To support someone in his hour of trouble and to commiserate with him in his moment of agony is to fortify the relationship st eeped in love. The message of Islam is the message of peace and security and the life of the holy Prophet is permeated with the perfume of love. Even when he is stoned by the ruffians of Tā’if, only the flowers of prayer blossom on his lips; there is not a squeak of complaint against them. He condones the acts of those who are after his blood because his faith is essentially the interpretation of love. Who could be a greater means of redempt ion than the Prophet himself who alleviated the pain of others and helped them — in the fulfilment of their needs! On the Day of Judgement, when people will face their greatest calamity and become self-obsessive, they will rally round the prophets and saint s to beseech their help and intercession, but all will express their inability to help them on that day, and finally they will beseech the holy Prophet for help and rely on his mediation for their salvation, and Allāh will end their torture for the sake of the holy Prophet. According to the tradition the Prophetsaid: ‘people will beseech Adam for help, then Mūsā(and finally himself.’ If this is permissible on the Day of Judgement, this should be equally permissible during our stay in this world. This reflects the kindheartedness and benevolence of the prophets that the believers can depend on them as a means of approach to the infinite mercy of Allāh, whether we are on the earth or in the Hereafter.
The text of the tradition is as follows:
Narrated by ‘Abdullāh bin ‘Umar that the Prophet said, “A person constantly begs from other people till he on the Day of Judgement has no flesh on his face.” He added, “The sun will come closer to the people on the Day of Judgement. It will be so close that half of one’s ear will be drenched in sweat. In this condition, people will first seek the mediation of Adam, then of Mūsā and finally of Muhammad.” And ‘Abdullāh the sub-narrator added, “Layth narrated to me that Ibn Abū Ja‘far had narrated: He [the Prophet] will intercede with Allāh to judge amongst the people. Then he will leave here until he will hold the arc of the gate of Paradise. On that day, Allāh will make him ascend the glorious station and all the people present there will sing his praises.
The tradition has, thus, furnished a justification not only of the word istighāthah but also of it s popular usage. The noteworthy point is that when it is valid to beseech the prophet s and the saints for help in the Hereafter and also to seek the help of the living in this phenomenal world, it is simply meaningless and absurd to deny its relevance during the purgatorial existence.
A number of traditions attest to the fact that the Companions beseeched the holy Prophet for help and assistance and sought the solution of their problems through his mediation by stressing their penury, disease, suffering, need, debt and humility. This act was based on their underlying conviction that the holy Prophet served only as an intermediary in their gain and loss and the real operating force behind all these phenomena is only Allāh Himself. No one, not even His beloved Prophet, can encroach upon His exclusive terrain. Given below are a few traditions in which the Companions beseeched the holy Prophet for help:
Abū Hurayrah’s appeal for help
Abū Hurayrah had a weak retentive power and therefore, could not easily remember the commands of the Prophet. He beseeched the Prophet for help who permanently cured his t endency to forgetfulness. This is the reason that he proved to be the most prolific narrator of tradit ions. Abū Hurayrah relates it in his own words:
I said: ‘O Messenger of Allāh! I listen to many of your traditions and then I forget them.’ The Prophet said: ‘spread your sheet.’ So I spread it. Abū Hurayrah says: ‘then the Prophet picked up something (from the air) with his hands and put it in (the sheet). Then said: “join it to yourself,” so I joined it, and afterwards my memory never slipped.
The tradition indicates that the Companions beseeched the holy Prophet for help in every difficult situation. Who could be a greater supporter of the concept of divine unity than the Companions themselves! And who could be a st auncher claimant of the oneness of Allāh than the Prophet himself! But, in spite of it, Abū Hurayrah beseeched the holy Prophet for help and succour and instead of t urning down his request he solved his problem forever. The reason is that anyone who believes in divine unity, knows that the only real helper is Allāh, while the prophets, the saint s and other pious people whose help is being sought, act only as intermediaries. Their power of mediation derives from Allāh’s blessing Who has conferred on them this power to ease the problems of the believers. The act of mediat ion is, therefore, divinely sanctioned, and does not amount to a trespass of divinity. Abū Hurayrah beseeched the Prophet () for help who fulfilled his need. He never told him to pray to Allāh direct ly and to remain steadfast in his belief in divine unity. On the contrary, he picked up a fistful of something invisible from the air and put it in his sheet and commanded to rub it on to his chest. Thus Allāh acknowledged this act of mediation as valid and fulfilled
Abū Hurayrah’s need.
Every sensible person who believes in divine unity knows that supplication is made only to Allāh for the fulfilment of needs whose power spans all the worlds. The petit ioner believes that the person he is beseeching to mediate and intercede on his behalf is closer to Allāh Who responds more sensitively and urgently to his appeal for help. Therefore, the appeal processed through him stands a greater chance of immediate acceptance. The petitioner knows that his power to help is only derivative because the real helper is Allāh Himself and this is what is clearly reflected in Abū Hurayrah’s tradition.
(2:536-7#1405); Tabarānī transmitted it in al-Mu‘jam-ulawsat (9:331#8720); and Haythamī cited it in Majma‘-uzzawā’id (10:371).
Bukhārī narrated it through different chains of transmission in his as-Sahīh, b. of ‘ilm (knowledge) ch.42 (1:56#119), b. of manāqib (virtues) ch.24 (3:1333#3448); Tirmidhī in alJāmi‘-us-sahīh, b. of manāqib, ch.47 (5:684#3835) and graded it hasan (fair) sahīh (sound); Ibn Sa‘d, at-Tabaqātul-kubrā (2:362; 4:330); T abarānī, al-Mu‘jam-ul-awsat (1:451#815); Ibn-ul-Athīr, Asad-ul-ghābah (6:314); Haythamī, Majma‘-uz-zawā’id (9:362); ‘Asqalānī, Fath-ulbārī (1:215; 6:633); and ‘Aynī in ‘Umdat-ul-qārī (2:182; 16:168).