Seeking Divine Favours through Ahle Bait (a.s.) – Tauheed or Shirk?

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Some Muslims take exception to the fact that the Shias seek sustenance, grace, success, health and wealth among other bounties and even invoke natural phenomena like rains, crops, etc through the channel of the Ahle Bait (a.s.). They argue that seeking divine favours through other than Allah is akin to worshipping that medium/personality. Hence, they accuse the Shias of worshipping Ahle Bait (a.s.) and brand them as polytheists (mushrik).

Importance of a Medium (Waseelah)

By seeking favours through a medium (Waseelah), Shias are by no way guilty of Shirk. Rather they are practicing Tauheed in its highest form. It is Allah Himself who has ordered the believers to seek a medium:

O you who believe! Be careful (of your duty to) Allah and seek means of nearness to Him and strive hard in His way that you may be successful.’ (Surah Maaedah (5): 35)

Those who deny Tawassul are in fact rejecting the Quran and themselves guilty of disbelief.

This verse also settles the argument that seeking a medium is akin to worshipping the medium. If that were the case Allah would not have commanded the believers to seek a medium.

There are many examples in the Quran, Sunnah and history where Muslims including companions, sought divine favours and forgiveness for their sins through a waseelah thereby reinforcing the argument of the Shias and refuting the allegation of these Muslims.

We have discussed the topic Permissibility of Tawassul in Islam in another article on our site. Click here to read the complete article.

Seeking favours through divine medium

There are many verses in the Quran where people of a nation sought favours through a divine medium. We have mentioned below some instances which by no means are exhaustive.

a)      Waseelah of Hazrat Esa (a.s.)

‘When the disciples said: O Esa son of Mariyam! Will your Lord consent to send down to us food from heaven? He said: Be careful of (your duty to) Allah if you are believers.They said: We desire that we should eat of it and that our hearts should be at rest, and that we may know that you have indeed spoken the truth to us and that we may be of the witnesses to it. Esa the son of Maryam said: O Allah, our Lord! Send down to us food from heaven which should be to us an ever-recurring happiness, to the first of us and to the last of us, and a sign from Thee, and grant us means of subsistence, and Thou art the best of the Providers. Allah said: Surely I will send it down to you, but whoever shall disbelieve afterwards from among you, surely I will chastise him with a chastisement with which I will not chastise, anyone among the nations.’ (Surah Maedah (5): 112-115)

Why did Hazrat Esa’s (a.s.) companions ask Hazrat Esa (a.s.) for food from the heavens? Why didn’t the companions ask Allah directly? If it is deemed that they erred then why did Hazrat Esa (a.s.) not correct them instead of praying to Allah for food from the heavens? Most importantly, why did Allah declare ��” ‘Surely I will send it down to you…’ thereby endorsing their tawassul instead of reprimanding them?

b)      Waseelah of Hazrat Moosa (a.s.)

And We divided them into twelve tribes, as nations; and We revealed to Moosa when his people asked him for water: Strike the rock with your staff, so out flowed from it twelve springs; each tribe knew its drinking place; and We made the clouds to give shade over them and We sent to them manna and quails: Eat of the good things We have given you. And they did not do Us any harm, but they did injustice to their own souls.’ (Surah Aaraaf (7): 160)

Again over here the Bani Israel approached Hazrat Moosa (a.s.) for something as basic as water. Why didn’t they ask Allah directly? Again neither Allah nor Hazrat Moosa (a.s.) are angry with this tawassul. Rather Allah instructs Hazrat Moosa (a.s.) on how he must go about acquiring water.

This is further endorsement of tawassul of a nation through a divine channel.

It is clear from the two afore-mentioned verses where Bani Israil sought food and water from Hazrat Esa (a.s.) and Hazrat Moosa (a.s.) respectively that it does not contradict the verse:

‘And He Who gives me to eat and gives me to drink…’ (Surah Shoara (26): 79).

Verses like these underscore that Allah provides food, drink, health and when people of a nation ask their prophet/prophet’s successor then He provides through their medium. And Allah understands Tauheed better than anyone and the Quran is the best teacher of Tauheed and we do not find any instance of Allah and the Quran reprimanding the people for asking through the medium of the prophets and their successors.

c)       Waseelah of Hazrat Yaqoob (a.s.)

They said: O our father! Ask forgiveness of our faults for us, surely we were sinners.He said: I will ask for forgiveness from my Lord, surely He is the Forgiving, the Merciful.’ (Surah Yusuf (12): 97-98)

Hazrat Yaqoob’s (a.s.) sons could have sought forgiveness of Allah by themselves without any intervention but chose to approach their father because of his stature. Hazrat Yaqoob (a.s.) also does not find this a sign of Shirk; rather he promises to pray for their forgiveness.

Method of Tawassul

Shias seek favours through the channel of the Ahle Bait (a.s.) through various supplications, ziyaarah, salawaat, munaajaat, etc.

In none of these recitations, insofar as they are reliably transmitted, are Shias seeking favours by addressing the Ahle Bait (a.s.) as independent authorities or as partners of Allah. The Ahle Bait (a.s.) are consistently invoked as immaculate personalities, having a high station near Allah, always subservient to His Command and Authority.

a)                  Ziyaarat-e-Jaameah

These Muslims take exception to the recitation of Ziyaarat-e-Jaameah. They maintain that the Ziyaarah is a recipe for Shirk as the Ahle Bait (a.s.) are addressed as partners of Allah (Allah forbid).

As with all their accusations, this is patently misleading as nowhere in the Ziyaarah are the Ahle Bait (a.s.) addressed as partners of Allah and this Ziyaarah, in fact, is the epitome of Tauheed.

Ziyaarat-e-Jaameah is one of the most authentic ziyaaraat and is narrated by an infallible ��” Hazrat Imam Ali b. Muhammad al-Haadi (a.s.), who comprehended Tauheed and Shirk exactly as revealed in the Quran and explained by the Prophet (s.a.w.a.). The scholars of the time including the enemies of Ahle Bait (a.s.) used to approach him (a.s.) and other infallibles from the Ahle Bait (a.s.) to understand Tauheed and Shirk.

As an illustration, we have narrated some lines from the Ziyaarah and readers can best judge if it is Shirk:

‘…on account of you He sent down abundant and far spread rain, because of you the sky prevents itself from falling down over the earth unless He permits, due to you He drives away troubles and dismisses hardshipswith you is that with which His Messengers came down…’

Clearly the Ahle Bait (a.s.) are invoked as waseelah in these statements and Allah is shown as the ultimate executor of the act. Over here the elevated position of the Ahle Bait (a.s.) is being highlighted as a means of rain, barriers against disasters and misfortunes. Nowhere is it implied that the Ahle Bait (a.s.) themselves send down rain and prevent disasters.

In recitations where it is shown that the Ahle Bait (a.s.) are themselves performing the action, then it is implicit that they are doing so on Allah’s Command. Just like Allah says in the Quran regarding capturing of the soul:

Say: The Angel of Death who is given charge of you shall cause you to die…’ (Surah Sajdah (32): 11)

Over here the Angel of Death is given charge to capture the soul. It is clear to one who understands the essence of Tauheed and Shirk and appreciates the style of the Quran that the Angel does not have independent charge and is subservient to divine command at all times.

Likewise it is clear to the one who recites Ziyaarat-e-Jaameaah that the Ahle Bait (a.s.) are subservient to divine command and act based on divine instruction as they are more obedient to Allah than the Angel of Death and enjoy a position higher than all the angels put together.

b)                  Dua-e-Tawassul

This is another important supplication recited by the Shias. As the name suggests it is a recitation to seek divine favours through the waseelah of the Ahle Bait (a.s.). Again in this supplication, as we will see, the Ahle Bait (a.s.) are a medium/waseelah to acquire divine favours; they are by no means the ultimate bestowers of the bounties.

For instance, while seeking the waseelah of AmeerulMomineen Ali b. AbiTaalib (a.s.) we recite:

O Abul Hasan, O Ameerul Mominen, O Ali b. Abi Taalib, O decisive argument of Allah over mankind, O our chief, O our master, we turn towards you, seek your intercession and advocacy before Allah, we put before you our needs, O intimate of Allah, intercede for us with Allah.’

Likewise we seek the waseelah of the other infallibles (a.s.).

As it is clear from the recitation, Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) is being invoked as a person who enjoys a very high position near Allah. He is not invoked as Allah Himself or a partner of Allah.

This is the essence of all reliably transmitted recitations seeking divine favours through the Ahle Bait (a.s.). There is no confusion with regards to Tauheed and Shirk in these recitations. In fact, these recitations are the perfect interpretation of Tauheed and Shirk which these Muslims will understand if only they pay more attention to evident verses of the Quran and the reliable Sunnah. Moreover, since Allah the Almighty has Himself ordered in the Holy Quran to seek waseelah, it becomes incumbent upon every Muslim ��” male and female ��” to obey divine orders and whosoever refuses to do so has in fact disobeyed the Almighty and consequently, gone out of the domain of Islam.

‘And peace be upon the one who follows the guidance.’

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