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Aqeedah and Fiqh

Line in the Sand | Part 1

Published

Introduction | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

by Yahya Whitmer, co-edited by Shaykh Yasir Qadhi

In the introduction to this series I explained why I am committed to developing a dialogue around the topic of Tawhid of worship. No matter what terms I use or what phrases I come up with, they are all massive understatements in regards to the importance of this issue. Only the words of the Creator Himself can do this topic justice and He has said, “I have not created the jinn and mankind except to worship Me” (51:56). Tawhid is quite simply the meaning of life and it is tragically unfortunate that there are grave misconceptions regarding it within the Islamic Ummah.

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I will list some of those misconceptions here. All of these fatawa come from one website though not one person. Different Shuyukh gave their opinions and justifications regarding this issue. Thankfully, their opinions do not represent the entire body of Sufism and certainly do not represent the majority of the Ummah (despite their claims to the contrary). I assume, since they are all coming from one website, that they do represent a particular school of Sufi thought, but I decline to put an exact label on that school, for fear of painting too broad a stroke. But have no doubt, this is not a fringe group. The people who directly support the concept of making invocation to created beings are major figures in the modern Western Sufi scene and it is safe to say that thousands of Muslims are influenced by them. I would not have bothered with addressing their opinions were this not the case. As I mentioned in the introduction, I will not mention names in the hopes that the dialogue can remain focused on discussing the opinions, evidences, and implications, and not be hijacked by any emotional attachments for the people involved.  I will quote directly where possible, but at the end I will summarize their collective opinion for the sake of clarity and comprehension.

Prayer to the Creation

To put it succinctly, this brand of Sufism allows for direct invocation of created beings. Several similar questions were posted on their website, sometimes expressing concern and discomfort in regards to this practice:

  • “I see on some internet forums, people writing such things as “Ya Ali I invoke thee” – I wanted to know is it allowed to say such things? Does this not smack of shirk?”  The Shaykh responds, “This is pure affirmation of Divine O neness. How can it smack of shirk?” In his response he mentions several viewpoints to justify his opinion. We will address those justifications soon.
  • Another person asks, “Is it permitted to call someone other than Allah for help? Is this not bordering on shirk?”  And another scholar replies, “there is nothing wrong in using the Prophets, saints and the righteous as intermediaries to Allah, through any of the above mentioned means, as long as one does not believe them to have the power to benefit or harm in of themselves without the granting of Allah.”
  • A person seeks validation: “I have a sheikh M******* who has passed away now. Whenever I am in need of help I ask for his help and  my work is done and I know this is through Allah but many people question me that how can this happen he was a human you are doing bidat ask straight from Allah these people do not believe in sheikhs. Could you please tell me how this help arrives?”  The official response: “There is general agreement of Sunni scholarship that tawassul (intercession; seeking a means) of the righteous is permitted, in their life and death”

Tawassul

From the fatawa above, I conclude that these Shuyukh believe that direct supplication of beings other than Allah is allowed and that this is an acceptable form of tawassul. I don’t see how other interpretations are possible, because in the questions posted above Allah is not even mentioned in the supplication.  “Tawassul” is an Arabic term that literally means to “seek a means of approach” and in spiritual contexts it is defined as seeking a means to be close to God. In the body of Islamic law there are many interpretations of tawassul, amongst them:

1.  Asking Allah via invocation of His Names and Attributes

2. Asking Allah through the virtue of your own good deeds

3. Asking a pious person to make du’a for you

These are examples of valid forms of tawassul that have been approved by the earliest scholars of Islam. An aberrant interpretation of tawassul, allowing for direct invocation of the “pious”, appeared at the end of the 3rd Hijri century. It was initially espoused only by extremist Shi’ite groups, but eventually found its way into some schools of Sufi thought[1]. This is the only issue that this series is dedicated to refuting. This series does not intend to discuss the legality of invoking another being’s name or status while making Du’aa directly to Allah, such as in the phrase “O Allah I ask you by your Prophet” or “I ask You by the Prophet’s station”. The classical scholars of Islam have differed regarding the permissibility of this form of tawassul but none of them considered this to be Shirk. It is only the direct invocation of created beings that we are addressing.

The Passion of the Believer

Even before this series was published, I was often asked why I concern myself with such things and that sentiment has been echoed after publication. People have said that this is an irrelevant and old debate not worth reviving. Others have said that there are more pressing matters, that social and economic problems are a bigger issue for Muslims in the West or that topics like this are a waste of time in the face of the violent political upheavals in other parts of the Muslim world. My response is this: the things we stand up for are the greatest reflection of who we really are and what we really love. People choose to defend the interests of their country, their people, their family and friends or themselves. All those can be noble endeavors. The people involved with the production and dissemination of this series have chosen to stand up for the Creator’s divine right to be worshipped. For me personally, this is not an abstract theological debate; rather it is an expression of the living covenant that defines my life. As Winston Churchill once said, “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”  The following verses show that the believer is indeed passionate about his relationship with God and willing to sacrifice comfort for His sake:

“Say: Indeed my prayer, my sacrifice, my life and my death are for Allah, the Lord of the Worlds” (6.162)

“Say: If your fathers and your children and your brothers and your spouses and your kin and the wealth that you have gained and the commerce whose decline you fear and the dwellings in which you delight are dearer to you than Allah and His messenger and striving in His cause, then wait until Allah brings His command, and Allah does not guide the disobedient” (9.24)

“And amongst mankind are those who take others as rivals to Allah, loving them as only Allah should be loved, but the believers love Allah more than anything” (2:165)

Tawhid gives our Struggles Eternal Meaning

None of this takes away from the importance of addressing the pressing social and political problems that our brothers and sisters face. Indeed, Tawhid is what gives our struggles and our pain true meaning, elevating it from a finite mortal affair into something eternal:

And surely We shall test you with something of fear and hunger, and loss of wealth and lives and crops; but give glad tidings to the steadfast.

Who say, when a misfortune befalls them: Indeed, we belong to Allah and indeed, unto Him we are returning.

Such are they upon whom are blessings and mercy from their Lord. Such are the rightly guided.” (2:155-157)

 “And their Lord answered them: Indeed, I will not let go to waste the deeds of any of you, man or woman, you are a part of each other. So those who emigrated and were driven out from their homes and suffered for My cause, and fought and were slain, surely I will remit their wrongdoings and admit them into the Gardens underneath which rivers flow – a reward from Allah. And with Allah is the fairest of rewards” (3:195)

This debate is indeed old, going back to the time of Noah (‘alayhi’l-salam) and I am glad to be a part of that tradition. I hope that I have clearly framed the issue that we are discussing and that any ambiguity has now been cleared. I sincerely pray that I have fairly and accurately represented the opinions of these Sufi scholars and that the only result of this series is the discovery of Truth and not partisan division.

Prayer and the Human Condition

Few things are as definitive to the human condition as our suffering and need. In an attempt to relieve our turmoil, mankind has long called out in prayer. For the truly faithful, prayer is not an indication of desperation or impotence, but rather a sign of hope and resilience, as shown by Jacob in his unfaltering determination to be reunited with his sons: “I complain of my suffering and grief only to Allah and I know from Allah things that you do not. My sons! Go look for Yusuf and his brother and do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Indeed only those without faith lose hope in the mercy of Allah.” (12:86-87)

Prayer indicates our belief in something greater and more sacred than ourselves. This belief in the Divine is essential in overcoming our baser natures and striving for something better and it is an inherent part of humanity. As Teilhard de Chardin has said, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” Prayer is the purest articulation of our human soul and as the Prophetic narrations have elucidated, it is the essence of worship[2]. But only one being deserves this expression of faith and hope:

“He merges Night into Day and he merges Day into Night and he has subjected the sun and the moon: each runs its course for a term appointed. Such is Allah your Lord: to Him belongs all Dominion. And those whom you pray to besides Him do not even have dominion over the membrane of a date seed.

If you pray to them, they will not listen to your call, and if they were to listen, they cannot answer your prayer. On the Day of Judgment they will reject your association (Shirk) and none can tell you the Truth like the One who is acquainted with all things.

O mankind! It is you that have need of Allah, but Allah is the One Free of all wants, worthy of all praise.” (35:13-15)

These verses inform us, in no uncertain terms, of the following spiritual realities:

1.  None other than God has dominion over creation

2.  No one hears or answers prayers other than the Creator Himself

3. To call upon other than God is Shirk

4. Those worshipped via prayer abhor and reject the act of praying to them

The Muhkamaat of the Quran

In an ideal world this series would end right here. Allah’s words clarify this issue in a way that leaves no room for rational doubt and is easily understood by both the scholarly and lay person. This verse is an example of the Quran’s muhkamaat, the clear and definitive verses that Allah mentions in the beginning of Surah Al Imran:

“He is the One who revealed to you the Book, in it are verses of absolute clarity; they are the foundation of the Book, while other verses are ambiguous. As for those in whose hearts is perversity, they follow the ambiguous, seeking discord and seeking their interpretation, but no one knows their true meaning except Allah. As for those firm in knowledge, they say, ‘We believe in it, all is from our Lord’ and none will take heed except those of sound mind.” (3:7)

As Sheikh Ibn Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy upon him) often explained, the verses of the Quran that have several possible interpretations must be weighed against the verses that are definitive and clear. The ambiguous meanings gain shape and definition when put in the framework of the clear and defined.

Another principle mentioned by the scholars of Islam is that the clarity and abundance of evidence is directly correlated with the significance of the issue; i.e. the more important a particular ruling is, the more evidences there will be that clearly indicate Allah’s decree regarding it. There is hardly a page in the Quran that does not indicate that our fears, our hopes, our faith, our love, and our worship should be directed only to the one, unique Creator to the exclusion of all others:

“And the places of worship are for Allah alone: So do not invoke anyone along with Allah” (72:18)

“Do not worship anything except Allah” (2:83)

“Worship Allah and make no partners unto Him” (4:36)

These verses contain General Prohibitions (Nahy ‘Aam) as defined in Usool al Fiqh. “It is obligatory to adhere to the generality of the expression until an exception is established, because acting in accordance with the implications of the Book and the Sunnah is obligatory until sound evidence proves otherwise.[3]” Basically this means that if the Quran tells you not to do something, don’t do it in any way, shape, or form, until an exception has been established. There is no authentic evidence from the Book of Allah or the Sunnah of His Messenger that makes an exception to the law of worshipping Allah alone.

What is a God?

As we will later explore in more depth, the Arabic and hence Quranic use of the word “ilah” (“god”) refers to any being that has been taken as an object of worship. The pagan Arabs believed in the existence of Allah and understood that He alone was the Creator and Lord of the Heavens and the Earth:

“Say: To whom belongs the Earth and all beings therein, if you have knowledge?

They will say: all that belongs to Allah. Say: Will you not then take heed?

Say: Who is Lord of the Seven Heavens and Lord of the Glorious Throne?

They will say: all that belongs to Allah. Say: Then will you not fear Him?

Say: In whose hand is the dominion over all things and He protects all, while against Him there is no protection, if you have knowledge?

They will say: all that belongs to Allah. Say: Then how are you so deluded?” (23:84-89)

Despite these firm acknowledgements of Allah’s dominion over creation, they still prayed to other false gods, believing that their intercession would bring them closer to Allah:

“And those who take Awliyaa besides Allah say: We worship them only that they may bring us nearer to Allah. Indeed, Allah will judge between them in that wherein they differ. Indeed, Allah does not guide those who are false and ungrateful.” (39:3)

The Quranic paradigm establishes that deification is via worship, especially prayer, and that believing that the deity is a creator or controller over some aspect of creation is not required for the act to be considered Shirk. Put simply: if you pray to it, you have worshipped it, and if you have worshipped it, it has become your god:

“And call not, besides Allah, on another god. There is no god but He. Everything that exists will perish except His own Face. To Him belongs the Command and to Him you will return.” (28:88)

In explanation of this ayah, Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) is reported to have said that all things not done for the sake of God will perish, indicating that only the actions that we do in Allah’s name alone will be of use to us beyond the grave. Tawhid is our only door to eternity.

And how could it be otherwise? How could the deep devotion, the faith and trust, the hope and love, that manifests itself in prayer be allowed to be directed towards anything but Allah alone? The Muwahhid (true monotheist), whose heart has settled in the tranquility of Tawhid, finds such a concept abominable. This idea is echoed so frequently in Revelation that there can be no doubt that it is the Quran’s central message and the most important legacy of the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) as well as the other Prophets of God. To honor it is to honor them, their struggles, and their sacrifice:

Say: We believe in Allah, and in what has been revealed to us and what was revealed to Abraham, Isma’il, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and in (the Books) given to Moses, Jesus, and the Prophets, from their Lord: We make no distinction between any of them and unto Him we have surrendered”(3:84)

The Majority Opinion

Because of the overwhelming evidence there is not a single word of dissent from the scholars of the Blessed Generations[4] regarding this topic, as Ibn Taymiyyah (May Allah have mercy on him) has said: “There is no opinion from the Imams of the Muslims which allows seeking succor (istigathah) from other than Allah, nor is there record of any criticism directed towards anyone who prohibited such an action.[5]” And even after this spiritual Golden Age, the majority of Islamic scholarship has considered the act of praying to other than God to be prohibited, including the greater body of the Ash’arite school[6]. Furthermore, it is the authors’ opinion that this attitude extends to the general populace of Sunni Muslims; our uncles, aunts, cousins, the average masjid-going brother or sister, they pray to Allah alone. While there might be some detrimental exaggeration directed towards the people considered to be Awliyaa, the actual worship of these Awliyaa is only prevalent amongst dedicated associates of certain “spiritual” paths. Alhamdulillah, the Prophet’s ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) legacy remains vibrant.

A Relationship with God

The preceding verses and the many others like them shed light on the exclusive nature of the covenant with God. Entering into a direct relationship with the Creator is not a trivial affair, despite the nonchalance that so many people display nowadays towards the topic. Think of all the pivotal relationships in your life. Think of the dedication that you are determined to display to your wife, your children, your parents, your friends, your country, your business ventures. Think of the sacrifice, the patience, the courage and hard work needed to make these relationships work. Then remember that Allah is Akbar, greater than all of that. From Him you and all that you know have come and to Him everything will return. Allah is Akbar, more beautiful and generous than you can imagine, and the commitment He is due is greater than any other. In a divine narration (hadeeth qudsi) Allah teaches us exactly what level of devotion he requires: “I am the least in need of having any associate, so whoever does an action for someone else’s sake as well as Mine, I have no need of him and his infidelity.”[7] Allah asks us for absolute sincerity in our worship; anything less is not worthy of Him. And this is not just about a single action but rather our whole deen, every aspect of our spirituality must be sincerely and purely for God alone for us to have a relationship with Him. This is the message of that great surah of the Quran, Al Kafiroon, which has been described by the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) as being liberation from Shirk[8].

“Say: O you who reject faith!

I worship not that which you worship;

And you are not worshippers of what I worship;

And I am not a worshipper of what you worship;

And you are not worshippers of what I worship;

Unto you your religion, and unto me my religion.” (109)

In this blessed chapter Allah has commanded the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) to convey to the pagan Arabs of Makkah that they are not and never have been worshippers of the Creator. Despite their prayer to Allah, their sacrifice in His Name, and their glorification of the rituals performed at His House, they have never truly worshipped God, because they have never forsaken the worship of all others. This is God’s Divine condition; to know Him and worship Him, to have a relationship with Him, one must renounce the worship of all other beings.

“And he who rejects false deities and believes in Allah has grasped a firm handhold that will never break” (2:256)

“And when Ibrahim said to his father and his people: Truly, I have nothing to do with the things that you worship.

I worship only He who made me and He will certainly guide me” (43:26-27)

Our Spiritual Lives: Between the Barren and the Rich     

Today, many brothers and sisters complain of spiritual malaise, of an apathy of the soul. Salat does not comfort them as promised; the Quran does not inspire them as they were told it would. And as for Du’aa, that pure, primal call of the wounded and questioning heart; many complain that the only response they receive is silence. And yet for others, Salat is a refuge from all pain and distress, more familiar and comforting to them than the home they grew up in as a child. The Quran not only reminds and inspires them, but through it they make sense and find peace in an often insane and cruel world. And as for Du’aa, its intimate call is consistently answered by an immediate and nearly tangible connection with the only being that truly knows them.

Perhaps the difference between these two experiences is the willingness to commit to God absolutely and to reject hope, adulation, and prayer to anybody other than Him. This is the first step towards Allah. And for every step that the servant takes towards his Lord, Allah reciprocates ten-fold: He who comes with a good deed, shall be rewarded ten-fold or even more. And he who comes with sin, his recompense shall be equivalent or My forgiveness. He who draws close to Me a hand’s span, I will draw close to him an arm’s length. And whoever draws near to Me an arm’s length, I will draw near to him a fathom’s length. And whoever comes to Me walking, I will go to him running. And whoever faces Me with sins as great as the earth, I will meet him with forgiveness as great as that, as long as he comes to Me worshipping no one but Me.[9]

The creation is limited, Allah is infinite

Nothing is lost by praying only to God and severing spiritual attachment to His creation. Rather, everything is gained because this initiates the servant into a true relationship with Allah wherein He becomes your confidante and your protector. Your hope and strength draw from the infinite of God rather than the limits of His creation. For even the greatest of God’s creature has limitations, “O Fatima, daughter of Muhammad, in the sight of Allah, I can do nothing for you. O Safiyyah, aunt of Muhammad, in the sight of Allah, I can do nothing for you. O Abbas, uncle of Muhammad, in the sight of Allah, I can do nothing for you.[10]The Prophet, for all his glory and station with God (as exemplified by his Grand Intercession on the Day of Judgment), is but a servant of the Creator, as he himself said ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), “Do not exaggerate in my praise as the Christians have done for the son of Mary. I am but a slave, so say: the slave of Allah and His messenger.[11]If this is the reality of Allah’s final messenger, how could any of God’s creations be something more?

A Spiritual Framework

These verses and hadith were not presented just to make a theological argument. Rather they represent a framework through which to understand our relationship with God. This framework is not built from esoteric logical analogies, but rather the muhkamaat (the clear and decisive commands) of Allah’s final revelation. They are simple enough to be understood by children, yet they are strong enough to serve us in our most desperate times of need. Such is the guidance that God has revealed, and such is the legacy of Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). These verses and hadith provide the foundation for personal change by opening the door to God Himself and only the most pitiful would not be transformed by a relationship with Him. And every relationship has its cost; no seed grows without watering, no child learns without teaching, no love grows without concern and care. The joy of knowing God has its cost as well: to commit to His worship and adulation to the exclusion of all others. “Is it not to Allah that sincere devotion is due?” (39:3)

A Duty to Read

This article has focused on Allah’s guidance as manifested in the muhkamaat of the Quran. Our duty as Muslims and as inheritor’s of the Prophet’s legacy is to read these verses and to be changed by them. Any type of positive political or social change which the Quran induced was preceded by a change in perception and values. In gratitude to the gift of Revelation and the sacrifice of the Prophet and his companions, we must make the Quran our framework for understanding all things; the topic of worship especially. In the next installment we will explore the Prophet’s Sunnah and discover what made him the greatest human personification of Tawhid the world has ever known, may the peace and blessings of God be upon him. And Allah knows best.



[1] Abdullah As-Sahli, Al Istigatha fi Ar-Radd ‘ala Al Bakri,Riyadh, Dar Al Watan, 1997, 10.

[2] “Du’aa is worship” and “Du’aa is the essence of worship”, both narrated by Imam Al Tirmithi.

[3] Muhammad Al-Uthaymeen, Al Usool fee ‘Ilm al Usool, 1426 H, 35.

[4] “Mine is the best generation, then the one that comes after, then the one after that.” Sahih Al Bukhari.

[5] Abdullah As-Sahli ,300.

[6] Abdullah As-Sahli ,305. While classical Ash’arite theology prohibits the worship of other than Allah, it does not consider such actions to be Shirk. This will be addressed in greater detail in latter parts of this series.

[7] Narrated by Muslim and Ibn Majah.

[8] Narrated by Ahmad, Abu Dawud, Tirmithi, declared Saheeh by Al Hakim and Al Thahabi. Nawfal Al Ashja’I said, “Oh Messenger of Allah, teach me what to say when I lie down to sleep. He said, Read Qul Ya Ayyuha Al Kafiroon (surah Al Kafiroon), then sleep after completing its recitation, for it is liberation from Shirk.”

[9] Narrated by Imam Muslim, on the authority of Abu Dharr (may Allah be pleased with him).

[10] Bukhari and Muslim.

[11] Sahih Al Bukhari.

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I was an 18 year old beliigerent atheist when the Quran entered my life and rocked my world. Reading the Seerah later sealed the deal. I studied Arabic everywhere I could, from America to the Levant and somehow an invitation to study with Muhammad Ibn Salih Al Uthaymeen landed in my lap, may Allah have mercy on his soul. I went, I met, I sat, I studied, and words simply can't do justice to the privilege and the experience. I am still trying to figure out how to be thankful for it. I live in the States, I work in IT, and I have two boys who I am trying to help to grow into admirable men.

32 Comments

32 Comments

  1. Omar

    April 27, 2012 at 1:03 AM

    The difficulty I have is telling a good brother who loves and Allah and His messenger that he is doing some sort of shirk – mainly because it is such a huge accusation, and smacks of takfir.

    • Yahya Whitmer

      April 27, 2012 at 10:02 AM

      Yes, it is very difficult. This series was written because of a similar situation so perhaps it can be of some use. Sometimes I feel that situations like these require a “Shirk Intervention” scenario, but that’s not likely to happen in most cases. Keep the lines of dialogue as open as possible and make sure to have very clear understanding of the nuances and evidences of this issue so that your friend realizes that the conflict is not with you or your sheikh, but rather God and His Messenger (alayhis-salam)

  2. Skillh

    April 27, 2012 at 8:37 PM

     Jazakallah khair for this wonderful article, Just one thing which I would add and this has to be addressed as well and that is that a lot of Sufi/Ashari schools believe shirk does not effect this Ummah and they base this on the following hadith:

    Bukhari Volume 5, Book 59 [maghazi – battles], Number 411:

    Narrated Uqba:
    One day the Prophet (s.a.w) went out and
    offered the (funeral) prayer for the people (i.e. martyrs) of Uhud as
    he used to offer a funeral prayer for any dead person, and then (after
    returning) he (s.a.w) ascended the pulpit and said, “I am your
    predecessor before you, and I am a witness upon you, and I am looking at
    my Tank just now, and I have been given the keys of the treasures of
    the world (or the keys of the world). By Allah, I am not afraid that you will worship others besides Allah after me, but I am afraid that you will compete with each other for (the pleasures of) this world.”

    • Yahya Whitmer

      April 30, 2012 at 12:03 PM

      Thank you for mentioning this, unfortunately it is an example of using ambiguous text to prove a very dangerous concept. As you may know, one interpretation of this hadith is that the Prophet was addressing the Sahabah specifically and not the latter generations of his Ummah. In other narrations, the Prophet (alayhis-salam) listed a slew of tribulations which he feared for his Ummah, such as the Dajjal, following the ways of the other nations etc., indicating that this warning was specific for his Companions. When looking objectively, it seems much more likely that this problem (duaa to the Awliyaa) is a manifestation of another of the Prophet’s concerns for us: following in the ways of the other nations, specifically the Christians. The parallels are very significant, as both nations started from an understanding of worshiping God alone, and eventually degenerated, through excessive adulation and praise, into the worship of Prophets and Saints. The similarities could hardly be more clear.

      In addition, the concept worth repeating is that ambiguous text such as these (and the even more ambiguous ideas that are derived from them) must be weighed against the Muhkamaat of the Quran, which provide the foundation for understanding Islam. The Muhkamaat clearly state that dua is for Allah alone and to make dua to other than him is Shirk. 

      Your contribution really helps to flesh out the dialogue regarding this topic, so thanks again.

      • Skillh

        May 8, 2012 at 8:40 PM

         No Problem brother I would also Add a bit more to the ILAH issue this time to go a bit deeper and this is the root of the problem which needs to be addressed… and this is to do with Sulaiman Ibn Abdul Wahab Abdullah brother  going against his brother Abdul Wahab here are some extracts from the book “divine lightning”

        “All this falls in line with the Salafi understnading that the word
        “ILAH” They translate it as that “That which is worshipped” and not as
        Muslim orthodoxy Does when they say that “ILAH” means ‘The only one who
        truly exists as a creator,designer,sustainer Giver or Help and Harm. Let
        us Therefore look at the truth of salafiyah, If the word “ILAH” means
        “that which is worshipped or who is “Worshipped”; let us apply it to the
        speech of Allah to see if it correct. Allah has said , If there were
        other Ilahs (one who are worshipped) besides Allah in the skies and the
        Earth, They both would have fallen into ruin. Surat anybiya ayah 22. If
        there are were other gods worshiped by Allah in the skies and the
        Earth,then the skies and earth would have been ruined, We know that the
        people are worshiping False gods be present.Either 1) The other gods are
        worshiped and the skies and Earths still stand which would mean Allah
        has not spoken the truth-this Allah forbid – is impossible. “) The word
        means something else other then what salafiyah has put forward,thus the
        organization is wrong and has committed major kufr in saying that one is
        permitted to believe in other gods besides Allah but just not worship
        them. Allah said further,”Say, Had there been other ilahs(ones who were
        worshipped) with Him as they say,those gods would have quickly found
        thier way to the possesor of the Throne to adore him. Glorifiedand
        exalted is he from what they say about him.” Surat al Isra ayat 42-43.
        Either 1) There are gods in existence that have found their way to the
        Throne 2) There are gods oother gods who have disobeyed and not found
        their way to the throne or 3) There are no other gods as they do not
        exist and the understanding of muslim orthodoxy,stands up in this place
        as well.”

        “If one one should take the position of Salafiyah,again you will have to
        affirm that other deties exists,you are forbidden to worship them. This
        is idolatry. Affirming other deities besides Allah is idolator whether
        you worship them or not.”

        “The idea is not only contradictory to All texts of the book of the
        Sunnah and the consensus, Imam Ibn tamiayah says in the commentary of
        the aforementioned hadith “So the prophet peace and blessings be upon
        him, repudiated them merley resembling the unbelieversin taking a
        tree,maintaining it and hanging there weapons on it.So how about
        somthing much greater then that when one makes resemblence to the idol
        worshippers or actually commits Shirk?” This is quoted from itqada us
        sirat il mustaqim li-mukkhaqim asbab il-jahim vol.2,pp.648-649. Thus
        Imam taqi ud din ibn tamiyah, may Allah have mercy on him rightly made
        the connection like the rest of muslims”

        Side notes:

        Imam Ibn Manzur in Lisan ul ‘Arab vol 13 page 466, 467 defines what the meaning of a god (ilah) and worship:

        “The god is that which is deified and worshipped, deserving of worship,
        for it cannot be a god until it is worshipped and held to be a creator,
        sustainer and designer for the worshipper and it has power be the
        worshipper. Whatever is not held in such like is not a god, even if
        someone is forced to worship it in oppression, but rather this would be a
        creation that is seeking to be worshipped.”

        So worship is only when theworshipper believes that which it worships is a god, which is that with
        divine qualities such as being a creator, sustainer, designer and having
        power over its worshipper.

        Please address this issue as well as the different affirmation and negation differences between sufi/asharis vs salafis jazakallah.

  3. Ahmed Brown

    April 28, 2012 at 1:10 AM

    Salaams brother Yahya,

    Have you read “Notions That Must Be Corrected” by Shaykh al-Hasani? I had my own questions and concerns regarding the tawassul you have described and a scholar recommended this book to me. The text seems to go into a number of areas that seem to be points of contention between the two groups we often label today as Salafis and Traditionalists. I haven’t finished reading it, but I am starting to understand the perspective of some of the Sufi groups. I can’t say I’m convinced or that I totally agree with their reasoning yet, but I at least feel I understand where they’re coming from and that’s important in any dialogue (not that you aren’t coming from a point of understanding the Sufi arguments). Perhaps you will find the book useful in your exploration of this topic.
    JazaakAllahu khairaa. Sh. Yasir himself mentioned this series to me, and I’m looking forward to the rest!

    • Yahya Whitmer

      April 30, 2012 at 12:14 PM

      Thanks for your comment. I haven’t read the book, but I’ll keep my eye out for it. In framing this dialogue, I find it useful to remind myself that that everyone has a justification for what they do. From white supremacists to Nazis to the Nation of Islam to Dawkins to Hawkings to Martin Luther (the German one) to Ibn Arabi to St.Augustine to Ibn Taymiyyah to Imam Malik, etc. Every significant intellectual movement has its justifications, and as Ibn Taymiyyah said, every path of falsehood is followed because of the elements of truth that it contains. Every person is responsible for evaluating the truth and validity of these justifications and for the Believer, the Muhkamaat of the Quran provide the primary framework through which all ideas can be evaluated. That’s part of the reason why I chose to focus on this concept in this installment. The narrative regarding this topic needs to be driven by these amazing verses that deliver such clarity. 

      • WaleedAhmed

        May 10, 2012 at 4:20 PM

        “Notions That Must Be Corrected” is an important read…especially on intercession. It would be handy reference for this series. 

  4. WaleedAhmed

    April 28, 2012 at 8:44 PM

    Jazakallah for starting this important series. Having studied in both Salafi and Sufi circles (including with people you’ve quoted above), this topic has been quite troubling for me. No one would disagree with any of what you’ve written. As I understand it, this issue boils down to the concept of intersession. That is the issue at stake here. Even if they don’t use the word ‘Allah’ in their invocation, they allow it only with the belief that Allah is the final helper and the person being called on is the intercessor. It’s majaz mursal they say…where instead of saying ‘Allah guided us through the Prophet’ one says, ‘The Prophet guided us’. The belief however remains that the Allah is the ultimate provider. 

    I’ve discussed the issue of seeking the Prophet’s intercession with them and they defend their position the following way (please address these issues in your series): The Prophet is alive in his grave and thus asking him is no different than asking your friend to make dua for you. The hadith of the blind man is their main proof for istighatha and the incident that Uthman made the same dua after the Prophet had passed away indicates permissibility from the Salaf. Allah allows the Prophet to hear the invocation just like our durood are conveyed to him they argue. 

    In additon, they say that we will all ask the prophets to intercede for us on the Day of Judgment and our Prophet Muhammad will be the only one who will be able to do so. So if you can ask for intersession on the DOJ, then why not here? They also say that Ibn Taymiyyah was the first one to reject intercession. I would like to know about the validity of that statement as well. 

    I look forward to reading the rest of this series. I hope you can address the points I’ve mentioned. 

    • Yahya Whitmer

      April 30, 2012 at 1:16 PM

      Thank you very much for your contribution, I really appreciate the concern that you show for this issue. Since you seem to be familiar with the details of the evidences, I’ll address them briefly. A more thorough presentation will have to wait for 2nd or 3rd installment.

      1. This concept of Majaz Mursal must be weighed against the Muhkamaat of the Quran that state that duaa is only for Allah and to direct it to other than Allah is useless and a great sin. Everybody has a justification for what they do, but all justifications must be weighed against the Muhkamaat.

      2. We know that the Prophet receives our salams because of the authentic narrations that tell us so, anything beyond that is unknown and there is no analogy (qiyas) in matters of the Unseen (al Ghayb). There is no authentic narration that says we may converse with him and make requests.

      3. On the DOJ he will be physically present and addressable, and his narrations establish that we can communicate with him in regards to intercession. Qiyas is not allowed.

      4. There simply does not exist a single fatwa from any of the early Imams of Islam, including the Imams of the 4 mathhabs and others, permitting this kind of dua to the Prophet or other pious people while they are in their graves. The types of intercession that have been established by clear evidence occur during their life or in their presence on the DOJ. Ibn Taymiyyah is merely following in their footsteps. If there was good in this, they would have done it and recommended it to their followers.

      5. The Prophet (alayhis-salam) warned about taking his grave as a place of prayer, so what about actually calling upon him in prayer?

      6. The marfoo’ hadith of Ibn Hunayf, often referred to as the hadith of the blind man, indicates that it is permissible to ask dua from the Prophet while alive, nothing more. There is some discussion about the authenticity of this hadith, but several great scholars have deemed it authentic enough to use as an evidence.

      7. The other narration of Ibn Hunayf that is not marfoo’ to the Prophet is weak (this narration includes the story with Uthman ibn Affan and occurs after the Prophet’s passing); none of the great Imams of hadith have declared it to be authentic, but rather munkar for a number of reasons. Tabari’s declaration of authentic is for the marfoo’ narration mentioned in point 6 and not for this narration. This is a lengthy subject and will be addressed in detail, in sha Allah.

      8. Not only is the narrations mentioned in point 7 weak, but it is in direct conflict with the Muhkamaat of the Quran.

      Whew! That’s a lot of info, I hope it addressed your question to some extent. They are all important points, but I think it is important to contemplate the fact that there is not analogy in affairs of the Unseen and to reflect on the ideas expressed by the Muhkamaat of the Quran. There is no analogy in Ibadat (as Ali said, “If the religion were by opinion, then the bottom of the khuff would have been more appropriate to wipe upon”), then how could there be in the affairs of the Unseen? The only hadith (and there’s just one, so that should tell you something as well) that could possibly directly support their position has not been declared authentic by an Imam of Hadith. Allah knows best.

      • WaleedAhmed

        May 4, 2012 at 11:46 AM

        Jazakallah for taking the time to write the detailed response. It certainly clears up a lot of questions I had. 

        Given the logic and evidences they use, regardless of their validity, would it not be more fitting to call these practices as a Bida’ as opposed to Shirk? They believe firmly that the intercessor doesn’t have the power to intercede unless Allah wills it..unlike the polytheists that are mentioned in the Quran. So they do affirm tawheed, they just have added things after the Prophet passed away. 

        • Yahya Whitmer

          May 4, 2012 at 12:23 PM

          No problem, I’m happy to encourage this dialogue in any way possible. 

          As the story of the people of Nuh informs us, Shirk is the original Heresy (Bid’ah), so an act of Shirk will always be bid’ah, but not the other way around. 

          Contemplate the following verse:

          If you pray to them, they will not listen to your call, and if they were to listen, they cannot answer your prayer. On the Day of Judgment they will reject your association (Shirk) and none can tell you the Truth like the One who is acquainted with all things. (35:14) 

          Beyond a shadow of a doubt the verse indicates that to direct prayer to other than Allah is Shirk. Just as in any relationship, actions speak louder than words. It is not sufficient for a person to simply claim to believe in Allah’s dominion, but he has to act like it. Praying to other than God is a betrayal of that.

          The affirmation of Allah’s singularity in creation and control (often called Tawhid Ar-Ruboobiyyah) is something shared by many, many people, including the pagan Arabs and modern Christians, but they inject intercessors into their relationship with God.  

          “And those who take Awliyaa besides Allah say: We worship them only that they may bring us nearer to Allah. Indeed, Allah will judge between them in that wherein they differ. Indeed, Allah does not guide those who are false and ungrateful.” (39:3) 

          As mentioned in the article, the word “ilah” (god) in the Arabic/Quranic usage refers to anything object that is worshipped, whether it be stone, man, grave, or the Creator of the heavens and the earth. The act of praying to the Awliyaa is equivalent to taking them as gods, according to the Quranic paradigm. It was only the latter influence (after the earliest and best generations of Islam) of Greek philosophy that changed that definition of god to : a being capable of creation. Thus the original and true meaning of La Ilaha Ill Allah was altered for people affected by these schools of theology (which were influenced by Greek philosophy – we will address this sub-topic in detail later in sha Allah).

          • WaleedAhmed

            May 4, 2012 at 5:13 PM

            Jazkallah. Either here or in your series, could you also expand on the definition of worship and prayer to someone. People that approve of such practices would never say they pray to the Prophet or Awliya…they use them as intercessesors. How does one differentiate the two concepts i.e. praying to someone and using them as an intercessor?

          • Yahya Whitmer

            May 7, 2012 at 12:39 PM

            This is a great question, let me think about it. I may have to confer with Sheikh Yasir as well.

          • Yahya Whitmer

            May 10, 2012 at 3:08 PM

            I think it might be useful to take a step back from the
            topic and try to reevaluate the concepts from a more distant perspective; let’s
            looks at the forest instead of the trees.

            As you know, there is much deception in world involving what
            a thing is called and what it really is. Is it “collateral damage” or “wanton
            disregard of human life and murder”?… “unity and vision” or “tyranny and
            oppression”? … “personal freedom” or “a license to behave selfishly”? etc. In
            Islamic theology and Usool al Fiqh, this is referred to as Ism (the name) and
            Musamma (the things that is named) and it has been long recognized that there
            can be a discrepancy between the two.

            I believe that this concept is relevant to the terms that
            you have mentioned. Duaa is duaa; an invocation to an exalted being for help.
            If duaa is made to the Prophet, duaa is being made to the Prophet (alayhis-salam).
            Calling it intercession does not change that reality. As they say, “actions
            speak louder than words”. It simply does not make sense to say that if Allah is
            the target of a person’s invocation, then it is duaa, but if the Prophet is the
            target, then it is intercession. In my opinion, and I believe the stories of
            the Quran support this, that is a Satanic play on perception and has no justification
            from the authentic texts of Islam.

            As I mentioned earlier in other comments: Every concept,
            from the noblest and truest, to the vilest and most deceitful, has its
            justifications. Our responsibility, as part of the Amanah (Sacred Trust) of
            free will is to determine what is really True and Good, and the Muhkamaat of
            the Quran provide the clearest framework for evaluating all ideas.

            I hope this helps and I thank you for your participation;
            you’ve helped to flesh out this dialogue immensely.

          • Yahya Whitmer

            May 10, 2012 at 3:10 PM

            uggh, sorry about the presentation. Pasting from Word doesn’t work very well even when I remove the text formatting.

          • WaleedAhmed

            May 10, 2012 at 4:18 PM

            Thanks for the detailed explanation.I agree with your point. Reason I asked for the distinction was because, to them calling out the Prophet is no different then asking your friend next door a favour. They say in both instances you are using a means, but your faith has to be firm that Allah is the only one that can grant help. 

          • Yahya Whitmer

            May 10, 2012 at 4:38 PM

            Aahh. Wow that’s weird. Other than the narration Uthman Ibn Hunayf that involves Uthman Ibn Affan, there’s no textual evidence to support that practice (and we’ve already discussed the weakness of that narration).
            The Prophet took so many cautionary measures to prevent people from taking his grave as a place of prayer, it is sad that some Muslims could then go and justify the practice of asking him after his death, which at the very least, is an exact external replica of praying to him. 

            If only Allah can help, why ask others? The act is a betrayal of the belief.

            And Allah knows best.

  5. Ahsan Arshad Ali

    April 30, 2012 at 3:17 AM

    Finally, the part 1 is out, I was waiting for it for a long time. 
    Shaykh, I hope a part of the series would be dedicated to refuting the arguments of those who uphold forbidden tawassul… as brother waleed ahmed has mentioned a few.
    I also wanted to know the various groups who allow the practice in question

    • Yahya Whitmer

      April 30, 2012 at 1:24 PM

      Sorry for the delay bro, there’s a lot of information to gather and represent. There will be some more direct refutation in the next installments, however I have chosen to focus on building and reinforcing the correct narrative about Tawheed, in addition to refuting incorrect concepts. Affirmation is just as important as Negation in the formula of faith. It is the absence or weakness of that narrative that allows ideas such as these to take root in the first place. That is why this first installment has focused on the Muhkamaat of the Quran.

      As for the groups who allow for this practice of making dua to the Prophets and Awliyaa, we have chosen not to advertise their names in the hopes of maintaining focus on the act itself, and not diluting the dialogue with partisanship. The act is what is wrong, no matter who it might come from. I understand your curiosity however, and I’m sure you can discover some of the groups we are talking about using other means. Thanks for contributing.

      • Mahyar Abdul Malik

        May 1, 2012 at 9:52 PM

         Barak Allah feekum for choosing a very important topic, of course tawheed is the very point of our creation so it’s not a matter that one should take lightly at all..

        A couple ideas I wanted to share with regards to istigatha are;

        After all the Muhkamat verses in the Quran, the whole theme of the Quran is to eschew false Gods, and worship the One Creator. Even if we do have some ambiguous evidence from a few Hadeeth… How dare we interpret such hadith giving precedence to them and re interpreting our whole deen (Worship Allah alone) for them?
        Even though we hold Hadith with high regards, they are not infallable , but the Quran is infallable by the Letter.. While keeping in mind that we are playing with Dua / Tauhid / Shirk.. It’s not a light matter.

        If you give a none Muslim a Quran and he reads it all in one shot.. If his fitra was not disturbed prior to reading the Quran, the last thing he would want to do is call on another deity/created being .. It’s the whole theme of the Quran…. Allaho Alaam

  6. Omar

    May 4, 2012 at 9:02 PM

    Baaraka Allahu feek akhi for this very important series!  May Allah guide every brother and sister who are sincerely seeking the truth.  Ameen

    I have a few suggestions which I have come to realize based on my personal experience with this issue.  

    1) It is very important to explain the definition of Tawassul and of Istighatha and to make the difference between the two very clear to everyone.  I have come to realize that most people don’t know the difference, and even those who say that Tawassul is permissible (note that most people mean Istighatha when they use the word Tawassul), yet if you ask these people to define the term for you they wouldn’t know what it actually means, and those few of them who actually do know the definitions of both words and know the difference between the two usually use the words incorrectly so as to create confusion because having people confused about these terms is what helps them propagate their falsehood.  

    Calling anyone besides Allah is Istighatha, not Tawassul, and this is major shirk.   Tawassul is calling upon ALLAH Himself directly and asking Him to grant you something by the status of this prophet or that sheikh.  This form of Tawassul is not major shirk but rather it is an innovation.   Now there are also other forms of Tawassul which are actually permissible such as the ones you mentioned in your article.  So what I have seen some people do when arguing that Istighatha (which they refer to as Tawassul) is permissible is that they quote a statement of one of the early scholars saying that Tawassul is permissible, and so they take that as an argument which supports their claim that Istighatha is permissible.  I know that some of them do that out of ignorance because they don’t know the difference between Istighatha and between Tawassul, nor do they know that there are some types of Tawassul which are permissible while others that are not.  But I know a few of these so called sheikhs who promote this ideology do know the definition of each and know the difference between the two yet they still cause this confusion because it helps them propagate what they are calling to.  

    So I think that the first step which is very important is to clarify this issue and clearly explain the definition of each term and what it means so that everyone knows and understands them well, and so that those who are sincere are not easily confused by those who intentionally want to mislead them.

    2) Another important issue that I think should be explained even if briefly is the concern which one brother had mentioned in his comment:

    “The difficulty I have is telling a good brother who loves and Allah and His messenger that he is doing some sort of shirk – mainly because it is such a huge accusation, and smacks of takfir.”
    What is important to explain here is that this difficulty is removed when we understand that there is a difference between saying that this action is an act of shirk or kufr, and between saying that the person who is doing that action is a kaafir or mushrik.  We should explain the issue that not everyone who falls into an act of kufr is automatically a kaafir, nor is everyone who falls into an act of shirk is automatically a mushrik, nor is everyone who falls into an innovation automatically an innovator.  So yes we might say that calling upon anyone besides Allah is an act of major shirk, but that doesn’t mean that those Muslims who might be falling into this act all of them have automatically become mushriks and removed out of the fold of Islam.  Keeping in mind that we are not talking about non-Muslims here.  We are talking about people who are actual Muslims but they might have fallen into something which is an act of major kufr or shirk, then even though the general rule is that this action itself is an act of kufr or shirk, yet this does not mean that these Muslims who might have fallen into such acts automatically become mushriks or kaafirs themselves specifically.  There is a distinction which is important to make and which is important to explain to the people so that they understand the difference between the general ruling on a certain action, and between applying that general ruling on a specific individual who might have done this action.  If a certain action is an act of shirk, as stated based on the Quran and authentic Sunnah, then that is what it is and we should state that ruling without being hesitant even in the slightest way about declaring the truth about that action and that it is an act of shirk.  However, where we should be careful is when applying that general ruling about that action on a specific individual who might have done that act of shirk.  So for example if we see that a Muslim is doing an act of shirk, yes that is an act of shirk there is no doubt about it, however we should be careful and not rush into declaring that brother to be a mushrik right away, because not everyone who falls into doing an act of shirk automatically becomes a mushrik.. so the brother might still be a Muslim even though he might have fallen into doing an action that is major shirk itself.  That distinction between the general ruling on a certain action and between applying that ruling on a certain individual is important to make and to explain it to everyone so that they can understand it.  Also a brief explanation is needed of the requirements that need to be met before applying a general ruling on a certain individual.  To give an example perhaps it might help everyone understand what I mean:  The act of prostrating to an idol is an act of major kufr.  However, if I see a Muslim brother prostrating to an idol, I can not automatically say that he is a kaafir because of that, because there are certain requirements that need to be met before I can apply that general ruling on that specific individual.  One of these requirements for example is that he has chosen to do that action willfully, meaning he was not forced into prostrating to an idol, because if his life was threatened and he was forced to prostrate to an idol even though in his heart he has the correct belief and faith, then he would not be a kaafir by that action which he had done.  So even though he prostrated to an idol which is an act of kufr, yet he himself is not a kaafir and is still a Muslim because he was forced to do that and he did not willfully chose to do it, so that requirement has not been met in order for us to apply that general ruling on that specific individual.  The scholars have mentioned other requirements which have to be met before applying a general ruling on a specific individual, but I just mentioned one of them as an example.  So I think that an explanation of this issue also helps people properly understand how to deal with this and approach other Muslims when we might see them doing an act of shirk or kufr, and I am sure that it will also facilitate the means of communication between the two groups. 

    3) It is very important to also emphasize the verses from the Quran and the ahadith that clearly state and in very simple terms what Tawhid is and what is the definition of worship and the acts of worship.  For example, to me, the authentic hadith that says “Du’a is worship” is very clear, explicit, and simple in stating that making du’a and calling upon Allah is an act of worship, so if we understand that issue then it becomes obvious that it can not be done for anyone besides Allah, as is the case with all the acts of worship.  I know that you did address this point in your article here, but I suggest focusing more on it and emphasizing the basic message in the Quran that is clear and explicit and stated in simple terms about what Tawhid, worship, and du’a are all about.

    4) One obstacle in discussions such as this one is that the issue of authenticity of the ahadith being quoted comes up.  Some might quote a weak or fabricated hadith that supports their claim, but if you tell them that this hadith is not authentic, they won’t accept that from you and claim that since they heard their sheikh whom they trust quote it then it must be authentic, and that you are only saying that it is not authentic because it is proof against the argument that you are making. At that point, discussing in details the authenticity of each narration being quoted becomes crucial as the whole arguments are usually based on them, but since the majority of these people don’t have any knowledge about the science of hadith, it is’t possible to show them why this hadith is not authentic or where the weakness is in its chain because they don’t have the knowledge and background in that field to be able to understand these details.  That is why most people have to rely on what the sheikh they trust says, so when their sheikh says that this certain hadith is authentic while you are saying that it isn’t, they aren’t going to take your word over what their sheikh is saying.  That seems to be an obstacle because many of these discussions tend to come to a stop at that point because they have quoted their “proof” which they claim is authentic and supports their arguments, but there is not way for you to get them to realize that what they have quoted is not authentically established from the Prophet peace be upon him.  To be honest I’m not sure what is the best way to approach this issue.. Anyone has any suggestions?

    There are a few other things that I wanted to mention, but my comment has become too long..

    • Yahya Whitmer

      May 7, 2012 at 12:36 PM

      Omar, thank you very much for sharing your insights regarding this issue. Please do not apologize for leaving a lengthy comment. As the writer of this series my greatest hope was to try and facilitate the type of informed and concerned dialogue that you offered. I agree completely with all the points that you mentioned and in regards to no.4 you hit the proverbial nail on the head. If Muslims with a strong sense of religious dedication are a minority, then Muslims that are capable of understanding and evaluating a discussion regarding chains of narration are the minority of the minority. At that point it simply becomes an issue of who do you trust/like/admire.

      My attempt to bypass that tendency has been to reinforce and invigorate the narrative that focuses on tawhid of ibadah, to the best of my ability. By creating a strong narrative about tawhid of ibadah, in which emotional, spiritual, and intellectual concerns are all addressed in a fulfilling way, where the proofs and benefits of the true interpretation of tawhid become so evident that the narrative becomes strong enough to override any inclination to accept any argument that attempts to justify Shirk. That is why the tendency of this series has been more towards building the counter-narrative rather than point by point refutation (but there will be some of that to come, in sha Allah). Allah knows best if this is the ideal way to approach this issue, but I pray that He blesses the little that I am able to do. Please continue to be a part of this conversation, your input is much welcome.

  7. Zee

    May 7, 2012 at 2:38 PM

    “and it is tragically unfortunate that there are grave misconceptions regarding it”Nice pun!

  8. ML

    May 15, 2012 at 2:19 AM

    I just had a question and it would really help if someone could answer it. So times are changing and the technological advancement is taking over the world. And these days I’ve been using a Tasbeeh App on my iPhone which has really helped me with my practise. It keeps me updated with how much Tasbeeh I have to do or also lets me know about tasbeeh practises of my sister who lives in a different country. It has really helped me over all. And sometimes when I forget the count, I’m not worried because I know the application is helping me in keeping an exact count. Now this application is a facilitator. And has helped improve my form of prayer through Tasbeeh. So I just wanted to know if its right to take help from such a facilitator. Following is the link if some of you want to check out what I’m talking about.http://bit.ly/JgcA7w

    • Umabdullah

      May 16, 2012 at 5:10 PM

      ML The Prophet saw used his fingers to make dhikr and some sahabah from what im told used stones. So yur using an app. Whats the issue ? :-) can we say was it ok for the Prophet to take help from his ‘fingers’ to make dhikr ? :-)

  9. Yahya Whitmer

    May 17, 2012 at 2:09 PM

    Next installment coming soon, in sha Allah. I really appreciate all the reader response and in accordance with the suggestion made in the comments, the next installment will focus on simply defining the following key terms:

    1. du’aa (istigatha is a variation of du’aa, but I wonder if there might be reason to address this individually)
    2. tawassul
    3. Shifa’a/Intercession
    4. Ilah/god
    5. Shirk
    6. Tawhid

    Most of these have already been touched upon, but I felt that the reader’s comments were correct in observing that the interpretation of these terms need to be very clearly defined.

    Please, keep the comments and suggestions coming, thank you.

  10. wir349

    May 22, 2012 at 11:40 AM

    Once again, JazakAllahuKhair for the series. I’m simply posting this comment since I haven’t seen my type commenting yet. I agree with the author 100%, but maybe because I became a student of AlMaghrib Institute and then decided that the brothers there (my role models) were absolutely correct and theirs was the straight path. Sufis and Neo-Salafis didn’t interest me, because it seemed a little weird and seemed to clash with my role models. But sometimes I wonder, what if I was introduced to some other groups, had some eloquent scholar who would be teaching me and fall into Shirk. Would their opinions seem as correct and truthful as Yasir Qadhi’s Light of Guidance does?

    And so I decided that to stay away from the Sufis as much as possible, afraid that I don’t get influenced by them. This series has, alhumdulilah, decreased that fear by a great amount.

  11. Yahya Whitmer

    June 11, 2012 at 11:13 AM

    Next installment coming soon in sha Allah. About 2/3 complete. I am in the middle of moving houses and apologize for the delay.

    • Hamza

      June 14, 2012 at 2:01 PM

      Also please go into detail on why why many sufi/asharis reject the following here are some material coming from there part:

      A score of scholars of the madhhab of Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal as discussing the ways that someone apostates. Never once is there any
      mention of shirk in uluhiyyah or `ibadah. Only shirk in wahdaniyyah
      (Uniqueness and Oneness) and Rububiyyah. Further to this, our elders
      inform us nothing of the violation of the three tawhids theory and the
      way that Muhammad ibn `Abdul Wahhab quotes.

      Imam at-Tahawi (d. 329 AH) never mentioned the three Tawhids in his
      creed text and nothing in the text leans to this at all. I memorised
      this text in seminary and was taught it and there is nothing in there of
      the sort. in the text, the only words used are Rububiyyah and Wahdaniyyah
      and not Uluhiyyah. You would have to read that into the text. Please
      tell whoever sent you this to find where the text has all three forms of
      Tawhid. If we take what the claimant has said literally, then the
      statement, La ilaha ghairu would mean, there is no god worshipped with
      him, which we know is not true as there are other people associating
      partners with him. It also contradicts what he said in the beginning if
      we hold the Salafi meaning.

      The Hadith of Dimam ibn Tha`labah, the Bedouin who came to Islam. When did
      he become Muslim? No mention of the three tawhids or shirk in Uluhiyyah;
      but even more glaring is the question…when did he become Muslim? Was it
      when he singled out Allah alone in worship? If that is the case, then
      that was never done in the hadith as he was only asking questions…unless
      we read into the hadith that he prayed or what have you when he
      returned to his people…or did he become Muslim at the beginning of the
      hadith? If this is the case (which is the Sunni position), this would
      mean that the affirmation of Rububiyyah and Wahdaniyyah is enough to be
      Muslim (as Sunnis state with boldness) and that Uluhiyyah is inside of
      and an extract that comes from Rububiyyah and not separate from it.

      The reason why the view of Muhammad ibn `Abdul Wahhab and Salafiyyah is
      wrong is because they have given a different definition of ilah and
      Tawhid than what the Sunnis have given in fullness. As I said, the
      quotes you gave from the scholars of tafsir actually prove my point.
      According the Ibn Manzur and these other scholars, someone does not
      become an idol worshipper until the person takes the thing as creator,
      sustainer and designer. Then at that point they have taken it as an
      ilah.

  12. Pingback: Line in the Sand | Introduction - MuslimMatters.org

  13. Umm Sulaim

    June 26, 2012 at 2:27 PM

    I am a couple of months too late; I had wondered what happened to the article you promised. Well, I obviously missed its release.
    I have glanced at the article – I have saved it and shall read it later, In Sha Allah – and I shall say well done and JazakumuLlah khayra (I hope I will not have to bite my fingers in regret, after reading it!!!!). Keep it up.
    The one and only,
    Umm Sulaim

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