The act of praying to Allah through the Waseela (intermediary) of the pious, and proclaiming ‘Ya Nabi’, ‘Ya RasulAllah’ etc. has been accepted and even encouraged throughout the Muslim world, since the time of the Salaf (righteous predecessors of Islam).
The Ahle Sunnat wal Jamaat clarifies the permissibility of proclaiming Ya Nabi etc. and using Waseela in light of great evidence from the Hadith, and through examples from the lives of the blessed Companions, Tabi’een¹, Tab-e-Tabi’een² and righteous scholars of Islam.
Those who oppose this beneficial act often claim that it is forbidden to call out to one who is no longer amongst us. Clearly the Qur’an and Hadith prove this theory wrong as the Beloved Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, is indeed alive and witnessing the state of his Ummah. (see article about Haazir/Naazir for full details)
Furthermore, as falsely claimed by the deviant sects, Tawassul (the use of Waseela) is not the act of worshipping other than Allah – astagfirullah, glory be to Him– but rather, it is the act of calling upon Allah using the remembrance of those He loves and has favoured.
To those who claim we should only ever call to Allah for help, how did you learn of His existence? Who taught you of His being – was this a direct message sent straight to you? Surely not. So why is it surprising to use the same means He blessed us through i.e. the Beloved Prophet, to communicate with Him?
A message sent through the beloved will surely hold greater esteem in the eyes of the Loving One (al-Wadud).
¹ those righteous people who witnessed the presence of a Companion of the Beloved Prophet
² those righteous people who witnessed the presence of at least one of the Tabi’een
USING THE WASEELA OF THE BELOVED MESSENGER
Narrated Sayyidina Jabir bin Abdullah Al-Ansari, that the Beloved Messenger, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, said:
“…I am Al-Qasim (distributor), and I distribute among you Allah's blessings."
[Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 8, Book 73, Hadith no. 216]
• Our Prophet is the Ultimate Waseela
Truly, Allah states in the Holy Qur’an:
“O you who believe! Do your duty to Allah, seek the means of approach unto Him, and strive in His cause, that you may prosper.” [Qur’an 5:35]
According to the way of the Ahle Sunnat, this shows Almighty Allah’s approval allowing us to seek the medium of the pious ones to reach Him i.e. the Prophets, the blessed Companions and the Awliya. This is in the hope that for the sake of His Love for them, He will also bless us.
The phrase used in the verse above, “seek the means of approach unto Him” (wabtaghu ilayhi al-waseela) refers to seeking methods of attaining nearness to Him. Those who seek Allah constantly desire to be closer to Him, and will strive with every means possible to achieve this truly divine goal. One such method is through the name and elevated status given to the Beloved Prophet, and the name of those who love and honour him, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him.
There are several verses in the Qur’an which are used by those who oppose Tawassul, which refer to the Oneness of Allah and say that none can help us except Him alone. It should be clarified that these verses are in reference to the idol-worshippers and pagans who would call upon and worship other Gods. These verses have been misinterpreted and wrongly used to try and prove Tawassul as an act of Shirk.
In all certainty, those who use Tawassul worship Allah alone and we whole-heartedly believe that without His Power, we are helpless indeed. Truly, we receive help from the Beloved Prophet and the Awliya only if He so wills, and only if He permits – of this, there is no doubt.
Almighty Allah states in the beautiful Qur’an:
“And if, when they wronged themselves, they had come to you, [O Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him], and asked forgiveness of Allah, and the Messenger had asked forgiveness for them, they would have found Allah accepting of repentance and Merciful.” [Qur’an 4:64]
The above verse is Almighty Allah’s Words to the wrongdoers, that they should have sought the Waseela of the Beloved Messenger, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, in order to attain His Mercy. If they had gone to the Beloved Messenger to seek Allah’s forgiveness, Allah would accept their repentance - under the second condition, that the Beloved Messenger also asked for Allah’s forgiveness on their behalf.
This is an obvious use of Tawassul where Allah, glory be to Him, instructs His creatures to seek His Mercy through the Beloved Prophet.
Sayyidina Rabi'ah ibn Kaab narrates, "I was with Allah’s Messenger one night and I brought him water and what he required. He said to me, ‘Ask (anything you like).’ I said, ‘I ask your company in Paradise.’ He (the Holy Prophet) said, ‘Or anything else besides it?’ I said, ‘That is all (that I require).’ He said, ‘Then help me to achieve this for you by devoting yourself often to prostration.’ [Muslim, Book 4, Hadith no. 990]
Mulla Ali Qari writes an interpretation of this Hadith: “The Beloved Prophet, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, kept the question open-ended, which shows that Allah has granted such authority to the Holy Prophet, that he can grant whatever he wishes to anybody, from the treasures of the Lord. [Mirqat al-Mafatih Sharah Mishqat, Vol. 2, Page no. 323]
Shaykh Abdul Haqq Muhaddith Dehlvi states regarding this Hadith: ‘Sal’ (meaning: ask) is an unconditional question. There are no limitations or restrictions attached to it. This is to understand that it is within the power and authority of Beloved Prophet, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, to grant the desire. Whatever and to whomever the Beloved Prophet desires, he can grant it, by the permission of Allah. [Ashiatul Lam’aat, commentary of Mishkaat al-Masabih]
• Guidance is From Allah via the Prophet
The Holy Qur’an also states:
“But no, by your Lord, they will not [truly] believe until they make you, [O Muhammad], judge concerning that over which they dispute among themselves and find in their souls no resistance against your decisions, but accept them with the fullest conviction.”[Qur’an 4:65]
Here Almighty Allah refers the believers to the Beloved Messenger, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, whom He appoints as a judge between them. It is a clear demonstration that Allah’s Laws and the truth are sent to us through the Beloved Prophet – truly, Islam was not sent down directly to us, nor the Qur’an sent to us through thin air. It all reached us through the Beloved Messenger of Allah, upon him be Allah’s peace and eternal blessing.
The Noble Prophet is an intermediary, a Waseela, between Allah and His Servants.
Furthermore, the above verse states that the believers cannot truly believe unless the Beloved Prophet is made a judge between them, and that they should accept his decision with full faith. This clarifies the importance of the Waseela of the Beloved Prophet, that his word should not be questioned or challenged and doing so would endanger the faith of a believer, and deem it incomplete. This is the honour that Allah has granted to the Noble Prophet, acting as an intermediary.
Tafseer ibn Kathir states about this verse, “Allah swears by His Glorious, Most Honourable Self, that no one shall attain faith until he refers to the Messenger for judgment in all matters.”
Here, the incident of Tawassul is undeniable.
There are many, many verses of the Qur’an referring to belief and faith in Allah and His Messenger, emphasising the need to testify and bear witness to the Beloved Prophet of Allah for the completion of Imaan. We cannot reach Allah directly, we were taught about Him through the Messenger of Allah, who passed on this knowledge to us through the Salaf and the Awliya. This is Tawassul.
We attain Allah’s Pleasure through obeying those whom He loves. Indeed, Almighty Allah says, "He who obeys the Messenger has indeed obeyed Allah." [Qur'an 4:80]
• Tawassul in the Prophet’s Absence
At this point, one may wonder about the validity of using Tawassul in the absence of the intermediary. For example, praying “O Allah, help me through the Waseela of Your Beloved Messenger...” This concept is also proven correct in the noble sayings of the Beloved Messenger, the Ahadith.
Sayyidina Jabir bin Abdullah reports that Allah's Messenger said, "Whoever, after listening to the Azan, says, 'Allahumma Rabba hadhihi-d-da' watit-tammati was-salatil qa'imati, ati Muhammadan al-wasilata wal-fadilata, wab' athhu maqaman mahmudan-il-ladhi wa' adtahu’
(O Allah! Lord of this perfect call (of not ascribing partners to You) and of the regular prayer which is going to be established! Kindly give Muhammad the right of intercession and superiority, and send him [on the Day of Judgment] to the best and the highest place in Paradise which You have promised him)', then intercession for me will be permitted for him on the Day of Resurrection."[Bukhari Vol. 11, Hadith no. 588]
Clearly the above Hadith is a direct proof of the permissibility of seeking Waseela and in the absence of the Beloved Messenger, may Allah’s eternal peace and blessing be upon him, as this prayer was taught for the entire Ummah, even those not alive during his time.
Here he hastaught us to seek his intercession, though we are currently not in his physical presence, to ask Allah to make him an intermediary for us on the Day of Judgement. If Tawassul is not permissible, surely on the Day of Judgement we would truly be lost, as it will be a day of complete devastation, a day when cries of ‘Nafsi, nafsi (myself, myself!)’ will echo far and wide. However, we are taught by the Beloved Messenger himself that if we request Allah to make him our Waseela on that day, he will be permitted to help us. How fortunate we are!
Another proof is crystal clear in the Hadith advising a blind man:
Sayyidina Usman bin Hunayf says that a blind man went to the court of the Holy Prophet, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, and said, "I've been afflicted in my eyesight, so please pray to Allah for me."
The Beloved Prophet,may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him,said: ‘Go make ablution (wudu), perform two Rakah (cycles) of prayer, and then say: "O Allah, I ask You and turn to You through my Prophet Muhammad, the Prophet of Mercy; O Muhammad (Ya Muhammad), I seek your intercession with my Lord for the return of my eyesight [and in another version: "for my need, that it may be fulfilled. O Allah, grant him intercession for me].’"
The Beloved Prophet, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him,added, "And if there is some need, do the same. [Tirmidhi, Imam Bukhari’s al-Tarikh al-Kabir, also classed as Sahih in Sunan Ibn Majah, Imam Nasai’s Amal al-Yawm wa al-Layla, Imam Abu Nu'aym’s Ma'rifa al-Sahaba, Imam Baihaqi’s Dala'il al-Nubuwwa, Imam Haythami’s Majma al Zawa'id wa Manba' al-Fawa'id, Imam Tabarani’s al-Mu'jam al-Kabir etc.]
The authenticity of the above Hadith cannot be denied, with the approval of the masters of Hadith i.e. Imam Bukhari, Imam Tirmidhi etc.
Here the Holy Prophet teaches the man a prayer which clearly invokes Waseela of his own blessed name, “through my Prophet Muhammad”, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him. The man is advised to recite the supplication and no specific instruction is given for him to pray in the Beloved Messenger’s presence – rather this prayer is not dependant upon the physical presence of the Holy Prophet, but rather upon his person and his rank, his elevated status.
Thus, when the Ahle Sunnah wal Jamaat invoke the Waseela of the Beloved Prophet, we do so through the sake of his truly exalted status.
Following on from the above Hadith, Sayyidina Usman bin Hunayf, an esteemed Companion of the Beloved Prophet, reports that a man repeatedly visited Sayyidina Usman ibn Affan (during his Caliphate) concerning something he needed, but Sayyidina Usman paid no attention to him or his need.
The man met Sayyidina Usman bin Hunayf and complained to him about the matter – note, this being after the death (wisaal) of the Beloved Prophet, and after the caliphates of Sayyidina Abu Bakr and Sayyidina Umar. So Sayyidina Usman bin Hunayf, who was one of the Companions who collected Hadith and was learned in matters of Deen, advised:
"Go to the place of ablution and perform ablution (wudu), then come to the Masjid, perform two Rakah prayer therein, and say: 'O Allah, I ask You and turn to You through our Prophet Muhammad, the Prophet of Mercy; O Muhammad (Ya Muhammad), I turn through you to my Lord, that He may fulfill my need,'
and mention your need. Then come so that I can go with you [to the caliph, Sayyidina Usman]."
So the man left and did as he had been told, then went to the door of Sayyidina Usman ibn Affan, and the doorman came, took him by the hand, brought him to Sayyidina Usman ibn Affan, and seated him next to him on a cushion.
Sayyidina Usman asked, "What do you need?" and the man mentioned what he wanted, and Sayyidina Usman accomplished it for him, then he said, "I hadn't remembered your need until just now," adding, "Whenever you need something, just mention it."
Then, the man departed, met Sayyidina Usman bin Hunayf, and said to him, "May Allah reward you! He didn't see to my need or pay any attention to me until you spoke with him."
Sayyidina Usman bin Hunayf replied, "By Allah, I didn't speak to him, but I have seen a blind man come to the Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, and complain to him of the loss of his eyesight. The Prophet said, "Can you not bear it?' and the man replied, 'O Messenger of Allah, I do not have anyone to lead me around, and it is a great hardship for me.' The Prophet told him, 'Go to the place of ablution and perform ablution (wudu), then pray two Rakah prayer and make the supplication.'"
Sayyidina Usman bin Hunayf continues, "By Allah, we didn't part company or speak long before the man returned to us as if nothing had ever been wrong with him."
[Imam Tabarani authenticates the above narration as Sahih in his al-Mu'jam al-Saghir. Also classed as Sahih by Imam Bayhaqi, Imam Haythami etc.]
This is a clear, undisputable report of a Noble Companion teaching the use of Tawassulvia the Waseela of one who is no longer physically alive amongst us i.e. the Beloved Prophet. There can be no doubt in the fact that a Companion would never encourage an unpleasant act, let alone the act of shirk. Here, Tawassul is actually advised by the esteemed Companion, Sayyidina Usman bin Hunayf, who then also reports its benefits and successful outcome.
The next Hadith is of utmost importance: it teaches us the fact that Prophet Adam, may Allah’s peace be upon him, sought the Mercy of Allah through the name of our Beloved Prophet. And furthermore, it teaches that Prophet Adam was created through the Waseela of the Beloved Prophet, therefore the entire mankind was also created for his sake.
Reported by Sayyidina Umar bin al-Khattab, the Beloved Prophet,may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him,said, "When Adam committed his mistake, he said: O my Lord, I am asking you to forgive me for the sake of Muhammad. Allah said: O Adam, and how do you know about Muhammad, whom I have not yet created? Adam replied, O my Lord, after You created me with Your Hand and breathed into me of Your Spirit, I raised my head and saw written on the heights of the Throne, ‘La ilaha illallah Muhammadun RasulAllah’. I understood that You would not place next to Your Name but the Most Beloved One of Your creation. Allah said: O Adam, I have forgiven you, and were it not for Muhammad, I would not have created you."
[Imam Baihaqi’s Dala'il al-Nubuwwa, Imam Abu Nu’aym in Dala'il al-Nubuwwa, Imam al-Hakim’s al-Mustadrak (2:615), Imam Tabarani in his al-Mu'jam al-Saghir (2:82, 207), Imam Ibn Asakir on the authority of `Umar ibn al-Khattab, and copied in Imam Qastalani's al-Mawahib al-Laduniyya.
Qadi Iyad includes it among "sound and famous narrations" in al-Shifa, Imam ibn Jawzi also considers it sound (Sahih) in the 1st chapter of al-Wafa bi Ahwal al-Mustafa. Hafiz ibn Kathir mentions it in al-Bidayat wa al-Nihaya (1:75, 1:180). Imam Suyuti cites it in his Qur'anic commentary al-Durr al-Manthur (2:37) etc.]
About this, Qadi Iyad says: "It is said that this Hadith explains the verse: ‘Then Adam received from his Lord [some] words, and He accepted his repentance.’” [Qur’an 2:37]
When Prophet Adam, who is known as Abul Bashar, the father of mankind, repents and seeks Allah’s Forgiveness through the name and the status of our Beloved Prophet, there no longer remains any doubt of the status of such a Waseela and its permissibility. This Hadith is a clear evidence, not only of the strength and power of Tawassul,but also of the supreme and exalted status of our Beloved Prophet, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him.
Imam Nawawi in his Al-Adhkar Min Kalam Sayyid Al-Abrar records that Tawassul through the Beloved Prophet, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, and asking for his intercession are recommended.
• To Proclaim Ya Nabi, Ya RasulAllah etc.
Concerning the issue of saying ‘Ya’ to anyone other than Almighty Allah, the Holy Qur’an itself addresses the Prophet many times using this prefix, for example Ya ayyuhan Nabi (O Prophet), Ya ayyuhal muzammil (O you wrapped in garments) or Ya ayyuhal mudathir (O you enveloped in garments). [Qur’an 33:46; 73:1; 74:1]
Additionally, the Noble Companions would proclaim ‘Ya Nabi’ or ‘Ya Muhammad’ on various occasions, as an expression of love and also used it after the Beloved Prophet’s wisaal from this world.
» Imam Abu Nu’aym reports that Sayyidina Abdullah ibn Umar once felt a numbness in his leg, whereupon a man said to him:
“Remember the most beloved of people to you”, so he said, “Ya Muhammad!”
[Imam Bukhari’s Adab al-Mufrad, Hadith no. 964]
» Also used by Sayyidina Abu Bakr Siddique upon the passing away of the Beloved Messenger, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him:
Sayyidina Aisha narrates that Sayyidina Abu Bakr “came riding his horse from his dwelling place in As-Sunh. He got down from it, entered the Masjid and did not speak with anybody till he came to me and went direct to the Prophet, who was covered with a marked blanket. Abu Bakr uncovered his face. He knelt down and kissed him and then started weeping and said, ‘My father and my mother be sacrificed for you, O Allah's Prophet (Ya RasulAllah)! Allah will not combine two deaths on you. You have died the death which was written for you.’”
[Bukhari, Vol. 2, Book 23, Hadith no. 333]
» It was a common practise amongst the Noble Companions, may Allah be pleased with them all, to exclaim ‘Ya Muhammad’ at the time of battlefield. [Imam Tabari’s Tarikh al-Rusul wa al-Muluk]
» During the battle of Yamamah, when the Muslims began to lose ground, Sayyidina Khalid bin Walid cried out for help saying, “Ya Muhammad!” [Hafiz ibn Kathir’s al-Bidayat wa al-Nihaya]
» Imam ibn Hajar Asqalani stated, “O My Leader, O Messenger of Allah, my poems in which I have admired you, have attained nobility.” [Imam Nabahani’s al-Majmu'ah al-Nabahaniyyah fil-Mada'ih al-Nabawiyyah]
» It is related from Sayyidina Malik al-Dar, the treasurer of Sayyidina Umar Farooq, that the people suffered a drought during the caliphate of Sayyidina Umar, whereupon a man came to the grave of the Beloved Prophet and said: "O Messenger of Allah, ask for rain for your Community, for verily they have but perished," after which the Prophet appeared to him in a dream and told him: "Go to Umar and give him my greeting, then tell him that they will be watered. Tell him: You must be clever, you must be clever!"
The man went and told Sayyidina Umar, who said, "O my Lord, I spare no effort except in what escapes my power!"
[Imam Baihaqi’s Dala'il al-Nubuwwa,Vol.8, page 47; Hafiz ibn Kathir classifies it as Sahih in al-Bidayat wa al-Nihaya, Vol.5, page 168; Imam al-Asqalani classifies it as Sahih in Al-Asabah, Vol.3, page 484]
» Sayyidina Abu Huraira narrates, “I heard the Prophet say: By the one in Whose hand is Abu al-Qasim's soul, Isa ibn Maryam shall descend as a just and wise ruler. He shall destroy the cross, slay the swine, eradicate discord and grudges, and money shall be offered to him but he will not accept it.
Then he shall stand at my grave side and say: Ya Muhammad! and I will answer him.”
[Imam ibn Hajar Asqalani in al-Matalib al-Aliya (Kuwait, 1393/1973)]
» The term ‘Ya’ is also used by every single Muslim across the world, since the time of the Beloved Messenger of Allah – even by those who dispute it! The term ‘Ya’ is in the Tashahud we pray during Salah where we say:
“Assalamu alayka ayyuhan-nabiyu wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu.”
Meaning: Peace and the mercy and blessings of Allah be upon you, O Prophet.
• Saying ‘Ya’ for the Deceased
Although the Ahle Sunnah wal Jamaat do not believe that the Beloved Messenger of Allah is dead, the word ‘Ya’ has been used for the deceased in both the Qur’an and Hadith. It has often been used to address the dead unbelievers, therefore the question arises: if ‘Ya’ can be used for deceased unbelievers, why can it not be used to address the best of creation, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him?
» The Holy Qur’an states, “Then he (Prophet Salih, upon him be peace) turned from them, and said: ‘O my people! I have indeed conveyed to you the Message of my Lord, and have given you good advice, but you like not good advisers.’'” [Qur’an 7:79]
Hafiz bin Kathir’s commentary on this verse: “These are the words of admonishment that Salih conveyed to his people after Allah destroyed them for defying Him...” And the Tafsir continues, “Salih said these words of admonishment and criticism to them after they perished, and they heard him...”
» The following incident is reported by two different Companions, regarding the Beloved Messenger of Allah addressing the dead unbelievers at Badr:
1. Sayyidina Abu Talha narrates:
On the day of Badr, the Prophet ordered that the corpses of twenty-four leaders of Quraish should be thrown into one of the dirty dry wells of Badr. When he halted at the edge of the well, he addressed the corpses of the Quraish infidels by their names and their fathers' names, “O [Ya] so-and-so, son of so-and-so and O so-and-so, son of so-and-so! Would it have pleased you if you had obeyed Allah and His Messenger? We have found true what our Lord promised us. Have you too found true what your Lord promised you?”
Sayyidina Umar said, “O Allah's Apostle! You are speaking to bodies which have no souls!”
Allah's Apostle said, “By Him in Whose Hand Muhammad's soul is, you do not hear what I say better than they do.” [Sahih Bukhari, Vol.e 5, Book 59, Hadith no. 314]
2. Sayyidina Anas bin Malik narrates:
Allah's Messenger,may Allah’s eternal peace and blessings be upon him, let the dead bodies of the unbelievers who fought in Badr (lie unburied) for three days. He then came to them and sat by their side and called them and said, “O Abu Jahl b. Hisham, O Umayya b. Khalaf, O Utba b. Rab'ila, O Shaiba b. Rabi'a, have you not found what your Lord had promised with you to be correct? As for me, I have found the promises of my Lord to be (perfectly) correct.”
Sayyidina Umar listened to the words of Allah's Messenger and said, “Allah's Messenger, how do they listen and respond to you? They are dead and their bodies have decayed.” Thereupon the Beloved Messenger said, “By Him in Whose Hand is my life, what I am saying to them, even you cannot hear more distinctly than they, but they lack the power to reply.” Then he commanded that they should be buried in the well of Badr. [Sahih Muslim, Book 40, Hadith no. 6869]
In the above reports, many facts are brought to light – not only does the Beloved Messenger use the term ‘Ya’, but he uses the term to address the dead. Upon Sayyidina Umar’s curiousity, the Beloved Messenger also clarifies that they, the deceased unbelievers, are able hear him clearly (yet today we have people claiming that the Messenger of Allah cannot hear us when we call out to him!)
» Sayyidina ibn Abbas narrated that Allah’s Messenger passed by some graves of Madinah. He turned his face towards them, and said, “Peace be on you, O people of the grave! May Allah forgive us and you. You have gone before us and we are to follow.” [Tirmidhi, Chapter 59, Hadith no. 1055]
In this supplication which the Beloved Prophet, may Allah’s eternal peace and blessings be upon him,taught the entire Ummah, he specifically uses the term ‘Ya’ i.e. ‘Ya Ahlul Quboor’ meaning ‘O people of the grave!’
USING THE WASEELA OF THE PIOUS
The Qur’an itself states the fact that the righteous believers are helpers and allies:
“Your true friends are none other than Allah, His Messenger, and the (fellowship of) believers; those who establish regular prayers and regular charity, and they bow down humbly (in worship).” [Qur’an 5:55]
And Almighty Allah also places special emphasis on the need to accompany the righteous:
“O you who have believed, fear Allah and be with those who are true.” [Qur’an 9:119]
There can be no doubt about the importance of seeking the help and prayers of the pious. Indeed, the Messenger of Allah asked the Companions to seek the prayers of Sayyidina Uwais al-Qarni:
Sayyidina Umar b. al-Khattab reported: I heard Allah's Messenger, may Allah’s eternal peace and blessings be upon him, saying, “Worthy amongst the successors (Tabi’een) would be a person who would be called Uwais. He would have his mother (living with him) and he would have (a small) sign of leprosy. Ask him to beg pardon for you (from Allah).” [Muslim, Book 31, Hadith no. 6171]
» Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal states, “The people of Syria were mentioned in front of Sayyidina Ali ibn Abi Talib while he was in Iraq, and they said: ‘Curse them, O Commander of the Believers.’ He replied, ‘No, I heard the Messenger of Allah say: "The Substitutes (al-abdal) are in Syria and they are forty men, every time one of them dies, Allah substitutes another in his place. By means of them Allah brings down the rain, gives (Muslims) victory over their enemies, and averts punishment from the people of Syria."" [Musnad Imam Ahmed bin Hanbal 1:112]
» Imam ibn Hajar al-Haytami reports that, when Imam al-Shafi was in Baghdad, he would visit the grave of Imam Abu Hanifa, give salam to him, and then ask Allah for the fulfillment of his need through the means of Imam Abu Hanifa. [al-Khayrat al-Hisan fi Manaqib al-Imam Abi Hanifa al-Na’man, chapter 35]
» Hafiz Ibrahim al-Harbi, a companion of Imam Ahmad, used to say, "Maruf al-Karkhi's grave is proven medicine."" And Imam ibn al-Jawzi adds: "We ourselves go to Ibrahim al-Harbi's grave and seek blessings with it."
The case regarding whether these saints are alive or deceased is irrelevant in terms of using their Waseela. The One whom we seek from, through their means, is alive and eternal i.e. Allah Most High. We seek from Him through their names and their honourable statuses, therefore they do not need to be alive amongst us for us to use their Waseela. The above reports regarding Imam Shafi and Imam ibn al-Jawzi is evidence for this.
The proofs for Tawassul are all crystal clear, and all the evidences prove its permissibility in the eyes of the Salaf and indeed, in light of Qur’an and Hadith. However, great misconceptions and fabrications have been produced by deviants in an attempt to weaken the Aqeeda of Muslims all over the globe. The misinterpretations of Qur’anic verses alone in relation to Shirk are a major travesty - evidently, the Ummah is in times of dire need for the rescue of their Imaan..
May Allah guide us all and keep us on the Siraat al-Mustaqeem, (Straight Path) upon which the Beloved Messenger lead the righteous Salaf and in whose noble footsteps we wish to follow. Ameen.