Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Supplicating Allah and …?

Adoration gone Astray Pt. 2

Sam Shamoun

We resume our discussion of Muhammad and worship.

Muhammad becomes an object of worship

Recall that in the first part we saw how both the Quran and Sunna expressly forbid invoking or making du’a to anyone other than Allah, and that Muhammad himself classified du’a as the very heart or essence of worship.

Here is where the problem lies for Muslims. There are so-called authentic prophetic traditions where Muhammad actually instructed his followers to call upon himself, not just to Allah!

According to one such hadith Muhammad taught a blind man how to pray to Allah as well as to himself, an invocation which Muslims continued to make long after the death of their prophet:

Tirmidhi relates, through his chain of narrators from 'Uthman ibn Hunayf, that a blind man came to the Prophet and said, "I've been afflicted in my eyesight, so please pray to Allah for me." The Prophet said: "Go make ablution (wudu), perform two rak'as of prayer, and then say:

"Oh Allah, I ask You and turn to You through my Prophet Muhammad, the Prophet of mercy; O MUHAMMAD (YA MUHAMMAD), I SEEK YOUR INTERCESSION with my Lord for the return of my eyesight [and in another version: "for my need, that it may be fulfilled. O Allah, grant him intercession for me"]."

The Prophet added, "And if there is some need, do the same." (Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri, Reliance of the Traveller: The Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law (Umdat Al-Salik) in Arabic with facing English text, Commentary and Appendices, edited and translated by Nuh Hah Mim Keller [Amana Corporation; Revised edition, July 1, 1997], w40.3, p. 935; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Notice how Muhammad specifically instructed the blind man to address him directly in his prayer. The blind man wasn’t told to simply ask Allah to heal him on behalf of Muhammad or for Muhammad’s sake. Rather, he was also directed to address Muhammad specifically by asking for his intercession.

In case a Muslim tries to explain this away by saying that this took place when Muhammad was still alive, the following is a report of a man who offered up this same exact invocation during the caliphate of Uthman bin Affan:

Moreover, Tabarani, in his "al-Mu'jam al saghir," reports a hadith from ‘Uthman ibn Hunayf that a man repeatedly visited Uthman ibn Affan concerning something he needed, but Uthman paid no attention to him or his need. The man met Ibn Hunayf and complained to him about the matter - this being after the death (wisal) of the Prophet and after the caliphates of Abu Bakr and Umar - so Uthman ibn Hunayf, who was one of the Companions who collected hadiths and was learned in the religion of Allah, said: "Go to the place of ablution and perform ablution (wudu), then come to the mosque, perform two rak'as of prayer therein, and say:

'O Allah, I ask You and turn to You through our Prophet Muhammad, the Prophet of mercy; O MUHAMMAD (YA MUHAMMAD), I TURN THROUGH YOU to my Lord, that He may fulfill my need,' and mention your need. Then come so that I can go with you [to the caliph Uthman]." So the man left and did as he had been told, then went to the door of Uthman ibn Affan, and the doorman came, took him by the hand, brought him to Uthman ibn Affan, and seated him next to him on a cushion. 'Uthman asked, "What do you need?" and the man mentioned what he wanted, and Uthman accomplished it for him, then he said, "I hadn't remembered your need until just now," adding, "Whenever you need something, just mention it." Then, the man departed, met Uthman ibn Hunayf, and said to him, "May Allah reward you! He didn't see to my need or pay any attention to me until you spoke with him." Uthman ibn Hunayf replied, "By Allah, I didn't speak to him, but I have seen a blind man come to the Messenger of Allah and complain to him of the loss of his eyesight. The Prophet said, "Can you not bear it?' and the man replied, 'O Messenger of Allah, I do not have anyone to lead me around, and it is a great hardship for me.' The Prophet told him, 'Go to the place of ablution and perform ablution (wudu), then pray two rak'as of prayer and make the supplications.’” Ibn Hunayf went on, "By Allah, we didn't part company or speak long before the man returned to us as if nothing had ever been wrong with him.” (Ibid., w40.4, pp. 936-937; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Here we have an individual at the time of the caliphate of Uthman ibn Affan who offers up the same prayer that the blind man did, praying and asking Muhammad in the same way that he asks Allah!

Note the similarities in the invocation:

O Allah, I ask You and turn to You through our Prophet Muhammad, the Prophet of mercy,”


O Muhammad, I turn through you to my Lord, that He may fulfill my need.”

Muslims should have no problem acknowledging that the words, “O Allah,” clearly denote that this is an act of worship, that the person is directly praying to his lord. Therefore, the expression “O Muhammad” must also be seen as worship since the individual is praying directly to his prophet and asking him personally to act on his behalf, despite the fact that Muhammad had been dead for quite some time!

Now some Muslims may wish to argue that these are weak hadiths, narrations that are not sound, and therefore cannot be used to prove that Muhammad taught his follower to pray or make du’a to him.

Unfortunately for these Muslims, this argument doesn’t hold weight since both these narratives have been classified as completely sound and reliable by some of Islam’s greatest hadith scholars:

This is an explicit, unequivocal text from a prophetic Companion proving the legal validity of tawassul through the dead. The account has been classified as rigorously authenticated (sahih) by Baihaqi, Mundhiri, and Haythami.


Tirmidhi has stated that the hadith of the blind man is "a hadith that is well or rigorously authenticated but singular, being unknown except through his chain of narrators, from the hadith of Abu Ja'far, who is not Abu Ja'far Khatmi," which means that the narrators of this hadith, despite Abu Ja'far being unknown to Tirmidhi, were acceptable to the degree of being well or rigorously authenticated in either case.

But scholars before Tirmidhi established that Abu Ja'far, this person unknown to Tirmidhi, was Abu Ja'far Khatmi himself. Ibn Abi Khaythama said: "The name of this Abu Ja'far, whom Hammad ibn Salama relates from, is 'Umayr ibn Yazid, and is the Abu Ja'far that Shu'ba relates from," and then he related the hadith by the channel of transmission of 'Uthman from Shu'ba from Abu Ja'far.

Ibn Taymiya, after relating the hadith of Tirmidhi, said: "All scholars say that he is Abu Ja'far Khatmi, and this is correct."

Reflect on this.

The hadith master, Ibn Hajar, notes in Taqrib al-tahdhib that he is Khatmi, and that he is reliable (saduq).

Ibn 'Abd al-Barr likewise says that he is Khatmi, in al-Istii'ab fi ma'rifa al-ashab. Moreover, Baihaqi related the hadith by way of Hakim and confirmed that it was rigorously authenticated (SAHIH), Hakim having related it by a chain of transmission meeting the standards of Bukhari and Muslim, which the hadith master Dhahabi confirmed, and Shawkani cited as evidence. Dhahabi and Shawkani, who are they? The meaning of this is that all the men of the hadith's chain of transmission are known to top Imams of hadith such as Dhahabi (and who is severer than he?), Ibn Hajar (and who is more precise, learned, or painstaking than he?), Hakim, Baihaqi, Tabarani, Ibn 'Abd al-Barr, Shawkani, and even Ibn Taymiya.

This hadith was recorded by Bukhari in his al-Tarikh al-kabir, by Ibn Majah in his Sunan, where he said it was rigorously authenticated (SAHIH), by Nasa'i in Amal al-yawm wa al-layla, by Abu Nu'aym in Ma'rifa al-Sahaba, by Baihaqi in Dala'il al-nubuwwa, by Mundhiri in al-Targhib wa al-tahrib, by Haythami in Majma' al zawa'id wa manba' al-fawa'id, by Tabarani in al-Mu'jam al-kabir, by Ibn Khuzayma in his Sahih, and by others. Nearly 15 hadith masters (huffaz, hadith authorities with more than 100,000 hadiths and their chains of transmission by memory) have explicitly stated that this hadith is rigorously authenticated (SAHIH). As mentioned above, it has come with a chain of transmission meeting the standards of Bukhari and Muslim, so there is nothing left for a critic to attack or slanderer to disparage concerning the authenticity of the hadith. Consequently, as for the permissibility of supplicating Allah (tawassul) through either a living or dead person, it follows by human reason, scholarship, and sentiment, that there is flexibility in the matter. Whoever wants to can either take tawassul or leave it, without causing trouble or making accusations, since it has been this thoroughly checked (Adilla Ahl al-Sunna wa al-Jama'a, 79-83). (Ibid., pp. 937-938)

The author continues his discussion of the authenticity of these two reports:

It is well to review some salient features of the proof that was given, such as:

(1) that there are 2 hadiths, Tirmidhi's hadith of the blind man and Tabarani's hadith of the man in need to whom Uthman ibn Hunayf related the story of the blind man, teaching him the tawassul that the Prophet had taught the blind man.

(2) Tirmidhi's hadith is rigorously authenticated (sahih), being the subject of the above investigation of its chain of narrators, the authenticity of which is established beyond a reasonable doubt and attested to by nearly 15 of the foremost hadith specialists of Islam. The hadith explicitly proves the validity of supplicating Allah (tawassul) through a living intermediary, as the Prophet was alive at the time. The author of the article holds that the hadith implicitly shows the validity of supplicating Allah (tawassul) through a deceased intermediary as well, since:

The Prophet told the blind man to go perform ablution (wudu) pray two rak'as, and then make the supplication containing the words, "O Muhammad, I seek your intercession with my Lord for the return of my eyesight," which is a call upon somebody physically absent, a state of which the living and the dead are alike.

Supplicating Allah (tawassul) through a living or deceased intermediary is, in the author's words, "not tawassul through a physical body, or through a life or death, but rather through the positive meaning attached to the person in both life and death, for the body is but the vehicle that carries that significance.

And perhaps the most telling reason, though the author does not mention it, is that everything the Prophet ordered to be done during his lifetime was legislation valid for all generations until the end of time unless proven otherwise by a subsequent indication from the Prophet himself, the tawassul he taught during his lifetime not requiring anything else to be generalized to any time thereafter.

(3) The authenticity of Tabarani's hadith of the man in need during the caliphate of Uthman is not discussed by the article in detail, but deserves consideration, since the hadith explicitly proves the legal validity of supplicating Allah (tawassul) through the deceased, for 'Uthman ibn Hunayf and indeed all the prophetic Companions, by scholarly consensus (ijma'), were legally upright ('udul), and are above being impugned with teaching someone an act of disobedience, much less idolatry (shirk). The hadith is rigorously authenticated (sahih), as Tabarani explicitly states in his al-Mu'jam al-saghir. The translator, wishing to verify the matter further, to the hadith with its chain of narrators to hadith specialist Sheikh Shu'ayb Arna'ut, who after examining it, agreed that it was rigorously authenticated (sahih) as Tabarani indicated, a judgement which was also confirmed to the translator by the Moroccan hadith specialist Sheikh 'Abdullah Muhammad Ghimari, who characterized the hadith as "very rigorously authenticated," and noted that hadith masters Haythami and Mundhiri had explicitly concurred with Tabarani on its being rigorously authenticated (sahih). The upshot is that the recommendedness of tawassul to Allah Most High - through the living or the dead - is the position of the Shafi'i school, which is why both our author Ibn Naqib Al-Misri, and Imam Nawawi in his Al-Adhkar (281-282), and al-Majmu explicitly record that tawassul through the Prophet and asking his intercession are recommended. A final article below by a Hanafi scholar concludes the discussion. (Ibid., pp. 938-939)

The following scholar further substantiates that these particular narrations have been confirmed as reliable by some of the greatest hadith scholars, including al-Bukhari and Muslim!

  1. Imam Nisaai…,
  2. Imam Tirmidhi…,
  3. Imam ibn Maaja…,
  4. Imam Haakim…,
  5. Imam Baihaqi…,
  6. Imam ibn Hazeema…,
  7. Imam Abul Qasim Tabraani…,
  8. Imam Manzari…,
  9. Imam Muslim…,
  10. Imam Bukhari…

(1) All the above mentioned Scholars of Ahadith, narrate on the authority of Sayyidna Uthman bin Haneef…, that a Sahabi who was blind by birth was taught a special Du’a by the Holy Prophet…, which he was to recite after every Salah. (The Validity of Saying Ya Rasool-Allah (Anwaarul Intibah Fi Hallil Nidaa Ya Rasolallah), written by Shaikhul Islam Ala'hazrat Mujaddid Imam Ahmad Raza, translated by Abdul Hadi Al Qadri, pp. 4-5)

This same source also says that the Muslim scholars all agree that it is perfectly acceptable to call upon Muhammad by name and to speak to him directly in one’s prayers:


What is the ruling of the Ulema of Islam on the following matter:

Zaid, who is a Muslim and believes in Allah Almighty and the Prophethood of his beloved Prophet, recites after every Salaah and at other times, the following verses: As Salaatu Was Salaamu Alaika Ya Rasoolullah – “Peace [sic] and Blessings [sic] upon YOU, O Messenger of Allah.” Or As Alukash Shafaa’atu Ya Rasoolullah – “I seek from YOU Shafaa’at (Intercession), O Messenger of Allah.”

I ask the learned Scholars of Islam:

(1) Are such calls to the Holy Prophet permitted in Islam?

(2) What is the ruling of the Learned Scholars concerning individuals who refer to those who call to the Prophets and Saints as Kafirs and Mushriks?

Please enlighten us on this…


…The utterance of the above words ARE INDEED PERMITTED and no person OTHER THAN THOSE WHO ARE MISLED would argue with it. For reference on this matter, we shall consult the following Jurists of Islam and their books:-

  1. “Shifa-us-Siqaam”, by Imam Taqi’udeen Abul Hasan Subki...,
  2. “Mawaahibbe Ladunnia”, by Imam Ahmad Qastalaani…, being the Sharah (commentary) of Sahih-ul-Bukhari,
  3. “Sharah of the Muwaahibbe Ladunnia”, by Allama Zaarqani…,
  4. “Mutaali-ul-Mussarraat” by Imam Allama Faasi…,
  5. “Sharah of Mishkaat”, by Allama Mulla Ali Qaari…,
  6. “Ashatul Lamaat”, including the books, “Jazbul Quloob” and “Madaarijun Nubuwat”, by Shaikh Muhaqqiq Allama Abdul Haq Muhaddis Dehlwi…,
  7. “Afdalul Qur’a”, which is the “Sharah of Ummul Qur’a” by Imam ibn Hajar Makki…

(The Validity of Saying Ya Rasool-Allah, pp. 3-4; capital and italic emphasis ours)

Hence, if these narrations are deemed weak then this calls into question the reliability of the entire body of hadith literature. After all, if so many hadith scholars could be mistaken regarding the classification of these specific reports then what guarantee can Muslims provide that they were not also in error in respect to the rest of the so-called authentic ahadith?

These are not the only ahadith which refer to Muslims invoking and praying to their prophet after his death:

Abu Nu’aym related to us who said that Sufyan related to us from Abu Ishaq from Abdar Rahman ibn Sa’d, who said: Ibn Umar had numbness in his leg, whereupon a man said to him: “Remember the most beloved of people to you”, so he said: “Ya Muhammad” (Al-Bukhari, al-Adab al-Mufrad, Chapter of What should be Done if Leg becomes Numb, Hadith No. 964: *; *; bold and italic emphasis ours)

Here is another version of this same narration:

437. What a man says when his foot goes to sleep

964. 'Abdu'r-Rahman ibn Sa'd said, "Ibn 'Umar's foot went to sleep and a man said to him, 'Mention the person you love most.' He said, 'Muhammad.'" (Aisha Bewley, Al-Adab Al-Mufrad Al-Bukhari, XD. Gestures; *)

The next authority not only refers to this particular report he also quotes a few others to prove that many of Muhammad’s companions and their followers would call out to him long after his death:

(3) Imam Bukhari… in his “Kitaabul Adaabul Mufrad”, Imam Ibnus Sinni and Imam ibn Bashkool… have recorded that, Sayyiduna Abdullah Ibn Omar… once suffered from a cramp. Someone advised him to remember the person whom he loved the most. The great companion then proclaimed loudly, “Ya Muhammadah.” It is recorded that he was immediately relieved.

(4) Imam Nawawi… in his commentary of the Sahih Muslim, including in his book, “Kitaabul Azkaar”, records that some individuals were sitting in the company of Sayyiduna Abdullah ibn Abbas…, when suddenly one of them suffered from cramps. The great companion advised the man to remember the person whom he loved the most. The man proclaimed, “Ya Muhammadah.” He was immediately cured. There are in fact many Ashbaab who narrate incidents of similar incident.

(5) Substantiating this, Allama Shahaab Khafaaji Misri… states in his “Naseem-ur Riyaaz” a commentary of the “Shifa” by Imam Qaadi Ayaaz…, that it is an established practice of the people of Medina Shareef to proclaim “Ya Muhammadah” in times of difficulty and anxiety.

(6) Sayyiduna Bilal bin Al Haarith Muzani… states: A drought which was known as “Aamur Ramadah” once occurred during the Caliphate of Sayyiduna Umar Al Farouk… His tribe the Bani Muzaina approached him and complained that they were dying of hunger, and thus requested the Caliph to sacrifice a few sheep. When he told them that there was nothing left of the sheep, they still insisted. After the sheep were cut and cleaned they noticed that only red bones were to be seen. Sayyiduna Bilal…, seeing this state of affairs, proclaimed loudly, “Ya Muhammadah,” in grief and concern.

He was then blessed with seeing the Holy Prophet… in his dream, who informed him of future glad tidings which did occur later on. (The Validity of Saying Ya Rasool-Allah, pp. 6-7)

To make matters worse, Muhammad’s followers would even go to his grave and pray to him there!

"Allah is instructing the sinners when they commit a sin to come to the messenger of Allah and ask forgiveness in his presence and then they ask him to request forgiveness. And certainly if they did that, Allah would relent towards them and have mercy on them, and for that reason He said "they would have found Allah Oft-Returning, Merciful."

And Shaykh Mansur as-Sabbagh recollected in his book "The Perfections" (ash-Shama’il) the well-known (famous) transmission from ‘Utbi:

"I was sitting BY THE GRAVE OF THE PROPHET and a Bedouin came and said: ‘Peace be upon YOU O Prophet of Allah. I heard Allah say: "And if they had come to thee when they had wronged their souls, and asked forgiveness of Allah, and if the Messenger had also asked forgiveness for them, they would have surely found Allah Oft-Returning with compassion and Merciful." AND I CAME TO YOU asking forgiveness for my sin, taking YOU as intercessor to my Lord.’

"Then he started reciting verses: ‘O YOU best of those whose bones are buried in al-Qa’a from the sweet scents of those bones the whole area of al-Qa’a and Akamu became perfumed. I sacrifice myself to the grave that you live in – it is purity and in it is incredible generosity.’

"Then the Bedouin departed and sleep overcame me. And I saw the Prophet in my sleep and he said: ‘O ‘Utbi, follow the Bedouin and give him the glad tidings that Allah has forgiven him.’" (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Q. 4:64, *, *, *; bold and capital emphasis ours)


‏Imam al-Bayhaqi relates with a sound (sahih) chain:

It is related from Malik al-Dar, `Umar's treasurer, that the people suffered a drought during the successorship of `Umar, whereupon a man came to the grave of the Prophet and said:

"O Messenger of Allah, ask for rain for your Community, for verily they have but perished," after which the Prophet appeared to him in a dream and told him: "Go to `Umar and give him my greeting, then tell him that they will be watered. Tell him: You must be clever, you must be clever!"

The man went and told `Umar. The latter said: "O my Lord, I spare no effort except in what escapes my power!"" (Hadith Number 3: Narration of Malik Al-Dar, Tuesday, November 01, 2005, *)

The above blogpost mentions that Ibn Kathir cited it this way from al-Bayhaqi in al-Bidaya wa al-nihaya (Volume 7, p. 89) and says: isnaduhu sahih. See the following video to hear the quote being read directly from the Arabic of Ibn Kathir’s book.

He also states that Ibn Abi Shayba quoted it in his Musannaf with a sound (sahih) chain as confirmed by Ibn Hajar who says: rawa Ibn Abi Shayba bi isnadin sahih and cites the hadith in Fath al-bari.

Ibn Hajar identifies Malik al-Dar as `Umar's treasurer (khazin `Umar) and says that the man who visited and saw Muhammad in his dream was said to be Muhammad’s companion Bilal ibn al-Harith. Ibn Hajar counts this hadith as among the reasons why al-Bukhari gave the following name to a chapter in his collection: "The people's request to their leader for rain if they suffer drought." Ibn Hajar also mentions this hadith in al-Isaba fi Tamyiz al-Sahaba, where he says that Ibn Abi Khaythama cited it.

After providing the Arabic texts of the various scholars that cited this hadith the blogger then concludes with these comments:

Sidi Abul Hasan goes on to comment:
"Note: All of these Imams narrated it and not one of them weakened it let alone said it leads to Shirk as some of the innovators of this age claimed!

In fact Imam ibn Hajar and Imam ibn Kathir explicitly declared its Isnad to be Sahih. Ibn Kathir in his recently published: Jami al-Masanid (1/223) - Musnad Umar - declared it as: "Isnaduhu Jayyid Qawi: ITS CHAIN OF TRANSMISSION IS GOOD AND STRONG!"
Let the pseudo-Salafiyya take note - that this is the ruling of ibn Kathir in 2 places, and he was associated with Ibn Taymiyya."

That’s not at all. Muhammad made it mandatory for his followers to address him directly during every one of their five daily prayers!

Narrated Shaqiq bin Salama:
'Abdullah said, "Whenever we prayed behind the Prophet we used to recite (in sitting) 'Peace be on Gabriel, Michael, peace be on so and so. Once Allah's Apostle looked back at us and said, 'Allah Himself is As-Salam (Peace), and if anyone of you prays then he should say, At-Tahiyatu lil-lahi wassalawatu wat-taiyibatu. As-Salamu 'ALAIKA aiyuha-n-Nabiyu wa rahmatu-l-lahi wa barakatuhu. As-Salam alaina wa ala ibadil-lah is-salihin. (All the compliments, prayers and good things are due to Allah: peace be on YOU, O Prophet and Allah's mercy and blessings be on you. Peace be on us and on the true pious slaves of Allah). (If you say that, it will be for all the slaves in the heaven and the earth). Ash-hadu an la-ilaha illa-l-lahu wa ash-hadu anna Muhammadan 'abduhu wa Rasuluhu. (I testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and I also testify that Muhammad is His slave and His Apostle)." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 12, Number 794)


Yahya related to me from Malik from Ibn Shihab from Urwa ibn az-Zubayr from Abd ar-Rahman ibn Abd al-Qari that he heard Umar ibn al-Khattab say, while he was teaching people the tashahhud from the mimbar, "Say, Greetings belong to Allah. Pure actions belong to Allah. Good words and prayers belong to Allah. Peace on YOU, Prophet, and the mercy of Allah and His blessings. Peace be upon us and on the slaves of Allah who are salihun. I testify that there is no god except Allah. And I testify that Muhammad is His slave and His messenger."

'At-tahiyatu lillah, az-zakiyatu lillah, at-tayibatu wa's-salawatu lillah. As-salamu ALAYKA ayyuha'nnabiyyu wa rahmatu'llahi wa barakatuhu. As-salamu alayna wa ala ibadi'llahi s-salihin. Ash-hadu an la ilaha illa 'llah wa ash-hadu anna Muhammadan abduhu wa rasuluh." (Malik’s Muwatta, Book 3, Number 3.14.56)

Notice that Muhammad didn’t teach them to pray, “Peace upon the Prophet,” which would be an invocation to Allah to grant his messenger peace, mercy and blessings. Rather, he expressly commanded them to address him directly in their daily acts of worship. Muhammad is therefore personally responsible for making himself an integral part of Islamic worship, commanding Muslims to address him directly in their daily prayers which is one the very pillars of Islam!

This also means that Muhammad is at fault for instructing his followers to pray to the dead since a part of their daily worship is dedicated to speaking to a man who has been dead for over fourteen centuries!

We come to the conclusion of Part 2. Please continue to Part 3.