The Status of Tawheed, Part 6: How the Grave-Worshippers Justify their Polytheistic Practices

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Lesson 6

All Praise is due to Allāh, we praise Him, seek His aid and His Forgiveness. We seek refuge in Allāh from the evils of our souls and the evils of our actions. Whomsoever Allāh guides there is none to misguide and whomsoever Allāh misguides there is none to guide. I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship except Allāh, alone, without any partners and I bear witness that Muhammad (صلّ الله عليه و سلّم) is His servant and Messenger.

To proceed,

The truest speech is the Book of Allāh, and the best way is the way of Muhammad (صلّ الله عليه و سلّم). The worst of affairs are the newly invented matters, every newly invented matter is an innovation, every innovation is misguidance, and every misguidance is in the Fire.

To proceed: (transcribed)

The categories of Tawheed were not something invented from the minds of the scholars rather, they were derived from proofs and evidence, established from the Qur’an and the Sunnah. This leads us to the next chapter, where Shaykh al-Fawzān (may Allah preserve him) discusses the affair of Tawheed as understood by Mutakallimeen, i.e. Tawheed in the mindset of the rationalists who refer their affairs back to logic and to their own reasoning and intellect, and the Sufis, the Ash’arees and so on. So Tawheed from the viewpoint of these “rationalists” is a singular category only and that is Tawheed ar Rubboobiyyah, the Tawheed of Allah’s Lordship only.

As mentioned before, the polytheists of Makkah held to one category of Tawheed, the Tawheed of Rubboobiyyah: that Allah is the Lord, the Creator, the Sustainer, the Giver of life, the Giver of death, the One who sends down the rain, the Controller of the creation and so on. This encompasses the Lordship of Allah, Tawheed ar-Rubboobiyyah. The Mushrikeen (the polytheists) of Makkah affirmed this category as we mentioned previously. So to remind the respected reader, Allah has stated in the Qur’an, “Say to them, O Prophet, ‘To who belongs the earth and that which is within it, if you truly know?’ They will say: ‘It belongs to Allah.’ Say to them, O Prophet: ‘Will you not then remember and take admonition?’”

Also, “Say, O Prophet, ‘Who is the Lord of the Seven Heavens and who is the Lord of the Mighty Throne?’ They (polytheists) will say: ‘It belongs to Allah.’ Say to them: ‘Will you not fear Allah and be dutiful to Him?’”

Also, “Say to them, O Prophet: ‘In whose Hand is the sovereignty of everything, and He is the one who protects, while against Him there is no protector if you truly know?’ They will say: ‘It is for Allah.’ Then how are you then deceived and turned away from the truth?”(See Surah al-Mu’minoon 23:84-89)

These ayāt prove that the Mushrikeen used to affirm the Rubboobiyyah (the Lordship) of Allah. When they were asked, “To who belongs the earth and whatever is within it?” They would say “Allah”. When it was said to them, “Who is the Lord of the seven heavens and who is the Lord of the Mighty Throne?” They used to affirm that the Lord of the seven heavens is Allah and the Lord of the Mighty Throne, is Allah. The polytheists affirmed all of this. When it was said to them, “In whose Hand is the sovereignty?” They would say, “It is for Allah”. When asked, “Who is the one who protects everything, against whom there is no protector?” They would say, “It is Allah.”

The mushrikeen of Makkah used to affirm the Rubboobiyyah of Allah; the Lordship and ownership of Allah. Likewise, Allah stated in Sūrah Yunus, āyat 31: “Say to them, O Prophet, ‘Who is the one who provides you with sustenance from the sky, and from the earth? Who is the one who owns the hearing and He owns the sights, the one who brings life out of the dead and the one who brings the dead out of the living? Who is the one who controls all of the affairs of the universe?’” The Mushrikoon, the idol worshippers of Quraish responded, “It is Allah.” So say to them O Prophet: “Will you not fear Him and will you not be dutiful to Him?”

Tawheed ar Rubboobiyyah is to affirm that Allah (ﷻ) is Al-Khāliq, Al-Rāziq, Al-Muhyi, Al-Mumeet, i.e. that He is the Creator, the Provider, the Giver of Life, the Giver of Death, that which refers to the actions of Allah.

The scholars of Kalām (theological rhetoric), all of the scholars who described themselves as “rationalists” and their counterparts have founded their Aqeedah upon this so-called “logic and intellect”; meaning that they establish their religion and their belief based on what their mind and what their reason dictates, and this ideology is present to this day. In their books, you will only find the affirmation of the Tawheed ar-Rubboobiyyah. According to them, whoever believes and affirms that Allah is the Creator, the Sustainer, the Giver of Life, the Giver of Death, the one who created the heavens and the earth, is a Muwahhid, i.e. that he is a person of Tawheed (monotheism).

In their viewpoint, there is no such thing Tawheed al-Uloohiyyah or Tawheed al-Asmā was-Sifāt – there is no Tawheed of singling out Allah alone as the sole deity worthy of worship, or to single out Allah alone with His beautiful names and His lofty attributes. They do not see a need for it, and therefore do not affirm those two categories of Tawheed. Therefore, it stands to reason that they do not consider the worship of the deceased in the graves, seeking intercession through them and supplicating to them as shirk (polytheism). Some of them say that this is merely addressing, talking to or calling upon other than Allah (ﷻ). Others of them may admit it is wrong, but they will not call it is Shirk (polytheism). So they do not see it as a violation of Tawheed.

Others of them claim that these people who call upon the dead in their graves with supplications and seeking rescue with them that they are not Mushrikeen (polytheists) because they have not denied the category of Tawheed Ar-Rubboobiyyah. This is because Tawheed, to them, is merely one category and so long as a person affirms that Allah is the Creator, the Sustainer, the Giver of Life, the Giver of Death, the one who controls the universe, so long as a person affirms that then he is a monotheist, a Muwahhid. So since those who go to graves and make du’ā to them and call out to them do not believe that the deceased are the creators or the givers of provision, or that they control the universe alongside Allah, then in their view, it is not shirk to ‘merely’ call upon them.  Instead, they believe that those they are worshipping in the graves are only a means of nearness, merely wasā’il (a means to reach Allah) and they are wasā’it (intermediaries) between them and Allah.

So, since they are intermediaries between them and Allah, that means that they affirm Allah, and if they were asked who the Creator is, they would say, “It is Allah.” So they call upon the inhabitants of the graves because the dead intercede for them with Allah and mediate, and they refer to this as Shafā’ah (intercession) with Allah!  This is their claim till today. This claim of theirs is in reality, the same as that of the idolators when the Prophet (ﷺ) used to say to them “Do not worship the idols, do not call upon them, instead call upon Allah alone, your Lord and Creator.” Their response used to be, ‘We only worship them that they may bring us nearer to Allah in rank.’

أَلَا لِلَّهِ الدِّينُ الْخَالِصُ ۚ وَالَّذِينَ اتَّخَذُوا مِن دُونِهِ أَوْلِيَاءَ مَا نَعْبُدُهُمْ إِلَّا لِيُقَرِّبُونَا إِلَى اللَّهِ زُلْفَىٰ

“Unquestionably, for Allah is the pure religion. And those who take protectors besides Him say, ‘We only worship them that they may bring us nearer to Allah in rank.'” (Az-Zumar, 3)

When the Prophet (ﷺ) used to invite them to “Call upon Allah, don’t call upon the idols”, then it was not that they did not believe that Allah was the Creator and the Sustainer, they believed that Allah was the Creator and the Sustainer, the Giver of Life and the Giver of Death, the One who sends rain down from the sky and who brings out the provisions of the earth – they affirmed all of that. But they called upon the idols claiming, “We do not worship them [meaning the idols] except that they bring us closer to Allah in rank”.

Likewise, Allah (the Most High) stated:

وَيَعْبُدُونَ مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ مَا لَا يَضُرُّهُمْ وَلَا يَنفَعُهُمْ وَيَقُولُونَ هَٰؤُلَاءِ شُفَعَاؤُنَا عِندَ اللَّهِ ۚ قُلْ أَتُنَبِّئُونَ اللَّهَ بِمَا لَا يَعْلَمُ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَلَا فِي الْأَرْضِ ۚ سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ عَمَّا يُشْرِكُونَ

“And they worship besides Allah things that hurt them not, nor profit them, and they say: “These are our intercessors with Allah.” Say: “Do you inform Allah of that which He knows not in the heavens and on the earth?!” Glorified and Exalted be He above all that which they associate as partners with Him!” (Yunus: 10:18)

They worshipped the creation instead of Allah or called upon the dead or the Jinn or the idols alongside Allah. Those beings that they worship cannot harm them; nor can they bring them benefit, and they claim, “We are only calling upon them because they are between us and Allah, so they will bring us closer to Allah.” They did not want to call upon Allah directly, so they called upon idols, or the inhabitants of the graves, or the Prophets, or the Messengers, or they would call upon the jinn or the angels, and they used to say, as they say today, “They are intercessors between us and Allah”.  This is something that is a reality and something that it present even in our times.

The heads of Sufism and theological rhetoric (the Ash’arees and Mātureedees) say that “Indeed, the supplication to the deceased in his grave and having this connection with and seeking rescue with them and seeking from them to intercede is not Shirk.” They claim that this is tawassul, i.e. this is nothing but seeking nearness to Allah and it is only seeking intercession (shafā’ah)  with Allah; calling upon someone who will call upon Allah for them!

They take the “saints” and “peers” and the awliyā as intermediaries between them and Allah (the Most High), whilst Allah has forbidden them from calling upon those who cannot benefit them nor harm them. So, they assert this is not Shirk because they believe that the ones they are calling upon (in their graves) do not create or provide and they do not control the universe, only Allah does that. Tawheed, to them, is merely the affirmation of the Tawheed of Lordship. They claim what they do at the graves is not considered to be Shirk unless one believes that the inhabitants of the graves and other than them have the ability to create, to provide sustenance and to control the affairs of the universe alongside Allah. If that was said, then that is Shirk, but other than that, there is no other type of shirk.

This is something that they state clearly in their books and in their lectures. If one from the people of Kalām (among the Ash’arees and Jahmees) forbade this type of seeking intercession, they would only go as far as to say, “It’s a mistake, and they do not know.” But they will not say, “It is major Shirk because of their belief that Shirk is to deny that Allah is the Creator – and to call upon other than Allah is not Shirk. Due to this, most of them do not forbid their followers from travelling to graves and performing rituals and celebrations at “shrines”. They say this is merely the taking of intermediaries and intercessors to come closer to Allah, and not Shirk.

Shaykh Al-Fawzan then stated, “By Allah, I have not ascribed anything to the people that they themselves have not said”, meaning, “I am not putting words into their mouths”.  This belief is present in their books, and their speech, in which they refute the people of Tawheed and they defend the people of Shirk. They defend what is done at the graves such as Tawāf, prostration, bowing, raising hands in supplication calling out the name of the deceased in his grave seeking his aid or his intercession, and when it is asked of them “What are you doing? This is major Shirk!” They say, “No, it is not Shirk because we did not say that the dead one created us. We know Allah created us. The dead one did not create us, so how can it be Shirk?” So Shirk to them is only a violation of the Ruboobiyyah (the Lordship) of Allah, and they believe the Lord can be approached through the intercession of the dead, and the Jinn, etc.

As for violating the Tawheed of Allah in His worship (‘uloohiyyah), they do not consider that to be Shirk. This is why you find them in their millions visiting the graves of the dead – they seek their aid and assistance and intercession (shafā’ah) and they do not consider that to be Shirk. That is a calamity because they have not understood the Tawheed that the Messengers came with.

To be continued, inshā’-Allāh.

Lecture Series by Abu Khadeejah Abdul-Wāhid
Ramadan 1438 / 2017 Masjid As-Salafi Birmingham

Lessons from the Noble Qur’an by Shaykh Sālih al-Fawzān (adapted).

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