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Friday, November 16, 2012

Third objection: To attain nearness to Allah, tawassul (توسل) is invalid as worship of anyone except Allah is invalid

Third objection: To attain nearness to Allah, tawassul (توسل) is invalid as worship of anyone except Allah is invalid

One objection against tawassul (توسل) is based on the following reasoning:
The non-believers used to say, while worshipping the idols, that they worshipped them to attain nearness to Allah. Just as worshipping idols in order to be close to Allah is an invalid act, similarly if someone relies on an intermediary to be near to Him, it will also be regarded as invalid. In support of their argument, they offer the following Qur’anic verse:
We worship them merely because they may bring us near to Allah.[10]
This holy verse makes it clear that the non-believers worshipped the idols to attain nearness to Allah; they did not treat them as the creator. It only served as a means of accessibility to Allah but Allah rejected this form of intermediation.

Reply: Worship of non-Allah cannot be proved by the argument for intermediation

The fact is that the Qur’anic verse neither denies nor rejects intermediation. This kind of reasoning against the validity of intermediation is based on sheer ignorance and prejudice. This Qur’anic verse is specifically revealed to reject the worship of anyone except Allah, and no form of reasoning can convert the illegal nature of such an act into a legal injunction. The non-believers worshipped the idols but Islam declared it illegal and equated it with disbelief. When Islam condemned their worship of idols as forbidden, they argued in favour of the sanity of their traditional practice. Instead of accepting their worship of idols as an illegal act as declared by Islam, they started looking for lame justifications, i.e. they did not worship the idols as the creator but they worshipped them to acquire nearness to Allah. They used the idols only as a form of intermediation and their target was only to come close to Allah.
The Qur’anic verse rejects this argument. Even if someone worships non-Allah as a means to come closer to Allah, it is treated by Islam as a kind of disbelief and a forbidden act and no argument can make it valid.
Now the question arises why did the non-believers rely on mediation to legalize their illegal acts? It is an established fact that the one, who is arguing, is arguing on the basis of the beliefs and convictions of his addressee. In his discussion he brings forward an argument which is not only acceptable to his opponent but is also a part of his belief. Relying on this argument, he tries to argue with him so that he may accept the legality of his act on the basis of his argument. On the contrary, if he knows that idol worship is a form of disbelief for the addressee and he has a similar attitude towards all forms of intermediation, in that case, the non-believer would never have relied on idolatry and intermediation as justifications for their idolatrous practice. Therefore, for the non-believers to argue for the legality of their illegal acts on the basis of intermediation is an ugly attempt to legalize the forbidden act of idol worship. They were well aware of the fact that the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) and the Companions regarded it as valid practice. If they had known that Islam treated intermediation as an invalid act, they would never have argued with the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) and the Companions on its basis to justify their idolatry. Thus the very fact of their reliance on intermediation for the vindication of their idol worship clearly proves that intermediation is a legal act in Islam.
But Allah rejected their argument. Even though the form of intermediation practised by them was popular and valid, it could not transform disbelief into a legal act as all forms of disbelief are strictly forbidden. Thus even an argument based on the noble concept of intermediation cannot purify idolatry from the virus of disbelief. Thus disbelief is disbelief, and even if it takes a billion somersaults, and changes colours like a chameleon, it will remain disbelief. Allah refused to accept the argument in its favour. As the holy Qur'an states:
Surely Allah does not forgive that a partner be associated with Him but a smaller (sin whatever it is,) He forgives for whomsoever He pleases.[11]
He forgives every sin except the sin of associating partners with Him. The commission of this kind of sin is an act, which is unacceptable and unpardonable under all circumstances. Thus the gist of the holy verse is that Allah rejects disbelief, no matter what robes it is dressed in or what language it is phrased in; He does not reject intermediation because it is an absolutely valid act in Islam.

First similitude

Suppose a son is giving shoe beating to his mother. The father catches hold of him and asks him why is he beating up his mother. The son says he would never have done it, as he knows it is an uncivilized act, but he has done it because she was hurling filthy abuses at him. His argument is based on the psychology of his father. He knows that his father is allergic to filthy abuses, and he thought that an argument based on filthy abuses would cool down his father’s boiling anger and he would say to him, “Well, son, you have done the right thing. A person who pours out filthy abuses at others must be given such lesson.” But, instead, he gave him a few slaps and said to him, “There is no doubt that hurling abuses is bad, but after all, she is your mother and you have no right to beat her.” Thus his argument based on abuse was rejected. But the rejection of the argument does not imply that throwing abuses at others is a valid act. It does not justify the act of shoe beating. Similarly, the argument based on its defence is also discarded.
In the same way when the non-believers and infidels were asked, “Why do you worship the idols?” They replied, “We worship them as a form of intermediation, we do not regard them as the creator or as worthy of worship in themselves.” But their argument that justified the worship of non-Allah as a form of intermediation was refuted. Thus their argument in favour of intermediation cannot justify their idol worship.

Second similitude

An impure object cannot be made pure by giving an argument based on a pure object, nor can a forbidden act be legalized by simply fabricating an argument for its justification. Suppose someone says that he drinks. When someone asks him why does he drink and he replies that he drinks to dilute his grief. He can be told that there are countless ways to relieve one’s grief or the intensity of one’s sorrow. Drinking, which is a forbidden act, is not the only way; for example, he may stroll in a garden, do some exercise, inhale the cool morning breeze, remember Allah, concentrate on prayer, in short, he has a wide range of valid choices on hand to find solace for his grief.
Now as far as the argument of finding relief for one’s grief is concerned, it is quite valid but how can it validate the act of drinking? One finds it difficult to swallow the inference. The argument does not mellow the evil act of drinking, the argument based on relief cannot legalize it. Similarly, the argument of the non-believers was fallacious to justify their idolatry. Since idolatry is essentially an un-Islamic act, it could not be justified by any means, not even by an argument grounded in intermediation, which is otherwise an Islamic act.
As far as soliciting nearness to Allah is concerned, there are numerous valid means to achieve it. Idol worship is not a valid means. It is forbidden, as it is a form of disbelief. Therefore, only valid means must be employed to attain the nearness and pleasure of Allah. Idolatry is not a means of His nearness; it is rather the cause of His punishment.

[10]. Qur’an (az-Zumar) 39:3.
[11]. Qur’an (an-Nisā’) 4:48.