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

6. Ibn Kathir in his history, al-Bidaya wal- Nihaya [7:91, Year 18] narrates that `Umar (ra) sought help and relief from drought and famine in Madina by writing to `Amr ibn al-As and Abu Musa al-Ash`ari in Egypt and Basra respectively, each with the words, “Yaa ghawthaah li Ummati Muhammad! = Help! Help! for the Community of Muhammad!” If this is not istighaatha and isti`aana then there is no istighaatha and isti`aana.

Al-Zahawi said in al-Fajr al-Sadiq:

<<Al-Subki, al-Qastallani in al-Mawahib al-laduniyya, al- Samhudi in Tarikh al-Madina, and al-Haythami in al-Jawhar al- munazzam said that seeking help with the Prophet and other prophets and pious persons, is only a means of imploring Allah for the sake of their dignity and honor (bi jahihim). The one doing the asking seeks from the One asked that He assign him aid (ghawth) on behalf of the one higher than him. For the one being asked in reality is Allah. The Prophet is but the intermediary means (wasita) between the one asking for help and the One asked in reality. Hence, the help is strictly from Him in its creation (khalqan) and being (ijadan), while the help from the Prophet is strictly in respect to secondary causation (tasabbuban) and acquisition from Allah (kasban)…..

<<As for the invocations of common Muslim people in Arabic like: “O `Abd al-Qadir Gilani look at me (Ya `Abd al-Qadir adrikni)!” and “O Ahmad al-Badawi give us support (Ya Badawi madad)!” they belong to the figurative language of the mind just as the application of someone who would say to his food: “Satisfy me!” or to his water: “Quench my thirst!” or to his medicine: “Heal me!”  The food does not satisfy, nor does the water quench the thirst, nor the medicine heal.  But the One who is the real Satisfier of our hunger, the Quencher of our thirst and the Healer of our ills is Allah 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.>>

Shaykh Khayr al-Din Ramli in his Fatawa Khayriyya (p. 180-181) was asked about “those who say: O Shaykh `Abd al-Qadir! O Shaykh Ahmad! O Rifa`i! [Give us] something for the sake of Allah (shay’un lillah) O `Abd al-Qadir! and such, at which time they become greatly entranced and experience states that make them jump up and down etc. He answered – Allah have mercy on him: ‘Know first of all that among the famous rules that are firmly put to use in the books of the Imams is the rule that matters are judged according to their ends… as taken from the hadith of the Two Shaykhs al-Bukhari and Muslim: Actions are only according to intentions…. and none denies the reality of the Sufis except every ignorant, foolish soul.’”

And Allah knows best.

See also the relevant pages at http://www.sunnah.org/publication/encyclopedia/html/tawassul.htm

An Incident of Istighatha During the Lifetime of the Prophet (s)

It is related that:

One night, the Prophet of Allah – may Allah bless him and grant him peace – was in his house and was heard to proclaim ‘I am here!’ (labayk!) three times and ‘You have been granted help’ also three times (nusirta!). Umm al- Mu’minin, Maymunah – may Allah be well pleased with her – asked the Prophet – may Allah bless him and grant him peace – whom he had been talking to since there was no one present. He – may Allah bless him and grant him peace – replied, ‘I was talking to a person called Rajiz from the tribe of Bani Ka`ab. He asked for help from me against the Quraysh.’ Umm al- Mu’minin, Maymunah – may Allah be well pleased with her – said that when she finished Fajr prayer the next morning, she heard Rajiz calling out in the streets of Madina: “Ya Rasul Allah! Help us and call the servants of Allah to help us.”[1]

Additional Relevant Narrations

By Raffiq Ahmed

1. Al-Bukhari’s narration of the Prophet – Allah bless and greet him – from `Abdullâh Ibn `Umar – Allah be well-pleased with him -:

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