By Zakir Cetin
Mediation and mentioning the names of blessed people, things and places while praying to Allah (SWT) has been dealt with in many verses and hadiths.
We will try to analyse what people do and live within the frames of rububiyyah (divine administration) and ubudiyyah (worship) in terms of creed and causes.
What is the status of demanding something either from the living or the dead, or of making them mediators for our demands, according to Islam?
“O you who believe! Keep from disobedience to Allah in reverence for Him and piety, and seek the means to come closer to Him, and strive in His way, so that you may prosper (in both worlds).” (Maidah, 5:35)
“As is well known, the word ‘means’ denotes something through which we get something, that is, a reason of getting closer to something. As a matter of fact, many of the early commentators, such as Hasan, Mujaheed, Ata, and Abdullah b. Kathir, interpreted the word ‘means’ as ‘closeness, to get closer to something’.
Thus, the summary of the verse says, “Do not be careless by saying, ‘we are believers, Allah will love us because of our faith’; be afraid of Allah and abstain from immorality and evil actions and not only abstain and be afraid, but also attempt to take the necessary precautions. Obey the orders of Allah and look for means to get closer to Him. Perform extra good deeds other than the obligatory ones, and evaluate and use every opportunity for this in the way that will make you loved by Allah, and do this with love, enthusiasm and longing.” In short, seeking the means and mediation to get closer to Allah (SWT) is necessary. We need to search and try to find it, because the means to get mediation is to will it and to wish for it with faith and fear of Allah (SWT). Through mediation, the intention is to get closer to Allah (SWT) and to love Him. Allah (SWT) orders people to struggle for servitude by preparing means and mediation such as having good character and doing good actions. Faith is completed by fear of Allah, and fear of Allah is completed by searching for the means and this also is completed by striving.” (The Commentary of Almalili, Maidah, 5:35)
There are different kinds of means:
GOOD DEEDS AS MEANS
The fact that good deeds are a means of getting closer to Allah (SWT) is confirmed through the following verse, “O you who believe! Seek help (against all kinds of hardships and tribulations) through persevering patience and the Prayer; surely Allah is with the persevering and patient.” (Baqarah, 2:153) Other good deeds may also be means as well as patience and Prayer, as is shown in the following hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) about three men from the children of Israel:
“Three men from one of the people of old set off for a journey and they stopped to spend the night in a cave. A rock rolled over and blocked the door of the cave. Upon this they said: ‘Nothing can save us from here other than to petition Allah Most High by our good deeds!’ One of them prayed and said, ‘O Allah! I had very old parents. I would feed neither my children nor my animals before I fed them. One day, I went some distance to gather firewood. When I returned they had gone to bed. I prepared the dinner, but they were sleeping. I found it appropriate neither to awaken them to have dinner nor to have dinner with my family while they were asleep. I waited for them to wake up with the bowl of milk in my hand. Finally the morning began to dawn and my children were crying at my feet because of their hunger. Then my parents woke up and they drank their milk.
O Allah! If I did that work to get Your pleasure, please remove this rock from the door of the cave and dispel this trouble from us!’
Upon this, the stone moved a little, but it was not enough to get out. The second man begged as follows: ‘O Allah! I loved the daughter of my uncle more than anybody and I wanted to be with her, but she refused me. A couple of years later, she became the victim of a famine and she came to me. I offered to give her one hundred dinars if she accepted to be with me. She could not refuse. When we came together and before I touched her she said, ‘Fear Allah and stay away from me!’ I had to move away from her out of fear of Allah, though she was in a position to surrender. I let her keep the money to her which I had said that I would give if she surrendered.
O Allah! If I did that work to get Your pleasure, please dispel this trouble from us!’
The rock moved a little more, yet it was still not enough to get out. The third man prayed as follows:
‘O Allah! I hired a couple of workers and paid their money. But one of them went without getting his money and I invested his money. The money and properties that I earned through his money increased. A while later, the owner of that money came to me and said, ‘Give me my money!’ I said, ‘All these camels, cattle, sheep and other things belong to you and they are productions of your money. Take all of them.’ The man said, ‘O servant of Allah! Do not make fun of me!’ I said ‘I am not making fun of you. I am telling the truth.’ So the man took all the property and left nothing.
O Allah! If I did that work to get Your pleasure, please dispel this trouble from us!’
Then the rock moved a little more and so they were able to get out of the cave, and they continued on their journey.” (Bukhari, Magic, 98; Ijara, 12; Muslim, Dhikr, 100)
LIVING MEN AS MEANS
Anas (R) reports: “Imam Umar (R) would go to pray for rain together with people and he would make Abbas – the Prophet’s uncle – the means to demand rain from Allah (SWT) when there was drought in the city. He would say: ‘O Allah! We used to ask for rain making the Prophet a means, and You would send us rain. Now the Prophet is not among us. We would like You to send rain using the Prophet’s uncle as a means. Please send us the rain’, and a while later it would rain.” (Bukhari, Istisqa, 3)
Imam Ahmad and Tirmidhi report that a blind man came to the Prophet (PBUH) and asked him to pray for him. The Prophet (PBUH) said to him, ‘If you wish, I could delay this for the hereafter and it would be better for you in the hereafter, or I could pray.’ The man wanted him to pray. So the Prophet (PBUH) ordered the man to make ablution and perform two rak’ahs of salah, and then supplicate as follows, ‘O Allah! I turn to You and ask from You making Your Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) the means. O Muhammad (PBUH)! I turn to Allah (SWT) for my need making you the means. O Allah! Accept his mediation about me!’” (Tirmidhi, Daawat, 119, Musnad, IV/138) The man went and did what the Prophet (PBUH) had told him to do. When he returned, his eyes were healed. (Tuhfat’ul Ahwazi, explanation of concerned hadith.)
The verdict and view of Ibn Hajar’ul Haytami, the author of the famous book ‘Tuhfatu’l Muhtaj li Sharh al-Minhaj’ in the Shafi’i madhhab of the Sunni schools of Islam, on mediation and means is as follows: “The life and morality of the prophets, walis and those who followed them who are called Salaf’ul Salihin (the blessed forerunners) proves the truth of mediation. In a hadith which Hakim relates in his Mustadrak and says it is sahih (true) and Tabarani, Abu Nu’aim, Bayhaqi and Ibn Asakir also relate, the Prophet (PBUH) says ‘When Adam made that well known mistake, he said; ‘O my Lord! Forgive me for the sake of Muhammad (PBUH)’, Allah (SWT) responded, ‘How did you know him when I have not yet created him?’ Adam (PBUH) said, ‘O my Lord, when you created me and blew the spirit into me, I raised my head and saw that it was written in the heaven, ‘La ilaha illallah, Muhammadun rasul’ullah (there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is His messenger)’. I concluded that You had written the name of the most beloved among Your creatures next to Your name.’ Allah (SWT) answered, ‘You have said the truth, Adam! Unquestionably, he is the most beloved one of all creatures to me. If you wish forgiveness for his sake, I forgive you. If it was not for the being of Muhammad, I would not have created you.’”
As can be concluded from this hadith, just as the Prophet Adam (PBUH) made the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) a mediator for his forgiveness even before his creation, we can make him a mediatior for our wishes after his death and departure to the hereafter, and this is most appropriate and clear.
Tabarani relates the following report, “the Prophet (PBUH) used to pray by saying ‘for the sake of Your messenger and the messengers before me’”.
There is no difference between making the Prophet a mediator, asking for help which is called istighatha, making him our intercessor and turning to Allah (SWT) with all of these. As Imam Subqi confirms, the case with walis is the same as the case with the prophets, because it is reported in true hadiths that it is acceptable to make good deeds one’s mediator. However these deeds do not have material bodies and they are created later. If deeds can be mediators, of course, it is yet more appropriate to make actual people who have a personality and a body mediators.
Furthermore, although Imam Umar (R) made Abbas (R) a mediator for the rain prayer, none of the companions objected to this. Also making the Prophet (PBUH) the mediator for our wishes means to request prayer from him, because he is alive in his grave. He knows when anybody requests anything from him. It is said in a report that in the era of Imam Umar (R) during a drought, a man came to the tomb of the Prophet (PBUH) and said, ‘O Messenger of Allah! Wish for rain for your ummah.’ In his dream, the Prophet (PBUH) said to him that Allah (SWT) will send them the rain, and it really happened.
Regarding mediation, Imam Subqi says the following, “To mediate the Prophet (PBUH) in the prayers and to request anything through him and to make him the intercessor is fine. None of the people from the Salaf’ul Salihin except for Ibn Taymiyyah rejected mediation, but he deviated from the right path and rejected it. He put forward this bid’a (innovation) which none of the scholars stated before him. He became a teaching example for Muslims.”
Unfortunately, some people who confuse matter with spirit claim that there can be no benefit or harm from the dead, thinking about the life after death only superficially. They do not think that the meanings of the realm of the unseen are profound, and that matter and what we see are just relative, simple and transient. However, as the value of a word is measured according to its meaning, in the same way, the value of a body is measured according to its spirit. The body is alive by means of the spirit and that is how it exists. When the spirit leaves the body, the body disintegrates and ceases to exist. In the same way, the value of this world is measured according to the hereafter and the realm of the unseen. If someone’s world does not lead into his gaining the pleasure of Allah and heaven, then that world and that life do not have a value of even a penny. With his death, his world is destroyed and it leaves him alone with his sins and responsibility.
As can be understood from the verses of the Qur’an and the hadiths and the conclusions of the people of the truth: A thousand years of the life of the world in a state of happiness and joy does not equal one hour of heaven, and a thousand years of heaven does not equal an hour in the presence of Allah (SWT).
As Imam Nursi states, material existence and the realm of the seen is like a curtain over the spiritual existence and the realm of the unseen. Truth and the fundamentals are behind this curtain. Thus everything evolves into perfection. When a child in the uterus is born and leaves that place, it does not cease to exist, but it reaches a better stage of life. In the same way, man does not cease to exist when he leaves the world, but he reaches the life of the hereafter which is undoubtedly better than the life of this world. It is a divine rule that everything in the universe develops into perfection. As can be understood from these explanations, to die and leave this world is not going to nothingness, but it means passing on to the intermediate realm, and to heaven and to eternity and to be with Allah (SWT).
Consequently, obeying the verdict of a mujtahid (jurist of Islamic law) who is respected by the ummah on any issue will save us. In this issue of mediation, obeying the verdicts of many mujtahids who based their arguments on the verses of the Qur’an and hadiths is enough for people to be saved. In such an age as ours, in which there are few scholars who can make ijtihad, forcing unqualified people into interpretation and ijtihad is a disaster for religion. Also the increase in the number of people who do not practice the principles of Islam thoroughly, and do not have a comprehensive knowledge on these issues, yet do not appreciate the Salaf’ul Salihin’s interpretations, and so produce new bid’as (innovations), is another disaster.
It is not our intention to criticize other people or produce disharmony among the Muslims. However, we wanted to state the rational and documented proofs in the face of the extreme interpretations some people have about some of the practices of Islam.