Bismillahir Rehmanir Raheem
Hafidhh ibn Taymiyya and Qadi Shawkani quote the following hadith:
‘Abd Allah bin Mas’ud, may Allah be pleased with Him, reported that our Prophet, (May Allah bless him and grant him peace), stated: “If you ever find yourselves stranded alone in a desolate place or jungle, then say, ‘O servants of Allah! Help me, Allah have mercy on you.’”
[Al-Kalim al-Tayyib, page 69, by Hafidhh ibn Taymiyya, and Qadi Shawkani in Tufhat ad-Dhakireen, page 130. Ibn Sunni, Imam Bazaar, Hafidhh al Hasamim and Imam Nawawi all quote this hadith also in their various books.]
This hadith, demonstrates that one can ask help from those who one cannot see, like the angels, the friends of Allah, the jinn, and that it cannot be said that it is a wrong act.
Mullah ‘Ali Qari writes that our Prophet Muhammad, (May Allah bless him and grant him peace), said that:
If you are in the jungle alone say, “O servants of Allah! Help me.” The servants of Allah are the angels, Muslims, jinn, or ‘abdal. This hadith is useful for travellers.
[Al Hirzu al-ThAmin, page 378, by Mullah ‘Ali Qari]
The Awliya’s Provision of Help beyond Human Capability
The Prophet Sulaiman, peace be upon him, asked his companions who could bring the throne of the Queen of Sheba to his court. Allah says, describing this in the Holy Qur’an:
An ifreet of the jinn said,
‘I will bring it to you
before you get up from your seat.
I am strong and trustworthy enough to do it.’
He who had knowledge of the Book said,
‘I will bring it to you
before your glance returns to you.’
And when he saw it standing firmly in his presence,
he said, ‘This is part of my Lord’s favour to me to test me
to see if I will give thanks or show ingratitude’.
[Surah Al-Naml, verse 39-40]
Hafidhh Ibn Kathir writes concerning this verse that the man who brought the throne was called Asif bin Barkhiyah.
[Tafsir Ibn Kathir]
There was a companion named Salamah bin Akwa, may Allah be pleased with Him, who was injured so severely on his shin that people began to fear that he would die a matyr. Salamah, may Allah be pleased with Him, states: “I went to the Messenger of Allah, (May Allah bless him and grant him peace), and told him about my wound, whereupon he proceeded to blow on it three times and I was cured instantly.”
[Mishkat, chapter on Virtues of Sayyid al-Mursalin]
Hafidhh Ibn Kathir writes:
“During the khilafah of ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with Him, there appeared a fire in the desert. ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with Him, asked Tamim al-Dari, may Allah be pleased with Him, to assist him. They approached the area of the fire and Tamim al-Dari, may Allah be pleased with Him, began to gather the fire with his hands and started shoving the fire into a hole in the ground. This was a karamah of Tamim al-Dari, may Allah be pleased with Him.”
[Tarikh Ibn Kathir, Vol. 6, chapter on Miracles, and Sirat un-Nabi, Ibn Kathir, chapter on Mu’jizat]
Elsewhere, Hafidhh Ibn Kathir writes:
During the khilafah of ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with Him, the governor of Egypt wrote to ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with Him, asking for help as the river Nile had failed to flood. ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with Him, wrote a letter in return and addressed the river itself. This was then placed in the Nile, and no sooner as this was done, the Nile’s water began to flood.
[Tarikh Ibn Kathir, volumes 1 and 8, chapter on Rivers and chapter on Khilafah of ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with Him.]
The above narrations prove that certain categories of humans, even though they are not Prophets, are capable of doing acts that are normally impossible. Secondly, the narrations prove that one can ask for these supernatural acts from humans. If this were not the case, why would the Prophet Sulaiman, peace be upon him, ask Asif bin Barkhiyah to bring the throne of Bilqees (Queen of Sheeba)? Why would ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with Him, ask Tamim al-Dari to quench the raging fire? Why would Salamah bin Akwa, may Allah be pleased with Him, ask the Messenger of Allah, (May Allah bless him and grant him peace), to miraculously cure his wound? And why would the governor of Egypt ask ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with Him, to make the Nile flood? So, in summary, it is permissible to request a person to do something impossible under ‘normal’ circumstances.
Muhammad bin ‘Abd al-Wahhab writes that the people who claim that it is permissible to seek help from the pious cite the following evidence in support of their argument:
When Ibrahim, peace be upon him, was thrown into the fire, Jibreel peace be upon him, offered his help to free him. If seeking help from other than Allah is shirk, then why did Jibril offer his assistance to Ibrahim? The answer is that the help which was being offered, was within his capability given by Allah, most High, and therefore not shirk.
[Kitab Kasfh al Shubhat, page 23]
The help that is sought from the anbiya or awliya is within their capability. For example, it is permissible for one to request a deceased person to make a du’a, as it has already been proved that the deceased can make du’a. This means that asking help from another which is out of their capacity is not shirk.
Hafidhh ibn al-Qayyim explained in his book Kitab al-Ruh.
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