Abu Hanifa & Tawassul

Abu Hanifa & Tawassul

by Shaykh Gibril Haddad

Imam Abu Hanifa: His Supposed Objection to Tawassul (Using Intermediaries)

Imàm Abu Hanïfa nowhere objected to tawassul but only – as narrated from Abu Yosuf in Kitàb al-Àthàr–to the use of a specific wording in supplication, namely, “by the right You owe to So-and-so” (bi-haqqi fulàni ‘alayk), or “by the joints of power and glory in Your Throne” (bima ‘àqidal-‘izzmin‘arshik).[1] The reason for this is that, on the one hand, Allàh owes no-one any right whatso­ever except what He Himself conde­scends to state on His part as in the verse [To help believers is incumbent upon Us (haqqun ‘alaynà)](30:47). On the other hand, “by the right owed so-and-so” is an oath and is therefore a formula restricted to Allàh Himself on pains of shirk. Imàm Abu Hanïfa said: “Let one not swear any oath except by Allàh alone, with a pure affirmation of tawhïd and sincerity.”[2] A third reason is that the expression “the joints of power and glory in Your Throne” is a lone-narrator (àhàd) report and is therefore not retained nor put into practice, in accordance with the rule for any such reports that might suggest anthropomorphism.

Those that claim[3] that the Imàm objected to tawassul altogether are unable to adduce any­thing to sup­port such a claim other than the above caveat, which is not against tawassul but against a specific, prohibitive wor­ding in tawassul. A proof of this is that it is permissi­ble in the Hanafï School to say “by the sanctity/honor of so-and-so in Your presence” (bi-hurmati/bi-jàhi fulàn). This is stated in the Fatàwà Bazzàziyya (6:351 in the margin of the Fatàwà Hindiyya) and is also the position of Abþ al-Layth al-Samarqandï among the major Hanafï Jurists, not to mention that of Imàm Ibn ‘Àbidïn among the later ones. 

Even so there is authentic evidence in[1]the hadïth of Fàtima bint Asad, [2] the hadïth of “the right of those who ask You,”[3] the hadïth: “O Allàh, I ask you by the joints of power in the Throne,” and [4] the hadïth: “Do you know the right owed to Allàh by His slaves and the right owed by Allàh to his slaves?”[4] to support the permissibility of such a wording. If the above objection is authentically reported from Abu Hanïfa then either he did not deem these hadïths authentic by his standards, or they did not reach him. An illustration of this is that Abu Yusuf permitted the formula “By the joints of power…”. [5] Further, the oppo­site is also reported from him, namely, that he per­mitted tawassul using those very expressions. Ibn ‘Àbidïn said: “In the Tatàrkhàniyya: The Àthàr also report what shows permissibility.” Then he cites–from al-Qàrï’s Sharh al-Niqàya, al-Munàwï quoting Ibn ‘Abd al-Salàm (cf. the very first of his Fatàwà in the printed Risàla edition), and al-Subkï – fur­ther explanations that it is permitted, then he cites the fatwa by Ibn Amïr al-Hajj in the thir­teenth chapter of Sharh al-Munya that such permissibility is not limited to tawassul through the Prophet e. i.e. it extends to the Sàlihïn.



[1] Cf. al-Zabïdï, It hàf (2:285) and Ibn Abï al-‘Izz, Sharhal-‘Aqïda al-Tahàwiyya (1988 9th ed. p. 237).

[2]Cf. al-Kasànï, Badà’i‘ al-Sanà’i‘ (3:8).

[3]Cf. Ibn Taymiyya, Majmþ‘ al-Fatàwà (1:202-203) and his imitators.

[4]The first hadïth is narrated from Anas by al-Tabarànï in al-Kabïr (24:351) and al-Awsat. (1:152) and Abu Nu‘aym in his Hilya (1985 ed. 3:121) with a chain contain­ing Rawh ibn Salàh concerning whom there is difference of opinion among the authorities. He is unknown according to Ibn al-Jawzï in al-‘Ilal al-Mutanàhiya (1:260-270), Ibn ‘Adï in al-Kàmil (3:146 #667), and al-Dàraqutnï in al-Mu’talif wal-Mukhtalif (3:1377); Ibn Màkþlà in al-Ikmàl (5:15) declared him weak while al-Hàkim asserted was trustwor­thy and highly dependable (thiqa ma’mun) – as men­tioned by Ibn Hajar in Lisàn al-Mïzàn (2:465 #1876), Ibn Hibbàn in­cluded him in al-Thiqàt (8:244), and al-Fasawï considered him trustworthy (cf. Mamdoh, Raf‘ [p. 148]). Al-Haythamï (9:257) said: “Al-Tabarànï narrated it in al-Kabïr and al-Awsat and its chain contains Rawh ibn Salàh whom Ibn Hibbàn and al-Hàkim declared trustworthy although there is some weakness in him, and the rest of its sub-narrators are the men of sound hadïth.” I was unable to find Abu Hàtim’s declaration of Rawh as trustworthy re­ported by Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Alawï in his Mafàhïm (10th ed. p. 145 n. 1). Nor does Shaykh Mahmod Mamdohin his discussion of this hadïth in Raf‘ al-Minàra (p. 147-155) mention such a grading on the part of Abu Hàtim although he con­sid­ers Rawh “truthful” (sadaq) and not “weak” (da‘ïf), according to the rules of hadïth science when no reason is given with regard to a nar­rator’s purported discreditation (jarhmubham ghayr mufassar). Mamdoh(p. 149-150) noted that al­though Albànï in his Silsila Da‘ïfa (1:32-33) claims it is a case of explicated discreditation (jarh mufassar) yet he himself de­clares identi­cally-formulated dis­creditation cases as unexplicated and therefore unaccept­able in two dif­ferent contexts! Ibn ‘Alawï adds that the hadïth is also narrated from Ibn ‘Abbàs by Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr – without specifying where – and from Jàbir by Ibn Abï Shayba, but without the du‘à. Imàm al-Kawtharï said of this hadïth in his Maqàlàt (p. 410): “It provides textual evidence whereby there is no difference between the living and the dead in the context of using a means (tawassul), and this is explicit tawassul through the Proph­ets, while the hadïth of the Prophet from Abu Sa‘ïd al-Khudrï ‘O Allàh, I ask You by the right of [the promise made to] those who ask You (bihaqqi al-sà’ilïna ‘alayk)’* constitutes tawassul through the generality of Muslims, both the living and the dead.”

*A hasan hadïth of the Prophet according to Shaykh Mahmod Mamdoh who showed in his mono­graph Mubàhathat al-Sà’irïn bi Hadïth Allàhumma Innï As’aluka bi-Haqqi al-Sà’ilïn, narrated from Abu Sa‘ïd al-Khudrï by Ahmad in his Musnad with a fair chain according to Hamza al-Zayn (10:68 #11099) – a weak chain according to al-Arna’þt(17:247-248 #11156) who considers it, like Abu Hàtim in al-‘Ilal (2:184), more like­ly a mawquf saying of Abu Sa‘ïd himself; Ibn Màjah with a chain he declared weak, Ibn al-Sunni in ‘Amal al-Yawm wa al-Layla (p. 40 #83-84), al-Bayhaqï in al-Da‘awàt al-Kabïr (p. 47= 1:47 #65), Ibn Khuzayma in al-Tawhïd (p. 17-18) [and his Sahïh (2:458?) as indicated by al-Busïrï in his Zawà’id (1:98-99)], al-Tabarànï in al-Du‘a (p. 149=2:990), Ibn Ja‘d in his Musnad (p. 299), al-Baghawï in al-Ja‘diyyat (#2118-2119) and – mawquf – by Ibn Abï Shayba (6:25=10:211-212) and Ibn Abï Hàtim in ‘Ilal al-Hadïth (2:184). Al-‘Iràqï in Takhrïj Ahàdïth al- Ihyà’ (1:291) graded it hasan as a marfu‘ Prophetic hadïth, as did the hadïth Masters al-Dimyàtï in al-Muttajir al-Ràbihfï Thawàb al-‘Amal al-Sàlih (p. 471-472), Ibn Hajar in Amàlï al-Adhkàr (1:272) and al-Mundhirï’s shaykh the hadïth Master Abu al-Hasan al-Maqdisï in al-Targhïb (1994 ed. 2:367 #2422=1997 ed. 2:304-305) and as indicated by Ibn Qudàma in al-Mughnï (1985 Dàr al-Fikr ed. 1:271). Shaykh Mamdohin his monograph refuted the reasoning of Nàsir Albànï and Hammàd al-Ansàrï in declaring this hadïth weak. The third hadïth is narrated from [1] the Companion Qayla bint Makhrama by al-Tabarànï in al-Kabïr (25:12) with a fair chain according to al-Haythamï (10:124-125); [2] Ibn Mas‘ud by al-Bayhaqï in al-Da‘awàt al-Kabïr (2:157 #392) – Ibn al-Jawzï in al-Mawdu‘àt (2:142) claimed that it was forged as cited by al-Zayla‘ï in Nasb al-Ràya (4:272-273) but this ruling was rejected by al-Suyutï in al-La’àli’ (2:68); [3] maqtþ‘ from Wuhayb by Abu Nu‘aym in the Hilya (1985 ed. 8:158-159); [4] Abþ Hurayra by Ibn ‘Asàkir with a very weak chain cf. Ibn ‘Arràq, Tanzïh al-Sharï‘a (1:228); and [5] Abþ Bakr in al-Tadwïn and al-Firdaws. The fourth is narrated from Mu‘àdh in the Six Books and Ahmad except for al-Nasà’ï.

[5]Cf. al-Kàsànï, Badà’i‘ al-Sanà’i‘ (5:126).

[6]Ibn ‘Àbidïn, Hàshiya (6:396-397).