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Tawassul is an Arabic word originated from wa-sa-la- wasilat (Arabic: وسيلة-وسل‎‎). The wasilah is a means by which a person,goal or objective is approached, attained or achieved.[1] In another version of the meaning of tawassul in another text: Tawassul is an Arabic word that comes from a verbal noun, wasilah, which according to Ibn Manzur (d. 711/1311) in Lisān al-'Arab means "a station with King, a rank, or act of devotion.[2] In other words, it refers to a position of power due to one's proximity to the king or sovereign.[2] While the tawassul or tawassulan is the use of wasilah for this purpose.[1] In religious contexts,the tawassul is the use of a wasilah to arrive at or obtain favour of Allah.[1]

We can find various examples of tawassul in the Books of Hadith.One good example is found in well-known hadith of the young men trapped in a cave whose mouth was covered by a stone: Each of them prays to God by mentioning some acts that he did for God's sake, in hopes that it might cause his prayer to be accepted.[2] This is a good example of doing tawassul with one's good action.


The most frequently cited of those verses of the Quran in which the word wasilah appears is:

O you who believe! be careful of (your duty to) Allah and seek means (wasilah) of nearness to Him and strive hard in His way that you may be successful (Q5:35)

The meaning of the term wasilah in the above verse according to Albani is a thing that is used to obtain closeness and favour of Allah.[1] According to some classical commentators, including the great Sufi exegetes, such as al-Qushayri (d. 465/1074) explain the use of al-wasilah in this verse to mean avoiding what is prohibited,fulfiling what is enjoined on us, and drawing near to God through good actions.[2] Both Raghib Isfahan and Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Tabataba'i opine that al-wasilah means to reach a certain goal through desire, inclination and willingness, and in fact wasilah towards God means observance of His path with knowledge and worship through adherence to the Sharia.[3] In another verse of the Qur'an that confirmed legality of tawassul (intercession) states:

We sent not the Messenger, but to be obeyed, in accordance with the will of Allah. If they had only, when they were unjust to themselves, come to the Messenger and asked Allah's forgiveness, and the Messenger had (also) asked forgiveness for them, they would have found Allah indeed Oft-returning, Most Merciful.

— Al-Qur'an, Surah an-Nisa, 4:64[4]

[unreliable source?]

It can be deduced from the verse above that intercession (tawassul) is only with the "permission" of Allah.[5] Also, the practice of seeking intercession began during the time of prophet Muhammad.[6] An oft-cited Hadith in support of this is one narrated from Uthman ibn Hunaif regarding a blind man who Muslims believe was healed through the process.

The Hadith is as follows:

A blind man came to the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) and said: "I've been afflicted in my eyesight, so pray to Allah for me". The Prophet (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: "Go perform ablution (Wudu), perform two Rak’at Salat and then say: "O Allah! I ask you and turn to you through my Prophet Muhammad, the Prophet of Mercy. O Muhammad! I seek your intercession with my lord for the return of my eyesight, that it may be fulfilled. O Allah! Grant him intercession for me". The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) then said: "and if there is some other need, do the same"

— Recorded by Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud, Nasa'i, Tabarani and others, with a sound chain of narrators.[citation needed]

Tawassul in light of Quran

In the section, we shall examine some verses of the holy Quran that justify and approve tawassul. The first verse we shall consider is the verse 35 of chapter 5 of the holy Quran:

″O believers! Fear Allah and seek means (of approach to) His (presence and to His nearness and accessibility) and strive in His way so that you may prosper"[lower-alpha 1]

The above verse lay emphasis on four things:

  • Faith
  • Piety (Taqwa)
  • Search for means of approach
  • Struggle for Allah's sake

According to the verse, the third regulation after faith in God and piety is " seeking means (of approach to) His (presence and to His nearness and accessibility)". Some of the religious scholars have interpreted wasilah (the means of approach) mentioned in the Quranic verse as faith and good deeds while others, who are majority have explained the word as the prophets, the righteous and favourites of Allah.[7] Also, the verse reveals that a person seeking means of approach to Allah will have in the first instance a believer and Muttaqeen (a person who fear Allah). Thus wasilah does not amount to associating patner with Allah but rather reaffirms the oneness of Allah.[7]

Tawassul in the light of Sunna

Sunni perspective

Views of Islamic Jurists

All jurists comprising Imami,Shafi'i, Maliki, Hanafi and Hambali are unanimous on the permissibility of tawassul whether during the lifetime of the prophet or after his demise.[8][9] Sunni Muslims traditionally have believed that seeking intercession is lawful: Imam Baihaqi in Shu’ayb ul Iman endorsed the view of Imam Ahmed bin Hanbal, Imam Shafi in Imâm Shâfi`î, Dîwân, Ibn Hajar ‘Asqalani in Al-Isabah, Mullah Ali Qari in Sharh ash-Shifa, Imam Ibn Kathir in Ibn Kathir, Imam an-Nawawi in Majmu, Imam Jalaluddin Suyuti in Dur al-Manthur, Imam Qurtubi in Tafsir al-Qurtubi, Qadhi Shawkani in Tuhfa tul Dhakireen have explained and supported Tawassul.[4][unreliable source?] Syrian Islamic scholars Salih al-Nu`man, Abu Sulayman Suhayl al-Zabibi, and Mustafa ibn Ahmad al-Hasan al-Shatti al-Hanbali al-Athari al-Dimashqi have similarly released Fatwas in support of the practice.[10]

Salafi view

The Salafi considers it unlawful to make Tawassul through those that are no longer alive — including prophets and saints. The Saudi-based Permanent Committee for Islamic Research and Fataawa holds the view that Tawassul through dead persons, virtuous or not, leads to shirk (polytheism).[11]

Shia perspective

Seeking Intercession (tawassul) is accepted and even advised in Shi'a Islam. Shia Scholars refer to Quranic verses such as 5:3, 12:97 and 12:98 and justify its permissibility. During the tawassul prayer Shia Muslims call on the names of the prophet Muhammad and the Ahl al-Bayt and use them as their intercessors/intermediaries to God.[12]



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Lua error in Module:Citation/CS1/Identifiers at line 47: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Hamza, Yusuf (2014). The Prayer of the oppressed. eBooks2go. ISBN 9781618130204.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Shirazi, Abd al-Karim (2000). Tawassul-Seeking a way unto Allah. Ahlul Bayt World Assembly.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 http://www.ahlus-sunna.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=57&Itemid=116
  5. Sunni Hanbali Position from Islam Tomorrow
  6. Al Rifai Al Salafi At Tawassol Ila Haqiqat al Tawassul P:158. الرفاعي المعاصر: التوصل إلى حقيقة التوسل
  7. 7.0 7.1 Tahir-ul-Qadri, Muhammad (2001). Islamic Concept of Intermediation (Tawassul). Minhaj-ul-Quran Publication,Lahore. pp. 42–44. ISBN 978-9693208825.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. al-Zurqani, Muhammad. Sharh al-Mawahib al-ladunniyah. Beirut: Dar al-Ma'rifa. pp. 304–305.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Ibn Juzayy, Muhammad (1926). Al-Qawanin al-Fiqhiyyah. Matbaat al-Nahda. p. 148.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Salih al-Na`man's fatwa on Tawassul
  11. Seeking Rescue from the Living and Dead and Making Tawassul Through Them| FatwaIslam.com
  12. Donaldson, Dwight M. (1933). The Shi'ite Religion: A History of Islam in Persia and Irak. BURLEIGH PRESS. pp. 339–358.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Further reading

  • Chiabotti, Francesco, Shafa'a (Intercession), in Muhammad in History, Thought, and Culture: An Encyclopedia of the Prophet of God (2 vols.), Edited by C. Fitzpatrick and A. Walker, Santa Barbara, ABC-CLIO, 2014. ISBN 1610691776

External links