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  1. HELP FROM OTHER THAN ALLAH? This debate, in the Shia community, is an unnecessarily controversial topic. You can find the description of this dilemma under various headings, the most famous of which is “Is saying Yā ʿAlī Madad allowed in Islam?” Is it shirk (association of partners with Allah), bidʿah (innovation in religion), mustaḥabb (recommended) or ḥarām (prohibited)? Many people resort to asking the Marājiʿ , seeking their fatāwā’ (jurisprudential ruling) on this matter. Some resort to their own whims and opinions, without caring or bothering to research, investigate, and peruse the Islamic literature on this matter. Among those who choose the more difficult of the three paths, i.e., to search for truth by investigation and research (taḥqīq), are two factions. First are those with confirmation bias who only set out to find proofs that fortify their claim, while ignoring or misinterpreting any evidence against their argument—these people are actually not looking for the truth, they have already made up their minds as to what the truth is, and won’t be convinced no matter how obvious and in their face the reality is. It is very hard for a person who is firmly rooted in a certain belief system to change his/her mindset, and if Allāh leaves them wandering in their rebellion, then not even the Prophet ﷺ can guide them. [7:186] The second group is constituted by actual skeptics who are willing to stand corrected when the argument presents itself in front of them, and strive to the best of their capability to remain logical and unbiased in their research. Āyatullāh Sayyid Kamāl al-Ḥaydarī said in one of his lectures: “When you or I read history, we seek to take what supports and establishes the correctness of our creed, sect, and religion, (i.e., what we already believe), however, if we put these biased glasses on, we will not reach the truth. Therefore, the search for truth must be more important than belonging to a sect or religion. Let the focus of your research be upon the truth. It may be that what you find is congruent with the religion you are convinced about, and it could also be that what you are convinced about is contrary to the truth. Akhbārī seeks to establish Akhbāriyyah, Uṣūlī seeks to establish Uṣūliyyah, philosophers seek to establish philosophy, ʿIrfāni seeks to establish ʿIrfān. If this is your focus, then rest assured you are not searching for the truth. Memorize this statement: ‘The search for truth is more important than belonging’—this is what we are calling for when we call towards logic (mantiq), i.e., we must find that you exhibit a logic geared toward the search for truth, not a logic which seeks to support whatever you are already upon.” WHERE TO SEARCH FOR THE TRUTH? The answer is clear-cut and straightforward. The Qur’ān should be any Muslim’s first point of reference whenever researching religion. The first question that should arise in a believer’s mind regarding Allāh’s decree or order is, “What does the Book of Allāh say?” George Tarabishi, a Syrian writer, has reportedly said that the reason why Muslims have become as debased and impotent as they have, is because they have left the Islām of the Qur’ān and accepted the Islām of ḥadīth. Regardless of what state the rest of the ummah­ is in, this notion most certainly holds true for the majority of the Twelver Shias today. The approach towards religion, for centuries, in the Shīʿī school of thought has been a traditional (ḥadīth-based) one. The practice of most turbaned scholars nowadays is to read the ḥadīth books, pick out traditions that support their cause, and feed them to the masses, without caring in the least to verify, at least, the chain of narrators first. How would they? Most are not even adept in ʿilm ar-rijāl (the study of people who transmitted/reported sayings from the holy Prophet ﷺ or the Imāms). Even if some of them do bother to verify the chain, they still fail on the second, and perhaps the most important step, which is to test the veridicality of the narration upon established principles from the verses of the holy Qur’ān. No matter how strong the chain of narrators is, if the narration opposes the Qur’ān, it should be thrown away, because whatever is from the Infallibles (عليه السلام) can never contradict the word of Allāh. In Mu’jam Rijāl al-Ḥadīth, Imām ʿAlī ar-Riḍā (عليه السلام) has confirmed the above methodology. However, most modern scholars have a converse approach: They study the corpus of narrations and subsequently read the Qur’ān, interpreting the verses according to the ḥadīth perspective. What they are doing is trying to make the Qur’ān comply with what they have already established from the narrations. Such a reading of the Book is close to fabricating lies against Allāh and His Messenger ﷺ. Then who is more unjust than [the one] who invents a lie about Allāh to mislead the people without knowledge? Indeed Allah does not guide the transgressors [6:144]. Hence, our methodology for this research will be primarily based upon clear (muḥkam) verses from the Qur’ān, and ḥadīth shall only be relied upon if it conforms to the Book. This is important because, the Qu’ān is “Furqān” or “Criterion” that separates truth from falsehood [2:185] [3:4] [25:1]. And truth has become distinct from error [2:256]. THE QUR’ĀN It’s harrowing how this explicit verse is still not enough to shatter the arguments that our fellow Shias come up with. Despite having memorized “You alone we worship and You alone we ask for help” [1:5] since childhood and hopefully reciting the verse at least 10 times a day in our daily prayers, it seems like we haven’t understood the message of it (and how clear a message it is!). The verse declares that worship is for Allāh alone—this is because of the use of the word “iyyāka”. If the verse said “We worship you” (as opposed to the usage of ‘only’ or ‘alone’), then the wording would have been different; Allāh could have revealed, “نَعْبُدُكَ وَ نَسْتَعِيْنُكَ”, which would translate to “We worship you and seek help from you.” But no! The word “إياك” has reserved the act of worship for Allah alone, without exception. This is clear to every believing Muslim, and is the fundamental pillar of Islām, i.e., tawḥīd. The rejection of other deities and gods as unworthy of worship is the very foundation of this monotheistic religion. But what most of us often choose to forget is that the same reservation and restriction is placed, without any distinction, to the act of seeking help. Both the phrases are separated only by a “و” (and). The import of the verse would have not changed had Allāh chosen to omit the second “إياك”, that means, the Qur’ān could have said, “You alone we worship and seek help from.” The meaning is not that different, is it? So, what is the need to add another “iyyāka” before “nastaʿīnu”? The reason is right in front of you. It is to put emphasis on the “You only/alone” part. “Seeking help” is very similar to the act of “worship” in the manner that both are reserved, by how this verse reads, for Allāh, and no one else. Here comes the layman Shia’s first question: “That seems illogical, how can it be said that “seeking/asking for help” is reserved for Allāh alone? Do we not seek help from other human beings like family, friends, doctors, teachers, strangers, and so on? Are we then flouting and violating an Islamic law by seeking help from the creation of Allāh, while it is reserved for the Creator alone?” This question is insincere, and only asked by those who want to defend their practice of saying “Yā ʿAlī madad” or “Yā Ḥusayn madad” to the very last breath. The answer to this question is very simple, “Asking for help from anyone who is alive and present in front of you is allowed and unproblematic, but seeking assistance from someone who is behind the curtain of ghayb is prohibited, because ghaybī assistance is from Allāh alone.” A counter that opponents of this argument often come up with is, “But the Prophet (S) and his Ahlulbayt (عليه السلام) are all alive, just like those killed in the way of Allāh (martyrs/shuhadā’). Doesn’t the Qur’ān say, “Do not call those slain in Allah’s way ‘dead’. No, they are living, but you are not aware. [2:154] …they are alive with their Lord, receiving provision [3:169]”?” First of all, most scholars opine that this realm of existence or state of living is not the same as ours, but it is barzakh. This will be confirmed if you refer to Tafsīr al-Mīzān for the above verses. Secondly, the verse still doesn’t legitimize or vindicate seeking help from martyrs because of the simple fact that even if alive, they are not present in front of us, but are on the other side of the curtain of ghayb, and therefore, seeking help from them would be disobedience in light of the verses of the Qur’ān. Moreover, they themselves are dependent on Allāh for their provision. In sūrah al-Baqarah, Allāh says, “And seek help through patience and prayer. And indeed, it is difficult except for the humble ones—who are certain they will meet their Lord and they will return to him.” [2:45-46] A very similar verse is found later on in the same sūrah: The phrase “ٱستعينواْ بٱالصبر وٱلصلوة” appears in both the verses. Patience and prayer are listed as the means or methods of seeking help. The verb for help is “astaʿīnu”—same as the one in sūrah al-Fātiḥah. In verse 153, Allāh is explicitly addressing “those who believe”, however, in the verse 45, Allāh is addressing Banī Isrā’īl (The Children of Israel). From the context of both verses, it can be understood that the teaching is not specific to Children of Israel, but even if someone ignorant enough does come up with the objection, the latter verse (153) clarifies the matter. Verse 45 is just a continuation of Allāh’s commandments to Banī Isrā’īl that begin from verse 40, which includes upholding covenants, believing in Allāh’s revelations, establishing and bowing down in prayer, paying the charity (zakāh), etc. The succeeding verses are also addressed to the same nation. A believer’s prayer is established when his niyyah (intention) is khāliṣ (pure), that is, to seek nearness to Allāh, his Lord and Sustainer (qurbatan ilallāh). Allāh continues, “and it is difficult except for the humble ones”—“it” refers to the act of prayer or “ṣalāh”. Clearly, prayer is the ultimate representation of complete submission to one’s Lord, when one bows down and then prostrates to Him, he admits his weakness to his Lord, who is the Almighty and All-Powerful. The believer is always in need of help from his rabb. Prayer is where a believer is humbled, as Allāh says in sūrah al-Mu’minūn, “Certainly the believers will have succeeded. Those who are humble in their prayer” [23:1-2]. Allāh repudiates those who are negligent of prayer and do good deeds only to show off: “So woe to those who pray [but] are heedless of their prayer. Those who make a show of their deeds.” [107:4-6] It is clear how humbly standing in prayer in front of Allāh is one of the best ways to seek help from Allāh. The second way mentioned in the verses is through “patience”. Patience is an exemplary trait in a human being that makes any hardship possible to overcome. It would seem that the believers, by being patient, have helped themselves, out of their own ability, but that is where verse 153 corrects you, “Indeed Allah is with those who are patient”—so even when the believers are being patient in the face of hardships, Allāh is with them. This confirms that the source of help is Allāh alone, in all cases! It could be said that on the basis of these verses that ṣabr and ṣalāh are two “wasā’il” of receiving divine assistance and support. The import of these verses is crystal even from a superficial reading, and does not need much clarification, as the meaning is not of an esoteric or arcane nature. However, just to supplement our argument, let’s take a narration from al-Kāfī, as mentioned in al-Mīzan fī Tafsīr al-Qur’ān by ʿAllāmah Ṭabāṭabā’ī: Imām aṣ-Ṣādiq said: “Whenever ʿAlī ((عليه السلام).) faced a difficulty, he used to stand up for the prayer and then recite this verse…” and also, “When a man is confronted by a hard misfortune, he should fast. Surely Allāh says: and seek help through patience, that is, fast.” Here, the Imām ((عليه السلام).) has interpreted ṣabr as “fast” or “ṣawm”. The tafsīr mentioned in this ḥadīth does not contradict the matn of the Qur’ān because fasting certainly requires a lot of patience. Hence, a wasīlah of seeking recourse other than prayer is fasting. Verse 46 says that the humble ones are “those who are certain that they will meet their Lord and return to him.”—this clause is important, as we’ll explain next: The translation of the above verses of the same chapter 2, al-Baqarah, [2:155-157] is: “And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, and give good tidings to the patient, who, when disaster strikes them, say, “Indeed we belong to Allāh and indeed to Him we will return. Those are the ones upon whom are blessings from their Lord and mercy and it is those who are rightly guided.” These verses tie up beautifully with [1:5], [2:45], and [2:153]. In al-Fātiḥah, we are taught to ask Allāh for help, and what help did we ask Him for?—“Guide us to the straight path” [1:6]. We’re asking for “guidance”. Allah’s guidance is to be found in His Book, which is a guidance for the godwary [2:3]. He ((سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى).) taught us to seek recourse through praying and observing patience (or fasting, acc. to tradition) in verses 45 and 153, where he also said, “إن الله مع الصابرين“. In the verses under discussion, He (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) has detailed who the الصابرين are. He (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) says that the believers will be tested with fear, hunger, monetary loss, death, fruits, etc. but also instructs his Prophet ﷺ to bear good news for the “patient” ones. What are the characteristics of those people? They patiently remember their Lord in times of affliction and calamity, remembering that their return is to Allāh, therefore the calamities of this world are trivial compared to those of the Hereafter. It is this remembrance of the day of Judgment that helps them stay patient in the face of adversity, because they are certain they will meet their Lord [2:46]. Such are the people who are helped by Allāh, and upon whom are blessings from their Lord [2:157]. There you have the guidance you asked for in al-Fātiḥah! Hence, is is those who are rightly guided. The 62nd verse of Surah An-Naml (27) is a cogent argument for all believers who exercise their reason. It is a rhetorical question or challenge to people who invoke or call upon anyone besides Allāh from among his creation. The translation is: Who answers the distressed when he calls Him and removes evil and appoints you as inheritors of the earth? Is there a god with Allāh? Little do you remember! If anyone other than Allāh could possibly answer you and remove your distress, then would not this challenge of Allāh become pointless (astaghfirullāh!)? Imām ʿAlī (عليه السلام) and Rasūlullāh ﷺ are clearly separate from Allāh and are His creations. They are not gods, that is true, and no Shīʿī believes that. All of the anbiya’ and ‘awliyā are His righteous servants whose only purpose is to guide us to the right path. They do not have a share in Allāh’s creation or might. They do not control the atoms of the universe. Therefore, when you call upon them in times of need, you are actually countering Allāh’s argument in the above verse. To boil it down for the layman in simple terms, what you are implying is: “Yes, O’ Allāh, apart from You, there are some creations of Yours who can answer us when we call them, and can remove our adversities, difficulties and problems.” Allāh: “Is there a God with Allāh?” You: “No, my Lord, they are not gods, but You have created them and appointed them as intermediaries. They can only hear our call and respond to us with Your permission. They are not indepentent of You, rather they are a wasīlah to You!” This is the typical Shīʿah argument, which is, unfortunately, often even put forward by pseudo-scholars who occupy the pulpit and address majālis consisting of hundreds and thousands of laymen who only know how to applaud the “mawlānā” or “dhākir” no matter what ghuluww or kurf they may be insinuating. Allāh answers this first in Sūrah al-Isrā’: Verses 56-57: Say: “Invoke those whom you claim besides Him, for they neither have power to remove your adversity nor bring change. They (themselves) are those who call and seek means to their Lord, whoever is nearer, expecting His mercy and fearing His punishment. Indeed your Lord’s punishment is to beware of. Lo! You were claiming that the prophets and Imāms have been given power by Allāh to hear you (even when they are in ghayb or deceased) but Allāh refuted you and negated your argument. If this verse talked about idols, then verse 57 would be meaningless because idols do not call upon Allāh or seek wasīlah to Him, or seek His nearness or fear His punishment. Therfore, it is proven that those whom “you claim besides Him” are clearly living creatures who pray to their Lord and fear His punishment. Was this not the exemplary behavior of all the prophets, Imāms and His righteous servants? You claimed that the prophets and Imāms themselves are a wasīlah to Allāh! That is why you were calling them. The argument you put forward is that you call upon these servants of Allāh because they are nearer to their Lord and therefore, will intercede for you in your supplications. But what did Allāh say? Read the āyāt again. "لا يملكون" means no power/control. Allāh again refutes the same argument in Sūrah Fāṭir: And those whom you call besides Him do not control even as much as the husk of a date stone. If you call them, they do not hear your call, and if they heard they would not respond to you. And on the day of qiyāmah will deny your shirk [35:13-14] The translation is clear. Those whom you invoke are creations who have not been given a share in Allāh’s power to control anything, they are nothing but dependent servants of Allāh. They can not even control a thing as small and insignificant as the husk of a date-seed, so how can they solve your problems? This verse, again, is not talking about the idols worshipped by idolaters, because of the words, “and if they heard, they would not respond to you”—we all know idols can not hear in the first place, so there was no need for Allāh to say “and if they heard”. Neither are idols conscious, sentient, speaking entities who possess intellect. That is why, it is only fitting that those who, on the day of qiyāmah will deny your shirk are righteous servants of Allāh, like the awliyā’, the angels or the prophets. Verse [27:62] when talking about calling Allāh, used the phrase: “Is there a god with Allāh” and this verse says “will deny your shirk”—hold on! But we never worshipped the Imāms or considered them to be gods, we only called upon them to help us—that is what the layman says. However, in Allāh’s eyes, this is shirk. Say: “Have you not considered your partners whom you call besides Allāh. Show me what have they created from the earth. Do they have partnership (with Him) in the heavens or have we given them a book so they are on evidence from it? No, rather the wrongdoers promise one another nothing but delusion.” [35:40] Are Imāms the creators? (naʿūdhubillāh) No! Are they Allāh’s partners in the skies/heavens? No! Have they been given a book containing evidence that you can call upon them? No! This is how the āyah can be applied to our current belief. The istighāthā defendant replies: “But the Prophet ﷺ was given a book. In fact, it is the very book you are quoting from, Allāh’s last and best book, the Qur’ān! So we can call upon him, right?” This is illogical. Yes, the Prophet ﷺ has been given a book, but is there any “evidence from it” that he ﷺ can answer your supplication? Do not take one part of the verse and ignore the other. In fact, Allāh says to His Rasūl ﷺ: Say: I have no power to harm or benefit myself, except as God wills [10:49] Say, “I have no control over any benefit or harm to myself, except as God wills. Had I known the future, I would have acquired much good, and no harm would have touched me. I am only a warner, and a herald of good news to a people who believe.” [7:188] If God touches you with adversity, none can remove it except He. And if He touches you with good—He is Capable of everything. [6:17] Do you not know that to Allah belongs the kingdom of the heavens and the earth? And besides Allah, you do not have any guardian or helper. [2:107] Allāh strengthens whomever He wishes with His help. There is indeed a moral in that for those who have insight. [3:13] Indeed, Allāh is your Master, and He is the best of helpers [3:150] If Allāh helps you, no one can overcome you, but if He forsakes you, who will help you after Him? So in Allāh let all the faithful put their trust. [3:160] A similar argument is also found in Sūrah al-Aḥqāf: Say, ‘Tell me about those you invoke besides Allah. Show me what [part] of the earth have they created. Do they have any share in the heavens? Bring me a scripture [revealed] before this, or some vestige of [divine] knowledge, if you are truthful.’ (4) Who is more astray than him who invokes besides Allah such [entities] as would not respond to him until the Day of Resurrection, and who are oblivious of their invocation? [46:4-5] And your Lord says, “Call upon me, I will respond to you.” Indeed those who disdain my worship will enter Hell contemptible. [40:60] Allāh uses the word “ادعوني”, which means “call upon me”. But then, He (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) moves on to say “عبادتي”—what does this mean? Clearly, invocation or supplication is, in fact, prayer. The root word of ادعوني is دعا, which carries the meaning of calling, supplicating, praying, and invoking. Those who refrain from calling Allāh are disdainful of his worship, and will be forced to enter Hell, in a disgraceful, shameful state. That is what Allāh is saying. O’ mankind! Will you still call His servants instead of Him?! And when my servant asks about me, then indeed I am near. I answer the call of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to me and believe in me so that they may be rightly guided. [2:186] And We are nearer to him (man) than his jugular vein. [50:16] After all this exhortation from Allāh to his servants to call upon Him, would you still shy away from invoking him? Under the tafsīr of verse 2:186, ʿAllāmah Ṭabāṭabā’ī has quoted the following ḥadīth: Imām aṣ-Ṣādiq narrates from the Prophet ﷺ: “Allāh informed one of his prophets in a revelation: ‘By My Power and dignity! Verily, I shall change into despair the hope of everyone who hoped from other than Me, and I shall dress him with the clothing of disgrace before people, and I shall remove him from My relief and bounty. Does my servant put his hope in other than Me in hardships, while hardships are in My hand? And does he expect anything from other than Me, while I am the Self-sufficient, the Munificent? In My hand are the keys of the doors, while they are closed; and My door is open for the one who calls on Me.’” The Prophet ﷺ also said: “Allah said: “No creature seeks refuge in another creature, leaving Me, but that I cut off all the means in the heavens and the earth for him. Then if he asks from Me, I do not give him ; and if he calls on Me, I do not answer him. And no creature seeks refuge in Me, leaving My creatures, but that I make the heaven and the earth responsible for his sustenance; then if he calls on Me, I answer him and, if he seeks pardon from Me, I forgive!”” [Source: Al-Mīzān fī Tafsīr al-Qur’ān, where the author quotes from ʿUddatud Dāʿī] ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Despite these clear-cut verses from the Book of Allāh, people still try to argue in favor of istighāthā by quoting Nādi ʿAlī or Duʿā Tawassul. Nādi ʿAlī is not a duʿā, it is a poem. It is not from the A’immah (عليه السلام) of Ahlulbayt. It was never in the primary ḥadīth sources, only somehow appeared in later works. Duʿā Tawassul is also not from any of the Imāms, it was only found by ʿAllāmah Majlisī in an old manuscript that he thought was from Shaykh aṣ-Ṣadūq (who lived 700 years before Majlisī) and it was written on the paper that it was from the Imāms but did not even mention which of the Imāms. It does not have a sanad or “chain of transmission”. Hence, it is considered ḍaʿīf or weak. For verification of this claim, refer to this article published by Shia Reformist. These were likely the fabrications of the exaggerators (ghulāt). Imām ar-Riḍā (عليه السلام). in Rijāl al-Kashī has cursed the exaggerators (i.e., those who did ghuluww; esp. those that used to fabricate narrations and attribute them to the Imāms). In the same narration, he ((عليه السلام).) also said that whatever contradicts the Qur’ān can not be from the Ahlulbayt. Same is corroborated by many narrations in Uṣūl Al-Kāfī, from Imām Jaʿfar aṣ-Ṣādiq (عليه السلام). Authored by: Muḥammad Qā’im Ḥusayn
  2. Before we get to the hadiths on Istigatha, I would like to establish and prove what Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) has endowed them with. The Imam Sees and Hears you Wherever You Are 1. (Basa’ir al-Darajat p 474 and al-Kafi, vol 1, page 272) “On the authority of Al-Mufaddal bin Omar, he said, “I said to Abu Abdullah (al-Sadiq), peace be upon him: I asked him about the Imam’s knowledge of what is in the regions of the earth while he was in his house, covered up in his blanket. (In other words, can the Imam have ghayb knowledge what is happening in different regions of words while in the comfort of his home?) He (the Imam) said: O Mufaddal -God, Blessed and Exalted be He, gave the Prophet, may God’s prayers and peace be upon him and his family, five spirits: ⁃ the spirit of life in which he went about ⁃ the spirit of strength, in which rose and fought ⁃ the spirit of eating, drinking, and consummating with women in halal ⁃ the spirit of faith from which he ordered and judged ⁃ the Holy Spirit, through which he carried the prophecy. When the the Prophet, may God’s prayers and peace be upon him and his family died - the Holy Spirit moved and became in the Imam. And the Holy Spirit is constant, by which he (the Imam) sees what is in the east and west of the earth, its land and its sea. I asked him (the Imam): Can the Imam see the entirety of Baghdad wrapped in his hand? He (the Imam) said: Yes, and everything below the throne of Allah.” 2. (Al-Kafi, vol 1, page 285) “May I be ransom to you (Imam al-Sadiq), by what is the Imam known? He (the Imam) said: With qualities; As for the first of these qualities, it is with a sign that was presented by his father in it with a reference to him to be a hujja (proving his Imamate to the Shi’a). If he is asked, he answers. If the questioner silent, he (the Imam) begins the conversation by telling him about the question he (asker) intended to ask. He tells what will happen tomorrow and speaks to people in every tongue, then he (Imam al-Sadiq) said to me: O Abu Muhammad, I give you a sign before you rise. It was not long before a man from the people of Khurasan came to us, and Al-Khorasani spoke to him in Arabic. Abu Al-Hasan, peace be upon him, answered him in Persian. Al-Khorasani said to him: By God, may I be your ransom. What prevented me from speaking to you in Khurasan, except that I thought that you did not do it well, so he said: Glory be to God, if I am not good at answering you, what is my virtue over you? Then he said to me: O Abu Muhammad, not hidden for the imam is the words of any of the people, nor a bird, nor an animal, nor anything that has a soul, so whoever does not have these qualities in him is not an imam.” 3. (Al-Kafi, volume 1, page 219) “The deeds are presented upon Rasul Allah - the deeds of mankind every morning. Its righteous and wicked [deeds] so beware of it, as Allah says: ‘Do as you will. Your deeds will be observed by Allah, His Messenger’ (9:105)’ Note: The hadith says the prophet is presented with our deeds every morning, however ‘morning’ is for emphasis not exclusivity. Similar to when the Prophet tells Imam Ali: (Fada’il al-Shi’a by Shaykh al-Saduq, p 17) “O Ali, the deeds of your Shi’a are presented to me every Friday. So I become happy with their good deeds and perform istighfar for their bad deeds”. But the presentation of deeds cannot exclusively be every Friday, as they are presented to the Prophet every morning. It is likelier that both Friday and every morning is for emphasis, as the reality of the fact is that angels constantly record our deeds, actions, desires, words. And the angels’ knowledge is equal to that of the Holy Prophet (thus he knows whatever they know). Then this angelic and prophetic knowledge at the same time is transmitted to the Imams: (Al Kafi, volume 1, page 255) “Allah has two types of knowledge: [one type of] knowledge he bestows upon his angels, prophets, and messengers. And whatever He bestows upon His angels, messengers, and prophets - then we know it.” As we can see from the above, everything is done through the will and permission of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى). An Imam - even if deceased - is still involved in affairs of Shi’a 1. Blessing his Shi’a with Rizq (provision) (Al-Kafi, vol 6, p 296) “We were with Abi Abdilah [al-Sadiq], so he fed up. Then we all raised our hands and said ‘Alhamdulilah’. So Aba Abdilah [al-Sadiq] said: ‘Oh Allah, this [Rizq, that is the food] is from you and from Muhammad your Messenger. O Allah, to you is praise, send your blessings upon Muhammad and the family of Muhammad.” 2. Supernaturally strengthening his Shia’s souls to obey God and performing good deeds for him (Al-Kafi, vol 2, p 268) “On the authority of Abu Khadija, he said: I entered upon Abu al- Hasan (peace be upon him) and he said to me: God, Blessed and Exalted be He, supports the believer with a spirit from Him who attends the believer every time he is good and pious, and is absent from him every time he commits sins and transgressions. It (the spirit) is with him (the believer), happy when he is righteous and dwindles when he is unrighteous. So pledge, O servants of God that you will reform yourselves, you will increase in certainty and gain what is valuable. May Allah have mercy upon an individual who aimed for good and performed it, or aimed for evil and stopped himself. Then he (the Imam) said: “We (the Ahlulbayt) strengthen the spirit with obedience to Allah and performing (good) deeds for him.” • Evaluation: In the first hadith, Rizq (provision) which the companions of Imam al-Sadiq received in the first hadith was certainly attributable to not only Allah, but also to Prophet Muhammad - by Imam al-Sadiq. Because whatever the Prophet gives from Rizq, it is from Allah but the Prophet is its executor (the one who actually distributes the Rizq). Similar to when Allah says: “It is not for a believing man or a believing woman, when Allah and His Messenger have decided a matter, that they should [thereafter] have any choice about their affair” (33:36). The Messenger does not independently decide a matter from Allah, however, he is simply the best executor of Allah’s orders. Thus, the Prophet (and thus the rest of infallibles) from his heavenly position, can still endow the Shi’a with his provision even after being physically deceased. The provision will be from Allah, but the Prophet distributes it to the people of Earth. In the second hadith, what is described is that Allah supports the believer (i.e, Shi’i) with a spirit comprised of faith. Allama Tabatabai clarifies that this spirit is (typically) occupied by an angel who strengthens the believer in his deeds. However for the Shi’a, it seems the Imam strengthens the spirit to obey Allah and perform good deeds - when they desire to perform them. This suggests an active involvement by the Imams in the lives of their Shi’a to lead them to salvation. Such as, if a believer desires to enter a halal merchant activity of sort - the Imam will guide him in this venture, as long as it is halal. Thus, another crucial basis of istighatha is formed: ⁃ The Imam’s ability to provide provision, per Allah’s will ⁃ The Imam’s ability to give strength to the believer in obedience to Allah. Why Invoke the Imam, When Allah Is the Giver? (From Quran) ⁃ “Say, ˹O Prophet,˺ “Your soul will be taken by the Angel of Death, who is in charge of you. Then to your Lord you will ˹all˺ be returned.” (32:11) • Evaluation: The Angel of Death, put in charge over us, is whom Allah says wills take our souls. Why doesn’t Allah tell the Prophet to inform the people that HE (Allah) will take their souls, why say the angel of death of death who was put in charge of us? Can't Allah do it Himself? Does the angel of death have free will from Allah? If not, then why did Allah attribute the taking of a soul to him (angel) instead of Allah (the one who causes death)? The answer is that the Angel of Death is a faithful executor of Allah’s command to take people’s soul, hence the act is attributable to him. ⁃ “Since We have sent you a messenger from among yourselves—reciting to you Our revelations, purifying you, teaching you the Book and wisdom, and teaching you what you never knew” (2:151) • Evaluation: Allah attributes purification to the Prophet in the above verse. Allah also cites a way one may be purified by the Prophet, through zakat: “Take from their wealth ˹O Prophet˺ charity to purify and bless them, and pray for them” (9:103) Why is Allah attributing purification to the Prophet, and cites actions one can undertake to obtain the Prophet’s purification (i.e, through zakat). Whereas, “Allah purifies whom He wills” (4:49)? The answer is Allah delegated the the power to purify believers to the Prophet, not independently from Allah. Thus, one should go to the prophet directly to seek blessings from this delegated power and attribute this power to him (the Prophet). With knowledge, that the authority of that power stems from Allah. ⁃ “Those who follow the Messenger, the unlettered prophet, whom they find written [i.e., described] in what they have of the Torah and the Gospel, who enjoins upon them what is right and prohibits them from what is wrong and makes lawful for them what is good and forbids them from what is evil” (7:157) • Evaluation: We can see in the above verse that Allah attributes to the Prophet the delegation of making matters permissible or forbidden, making lawful good and evil forbidden. Allah directly states that the Prophet for examples “makes lawful for them (Muslims) what is good”, because he delegated this task to the Prophet. Thus, it is attributable to him. (Al-Kafi, vol 1, page 268) “Abu Abdullah, peace be upon him, said: No, by God, God has not delegated (duties) to any of His creation except to the Messenger of God, may God bless him and his family, and to the imams. The Almighty said: “Indeed, We have sent down to you the Book with the truth, so that you may judge between people by what God has shown you” And this verse continues to be applicable to the awsiya’ (i.e, Imams, peace be upon them.) Ahadith of Istighatha 1. (Basa’ir al-Darajat, page 271) “On the authority of Hisham ibn Salem, he said: I entered upon Abdullah ibn Jaafar (who claimed Imamate) and Abu al-Hasan (al-Kadhim) in the majlis, in front of him was a mirror. So I turned to Abdullah and did not ask him until the zakat was mentioned, so I asked him and he said: You ask me for zakat, whoever has forty dirhams is required to spend one dirham. I turned my eyes on Abdullah and was astonished by him, so I said to him: May God give you health, because you know my affection for your father and my attachment to him, and I have narrated books from him, so would you like me to bring them to you? (to prove to you otherwise) He said: ‘Yes, oh cousin, come to us (with those books) So I performed istighatha from Messenger of God and I went to his grave and said: O Messenger of God, to whom (should I seek the correct faith)? To the Qadariyyah? To the Haruriyyah? To the Murji'ah? To Zaydism? I remained in that state until a young boy, less than five years old, came to me and pulled my dress and said to me: ‘Answer!’ I said: ‘To who?’ He said: To my master Musa ibn Ja’far, so I entered the courtyard of the house, and he was inside the house and he said: ‘O Hisham. Not to the Murji’ah, nor to the Qadariyyah, but to us (you should turn for the answer)’ And then I entered upon him.” • Evaluation: Hisham ibn Salim was one of the foremost companions of Imams al-Kadhim. After the majority of Shi’a adopted Abdullah son of Imam al-Sadiq as Imam, after his father’s death - Hisham was among them. However, Abdullah’s answers were not satisfactory to Hisham due to their contradiction to the words of Imam al-Sadiq. Thus, Hisham says he performed istighatha by the Prophet and invoked the Prophet near his grave - asking him, what does the correct faith? Zaydism? Murji’a? Qadariyya? The Prophet answers Hisham’s istighatha by Imam Musa al-Kadhim calling upon him and telling the path is neither Murji’a nor Qadariyya, but to him (the Imam). 2. (Al-Kafi, volume 3, page 473) When needing Rizq, pray two rak’at and then say the following: “O Allah, I turn my face towards You by virtue of the intercession of Muhammad the Prophet of mercy. O Muhammad, O Messenger of Allah. I turn my face through you to Allah - your Lord and my Lord that you [O Muhammad] send your blessings on Muhammad (i.e, on yourself) and his Ahlulbayt. I ask you [O Muhammad] for a generous scent from your scent, and an easy change in my situation, and wide Rizq [provision] which I can speed up my matter, pay off my debt, and use it for my children.” • Evaluation: Prophet Muhammad is directly invoked for Rizq (provision) and a change in situation. Additionally, Mawla Muhammad Salih al-Mazandrani in his famous Sharh (explanation) of al-Kafi comments on this hadith saying - explaining why the Imam asks the Prophet to send his blessings on himself: “I turn my face through you to Allah - your Lord and my Lord that you [O Muhammad] send your blessings on Muhammad (i.e, on yourself). This is linked to the statement “I turn my face to you [O Muhammad]”, and the reason why he asks intercession of [the Prophet] in the act of asking Allah to send his blessings upon - despite the fact already sends his blessings upon the Prophet. This is definitely for [the supplicator] to display weakness and gravity of his situation, and to emphasize how his request when it comes from him alone [i.e, invoking Allah alone] would not be accepted without requesting the intercession of the Prophet. And in some copies [of other scribes] regarding this hadith, “you [O Muhammad] send your blessings” is changed to “He [Allah] send his blessings]. Except the phrase ‘Upon Muhammad and his Ahlulbayt’ [suggests the opposite]. In fact, suggesting this phrase is to seek the blessings of the Prophet “..لقصد التبرك" 3. (Al-Kafi, vol 8, page 109) Narrated Ali ibn Abi Hamza, who has said: Abu Ibrahim (al-Kadhim) said to me: “I (عليه السلام) have had fever for seven months and my (عليه السلام) son has had fever for twelve months and it has been increasing for us. I (عليه السلام) feel that it does not affect the whole body. Sometimes it affects in the upper part of the body and does not affect in the lower of it, and sometimes it affects in the lower part of it and does not affect in all of the upper body’. I said, ‘May I be sacrificed for you. If you (عليه السلام) allow me, I would narrate to you (عليه السلام) a Hadeeth from Abu Baseer from your (عليه السلام) grandfather [Al-Baqir] (as): “When he (عليه السلام) had fever, he (عليه السلام) sought help by the cold water. He (عليه السلام) would take the first [cloth] out and immerse it in cold water and put the other [cloth] on his body and rotate between them. He'd then call out until his voice would be heard at the door of the house: “O Fatima daughter of Muhammad”. He [Al Kadhim] (عليه السلام) said: ‘You have spoken the truth’." • Evaluation: Some argue that the hadith above does not indicate istighatha, but simply shows Imam al-Baqir was in remembrance of Sayyida Fatima when he had a fever. For as you claim, does Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) not say call on me when you need help? However, saying “Ya Fatima bint Muhammad” while specifically experiencing a fever is a form of istighatha suggested by our Imams to he cured from such ailment. (Makarim al-Akhlaq by al-Tabrasi, page 396) “Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-Saffar narrated in a marfu’ fashion. He said: I entered Abu Abdullah (peace be upon him) while I was feverish, and he said to me: Why do I see you weak? I said: May I be sacrificed for you - a fever has befallen me So he (Imam) said: If one of you experiences a hot fever, let him enter the house alone and pray two rak’ahs and place his right cheek on the ground and say: ‘Oh Fatima, daughter of Muhammad - ten times - I seek intercession with you to God for what has befallen me.’ He will be cured from his ailment, if Allah wills.” 4. (Al-Kafi, vol 2, page 559) “If a matter saddens you, say at the end of your sujood ‘O Gabriel, O Muhammmad. O Gabriel, O Muhammad, satisfy me for you [two] are satisfiers. And protect me - by Allah’s permission - for you [two] are protectors” • Evaluation: It becomes clear from the Imam’s words that the Prophet (and thus Imams) can help us in our worldly needs and protect us but only with permission of Allah. 5. (Al-Kafi, vol 3, page 476-477) Imam al-Sadiq teaching one of his companions this supplication which includes directly calling upon Rasul Allah to fulfill our needs: “O Muhammad, O Rasul Allah. I complain to Allah & you (O Muhammad), about my need. And beseek your rightly guided Ahlulbayt in my need” • Evaluation: Allah is sought directly, but also the Prophet and his Ahlulbayt are sought directly - as, like explained in the previous section, the Prophet is the executor of Allah’s will. The fact the Prophet is sought directly for a need shows that while Allah may be the ultimate cause, he can allow the Prophet to execute His will. Hence for example as shared earlier, the Imam attributes the Rizq of food to both Allah and Prophet. (Al-Kafi, vol 6, page 296) “Oh Allah, this [Rizq, that is the food] is from you and from Muhammad your Messenger. O Allah, to you is praise, send your blessings upon Muhammad and the family of Muhammad.” 6. (Al-Sahifa al-Sajjadiya, page 258) “O Rasul Allah - may my father and mother and the purified Ahlulbayt be sacrificed for you. I turn through you to your Lord, and I place you between my needs (i.e, seek your help with my needs).” • Evaluation: Imam al-Sajjad addresses the Prophet directly and invokes him for help with his needs also directly, showcasing a case of istighatha. 7. (‘Uyun Akhbar al-Ridha, vol 2, page 82) “When al-Rasheed arrested Musa ibn Ja’far, peace be upon him, he was arrested while he was standing at the head of the Prophet (peace be upon him) standing and praying. His prayer was interrupted, and he was carried away crying and said: I complain to you, O Messenger of God, for what I am facing” • Evaluation: The fact our Imams in hadith #5 recommend addressing the Prophet directly and telling him “O Rasul Allah, I complain to you..” regarding one’s needs shows that the above hadith of Imam al-Kadhim is not said out of remembrance of Rasul Allah, but seeking his istighatha. Conclusion Istighatha is a spiritual act signifying communication with those whom Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) has chosen and expecting his or her help, by the permission of Allah. Not only does it have basis in Shi’ism in its facets, it is also established in Shi’i ahadith. [5:35] O you who believe! Be careful of (your duty to) Allah and seek means of nearness to Him and strive hard in His way that you may be successful.
  3. Assalamu Alaykum everyone, recently I have been having problems comprehending the concept of Istighatha and invoking those saintly entities other than Allah. I have a few questions, 1. Are the imams (عليه السلام) available 24/7, as in, are they omnipresent and always hear the duaas we make to them? 2. If they can hear our duaas, then what if millions supplicate to them at once? Do they hear them all at the same time? 3. Is it not a contradiction that if the imams (عليه السلام) hear millions all at once? Owing to my limited understanding, I believe this is an attribute of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى). That's all for now, Salam.
  4. بسم الله و له الحمد السلام عليكم و رحمة الله I would like to have a discussion concerning the verse: We did not send any apostle but to be obeyed by Allah’s leave. Had they, when they wronged themselves, come to you and pleaded to Allah for forgiveness, and the Apostle had pleaded for them [to Allah]for forgiveness, they would have surely found Allah all-clement, all-merciful. (4:64) This is arguably to most used verse from the Qur'an both by scholars and laymen to prove not only the validity of calling on other than Allah for one's needs, but the recommendation of it. In fact it is considered to be such a strong proof that when it is produced, the one bringing it forth often sees the discussion as being over. Here is an example of one of the eminent jurists of our era confirming that this is his understanding of the verse, from the website of the marja' sayed Muhammad Sa'id al-Hakeem: Q: Are there any authentic narration, Duas or Ziyarats in Shia books that direct us to ask the Ahlulbait (peace be upon them) directly for sustenance, children, and the like? A: Seeking intercession of the Prophet and the Ahlulbait (peace be upon them) and asking them does not require an extra proof other than what is mentioned in the Holy Book. The following verse is sufficient to prove it, when Almighty Allah said: “And if, when they had wronged themselves, they had but come unto thee and asked forgiveness of Allah, and asked forgiveness of the messenger, they would have found Allah Forgiving, Merciful” (4:64). http://english.alhakeem.com/pages/quesans/listgroup.php?AllGroup My question is, apart from personal interpretation, how do people come to understand this verse in this way? Does it make linguistical sense? Was this the reason for its revelation? Did the Imams, peace be upon them explain it in this way? Do the preceding and succeeding verses lend weight to this interpretation? I have done a little research into this verse today, this is what I have found. * All corrections welcome Concerning the reason for the revelation of this verse, shaykh al-Tusi narrates this story: وذكر الحسن في هذه الآية: أن اثني عشر رجلا من المنافقين اجتمعوا على أمر من النفاق وائتمروا به فيما بينهم، فأخبره الله بذلك، وقد دخلوا على رسول الله، فقال رسول الله: إن اثني عشر رجلا من المنافقين اجتمعوا على أمر من النفاق، وائتمروا به فيما بينهم، فليقم أولئك فليستغفروا ربهم، وليعترفوا بذنوبهم حتى اشفع لهم. فلم يقم أحد. فقال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله: ألا تقومون؟مرارا -. ثم قال: قم يا فلان وأنت يا فلان، فقالوا يا رسول الله نحن نستغفر الله ونتوب إليه، فاشفع لنا. قال الآن أنا كنت في أول أمركم أطيب نفسا بالشفاعة، وكان الله تعالى أسرع إلى الإجابة أخرجوا عني، فاخرجوا عنه حتى لم يرهم And with regards to this verse, al-Hasan mentioned that twelve men from among the hypocrites gathered together (to undertake) an act of hypocrisy and conspired together in that regard. So Allah informed him (the Prophet) about that, and after they had entered upon the messenger of Allah, he said to them that twelve men from among the hypocrites gathered together to commit and act of hypocrisy, and conspired together in that regard. So verily those people should stand and seek forgiveness from their Lord and recognise their sins so that I may intercede for them. However none stood up, so the messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his family said: Will you not stand? And he repeated it. Then he said stand O so and so and you O so and so. They said: O messenger of Allah, indeed we seek forgiveness from Allah and repent unto Him, so intercede for us. He said, today I was the target of this act of yours, however I would gladly intercede for you (?) and Allah, Most High is swift in replying, leave me. So they left him until he could no longer see them. In al-Kafi, shaykh al-Kulayni narrates: على بن ابراهيم عن ابيه عن محمد بن اسمعيل وغيره عن منصور بن يونس عن ابن اذينة عن عبدالله النجاشى قال، سمعت ابا عبدالله (عليه السلام) يقول: في قول الله عزوجل، (اولئك الذين يعلم الله ما في قلوبهم فأعرض عنهم وعظهم وقل لهم في انفسهم قولا بليغا) يعنى والله فلانا وفلانا وما ارسلنا من رسول الا ليطاع باذن الله ولو انهم اذ ظلموا انفسهم جاؤك فاستغفروا الله واستغفر لهم الرسول لوجدوا الله توابا رحيما يعنى والله النبى (صلى الله عليه وآله) وعليا (عليه السلام) مما صنعوا، يعنى لوجاؤك بها ياعلى فاستغفروا الله مما صنعوا واستغفر لهم الرسول لوجدوا الله توابا رحيما فلا وربك لايؤمنون حتى يحكموك فيما شجر بينهم فقال ابوعبدالله (عليه السلام): هو والله على بعينه ثم لايجدوا في أنفسهم حرجا مما قضيت على لسانك يا رسول الله يعنى به من ولاية على ويسلموا تسليما لعلى ...from Ibn Adhina, from 'Abd Allah al-Najashi, he said: I heard Aba 'Abd Allah (peace be upon him) saying, regarding the words of Allah, the Glorious and Exalted: They are the ones whom Allah knows as to what is in their hearts. So let them alone, and advise them, and speak to them concerning themselves far-reaching words (4:63) by God it means so and so and so and so and We did not send any apostle but to be obeyed by Allah’s leave. Had they, when they wronged themselves, come to you and pleaded to Allah for forgiveness, and the Apostle had pleaded for them [to Allah] for forgiveness, they would have surely found Allah all-clement, all-merciful (4:64). By God this means the Prophet (peace be upon him and his family) and 'Ali (peace be upon him) from that which they (the hypocrites) fabricated. Meaning if they came to you with it (the fabrication) O 'Ali then sought forgiveness for that which they fabricated and the Messenger had sought forgiveness from them, they would surely have found Allah all-clement and all-merciful. But no, by your Lord! They will not believe until they make you a judge in their disputes (4:64) Abu 'Abd Allah (peace be upon him) said: By God, that is none other than 'Ali, then do not find within their hearts any dissent to your verdict (4:64) (that you proclaimed) with your tongue O messenger of Allah, meaning by that, of the wilayah of 'Ali, and submit in full submission (4:64) to 'Ali. al-Kafi, volume 8, Hadith #526 Admitedly al-Majlisi has greaded this narration as 'weak' (Miraat al-'Uqul, vol.26, page490), however al-Ayyashi has narrated the same hadith in his tafsir, and out of well over a dozen narration that shaykh Yusuf al-Bahrani reported in Tafsir al-Burhan, most have similar wording to this, but more importantly, none corroborate the modern interpretation of this holy verse. al-Qummi said in his tafsir: وقوله ﴿وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا مِن رَّسُولٍ إِلاَّ لِيُطَاعَ بِإِذْنِ اللّهِ﴾ اي بأمر الله، وقوله ﴿وَلَوْ أَنَّهُمْ إِذ ظَّلَمُواْ أَنفُسَهُمْ جَآؤُوكَ فَاسْتَغْفَرُواْ اللّهَ﴾ فإنه حدثني أبي عن ابن أبي عمير عن ابن أذينة عن زرارة عن أبي جعفر (ع) قال " ولو أنهم إذ ظلموا أنفسهم جاؤوك يا علي فاستغفروا الله واستغفر لهم الرسول لوجدوا الله توابا رحيما " هكذا نزلت And his saying: We did not send any apostle but to be obeyed by Allah’s leave (4:64) or by Allah's command, and His saying: Had they, when they wronged themselves, come to you and pleaded to Allah for forgiveness (4:64), my father narrated to me from Ibn Abi 'Umayr from Ibn Adhina from Zurara from Abi Ja'far (peace be upon him) he said: And had they, when they wronged themselves come to you O 'Ali and pleaded to Allah for forgiveness and the Messenger had pleaded for them that would have found Allah all-clement all-merciful, that is how it was revealed. ------------------------------------ As far as I can see, this verse has nothing at all to do with us calling directly on the Prophet, al-Tusi didn't understand the verse that way, and the narrations about this verse give the context and attach it to the verses before and after it. Looking forward to your explanations. و اسلام عليكم و رحمة الله
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