Polytheism in frequent visits to shrines of Awliyaa’ seeking closeness to them
Fatwa No: 4973


What is the ruling on visiting the shrines of the Awliyaa’ at each prayer and seeking closeness to them?


All perfect praise be to Allaah, the Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His Slave and Messenger.


It is impermissible for a Muslim to frequent graves at the time of every prayer -- whether they are graves of Awliyaa’ or of any other persons. Such behavior is considered dispraised exaggeration in religion. Neither the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, nor the Companions  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  them did so, despite the proximity of Al-Baqee‘ (where the foremost Awliyaa’ were buried) to the mosque of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.


Seeking closeness to the shrine and asking the deceased person who is buried therein to fulfill one’s needs and remove afflictions is indeed an abominable evil act and a grave sin that one must be cautious not to commit. The religion of Islam is based upon two principles: worshipping Allaah The Almighty Alone without associating anything with Him and worshipping Him according to the teachings of His Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. These two principles are the essence of the Testimony of Faith, “I testify that there is no deity worthy of worship but Allaah Alone, having no partner besides him, and that Muhammad is His Slave and Messenger.


Allaah The Almighty is the One whom hearts worship out of love, hope, fear and glorification, and He is the One who deserves to be worshipped. Prophets were sent to call to this Tawheed (monotheism) and the Books were revealed to preach it. One must not worship any deity save Allaah The Almighty, supplicate only Him, make vows only to Him, seek relief from Him alone and bow and prostrate to Him alone. Accordingly, worship is a broad name for every apparent or hidden act or word that Allaah The Almighty loves and is pleased with. Consequently, prayer, supplication, taking oaths, sacrificing animals, fear, hope and glorification are all acts of worship.


However, supplication (including seeking relief) is considered to be among the noblest acts of worship because it revolves around humility and submission. The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, mentioned that supplication is the essence of worship. Then, he recited the verse in which Allaah The Almighty Says (what means): {And your Lord says, "Call upon Me; I will respond to you." Indeed, those who disdain My worship will enter Hell [rendered] contemptible.}[Quran 40:60] [Ahmad, At-Tirmithi, Abu Daawood, and Ibn Maajah]


Supplication means asking for the attainment of good or warding off evil. Seeking relief is one form of supplication because it is a request for rescue from adversity and destruction. The Quran, Sunnah (tradition) and the consensus of the scholars indicate that supplicating anyone besides Allaah The Almighty is unlawful. They clearly stated that this matter is an act of polytheism which Allaah The Almighty does not forgive. Allaah The Almighty Says (what means):


•          {And who is more astray than he who invokes besides Allaah those who will not respond to him until the Day of Resurrection, and they, of their invocation, are unaware.}[Quran 46:5]

•          {And do not invoke besides Allaah that which neither benefits you nor harms you, for if you did, then indeed you would be of the wrongdoers.}[Quran 10:106]

•          {And who is more unjust than one who invents about Allaah a lie or denies His verses? Those will attain their portion of the decree until when Our messengers come to them to take them in death, they will say, "Where are those you used to invoke besides Allaah?" They will say, "They have departed from us," and will bear witness against themselves that they were disbelievers.}[Quran 7:37]


Allaah The Almighty informs us that polytheists supplicate others besides Him in times of ease; however, they supplicate Him sincerely in times of adversity. Allaah The Almighty Says (what means):


•          {And when they board a ship, they supplicate Allaah, sincere to Him in religion. But when He delivers them to the land, at once they associate others with Him.}[Quran 29:65]

•          {And whatever you have of favor -- it is from Allaah. Then when adversity touches you, to Him you cry for help.* Then when He removes the adversity from you, at once a party of you associates others with their Lord.}[Quran 16:53, 54]

•          {And when adversity touches you at sea, lost are [all] those you invoke except for Him. But when He delivers you to the land, you turn away [from Him]. And ever is man ungrateful.}[Quran 17:67]


In Islam, it is an established falsity to say that polytheists deny Allaah The Almighty, believe that their gods benefit or harm them independently or that they do not supplicate Allaah The Almighty or worship Him; Allaah The Almighty informs us about their true state and intention. He Says (what means):


•          {And they worship other than Allaah that which neither harms them nor benefits them, and they say, "These are our intercessors with Allaah.}[Quran 10:18]  

•          {And those who take protectors besides Him [say], "We only worship them that they may bring us nearer to Allaah in position."}[Quran 39:3]


Their intention and purpose was to draw near to Allaah The Almighty through mediators and intercessors; which is what some ignorant Muslims do nowadays. They supplicate the Awliyaa’, seek relief from them, make vows and offer sacrifices to them. If anyone advises such people and forbids them from this evildoing, they say, “They are our intercessors with Allaah.”


Ar-Raazi  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him stated that glorifying the graves of the righteous that is done by many people, and believing that such glorification results in the intercession of those righteous people on the Day of Resurrection, is similar to the polytheists’ acts with their gods.


Commenting on the verse in which Allaah The Almighty Says (what means): {And most of them believe not in Allaah except while they associate others with Him.}[Quran 12:106], ‘Ataa’  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him mentioned that the disbelievers forget their Lord during times of ease, but when they are afflicted by disaster, they supplicate Him sincerely. It is also mentioned in the interpretation of this verse that they supplicate Allaah The Almighty to save them. When He does so, they attribute the favor to other than Him. Al-Qurtubi  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him mentioned that many common people among Muslims actually do this. The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, stated that anyone who dies while associating a partner to Allaah The Almighty will be in Hell. [Al-Bukhari]

Some Hanbali scholars stated that whoever takes mediators between himself and Allaah The Almighty, whom he supplicates and relies upon is considered a disbeliever by consensus, for this is exactly what idol- worshippers used to do:  {"We only worship them that they may bring us nearer to Allaah in position."}[Quran 39:3] Several scholars transmitted this consensus such as Ibn Muflih and Al-Mardaawi  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  them and others.


Scholars in the past and in present times have compiled books highlighting the essence of polytheism and its various forms. They clarified that seeking relief from the dead and asking them to fulfill needs and provide ease from distress are all various kinds of polytheism. Therefore, beware of committing any of these acts. May Allaah The Almighty protect us all from the evil of religious innovations.


And Allaah Knows best.

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