The Truth about al-Tawassul
Tawassul means to do something that will make you nearer to Allah. Allah said, “O You who believe, fear Allah, and seek the means [of nearness] [waseelah] to Him, and strive in His cause that you may succeed.” (5:35)
It means, "to draw nearer to Allah by obeying Him, and doing the good work which pleases Him." That is how Ibn Abbas and other companions of the Prophet explained the term (waseelah) in the verse. Nevertheless, others continue to use the word tawassul in a completely different sense. For them this means seeking the aid of someone other than Allah. It means to offer supplication to someone other than Allah, to fulfill some need or to save them from some misfortune.
Hence, the same false and pagan concept of people in the Jahiliyya returned to take place among some people of our nation (Ummah). Those pagans used to say, “We only worship them that they may bring us nearer to Allah.” (39:3)
Those who corrupt the beliefs of people and then corrupt their behavior, obscure the link between man and his actions, and it was this link between deeds and belief that Allah stressed in the Qur’an saying, “[It is He] Who created life and death to test which of you is best in deed.” (67:2)
Rather, they tie themselves to the personalities of prophets and to righteous men, and try to insure their salvation by those who are near to Allah. The thieves steal, the fornicators fornicate, drunkards drink their fill of alcohol.
After that, they all come to the shrine of [saints] and throw some money at their graves or images so that something may happen in favor of them or that they may be forgiven for some offense, then they hope by that to solve their problem, and to ensure forgiveness and salvation.
In other words, they do every evil and they leave the matter with the saints to solve for them with their God. How nice that would be if it were true!
As a result of this, entire generations have been diverted from their faith. It is enough to visit the shrine of the righteous wali at the end of the week, or at the end of the month, or year, to ask him to seek Allah’s forgiveness for whatever they may have done. They will cry a little when they arrive at the shrine. Humility overcomes them at the shrine but does not intrude upon their prayers, if they pray at all. Then they go back to their lives, doing as they have always done, turning away from Allah, depending on people for salvation instead of doing righteous deeds, and being themselves righteous as Allah created for them. This way drove people far far away from religion and stuck them deeply in sin and corruption.
These confused ideas about awlia among Muslims have come to resemble the notions of the Christians with regard to saints. When Muslims build places of worship upon graves, they resemble the Christians and the Jews who built seminaries and monasteries over the tombs of their saints. The Prophet said, “Allah cursed the Jews and the Christians, who took the graves of their prophets and their righteous men
as places of worship.”(69)
(69) Bukhari 3453 and Muslim 321.