What is the Reality of Intermediation (wasila)? Can the Dead Hear?

Answered by Mawlana Ilyas Patel


Can you please explain the concept of Wasila in the light of Quran and Sunna? I thought we should ask Allah directly and not pray to Allah using an intermediary to help our du’as to be answered even if he’s our beloved prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace).

A Shaykh said people in graves could hear you when you visit their graves, even when they are in barzakh but can’t hear them. I thought they could not hear us.

Please explain to me Insha Allah with references to Hadith.


In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate

What is Intermediation (Al-Wasila)?

Allah Most High says, “O you who believe, fear Allah, and seek a means of drawing lovingly near Him; And strive in his path with your utmost might, that haply you may succeed.” [Quran, 5:35]

What is Wasila?

Wasila means bringing someone closer to someone through liking and love.

Anything which brings a servant of Allah Most High nearer to his or her sole object of worship with all longing and love. Therefore, the companions, followers, and righteous explained the word to mean obedience, nearness, faith, and righteous conduct.

Hudhayfa, as reported by Hakim, said: ‘Wasila’ means nearness and obedience, and Ibn Jarir has reported the same on the authority of ‘Ata,’ Mujahid, and Hasan al-Basri, may the mercy of Allah be upon them all.

Also, Ibn Jarir and others have reported from Qatada that the commentary of this verse is to seek nearness to Him by obedience to Him and by doing deeds that please Him. Therefore, the gist of the explanation of this verse is that one should seek the nearness of Allah through Iman (faith) and Amal (good deeds).

Ask Allah to Grant Me Wasila

‘Wasilah’ is a high rank of Paradise, above which there is no rank.

Ibn ‘Abbas reported that Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) said “Ask Allah to grant me the Wasila. Verily, a servant does not ask for it in the world but that I will be a witness for him or intercede for him on the Day of Resurrection.” [Tabarani, Al-Mu‘jam al-Awsat]

Jabir bin Abdullah said that the Messenger of Allah said whoever after hearing the adhan says:

«اللَّهُمَّ رَبَّ هذِهِ الدَّعْوَةِ التَّامَّةِ، وَالصَّلَاةِ الْقَائِمَةِ، آتِ مُحَمَّدًا الْوَسِيلَةَ وَالْفَضِيلَةَ، وَابْعَثْهُ مَقَامًا مَحْمُودًا الَّذِي وَعَدْتَهُ،إِلَّا حَلَّتْ لَهُ الشَّفَاعَةُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَة»

(“O Allah! Lord of this perfect call and of the regular prayer which is going to be established! Grant Muhammad the Wasila and superiority and send him on the Day of Judgment to the praiseworthy station which You have promised him,”) then intercession from me will be permitted for him on the Day of Resurrection.) [Bukhari]

Abdullah bin ‘Amr bin al-‘As said that he heard the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) saying, “When you hear the caller of Adhan, repeat what he says, and then send peace and blessings upon me. Verily, whoever sends peace and blessings upon me, Allah will grant ten mercies for him. Then, ask for the Wasilah for me, for it is a status in Paradise that only one servant of Allah deserves, and I hope that I am that servant. Verily, whoever asks Allah for Wasilah for me, he will earn the right of my intercession.” [Muslim]

These hadith tell us that ‘Wasila’ is a particular rank of Paradise designated mainly for the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace).

Another Meaning: Tawassul

Another meaning of it is Tawassul, i.e. using intermediaries in supplication to Allah Most High through the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace), friends of Allah (Awliya), and righteous believers, and this is permitted, instead recommended according to the four schools of Sunni Islamic law.

This has been the mainstream belief held by scholars of this Umma throughout the eras. The predecessors from the earliest generations had this understanding, which has been the way of the four schools of Sunni Islamic law.

Reality of Tawassul

The meaning of Tawassul is: To ask Allah Most High through the medium and intercession of another person. For example, one says: “O Allah! I ask forgiveness for my sins through the Wasila (intercession) of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace)”.

Tawassul Can Be Carried out through the Prophet, Good Deeds, and Righteous People

Tawassul can be carried out through one’s righteous deeds, the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), righteous people who have passed away, and those still alive. All these types of Tawassul are permitted and acceptable. The permissibility of Tawassul is proven by the Quran, Sunna, continued practice of the Umma, and reason.

Also, when one uses Tawassul in supplication, one does not ask and seek from other than Allah Most High. Only the high position, status, and rank of the person through whom Wasila is carried out is used as intercession. In other words, the servant is saying: “O Allah! This certain prophet or servant of yours is very close to you. I do not possess any good deeds, but I have love for the pious. O, Allah! Pardon me and forgive my sins due to this love and connection I have with this pious servant of yours”.

As was done by Umar (Allah be pleased with him) when he at the time of drought, making Abbas (Allah be pleased with him) Wasila, made a prayer for rain before Allah. The prayer was answered. [Bukhari]

‘Uthman ibn Hunaif (Allah be pleased with him) reported, “A blind man came to the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) and said: “I’ve been afflicted in my eyesight, so pray to Allah for me.” The Prophet (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “Go perform ablution (Wudu), perform two raka’ and then say: “O Allah! I ask you and turn to you through my Prophet Muhammad, the Prophet of Mercy. O Muhammad! I seek your intercession with my lord for the return of my eyesight that it may be fulfilled. O Allah! Grant him intercession for me”. The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) then said: “and if there is some other need, do the same.” [Tirmidhi; Abu Dawud; Nasa’i; Tabrani; Ibn Kathir, Tafsir ibn Kathir; Mufti Shafi, Ma’rif al-Quran]

Many books in Arabic and other languages have been written about Tawassul.

What is Hearing of the Dead (Sama‘ al-Mawta)?

The deceased can hear us as and when He wants with the permission of Allah Most High, supported by many hadiths.

Anas ibn Malik (Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, “Verily when the servant is put in his grave, and his companions turn away from him, he hears the noise of their sandals.” [Muslim]

His statement “he hears the noise”: this hadith is proof for those who affirm the hearing of the dead, and this is the position of ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar (Allah be pleased with him). Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr (Allah have mercy on him) mentioned that it is the preferred view of ِIbn Jarir al-Tabari, ibn Qutayba, and most scholars.

Other View

It was narrated from ‘A’isha (Allah be pleased with her) that she opined that the dead do not hear and interpreted the hadith of the well of Badr, which contained the corpses of the disbelievers in this way. A group of ‘ulama agreed with her on this.

Correct View

Hafiz ibn Kathir (Allah have mercy on him) said in the commentary of Surah al-Rum,
“So you, O Prophet, truly you cannot make the dead hear; Nor make the deaf hear the summons.” [Quran, 30:52]

“The correct view, according to the ‘ulama, is the view of ‘Abdullah ibn’ Umar, due to corroborations to its authenticity from many paths. From the most well-known of these is what ibn’ Abd al-Barr narrated, authenticating it, from Ibn’ Abbas in a raised report (marfu’) that ‘none passes by the grave of his Muslim brother that he knew in the world and greets him except Allah Most High restores his soul to him, and he returns the greeting to him.”

It is established from the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) that He instructed his umma, when they greet the inhabitants of the graves, to greet them with the greeting of one addressed directly, thus the one greeting says السلام عليكم دار قوم مؤمنين’ peace be on to you, abode of the group of believers’ and such an address is only for one who hears and thinks. Were it not so, this address would be akin to addressing an absent person or an inanimate object. The predecessors are agreed on that as the narrations from them that the dead person knows of the visit of the living to him and rejoices are mass transmitted (tawatur).” [Usmani, Takmila al-Fath al-Muslim]

Check these links:
Is It Permissible to Make Tawassul Through Awliya (Saints)? – SeekersGuidance
Tawassul: Supplicating Allah through an Intermediary – SeekersGuidance
tawassul Archives – SeekersGuidance
Supplicating Through an Intermediary and Calling the Prophet “Master” – SeekersGuidance
What Is the Ruling of Seeking Assistance (Istighatha) through Other than the Prophet (Allah Bless Him and Give Him Peace)? (seekersguidance.org)
A Reader on Understanding the Attributes of Allah – SeekersGuidance
Can the Dead Hear Us? – SeekersGuidance

Why not begin your search for knowledge by signing up for a course on
SeekersAcademy (seekersguidance.org)

I pray this helps with your question.

[Mawlana] Ilyas Patel
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Mawlana Ilyas Patel is a traditionally-trained scholar who has studied in the UK, India, Pakistan, Syria, Jordan, and Turkey.

He started his early education in the UK. He went on to complete hifz of the Quran in India, then enrolled into an Islamic seminary in the UK, where he studied the secular and Alimiyyah sciences. He then traveled to Karachi, Pakistan.

He has been an Imam in Rep of Ireland for a number of years. He has taught hifz of the Qur’an, Tajwid, Fiqh, and many other Islamic sciences to both children and adults onsite and online extensively in UK and Ireland. He was teaching at a local Islamic seminary for 12 years in the UK, where he was a librarian and a teacher of Islamic sciences.

He currently resides in the UK with his wife. His personal interest is the love of books and gardening.