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.
What is Baraka?
Baraka originates from Allah (subhaanahu wa ta’la). This Baraka is capable of being transmitted to human beings, especially the Prophets (a.s.) and through them to the holy persons and objects. Professor Tahir al-Qadiri writes: It is clear from the teachings of the Qur’an and sunna that some individuals, items and places have been given unique qualities and blessings, that give them added superiority over other created things. To seek baraka, mercy and happiness through the means of these blessed individuals and items, from Allah alone, is referred to as Tabarruk. [The Position of Tabarruk in Shariah, Tahir al-Qadiri, pp. 18-19.] The Egyptian scholar Imam Sha’rawi defined “Baraka” as: Baraka is when you get something more than expected from something or someone.
Generally speaking, the Islamic Prophets (a.s.), and the Ambiya-e-mursaleen Muhammed Mustafa (sal Allahu alayhi wasallam), and through them the Sahaba, the Tabiieen, Taba-Tabiieen, the Awliya-Allah and holy persons are credited with Baraka. Great Sufi Shaykhs or Awliya possess a Baraka which is transmitted to others and which may remain associated with their tombs or shrines. A Muslim can also ask Allah through relics that belonged to pious people, and may even use amulets with verses on the Qur’an on them as a means of asking God for protection from evil. It is not the means that provides protection, but Allah. To seek Tabarruk is permissible (mubah) according to all the Muslims. None denies it - except those who deviate from the Sunna and who harbour the disease of ignorance and suspicion in their heart.
In the various ayahs of the Holy Qur’an itself we read about blessings and blessedness. For example, in verses 6:92, 6:155, 7:94, the Holy Qur’an itself is called a Blessed Scripture. In verse 3:96 of the Holy Qur’an, the Ka’ba shareef is called blessed: "Indeed, the first House [of worship] established for mankind was that at Makkah – blessed and a guidance for the worlds." (Holy Quran, 3:96). The Olive Tree is called blessed in the Holy Qur’an in 24:35. The ZamZam: “Verily, it is blessed, it is food that nourishes.” (Narrated by Imaam Muslim, 2473). For our purpose in this short article, we need not go into all of those instances where the Holy Qur’an speaks of the Baraka, except a few!
I believe in the blessings of places: When Sayiduna Zakariyyah (peace be upon him) saw that the Mihrab of Maryam (peace be upon her) was unique and sacred in that miracles occurred there, he decided to use this same place to pray to Allah for a child. As a result, Allah bestowed him Yahya (peace be upon him) despite his and his wife’s old age (Qur’an 3: 36-41).
Allah Himself has made reference to the relics of the Prophets in the Holy Qur’ān: The Holy Quran states, “O Bani Israel! Enter the door of Baitul-Muqaddas making Sajda and say, “May our sins be forgiven”.” 19.31 – Surah Aaraaj, Verse 161. This verse commands the respect of Baitul-Muqaddas (which is the resting area of the Prophets), ordering the Bani Israel to enter it making Sajda.
It is also known from this verse that repentance (tauba) is quickly accepted at sacred places. Allah (swt) said to Hadrat Ayub (a.s.) Surah Sad:Verse 42: Allah said to him): "Strike the ground with your foot: This is a spring of water to wash in, cool and a (refreshing) drink." He complied with the order and water from the spring gushed forth. He took a bath with the water and got cured from his evil disease.
Allah says in Surah Baqara of the Holy Quran:"And make the standing place of Ibrahim, the place of Salaah."
For a stone that has been related to Ibrahim (alaihis salaam), for that stone to become (part of) a verse of the Holy Quran and also a spot for the performance of Salaah, and for it to be protected for so many centuries is the proof of the excellence of that stone - that those objects which are associated to the beloved servants of Almighty Allah become blessed and religious relics! They should be respected and also preserved.
This one single stone which has been associated with Ibrahim (alaihis salaam) has become so blessed that after making the Tawaaf of the Holy Kaaba, it is greater to read two Rakaats Salaah at that place than any other place. Almighty Allah has made it one of His tokens (signs). It is stated that: "Verily the very first house which was selected for the people, is that which is in Makkah. It is a blessed one and one that shows the path to the entire world. In it is clear signs, the standing stone of Hazrat Ebrahim (alaihis salaam)." (Sura Nisa)
Commenting on the above verse of the Holy Quran, Mujahid ® the exalted student of Abdullah ibn Abbas ® says, "For the impression of both the blessed feet of Ibrahim (alaihis salaam) to be imprinted on the stone, is a clear sign." (Ibn Jareer: Ibnil Munzir)
For a stone that has been related to Hazrat Ibrahim (alaihis salaam), for that stone to become (part of) a verse of the Holy Quran and also a spot for the performance of Salaah, and for it to be protected for so many centuries is the proof of the excellence of that stone - that those objects which are associated to the beloved servants of Almighty Allah become blessed and religious relics! They should be respected and also preserved.
Again, Allah the Almighty says in the Qur’an:
Translation: And (further) their Prophet said to them: "A Sign of his authority is that there shall come to you the Ark of the covenant, with (an assurance) therein of security from your Lord, and the relics left by the family of Moses and the family of Aaron, carried by angels. In this is a symbol for you if ye indeed have faith." [Quran 2:248]
Hafidhh ibn Kathir and Qadi Shawkani write:
In the box there was Musa and Haroon’s clothes, Musa’a stick, and pieces of the Old Testament and some things of the previous Prophets, which had touched their bodies. When Bani Isra’il went to war, they took that box with them and they used to win.
[Tafsir ibn Kathir and Tafsir Fathul Qadir by Hafidhh ibn Kathir and Qadi Shawkani]
"When the Bani Israeel used to present themselves in battle, then they used to keep that trunk in front of them and they used to ask for victory over their enemies through it's mediation." (Roohul Bayaan, Vol. 1, page 385)
"The Bani Israeel used to ask, through the mediation of this trunk, for victory over their enemies. They used to place it in front of them in a battle, and this used to give them tranquillity." (Tafseer-e-Jalaalain)
By respecting and honouring the blessed belongings, one gains blessings and great benefit. By disrespecting and insulting these blessed relics, one is faced with many problems, sickness begin to spread, and destruction and devastation occurs.
The clear proof of this is that when Imaaqa stole the sacred trunk from the Bani Israeel and began to show disrespect and insult towards it, they became engulfed in all types of illnesses and all five of their villages were destroyed. It is recorded that: "When the Bani Israeel showed disobedience and began causing turmoil, Almighty Allah appointed Imaaqa over them. They became victorious over the Bani Israeel and took the trunk away from them. They kept it in the toilet area. When Almighty Allah intended to make Taaloot the King, then Almighty Allah sent problems on Imaaqa to this extent that any person who urinated near the trunk got piles, and five towns and their population were destroyed. The Kaafirs then knew that all this destruction was being caused through the disrespect of the Trunk. Thus, they took the trunk out of their locality. (Roohul Bayaan, Vol. 1, page 385)
We learn from this incident of the destruction and problems of Imaaqa, that showing disrespect and insult to the blessed belongings of the pious servants leads to destruction.
Similarly, we learn that Salih (a.s.) feared that the Kaafirs of Thamud might kill the miraculous she-camel. The Holy Qur’an says that he warned them: "O my people! This she camel of Allah is a sign to you, leave her to feed on Allah's earth, and touch her not with evil lest a near torment will seize you." (Ch 11:64 Quran)
However, they continued in their disbelief and did not heed the warning. They hamstrung the blessed she-camel and were destroyed! The details are there in the Holy Qur’an (Ch.7: 73-79; Ch.11:61-62; Ch.15: 80-81; Ch.17:59; Ch.27:45-53).
At another place in the Holy Qur’ān Allah has related the incident in which Ya‘qūb (a.s.) drew blessing from Yūsuf’s shirt:
"Go with this my shirt, and cast it over the face of my father: he will come to see (clearly). Then come ye (here) to me together with all your family." When the caravan left (Egypt), their father said: "I do indeed scent the presence of Joseph: Nay, think me not a dotard." They said: "By Allah. truly thou art in thine old wandering mind." Then when the bearer of the good news came, He cast (the shirt) over his face, and he forthwith regained clear sight. He said: "Did I not say to you, 'I know from Allah that which ye know not?'" (12:93-96)
The shirt that Hazrat Yusuf (alaihis salaam) gave to his brothers was also from the belongings of Ibrahim (alaihis salaam). Ibrahim (alaihis salaam) used the very same shirt to confront Namrud. It was this same shirt that reached Hazrat Yaqoob (alaihis salaam).
Hazrat Yaqoob (alaihis salaam) later made the shirt into a Ta'weez and placed it around the neck of Hazrat Yusuf (alaihis salaam) as a protection against evil sight, and other things. This is evident in "Tafseer-e-Jalaalain", "Tafseer-e-Saawi" and other books.
"And that shirt belonged to Ibrahim (alaihis salaam) which he wore at the time when he was put into the fire. It was also around the neck of Yusuf (alaihis salaam) when he was thrown into the well." (Tafseer-e-Jalaalain)
"That shirt was with Ibrahim (alaihis salaam). When he passed away, Yaqoob (alaihis salaam) then received it. He placed the shirt in a silver cover, lengthened the top and placed it around the neck of Yusuf (alaihis salaam) for the protection from evil sight. When Yusuf (a.s.) was thrown bare into the deep well, then Jibraeel (alaihis salaam) came and removed the shirt from the Ta'weez and dressed him in it." (Tafseer Saawi, Vol. 2, page 258)
We also see instances of Baraka from the dust touched by the footsteps of the Messenger: He (Samiri) said: I perceived what they perceive not, so I seized a handful from the footsteps of the messenger (Jibrael), and then threw it in. (20:96) According to almost all the Ahadith of Rasool Allah (sal Allahu alayhi wasallam) this “Messenger” was Jibrael (as). The sand had become blessed while horse of Jibrael (a.s.) passed over it. And when Samiri put that in idol of calf, it started speaking due to that Barakah.
Then regarding Mount Safa and Marwa, the Qur’an declares the mountains of Safa and Marwa are ‘the signs (sha’a’ir) of Allah’ (2:158). Muslims are ordered to walk between them in remembrance of Hajar, the mother of Isma’il (peace be upon them). These two mountains are not special or sacred per se, but when Sayyida Hajar (may Allah be pleased with her) ran between them in search of water, the area became a sign of Allah and a source of blessings. In fact, such is the uniqueness of this place that thousands of years later, Muslims still run between these mountains during Hajj and Umra, and by doing so, gain the proximity of Allah.
Now, when we consider how Ibrahim’s (a.s.) shirt passed from one Nabi to another Nabi and how it was placed as a Ta’weez around the neck of Yusuf (a.s.) and later the same shirt Angel Gabriel used to cover the bareness of Yusuf (a.s.) after the Nabi was thrown into the well by his brothers, and the fact that from Egypt Yusuf (a.s.) sent this shirt to be used by Yaqoob (a.s.) who cast this shirt over his face and regained his lost sight immediately, amply go to demonstrate and prove that it is permissible to preserve relics of Allah’s Prophets and pious servants. It is also permissible to show respect and honour to such relics and to use them for curing illnesses and for using them for blessings and other needs. Such is the Sunnah of the Ambiya (a.s.). It is also evident that to respect, honour, show respect and use these blessed belongings as mediation is the sign of the believers. To insult these blessed relics and show disrespect is a sign of being misled.
Continued in Part 2….