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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

ABOUT WAHHABISM

ABOUT WAHHABISM

Islam as the School of Unity



The Holy Qur'an invites all human beings to unity—Muslims, Christians, Jews, etc.—and this invitation is not exclusive for the time of the Prophet (s) or a certain group of the People of the Book {ahl al-kitab}:[4]

﴿قُلْ يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ تَعَالَوْا إِلَى كَلِمَةٍ سَوَاءٍ بَيْنَنَا وَبَيْنَكُمْ أَلاَّ نَعْبُدَ إِلاَّ اللَّهَ وَلاَ نُشْرِكَ بِهِ شَيْئًا وَلاَ يَتَّخِذَ بَعْضُنَا بَعْضًا أَرْبَابًا مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ.

Say, 'O People of the Book! Come to a word common between us and you: that we will worship no one but Allah, and that we will not ascribe any partner to Him, and that we will not take each other as lords besides Allah'.[5]

The Glorious Qur'an speaks about the synagogue, temple, church and mosque in the same line because the Name of God is mentioned in all of them. As such, they must be held in high esteem and respect.

Although the blessed verse quoted invites all to unity, the greater emphasis is on the solidarity of Muslims. This is because, in addition to their unity and commonality in tawhid {unity of God}, prophethood {nubuwwah} qiblah {the direction where one faces for prayer and other acts of worship}, etc., Muslims also have a commonality with some branches of religion. Thus, among the followers of the various religions, Muslims are more deserving of having unity, and thus the possibility of scientific, cultural, political and other interactions among them is stronger.


Keeping aloof from spitefulness

The life conduct {sirah} of the Holy Prophet (s)[6] serves as a proof, guideline and model for all of us. Through compassion, magnanimity and endeavor, he (s) was able to unify the people of Hijaz,[7] most of whom had been idol-worshippers, under the banner of Islam.

After their acceptance of Islam, some of them, known as the munafiqun {hypocrites}, engaged in open confrontation with the Prophet (s) who had to deal with them. They were those who ostensibly embraced Islam but in intention and practice they were not assisting him (s). In spite of this, the Prophet (s) peacefully associated with them and his objectives were the accomplishment of the mission as well as imparting the understanding and implementation of the Holy Qur'an. The very same conduct was adopted by the infallible Imams ('a) and they never kindled the flame of discord among Muslims.

We can see that although 'Ali ('a) had reproached the earlier caliphs as recorded in Nahj al-Balaghah,[8] in other instances he would laud them. All this was primarily to foster the freedom of thought and the spread of Islamic beliefs. The conclusion is that in the present age, indulging in magnifying Sunni-Shi`ah differences, apart from not being useful, will result in an irreparable loss.

Proximity between Sunnis and Shi`ah advances the interests of both. The Shi`ah in particular have not confined their thought, culture, jurisprudence {fiqh}, exegesis of the Qur'an {tafsir}, and beliefs to themselves and their seminaries. A survey of Muslim-populated countries substantiates this statement as the books of great Shi`ah figures such as Shaykh al-Mufid, Shaykh at-Tusi, 'Allamah Hilli, 'Allamah Tabataba'i, and Professor Mutahhari can be easily found in these countries.

The proximity of Sunnis and Shi`ah opens the ways for the spread of Shi`ah thought and culture in the Muslim world, and as a result, makes the further proximity of these two sects even more possible.

More than anyone else, the Wahhabis are apprehensive and endangered by this proximity. It is for this reason that during the Hajj season, they prohibit the entry into the country all religious books including the Qur'an (in Persian translation), tafsir, history and hadith books, and even Iranian magazines and newspapers. This is because they are afraid that these printed materials would present facts against their particular policy and doctrines. This is in spite of the fact that those matters are never repugnant to the truth of Islam.

In terms of outlook, they oppose not only the Shi`ah but also the four Sunni schools of thought. They write books against the proximity of Sunnis and Shi`ah, campaigning against it, regarding it as an impossible venture, and claiming thus: “We shall never have an understanding with those who are engaged in speculative interpretation of the verses of the Qur'an and who disrespect the two sheikhs {shaykhayn}.”


Why Wahhabism should be identified

The anti-unity campaign of Wahhabis reaches its peak during the Unity Week.[9] One of the best means of replying to such a plot is that the 'ulama' of the Hajj caravans and pilgrims should be the promoters of unity more than anyone else. They should be familiar with the methods of dealing with them and understand their views and opinions so that during confrontations and argumentations, they could reply to them consciously and intellectually.

It is necessary for some Muslims who are following the Sunni school to be properly informed about the opinions of the Sunni imams so as to realize that the Wahhabis also have views difference to them and even regard many of the beliefs of the Ahl as-Sunnah as polytheistic and, worse still, prone to infidelity {kufr}. In reality, Wahhabism is a political movement under the religious cover of identifying with the Sunnis and it wants to prevent the unity of the Islamic schools of thought {madhahib}. It is trying to kindle the flame of discord among Muslims especially between the two main sects—Sunni and Shi`ah—so as to make the imperialist hegemony permanent over the Muslim nation.

Unfortunately, with the acquisition of the oil-rich land of Arabia and reliance on the enormous God-given wealth, Wahhabism has succeeded in becoming a potent force and has established innumerable offices and organizations throughout the world for the propagation of its dogma. In the Sunni-populated regions of Iran and Pakistan where most of the people are suffering from poverty and deprivation, the Wahhabis are making huge investments, constructing religious schools {madaris}, spending large amounts of money upon their students and others, and attracting people to Wahhabi doctrines. Since most of our Sunni brothers are living on the border regions of Iran, they are more subjected to the influence of the propaganda of the imperialist Wahhabis.

As the 'Alawi Shi`ah and Muhammadi Sunnis have risen up now hand in hand against their enemies and can clearly see the hand of imperialism behind the curtain of Wahhabism, it is necessary for Sunni and Shi`ah 'ulama' to conduct research about Wahhabism and identify it well so as to make it clear that this group has differences of opinion not only with the Shi`ah but also with the Ahl as-Sunnah. Although the Wahhabis are always playing the Sunni card and try to portray themselves as the well-wishers and sympathizers of the Sunnis, Sunnis in turn have to know that the issues regarded by Wahhabis as their points of departure with the Shi`ah are the same issues that are common between the Sunnis and the Shi`ah. They also have to know that the Shi`ah school is closer to the Ahl as-Sunnah than Wahhabism is.

 


Leaders and unity

During the past decades, there were figures who regarded the unity of Muslims as their ideal and aspiration, but they did not realize this precious aspiration, or if they ever took steps for its realization, they were very insignificant and rudimentary. In the recent period, the late Ayatullah Burujerdi (r)[10] gave an affirmative reply to this aspiration by approving the Jami'ah at-Taqrib bayn al-Madhahib al-Islamiyyah {University or Forum for the proximity of the Islamic schools of thought}.

There have been other 'ulama' and fuqaha who upheld the approach of the late Burujerdi. In this context, the viewpoint and outlook of the late Hadrat[11] Imam Khomeini (r) and his efforts are well known to all. At the present time also, in a bid to extend the scope of this unity further, Ayatullah Khamene'i (may his sublime presence endure) has issued a decree for reviving the foundation of unity and the forum for proximity, which is itself worthy of gratitude and a source of hope.

It is appropriate for us to note at this juncture that the Shi`ah 'ulama' and fuqaha of the past, such as Shaykh al-Mufid (d. 413 AH), Sayyid Murtada 'Alam al-Huda (d. 436 AH), and Shaykh at-Tusi (d. 460 AH), among others, have also emphasized unity between Sunnis and Shi`ah, and have written valuable books on this subject such as al-Khilaf which enumerates the common points of belief between the two groups. 'Allamah Hilli has also written a book on the basis of the jurisprudence {fiqh} of the Shi`ah and the four Sunni schools.


All these are proofs for the proximity of jurisprudential views of the two schools and of the interest of leading figures in jurisprudence in establishing mutual understanding. Of course, at the present time there are treatises on jurisprudence written by Sunnis in which the views of the Sunnis and the Shi`ah on the branches of religion and jurisprudence have been compared. For example, the books Mawsu'ah Jamal 'Abd al-Nasir and Al-Fiqh 'ala'l-Madhahib al-Khamsah can be cited.

 


Notes:
[4]          People of the Book [ahl al-Kitab]: the respectful title given to the Jews and Christians in the Qur’an. [Trans.]
[5]          Surat Al ‘Imran 3:64.
[6]          The abbreviation, “s”, stands for the Arabic invocative phrase, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa alihi wa sallam [may God’s salutation and peace be upon him and his progeny], which is used after the name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s). [Trans.]
[7]          Hijaz: the region in Western Arabia bordering the Red Sea that includes Ta’if, Mecca and Medina. Here, it alludes to the entire Arabian Peninsula. [Trans.]
[8]          Nahj al-Balaghah (The Peak of Eloquence) is a collection of speeches, sayings and letters of the Commander of the Faithful, Imam ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (‘a) compiled by Sharif ar-Radi Muhammad ibn al-Husayn (d. 406 AH/1016). The contents of the book concern the three essential topics of God, man and the universe, and include comments on scientific, literary, social, ethical, and political issues. With the exception of the words of the Glorious Qur’an and of the Holy Prophet (s), no words of man can equate it in eloquence. So far, more than 101 exegeses have been written on Nahj al-Balaghah, indicating the importance of this treatise to scholars and learned men of research and investigation. For more information, visit: http://www.al-islam.org/nahjul. [Trans.]
[9]          12-17 Rabi‘ al-Awwal. [Trans.]
[10]        The abbreviation, “r” stands for the Arabic invocative phrase, rahmatullah ‘alayhi, rahmatullah ‘alayha, or rahmatullah ‘alayhim [may peace be upon him/her/them], which is used after the names of pious people. [Trans.]
[11]        Hadrat: The Arabic word Hadrat is used as a respectful form of address. [Trans.]











The Life Account of Shaykh Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab and Ibn Sa‘ud


 


A cursory glance at the life account of Shaykh Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab

In this section, we deemed it fitting to take a survey of the life of Muhammad ibn 'Abd al-Wahhab, known as the Shaykh, and Muhammad Sa'ud.

The sons and grandsons of the Shaykh are still living in the Arabia, some of whom are known by the family name, “Al ash-Shaykh”. The children of Muhammad Al as-Sa'ud some of whom are holding the reins of government in Arabia are known as “al Sa'ud”. The country had been known before as “Hijaz”, but it was changed into the “Kingdom of Saudi Arabia” {al-Mamlakah al-'Arabiyyah Sa'udiyyah} during the reign of King 'Abd al-'Aziz.

Shaykh Muhammad ibn 'Abd al-Wahhab came from the region of Najd who was born in 1114 AH in one of the cities of Najd named as ”'Ayniyyah”. His father, Shaykh 'Abd al-Wahhab, was a scholar {'alim} and the judge {qadi} of that region. As such, the creed of Shaykh Muhammad had been ascribed to his father. After learning the basics of religion from his father, Shaykh Muhammad went to Medina and learned from the 'ulama' of that region.

Due to his personal interpretations of some issues regarding belief and his opposition to the 'ulama' of Medina, he was expelled from the city. He then went to Iraq where he stayed in Basrah. In that city he got acquainted with a person named Shaykh Muhammad Majmu'i and adopted his ideas. Finally, the two believed in a certain creed.

The other 'ulama' of Basrah and the believers of the region that were mainly of Iranian origin, had opposed him and ousted him from Basrah.


When Shaykh Muhammad was driven out of Basrah, he proceeded to Damascus, which had a pleasant climate, but because of his unusual belief and difficulties in life he was unable to remain there. Since he could not return to Medina or Mecca, he went back to the Najd of his father, Shaykh 'Abd al-Wahhab, who was then still the 'alim of the region.

The Shaykh had a brother named Shaykh Sulayman ibn 'Abd al-Wahhab who was at loggerheads with him in terms of belief. His brother was the first person to write a book refuting his doctrines. His father also opposed him and sided with Shaykh Sulayman. In addition to the opposition of his father and brother, he also faced the opposition of 'ulama', and this dispute continued until the death of his father.


Shaykh Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab after the death of his father

After the death of his father, Shaykh Muhammad enjoyed great freedom in propagating his doctrines and views. As such, he went to other places and become acquainted with 'Uthman ibn Ahmad ibn Muhammad, who was then the emir of 'Ayniyyah, and married his daughter Jawharah. Although it is said that the people there accepted some of his beliefs, because he went to extremes in opposing their customs, they expelled him from the region. For instance, he had ordered the destruction of a dome belonging to Zayd ibn al-Khattab, brother of 'Umar. He had also issued a decree for an old tree, which was venerated by the people of the region, to be uprooted.

In sum, on account of his peculiar doctrines, among which was his disregard for the leaders of the Ahl as-Sunnah, the Shaykh lost his esteem in the people's sight and earned their wrath. From there he went to the region of Dar'iyyah.

Nowadays, pilgrims—Iranian and non-Iranian—can still see the relics related to the rule of 'Uthman in Arabia such as the holy shrine of the Holy Prophet (s) and the graves surrounding it, the lanterns of Masjid an-Nabi, and the inscriptions on that sacred mosque.


The children and students of Shaykh Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab

Shaykh Muhammad had a number of sons and daughters and married one of his daughters to Muhammad ibn Sa'ud, the tribal chief. His sons, Husayn, 'Abd Allah and Ibrahim, became judges after their father. Even now, his sons, one after another, hold religious positions in Saudi Arabia.
During his lifetime, apart from training students, the Shaykh wrote some books which nowadays have caught the attention of 'ulama' and students of the region. These books are as follows:

1. Kitab at-Tawhid; a collection of his doctrines;

2. Kitab Kashf ash-Shubahat, which is written in defense of his doctrines vis-à-vis Sunni 'ulama';

3. The merits and issues of some stories in the Qur'an;

4. Kitab al-Kaba'ir, which has been written about the major sins;

5. Masa'il al-Jahiliyyah, in which he compares the pre-Islamic period of ignorance of Arabia with his own time;

6. Fawa'id as-Sirah an-Nabawiyyah, which is well-known as Sirat ar-Rasul. This book examines the entire course of the lives of some Companions of the Prophet (s), his battles and the prevalent beliefs during that time;

7. Ikhtisar ash-Sharh al-Kabir; and

8. Adab al-Mashyi ila's-Salah (These two books have been written about issues related to jurisprudence and the branches of religion).

These books are still available at the present.

 


The Death of Shaykh Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab

After engaging in religious and political debates, successive travels to a number of cities in the Muslim world, and enduring the wrath and anger of the 'ulama', Shaykh Muhammad was able to find his own supporters and votaries, who are nowadays known as the Wahhabis.

According to historical sources which have been written in his praise and appreciation and negating the deviant nature of his doctrines, the Shaykh passed away in 1206 AH at the age of 92 in Dar'iyyah after traveling to Basrah, Najaf, Karbala', and probably, Isfahan and Shiraz.

In short, after the death of the Shaykh, his beliefs and views were promoted and propagated with the support and blessing of external and domestic political brokers in such a manner that at the present, most of the current rulers of Arabia and a number of religious scholars and judges there follow him and other Muslim countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan and boarder communities in Iran have come under the influence of these doctrines. The Wahhabis are spreading this creed in the various countries in Europe, America and Asia by building mosques and libraries, printing copies of the Holy Qur'an, dispatching religious missionaries, and the like.

This creed is called Wahhabism derived from the name of the Shaykh's father. Although the Shaykh seemed to be a follower of the Hanbali school of thought, the truth of the matter is that he was not so, and he was distinctively different from the other 'ulama'. In fact, he regarded himself as free to think, choose and formulate his own beliefs pertaining to religion. Since he considered himself an initiator of a new set of beliefs, he expressed his beliefs in the following points:

1. He treated all Muslims as infidels or polytheists while thinking of himself as the true Muslim;

2. He declared visiting the graves and constructing domes and courtyards around the cemetery of the Companions of the Prophet (s) and his descendants as unlawful {haram};

3. He regarded making vows, requests and offering sacrificial animals beside the shrine of saints {awliya'} as unlawful;

4. He used to reckon as haram entreating {istighathah} and resorting to the intermediation {tawassul} of the saints of God;

5. He considered it obligatory to wage jihad against those who opposed his creed, saying: “Wage war against the infidels and polytheists until there is no more sedition {fitnah} and the religion is solely for God:

﴿وَقَاتِلُوهُمْ حَتَّى لا تَكُونَ فِتْنَةٌ.

Fight them until faithlessness is no more.[12]

What is meant by the Shaykh in this verse is jihad against Muslims and for him the pure religion is referred to his creed.

This is the summary of the life account and beliefs of Shaykh Muhammad ibn 'Abd al-Wahhab as taken from Kitab At-Tawhid bi'l-Lughati al-Farisiyyah.[13] Of course, other points shall also be mentioned in other discussions.

 


To whom was Shaykh Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab indebted

During the period of his stay in Mecca and Medina, Shaykh Muhammad came across books that had a role in the formation of his thought. Among them are the books of Ahmad ibn Hanbal, his Musnad in particular; the books of Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah; and the writings of Ibn Taymiyyah. Contrary to other 'ulama' of the Ahl as-Sunnah, they expressed new beliefs and opinions which can be extracted from their books on jurisprudence and history. Of course, the Shaykh was largely influenced by the views of Ibn Taymiyyah.

Ibn Taymiyyah lived during the 8th century AH. In terms of belief, he was follower of Ahmad ibn Hanbal who lived in the 3rd century AH. Ibn Taymiyyah believed in a sort of anthropomorphism concerning God maintaining that God has a hand, foot, eye, tongue and mouth, and occupies a space! In order to prove his case, he resorted to the literal text of Qur'anic verses, maintaining that God is sitting on a throne in heaven.

Ibn Taymiyyah is the epithet and title of Abu'l-'Abbas Taqi ad-Din Ahmad ibn 'Abd al-Halim. He was born in the territory of Harran in present-day Turkey. He then migrated with his father to Damascus, Syria, and there he acquired learning in religion and jurisprudence. In many ideological and intellectual issues, he held extreme and radical views.

In addition to his anthropomorphic beliefs concerning God, he prohibited visitation of the graves and seeking the intermediation {tawassul} of the Prophet (s) while deeming it permissible to abuse Imam 'Ali ibn Abi Talib ('a). On issues in jurisprudence, he opposed the predecessors of the four Sunni schools. From the above points, it can be understood that the Shaykh was not the first person to have expressed such beliefs, for individuals such as Ibn Taymiyyah had advanced similar ideas prior to him.

Like Shaykh Muhammad, Ibn Taymiyyah earned the wrath and stern criticism of the 'ulama' of his time and for a time he was exiled to Egypt. But through the help of the government of the time, he returned to Damascus. During the last period of his life, he was imprisoned for his opposition to the 'ulama' of Damascus and finally expired in the castle of Damascus and was buried there.[14]


Ibn Sa‘ud

In the territory of Dar'iyyah in the region of Hijaz, which is a mountainous territory with a pleasant climate, a person named Muhammad ibn Sa'ud assumed the chieftainship of his tribe. The Shaykh became acquainted with Ibn Sa'ud and relayed to him his new doctrines, and Ibn Sa'ud in turn accepted them. They agreed together to set up a government encompassing the entire region where religious and judicial affairs, issues concerning propagation, and the leadership of the Friday prayers would be assumed by the Shaykh while the political, social, military, and security affairs would be under Ibn Sa'ud.

The government in Hijaz at that time was tribal and ethnic, and like many Muslim countries, was under Ottoman rule whose capital was present-day Turkey. With Al Sa'ud's ascension to power, Hijaz seceded from Ottoman rule and in the course of time, it fell under the control of Britain. On course, the British role in this change of the government should not be overlooked.


Notes:
[12]        Surat al-Baqarah 2:193.
[13]        Kitab at-Tawhid bi’l-Lughah al-Farisiyyah, no. 27, pp. 16-34.
[14]        ‘Ali Dawani, Firqeh-ye Wahhabi, chap. 1.-----------------------------------------

Tawhid from the Shi`ah and Wahhabi Points of View


 


The negation of reasoning {ta‘aqqul} in the Wahhabi school and its consequence

A kind of intellectual negation can be observed in the school of Wahhabism. Although Shaykh Muhammad ibn 'Abd al-Wahhab regarded himself an enlightened person, criticizing the four Suuni schools of thought, some Shi`ah beliefs, and reproaching them for speculatively interpreting the verses of the Qur'an, he used to resort to secondary issues concerning the teachings about God, the Exalted. He believed in a sort of anthropomorphism for God and in this regard he used to content himself with the outward purport of the verses.

His supporters also reject reflection and reasoning about the verses of the Qur'an and the Prophetic traditions, negating the rational sciences, philosophy and mysticism {'irfan}. They are afflicted with a close-mindedness and intellectual frigidity to the extent that they are incapable of applying the precepts of the school {madrasah}, the Qur'anic verses and the traditions to the demands of time. It was for this reason that they initially declared the telephone, mass communication devices and others as religiously unlawful, and strongly resisted them, but later they finally relented.

Since they are incapable of applying the concepts such as intercession {shafa'ah}, tawassul and infallibility {'ismah} of the Prophet (s) in the light of contemporary thinking their viewpoint concerning the prophets, the Holy Prophet (s) in particular, and the saints is narrow. They treat the spiritual station of the prophets and the saints as identical with the rest of people, thinking them as being annihilated and nonexistent after death, while the Shi`ah and other Islamic schools of thought consider them to be present and watching over us. In a result, the Wahhabis consider tawassul to the prophets and awliya', entreating them and asking for their shafa'ah an innovation in religion {bid'ah} and polytheism.

 


A few words from Martyr Professor Murtada Mutahhari

Martyr Professor Murtada Mutahhari says:

The Wahhabis believe that God has two realms. One is related to His Essence and no one has the right to enter into this realm. Worship {'ibadah} and tawassul pertain to God and are exclusive to this axis. The other realm is related to the natural affairs of the world in which the will and discretion of man have a role and it has nothing to do with God.[15]

He also says:
According to us, however, conceiving of two realms for the creation; thinking of God as belonging to one realm and the creatures, man in particular, to be in the other realm; and considering these two as distinctly separated is unacceptable and itself as a kind of polytheism. We should not separate God from His acts and His creatures; for, we believe that:

﴿أَنَّ الْقُوَّةَ لِلَّهِ جَمِيعًا.

That power, altogether, belongs to Allah,[16]

And:
لاَ حَوْلَ وَلاَ قُوَّةَ إلاَّ بِاللهِ العَلِيِّ العَظِيمِ.

“There is no might and power except from Allah, the Exalted and Great.”[17]

Then, he says:
Contrary to common notions, Wahhabism is not only an anti-Imamate theory but rather, before being anti-Imamate, it is anti-tawhid and anti-human. It is anti-tawhid because it advocates the division of work between the Creator {khaliq} and the creature {makhluq}. In addition, it upholds a sort of hidden polytheism in Essence {shirk-e dhati}. It is anti-human because it fails to comprehend the talent of man that makes him superior to the angels, and according to the text of the Qur'an, elevates him to the status of vicegerency of Allah {khilafat Allah} who ordered the angels to prostrate before him. It reduces him into a mere natural animal.”[18]

 


Tawhid according to the Shi`ah philosophers and scholastic theologians {mutakallimun}

In the light of the blessed Surah at-Tawhid (or al-Ikhlas), the following headings about the cognition of the Essence and Attributes of God can be deduced:


Tawhid of Essence {Tawhid-e dhati}

God has a Perfect Essence and the Attributes of Perfection and Beauty. Thus, this Essence must be regarded as One and Unique. That is, whatever we say concerning His Oneness and Unity, we have to believe also with respect to His Essence. Those who acknowledge such Essence also believe in the Tawhid of Essence.


Shirk {polytheism} in Essence

This means that we believe in two or more essences for God, the Exalted. This type of polytheism is called “polytheism in Essence”. God is One in Essence and has no partner. So, those who maintain that God has a son or equal, or that He has been begotten profess polytheism in Essence. The Holy Qur'an strongly condemns this type of belief.


Tawhid in Attributes

The Essence of God has Attributes which we can understand through Their effects, such as the Knowledgeable {al-'Alim}, the Living {al-Hayy}, the Wise {al-Hakim}, and the Ever-Living {al-Qayyum}. We relate these Attributes to the Essence, saying that God, the Blessed and Exalted, is One in Essence and Attributes. Since all these Attributes relate back to the Essence, there is no multiplicity in the Attributes and all Attributes are one. Every Attribute is identical with the other Attribute. For example, His Knowledge {'Ilm} is His Power {Qudrah}. Therefore, the plurality of Attributes according to our understanding is related to the effects of the Single Essence. As such, His Attributes and Essence are One and not that He has One Essence and many Attributes.


Tawhid in Actions

Tawhid in Actions is also like Tawhid in Essence in the sense that the origin of every action in the world of being is the Divine Sacred Essence, and will finally relate to Him. We should know that every Action that we ascribe to Him will be the same as His other Action, and there is no difference and distinction among the Actions of God, and the apparent duplicity in the Actions of God is caused by our perception:

﴿وَلاَ تَقُولَنَّ لِشَيْءٍ إِنِّي فَاعِلٌ ذَلِكَ غَدًا إِلاَّ أَنْ يَشَاءَ اللَّهُ وَاذْكُرْ رَبَّكَ إِذَا نَسِيتَ.

Do not say about anything, 'I will indeed do it tomorrow,' without {adding}, 'if Allah wishes.' And when you forget, remember your Lord.[19]

So, all our wishes are within the domain of His will and all the actions of God are one:

لاَ حَوْلَ وَلاَ قُوَّةَ إلاَّ بِاللهِ العَلِيِّ العَظِيمِ.

“There is no might and power except from Allah, the Exalted and Great.”

Those who have such belief, attributing all actions to God have the belief in Tawhid in Action.


Polytheism in Action {shirk-e af‘ali}

Polytheism in Action {shirk-e af'ali} means to believe that a creature has a divine will independent of the will of God in the sense that whatever the said creature does is outside the domain of God's will. This is contrary to what God has attributed to Himself as stated in the Holy Qur'an, thus:

﴿وَمَا رَمَيْتَ إِذْ رَمَيْتَ وَلَكِنَّ اللَّهَ رَمَى.

And you did not throw when you threw, rather it was Allah who threw.[20]

While we all know that the Prophet (s) threw earth and stones toward the enemy during the Battle of Badr.


Tawhid in worship

Having attributed the Tawhid of Essence, Attributes and actions to God, Tawhid in worship is confirmed for Him in the sense that only His Essence is worthy of worship, and if we consider anyone as His partner in worship, as the idol-worshippers and others do, it means that we are afflicted with polytheism in worship. The following verses of the Qur'an express this Tawhid in worship:

﴿إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وَإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ.

You {alone} do we worship, and to You {alone} do we turn for help.[21]

And along this line, another verse states:

﴿قُلْ إِنَّ صَلاَتِي وَنُسُكِي وَمَحْيَاي وَمَمَاتِي لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ.

Say, 'Indeed my prayer and my worship, my life and my death are all for the sake of Allah, the Lord of all the worlds'.[22]

Tawhid in worship is understood from the phrase, “indeed my prayer and my worship” while Tawhid in Lordship {rububiyyahi} is discerned from the phrase, “my life and my death”.

 


The foundations of Tawhid according to the Wahhabis

The Wahhabis regard Tawhid as having three parts: (1) Tawhid in Lordship {rububi}, (2) Tawhid in Divinity {uluhi}, and (3) Tawhid in the Names and Attributes {asma' wa sifat}.

 


Tawhid in Lordship {rububi}

It means that only the Essence of God has all the absolute and perfect Attributes. In other words, Tawhid in Lordship is the Tawhid in recognizing and proving God whose proofs are the verses of Surah al-Kafirun,[23] the verse,

﴿قُلْ يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ تَعَالَوْا إِلَى كَلِمَةٍ…﴾

Say, 'O People of the Book! Come to a word common[24]

and other verses.


Tawhid in Divinity {uluhi or uluhiyyah}

It is the belief in the fact that only God is worthy of worship and praise, and there is not other that god worshipped being beside Him.


Tawhid in the Names and Attributes

The Attributes and Names of God are pre-eternal {qadim}.[25] The Wahhabis consider this aspect of Tawhid in the place of the Tawhid in Attributes, worship and actions. This belief is traceable from the belief of the Ash'arites {asha'irah}, a group of scholastic theologians {mutakallimun} during the 2nd century AH. The Ash'arites also believed in the “pre-eternality” {qidmah} of the Divine Names and Attributes. Anchored on this belief, the Wahhabis reckon the Qur'an as pre-eternal and the attribute of an act of God. They also consider the dotted Arabic letters {huruf al-mu'jam} as pre-eternal.

They regard as Attributes of the Essence those attributes such the Eye {'ayn}; Soul {nafs}; Knowledge {'ilm}; Life {hayah}; Hearer {sami'}; Seer {basir}; Face {wajh}; Speech or Word {kalam}; Pre-existence {qidam}; Hand {yad}; Foot {rijl} (The Wahhabis believe that God—God forbid—has hands and feet!), Dominion {mulk}; Grandeur {'azamah}; Greatness {kibriya'}; Eminence {'uluww}; Richness {ghina}; Mercy {rahmah}; Power {qudrah}; Wisdom {hikmah}; etc.

They consider as Attributes of Act the attributes such as surprise {ta'ajjub}; laughing {dahik}; satisfaction {rida}; anger {ghadab}; aversion {karahah}; equality {istiwa'}; coming {maji'} (the alleged appearance of God on the Day of Resurrection); coming down {nuzul} (it refers to the belief of the Wahhabis that God is sitting on the Throne and He descends from heaven at the dawn!); disagreement; and gladness.[26]

After stating the parts and examples of Tawhid from the point of view of Wahhabism, it is now proper to examine polytheism {shirk} according to this sect. Thereafter, we shall compare it with Shi`ah monotheistic thought.


Shirk {polytheism} and its limits according to the Wahhabis

Shirk {polytheism} from the viewpoint of Wahhabism means associating partner with God and considering other beings as independent from Him. Wahhabism also regards turning for help to the prophets and seeking the intermediation {tawassul} of the saints as acts of polytheism.

According to this viewpoint, kissing and visiting the graves of the infallible Imams ('a) and the Prophet (s) are all acts of polytheism, unlawful and religious innovation {bid'ah}. According to the Wahhabis, the Shi`ah are polytheists or at least their beliefs have elements of polytheism.


The socio-political consequences of Tawhid and shirk {polytheism} according to the Wahhabis

The late Muhammad Jawad Mughniyyah thus writes:
Based on the Wahhabi creed, mere utterance of ”La ilaha illallah wa ashhadu anna Muhammadan rasul Allah” {There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah} is not enough for the acceptance of Islam. After uttering it, one should rather not seek the intermediation of other than God; not have the intention of paying homage to the Prophet (s); not touch and kiss his grave; not swear by the Prophet (s); and not call on him and addressing him, thus: “O the Messenger of Allah!” and “O my master!”

During his control of Mecca, Muhammad ibn Sa'ud (one of the rulers of Saudi Arabia) had said in his speech that with the exception of the Wahhabis, all Muslims are polytheists and must be reformed at the point of the sword so as to embrace Wahhabism. Contrary to his statement, however, King Faisal, the king of the Wahhabis, in his message issued in 1342 AH, says while addressing the Wahhabis: “And all Muslims, from Egypt, India, etc. are your brothers.”

This means that, “You should not be pessimistic with respect to the Muslims and you are not supposed to act according to this creed of Shaykh Muhammad ibn 'Abd al-Wahhab.”

Maintaining this belief by the Wahhabis would have such socio-political consequences as considering all Muslims as polytheists and spreading sedition {fitnah} and chaos, for such a belief is an imperialist and anti-Islamic one.


The Wahhabi-Shi`ah difference of perspective on Tawhid

As stated earlier, there are qualitative and quantitative differences between the Wahhabis and the Shi`ah about Tawhid.

We shall find out later on that this classification from the perspective of Wahhabism has significant political implications.

It can probably be argued that there is no problem with the classification of the Wahhabis. In addition, this issue is only an intellectual limitation, and difference of opinion between Muslim philosophers and mystics {'urafa'} concerning this issue can also be observed. But that which cannot be ignored is the difference in understanding.

Shi`ah 'ulama' have divided Tawhid into (Tawhid in) Essence, Attributes, acts and worship while the Wahhabi 'ulama' have divided it into (Tawhid in) Lordship, Divinity and the Names and Attributes.[27] If we compare them, and pair Tawhid in Essence with that of Lordship and Tawhid in Divinity with that of Tawhid in acts and worship, nothing remains to compare with Tawhid in the Names and Attributes. Meanwhile, to believe in the pre-eternity {qidmah} of the Names and Attributes demands the acceptance of “the multiplicity of pre-eternals”, and this is an Ash'arite belief which is false.

Shi`ah 'ulama' believe that the Names of God can be divided into two: particular and general. The particular aspect pertains specifically to the Essence of God, the Exalted, such as “Allah”. The general aspect relates to the Attributes of God which can also be applied to His servants such as rahman {All-beneficent}, rahim {All-merciful} and karim {All-kind}. The intellect of man has separated this aspect of Attributes and ascribed it to God.

If this difference merely had an ideological dimension, it would not then be so acute and sensitive, but since they are utilizing it for a political end, it ought to be analyzed.

The Wahhabis have taken this way of dividing the levels of Tawhid from Ibn Taymiyyah who, in turn, had adopted it from Ahmad ibn Hanbal.

Similarly, by dividing the Attributes into Acts and Essence, the Wahhabis have ended up believing that God has an actual hand and foot and that He can physically come and have an appearance. They have contented with the literal meaning of the verses in this regard while rejecting rational understanding and analysis. They reject as ”mu'awwilun” {allegorical interpreters} those who oppose this creed, particularly the Shi`ah who, by taking inspiration from the lofty teachings of the Prophet (s) and the infallible Imams ('a), interpret the verses related to God's seeing, hearing, His having a hand, foot and His coming on the Day of Resurrection as allegorical. For instance, the Shi`ah regard the verse,

﴿الرَّحْمَانُ عَلَى الْعَرْشِ اسْتَوَى.
The All-beneficent settled on the Throne,[28]

to mean the sovereignty and authority of God on the Throne and not in the sense of God's actual sitting on the Throne.




Notes:
[15]        Murtada Mutahhari, Jahan Bini-ye Tawhidi [Monotheistic Worldview], vol. 2, p. 116.
[16]        Surat al-Baqarah 2:165.
[17]        Jahan Bini-ye Tawhidi, ibid.
[18]        Ibid.
[19]        Surat al-Kahf 18:23-24.
[20]        Surat al-Anfal 8:17.
[21]        Surat al-Fatihah 1:5.
[22]        Surat al-An‘am 6:162.
[23]        Surat al-Kafirun 109:1-6: “O faithless ones! I do not worship what you worship, not do you worship what I worship; nor will I worship what you have worshipped nor will you worship what I worship. To you your religion, and to me my religion.”
[24]        Surat Al ‘Imran 3:64: “Say, ‘O People of the Book! Come to a word common between us and you: that we will worship no one but Allah, and that we will not ascribe any partner to Him, and that we will not take each other as lords besides Allah’.”
[25]        Here, the word “pre-eternal” [qadim] is not in contrast to the notion of “new” [jadid]. It is rather the opposite of “created” [hadith]; that is, to have existed from the very beginning and not to have come into being sometime in the past.
[26]        Fath al-Majid, pp. 33, 41, 57.
[27]        Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab, At-Tawhid wa’l-Qawl as-Sadid fi Maqasid at-Tawhid, p. 13.
[28]        Surat Ta Ha 20:5.-----------------------------

Tawassul {Resorting To Intermediation}, Death and Shafa‘Ah {Intercession} According to the Shi`ah and the Wahhabis




Tawassul according to the Wahhabis

In this chapter, tawassul {resorting to intermediation} according to Wahhabism shall be examined. The 'ulama' of this sect believe that Tawassul to other than God, paying homage {ziyarah} to a grave and praying in a place where there is a grave in front of the person praying are not consistent with Tawhid in Lordship. According to them, the requisite of Tawhid is that one should not resort to the intermediation of other than God even if he is the Prophet of Islam (s), because tawassul, shafa'ah {intercession} and the like are outside the Sunnah of the Prophet and the pious predecessors {as-Salaf as-salih}, and the Qur'an also regards this belief as polytheism.[29]

It is thus stated in the book, al-Tawhid bi'l-Lughati al-Farisiyyah:
Seeking the help of other than God is polytheism and seeking refuge in other than God is also within the sphere of polytheism… The Words {kalimat} of God are identical with the uncreated {qadim} Essence of God. So, for this reason, one may entreat {istighathah} these Words otherwise, such act of entreating will be regarded as polytheism.[30]

In refuting this proposition, it must be stated first of all that the pertinent verse had been revealed with respect to the jinn. Concerning the circumstances surrounding the revelation of this verse, it must be said that the Arabs used to believe that the jinn live in the desert, and during the pre-Islamic period of ignorance {al-Jahiliyyah}, they used to turn to the “chief of the jinn” at the time of going out of the city for help, addressing him thus: “O chief of the jinn! Save us from the evil of the jinn and preserve us from their annoyance.”

Of course, resorting to the jinn is absolutely unlawful because God has explicitly prohibited this practice. In addition to this, seeking help from anyone who denies God is obviously more so. Secondly, there are a lot of differences between the prophets {anbiya'} and messengers {rusul} who have direct connection with God, and the receivers of the divine revelation, on one hand, and the jinn who do not recognize God on the other. Therefore, the Islamic belief demands that we have to beseech and entreat God, the Exalted, and seek the intercession of those who are closer to Him.

We have mentioned earlier the viewpoint of the Wahhabi 'ulama' regarding the status of tawassul to other than God. Now, we shall examine their reasons:
First reason: By citing as proof the noble verses,

﴿قُلْ ادْعُوا الَّذِينَ زَعَمْتُمْ مِنْ دُونِهِ فَلاَ يَمْلِكُونَ كَشْفَ الضُّرِّ عَنكُمْ وَلاَ تَحْوِيلاً. أُوْلَئِكَ الَّذِينَ يَدْعُونَ يَبْتَغُونَ إِلَى رَبِّهِمْ الْوَسِيلَةَ أَيُّهُمْ أَقْرَبُ وَيَرْجُونَ رَحْمَتَهُ وَيَخَافُونَ عَذَابَهُ.

Say, 'Invoke those whom you claim {to be gods} besides Him. They have no power to remove your distress nor to bring about any change {in your state}. They {themselves} are the ones who supplicate, seeking recourse to their Lord, whoever is nearer {to Him}, expecting His mercy and fearing His punishment.' Indeed your Lord's punishment is a thing to beware of,[31]

they have concluded that one should never seek help and resort to anyone other than God.

Analysis of the above verses

If one contends oneself with the literal meaning and not take into consideration other Qur'anic verses, these two verses will conform to the statements of the Wahhabi 'ulama' because based on these words of God, when man abandons the “nearer means” (that is, God Himself) in order to get closer to God and resorts to a “remote means” (that is, “other than God” {min duni allahi}) and one who has no power to remove distress and the like, it will fall within the spheres of polytheism in Lordship {shirk-e rububi}.

It must be noted, however, that there are other verses indicating that with God's permission, one may also resort to other than God, in which case, the issue of polytheism would be irrelevant, and one could turn for help from the individuals approved by God. If these 'ulama' had only paid attention to these other verses, they would have never committed such a glaring mistake.


Turning for help {istimdad} of the weak to the strong

In principle, tawassul is one of the laws of creation and it means resorting to a superior means in order to attain an objective. One manifestation of tawassul is a child's tawassul to his mother when something happens to him. This meaning is true in all spheres of human life—social, political, ideological, material, and spiritual. Tawassul to God is the same tawassul to that which is perfect in power and force. Tawassul to the prophets and the saints of God is a case of the tawassul of the weak to the strong, because the prophets are stronger than other human beings. One may resort to the prophets and saints for help and take their practical conduct, which we called sunnah, as models for ourselves.


Tawassul in the Qur’an

Many verses of the Qur'an and Prophetic traditions speak about the subject of tawassul to the awliya'. As an example, one may refer to the verses related to the sons of Ya'qub (Jacob) ('a):

﴿قَالُوا يَا أَبَانَا اسْتَغْفِرْ لَنَا ذُنُوبَنَا إِنَّا كُنَّا خَاطِئِينَ. قَالَ سَوْفَ أَسْتَغْفِرُ لَكُمْ رَبِّي إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْغَفُورُ الرَّحِيمُ.

They said, 'Father! Plead {with Allah} for forgiveness of our sins! We have indeed been erring'. He said, 'I shall plead with my Lord to forgive you; indeed He is the All-forgiving, the All-merciful'.[32]

In these verses, the sons of Ya'qub ('a) resorted to the intermediation of their father. They had committed mistakes so many times; they had annoyed and disturbed two prophets of God (Ya'qub and Yusuf (Joseph) ('a)), and transgressed the command of God by annoying their parents and telling lies. Since those mistakes required the sons to seek forgiveness, they took their father as their intercessor; so this action has not been denied or rejected in the Qur'an.

Since God does not reproach the sons of Ya'qub for resorting to two persons of those who are near to Him {muqarrabun}, it can be concluded that there is nothing wrong in entreating the Prophet (s) especially since the eminence of his rank and the loftiness of his station are not hidden to anyone.
The other verse which may be cited is the following:

﴿وَلَوْ أَنَّهُمْ إِذْ ظَلَمُوا أَنفُسَهُمْ جَاءُوكَ فَاسْتَغْفَرُوا اللَّهَ وَاسْتَغْفَرَ لَهُمُ الرَّسُولُ لَوَجَدُوا اللَّهَ تَوَّابًا رَحِيمًا.

Had they, when they wronged themselves, come to you and pleaded Allah for forgiveness, and the Apostle had pleaded for forgiveness for them, they would have surely found Allah All-clement, All-merciful.[33]

It can be deduced from this verse that the intermediation of the Holy Prophet (s) can also be resorted to in asking God for forgiveness of sins.

It is possible to criticize the deduction based on the first verse with the answer that the tawassul of the sons of Ya'qub ('a) to their father had been confined to their own time; that is, one may seek the help of the living and not the dead. We shall talk about this point later on in the section concerning tabarruk.

What can be inferred from the second verse is that tawassul to the Prophet (s) is in a general sense. That is, it includes both the time when the Prophet (s) was alive and the time afterward. And there is no reason to distinguish between tawassul during and after his lifetime.

Since the following verse reproaches tawassul to idols and regards it as a form of polytheism, some individuals might cite it as proof that tawassul to other than God leads to misguidance:

﴿وَقَالُوا لاَ تَذَرُنَّ آلِهَتَكُمْ وَلاَ تَذَرُنَّ وَدًّا وَلاَ سُوَاعًا وَلاَ يَغُوثَ وَيَعُوقَ وَنَسْرًا. وَقَدْ أَضَلُّوا كَثِيرًا وَلاَ تَزِدْ الظَّالِمِينَ إِلاَّ ضَلاَلاً.

They say, 'Do not abandon your gods. Do not abandon Wadd, nor Suwa', nor Yaghuth, Ya'uq and Nasr,' and they have certainly led many astray. Do not increase the wrongdoers in anything but error'.[34]

In reply, it must be said that if what is meant by “other than God” are idols, then one cannot find fault with this statement, but if “other than God” includes the prophets and awliya', then it would be contrary to the truth because these beloved ones are approved by God and are vicegerents of Allah {khulafa' Allah}. Idols are in contrast and contradiction with God while the prophets ('a) and saints are concordant with Him and are means of His grace. In the same manner, idols are a source of deviation from God while the prophets ('a) are means of guidance and righteousness. In sum, the comparison between tawassul to the prophets ('a) and tawassul to the idols is an asymmetrical and false analogy.

The other point is that an idol is basically an object of worship and not a means of nearness to God {taqarrub}. There are two types of means of nearness to God: One is legitimate, referring to the prophets ('a) and the saints, and the other is illegitimate such as idols and the like which religion has made forbidden to man.


Death according to the Wahhabis

There are different viewpoints concerning death, and we shall deal with the viewpoint of the Wahhabis on the subject. Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah is reported to have said:

Tawassul to the dead, even if he be the Prophet of Islam (s), is an act of polytheism because based on the statement of the Qur'an, he is dead and extinct:

﴿إِنَّكَ مَيِّتٌ وَإِنَّهُمْ مَيِّتُونَ.

You will indeed die and they {too} will die indeed.[35]

He then continues:
Entreating the dead and uttering words such as: “O my master, O the Messenger of Allah! Help me,” “O my master 'Ali ibn Abi Talib! Assist me,” and the like are acts of polytheism.[36]
It is indeed amazing that Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah and the Wahhabis could have no belief in the purgatorial life {hayat al-barzakh}, thinking that the dead cannot establish spiritual relations with others, while the Qur'an affirms that those who are in the barzakh are alive.[37] How could the Wahhabis regard the martyrs {shuhada'} as dead while the Qur'an says,

﴿وَلاَ تَحْسَبَنَّ الَّذِينَ قُتِلُوا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ أَمْوَاتًا بَلْ أَحْيَاءٌ عِنْدَ رَبِّهِمْ يُرْزَقُونَ.

Do not suppose those who are slain in the way of Allah to be dead; rather they are living and provided for near their Lord.[38]

Accordingly, how could Shaykh Muhammad ibn 'Abd al-Wahhab also say that “Anyone who dies would be annihilated,”36 while the Holy Qur'an says,

﴿فَكَشَفْنَا عَنْكَ غِطَاءَكَ فَبَصَرُكَ الْيَوْمَ حَدِيدٌ.

We have removed your veil from you, and so your sight is acute today.[39]
In another place, it states thus,

﴿وَلَهُمْ رِزْقُهُمْ فِيهَا بُكْرَةً وَعَشِيًّا.

And therein they will have their provision morning and evening.[40]

Since there is morning and evening in the world of barzakh according to the verse quoted, and that the dead have provisions, those who are in the world of sojourn (barzakh) cannot be regarded as nonexistent {ma'dum}. Of course, morning and evening are special characteristics of barzakh because there is no sun on the Day of Resurrection which could portray this case. So, death is not equivalent to nonexistence, and the theory of the Wahhabis is consequentially rendered false.


The permission to resort to the sacred personages

In the following verse, the Holy Qur'an regards it permissible and acceptable to resort to and seek the intermediation of the chosen ones of God in seeking nearness to Him {taqarrub}:

﴿يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَابْتَغُوا إِلَيْهِ الْوَسِيلَةَ وَجَاهِدُوا فِي سَبِيلِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ.

O you who have faith! Be wary of Allah, and seek the means of recourse to Him, and wage jihad in His way, so that you may be felicitous.[41]

Although in this verse seeking the means of recourse is discussed in a general sense, based on the other proofs and pieces of evidence mentioned in the Holy Qur'an and the traditions, one of its vivid manifestations is the prophets and saints. Therefore, the purport of this verse may be expressed in the following words:

Though approaching God is the outcome of grace, you have to observe God-wariness {taqwa} perfectly and since it is possible that the persons resorted to have no independence of their own and have obtained such station through sincerity {ikhlas} and God-wariness {taqwa}, you also have to maintain God-wariness in resorting to them.


Istimdad and tawassul to the living ones

Seeking help and assistance from the living is permissible and it cannot be treated as a form of polytheism. This is a point which has been endorsed and affirmed by stories in the Qur'an. For example, when Hadrat Yusuf (Joseph) ('a) was in prison he requested his cellmate, that if the latter was released, he should mention his case to the king:

﴿اذْكُرْنِي عِنْدَ رَبِّكَ.

Mention me to your master.[42]

Or, when Hadrat Musa and Khidr ('a) arrived at a certain village, they made a request to the inhabitants of the village, hence:

﴿فَانطَلَقَا حَتَّى إِذَا أَتَيَا أَهْلَ قَرْيَةٍ اسْتَطْعَمَا أَهْلَهَا.

So they went on. When they came to the people of a town, they asked its people for food.[43]

It can be said that the acts of these three great personalities, apart from not being acts of polytheism, they are rational and customary behaviors, having no inconsistency with their infallibility {ismah}. Also, in confirming this statement, the following verse, which is addressed to the Prophet (s), can be cited as proof:

﴿وَلَوْ أَنَّهُمْ إِذْ ظَلَمُوا أَنفُسَهُمْ جَاءُوكَ فَاسْتَغْفَرُوا اللَّهَ وَاسْتَغْفَرَ لَهُمُ الرَّسُولُ لَوَجَدُوا اللَّهَ تَوَّابًا رَحِيمًا.

Had they, when they wronged themselves, come to you and pleaded Allah for forgiveness, and the Apostle had pleaded for forgiveness for them, they would have surely found Allah all-clement, all-merciful.[44]

Based on this verse, the Prophet (s) has been granted the permission to be the intercessor of sinners. According to the Shi`ah, this intercession is still valid and is not confined to the lifetime of the Prophet (s).



The preeminence of tawassul to the Divine Essence

Before ending the discussion, it is necessary to pose this question: Which is superior, tawassul to God, or tawassul to the saints of God? It can be concluded from the verse,

﴿أَيُّهُمْ أَقْرَبُ.
“whoever is nearer {to Him}[45]

that tawassul to God is superior. That is, as much as possible, one must seek help from God and this is a principle to which Muslim mystics are steadfast. But just as he makes use of his intellect, natural instinct and other means in managing his life, man also seeks the assistance of intermediaries in the domain of spirituality and seeking nearness to Allah.


Tawassul as identical with servitude {‘ubudiyyah}

Since tawassul to the prophets and the awliya' of God is like the angels' act of prostration (to Adam) with the permission and command of God, resorting to these beloved ones is identical with servitude {'ubudiyyah} and worship {'ibadah}. Among the Muslim sects, only the Wahhabis do not believe in tawassul and its devotional dimension. It must be noted that this sect is trying to make its incorrect and false ideas dominant.

Of course, if we ever regard the Wahhabis' opposition to tawassul as incorrect, it is because there are authoritative traditions and hadiths that prove the incorrectness of this sect's belief. For example, after the demise of the Prophet (s) a certain Arab came to the grave of the Prophet (s) and threw himself on the holy shrine. While pouring the soil of the grave over his head, he said: “O Messenger of Allah! I heard from you the verse, “Had they, when they wronged themselves, come to you…” And now I have wronged myself and I have come here to ask you to plead for forgiveness for me.” At the end of the hadith, it is thus stated regarding this episode: “Then a voice from the grave was heard: 'You are forgiven!'”[46]

In another tradition, it has been narrated that there was once a famine in Medina. Bilal ibn °arith, one of the Companions, went to the grave of the Prophet (s) and said: “O Messenger of Allah! There has been no rain for quite sometime. Pray to God to shower the rain of His mercy upon us. During the night, Bilal saw the Prophet (s) in a dream, saying: “You shall soon benefit from the rain of the Lord.”

It is not useless to note the fact that Muhammad ibn Idris ash-Shafi'i, one of the leading figures of the Ahl as-Sunnah, regards tawassul to the Ahl al-Bayt ('a) as permissible, thus saying:

آلُ النَّبِيِّ ذَرِيعَتِي وَهُمُ إلَيْهِ وَسِيلَتِي

The family of the Prophet is my shelter
and they are means of my nearness to Him (God).
Regarding °adrat Fatimah az-Zahra ('a), the following tradition has been narrated:

أنَّ فَاطِمَةَ  جَاءَتْ فَوَقَفَتْ عَلَى قَبْرِ رَسُولِ اللهِ  فَأخَذَتْ قَبْضَةً مِنْ تُرَابِ القَبْرِ فَوَضَعَتْهَا عَلَى عَيْنَيْهَا فَبَكَتْ.”
“Fatimah ('a) went to the grave of the Messenger of Allah (s); picked up some soil from the grave, put it on her eyes and cried.”

It can be inferred from the above hadith that to seek the help of the Prophet, the infallible Imams and the pioneers of religion is not against the religion because a personage such as Fatimah az-Zahra ('a) used to go to the grave of her great father and seek this beloved's assistance. There is another hadith which is as follows:

Because of the effect of famine and the lack of rain, a number of people went to the house of 'a'ishah (wife of the Prophet (s)), asking for her guidance. She said to them: “Make holes on the holy shrines of the Prophet (s) in such a way that the sky would become the watcher of the holy grave of the Prophet (s) so that it would shower rain in respect for the Prophet (s). When the people followed 'A'ishah's instruction, the rain came.

Many traditions have been recorded in the book, At-Tabarruk,[47] all of which show the tawassul of the Companions to the soil of grave of the Messenger of Allah (s) for cure and blessings {tabarruk}.


Shafa‘ah according to Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab and Ibn Taymiyyah

Based on some verses of the Qur'an, Shaykh Muhammad ibn 'Abd al-Wahhab, Ibn Taymiyyah and the contemporary Wahhabis regard seeking help from other than God or asking for their intercession {shafa'ah} as an act of polytheism. Their main proof is the phrase, “other than God” in verse 18 of Surah Yunus.[48] The Wahhabis regard the prophets, saints, idols, the jinn, and the dead as the most vivid manifestations of this verse.

In reality, they have not made any distinction between the idols during the pre-Islamic period of ignorance {jahiliyyah}, which were taken by the people as their intercessors and were held in high esteem by their forefathers, and the person of the Prophet (s) because they believe that the Prophet (s) has passed away, and as such, he could not do anything and nothing could not be expected from him anymore. Therefore, they imagine the intercession of God on the Day of Resurrection as positive, and that of the Prophet (s) or other awliya' as negative.

It can perhaps be inferred from the apparent purport of their contention that this sect rejects intercession in general. They have divided intercession into positive and negative in the following manner:

1. Positive intercession is that which comes from God. There are many verses that substantiate it, and there is no debate and dispute concerning this type of intercession.

2. Negative intercession is that which comes from other than God such as the Prophet (s), other prophets ('a) and the awliya'—of course, when they are not alive.
The most fundamental basis for this belief of the Wahhabis is the following blessed verse:

﴿وَيَعْبُدُونَ مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ مَا لاَ يَضُرُّهُمْ وَلاَ يَنْفَعُهُمْ وَيَقُولُونَ هَؤُلاَءِ شُفَعَاؤُنَا عِنْدَ اللَّهِ.
They worship besides Allah that which neither causes them any harm, nor brings them any benefit, and they say, 'These are our intercessors with Allah'.[49]

 


An analysis of the quoted noble verse:

What the apparent purport and text of the verse substantiates is that God rejects the intercession of idols, not the intercession of human beings. In other words, “besides Allah” refers to idols and it is these idols whose intercession is not acceptable to God. The following verse also confirms this contention:

﴿وَلاَ يُقْبَلُ مِنْهَا شَفَاعَةٌ وَلاَ يُؤْخَذُ مِنْهَا عَدْلٌ وَلاَ هُمْ يُنصَرُونَ.

Neither intercession shall be accepted from it, nor any ransom shall be received from it, nor will they be helped.[50]

The absolute negation of intercession of other than God can be deduced from the phrase, “besides Allah” which is mentioned many times in the Holy Qur'an. The absoluteness and generality of “besides Allah”, however, is mitigated by other verses, and the intercession by individuals who possess the conditions for intercession is permissible and acceptable. Some of the verses that can substantiate this claim are the following:

﴿وَلاَ تَنفَعُ الشَّفَاعَةُ عِنْدَهُ إِلاَّ لِمَنْ أَذِنَ لَهُ.

Intercession is of no avail with Him except for those whom He permits.[51]

﴿مَنْ ذَا الَّذِي يَشْفَعُ عِنْدَهُ إِلاَّ بِإِذْنِهِ.

Who is it that may intercede with Him except with His permission?[52]

﴿يَوْمَئِذٍ لاَ تَنفَعُ الشَّفَاعَةُ إِلاَّ مَنْ أَذِنَ لَهُ الرَّحْمَانُ وَرَضِيَ لَهُ قَوْلاً.

Intercession will not avail that day except from him whom the All-beneficent allows and approves of his word.[53]

﴿وَلاَ يَشْفَعُونَ إِلاَّ لِمَنْ ارْتَضَى.

And they do not intercede except for someone He approves of.[54]

Based on these verses, the intercession of those who have the permission of Allah is acceptable. Now, a question that lingers in the mind is this: Have not those who negate the intercession of the prophets and saints come across these verses, or do they have other reasons?

In reply, it must be said that the intensity of their enmity to the Shi`ah have prompted the Wahhabis to focus on the verses that negate, and not affirm, intercession. Through this method and policy, they are determined to accuse the Shi`ah of disbelief {kufr} so as to incite the entire Muslim world against the Shi`ah as much as possible. At this juncture, the hidden hand of imperialism can be witnessed in some of the religious beliefs of Wahhabism.

In opposing and besmirching Shi`ah beliefs, the Wahhabis oppose the Qur'an and the Sunnah of the Prophet (s) upon which this belief is based. The Qur'an and Sunnah acknowledge the intercession of the prophets and the saints on the Day of Resurrection. They respect the soil of their graves, encouraging the Muslims to honor and respect them, especially the Holy Prophet (s); and are the foundations of many material and non-material activities and achievements. The Wahhabis not only regard tawassul and visitation to the graves {ziyarah} as unlawful and acts of kufr and shirk, but also deny the principle and basis of intercession.[55] The consequence of this practice will be drifting away from the Prophet (s) and the infallible Imams ('a), which is itself a kind of secret attack against Islam.


The precedence of the negation of tawassul and shafa‘ah

Ibn Taymiyyah, one of the Sunni 'ulama' of the Hanbali madhhab during the 8th century AH, says regarding tawassul and shafa'ah:
Seeking help from the dead without paying attention to God, even if that person is a prophet, or requesting the dead to pray to God to grant our request, or for us to implore God, “O God! By the station and position of so-and-so, grant our request”, etc. are forbidden and impermissible, which will finally lead to polytheism in worship.[56]

As we can observe, the intellectual cornerstone of Wahhabism is traceable to Ibn Taymiyyah, however, Muhammad ibn 'Abd al-Wahhab discusses these doctrines with more fanaticism and extremisms, especially the negation of tawassul and shafa'ah. As it is always looking for every opportunity to catch fish in troubled waters imperialism has been trying to take advantage of the record and opposition of the Wahhabi thought to the other schools {madhahib}.

They have been attempting to do this when the precedence of the Wahhhabi creed is not a proof for the madhhabi nature of the Wahhabi movement. It cannot be considered one of the Islamic schools of thought because from the very beginning, the Muslim nation, the Ahl as-Sunnah in particular, has declared the ideas of Ibn Taymiyyah and his followers as an innovation in religion {bid'ah} and to be against the religion.


The ideas of Ibn Taymiyyah and the reaction of Ahl as-Sunnah

Taqi ad-Din Abu'l-'Abbas Ahmad Ibn Taymiyyah was born in 661 AH in a Kurdish-populated village called Urfah in Turkey. When the Tatars invaded the Muslim lands, he along with his family went to Damascus (Syria) and studied in the religious school {madrasah} of the Hanbalis where he engaged in the memorization of the Qur'an. He read Musnad Ibn Hanbal and the book, Mu'jam at-Tabari, and engaged in learning other sciences. It has been said that he had good memory and talent.[57]

Profound talent and enthusiasm prompted Ibn Taymiyyah to encounter many intellectual problems and issues during the different stages of his studies. Since he would not be convinced of the views and opinions of the professors, he gradually reached a point in his beliefs that he elicited the reaction of the 'ulama' and fuqaha {jurists} at the time which led to his imprisonment and banishment.

Before Ibn Taymiyyah had the opportunity to repent, Sultan Nasir, the ruler of the time, allowed him to return to Damascus in 709 AH and Ibn Taymiyyah also made peace with the 'ulama' and fuqaha.[58] In 720 AH, he was again put behind bars for having a clash with the fuqaha on the issue of divorce but in 721 AH, he was released from prison through the letter of the Sultan.

After his release, he once again languished in the prison cell of Damascus on the order of the government for the contradictions his religious edicts had with that of the Sunni and Shi`ah fuqaha in his region.

This time, the government prohibited him from issuing religious edicts, and as per judicial decree of a Shafi'i judge, all his students including Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah were imprisoned. Meanwhile, the people had been so angry with him that they decided to kill him.


The ‘ulama'’s opposition to Ibn Taymiyyah

Ibn Taymiyyah used to regard traveling to visit the graves of the prophets ('a) and the pious as impermissible, deeming it as a sinful travel, and would rule for the completion (instead of shortening) of prayer during this travel, which led the Shafi'is to rise up in opposition to him.

In a bid to portray a veneer of moderation to his creed, Ibn Taymiyyah used to say that since the Prophet (s) and the Companions had neither visited their graves nor sought their intermediation, and that the Followers {tabi'un}[59] have also not done so, none of the Muslims should deem it recommended {mustahabb}. Anyone who observed this practice had gone against the consensus of Muslims. After issuing this religious edict, Ibn Taymiyyah considered the following hadiths from the Prophet (s) as fabricated {maj'ul}:

مَنْ حَجَّ وَلَمْ يَزُرْنِي فَقَدْ جَفَانِي.

He who performs the Hajj (pilgrimage) without paying a visit {ziyarah} to me has indeed deserted.

لاَ تُشَدُّ الرِّحَالُ إلاَّ إلَى ثَلاَثَةِ مَسَاجِدَ: الْمَسْجِدُ الْحَرَامُ، وَمَسْجِدِي هَذَا، وَالْمَسْجِدُ الأقْصَى.

You are not supposed to travel except for the visitation {ziyarah} of three mosques: al-Masjid al-Haram (in Mecca), this mosque of mine (Masjid an-Nabi in Medina), and al-Masjid al-Aqsa (in Jerusalem).

These kinds of views incited the opposition of the Sunni 'ulama'. So, it becomes clear that there had been no difference of opinion regarding it until that time and the first person to initiate this difference was Ibn Taymiyyah who, while in prison, wrote books in support of his creed.

After more than two years of imprisonment in the prison cell of Damascus, Ibn Taymiyyah passed away in 728 AH and was buried in Bab as-Saghir beside his brother. In the book, Al-Kunya wal-Alqab, Shaykh 'Abbas al-Qummi opines that he was buried in Jordan. Ibn Taymiyyah was later known as Taqi ad-Din Ahmad ibn 'Abd al-Halim al-Harrani ad-Damishqi.

Nowadays, there is no trace of his grave and the books attributed to him, as per reported in the book, Ibn Taymiyyah batal al-Islah ad-Dini, are estimated to be as many as seventeen books.

What we quoted regarding the issue of shafa'ah was from the book entitled, Ibn Taymiyyah batal al-Islah ad-Dini. Similar subjects are also recorded in the book, Fath al-Majid, which is a commentary on the book, At-Tawhid, by Muhammad ibn 'Abd al-Wahhab. In a recently written book entitled, At-Tawhid bi'l-Lughati al-Farisiyyah, there has been some modification of issues about which the Shi`ah have opposing views.

This book in which some of those issues were presented was distributed freely among the Iranian pilgrims at the Jeddah Airport in 1374 AH (1995 CE). Concerning shafa'ah, it states that shafa'ah is exclusive for God. The inclusion of the divine grace and compassion has conferred this merit upon some of the servants of God. This book narrated a certain subject from Ibn Taymiyyah, at the end of which it says:

لاَ تَكُونُ إلاَّ لأهْلِ التَّوْحِيدِ وَالإخْلاَصِ.

Intercession includes individuals who are monotheists and sincere, and by the decree of God, intercession extends to these individuals.

In this book, the author writes that according to the Shi`ah, those individuals who best embody these qualities of Tawhid and ikhlas {sincerity} are the prophets, awliya' and infallible Imams ('a) who, according to the above quotation, are supposed to possess the privilege to intercede on the Day of Resurrection.[60]


Notes:
[29]        Fath al-Majid, p. 98.
[30]        Al-Tawhid bi’l-Lughati al-Farisiyyah, p. 140.
[31]        Surat al-Isra’ 17:56-57.
[32]        Surat Yusuf 12:97-98.
[33]        Surat an-Nisa’ 4:64.
[34]        Surat Nuh 71:23-24.
[35]        Surat az-Zumar 39:30.
[36]        Fath al-Majid, p. 198.
[37]        Surat Ghafir (or al-Mu’min) 40:46: “The Fire, to which they are exposed morning and evening.”
[38]        Surat Al ‘Imran 3:169.
[39]        Surat Qaf 50:22.
[40]        Surat Maryam 19:62.
[41]        Surat al-Ma’idah 5:35.
[42]        Surat Yusuf 12:42.
[43]        Surat al-Kahf 18:77.
[44]  Surat an-Nisa’, 4: 64.
[45]        See Surat al-Isra’ 17:56-57.
[46]        “.غفر لك قَد القبر مِن فَنودي
[47]        Ayatullah ‘Ali Ahmadi Mayanji, At-Tabarruk (Beirut), pp. 147-151.
[48]        Surat Yunus 10:18: “They worship besides Allah that which neither causes them any harm, not brings them any benefit, and they say, ‘These are our intercessors with Allah.’ Say, ‘Will you inform Allah about something He does not know in the heavens and on the earth? Immaculate is He and exalted above [having] any partners that they ascribe [to Him].”
[49]        Surat Yunus 10:18.
[50]        Surat al-Baqarah 2:48.
[51]        Surat as-Saba’ 34:23.
[52]        Surat al-Baqarah 2:255.
[53]        Surat Ta Ha 20:109.
[54]        Surat al-Anbiya’ 21:28.
[55]        For more information, see Sayyid Ibrahim ‘Alawi, Tarikhcheh-ye Naqd wa Barrasi-ye Wahhabiyyah, pp. 257-353 and other books included in the bibliography of this book.
[56]        Mahmud Mahdi al-Istambuli, Ibn Taymiyyah batal al-Islah ad-Dini (Beirut: Nashr Maktaba’l-Islami, n.d.), pp. 136, 139.
[57]  Mahmud Mahdi al-Istambuli, Ibn Taymiyyah batal al-Islah ad-Dini (Beirut: Nashr Maktaba’l-Islami, n.d.), pp. 136, 139.
[58]        Mahmud Mahdi al-Istambuli, Ibn Taymiyyah batal al-Islah ad-Dini (Beirut: Nashr Maktaba’l-Islami, n.d.), pp. 30.
[59]        Tabi‘un [‘Followers’ or ‘Successors’] refers to the second generation of Muslims who came after the Companions, who did not know the Prophet (s) but who knew his Companions. [Trans.]
[60]        At-Tawhid bi’l-Lughah al-Farisiyyah, no. 27, p. 123.------------------------------

The Miracles {Karamah} of the Saints of God {Awliya’ Allah}



Another point upon which the Wahhabis differ with the Sunnis and the Shi`ah is the issue of miracles {karamat}. All Muslim sects regard the prophets ('a) as people who performed miracles {karamat} and wondrous feats {mu'jizah} because the Qur'an bears witness to the authenticity of this point. Concerning the infallible Imams ('a), however, the only group that does not recognize them to have performed miracles and treat them as equal to others in the possession or otherwise of this merit is the Wahhabis. The Shi`ah characterize the infallible Imams ('a) with having miraculous and marvelous powers, substantiating this fact with religious traditions and historical accounts.

Now, if anyone believes that there is a difference between a mu'jizah and a karamah, emphasizing that mu'jizah refers to that which is performed by the prophets as narrated in the Qur'an while karamah refers to that which is performed by the infallible Imams ('a) as narrated in the traditions, it must be said that in any case, the pure Imams ('a) possess powers and forces which the common people undoubtedly do not possess, and it makes no difference whether you call it as mu'jizah or karamah. It is said that some of the real Gnostics and mystics {'urafa'} possess this power and to a lower degree. It is thus stated in the book, Fath al-Majid:

The miracles {karamah} of the saints of God {awliya' Allah} are the products of divine attraction and grace, and this affair does not depend upon the person or his knowledge and intention—like the karamah of 'Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) on numerous occasions and the karamah of 'Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) when he came to Iran and talked to Prophet Daniel in the town of Shush. Similarly, at the time when Medina was afflicted with famine, 'Umar participated in the prayer for rain and it came.

It must not remain unstated that we do not have reliable historical evidence concerning 'Umar's coming to Iran and the town of Shush in particular. It was rather 'Ali ibn Abi Talib ('a) who had come to Shush and talked with Prophet Daniel ('a).

With regard to the famine, it must also be said that what has been recorded in reliable sources is that at the request of 'Umar, 'Abbas the uncle of the Prophet (s) performed this prayer.

Then, the said author adds that these miracles have no benefit and if there were any benefit, it only pertains to that time. In short, after the death of those possessing karamah, those miracles have no value and one should not expect them.[81]

Therefore, the Wahhabis believe in a sort of karamah for the Imams ('a), the Companions and leading figures of the religion, but they consider these miracles valuable only at the time when those possessing them are alive because once a person departs from this world, the mark of his existence, like that of other living creatures and even the non-living ones, ceases to exist. They substantiate this statement of theirs with the verse,

﴿إِنَّكَ مَيِّتٌ وَإِنَّهُمْ مَيِّتُونَ.
You will indeed die, and they {too} will die indeed,[82]

in which the death of the Prophet (s) has been treated equal with that of the awliya'. They have also inferred from this verse that seeking help from the souls of the prophets ('a) and the awliya' is a futile and vain practice, and that ziyarat al-qubur {prayer recited on visiting a grave} must be shunned. Of course, the prohibition of ziyarah for women is even more emphasized and the philosophy behind it is clear.


The miracles of the saints of God as the effect of satisfaction of the soul and God-wariness {taqwa}

According to the verses,

﴿وَمَنْ يَتَّقِ اللَّهَ يَجْعَلْ لَهُ مَخْرَجًا.

And whoever is wary of Allah, He shall make a way out for him,[83]

And

﴿إِنَّ اللَّهَ لاَ يُضِيعُ أَجْرَ الْمُحْسِنِينَ.

Indeed Allah does not waste the reward of the virtuous,[84]

anyone who is wary of God, does righteous deeds and strives to offer sacrifices and charities for the pleasure of Allah, God will show him the way of deliverance from worldly and otherworldly adversities and give him rewards in both worlds. And whenever the people of the world benefit from his good deeds, meritorious rewards shall be granted to him. So, anyone who is of the opinion that the ornament of karamah befits a particular number of people and that these miracles are valuable and effective as long as their possessors are alive, is thinking and believing incorrectly because the quoted verses do not point to a particular person or group.

Meanwhile, the ruling on the truly faithful persons is like the ruling on water. When they are alive, everybody can benefit from their presence and when they die and are buried, people can establish spiritual communion with them, turning to them for help and seeking their intermediation. In the same manner, underground water can be obtained by the spade, wheelbarrow and bucket.

In spite of this, the Wahhabis believe that anyone who departs from this world, even if he is the Prophet (s), his existence has no more effect and anyone whose existence has no effect is not worthy of tawassul and ziyarah to him would be of no avail, thus to seek someone who has no benefit and gain for one is a futile and vain action.


Charities {khayrat}, alms {sadaqat} and vows {nudhurat}

The other case which the Wahhabis regard as sources of polytheism are charities {khayrat}, alms {sadaqat} and vows {nudhurat} given on behalf of the dead. Thus, it is stated in the book, Fath al-Majid:

The holy shrines, sacred places and graves of the awliya' which have become sites of ziyarah, charities, vows, etc. are places of Satan and it is unlawful to sojourn in these places such as the Zaynabiyyah, the Ra's al-Husayn in Syria, and Karbala' and Najaf in Iraq.

The commentator of this book thus writes:
There were such places in the Hijaz before, but thanks to God, they were demolished through the able hand of King 'Abd al-'Aziz al Sa'ud, and it is hoped that God would destroy the rest.[85]

It must be said that if the Shi`ah fulfill their vows and give alms in sacred places, it is for the pleasure of God and such acts are not tainted with any sort of polytheism. The issue that comes to mind is this: Why do the Wahhabis overlook the corruptions and perversions that plague the youth; the wealth that is plundered from Muslim countries; and the culture and civilization that are being destroyed in Muslim lands? Yet, they persistently find fault with charities, alms and ziyarah to the graves of leading figures of the religion, and consider that all the problems of Muslims emanate from these issues. At the time when Europeans are mummifying their great ones and preserving the putrefied bones of inventors in affection for their scientists, why are the Wahhabis trying to destroy the relics and shrines of religious personalities especially the pure Imams ('a) and consider ziyarah to these great personalities as hindrance to development, where in fact these personalities are the fountainheads of guidance {hidayah} and enlightenment {irshad}?


Seeking blessings {tabarruk} from the sacred stones

Another case highlighted by the Wahhabis and with which they have found fault is the consideration of some stones as sacred and making tawassul to them because they equate this recourse with a sort of idol-worship. As such, they believe that anyone, who takes recourse to these stones, makes a vow upon them, and takes them as intercessors, is a polytheist {mushrik}:

﴿وَيَقُولُونَ هَؤُلاَءِ شُفَعَاؤُنَا عِنْدَ اللَّهِ.

And they say, 'These are our intercessors with Allah'.[86]

And with this belief, they have thus written:
It is not permissible for the stones from which people seek tabarruk and make vows upon to remain on the surface of the earth. And it is incumbent upon Muslims to obliterate them whenever they have the opportunity to do so.[87]

The fact must be acknowledged that there is no Muslim country in which Muslims express reverence to a stone, regarding it as an intercessor, and if out of ignorance and heedlessness, some Muslims revere an old stone or tree, asking it for mercy, this practice must not be ascribed to Muslims in general.
Of course, there are two stones and two hills whose Qur'anic sanctity made Muslims honor them. They are the following:

1. The Black Stone {al-hajar al-aswad}: This stone is situated in a corner of the Ka'bah, and the beginning and end of every tawaf {circumambulation of the Ka'bah} is determined by it.

2. The Station of Abraham {maqam ibrahim}: The Qur'an enjoins the Muslims to perform prayer at this site:

﴿وَاتَّخِذُوا مِنْ مَقَامِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ مُصَلًّى.

Take the venue of prayer from Abraham's Station.[88]

3. The hills of Safa and Marwah: Regarding these two hills, the Qur'an says:

﴿إِنَّ الصَّفَا وَالْمَرْوَةَ مِنْ شَعَائِرِ اللَّهِ.

Indeed Safa and Marwah are among Allah's sacraments.[89]

Of course, it must be noted that if people honor them, and hold in high esteem the Prophet of Islam (s), the pure Imams ('a), the Qur'an, and the religious personalities, it is because they are among the sacraments of Allah and honoring them indicates the purity of hearts:

﴿وَمَنْ يُعَظِّمْ شَعَائِرَ اللَّهِ فَإِنَّهَا مِنْ تَقْوَى الْقُلُوبِ.

And whoever venerates the sacraments of Allah—indeed that arises from God-wariness of hearts.[90]

 


Seeking Tabarruk from the Prophet (s) and his relics

The Muslims—Sunnis and Shi`ah—have consensus of opinion on this issue; that the Prophet (s) and his relics must be honored and revered. In confirming this subject one may refer to many historical accounts and the sayings of leading Sunni personalities. For example, Hadrat Zahra ('a) and other Companions used to invoke blessings from the soil of the grave of the Holy Prophet (s); 'Abd Allah ibn 'Umar who strove to preserve the relics of the Holy Prophet (s) even tried to preserve a tree under which the Prophet (s) once rested; Ahmad ibn Hanbal deems it permissible to invoke blessings from the relics of the Messenger of Allah (s); and Sunni fuqaha believe that:

زِيَارَةُ القُبُورِ أفْضَلُ الْمَنْدُوبَاتِ.

Visitation of graves is the best of all recommended (mustahabb) acts.

It is important to note that for this reason, the Prophet (s) and his successors ('a) and their relics as well as other religious objects must be honored as they are the manifestations of the religion and truthfulness of revelation.[91]

 


Notes:
[81]        Fath al-Majid, pp. 93, 137, 169.
[82] Surat az-Zumar, 39:30.
[83]        Surat at-Talaq 65:2.
[84]        Surat at-Tawbah (or, al-Bara‘ah) 9:120.
[85]        Fath al-Majid, p. 137.
[86]  Surat Yunus, 10:18.
[87]        Fath al-Majid, p. 274.
[88]        Surat al-Baqarah 2:125.
[89]        Surat al-Baqarah 2:158.
[90]        Surat al-Hajj 22:32.
[91]        See Sahih al-Bukhari, vol. 1, pp. 59, 105; vol. 7, p. 199; Fath al-Bari, vol. 1, pp. 256, 408; ‘Allamah Amini, Al-Ghadir, vol. 3, p. 170 as cited in Ahmad Ahmadi Miyanji, At-Tabarruk bi Athar ar-Rasul, p. 66.-------------------------------------

Allegorical Interpretation {Ta’wil} in the Qur’an



Based on the classification of the verses of the Qur'an into the definitive {muhkam} and the metaphorical {mutashabih},[92] and into the abrogating {nasikh} and the abrogated {mansukh}, in explaining some verses, one should not content himself with only their external purport because their external purport could be doubtful and misleading. Meanwhile, according to the traditions, the Qur'an has many cores and layers, the understanding which is not possible for everyone. As such, in understanding some verses, it is necessary to take other verses into account. For example, in interpreting verses such as:

﴿الرَّحْمَانُ عَلَى الْعَرْشِ اسْتَوَى.

The All-beneficent settled on the Throne,[93]

﴿وَجَاءَ رَبُّكَ وَالْمَلَكُ صَفًّا صَفًّا.

And Your Lord and the angels arrive in ranks,[94]

one must seek the assistance of other verses for clarity and correct interpretation such as:

﴿لَيْسَ كَمِثْلِهِ شَيْءٌ.
Nothing is like Him,[95]

﴿وَلَمْ يَكُنْ لَهُ كُفُوًا أَحَدٌ.

Nor has He any equal,[96]

﴿وَكَانَ اللَّهُ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمًا.

And Allah has knowledge of all things.[97]

There are two approaches in dealing with these kinds of verses. One group is the literalists who content themselves with the literal meaning of the verses. The other group is the allegorists who take into account other verses in explaining and analyzing these kinds of verses, and they believe in allegorical interpretation {Ta'wil}. For instance, in interpreting the verse, (عَلى الْعَرْشِ استَوَى) settled on the Throne,”[98] they have said that ”'arsh” is the Throne exclusive for God where He is settled, but the allegorists have given two probabilities for this verse:

(1) 'arsh is a thing having the three dimensions of width, height and depth; and
(2) 'arsh alludes to a fact and concept having no material characteristics.

It is worthy to note that 'Allamah Tabataba'i (r) accepts the first probability while the late Sha'rani (r) advocates the second probability. It must be emphasized that in interpreting these kinds of verses, those who content themselves with their literal meanings are committing an indescribable mistake and blunder. It is because if one believes in the literal interpretation of settled on the Throne,” he must then assume God to have a physical body, while God is not a body.


Ta’wil according to the Wahhabis

'Abd al-'Aziz Muhammad Sultan, a Wahhabi writer, regards Ta'wil as having three meanings:

1. Ta'wil means translating a word from the preferable probability {ihtimal rajih} to the preferred probability {ihtimal marjuh}.

2. Ta'wil means interpretation of the word whether it is consistent or inconsistent with its literal sense.

3. Ta'wil means the unknown truth and quality which are known only to God.

Then, he writes that Ta'wil in any case is forbidden, and the exoteric meaning must not be turned into the esoteric one. The exoteric meaning must be maintained even if it is inconsistent with actuality and reason.[99]

The Shi`ah, however, are of the opinion that with acceptable evidence a word can be separated from its literal meaning and be reunited with its esoteric and actual meaning. In this respect, proofs, pieces of evidence and verses of the Qur'an can be cited, but dealing lengthily with this subject is beyond the scope of this book.

The fact must be pointed out, nevertheless, that the Wahhabi practice of restricting their focus on the literal and exoteric meaning of the verses is extremely dangerous, and it will encounter problems on mystical and rational issues.


The Juhaymi nature of the Shi`ah

The Wahhabis identify the Shi`ah who make Ta'wil and tafsir of the verses of the Qur'an as ”Juhaymis”. This is because Juhaym ibn Safwan, who lived in the 2nd century AH, used to engage in Ta'wil and he believed in it. Of course, contrary to the notion of the Wahhabis, the Shi`ah do not follow that person on the subject of Ta'wil. They rather follow the pure Imams ('a) who have allegorically interpreted innumerable verses. The Qur'an itself talks about Ta'wil, using the word itself through the tongue of °adrat Yusuf (Joseph) ('a) when he says:

﴿إِذْ قَالَ يُوسُفُ لأَبِيهِ: يَا أَبَتِ إِنِّي رَأَيْتُ أَحَدَ عَشَرَ كَوْكَباً وَالشَّمْسَ وَالْقَمَرَ رَأَيْتُهُمْ لِي سَاجِدِينَ.

When Joseph said to his father, 'Father! I saw eleven planets, and the sun and the moon: I saw them prostrating themselves before me'.[100]

After Yusuf ('a) was released from prison and became a chief {'aziz} in Egypt, and a famine engulfed Palestine and Egypt, the sons of Ya'qub (Jacob) ('a) came to Yusuf ('a) to get their ration of grains. After recognizing one another, Yusuf ('a) requested them to return to Egypt along with their father. When Ya'qub ('a) and his wife and sons saw Yusuf ('a) with such glory and grandeur, they prostrated before him. Then, Yusuf ('a) recounted his childhood dream, saying:

﴿يَا أَبَتِ هَذَا تَأْوِيلُ رُؤْيَاي مِنْ قَبْلُ.

'Father! This is the fulfillment {Ta'wil} of my dream of long ago.[101]

The moon, the sun and eleven stars that prostrated before Yusuf ('a) were interpreted as referring to Ya'qub ('a), and his wife and 11 sons.
Of course, the interpretation of this dream was not clear in the beginning for Yusuf ('a). After many years, however, the fulfillment of this dream was made manifest to them.
Therefore, Ta'wil means that when the meaning of a verse is not clear, by employing the assistance of other verses and reliable traditions, the meaning that is closer to the reality is obtained.

 


The Wahhabis have not trodden the path of enlightenment

Nowadays, the Wahhabis and some Shi`ah are traversing a path, which shows their close-mindedness, and will entail dangerous consequences prompting them to totally seclude themselves from society and render them incapable of responding to rational and religious issues. This path is one where they are content only with the literal meanings of Qur'anic verses and Prophetic traditions; the path of non-recognition of philosophy, mysticism {'irfan} and philosophical-scholastic {kalami} proofs; and heedlessness to the new sciences.

The truth must be accepted, however, that in every epoch, the Qur'an is loftier than human though.

Therefore, one should not be content with its literal meaning and interpret its probabilities because human mind and thought advance every day and discover new realities. As this Wahhabi idea can become a pretext for neglecting the Qur'an since they consider the human mind as incapable of understanding it and therefore, this book of revelation would end up only being kissed and set aside. One must rather strive as much as possible to understand it properly.

Notes:
[92]        Surat al ‘Imran 3:7: “It is He who has sent down to you the Book. Parts of it are definitive verses, which are the mother of the Book, while others are metaphorical.”
[93]  Surat Ta Ha, 20:5.
[94]        Surat al-Fajr 89:22.
[95]        Surat ash-Shura 42:11.
[96]        Surat al-Ikhlas 112:4.
[97]        Surat al-Ahzab 33:40.
[98]  Surat ash-Shura 42:11.
[99]        Al-As’ilah wa’l-Ajwibah al-Usuliyyah, p. 46.
[100]      Surat Yusuf 12:4.
[101]      Surat Yusuf 12:100.---------------------------

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