The Wahhabi Condemnation of Nida’, Calling Out, to the Servants of Allah (s.w.t.)

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following is extracted from Imam Jamil Swiddiqi ibn Muhammad Faydhi az-Zahawi al-Kurdi’s (r.a.), al-Fajr asw-Swadiq fi ar-Radd ‘ala Munkiri at-Tawaswswul wa al-Khawariq, “The True Dawn: A Refutation of Those Denying Miracles & Intercession in Islam”.

As for the invocations of common Muslims in Arabic such as, “O ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani, look at me,” “Ya ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani adrikni;” and, “O Ahmad al-Badawi, give us support,” “Ya Ahmad al-Badawi madad;” they belong to the figurative language of the mind just as the application of someone who says to his food, “Satisfy me,” or to his water, “Quench me,” or to his medicine, “Heal me.”  The food does not satisfy, nor does the water quench the thirst, nor the medicine heal.  The One Who is the Real Satisfier of our hunger, the Quencher of our thirst and the Healer of our ills is Allah (s.w.t.) Alone.  The food, the water, the medicine are only the proximate or secondary causes which custom has established on the surface of things by our mind’s regular association of them with certain concomitant events.

The majority of the Muslim ummah agree on the permissibility of imploring Allah (s.w.t.) for the sake of the Prophet (s.a.w.), the companions, and the pious.  From many of the companions, the ‘ulama of the pious predecessors, and those in succeeding generations, the meeting together of a majority on what is forbidden and idolatrous is not allowable because of the Prophet’s (s.a.w.) sound hadits which some consider mutawatir, “My ummah will not come together on an error,” and because Allah (s.w.t.) Said:

Ye are the best of peoples, evolved for mankind ... (Surah Ali ‘Imran:110)

Then how could all of them or the majority of them come together on what is erroneous?

One of the evidences permitting the seeking of help is what Imam al-Bukhari (r.a.) related, in a sound hadits, from ibn ‘Abbas (r.a.) that the Prophet (s.a.w.) mentioned in the story of Hajar (r.a.), the mother of Isma’il, (a.s.), when thirst overtook her son and her, she began to run in search for water, then she heard a voice yet saw no one and she said, “If there be help with you, then help us.”  If seeking aid of other than Allah (s.w.t.) was shirk, then why did she seek aid?  Why did the Prophet (s.a.w.) mention it to his companions and not reject it?  And why did the companions after him transmit it and the narrators of ahadits mention it?

Imam al-Bukhari (r.a.) also related, in the Hadits of Intercession, that people, while they are in the horrors in the Day of Resurrection, ask help of Adam (a.s.), then of Noah (a.s.), then of Abraham (a.s.), then of Moses (a.s.), then of Jesus (a.s.), and all of them will give an excuse, and Jesus (a.s.) will say, “Go to Muhammad.”

Then they will go to Muhammad (s.a.w.) and then he will say, “I will do it.”  If seeking aid of a creature was forbidden, then the Prophet (s.a.w.) would have not mentioned to the companions.  The ones who object to this give the answer that this is the Day of Resurrection when the Prophet (s.a.w.) has power.  One responds with the refutation that in their worldly life they have no power except as a secondary cause, likewise after death, the living in their graves and beyond are allowed to be secondary causes only.

Imam ath-Thabarani (r.a.) related, from ‘Utbah ibn Ghazwan (r.a.), that the Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “If one of you loses his way with respect to anything whatsoever or wishes help when he is in a land in which he has no friend, let him say, ‘O servants of Allah, help me!  For Allah has servants whom he does not see.”  The transliterated Arabic phrase is, “Ya ‘Ibadullah a’inuni.”  This hadits is hasan, and is found in Imam ath-Thabarani’s al-Kabir (r.a.).  It was also recorded by Imam Abu Ya’la (r.a.); Imam ibn as-Sani (r.a.); and Imam al-Haytsami (r.a.), who recorded it in his Majma’ az-Zawa’id.  Imam al-Bayhaqi (r.a.) related something close to it, on the authority of ibn ‘Abbas (r.a.), in Kitab al-Adab: “Allah has angels on earth who keep a record even of the leaves that falls on the ground.  Therefore, if one of you has a lameness in his leg or finds himself in need in a deserted place of the earth, let him say, ‘Help, O servants of Allah, may Allah have Mercy on you!’  Verily he shall be helped, if Allah Wills.”  Here, the transliterated Arabic phrase is, “A’inu ‘ibadullah rahimakum Allah.”  Imam ibn Hajr (r.a.) said its chain is hasan in al-Amali.  Imam al-Bayhaqi (r.a.) related it with two more chains from ibn ‘Abbas (r.a.), in Shu’ab al-Iman, and another, from ibn Mas’ud (r.a.), in Hayat al-Anbiya’ Ba’da Wafatihim.  This latter chain is also recorded in al-Kabir by Imam ath-Thabarani (r.a.) who has, “Ya ‘Ibadullah a’inu,” repeated three times.  Imam ibn as-Sani (r.a.); Imam Abu Ya’la (r.a.); and Imam an-Nawawi (r.a.), in al-Adzkar; also mentioned it.  Imam ibn Abi Shaybah (r.a.) related in his Muswannaf through Aban ibn Swalih (r.a.) that the Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “If one of you loses his animal or his camel in a deserted land where there is no-one in sight, let him say, ‘O servants of Allah, help me!’ for verily he will be helped.”

It is not said that all that is meant by the “servants of Allah” in the ahadits cited above are only angels, or Muslims among the jinn, or men of the realm of the invisible: for all of these are living and there is no controversy about asking their help.  Hence, the ahadits would not give evidence for asking aid from the dead, but this is not the case.  We mention this because there is nothing explicit in the ahadits whereby what is meant by ‘servants of Allah’ are the categories we mentioned above and nothing else.  Yet even if we were to concede this, the ahadits would still be a proof against the Wahhabis from another standpoint, and that is the calling on someone invisible.  The Wahhabis no more allow it than the calling on the dead.  Imam ash-Shawkani (r.a.) allowed the calling on someone invisible. In Tuhfat adz-Dzakirin, he wrote. “in the ahadits, there is evidence that it is permissible to ask help from those one does not see among the servants of Allah, whether angels or good jinn, and there is nothing wrong in doing it, just as it is permissible for someone to seek the help of human beings if his mount becomes unmanageable or runs loose.”

Furthermore, their contestation for some of the narrators of these ahadits is pointless.  It was narrated through a variety of paths of transmission, all of which supports each other.  Thus, Imam al-Hakim (r.a.) related it in his book of swahih ahadits.  So did Imam Abu ‘Uwanah (r.a.) and Imam al-Bazzar (r.a.) with a sound chain of transmission from the Prophet (s.a.w.) in this form: “If the mount of one of you runs loose in a desert land, let him call, ‘O servants of Allah, restrain my beast!’”  Shaykh ibn Taymiyyah (r.a.) mentioned this hadits in his al-Kalim ath-Thayyib.  Imam ibn al-Qayyim also mentioned it in his own book, also named al-Kalim ath-Thayyib, as Imam an-Nawawi (r.a.) in his Adzkar, Imam al-Jazari (r.a.) in al-Hiswn al-Haswin, and many other transmitters of ahadits whose number is too large to count.  The latter wording is from the narrative of ibn Mas’ud (r.a.) whose chain of transmission is continuous back to the Prophet (s.a.w.).

The narration of ibn Mas’ud (r.a.), with an interrupted chain says, “Let him call, O servants of Allah, help me.’”  ibn Mas’ud’s (r.a.) narration of “ahbisu”, “restrain my beast”, is the weaker of the chains and ‘Utbah’s (r.a.) narration of “a’inu”, “help me”, the stronger.  Imam ibn Hajr (r.a.) commented that the former is, “a gharib hadits related by ibn as-Sani and ath-Thabarani, and its chain is interrupted.”  Both Imam ibn Hajr (r.a.) and Imam al-Haytsami (r.a.) commented that its chain contains Ma’ruf ibn Hasan who is weak.  Imam ash-Shawkani (r.a.) mentioned that Imam Abu Ya’la (r.a.) also cited it.  Regardless, the hadits of a’inu is established as authentic.

Imam an-Nawawi (r.a.) related, in al-Adzkar, after mentioning the hadits ahbisu, “One of our very knowledgeable teachers related to me that one day his animal ran loose - I think it was a mule - and he knew that hadits, so he said it, and Allah Restrained it for them on the spot.  I myself was with a group one time when one of their animals broke free and they were unable to restrain it, so I said it: it stopped on the spot with no reason other than those words.”  Imam ash-Shawkani (r.a.) cited Imam an-Nawawi’s (r.a.) two accounts in his Tuhfat adz-Dzakirin.

There is also an account, transmitted on the authority of Shaykh ‘Abdullah ibn Ahmad ibn Hanbal (r.a.) that he said, “I heard my father say, ‘I had made hajj five times and once I got lost on the way.  I was walking and I began to say, ‘O servants of Allah, show us the way!’  I continued to say this until I got on the right way.’”  This is reported by Imam ibn Muflih al-Hanbali (r.a.) in his book, al-Adab ash-Shari’ah.

The Wahhabis declare takfir upon anyone who asks for help or calls on an absent prophet or saint who has passed away.  They say that the call of people who beseech such help might be in numerous places, simultaneously.  They claim the ones asking for such help believe that the one who is called upon is present at that very moment, which in their view, is kufr and shirk because it attributes the characteristics of Allah (s.w.t.) upon the one whose aid is sought.  They say it is obvious that one body cannot be existent in numerous places at one time.

The answer is that Muslims do not believe that the person called upon is present in person at the time he is called in a number of places.  That counts as kufr.  Besides, omnipresence of this order is impossible.  What the callers believe is that the barakah, that is, the blessing or grace of the one called, is present in those places in a subtle fashion by Allah’s (s.w.t.) Act of Creation and Motivated by His Mercy for the person asking for help out of respect for the one whom he calls on.  That is not impossible, for the Mercy of Allah (s.w.t.) is wide and without limit.

When the Wahhabis attribute to Muslims this belief of omnipresence in person, of which they are completely innocent, they apply to it the criterion of invalidity which the jurists apply in the conditions of marriage if, as they note, a man marries a woman “by witness of Allah and his Messenger”, the marriage contract is invalid.  The Wahhabis then claim if the Prophet (s.a.w.) knows of the call of someone who is asking for help when he calls out to him from afar, then he would be the knower of the ghayb and the contract of marriage which the jurists say is invalid would be sound.

The answer is that Muslims, just as they do not believe the Prophet (s.a.w.) or a saint asked for help, is present when he is called; likewise, they do not attribute knowledge of the ghayb to anyone except Allah (s.w.t.).  As for the absence of the validity of a marriage contract by witness of Allah (s.w.t.) and His Messenger (s.a.w.), it is because shari’ah makes the eyewitness testimony a condition of marriage and acts like it to preserve the marriage rights; since disputes may arise between the partners to the marriage which may eventually come before judges.  Then, it will be impossible for one or the other of the disputing parties to establish his claim by the witness of Allah (s.w.t.) and His Messenger (s.a.w.).  For suppose that Allah (s.w.t.), Who Transcends what the obscurantists say, is indeed a body who comes down to the lower Heavens as the Wahhabis claim, then we would say it would be a common phenomenon for Him to descend to the courtroom so that His Testimony before it might be produced to decisively settle the dispute of the two contending parties!

The Wahhabis declare one who calls on other than Allah (s.w.t.) a disbeliever; for example, one who says, “Ya Rasulullah,” and so forth.  This purported disbelief of one who says, “Ya Rasulullah,” for example, implies two suppositions: either he believes that the individual whom he calls is himself present at the time of his call, hears his call, accomplishes his need because of it and saves him from the difficulty for which he called him in the first place; or he believes that the one whom he calls hears by Allah’s (s.w.t.) Hearing, purely through Allah’s (s.w.t.) Power, and that Allah (s.w.t.), and no one else, Accomplished his need in virtue of the barakah of the one called; and, moreover, that it is Allah (s.w.t.) Who Delivers him from the difficulty which he is in, for the honour of that Prophet (s.a.w.), in this case.

Either supposition shows some fault of thinking on the part of the Wahhabi who claims that the caller is a disbeliever.  As for the first, anyone who believes that someone else other than Allah (s.w.t.) accomplishes his need and saves him from difficulty is a disbeliever whether he calls out or never calls out anyone and it is incorrect to make his disbelief depend on the circumstance of calling out.  We know that no Muslim believes this doctrine.  As for the second supposition, one whose heart is the seat of faith, and who believes that the one who accomplishes needs and saves from perils is Allah (s.w.t.) Alone, not someone else: it is not permissible to call such a person a kafir solely on the basis of calling out to someone absent while believing that Allah (s.w.t.) Creates the hearing in him.

The Wahhabis have shown ignorance in saying, at this juncture of the argument, that shari’ah judges on the basis of externals, al-hukm bi azh-zhahir, and that the external sense of calling upon someone other than Allah (s.w.t.) is that the caller believes in that other as having complete knowledge of the ghayb and possessing an effective power to accomplish needs and complete disposal over the universe.  Yet, they say, complete knowledge of the ghayb and effective power to accomplish the needs of creatures are characteristics peculiar to the Creator: therefore, they conclude, belief that someone other than Allah (s.w.t.) is characterised in this way automatically constitutes shirk and kufr.

The answer is that the external interpretation of the frame of mind of a person who supplicates someone other than Allah (s.w.t.) signifies only that the caller has called other than Allah (s.w.t.).  It does not signify that he believes that the one he calls has power to carry out one's needs nor any of the other attributes the Wahhabis mention.

Belief is an inward matter of which certain external phenomena might give indications.  The act of calling is not one of them.  To the Wahhabis who deem the external meaning of calling to be an indication of shirk and kufr, why is it most of them do not consider what belongs to the Muslim whom they call a kafir from the side of his external behaviour manifest in acts of prayer, fasting, zakat, and the other pillars of the Faith?  Why do they not look at these as indicators of his faith and sound belief?  What is more amazing, that same Muslim who engages in supplication, clearly articulates his disbelief in the own power of the one he calls to and in anything that goes with it.  Yet despite this, Wahhabis use this single external act of his as an indicator of that very belief which he has denied of himself.  What is the hukm that they can prove from the external significance of a man’s call, nida’, that his belief is deviant in the face of all the clear indications he gives that his belief is sound?

Abu Hurayrah (r.a.) narrated that he heard the Prophet (s.a.w.) say, “By the One in Whose Hand is Abu al-Qasim’s soul, ‘Isa ibn Maryam shall descend as a just and wise ruler.  He shall destroy the cross, slay the swine, eradicate discord and grudges, and money shall be offered to him but he will not accept it.  Then he shall stand at my graveside and say, ‘Ya Muhammad,’ and I will answer him.”  Imam Abu Ya’la (r.a.) related this with a sound chain in his Musnad.  Imam ibn Hajr (r.a.) cited it in al-Mathalib al-‘Aliyyah, in the chapter ‘The Prophet’s Life in His Grave.’  Imam al-Haytsami (r.a.) commented, in Majma’ az-Zawa’id, in the chapter, ‘‘Isa ibn Maryam’s Descent’ that its sub-narrators are “men of swahih ahadits”.

Imam al-Bukhari (r.a.), in Adab al-Mufrad; Imam an-Nawawi (r.a.), in Adzkar; and Imam ash-Shawkani (r.a.), in Tuhfat adz-Dzakirin; all relate the narrations of ibn ‘Umar (r.a.) and ibn ‘Abbas whereby they would call out, “Ya Muhammad” whenever they had a cramp in their leg.  Regardless of the grade of these narrations, it is significant that Imam al-Bukhari (r.a.), Imam an-Nawawi (r.a.), and Imam ash-Shawkani (r.a.) never raised such a disturbing notion as to say that nida’ amounted to shirk.


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