A brief answer to questions on the issues of saints, intercession and hearing of the dead:
Can the dead hear, (I was under the impression they couldn’t)…? Seeking waseela with saints (while acknowledging that Allah gives all)? I basicaly need to know what the view is on them, and if there were known ikhtilaaf regarding any, or ijma regarding any? recommended sites or links, or books about them…
Wa ‘alaykumus-salaamu wa rahmatullaahi.
In the Name of Allaah, the Most Merciful… May His Salaat and Salaam be upon His Messenger…
Allaah the Most High has said, what means:
“Surely you can not make those in the graves hear” (Faatir 35:22)
So here is the general rule – the dead do not hear, as stated clearly by the Knower of all things.
Then, there are some specific exemptions from this general rule, like the defeated enemies of the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) being addressed in the well at Badr, and the dead hearing the footsteps of those at their burial walking away. These two specific exemptions have been authentically reported by the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam).
Combining the texts is quite simple, from the easiest ways of combining texts that some people feel have some kind of contradiction is a principle called “‘Aamm and khaass”. The general rule has been stated by Allaah in His Book, and VERY specific cases were exempted from that generality.
So the dead can not hear – as a general rule – however, at the time of burial, the deceased can hear the footsteps of those walking away from his burial.
And again, the dead can not hear – as a general rule – however, at the time of defeat, the Prophets would declare the promise of Allaah to be true, and ask the defeated enemies who were killed to testify to that. (NOTE: without waiting for an answer!!)
A simple question here:
Could these two texts allow us to consider the Statement of Allaah to be abrogated?
That would mean abrogation in a fact of the unseen, and the scholars mention that this concept is outside of the field of abrogation. It would be like Allaah saying, what means, “The dead can not hear,” and then saying, “Actually they can.” Abrogation is limited to fiqh rulings and can not be considered in issues of ‘aqeedah and information about the ghayb (like descriptions of the Hereafter or stories of the past). So to claim abrogation in this case is totally invalid.
What kind of actions did these texts produce from the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) and the Companions, from what is authentically reported?
Did these two texts lead anyone – even one Companion – to seek things – even one thing – from the deceased? Or to do “waseelah” through any of the deceased?
More clearly – the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) was our example, showing us all ways to gain nearness to Allaah, by his example he led us! Did he go to the graves of the previous prophets and seek anything from them or through them? If that were the intended understanding in Islaam, would it not have been his job to lead by example and show us how to ask the deceased, the manners, the limits, etc. by his example as he did in all important affairs of the Religion? And would not the noble Companions have busied themselves transmitting that and acting upon it?
The answer is obvious: That was not his understanding! Or theirs! They were told of the status of some of their beloved who passed away, like Sa’d ibn Mu’aath for example, and others who were defined as people of Paradise! Obviously awliyaa’ of Allaah, beloved to Allaah, forgiven, and Allaah was pleased with them. These are the righteous of whom we have not a shred of doubt about their piety – people of Paradise who died as martyrs! So this would be the perfect occasion – if it were legislated – to request something from one of them or “through” them. Yet, look for the reports – you find nothing!
So the question arises – Is it that the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) and his companions did not understand properly and therefore they lost out on a big opportunity – while the people of “tawassul” of today who ask Allaah for things “through” the deceased have properly understood the issue in a more complete and thorough way, better in understanding and practice than those who received and witnessed the revelation as it came down!?
The answer again is clear. The Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) was correct. He was honest and dedicated to showing the Muslims every single way to draw near to Allaah, and this way is not from them.
VERY INTERESTING POINT HERE:
Actually, this way of seeking things from Allaah alone “through” the deceased was indeed practiced by some of the people in the time of the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam). So I guess I have to admit it does have a precedence. The people of Makkah used to ask Allaah alone for their needs, yet they used to make “tawassul” through the deceased. Allaah recorded their reason for doing so in the Qur’aan, what means:
“They would say, ‘These are our intercessors with Allaah.’” (Yoonus 10:18)
While they believed clearly that only Allaah provided for them, only He created them and everything else, only He causes life and death, and thus, their requests were made TO Allaah alone, meaning they did not ask the deceased to forgive them, they did not ask the deceased for wealth, children, or anything, rather they only requested things from Allaah alone! Yet their request TO Allaah alone were made THROUGH others, and they said, “These are our intercessors with Allaah.” To them, this did not violate or oppose their belief in Allaah’s Sole Lordship.
So this practice that existed in the time of the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam), which is similar to what many people who ascribe to Islaam today endorse – to use such and such pious person as an intercessor, and ask Allaah THROUGH him… was this practice accepted and endorsed, discouraged, or prohibited in the time of the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam)?
You should now acknowledge that we have arrived at the heart of the matter and the answer to confusion related to this issue is about to become very clear by Allaah’s Permission!
This practice was not endorsed or accepted. Nor was it discouraged. Nor was it simply prohibited as being haraam! Instead, it was made as an example of THE SIN that Allaah will not forgive, THE CRIME against the Beneficent Lord that leads to eternal punishment, and THE VERY ACT that drew the lines of battle between the people of tawheed – the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) and his purely monotheist following (may Allaah be pleased with all of them) and the polytheists who refused to abandon their intercessors and make their worship for Allaah alone!
Regarding their requests from Allaah through these intercessors, they said, as Allaah recorded in His Book, what means:
“We only worship them to draw nearer to Allaah” (Az-Zumar 39:3)
Now remember when I said that this actions was “similar” to the practice of some of the people who ascribe to Islaam today who endorse this sort of so-called “tawassul”… I did not say “identical” but rather “similar” for a reason. There are some very important differences between them and the people of today.
1) The people in the time of the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) knew what they were doing was worship, and they knew that it was in direct contradiction to the message of “laa ilaaha ill-Allaah” they were being invited to, and thus they fought him over it with their lives and wealth.
2) The people of today who do this while ascribing to Islaam believe their practice is endorsed by Islaam!! And they believe they are worshipping Allaah upon tawheed! So, as pointed out by our scholars, the people of today who worship Allaah “through” the deceased are more ignorant of the meaning of Islaam than the polytheists of Makkah who fought against our Messenger (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam)!
3) Furthermore, the people of today sometimes use intercessors that were irreligious themselves, sometimes even polytheists who taught shirk, while the people of Makkah used angels and prophets to intercede for them (which was/is still shirk).
From these few points, you can see how even the polytheists of Makkah who fought against the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) were more knowledgeable about the meaning of worship, tawheed, shirk, and thus Islaam, than the modern endorsers of so-called “tawassul” through the deceased.
I hope that these simple lines have cleared some confusion about this matter. May Allaah bless you all and grant us understanding in His Religion.
May He grant us knowledge of what is right, and the humility, courage, patience, and strength needed to follow it with our hearts and limbs. And may He also grant us knowledge of what is wrong, and the humility, courage, patience, and strength needed to oppose it with our hearts and limbs!
And Allaah Most High knows best, may His Salaat and Salaam be upon His Final Messenger to Mankind.
Recommended reading on the specific topic: “Kashf ash-Shubuhaat”, the text itself is very clear on the topic, loaded with Qur’aanic quotes. Read the entire text first before reading any lengthy explanations.
 Written on 3rd Shawwaal 1430 (22nd Sept. 2009).
By Brother Abul-‘Abbaas Moosaa Richardson