any wish or need come to my grave and facing me, mention your requirements. I will fulfill them."
Abdullah-i-Dahlawi (reh.) (1745-1825 c.e.) says in the 8th letter of his Maktubat: "Strive to increase the Nisbat [attachment] in your heart! By doing much dhikr, that is, repeating (with your heart) the name of Allah and the Kalima-i ahlil very often, and sometimes by saying the salawat or reading the Qur'an l-karim, try to approach Allahu ta'ala! If you feel any languor during these efforts, turn your tawajjuh to this faqir's soul [the great savant means himself]! Or, visit Mirza Mazhar- i-Jan-i Janan's grave! Paying tawajjuh to him causes great progress. The benefits to be received from him will be many more than those to be received from a thousand living ones. Also, meditate over Gaws-us saqalayn Abdulqadir Geilani and Bahaaddin-i Bukhari!" It is written in detail in the book At-tawassul-u bin-Nabi wa i-ssalihin,"and in Mawlana Hamdullah Saharanpuri's book Al-basair li-munkirit- tawassul-i bi-ahl-il- maqabir that it is permissible to visit the graves of salih (pious) Muslims and to pray through them. These two books were reproduced in Arabic by Isik Kitabevi in Istanbul in 1395 Hijri .
Hadhrat Mujaddid Alf Thani (rahmatullah alayhi) made a very relevant observation in his Maktubaat that if respect, love and service for the Shaykh are in one's heart and deeds, then it does not matter how physically distant one is from the Shaykh, the faiz (flow of spiritual benefits) will surely reach him. In the absence of Adab, a person cannot obtain these benefits even if he sits regularly in his company.
Ibn Taymiyya writes: Some people came to the grave of our Prophet, (May Allah bless him and grant him peace), and requested something, and their needs were fulfilled. In the like manner, the pious people can also fulfill the needs of people - and we do not deny this. [[Iqtida as Sirat al-Mustaqim, - page 373, Ibn Taymiyya]
Continued in Part 4....