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Shia answers: What is the meaning of Tawassul to Ahlul-Bayt (AS)?

Tawassul to Ahl al-Bayt

SHAFAQNA- What is the meaning of Tawassul (resorting) to Ahlul-Bayt (AS) and why do Shias believe in this way?

Tawassul (resorting) to someone other than God is to use the Prophets, Imams and righteous people as mediators in the presence of God, in order to reach the position of Proximity of God and achieve wishes.
Tawassul (resorting) in a correct and legitimate way does not mean polytheism and is completely within the framework of monotheism.

This teaching is one of the certain teachings of Islam and is not just a Shia belief; But because the Shias believe that Prophets, Imams and Divine Saints do not disappear with death and they still hear our voice and have permission and power to possess, people resort to them even after their death. Therefore, Tawassul (resorting) is more prominent among Shias than other Islamic schools; But exists in all Islamic groups.

Tawassul to Ahl al-Bayt
Shia answers: What is the meaning of Tawassul (resorting) to Ahl al-Bayt (A.S) and why do Shias believe in this way? ©Shafaqna

Tawassul to Ahlul-Bayt (AS)

One of the essentials of the Islamic religion and one of the pillars of monotheism on which Shias and Sunnis agree, is that the management of the world system is in the hands of God and issues such as creating, providing sustenance, setting night and day, darkness and light, sending down rain, etc. are under God’d control, and God has no partner in the creation and control of the world. At the same time, although God does not need means and mediators, God has decreed that Divine Plan should be carried out through mediators: “God refrains from doing anything without means.”(1)

Based on this, God does some things such as taking the soul, revelation, rain, etc. through Divine Means. These means and mediators are within the framework of God’s providence and plan and will and should not be considered as polytheism.

One of these means is Tawassul (resorting) to the Divine Saints and their formative authority and the power to seize them, which occurs in several forms, some monotheistic (legitimate) and some polytheistic (illegitimate). Monotheistic Tawassul (resorting) is to either mediate the Divine Saints so that God fulfills our prayers, or to appeal to them themselves so that, with God’s permission, they use their powers and fulfill our needs.

Tawassul to other than God Almighty and asking for help from Prophets, Imams and Divine Saints, in a correct and legitimate way, does not mean polytheism; Because in legitimate Tawassul, we do not consider their dignity and power in answering prayers independent of God’s permission and provision; Just as we do not consider the rain falling from the cloud to be independent of God’s will and permission.

Divine Saints are favored by God because of their piety and dignity, and God has made them the cause and mediator of His grace and He arranges the world through them.

Belief in monotheistic Tawassul

Belief in monotheistic Tawassul is accepted by Shias and Sunnis and is emphasized in religious texts.
For example, pay attention to the followings:

1. In the holy Quran, God advises the believers to seek a way to get close to God and says: “O’ believers! Be mindful of Allah (SWT) and seek what brings you closer to Him and struggle in God’s Way, so you may be successful.” (Surah Al-Ma’idah, verse 35)

The precious being that we appeal to is sometimes righteous deeds that bring us closer to the Lord of the world, and sometimes it is a dignified person who enjoys a special position and respect in the presence of God. Also, sometimes it is appeal to people who are alive and sometimes to people who are passed away.

2. Yusuf’s (PBUH) brothers appealed to their father Ya’qub (AS) and said: “O’ our father! Pray for the forgiveness of our sins. We have certainly been sinful.” and Ya’qub replied: “I will pray to my Lord for your forgiveness. God ˹alone˺ is indeed the All-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Surah Yusuf, verses 97 and 98)
As we can see, Hazrat Ya’qub (AS) did not reject the request of his children and did not tell them why you don’t go directly to God and appeal to Him, but he confirmed their Tawassul and promised them that he would ask God for forgiveness for them.

3. It is mentioned in the Hadith that a blind man came to the Prophet (PBUH) and asked him to ask God to heal him. The Prophet (PBUH) taught him a prayer to appeal to the Prophet and ask God for healing through him, and God also granted him healing. It is also mentioned that people used to appeal to the Prophet (PBUH) to pray to God for blessings such as rain, and he did the same.

4. There are also many narrations that Imams used to appeal to the Prophet (PBUH), Imam Ali (AS), Lady Zahra (SA) and other Infallible Imams. There are many such narrations in the Shia and Sunnis sources and it is not possible to mention all of them. We conclude that Tawassul (resorting) to someone other than God is to use the Prophets, Imams and righteous people as mediators in the presence of God, in order to reach the position of Proximity of God and achieve wishes. Tawassul (resorting) in a correct and legitimate way does not mean polytheism and is completely within the framework of monotheism.

This teaching is one of the certain teachings of Islam and is not just a Shia belief; But because the Shias believe that Prophets, Imams and Divine Saints do not disappear with death and they still hear our voice and have permission and power to possess, people resort to them even after their death. Therefore, Tawassul (resorting) is more prominent among Shias than other Islamic schools; But exists in all Islamic groups.

Subscripts:
1. Koleini, Mohammad bin Yaqoob, Al-Kafi, Tehran, Dar Al Kutub Al Islamiyah, 1984 AD, vol. 1, p. 183.

2. Surah Al-Ma’idah (5), verse 35.

3. Surah Yusuf (12), verses 97 and 98.

4. Tirmidhi, Muhammad bin Isa, Al-Jamae al-Saheeh, Cairo, Dar al-Hadith, 1419 AH, vol. 5, p. 388, H. 3578.

5. Bukhari, Muhammad Bin Ismail, Sahih al-Bukhari, Beirut, Dar Ibn Kathir, 1423 AH, Vol. 1, pp. 344-346, H. 968-976.

6. Imam Ali ibn Husayn Zayn al-Abidin (A.S), Al-Sahifa al-Sajjadiyya, Qom, Al-Imam Al-Mahdi (A.J) /Ansariyan Publications, 1411 AH, p. 168.

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