Saturday, August 6, 2011


From the Layman’s Desk-14.
Part 15 – continued… TAWASSUL OF 'UMAR (r) THRU 'ABBAS (r)
In the last post we noted Malik ad-Dar’s narration and its implications regarding the intermediaton during the caliphate of Hadhrat Umar ®when a Companion walked to the grave of the Holy Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wasallam) and said:  “O Messenger of Allah, please ask for rain from Allah for your Community who is in dire straits.” Ibn Hajar identifies the man who visited and saw the Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wasallam) in his dream as the Companion Bilal ibn al- Harith, counting this hadith among the reasons for al- Bukhari's naming of the chapter "The people's request to their leader for rain if they suffer drought" in his Sahih, book of Istisqa'.
Al-Suyuti mentions the context of this event in his Tarikh al-Khulafa' (Beirut, 1992 Ahmad Fares ed. p. 140):

"In the year 17 `Umar  (r) enlarged the Prophet’s mosque. That year there was a drought in the Hijaz. It was named the Year of Cinders (`am al-ramada). `Umar prayed for rain for the people by means of al-`Abbas. Ibn Sa`d narrated from [the Sahabi] Niyar al-Aslami that when `Umar came came out to pray for rain, he came out wearing the cloaks (burd) of the Messenger of Allah, upon him blessings and peace. Ibn `Awn narrated that `Umar took al-`Abbas's hand and raised it up, saying, 'O Allah, we seek a means to You with the uncle of Your Prophet to ask that You drive away from us the drought and water us with rain'...."
There is also a second version from al-Tabari’s Tarikh (2:509): 
In the year of the drought called al-Ramada during the successorship of `Umar the Companion Bilal ibn al-Harith, while slaughtering a sheep for his kin, noticed that the sheep's bones had turned red because the drying flesh was clinging to them. He cried out "Ya Muhammadah!" Then he saw the Prophet - upon him peace - in a dream ordering him to go to `Umar with the tidings of coming rain on condition that `Umar show wisdom. Hearing this, `Umar assembled the people and came out to pray for rain with al-`Abbas, the uncle of the Prophet upon him blessings and peace.
The Scholar of Masjid an Nabawi, Shaykh Al-Jazari writes: The narration of Bilal bin Harith concerning going to the grave and asking our Prophet, (May Allah bless him and grant him peace), to supplicate for the rain, is also recorded by Imam Bukhari in his book of Tarikh. Also, Hafidh Asqalani recorded this in Fath al Bari; Imam al Bayhaqi included it in his Dala'il al -Nabuwat, and it also appears in the Musnaf of Ibn Abi Shayba, Ibn Abi Khusaima and in Ibn Abd al Barr - this narration has really surprised me. [Waja a-Yarkudun, page32 by Abu Bakr al-Jazari]   If Abu Bakr Al-Jazari knew that Ibn Taymiyyah and Ibn Kathir wrote this narration, he would not have been so bewildered.
It may be noted that while discussing about the late Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Ibn Baz as a Prime Innovator in Islam, G.F. Haddad remarks:  “Another astonishing deviation of Ibn Baz in his remarks on Fath al-Bari is his characterizing the visit of the Companion Bilal ibn al-Harth - Allah be well-pleased with him - to the grave of the Prophet - Allah bless and greet him - and his tawassul for rain there as "aberrant" (munkar) and "an avenue to polytheism" (wasîla ilâ al-shirk).”  How strange! How ugly that a Sahaba of the high stature of Bilal ® should be maligned thus!  Strangely, the lame excuse that the wahabis give for Ibn Baz’s accusation of a Sahaba is that the companion is unknown.   This has been soundly refuted by the Sunni scholars who have produced texts to prove that the the Sahabi was Bilal ibn al-Harith ®.  For example, Ibn Hajar Asqalani says, that Sayf ibn Umar al-Tamimi says in his Al-Futuhul Kabir, that the man in the Malik ad-Dar Athar is Bilal ibn Harith al-Mudhanni.
Now we need to dwell on it more because it is important and because the Wahhabis try to prove that Tawassul is possible only through the living.  

TAWASSUL OF 'UMAR THROUGH AL-'ABBAS [may Allah be pleased with them]
It is narrated in Sahih al-Bukhari (954) from Anas ibn Maalik that if a drought came, 'Umar ibn al-Khattaab (radiyallahu 'anhu) would ask al-'Abbaas ibn 'Abd al-Muttalib to pray for rain. He would say: "O Allah, we used to beseech You by means of (the du'a of) Your Prophet for rain and You would give us rain; now we beseech You by means of (the du'a of) the paternal uncle of Your Prophet, so grant us rain."
 “Why did ‘Umar ® not seek mediation by the Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wasallam) in the place of prayer?  He turned from that and instead sought mediation by Al-’Abbas.” The answer to that has various aspects. 
Now, the event of the tawassul of Sayyiduna `Umar through al-Abbas shows the following:

[1] Nowhere in the hadith is there any indication that there was no tawassul through the Prophet upon him peace, in the time of `Umar.  Such a view is an inference or an extrapolation that is not based on explicit evidence.

[2] On the contrary, `Umar implicitly made tawassul through the Prophet upon him peace, at that very time, by wearing his blessed cloaks as he came out for the prayer for rain as mentioned in the report by Ibn Sa`d. In Sahih Muslim Asma' says that she inherited the mantle of the Prophet from her sister `A'isha and that they used it to seek a cure for people.

[3] The use of the Prophet's uncle illustrates that tawassul is essentially through the Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wasallam) as the importance of al-`Abbas in this respect is only in his relationship to the Prophet as `Umar himself states with the words "the uncle of Your Prophet" in al-Bukhari's version already mentioned; "the status of al-`Abbas in relation to your Prophet" in al-Lalika'i's version; and as al-`Abbas states:

"O Allah, truly no tribulation descends except because of sins, nor is lifted except upon repentence. The people have turned to you by means of me BECAUSE OF MY POSITION IN RELATION TO YOUR PROPHET, and here are our hands [raised up] towards you - despite our sins - and our forelocks in repentence, so send down water for us and PRESERVE YOUR PROPHET IN THE PERSON OF HIS UNCLE." Whereupon the sky let down water as thick as ropes and the people came over to al-`Abbas passing their hands over him and saying to him: “Congratulations to you, irrigator of the two Sanctuaries!” Whereupon `Umar said, “He/This is, by Allah, the means to Allah and the place of nearness to Him!”

Cited from al-Zubayr ibn Bakkar's narration in al-Ansab by Ibn Hajar in Fath al-Bari (2:497).
 The following is the reply of two scholars of Qarawwiyan Mosque, Fez in Morocco, Shaykhs Abdul-Hayy Al Amrawi and Abdul Karim Murad in their translated work, “Sufis and Sufism: A Defence”, translated by Sayyidah Aisha Bewley. You will see that the anti-tawassul usage of this athar is not proof for forbiddance of tawassul with the Prophet Muhammad (sal Allahu alayhi wasallam) at all. For brevity’s sake, we shall look into only three reasons, namely, the fourth, fifth and the sixth  from those cited in the above book:
The fourth is that by seeking mediation with Al-Abbas, Umar wanted to imitate the Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wasallam) and his family by honouring Al-Abbas and showing respect for him. This is reported clearly from Umar ®. Az-Zubayr ibn Bakkar related in Al-Ansaab from Da’ud from Ata’ from Zayd ibn Aslam from Ibn Umar who said, “Umar ibn Al Khattab performed the Rain prayer in the Year of the Drought with Al-’Abbas ibn Abdul Muttalib, and Umar addressed people and said, ‘The Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alayhi wasallam) and his family used to think of Al-’Abbas as a child thinks of a father, so, people, follow the Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alayhi wasallam) and take him as a means to Allah.’”
He said, “Allah them have rain before they left the place.” Al-Baladhuri related it by means of Hisham ibn Sa’d from Zayd ibn Aslam from his father.
The fifth,  is that ‘Umar ® wanted to do it to make it clear that it was permissible to seek mediation through other than the Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wasallam) among the people of righteousness and good whose  Baraka is hoped for.  This is why we read in Fath-ul-Bari, after the story of ‘Umar ® seeking mediation through Al-Abbas: “We can deduce from the story of Al-Abbas that it is recommended to seek the intercession of the people of righteousness and good, and the people of the House of the Prophet.”
The sixth reason   is that Umar seeking mediation by Al-’Abbas is, in reality, seeking mediation by the Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wasallam) because it is seeking mediation by Al-’Abbas since he is the uncle of the Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wasallam) and by his position in relation to him, as is expressed clearly in the words of Umar and Al-’Abbas (May Allah be pleased with them).
Then there are the words of Umar in Al-Bukhari  in which Anas ® related that Umar ® said, “Oh Allah, we sought mediation with you by our Prophet, so give us rain. We seek mediation with you by the uncle of our Prophet, so give us rain.” He said, “They received rain.” This is the version of Al-Bukhari.  His words, “We seek mediation with you by the uncle of our Prophet,” are explicit in what we said.
Clearer than that is what Ibn Abdul Barr mentioned in Al-Isti’ab when he said:  “Ibn ‘Abbas and Anas reported that while the people of Madinah Munawwara  were suffering from a drought, Umar ibn Al Khattab ®  prayed for rain through Al-’Abbas.  The reason for that was the earth became very parched in the time of the drought in the rule of Umar, in 17 A.H.   Ka’b said, ‘Amir Al-Mu’minin!, when the tribe of Israel were afflicted by the like of this, they asked for rain by the Prophets.’  Umar said, ‘This is the uncle of the Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alayhi wasallam) and the brother of his father and master of Banu Hashim.’ ‘Umar went to him and compained to him of the drought the people were suffering. Then he mounted the minbar and with Al-’Abbas and said, ‘O Allah, we turn to You by the uncle of our Prophet and the brother of his father, so give us abundant rain and so not make us those suffering from drought.’ Then ‘Umar said, ‘Rise, Abul-Fadl, and make supplication.’”
He also said, “We related by various paths of transmission that Umar went out to perform the rain prayer, and Al-’Abbas went out with him. He said, ‘Oh Allah!, we seek nearness to You by the uncle of your prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wasallam) and we seek intercession by him, so preserve him for your Prophet, as you preserved the two lads by the righteousness of their father.” He mentioned the rest of the report. In another, “By Allah, they did not leave until they clung to the walls, seeking shelter, and the people went to ‘Abbas, saying, ‘Congratulations to the water of the Haramayn!’
“What we presented are clear texts that Umar sought mediation by Al-Abbas by his position with the Prophet, (sal Allahu alayhi wasallam) and kinship with him. It is actually seeking mediation by the Messenger.  ‘Umar did not intend to forbid seeking mediation by the Prophet, may peace and blessings be upon him.” [End quote from the book pages 175-179]
According to the authors, these are sufficient points in responding to the anti-tawassul movement.  And Allah and His Messenger know best!
Umar ® used al-`Abbas ® to show people the status of the Prophet's family in the society and teach them to respect and venerate them, as Ibn Hajar said in explanation of the report of Anas cited above: “It is desirable to seek the intercession of saintly people and the relatives of the Prophet (sal Allahu `alayhi wasallam) and it shows al-`Abbas's great merit and that of `Umar due to the latter's humbleness before al-`Abbas and his recognition of his due right." 
According to Al-Kawthari, Umar had made tawassul through the Prophet in the past, upon him peace, since he said: "WE WOULD USE OUR PROPHET AS A MEANS TO YOU..." i.e. in his and Abu Bakr's rule (and not only during the life of the Prophet upon him peace), as it is improbable that they never once experienced drought in the previous 8.5 years. “But to restrict this sentence to the Prophet's lifetime is a deficiency stemming from idle lust, a manipulation of the text of the report, and figurative interpretation without proof.”
The fact of the matter is that Companions and Successors continued to make Tawassul through the Holy Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wasallam) after his time which we have noted before and which is also evident from the following report established from our Mother Aisha ® in al-Darimi’s Sunan in Chapter 15 of the Introduction (1:43), entitled: "Allah's Generosity to His Prophet after his death," related from Abu al-Jawza Aws ibn `Abd Allah with a good chain:The people of Medina were in the grip of a severe famine. They complained to ‘Ā’ishah (about their terrible condition). She told them to go towards the Prophet’s grave and open a window in the direction of the sky so that there is no curtain between the sky and the grave. The narrator says they did so. Then it started raining heavily; even the lush green grass sprang up (everywhere) and the camels had grown so fat (it seemed) they would burst out due to the over piling of blubber. So the year was named as the year of greenery and plenty.
Muhammad bin ‘Alawi al-Maliki says, “This tradition has a good chain of transmission; rather, in my opinion, it is sound. The scholars have also acknowledged its soundness and have established its genuineness on the basis of almost equally credible evidence. [Shifa’-ul-fu’ad bi-ziyarat khayr--il-‘ibad Page No.153]  In support, he also mentions the chain of transmission and various works of scholars such as Imam Subki, Imam Zurqani, Imam Qastallani, and ibn Al-Jawzi. 

[*(1) see below for further notes]
A hadith scholar and historian from Medina, ‘Alī bin Ahmad Samhūdī (d.911 AH) Has disconfirmed Ibn Taymiyyah and supported Imam Dārimī’s contention. According to him, Zayn-al-Mirāghī said, “Let it be known that it is a practice of the people of Medina to date that, during a period of drought, they open a window at the bottom of the dome in the Prophet’s tomb in the direction of prayer niche though the roof intervenes between the grave and the sky. I say that in our period, too, one of the gates in the boundary wall, enveloping the tomb, called al-mawājahah, that is, the door that opens towards the Prophet’s face, is flung open and people gather there (for prayer).
[ in Samhūdī, Wafā’-ul-wafā (2:560) ]
The Ottoman Turks followed the practice of offering prayers through the mediation of the Prophet’s grave. The practice remained in vogue till the early years of the twentieth century. Whenever there was famine and scarcity of rain, the residents of Medina persuaded a six-or-seven-year-old child to climb the roof of the grave. (He performed the ablution before climbing over the roof.) The child tugged at the rope, which had been hung down the roof to close the hole in the grave, dug at the suggestion of the Mother of the Believers, ‘Ā’ishah. When there was no curtain between the sky and the grave, it started raining.

There is a plethora of evidence with regard to the subject on hand and obviously all cannot be mentioned in this small post.  Just as the miracles of Awliya-Allah are in fact the miracles of the Holy Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wassallam) and the miracles of the Holy Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wassallam) are the Acts of Allah, likewise Tawassul continues to be solely through the Prophet despite appearances to the contrary, for he is the ultimate recourse of human beings seeking nearness to Allah as he himself taught the blind man (“Say, ‘O Muhammad, I turn with you to Allah…’”) and as several Sahaba explicitly said according to the other reports that we will see next. 
Lastly, it is important to always bear in mind the following Hadith Shareef as a definitive reply to the the doubting Thomases:
Narrated from Anas by al-Bukhari in his Sahih:  “Whoever understands from this that `Umar only used al-`Abbas as his means and not the Messenger of Allah, upon him peace, because al-`Abbas is alive and the Messenger of Allah is dead – that person’s understanding is dead.” (Al-Maliki)
To continue, Insha Allah…
*(1) It must be noted that Muhammad Nasirudin Al-Albani, a wahhabi and so-called muhaddith, wrote a book titled "Tawassul" trying to disprove this practice after the intermediary is in his grave. His interpretations are of no significance since he opposes the interpretations of the majority of huffaz of Ahl al Sunna wa'al Jama'ah.  We cannot mention the huge avalanche of refutation by the Sunni scholars but would just mention a few points: Imam Dārimī is one of the well-reputed teachers of Imam Bukhārī and other famous memorizers of traditions.   In any case the reader will find extensive documentation on this report in the Encyclopedia of Islamic Doctrine (4:47-52) and it was declared authentic by all the Sunni experts of hadith, last in date Shaykh Nabil ibn Hashim al-Ghamri in his 1999 10-volume edition of and commentary on al-Darimi titled Fath al-Mannan (1:564-566) where he rejects the objections of al-Albani and his likes to this hadith.  Just to state one point from the above as to what the Shaykh Ghumari  said regarding these claims about Abu al-Nu`man: His weakening of Abu al-Nu`man is invalid, because Abu al-Nu`man's deterioration did not affect what is narrated from him! al-Daraqutni said [as cited by Dhahabi in Mizan al-i`tidal (4:81)]: "He deteriorated at the end of his life, and no denounced hadith issued from him after his deterioration whatsoever, and he is trustworthy (thiqa)." As for what Ibn Hibban said, that "Many denounced things occurred in his narrations after his deterioration," then al-Dhahabi refuted it when he said (4:8): "Ibn Hibban was unable to cite a single denounced narration from him, and the truth is just as Daraqutni said." 
Regarding al-Albani’s charge against Shaykh al-Ghumari, Saqqaf says: We know full well that it is Albani who betrays scholarly trust and deliberately misinforms the people, even if he accuses others of disinformation.... In weakening Abu al-Nu`man he has again acted faithlessly. His quotation from al-Burhan al-Halabi's book al-Ightibat bi man rumiya bi al-ikhtilat (p. 23) is designed to pull the wool over the eyes of his followers and those who only read his works! Therefore our reply to Albani is: Shaykh al-Ghumari did not miss anything concerning this matter of deterioration, because he is a hadith scholar and a master memorizer (hafiz), however, it is you who have missed it, O slandering backbiter!}

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