The Hadits on Seeking Help from the Unseen

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

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 (r.a.) al-Kabir.  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 of ‘a’inu’, 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.”


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