What Is the Ruling of Seeking Assistance (Istighatha) through Other than the Prophet (Allah Bless Him and Give Him Peace)?

Shafi'i Fiqh
Hanafi Fiqh
Maliki Fiqh
Hanbali Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Irshaad Sedick

Question

Is it permissible to do Istighatha/Isti‘ana/Istimdad (beseeching for help) through any being (angels and deceased humans included) other than the Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace)? For example, saying “Madat Ya Jilani or Himmat Ya Jilani” (Save (me/us) Ya Jilani or Help Ya Jilani).

It would be great if you could also touch upon the hadiths or verses that our Fuqaha have mentioned in support of their ruling on this matter.

Answer

In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate.

May Allah guide us to that which pleases Him, forgive us for our shortcomings, and alleviate our difficulties, Amin.

Tawassul through the awliya and righteous believers is permitted according to the Four Schools of Sunni Islam, for the same reason that tawassul through the Prophet (Allah bless him & give him peace) is permitted. [al-Mawsu‘a al-Fiqhhiyya al-Kuwatiyya]

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) promised that there would always be a group in his community to manifest the truth until the last day. He also instructed us to be with the leading group of believers and to stick to the group. He also told us that the scholars are the inheritors of the Prophets. As such, what we know from the Quran and Sunna is that the people of the truth are not a theoretical construct but a living reality: they are the scholars of the mainstream, majority understanding of Islam. This has been the way of the Four Sunni Schools of Fiqh since the earliest generations.

Evidence from the Scripture

Imam Muhammad Zahid al-Kawthari (Allah be pleased with him) said,

Those who deny it have the Book of Allah, the Sunna, the continued practice of the Umma, and reason against them as proof.

As for the Book of Allah, “And seek a means (wasila) to Him”. [Quran, 5: 35]

And wasila (a means of approach) in its general indication includes tawassul (intercession) by persons and through actions. The apparent meaning of tawassul in the Sacred Law is both this and that, despite the claims of those who lie and deceive.

The distinction (made by some) between the living and the dead in this matter only comes from one who believes in the perishing of souls (upon death), which would lead to denying Resurrection and claiming that the soul’s ability to discern particulars ends when it leaves the body, which is a denial of the primary evidence affirming that. (F: Shaykh Wahbi Ghawji quoted in his Fakhr al-Din al-Razi in his footnotes saying, Souls remain after the perishing of bodies. This is an agreed-upon matter by the Prophet, awliya, and the wise. (Usul al-Din, 20), and then quoted Ibn al-Qayyim from his al-Ruh in support of this) [Kawthari, Mahq al-Taqawwul fi Masalat al-Tawassul]

For details and proofs, check the articles on Sidi Masud Khans site and the excellent writings by Shaykh Gibril Haddad (Allah preserve him).

Please see this article by the contemporary Shafi‘i Mufti, Shaykh Nuh Ha Mim Keller:
Tawassul: Supplicating Allah through an Intermediary

I pray this is of benefit.
[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.