Exaggeration in the graves of the righteous leads to them to be taken as idols that are worshipped besides Allah. Kitāb at-Tawhīd, Ch. 21

“Ash-Sharh al-Moojaz al-Mumahhad li Tawheed al-Khaaliq al-Mumajjad alladhi allafahu Shaikhul-Islam Muhammad”
(The Concise, Simple and Straight-forward Explanation of the Tawheed of the Exalted Creator – which was Authored by the Shaikhul-Islām Muhammad b. Abdul-Wahhāb)

Sharh-Moojaz-An-Najmee

This is an explanation of Kitāb at-Tawheed of Shaikhul-Islaam Muhammad b. Abdul-Wahhaab (d. 1206H, rahimahullāh) by ash-Shaikh al-Allāmah Ahmad b. Yahyā an-Najmee (rahimahullaah).

So Shaikhul-Islām Muhammad b. Abdul-Wahhāb (rahimahullāh) said:

Chapter 21: Exaggeration concerning the graves of the righteous leads to them being taken as idols that are worshipped besides Allah

Imām Mālik (V) reported in Al-Muwatta’ that Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said: “O Allah! Never make my grave into an idol that is worshipped. Allah’s anger is severe upon a people who turned the graves of their Prophets into places of worship (mosques).” 

[Al-Muwatta no. 85 in mursal form; Abdur-Razzāq in his Musannaf, 1/406 from the hadeeth of Zayd Ibn Aslam (I); declared saheeh (authentic) by Al-Albānee in Al-Mishkāt, no. 750]

A Sufi grave in Sri Lanka raised, plastered and adorned in a manner that is strictly forbidden.

Ibn Jareer reports with his chain of narration to Sufyān from Mansoor, from Mujāhid regarding the verse: “Have you then considered [the two idols] Al-Lāt and Al-‛Uzzā…” [An-Najm: 19] that he (Mujāhid) said: “Lāt used to serve the pilgrims flour mixed with ghee and water (called Saweeq). So when he died, they would gather and sit around his grave in devotion.” 

[Reported by Ibn Jareer At-Tabaree in his Tafseer, 22/523]

The same was stated by Abul-Jawzā’ from Ibn Abbās (L) that: “He would prepare flour mixed with ghee and water (Saweeq) for those performing Hajj.” 

[Reported by Al-Bukhāree, no. 5859]

Ibn Abbās (L) said: “Allah’s Messenger invoked the curse of Allah upon the women who continually visit the graves, and those people who build mosques upon them and place lights over them.” Reported by the authors of the Sunan.

[Reported by Abu Dāwood, no. 3236; At-Tirmidhee, no. 320]

Explanation of Shaikh Ahmad an-Najmee (V):

All of these narrations and the chapter heading prove the following points:

1.

Exaggeration and going overboard is the reason why the graves of the righteous and the idols are worshipped instead of Allah alone.

2.

The term al-wathan (idol) is referred to anything that is worshipped besides Allāh; whether it be a grave or anything else. It is for this reason that the Prophet (ﷺ) said:  “O Allah! Never make my grave into an idol that is worshipped.” This was because Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) feared that his grave maybe taken as an idol that is worshipped besides Allah alongside the fact that he was the one who warned from idolatry and would strive against the people of idolatry and would become angry with those who practised polytheism. He made it permissible for his disciples, the Muslims to fight in battle against the idolators. All of this was allowed due to their worship of idols instead of Allah alone. For this reason he said: “Allah’s anger is severe upon a people who turned the graves of their Prophets into places of worship (mosques).” Allah’s anger is not severe except upon those who commit the gravest of sins; the greatest of sins, the severest and most outrageous is to take graves as places of worship and as idols that are worshipped besides Allah. And how many verses are there wherein Allah speaks against the polytheists; wherein He explains the weakness of their intellects, and what it subsequently leads them to – that they would take as a god one who Allah turned into a corpse after death, a corpse that becomes a carcass in its grave. And Allah concealed that corpse in the earth such that none is able to get close to it let alone the fact that, it being a creation, is unable to help and aid the one who seeks from it, or to keep one safe from what he fears.

And how often has Allah made clear His power and ability with what He has shown of signs within the creation and the universe. And He made clear the inability of people and their weakness in the face of the most trivial of affairs, in the smallest and the least of matters, just as Allah (the Most High) stated: “Those whom you call upon besides Him own not even the skin of a date stone. If you call upon them, they hear not your call – and even if they were to hear, they could not grant your request. And on the Day of Resurrection, they will disown your association of them in worship. And none can inform you like Him who is the All-Knower.” [Fātir: 13-14] Also His (the Most High) saying: “Say to the polytheists: Call upon those whom you assert to be associate gods besides Allah. They possess not even a weight of an atom either in the heavens or on earth, nor do they have any share in either – and nor is there for Allah any supporter from them.” [Saba’: 22]

So exaggeration and going overboard with respect to veneration of the graves of the righteous and likewise with respect to living individuals leads such people to become worshippers of them instead of worshippers of Allah alone. Allah (the Most High) warned in His Book from going to extremes: “O People of the Book do not go to extremes in your religion – and do not speak concerning Allah except the truth. Indeed ‛Eesā the son of Maryam is the Messenger of Allah and he came into existence due to His word, which He bestowed upon Maryam, and a spirit created by Him. So believe in Allah and His Messenger – and do speak with the Trinity. Cease! For that is better – indeed Allah is only one God.” [An-Nisā’: 171]

Ibn Jareer reports with his chain of narration to Sufyān from Mansoor, from Mujāhid regarding the verse: “Have you then considered [the two idols] Al-Lāt and Al-‛Uzzā…” [An-Najm: 19] that he (Mujāhid) said: “Lāt used to serve the pilgrims flour mixed with ghee and water (called Saweeq). So when he died, they would gather and sit around his grave in devotion.” 

I say: 

From the habits of people is that they will go to extremes in veneration of those they see to be righteous. And it is this type of exaggeration in veneration that leads the person to worship what he has venerated beyond its level instead of directing worship to Allah alone. So this person used to prepare Saweeq and feed it to the pilgrims at Hajj – and people went to exaggeration in veneration of him until they made him an object of worship, and they gathered around his grave in devotion.

At this point we shall also mention what happened to the people of Nooh (S) after the passing away of the Prophet Ādam (S): there used to be righteous men who would invite the people to the worship of Allah and encourage them to perform good deeds. When they died, Shaytān came to the people [in the form of a man] and he urged them to erect statues and images of these righteous men in their meeting places so that they can be reminded of what they used to say, and that would prompt them to perform acts of worship. So they did as Shaytān said. Then after a period of time when that generation came to an end, the people started worshipping those images and statues.

So we can see from this that Shaytān will sometimes call people to the worship of Allah for a longer term goal that will eventually lead the people to leave the worship of Allah to the worship of others besides Him.

As for Al-‛Uzzā, then it refers to three trees, and next to them the idolators erected an idol and named it Al-‛Uzzā for the purpose of worshipping it instead of Allāh (D).

It is also said: The idolators took the name Al-‛Uzzā from the name Al-‛Azeez (The Mighty: one of Allah’s names). It was in the valley of As-Sayl on the road to Tā’if. It was from the idols of Al-Quraish and also the idol of those who lived next to it from amongst the people of Tihāmah. Al-Lāt was the the idol of the people of Tā’if and those nearby. After Islam came along, these objects of worship were demolished – and worship was established solely for Allah to the exclusion of everything else. Allah (D) said: “And fight them until their remains no more tribulation and that all of the religion is solely for Allah. And if they cease associating others in worship with Allah, then indeed Allah is the All-Seer of what they do. But if they turn away, then know that Allah is your Lord, your Protector and your Supporter – and what an excellent Protector and an excellent Helper.” [Al-Anfāl: 39-40]

Ibn Abbās (L) said: “Allah’s Messenger invoked the curse of Allah upon the women who continually visit the graves, and those people who set up mosques over them and place lights over them.” Reported by the authors of the Sunan.

I say: 

This hadeeth is authentic due to its collective chains of transmission. For this reason Al-Albānee declared it to be saheeh in Saheeh Al-Jāmi’ no. 4985. It reported from Ibn ‛Abbās, Abu Hurayrah and Hassān Ibn Thābit (M).

So based upon this, there is the curse of Allah upon the women who constantly visit the graves due to their plentiful visitations that are polytheistic in nature – and it is for this reason the term in the hadeeth refers to those who women who visit graves excessively. For this reason many scholars regard this ruling to be specific to those women who make excessive visits to the gravesvisitations that involve polytheism and religious innovations that have no proof in the texts.

The fact that this narration is specific to women is an indication that they are more likely to fall prey to superstitious practices and deviated beliefs that are based upon ambiguities and distortions [of texts]. And whoever ponders over the condition of the people knows this.

Some of the scholars state that this prohibition of visiting the graves [for women] was before permission was granted to visit them. Permission to visit the graves occurs in an authentic hadeeth reported by Muslim wherein the Prophet (ﷺ) said: “I used to forbid you from visiting the graves – but visit them, for indeed they will remind you of the Hereafter.” 

[Reported by Muslim, no. 977 from the hadeeth of Buraidah (I) without the addition, “for indeed they will remind you of the Hereafter”. With this wording it reported by Ahmad in his Musnad, 5/355, no. 23055]

So after this came the general allowance for men and women. Those scholars who hold that it is allowed for women to visit graves [occasionally] use as a proof the occasion the Prophet (ﷺ) passed by a woman who was crying next to a grave. This hadeeth is reported by Bukhāree (no. 1283) and Muslim (no. 926) from Anas Ibn Mālik (I)  who said: The Prophet passed by a woman who was crying next to a grave. So he said to her: “Have taqwā of Allāh and be patient.” So she responded: “Go away! For you have not been afflicted with me affliction.” She had not recognised him. So it was said to her: “That was the Prophet.” So she went to the door of the Prophet (ﷺ) and did not find any guards there. So she said to him: “I did not recognise you.” So he said: “Indeed patience is to be observed at the first strike of calamity.” [So here the Prophet (ﷺ) did not forbid her from visiting the grave.]  The scholars also prove that it is allowed for women to visit the graves because ‛Ā’ishah (J) visited the grave of her brother. [Reported by Abdur-Razzāq in Al-Musannaf, 3/570, no. 6711; authenticated by Al-Albānee in Al-Irwā, no. 775]

I say: 

The prohibition for women that is reported in the hadeeth does not refer to the visitation that is in accordance to the Sunnah – rather the prohibition refers to the visitation that involves innovations and polytheistic practices. That is because visiting that is based upon the Sunnah does not entail the person being cursed. The curse is upon the one who does something forbidden, so the hadeeth refers to those women who do that which is forbidden – it is for this reason the Prophet (ﷺ) invoked the curse of Allah upon them.

The proof for this is in his (ﷺ) describing them: “those who set up mosques and place lights over them (i.e. the graves)…” Thus no one establishes mosques (places of worship) and lights over graves except the people of superstitious misguided beliefs.

The difference between the innovated visiting and the polytheistic visiting of graves:

The innovated visit: This is where the intent and thinking is that the worship and supplication next to a grave is a reason for the reward being multiplied and the worship being accepted.

The polytheistic visit: This is when the deceased is invoked, and needs are sought from him – and this occurs more often with women.

As for the visitation that is based upon the Sunnah: This is where one’s intent is to supplicate for the deceased. This is allowed for both men and women in general. ‛Ā’ishah (J) said to the Prophet (ﷺ): “How should I address them O Allah’s Messenger?” He replied: “Say: Peace be upon the inhabitants of this place from the Believers and the Muslims: and may Allah’s mercy be upon those who have gone ahead from us, and those who will come later on – and indeed we shall, inshā’ Allāh, join you.” [Reported by Muslim, no. 249]. So this is the correct position in this matter, inshā’ Allāh.

And with Allah lies success and guidance.

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Text of the Chapter from Kitābut-Tawheed in Arabic with checking of narrations:

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