Asking “Ya Shaykh Madad!” – Istighatha/Isti`ana

Al-Madad = “Help!”

This Madad was asked by Musa (AS) from his countryman with the word istaghaathahe asked for help” (28:15) and by Dhul-Qarnayan using the term “help me” in Surat al-Kahf (a`eenuni) (18:95) which is the same root as “we turn for help” (nasta`een) in the Fatiha.

Following are proofs from the Sunna for calling out to an invisible helper in a situation of need:

1. Al-Bukhari narrates in his Sahih that our mother Hajar, when she was running in search of water between Safa and Marwa, heard a voice and called out: “O you whose voice you have made me hear! If there is aghawth (help/helper) with you (then help me)!” and an angel appeared at the spot of the spring of Zamzam.

2. Abu Ya`la, Ibn al-Sunni, and al-Tabarani in al-Mu`jam al-Kabir narrated that the Prophet (saws) said: “If one of you loses something or seeks help or a helper (ghawth), and he is in a land where there is no one to befriend, let him say: “O servants of Allah, help me! (ya `ibad Allah, aghithuni), for verily Allah has servants whom one does not see.”  Al-Haythami said in Majma` al-Zawa’id (10:132): “The men in its chain of transmission have been declared reliable despite weakness in one of them.”

Another wording:

3. Al-Bayhaqi narrates on the authority of Ibn `Abbas in “Kitab al-Aadaab” (p. 436) and with a second chain mawquf from Ibn `Abbas in “Shu`ab al-Iman” (1:445-446=1:183 #167; 6:128 #7697) and a third from Ibn Mas`ud in “Hayat al-Anbiya’ ba`da Wafatihim” p. 44: “Allah has angels on the earth – other than the [two] record-keepers – who keep a record [even] of the leaves that fall on the ground. Therefore, if one of you is crippled in a deserted land where no-one is in sight, let him cry out: a’înû ‘ibâd Allâh rahimakum Allâh, ‘Help, O servants of Allah, may Allah have mercy on you!’  Verily he shall be helped, if God wills.”  Ibn Hajar said its chain is fair (isnaduhu hasan) in “al-amali“.

Narrated by al-Tabarani in al-Kabir with a fair chain (according to Ibn Hajar in al-Amali) of sound narrators according to al-Haythami (10:132), al-Bazzar (#3128) – as cited by al-Shawkani in Tuhfa al-Dhakirin (p. 219=p. 155-156) -, and Ibn Abi Shayba (7:103).

4. Ibn Abi Shayba relates in his “Musannaf” (7:103) from Aban ibn Salih that the Prophet (saws) 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! (yâ ‘ibâd Allâh a’înûnî), for verily he will be helped.”

Al-Zahawi said in al-Fajr al-Sadiq, a book he wrote in refutation of Wahhabism:

<<It is not said that all that is meant by the “servants of Allah” in the hadiths cited above are only angels, or Muslims among the jinn, or men of the realm of the invisible: for all of these are living. Hence, the hadith 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 hadith 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 hadith 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.>>

Al-Shawkani also allows the calling on someone invisible:

In the hadith (of a`inu) there is evidence that it is permissible to ask help from those one does not see among the servants of God, 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. Tuhfat al-Dhakirin p. 155-156.

5. Ahmad relates in his Musnad (4:217) that at the time of the greatest fitna of the Dajjal, when the Muslims will be at their weakest point, and just before `Isa ibn Maryam descends at the time of salat al-fajr, people will hear a caller calling out three times: “O people, al-ghawth (the helper) has come to you!”

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