Permissibility of Calling “O my Shaykh Madad!”

Question:

Is it permitted for a Muslim person to say: “al-madad ya rasulullah” or “ya Abdal-Qadir” or what is similar to that?

Answer:

This issue is a branch of the issue of istighatha, seeking aid, from created beings. And I have written on this in my letter entitled “Seeking the means, at-tawassul, in the Sunnah of the Prophet (s) and His Sahaba” because the Shari` evidences prove that al-istighatha is a branch from the (overall) issue off seeking the means, or intermediation (at-tawassul), as is shown by examining these evidences, insha-Allah.

It is not possible to treat this issue except after we understand the meaning of the utterance al-istighatha, and its use according to the Shari`ah. Linguistically, expression of al-istighatha in the sense of seeking aid and is built on that premise, that the istighatha of the created being is in what it has capability to do and its permissibility is agreed upon as in the Holy Quran in some of what is related about Prophet Moses (pbuh), where:

فَاسْتَغَاثَهُ الَّذِي مِنْ شِيعَتِهِ عَلَى الَّذِي مِنْ عَدُوِّهِ فَوَكَزَهُ مُوسَىٰ فَقَضَىٰ عَلَيْهِ (15القصص

and he who was of his caste asked him for help against him who was of his enemies. So Moses struck him with his fist and killed him.”(28:15)

And from this includes whatever is within the capability of the created being for which their aid may be sought or their intercession. And it is related in a hadith regarding the shafa`, intercession on the Day of Judgment, as related by Bukhari with the wording “astaghaathoo bi-Adam” they sought Adam’s assistance” (al-Bukhari, Chapter “On whom people seek in large numbers” 5/324), in other words they seek intercession (ash-shafa`ah). And this particular expression is repeated in what is mentioned about a group of prophets, upon them be peace. And istighatha, here, is with the meaning of seeking aid, support or help. And the image we have of assistance is for the prophets to seek from Allah at the last station of the Gathering and beginning of the final accounting. And that is the meaning of shafa`ah, intercession, and that is the meaning of calling upon other than themselves in that they seek from the Creator, which is the reality behind their invocation.

And the expression and the action of istighatha is ja’iz, permitted, and it is not possible for a knowledgable person to say it is forbidden, and to prefer to say “it is association (shirk) with Allah the Exalted,” after what has been authenticated in Sahih al-Bukhari.

And al-istighatha, in the meaning of seeking intercession and invoking, is clearly acceptable without any doubt, but the difficulty comes in other than that, for example, is it possible for a Sahabi to say to the Prophet (s) “forgive me” or “enter me into Paradise,” or “save me from the Fire” or in this vein, in the affairs that no one has power over except Allah the Exalted with the meaning of “ask Allah for me  to do that” i.e. intending by these words seeking the supplication in resolving a difficulty; is that type of thing permitted???

The answer is that in reality just such kind of a request was made to the Prophet (s) and this is established by an authentic narration. And it is necessary to give the interpretation to this request with a correct understanding which conforms to the desire of the Divine Law, as it is narrated in a Prophetic sunnah. And in fact the Muslims knows what is permitted and what is not permitted. And in this narration, the companion Rabi`a bin Ka`b al-Aslami says to the Prophet (s) “asa’luk murafaqatik fi’l-jannah, I ask you for your company in Paradise,” as related in Sahih Muslim, chapter “The benefit of prostration and its encouragement” 3/40), 757, and his (seeking) entrance into Paradise (is) by the Hand of Allah the  Exalted, (for) no one has power to do this except He, may He be Exalted.

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