Smoothing out the Wrinkles
Though beseeching the prophets, the saints and the martyrs for help and assistance is quite appropriate and is proved both by the Qur’ān and the sunnah, some of its denigrators have castigated it as an act of disbelief on the basis of self-concocted reasons. In this chapter we propose to review these object ions one by one and rebut them on the basis of proofs furnished by the Qur’ān and the traditions.
First objection: Appeal for help is in itself an act of worship
In order to declare appeal for help to someone other than Allāh as a form of disbelief, they, first of all, identify it with worship. Since it is an act of disbelief to worship anyone except Allāh, therefore, to appeal to someone except Allāh for help and assistance is a kind of disbelief. They put forward a battery of argument s to prove their contention:
- Rather, who is the one who grants the supplication of a person in distress when he calls Him and relieves the trouble?( an-Naml, the Ants) 27:62. )
- And those whom these (polytheists) worship besides Allāh can create nothing and have themselves been created. (They) are dead, lifeless, and they do not know
(even this much) as when (people) will be raised up. ( Qur’ān (an-Nahl, the Bee) 16:20-1.)
- And those you invoke besides Him, their power is even lesser than the skin of a datestone. Even if you invoke them, they will not be able to listen to your call, and if (as a supposition) they do listen, they cannot answer your call and on the Day of Judgement they will deny your partnership, and will not tell you any news like the One Who is acquainted with all things. (Qur’ān (Fātir, the Originator) 35:13-4)
- And who is more astray than the one who invokes, besides God, such (gods) as will not answer him to the Day of Judgement and who in fact are unconscious of their call. (Qur’ān (al-Ahqāf, the Sand-dunes) 46:5.)
- That (person) calls on such deities, besides God, as can neither hurt nor profit him.( Qur’ān (al-Hajj, Pilgrimage) 22:12.)
- Nor worship besides Allāh any (idols): such will neither profit you nor hurt you. Then if you did so, you will certainly be among those who do wrong. And if God hurts you, there is none except Him who can remove it.( Qur’ān (Yūnus, Jonah) 10:106-7)
- He worships him whose hurt is nearer than his profit (. al-Hajj, Pilgrimage) 22:13. )
They rely on these Qur’ānic verses and assert that anyone who invokes any other person besides Allāh should be condemned. They argue on this basis that invoking help and seeking assistance is reserved only for Allāh. Therefore, any appeal for help to anyone else besides him is a form of disbelief. This kind of reasoning is act ually based on misconception and perverse logic. In the following pages an attempt is made to pick out flaws in this mode of reasoning and to present a sound and clear picture of the true position.
Each appeal for help is not an act of worship
In these Qur’ānic verses the word du‘ā’ has been used in the sense of worship. But the holy Qur’ān does not interpret the word du‘ā’ as worship in all context s, otherwise minds which have gone astray will not refrain from casting stones even on the prophets and will marshal assorted evidence in a futile effort to prove their point of view. Allāh says in the holy Qur’ān:
- Say: Come! Let us call (together) our sons and your sons.( Qur’ān (Āl ‘Imrān, the Family of ‘Imrān) 3:61.)
- Then (after a little while) a (girl) out of the two came to him who was walking with modesty. She said: ‘my father is calling you to remunerate you for the (labour) you have done for us by feeding water (to) our (goats).( Qur’ān (al-Qasas, the Narratives) 28:25.)
- Then (after slaughtering them), put a portion of them on every hill and call to them, they will come to you with speed.( Qur’ān (al-Baqarah, the Cow) 2:260.)
- When we shall call together all factions of human beings with their leaders.
(al-Isrā’, the Night journey) 17:71.)
The comments made by ‘Abdullāh bin ‘Abbās on this Qur’ānic verse are as follows:
Here the leader or Imām means the person whose invitation the people have followed, whether this invitation leads them to evil or guidance.( Baghawī narrated it in Ma‘ālim-ut-tanzīl (3:126)
It means that each community will gather around its leader whose commands it followed during its earthly sojourn and Allāh will call them by this specific label: ‘O followers of such and such leader, your fate will be decided along with him.’
In short, if we interpret the word du‘ā’ in these verses as worship, we are more likely to open the window of disbelief rather than close it. Therefore it seems logical to conclude that if the word du‘ā’ is linked with an infidel or a non-believer, it will mean an act of worship, otherwise it s meaning will change with the change of context. In the verses cited against the justification of appeal for help as arguments the word du‘ā’ is directed at the infidels, therefore, in these sit uations it will mean an act of worship, but they do not disacknowledge the validity of appeal for help because the favourites of Allāh whose help is being sought are not entitled to be worshipped.