TAWASSUL (MEDIATION) IN SUNNI ISLAM PT. 9

Remarks on Kissing the Hand from a recent interview of Mawlana Shaykh Nazim al-Haqqani

INTERVIEWER. Beside Ikhlas and love, what else do you emphasize in your teachings?

SHAYKH NAZIM. Respect. There must be respect. Without respecting each other, it is impossible to do anything. Allah Almighty ordered His servants to have respect among themselves. Respect brings good understanding. Good understanding brings love. Love brings everything.

INT. As others see you, perhaps they might say that your followers practically worship you.

SN. Those who say that are so foolish. They do not know what is worship and what is respect.

INT. So, you do not encourage your followers…?

SN. This is shaytanic teaching that they are propagating. We are Muslims. We say: La ma`buda illa Allah. That means no one is worthy of worship except Allah Almighty. But they are such square-headed people, and their heads are like footballs, empty! And what if someone respects a person that we have been ordered to respect? Man lam yuwaqqir kabirana wa lam yarham saghirana fa laysa minna. [Whoever does not revere our elders or show mercy to our little ones is not one of us.]* This is tawqir al-nas, giving honor to people, as it has been ordered: anzilu al-nasa manazilahum, “Give everyone their own station.”** This is an order from the Shari`a.

* Hadith of the Prophet narrated by Ahmad in his Musnad (5:323), al-Hakim declared it sahih in al-Mustadrak (1:122) and al-Dhahabi agreed with him.

** Hadith of the Prophet narrated by Muslim without chain in the introduction to his Sahih. Sakhawi said in al-Jawahir wa al-durar this is a fair (hasan) hadith, and al-Hakim said it is sahih in Ma`rifat `ulum al-hadith and he said Ibn Khuzayma narrated it.

But those people want to put everyone on the same level, like communism. No! Allah Almighty ordered: “Preserve one another’s honor”: wa la tansaw al-fadla baynakum (2:237). And He said: inna akramakum `indallahi atqakum [The most honorable of you in Allah’s sight are the most Godwary] (49:13). If we find someone that should be respected because of his taqwa, then we may respect him. We must not hold him as an ordinary person, no.

Those who criticize this are not following Madhhabs [Islamic schools of law]. They are a Fifth Madhhab. We are following the Four madhhabs, and in our madhhabs kissing hands is Okay, but through their madhhab: no. They may kiss their women’s. . . [genitals] according to their madhhab, but not hands. I must say this. It is not haram for them to do such a thing, but kissing the hand of a person is?! How can that be, when all the Sahaba were kissing the Prophet’s hand, and so many hadiths confirm it in their own printed books. They were kissing the Prophet’s hands and feet.

What happens if I kiss my mother’s hands and feet? Is this Haram? With which proof? They are saying this, only because they are trying to break the relationship between believers and their teachers. al `ulama’ warathatu al anbiya’. [Scholars of knowledge are the inheritors of Prophets.]* We must give them our highest respect. I don’t like for a fifteen-year-old or a young person to come in and make this with his hand [handshake gesture] to a shaykh. What is this? That is the American style. No. We, too, have `urf [customs]. We have traditional adab, traditional manners coming from the Prophet, and we know that up to this day kissing hands is a gesture of respect, not worship.

* Hadith of the Prophet narrated by Bukhari in his Sahih in mu`allaq form, Ahmad (5:196), Tirmidhi, Darimi, Abu Dawud, Ibn Hibban, Ibn Majah, Bayhaqi in the Shu`ab and others.

If I kiss my mother’s feet, am I worshipping her? These people are given knowledge but no wisdom. Allah said: yu’ti al-hikmata man yasha’, wa man utiya al-hikmata utiya khayran kathiran [He gives wisdom to whomever He will, and whoever is given wisdom, he has been given an immense goodness] (2:269). Allah Almighty never gave everyone wisdom. So many people, in American universities, are learning Islamic knowledge, but they are not mu’mins [believers]. They haven’t been given wisdom. They are only reading books. Wisdom is the sum of knowledge. Without wisdom knowledge is dead!

INT. I agree, but in terms of the respect that we show, are we carrying it very far… to be perceived… you are perceived as interceding for your followers — making shafa`a — so that in Akhira [hereafter] you will be interceding on their behalf…

SN. Is it prohibited to make du`a? If I am asking for something on behalf of my brother bi zahr al-ghayb [in his absence], is it wrong? There are so many hadiths advising us to make such du`a for each other.* It does not matter if it is going to be intercession. If I say: “Oh my Lord, give my brother a good life” or, if someone kisses my hand, if I say: “Allah bless you”. Is it haram? Is that intercession now? There is no need to call it intercession. Allahu fi awn al-`abd ma kana al-`abdu fi `awni akhihi [Allah helps His servant as long as the servant helps his brother].** That means we must try to help each other in any way we can: by hand, by word, and by praying. What is wrong with that?

* E.g. Sahih Muslim, book of Du`a, chapter on making du`a for a brother in his absence.

** Hadith of the Prophet narrated by Muslim, Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud, Ibn Majah, Ahmad, and others.

I may help someone who cannot help himself or herself. I might go to the Sultan in order to help him. This is intercession, but it is in Shari`a. It is an honorable job because we are helping people who cannot help themselves. It is lawful, and Allah orders us: wa ta`awanu `ala al-birri wa al-taqwa [Help one another in righteousness and piety} (5:2). It is a command that we must help each other for good things. How are they blaming me for making du`a for them and accusing me because of making intercession? Intercession in akhira should be only in the divine presence. If Allah gives me intercession, I may say for these people: O my Lord, those people are no-mind people, send them with the animals!

INT. Nevertheless, is this very clear to those who are following you? That you are not going to intercede on their behalf?…

SN. They are clear. They are not idiots, like those people. They are clever. They may teach them a lesson. My followers are Doctors and Professors. Those people may take lessons from my followers. My followers are not cheated ones. They are all Europeans and Americans. Let those people bring one of the Germans, or one of the English, or one of the Americans to Islam. Our people are all educated people, I cannot cheat them!

INT. Sometimes, in meetings, you are introduced as “the perfect one.” But people believe that there is only one perfect one, and that is the Prophet.

SN. But from him there are so many models coming…

INT. So do you say that that is a right introduction for a human being?

SN. Prophets are the first models. They are ma`sum — innocent. Others, all of them, are not going to be innocent, but through their mujahada [striving], by fighting with their nafs [ego], whoever will be able to control their nafs, that one will become a model to help the others how to control their ego. Because every evil comes from uncontrollable people. I am not saying that I am a perfect model of the Prophet, sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam; but I am trying to step in his steps. I am not stepping after shaytan or evil — no.

INT. Then, if you were to tell your followers not to address you the perfect one, not to kiss your hands and feet — and they say that in meetings even women come and kiss your hands, and the Prophet would never allow that… I want your comments on that?

SN. No. They are always untrue people. They are always changing things from their real light. They are liars. They make iftira’ [fabrications] and backbiting, because they are hasud — jealous, envious people. I never say to my followers that I am “a perfect one.” But until they find a perfect one, I am only training them. I never said that I am a 100% perfect trainer but I am a good opportunity; while I am here, I only try to do my best with people. Like a doctor who is not a specialist, but still he must treat his patients. Should he say: I cannot touch you because I am not a specialist?

I never said to anyone: “I am a 100% perfect person and I am training you: Come and kiss my hands!” I am not so foolish as these people. They are thinking that I say to people come and kiss my hand!

INT. They say that it is a necessary part of your training…

SN. No, never. My training is written in my books and the associations I hold, but they are not reading my books because shaytans are so proud. Can they find it anywhere that I say: Kiss my hand, kiss my feet? But I may enter through a crowd and without doing anything, people are completely unable to remain seated, they will stand up. I am not saying to them to do it. It is something granted to me, from the greatness of Allah, called haybat [dignity]. They can’t stop. When I pass, they stand up and rush to me. I am not telling them to.

Once I was in Madina praying, facing Qibla. As I was finishing, one of these people said to me: “O shaykh! Why did you bring all these people behind you!” I was surprised. My eyes were closed and I was making du`a without sound, only what I may hear. But I looked around and I saw 100 people behind me. I said I am no one, I am an ordinary person, a visitor here. I do not know them. Why are you telling me this? Tell those people to go away!

Prophets have a magnetic power called jazba [attraction]. That makes people run to that person. I have some of that which I received through our spiritual way. I am not an empty one, like those people. But they are hussad [enviers], just as there were so many hussad among the Jewish people in front of the Prophet. It doesn’t matter. They can’t do anything.

What happens if my followers kiss my hand? The Prophet kissed the Stone, and all Sahaba kissed the Stone. All the Hujjaj [pilgrims] kiss the Stone, and the Ka`ba. It is not haram to kiss the Ka`ba. Is the Ka`ba more honored than Man? No.

INT. But the Ka`ba has a special place in their hearts.

SN. We have a special place also. We have been granted this specialness to be khalifatullah [Allah’s representatives]. The Ka`ba is baytullah [Allah’s House], we are khalifatullah. Are we less honored than the Ka`ba? Never. We have been honored. Angels asked for this honor but they were not given it. We have been granted it. How can you say not? One man was sitting with his back to the Ka`ba, and another said: What are you doing? He said: What? I am more than this Ka`ba in the Divine presence. The Ka`ba cannot do sajda, but I am making sajda. The Ka`ba was built by Sayyidina Ibrahim, while I was created by Allah.

15. Tabarruk From the Prophet’s Blessed Skin.

– Narrated Usayd ibn Hudayr: `Abd al-Rahman ibn Abi Layla, quoting Usayd ibn Hudayr, a man of the Ansar, said that while he was given to jesting and was talking to the people and making them laugh, the Prophet poked him under the ribs with a stick. He said: Let me take retaliation. He said: Take retaliation. He said: You are wearing a shirt but I am not. The Prophet then raised his shirt and the man embraced him and began to kiss his side. Then he said: This is what I wanted, Apostle of Allah! (Abu Dawud, Book 41, Number 5205.)

– Ibn `Abd al-Barr relates, in his Isti`ab fi  Ma`rifat al-ashab (p. 673), that the Prophet, after forbidding two or three times the use of khaluq (a kind of perfume mixed with saffron), and finding that Sawad ibn `Amr al-Qari  al-Ansari  was wearing it, nudged him in the mid-section with a palm-tree stalk (jarida) and scratched him.  The latter asked for reparation; when the Prophet bared his own belly to him, he jumped and kissed the Prophet’s belly.

– Ibn Ishaq’s version in the Sira mentions that Sawad was standing in the ranks of the Companions of Badr at the time of this incident.  The Prophet was arranging the ranks with his switch (miqra`a) and he nudged Sawad’s belly with it, scratching him inadvertently, with the words: “Align yourself with the others.” Sawad said: “Ya Rasulallah, you hurt me, so give me reparation.” The Prophet handed him the switch and said: “Take reparation.” Sawad approached him and kissed his belly. The Prophet said: “What made you do that, O Sawad?” He replied, “Ya Rasulallah, the time has come for what you see, and I loved for my last action in this dunya to be touching you.”

– Narrated Buhaysa al-Fazariyya: My father sought permission from the Prophet. Then he came near him, lifted his shirt, and began to kiss him and embrace him out of love for him… (Abu Dawud, Book 9, Number 1665.)

16. Tabarruk with places the Prophet visited

– Narrated Abu Burda: When I came to Medina. I met Abdullah bin Salam. He said, “Will you come to me so that I may serve you with sawiq (i.e. powdered barley) and dates, and let you enter a (blessed) house in which the Prophet entered?”… (Bukhari, Volume 5, Book 58, Number 159)

17. The Prophet’s sandals

– Bukhari and Tirmidhi narrate from Qatada: “I asked Anas to describe the sandals of Allah’s Messenger and he replied: Each sandal had two straps”; and from `Isa ibn Tahman: “Anas took out a pair of shoes and showed them to us. They did not have hair on them.” (The remark refers to the Arabian practice of not removing the hair from the leather from which shoes were made.) Bukhari, Malik, and Abu Dawud relate that `Ubayd ibn Jarih said to `Abd Allah ibn `Umar: “I saw you wear tanned sandals.” He replied: “I saw the Prophet wearing sandals with no hair on them and perform ablution in them, and so I like to wear them.”

            al-Qastallani in his Mawahib al-laduniyya said that Ibn Mas`ud was one of the Prophet’s servants and that he used to bring for the Prophet his cushion (wisada), his tooth-stick (siwak), his two sandals (na`layn), and the water for his ablution. When the Prophet rose he would put his sandals on him; when he sat he would carry his sandals in his arms until he rose.[88]

            Qastallani mentions the following from one of the greatest Tabi`in:

Abu Ishaq (al-Zuhri) said: al-Qasim ibn Muhammad (ibn Abu Bakr al-Siddiq) said: Of the proven blessing of the likeness of the Prophet’s sandal is that whoever has it in his possession for tabarruk, it will safeguard him from the sedition of rebels and the mastery of enemies, and will be a barrier against every recreant devil and the evil eye of the envious. If the pregnant woman holds it in her right hand at the time of labor, her delivery will be easier by Allah’s change and His might.

            al-Qastallani also said that Abu al-Yaman ibn `Asakir wrote a volume on the image of the Prophet’s sandal, and so did Ibn al-Hajj al-Andalusi. He relates the account of a pious shaykh by the name of Abu Ja`far Ahmad ibn `Abd al-Majid:

I cut the pattern of this sandal for one of my students. He came to me one day and said: “I saw a wonder yesterday from the blessing of this sandal. My wife was suffering from a pain which almost took her life. I placed the sandal on the spot of her pain and said: O Allah, show me the blessing of the owner of this sandal. Allah cured her on the spot.”[89]

            al-Munawi and al-Qari mentioned in their commentary on Tirmidhi’s al-Shama’il that Ibn al-`Arabi said that the sandals are part of the attire of Prophets, and the people only left them due to the mud in their lands. He also mentioned that one of the names of the Prophet in the ancient books is sahib al-na`layn or “The wearer of the two sandals.”

            Shaykh Yusuf al-Nabahani recited about the Prophet’s sandals:

wa na`lun khada`na haybatan li waqariha

fa inna mata nakhda`u li haybatiha na`lu

fa da`ha `ala a`la al-mafariqi innaha

haqiqataha tajun wa surataha na`lu

A sandal to whose majestic nobility we submit

For by submitting to its majesty do we rise:

Therefore place it in the highest spot for it is

In reality a crown, though its image is a sandal.

            And when Imam al-Fakhani first saw the Prophet’s sandals he recited:

wa law qila li al-majnuni layla wa wasluha

turidu am al-dunya wa ma fi zawayaha

laqala ghubarun min turabi ni`aliha

ahabbu ila nafsi wa ashfa li balawaha

And if Layla’s Madman were asked: do you prefer

Union with Layla, or the world and its treasures?

He would answer: “Dust from the earth of her sandals

Is dearer to my soul, and its most soothing remedy.”

            Shihab al-Din Ahmad al-Muqri wrote a book on this which he named Fath al-muta`al fi madh al-ni`al (The opening of the Most High in the praise of the Prophet’s sandals).

            Ashraf `Ali al-Tahanawi the Deobandi shaykh wrote a treatise entitled Nayl al-shifa’ bi na`l al-mustafa (Obtaining remedy through the sandals of the Elect One) found in his book Zad al-sa`id (Provision for the fortunate).[90]

            The muhaddith of India Muhammad Zakariyya Kandhalwi said in his translation of Tirmidhi’s Shama’il:

Maulana Ashraf `Ali Thanwi Sahib has written in his book Zaadus Sa`eed a detailed treatise on the barakat and virtues of the shoes of Rasulullah Sallallahu `Alayhi Wasallam. Those interested in this should read that book (which is available in English). In short, it may be said that it [the Prophet’s sandal] has countless qualities. The `ulama have experienced it many a time. One is blessed by seeing Rasulullah Sallallahu `Alayhi Wasallam in one’s dreams; one gains safety from oppressors and every heartfelt desire is attained. Every object is fulfilled by its tawassul (means, petition, request). The method of tawassul is also mentioned therein.[91]

            We see by all the above evidence that tawassul and tabarruk are an intimate and integral part of the practice of the Companions, that it is Sunna, and that no one denies it except those who deviate from the Sunna and who harbor the disease of ignorance and suspicion in their heart. May Allah protect us from their designs, and may He keep all Muslims unswervingly on the path of Ahl al-Sunna and that of the true Salaf. We declare ourselves clear and innocent of the innovations of those who have attacked, rejected, or questioned the validity of tawassul. And Allah knows best.

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