Can We Ask the Dead for Help?
Answered by Shaykh Irshaad Sedick
What is the ruling on seeking help from the dead as we seek it from the living?
In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate. May Allah guide every dimension of our lives to that which pleases Him.
As believers, we should seek assistance from Allah alone. The dead can not benefit themselves nor anyone else, and Allah knows best.
Perhaps your question is about asking Allah through the blessings of the pious deceased. If so, this is not the same as asking them, but asking Allah through them (tawassul).
Seek Help from Allah Alone
Allah, Most High, says:
“Do not call onto any beings other than Allah. These are capable of neither benefit nor harm. To do so is therefore guilty of wrongdoing. When Allah inverts you with an affliction, none can remove it except Him.” [Quran, 10:106-107]a
“Seek your livelihood from Him and worship Him alone.” [Quran, 29:17]
“Who is more foolish than he who prays to other beings than Allah, to beings who are ever impotent to answer his prayer?” [Quran, 46:5]
“Is He not Allah Who answers the appeal of the needy when he calls upon Him and removes the deed?” [Quran, 27:62]
In the time of the Prophet, there was a hypocrite who rendered so much harm to the believers that some of them summoned the others to seek the help of the Prophet against him. When the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, heard of it, he said, “No man may seek my help. Only the help of Allah is worthy of being sought.” [Tabarani]
Ibn Abbas (May Allah be pleased with them) said: One day, I was riding behind the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) when he said, “O boy! I will instruct you in some matters. Be watchful of Allah (Commandments of Allah). He will preserve you. Safeguard His Rights, and He will be ever with you. If you beg, beg of Him Alone; and if you need assistance, supplicate to Allah Alone for help. And remember that if all the people gather to benefit you, they will not benefit you except what Allah had foreordained (for you). If all of them gather to harm you, they will not be able to afflict you with anything other than that which Allah had pre-destined against you. The pens had been lifted, and the ink had dried up”. [Tirmidhi]
Shaykh Faraz Rabbani answered the issue of Intercession (Tawassul) via the SeekersGuidance Answers Service as follows:
“Tawassul itself is making dua to Allah Most High, Himself, through the means (wasila) of one of rank and regard with Him—such as the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). Its basis is from the Qur’an itself, from Allah’s call to, “Seek a means (wasila) to Him.” [Quran, 5.35] And it is established from a number of hadiths of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), including the “Hadith of the Blind Man.”
Shaykh Nuh Keller writes:
Tirmidhi relates, through his chain of narrators from ‘Uthman ibn Hunayf, that a blind man came to the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) and said, “I’ve been afflicted in my eyesight, so please pray to Allah for me.” The Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said: “Go make ablution (wudu), perform two rak’as of prayer, and then say:
اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَسْأَلُكَ وَأَتَوَجَّهُ إِلَيْكَ بِنَبِيِّكَ مُحَمَّدٍ نَبِيِّ الرَّحْمَةِ ، يَا مُحَمَّدُ إِنِّي تَوَجَّهْتُ بِكَ إِلَى رَبِّي فِي حَاجَتِي هَذِهِ فَتُقْضَى لِي ، اللَّهُمَّ شَفِّعْهُ فِيَّ
“Oh 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 Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) added, “And if there is some need, do the same.” See the full Answer here: Tawassul: Supplicating Allah through an Intermediary
The Other Issues Mentioned
As for the other issues mentioned, we have to distinguish between what is soundly established from Prophetic teachings, as understood by mainstream scholars—as represented by the four schools of Islamic law (fiqh)—and popular practices that may mix sound and unsound matters. This includes visiting graves (a recommended sunna) itself, as opposed to some questionable practices that may be found in some contexts.
The Loss of Meaning: The Destruction of Muslim Holy Sites
Libyan Graves – Shaykh Musa Furber
Is It Permissible to Make Tawassul Through Awliya (Saints)?
Prostrating to Other Than Allah
Is it permissible to erect gravestones at graves for identification?
The Ruling on Women Visiting Graves and Etiquettes of Visiting
Women Visiting Graveyards & Donating Reward to the Deceased
Can the Dead Hear Us?
Manners of Visiting the Messenger of Allah (Peace and Blessings Be Upon Him)
Supplicating Through an Intermediary and Calling the Prophet “Master””
[End of Shaykh Faraz Rabbani’s quote]
I pray this is of benefit and that Allah guides us all.
[Shaykh] Irshaad Sedick
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Shaykh Irshaad Sedick was raised in South Africa in a traditional Muslim family. He graduated from Dar al-Ulum al-Arabiyyah al-Islamiyyah in Strand, Western Cape, under the guidance of the late world-renowned scholar, Shaykh Taha Karaan.
Shaykh Irshaad received Ijaza from many luminaries of the Islamic world, including Shaykh Taha Karaan, Mawlana Yusuf Karaan, and Mawlana Abdul Hafeez Makki, among others.
He is the author of the text “The Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal: A Hujjah or not?” He has served as the Director of the Discover Islam Centre and Al Jeem Foundation. For the last five years till present, he has served as the Khatib of Masjid Ar-Rashideen, Mowbray, Cape Town.
Shaykh Irshaad has thirteen years of teaching experience at some of the leading Islamic institutes in Cape Town). He is currently building an Islamic online learning and media platform called ‘Isnad Academy’ and pursuing his Master’s degree in the study of Islam at the University of Johannesburg. He has a keen interest in healthy living and fitness.