Visiting graves and shrines and asking for help
Some Muslims, mostly in Pakistan and India, visit shrines (the graves of those whom people ‘believe’ were pious) and ask the souls of the ‘pious’ for health, children, wealth, and things that only Allah can provide. These people claim that they’re really not asking the dead for these things, but using them as intercessors with Allah. Their belief is that because the pious did good in this world when they were alive, they are now in a position to act as intercessors with Allah for those who invoke them.
Mainstream Muslim scholars say that calling on the dead and considering the dead as intercessors with Allah is ‘Shirk’. Can those in the graves really hear us and act as our intercessors with Allah? Is it permissible for Muslims to invoke the souls of the ‘pious’ for help (even with the belief that we’re actually asking Allah for help through his ‘loved ones’)?
Some of my family members, although educated and practicing Muslims, visit the “Daata Sahib” Complex (built around Mr. Ali Hajverey’s air-conditioned grave) to pray because they believe that somehow their prayers are more likely to be answered by Allah if an intermediary (Mr. Ali Hajvery’s soul) is involved. Does Allah really respond more to the prayers of those who associate partners with Him? Please clarify the status of the dead as a lot of money from public funds (Rs 60 million in 1999) has been spent maintaining shrines of the ‘pious’ in Pakistan.
I share your concern for the way huge funds are being spent on projects that promote the biggest crime imaginable in Islam i.e. Shirk. All excuses that are presented to support the practice of visiting the graves of the pious people for the purpose of coming close to God are weak. These pious people should have been buried anyway in the graveyards where the ‘lesser’ mortals are lying. That would have solved most of the problems related to the issue of ‘subcontinental shirk’. The following are some of the reasons why I believe that praying to Allah Almighty by using the name of a saint is seriously wrong:
1. The prophet of Allah, Allah’s mercy be on him, who is the ONLY person who was given the authority to teach us how to pray to Allah Almighty never taught us to use the names of anyone other than Allah to invite His attention. His teaching of saying ‘durud’ before or after a ‘du’a’ is a completeley different thing. A ‘durud’ is a prayer directed to God Almighty, asking Him to raise the status of the prophet still further. It, in no way, amounts to using his name to invite the attention of Allah’s mercy.
2. God Almighty says in the Quran:
“When my servants ask thee concerning Me I am indeed close (to them); I listen to the prayer of every suppliant when he calleth on Me; let them also with a will listen to My call and believe in Me; that they may walk in the right way.” (2:186)
This verse shows clealry that Allah Almighty needs to be addressed directly in prayers.
3. We are also informed that that the polytheists of Makkah who were condemned by the Quran also used to present in defence of their shirk this argument:
“Is it not to Allah that sincere devotion is due? But those who take for protectors other than Allah (say): ‘We only serve them in order that they may bring us nearer to Allah.’ Truly Allah will judge between them in that wherein they differ. But Allah guides not such as are false and ungrateful.” (39:3)
In other words, the verse is telling us that it is not only futile but also disastrous to approach Allah Almighty indirectly through anyone other than Him.
4. The Quran has declared thus:
“Surely Allah will not forgive that a partner be associated with Him; but He will forgive whatever is short of that to whomsoever He pleases. And whoso associates partners with Allah has indeed devised a very great sin.” (4: 48)
Even if one were to accept for the sake of argument that it is not hundred percent certain that using the names of pious people while praying to God Almighty to invite His attention, or else asking them to approach God Almighty on their behalf are necessarily Shirk, there is always a possibility that it may actually be counted as Shirk. On the other hand, it is no where in Shari’ah a requirement mentioned that one must visit these shrines for the purpose of getting closer to God Almighty. Why then would a careful believer resort to such an unnecessarily risky exercise which carries the possibility of turning out to be the biggest and the unpardonable crime of Shirk? One really has to be out of one’s senses to do so.