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Sunday, November 18, 2012

A Response Regarding the Tawassul of Umar With Al-'Abbas

 The opponents of Tawassul with the Nabi, i.e. the Wahhabis/Taymiyyites, consistently rely upon the famous narration of Imam Umar ibn Al Khattab (radhiya Allahu ‘Anhu) using Al-’Abbas (radhiya Allahu Anhu) as an intermediary. The following is the reply of two scholars of Fes, Shaykhs Abdul-Hayy Al Amrawi and Abdul Karim Murad in their translated work, “Sufis and Sufism: A Defence”, translated by Sayyidah Aisha Bewley. You will see that the anti-tawassul usage of this athar is not proof for forbiddance of tawassul with the Prophet Muhammad at all.

    “The fourth is that they said that Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, performed the Rain Prayer in the Year of the Drought and said, “Oh Allah, we sought mediation with you through your Prophet and you gave us rain. We seek mediation with you by the unlce of our Prophet, so give us rain. Make supplication, ‘Abbas!” Al-’Abbas made supplication and Allah gave them rain. This is evidence that the hadith is particular to the state of life and that seeking mediation by the Prophet, pbuh, after his death is not permitted. Ibn Taymiyya deduces a lot by virtue of this tradition of ‘Umar in his books and repeats it time after time, but this does not tell u s anything because what ‘Umar did is desired in the rain prayer because the Sunna is that the Imam and the people go out to the place of prayer outside the town, pray the rain prayer and then the Imam gives a khutba and makes supplication himself as the Prophet, pbuh, did or he commands someone to make supplication as ‘Umar did with Al-’Abbas, and Mu’awiya with Yazid ibn Al-Aswad.Then it is asked, “Why did ‘Umar not seek mediation by the Prophet, pbuh, in the place of prayer? He turned from that and instead sought mediation by Al-’Abbas.” The answer to that has various aspects.One is that ‘Umar did not know the hadith of the mediation of the blind man. If it had reached him, he would have sought mediation by what it indicated. A lot of the Sunnah was not known by ‘Umar and other great companions, while it was known by the younger ones, like Ibn ‘Abbas, Abu Sa’id Al-Khudri and Abu Hurayrah. ‘Umar excused himself for not knowing some of the Sunnah when he said, “Dealing in the markets distracted me,” i.e. he was busy with trading. That was also true of Abu Bakr: he did not know some of the Sunnah and found it with Al-Mughira ibn Shu’bah.
    The second is that seeking mediation by the Prophet, pbuh, is not mandatory, and it is permitted not to do that and to turn to someone else instead.
    The third is that Allah Almighty says, “He who responds to the oppressed when they call to Him and removes their distress.” (27:62) There is no doubt that since Al-Abbas was among those who were in need, seeking mediation through him was more suitable and fitting.
    The fourth is that by seeking mediation with Al-Abbas, Umar wanted to imitate the Prophet, pbuh, and his family by honouring Al-Abbas and showing respect for him. This is reported clearly from Umar. Az-Zubayr ibn Bakkar related in Al-Ansaab from Da’ud from Ata’ from Zayd ibn Aslam from Ibn Umar who said, “Umar ibn Al Khattab performed the Rain prayer in the Year of the Drought with Al-’Abbas ibn Abdul Muttalib, and Umar addressed people and said, ‘The Messenger of Allah, pbuh, and his family used to think of Al-’Abbas as a child thinks of a father, so, people, follow the Messenger of Allah, pbuh, and take him as a means to Allah.’”
    He said, “Allah have them rain before they left the place.” Al-Baladhuri related it by means of Hisham ibn Sa’d from Zayd ibn Aslam from his father.
    The fifth is that ‘Umar wanted to do it to make it clear that it was permissible to seek mediation through other than the Prophet, pbuh, among the people of righteousness and good who baraka is hoped for. This is why we read in Fath-ul-Bari, afte rthe story of ‘Umar seeking mediation through Al-Abbas: “We can deduce from the story of Al-Abbas that it is recommended to seek the intercession of the people of righteousness and good, and the people of the House of the Prophet.”
    The sixth is that Umar seeking mediation by Al-’Abbas is, in reality, seeking mediation by the Prophet, pbuh, because it is seeking mediation by Al-’Abbas since he is the uncle of the Prophet, pbuh, and by his position in relation to him, as is expressed clearly in the words of Umar and Al-’Abbas. Then there are the words of Umar in Al-Bukhar in which Anas related that Umar said, “Oh Allah, we sought mediation with you by our Prophet, so give us rain. We seek mediation with you by the uncle of our Prophet, so give us rain.” He said, “They received rain.” This is the version of Al-Bukhari. His words, “We seek mediation with you by the uncle of our Prophet,” are explicit in what we said.
    Clearer than that is what Ibn Abdul Barr mentioned in Al-Isti’ab when he said, “Ibn ‘Abbas and Anas reported that while the people of Medinah were suffering from a drought, Umar ibn Al Khattab, pbuh, prayed for rain through Al-’Abbas. The reason for that was the earth became very parched in the time of the Drought in the rule of Umar, in 17 A.H. Ka’b said, ‘Amir Al-Mu’minin!, when the tribe of Israel were afflicted by the like of this, they asked for rain by the Prophets.’ Umar said, ‘This is the uncle of the Messenger of Allah, pbuh, and the brother of his father and master of Banu Hashim.’ ‘Umar wnet to him and compained to him of the drought the people were suffering. Then he mounted the minbar and with Al-’Abbas and said, ‘O Allah, we turn to You by the uncle of our Prophet and the brother of his father, so give us abundant rain and so not make us those suffering from drought.’ Then ‘Umar said, ‘Rise, Abul-Fadl, and make supplication.’”
    He also said, “We related by various paths of transmission that Umar went out to perform the rain prayer, and Al-’Abbas wen out with him. He said, ‘Oh Allah!, we seek nearness to You by the uncle of your prophet, pbuh, and we seek intercession by him, so preserve him for your Prophet, as you preserved the two lads by the righteousness of their father.” He mentioned the rest of the report. In another, “By Allah, they did not leave until they clung to the walls, seeking shelter, and the people went to ‘Abbas, saying, ‘Congratulations to the water of the Haramayn!’
    [...] What we presented are clear texts that Umar sought mediation by Al-Abbas by his position with the Prophet, pbuh, and kinship with him. It is actually seeking mediation by the Messenger. ‘Umar did not intend to borbid seeking mediation by the Prophet, may peace and blessings be upon him.” [End quote from the book pages 175-179]
These six points are sufficient in responding to the anti-tawassul movement. And Allah and His Messenger know best!