|Ahl as Sunnah vs the "Salafi" Movement - Refutation of This Falsehood|
|Radd al Salafiyya - Refutations|
|Written by Al-Shaykh Jamil Effendi al-Siqdi al-Zahawi|
Refutation of This Falsehood
We do not deny that the admonition belongs to the general sense of the expression and not with a specific cause. However, we say that these verses do not refer to the people whom the Wahhabis claim they embrace since the Muslims who make tawassul (using means) and istighatha (seeking aid) in no way share the state of the unbelievers concerning whom the verses were revealed. Invocation (du`a) comes in a variety of senses which we will soon mention. However, in all these verses it has the sense of worship, and Muslims only worship God the Exalted; none of them ever adopted prophets and awliya as gods, making them partners with God so that the general sense of these verses would apply to them. Muslims do not believe that prophets and awliya are entitled to worship since they have not created anything nor do they have control over harm and benefit. On the contrary, they believe that they are God's servants created by Him. By visiting their graves and imploring God in their name they only intend being blessed by means of their blessing for they are alive, near to God and He has selected and chosen them. Hence, he shows mercy to His servants by means of their blessing and heavenly benediction (baraka).
Further False Comparison of Muslims to Idolaters
The Wahhabis say: the defense of those who practice tawassul is the same apology the idolaters of the Arabs offered as the Qur'an says describing the way the idolaters defended their worship of idols: "We only worship them in order that they may bring us nearer" (39:3). Hence, the idolaters do not believe that the idols create anything. Rather, they believe that the Creator is God, the Exalted, by evidence of the following verse: "If thou ask them, Who created them, they will certainly say, God" (43:87) and: "If indeed thou ask them who is that created the heavens and the earth, they would be sure to say, God" (39:38). God has only judged against them for their disbelief because they say "We only worship them in order that they may bring us nearer." The Wahhabis say: Thus, do people who implore God by prophets and the pious use the phrase of the idolaters: "In order to bring us nearer" in the same sense.
Refutation of That False Comparison
The answer contains several points:
(1) The idolaters of the Arabs make idols gods; while the Muslims only believe in one God. In their view, prophets are prophets: awliya are awliya only. They do not adopt them as gods like the idolaters.
(2) The idolaters believe these gods deserve worship contrary to what Muslims believe. Muslims do not believe that anyone by whom they implore God deserve the least amount of worship. The only one entitled to worship in their view is God alone, May He be Exalted.
(3) The idolaters actually worship these gods as God relates: "We only worship them..." Muslims do not worship prophets and pious persons by the act of imploring God by means of them.
(4) The idolaters intend by their worship of their idols to draw near God just as He relates concerning them. As for the Muslims, they do not intend by imploring God by means of prophets and saints to draw close to God, which is only by worship. For that reason, God said in relating about the idolaters: "... in order that they bring us nearer." However, Muslims only intend blessings (tabarruk) and intercession (shafa`a) by them. Being blessed by a thing is obviously different from drawing near to God by it.
(5) Since the idolaters believe that God is a body in the sky, they mean by "to bring us near" a literal bringing near. What indicates this is its being stressed by their use of the word zulfa -- nearness to power -- inasmuch as emphasizing something by its own same meaning indicates for the most part that what is intended by it is the literal meaning and not the metaphorical. For when we say: "He slew him murderously" (qatalahu qatlan) a literal killing rushes to the understanding, not that of "a hard blow" in counterdistinction to what we mean when we just say: "He slew him"; for that might mean only a hard blow. The Muslims do not believe that God is a body in the sky remote enough from them to see a literal proximity to Him by imploring God through a prophet. The ruling of Shari`a contained in the verse does not apply to them, whereas since the Wahhabis believe that God is a body who sits on his throne, they do not discover a meaning of blessing which the Muslims intend by their imploring God by prophets and awliya, but only that of drawing near which belongs to bodies. For that reason, these verse are applicable to them not to Ahl al-Sunna.
Kinds of shirk
We ought here to explain the various forms of idolatry or association of partners with God or shirk. First, we find the shirk of making-independent, such as affirming two independent gods like the shirk of the Zoroastrians. Secondly, there is the shirk of dividing into parts, that is, making-compound but of a number of gods like the shirk of the Christians. Thirdly, there is the shirk of drawing-near, that is, the worship of something other than God in order to draw near to God in a closer fashion. This is exemplified in the shirk of the Period of Ignorance prior to Islam.
The kind of shirk that Wahhabis made applicable to the Muslim making istighatha and tawassul and upon which Wahhabis built their doctrine of calling Muslims disbelievers belongs to the third category, the shirk of drawing-near which the Jahiliyya professed as its religion.
The state of affairs that delivered the Jahiliyya into its form of idolatry is a type of satanic seduction whereby its worship of God in its idolatrous manner stemmed from extreme human weakness and powerlessness; and a belief that not to draw near to Him by worshipping those nearest to Him, nobler in His sight, and more powerful, like the angels, would constitute bad manners. But when they observed the disappearance of the objects of their worship either constantly or some of the time they fashioned idols to represent them; so that when the objects of worship disappeared from them, they worshipped their images.
If this is firmly understood, then it is clear to the reader that the state of the idolaters of the Jahiliyya does not in any way apply to Muslims imploring God by the means of prophets and the pious. The Arabs of the Jahiliyya adopted idols as gods. "God" means "One who deserves worship." They believed the idols deserved worship. First of all, they believed that they could deliver harm and benefit. Thus, they worshipped them. This belief on their part plus their worship of them is what caused them to fall into idolatry. So when the proof was furnished them that these idols had no power to harm them or benefit them, they said: "We only worship in order that they bring us nearer." How, then, is it possible for the Wahhabis to assimilate the believers who declare that God is One to those idolaters of the Jahiliyya?
There is no doubt that Arab idolaters disbelieved simply because of their worship of statues and representations of prophets, angels, and awliya of which they formed images which they worshipped and to which they did sacrifice. This was due to their belief that prophets, angels, and awliya are gods (aliha) along with The God (allah) and could, on their own, do them benefit and harm. The God therefore furnished proof of the falsity of what they were saying and struck parables to refute their doctrine which He did in many verses. These verses state that the one God who alone is entitled to worship necessarily has power over removing harm and delivering benefit to him who worships Him; and that what they in fact worshipped were objects originating in time and antithetical to Lordship. Persons who seek help and who call upon God by means of prophets are free and innocent of this order of idolatrous worship and belief.
As for the claim that seeking aid (istighatha) is worship of someone other than God, it is high-handed and arbitrary. For the verses which the Wahhabis adduce as proof-texts -- all of them -- were revealed to apply to unbelievers who worship someone other than God. They intended by their worship of that other individual to come closer to Him. Furthermore, they believed that there is another god along with God and that He has a son and a wife -- exalted exceedingly high is He beyond what they say. This is a point of unanimous agreement which no one disputes. There is nothing in the verses revealed concerning the unbelievers that would count as evidence that merely seeking the help of a prophet or saint when accompanied by faith in God is worship of someone other than God Himself.