Contents > Chapter 7: Waseelah > The Correct Understanding of Waseelah

The Correct Understanding of Waseelah:

“Seek the means of approach (al-Waseelah) to Him (Allah).”[1]


Meaning of al-Waseelah

Waseelah is nearness and the means by which one approaches and draws near to something. In the Islamic context, Waseelah refers to the means by which once can achieve nearness with Allah.


Another meaning of al-Waseelah is a rank and standing with Allah, as is the Hadeeth. The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: “When you hear the caller to prayer then say the like of what he says, then send blessings upon me… Then ask Allah to grant me al-Waseelah because it is a station in Paradise, which is appropriate only for a single servant from the servants of Allah, and I hope that it will be me.”[2]


The Meaning of al-Waseelah as explained in the Qur’aan

The definition of Waseelah, “it is the means by which one achieves nearness to Allah”, has its basis in the Qur’aan. “Those whom you call upon desire (for themselves) means of access (al-Waseelah) to their Lord (Allah), as to which of them should be nearest and they hope for His Mercy and fear His Torment. Verily, the Torment of your Lord is something to be afraid of!”[3]


Abdullah Ibn Mas’oud (radhi allahu anhu) said: “This verse was revealed concerning a group of Arabs, who worshiped a group of Jinn. The Jinn accepted Islam which was unknown to those people who worshiped them.”[4] Al-Hafidh Ibn Hajr (rahimahullah) said: “The people who used to worship the Jinn continued to worship the Jinn, and the Jinn were not pleased with their worship, since they had accepted Islam. And they were the ones who sought a means of nearness to their Lord…”[5]


Allah says in the Qur’aan: “O you who believe! Do your duty to Allah and fear Him. Seek the means of approach (al-Waseelah) to Him, and strive hard in His Cause as much as you can. So that you may be successful.”[6]


Al-Hafidh Ibn Katheer (rahimahullah) reported Ibn Abbas (radhi allahu anhu) saying in his commentary of this verse: “The meaning of al-Waseelah is to draw closer.” He also reports from Qatadah: “This is that you draw near to Him by obedience to Him and through actions that are pleasing to Him.” And Ibn Katheer (rahimahullah) said: “And with regard to what those Imams (Ibn Abbas and Qatadah) said there is no disagreement between the scholars of Tafseer about it… al-Waseelah is that by means of which one reaches that which he desires.”[7]


These two verses and their authentic Tafseers (commentaries) clearly explain that Waseelah consists of seeking nearness to Allah by means of righteousness in order to get closer to Allah.


This refutes any other explanation of Waseelah like that of those who consider Waseelah to mean directly supplicating to the dead saints. It refutes the erroneous belief held by the Deobandis of seeking ‘Tawassul’ through the status and honor of the Prophets and saints.


This also refutes the incorrect Tafseer by the Deobandis that…


Moulana Aashiq Ilahi Meerathi mentions in Irshaadul-Mulook, “It is imperative for the Salik (one searching for the path) to have a Shaik-e-Kamil (spiritual guide) so that the Shaikh becomes the companion along this road, and explains the ups and downs and the pitfalls of this journey. Hence, Allah says: “O People of Eemaan! Adopt Taqwa (god fearing) and search for a Waseelah (means) towards Allah.”[8]

Tawassul in the Qur’aan and the Sunnah

The correct means of Tawassul are three…

  • Tawassul by means of Allah’s Beautiful Names,

  • Tawassul by means of righteous deeds of the supplicant and,

  • Tawassul by means of a supplication made by a righteous person.


(1) Tawassul by means of Allah’s Beautiful Names

Allah says: “And to Allah belongs all the beautiful Names, so call upon Him by them.”[9]


Tawassul by means of Allah’s Beautiful Names is to invoke Allah mentioning His Beautiful Names, like saying, “O Allah, I ask you for You being the Most Merciful, the Bestower of Mercy, the Most Gracious, the All-Knower that You grant me safety and well being…” This form of Tawassul is known from numerous Ahaadeeth.


The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) would say before giving salaam in his prayer: “O Allah! By Your Knowledge of the hidden and Unseen, and Your Power over the creation, grant me life for as long as You Know that life is good for me, and grant me death when death is good for me…”[10]


Once, the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) saw a man saying in his Tashahhud: ‘I ask You by virtue of the fact that all praise belongs to You, none has the right to be worshiped but You Alone, having no partner. The Great Bestower of all blessings, O Originator of the Heavens and the Earth. O Possessor of Majesty and Honor, O Ever-Living, O Sustainer and Protector of all that exists. Indeed, I ask You for Paradise, and I seek Your Refuge from the Fire.” So the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said to his companions: “Do you know what he has supplicated with?” They said: “Allah and His Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) know best.” He said: “By Him in Whose Hand is my soul, he has supplicated to Allah by His Great Name, if He is called upon by them, He responds and if He is asked by it, He gives.”[11]


Anas (radhi allahu anhu) reported saying, when a matter grieved the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam), he would say: “O Ever-Living, O Sustainer and Protector of all that exists, by Your Mercy I beg of Your aid.”[12]


(2) Tawassul by means of Righteous deeds of the Supplicant

“Those who say: ‘Our Lord! We have Indeed, believed, so forgive us our sins and save us from the punishment of the Fire’”[13]


Tawassul by means of righteous deeds is to invoke Allah by mentioning one’s righteous actions, in which he feared Allah and hoped for His Mercy and reward, while giving precedence to His obedience. Like saying,


“Our Lord! We have believed in what You have sent down, and we follow the Messenger; so write us down among those who bear witness (to the truth i.e. none has the right to be worshiped except Allah).”[14]


“Our Lord! Verily, we have heard the call of one (Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam)) calling to Faith; ‘Believe in your Lord,’ and we have believed. Our Lord! Forgive us our sins and remit from us our evil deeds, and make us die in the state of righteousness along with Al-Abraar (those who are obedient to Allah and strictly follow His orders).”[15]


This form of Tawassul is also mentioned in a number of Ahaadeeth of Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam). From amongst them is the famous story of the companions of the cave. The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) mentioned the story of three men who spent a night in a cave. A boulder rolled down from the mountain and blocked the entrance of the cave. So, they supplicated to Allah by means of their righteous actions. One of them mentioned his obedience towards his elderly parents, the other mentioned an incident when he refrained from zina (adultery) despite having the means to do so, and the third mentioned an incident in which he was truthful and honest in a monetary matter. Allah, the Exalted, upon hearing their supplication moved the rock from the entrance of the cave.[16]


(3) Tawassul by means of a Supplication made by a Righteous Person

This third type of Tawassul is to ask any righteous living person to make Du’aa (supplication) for oneself.


Anas (radhi allahu anhu) reported saying: “The people were afflicted with drought in the time of the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam), so whilst the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) was giving the Khutbah (sermon) on the day of Jumuah, a Bedouin stood and said: “O Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam)! The livestock are dying and the children are hungry, so supplicate to Allah for us.” So he (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) raised his hands and supplicated and we could not see any trace of clouds. By Him, in Whose Hands is my soul, as soon as he had lowered his hands, clouds like mountains had gathered, and he did not descend from his minbar (pulpit) until I saw rain dripping from his beard...”[17]


Tawassul by means of a Supplication made by a Righteous Person is also reported from the practice of the Sahabah (radhi allahu anhu). Anas Ibn Malik (radhi allahu anhu) narrates from Umar Ibn Khattab (radhi allahu anhu) that when the people suffered from drought he used to ask al-Abbas Ibn Mutallib (radhi allahu anhu) to pray for rain for them. He used to say: “O Allah we used to request our Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) to supplicate to You for rain, and You would bless us with rain. Now, we ask the uncle of our Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) to supplicate to You, so grant us rain.”[18]


Also the noble Tabi’e, Sulaym Ibn Aamir al-Khabairee, reported: “The sky withheld any rain, so Muawiyah Ibn Abee Sufyan and the people of Damascus went out to pray for rain. When Muawiyah sat upon the minbar he said: “O Allah! We are today asking the best and most noble amongst us to supplicate to You for us, O Allah, today we put Yazeed Ibn al-Aswad al-Jurashee forward to supplicate to You for us.” Then Yazeed raised his hands and so did the people, and it rained until people could hardly reach their houses.[19]


Apart from these three correct manners of Tawassul, there is no authentic proof for any other form of Tawassul in the Qur’aan or the Sunnah.


[1] Soorah al-Maidah (5): 35.

[2] Saheeh Muslim vol.1, no.747.

[3] Soorah al-Isra (17): 57.

[4] Saheeh al-Bukharee v.6, no.238 and Saheeh Muslim.

[5] Fath al-Baree 10/12 and 13.

[6] Soorah al-Maidah (5): 35.

[7] Tafseer Ibn Katheer.

[8] Irshaadul-Mulook (Eng. Trans.) p.46.

[9] Soorah al-A’raf (7): 180.

[10] (Saheeh) al-Haakim, an-Nisa’ee and others.

[11] Abu Dawood, An-Nisa’ee, Musnad Ahmad and others.

[12] (Hasan) At-Tirmidhee and al-Haakim.

[13] Soorah aali-Imraan (3): 6.

[14] Soorah al-Imraan (3): 53.

[15] Soorah al-Imraan (3): 193 and others in the Qur’aan like: Soorah aali-Imraan (3): 6, Soorah al-Muminoon (23): 109, etc.

[16] Saheeh al-Bukharee vol.3, no.472.

[17] Saheeh al-Bukharee.

[18] Saheeh al-Bukharee.

[19] Reported by al-Hafidh Ibn Asaakir in his Tareekh (18/151/1).