Al Tawassul

Al-Tawassul is method of using an intermediary when supplicating to Allah ﷻ. The intention is to add weight to the supplication. The intermediary can either be a person or something intangible like good deeds or occasions or using Allah’s attributes ﷻ. We’ll discuss the position of Ahlus-Sunnah on Tawassul.

Although a person can seek Allah directly, it is permitted to seek him by means. Allah ﷻ says “O you who Believe! Do your duties to Allah ﷻ and fear Him; seek the means of approach unto him, and strive (with might and main) in His cause so that you may prosper.”1 Thus permitting various avenues to get closer to Allah ﷻ.

Abdul-Allah Ibn Abbas relates, they used to pray to Allah ﷻ for victory in war through the means of the Prophet ﷺ and they would always be victorious. Upon the rejection by the Jews of the Prophet ﷺ, Allah ﷻ revealed a verse of the Qur’an, “And before that, they used to ask for victory through the means of the very same Prophet ﷺ. When he; known and recognised, came to them, they rejected him.”2 This shows that Al-Tawassul was practised by the Jews and in this verse, nor in any hadith, nor any other verse they are condemned for it.


This is when someone uses good deeds to support the acceptance of dua’, for example,

O Allah ﷻ, I have completed a reading of the Holy Qur’an and slaughtered a sheep for the orphanage, O Allah ﷻ for the sake of these deeds liked by you, grant my mother quick recovery from her illness.”

All scholars permit this form of Tawassul as there are many examples in the Sunnah.

Abdullah ibn Umar رضي الله عنه reported: The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “While three men were walking, they were overcome by rain and took refuge in a cave in a mountain. A boulder fell over the mouth of their cave, blocking them inside. One of them said to the others, ‘Look at the good deeds you have done for Allah ﷻ that you may call upon Allah Almighty by them, for perhaps He will relieve you.’ One of them said, ‘O Allah ﷻ, I had two old parents with my wife and young child. I tended to a flock and when evening came, I milked them and served my parents first before my child. One day I went in search of fodder and I did not come back until it was evening. I found them both sleeping, so I milked as I had done before. I brought the milk and stood by their heads, for I hated to disrupt their sleep or to serve my child before both of them. My child was crying at my feet, yet I continued standing over them until the approach of dawn. If You know I had done that seeking Your countenance, then relieve us of this distress that we might see the sky!’ Allah ﷻ shifted the boulder until they could see the sky.

Another man said, ‘O Allah, I had a cousin whom I loved more than any man could love women. I presented myself to her and she refused unless I could give her one hundred coins. I worked hard until I gathered one hundred coins and brought them to her. When I prepared myself between her legs, she said: O servant of Allah, fear Allah ﷻ and do not break the hymen without right to do so! I stood and left her. If You know I had done that seeking your Face, then relieve us of this distress!’ The boulder was again shifted for them.

The last man said, ‘O Allah, I employed a worker for a portion of rice. When he finished his work, he said: Give me what I deserve! I offered his share to him but he did not accept it. I continued planting his share until I had amassed cows and flocks. Then he came to me and he said: Fear Allah ﷻ and do not violate my rights! I said: Go to this cow and its flocks and take them. He said: Fear Allah ﷻ and do not mock me! I said: I do not mock you, take that cow and its flocks. So he took them and he left. If You know I had done that seeking Your face, then relieve us of what remains!’ Then Allah ﷻ relieved them of what remained.”3

Each of these men used their good deeds to beseech the help of Allah ﷻ.


This is when someone uses the status of a blessed occasion e.g., Ramadhan, to support the acceptance of duaa’, for example,

“O Allahﷻ for the sake of this blessed month Ramadhan, and the night of Qadr contained within it, accept our Tarawih salah.” 

All scholars permit this form of Tawassul and this is common practice of the righteous.

Attributes of Allah

This is when someone uses the attributes of Allah ﷻ to support the acceptance of duaa’, for example,

“O Allahﷻ, you are the Most Merciful, for the sake of your mercy, be merciful to us”

All scholars permit this form of Tawassul and this is common practice of the righteous.


One may use either the living or the dead as an intermediary.

Living People

This is when someone uses the status of a living person to support the acceptance of duaa’, for example,

“O Allah ﷻ, remove this hardship from me for the sake of these Muslims who spend their nights in the Mosques seeking your pleasure.

“O Allah ﷻ, settle my affair for the sake of your righteous servant Muhammad Aslam who calls people to your path.

All scholars permit this form of Tawassul as there are many examples in the Sunnah.

Anas ibn Malik رضي الله عنه narrated that when they suffered drought, ‘Umar would seek rain by virtue of al-‘Abbas ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib, and he would say: “O Allah ﷻ, we used to ask You for rain by virtue of our Prophet ﷺ and You gave us rain. Now we ask You for rain by virtue of the paternal uncle of our Prophet ﷺ, so give us rain”4

Mentioned in this narration, is that Umar also wore the robe of the Prophet ﷺ (kept by Asma) when he came out for the prayer of rain. We can infer from this, he sought virtue in the robe because it belonged to the Prophet ﷺ and then prayed in it. ‘A’isha says they regularly used it to seek a cure for people.5

It was narrated from ‘Uthman bin Hunaif رضي الله عنه that a blind man came to the Prophet ﷺ and said: “Pray to Allah ﷻto heal me.” He said: “If you wish to store your reward for the Hereafter, that is better, or if you wish, I will supplicate for you.” He said: “Supplicate.” So he told him to perform ablution and do it well, to pray two Rak’ah, and to say this supplication: “O Allah ﷻ, I ask of You and I turn my face towards You by virtue of the intercession of Muhammad the Prophet of mercy. O Muhammad, I have turned to my Lord by virtue of your intercession concerning this need of mine so that it may be met. O Allah ﷻ, accept his intercession concerning me.” The man did as he was told and was cured. [Ahmad] In the narration al-Tabarani, he adds, the narrator added, “I swear by Allah ﷻ we did not part ways nor speak long until the man walked into us as if he were never blind before.”6

Deceased people

This is when someone uses the status of a deceased person to support the acceptance of dua’, for example,

“O Allah ﷻ, I ask you through your beloved Prophet ﷺ to grant me ease.”

The majority of scholars permit this form of Tawassul, except in later times, when Ibn Taymiyyah claimed this form of intermediary is synonymous to the Pagan Arabs using the idols as intermediaries to Allah ﷻ. They did not believe they could reach Allah ﷻ directly so they turned to idols as intermediaries, if they could appease the idols, then the idols would assist them in reaching Allah ﷻ.

One may accept this form of reasoning but the the Ahlus-Sunnah have proof this form of Tawassul is found in the Sunnah.

The narration of Uthman ibn Hunayf رضي الله عنه, of the dua of the blind man using wasila, was used by Uthman bin Hunayf. He once advised a person to read the Dua’ verbatim as told by the Prophet ﷺ including the calling to the Prophet ﷺ directly and then to mention the need. This man had asked something Uthman ibn Affan رضي الله عنه, the Khalife to fulfil his need but had no response. So after making this dua, he went to see the Khalife.

Uthman رضي الله عنه asked, “What do you need?” and the man mentioned what he wanted, and Uthman fulfilled his need and then said, “I hadn’t remembered your need until just now, whenever you need something, just mention it.”

Then, the man departed and met Uthman ibn Hunayf, and said to him, “May Allah ﷻ reward you! He didn’t see to my need or pay any attention to me until you spoke with him.” Uthman ibn Hunayf replied, “By Allah ﷻ, I didn’t speak to him, but I have seen a blind man make this dua and see him return as if nothing had ever been wrong with him.”7

This narration gives example of how a companion used the dua after the death of the Prophet ﷺ, seeking Wasila in him. We can also see from this narration, the man made the dua and placed his trust in it. He continued striving to get his need, i.e. visiting Uthman ibn Affan again and getting Uthman to fulfil his need. As opposed to making the dua’ and expecting all needs to be fulfilled without any other means.

The scholars agree that everything the Prophet ﷺ commanded or advised was for all time unless there was some clear abrogation. Tawassul was not limited to the time of the Prophet ﷺ nor to only the living.

Another example of using Wasilla of someone not alive is during Adams repentance.

“When Ādam committed his mistake he said: O my Lord, I am asking you to forgive me for the sake of Muhammad. Allah ﷻ said: O Adam, and how do you know about Muhammad whom I have not yet created? Ādam replied, O my Lord, after You created me with your hand and breathed into me of Your Spirit, I raised my head and saw written on the heights of the Throne: lā ilāha illa -llāh Muhammadun Rasūl Allāh. I understood that You would not place next to Your Name but the Most Beloved One of Your creation. Allah ﷻ said: “O Adam, I have forgiven you, and were it not for Muhammad I would not have created you.”8

There is also an example how the virtue of the Prophet ﷺ continued even after his death

“The people of Madina complained to ʿA’isha رضی اللہ عنھا of the severe drought that they were suffering. She said: “Go to the Prophet’s grave ﷺ and open a window towards the sky so that there will be no roof between him and the sky.” They did so, after which they were watered with such rain that vegetation grew and the camels got fat. That year was named the Year of Plenty.”9

Imam Hakim رحمه الله narrates that when the mother of Ali Ibn Abu Talib passed away, the Prophet ﷺ supplicated to Allah ﷻ in these words, “O’ Allah ﷻ, forgive my mother, Fatimah Bint Asad and make spacious the place she shall enter through your Prophet ﷺ and through the Prophets that were before me (that have passed away).”10

There are also examples from the scholars of making Tawassul on the ranks of their teachers.

Imam Abu Hanifah رحمه الله in his poetry, the Al-Qasidah Al-Nu’maniyah writes a couplet, “You are the one that when Adam used as a means, he succeeded from his calamity and he is your father.” Acceptign that Adam used Wasila to get his dua answered. In the Qur’an Allah ﷻ says, “Then Adam found certain words from his Lord. So Allah ﷻ accepted his repentance.”11

Imam Shafi’i رحمه الله was traveling through Baghdad and came across the grave of Imam Abu Hanifa. He then supplicated to Allah ﷻ, saying, “O Allah ﷻ, I am turning to You and seeking Your intercession through the intermediary of Your pious servant, Abu Hanifa, so grant me my request.”

Qadi Ayadh رحمه الله in his Al-Shifa mentions Mansoor the Caliph came to Madina to the grave of the Prophet ﷺ and Imam Malik was also present. Mansoor asked him, “Shall I face the holy Ka’bah or shall I face the shrine of the beloved?” Imam Malik replied, “Why would you turn your face away from the beloved Prophet ﷺ as he is your means to reach Allah ﷻ as was for your father Adam. Therefore face him and ask his intercession. Allah ﷻ will accept his intercession.”

Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal رحمه الله practised al-tawassul through Imam Al Shafa’i رحمه الله.


Tawassul is using the individual as a means to get the duaa’ answered, it is irrespective whether the intermediary is alive or not. When they are alive, it is their deeds that one looks to use and when they die, it is their legacy and closeness to Allah ﷻ one uses. It does not presuppose the one by whom aid is sought is higher than the one whose aid is sought. In this way we in fact continue to ask Allah ﷻ alone and seek His aid, and not from the one who is used as a means.

The key difference between the dua of the Muslim and the Mushrik is that the intention or object of worship is not the intermediary. Those who say it is permissible for the living but shirk for the deceased, then the scholars mention, something shirk will be shirk in this life, in the Barzakh and the next life.

It is also important to note that one’s supplication (dua’) is not in need of Tawassul to be accepted. To believe otherwise is an erroneous understanding. It is however Mustahab to include darood upon the Prophet ﷺ, as per the hadith of ‘Umar said: “Du’a’ is detained between the heavens and the earth and no part of it is taken up until you send blessings upon your Prophet ﷺ12 .The fact that Darood further strengthens acceptance of a dua, is proof for the affect of good actions especially relating to the Prophet ﷺ.

  1. Surah Maidah, verse 35 ↩︎
  2. Surah Baqarah, verse 89 ↩︎
  3. Bukhari 3465, Muslim 2473 ↩︎
  4. Sahih al Bukhari, 964/3507 ↩︎
  5. Suyuti mentions the context of this event in his Tarikh al-Khulafa’, that when Umar came out to make the Dua’, he also wore the cloak of the Prophet ﷺ. ↩︎
  6. Tabarani ↩︎
  7. Al-Mu’jam al-Kabir of Tabarani, This narration was classed as Sahih by al-Bayhaqi, Mundhiri, al-Haythami and others. ↩︎
  8. al-Hakim in al-Mustadrak (2:651) ↩︎
  9. al-Darimi’s Sunan ↩︎
  11. Qur’an 2:37 ↩︎
  12. al-Tirmidhi, 486 ↩︎

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