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Tawassul (Arabic: توسل) or Waseela is the Islamic understanding of intercession. It is a religious practice in which a Muslim seeks nearness to Allah. A rough translation would be: "To draw near to what one seeks after and to approach that which one desires." The exact definition and to who can intercede is a matter of some dispute within the Muslim community.
Muslims who practice tawassul point to the Qur'an, Islam's holy book, as the origin of the practice. Many Muslims believe it is a commandment upon them to "draw near" to Allah. Sunni Islam, as well as the Twelver Shi'a, refers it as the act of supplicating to Allah through a prophet, imam or Sufi saint, whether supposedly dead or alive. Martyrs are not considered dead in Islam, according to Allah's words in Quran  Others such as Zakir Naik place limitations on this and excludes the dead. Hamza Yusuf disagrees but argues these are not major issues which should cause fitnah. He notes that the source of this topic being an issue started only with Ibn Taymiyyah.
Some Muslims also define tawassul as "intercession" with Allah, also pointing to the Qur'an in explanation of this. Muslims also believe that intercession is only with the "permission" of Allah.
Muslims believe that the practice of seeking intercession began during the life of Muhammad. An oft-cited Hadith in support of this is one narrated from Uthman ibn Hunaif regarding a blind man who Muslims believe was healed through the process.
The Hadith is as follows:
A blind man came to the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) and said: “I've been afflicted in my eyesight, so pray to Allah for me”. The Prophet (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “Go perform ablution (Wudu), perform two Rak’at Salat and then say: “O Allah! I ask you and turn to you through my Prophet Muhammad, the Prophet of Mercy. O Muhammad! I seek your intercession with my lord for the return of my eyesight, that it may be fulfilled. O Allah! Grant him intercession for me”. The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) then said: “and if there is some other need, do the same”. (Recorded by Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud, Nasa'i, Tabrani and others, with a sound chain of narrators).
Intercession in Sunni Islam
Sunni Muslims traditionally have believed that seeking intercession is only conditionally lawful:
- The Salafi movement considers it unlawful to make Tawassul through those that are no longer alive — including prophets and saints. The Saudi-based Permanent Committee for Islamic Research and Fataawa holds the view that Tawassul through dead persons, virtuous or not, leads to Shirk (polytheism).
- The Fatwa Committee of Morocco considers Tawassul using collective supplications dhikr permissible and commendable.
- Syrian Islamic scholars Salih al-Na`man, Abu Sulayman Suhayl al-Zabibi, and Mustafa ibn Ahmad al-Hasan al-Shatti al-Hanbali al-Athari al-Dimashqi have similarly released Fatwas in support of the practice.
- http://central-mosque.com/index.php/Aqeedah/tawassul-and-its-position-in-islam.html Tawassul and its position in Islam by Ebrahim Desai
- Sunni Hanbali Position from Islam Tomorrow
- Tawassul (Supplicating Allah through an intermediary).
- Al Rifai Al Salafi At Tawassol Ila Haqiqat al Tawassul P:158. الرفاعي المعاصر: التوصل إلى حقيقة التوسل
- Aqeeda_Wasila of Holy Prophet| Not accessible, 8 May 2013
- Seeking Rescue from the Living and Dead and Making Tawassul Through Them| FatwaIslam.com
- Fatwa on the ruling regarding Tawassul using collective recitation of the term Oh He from the supreme Fatwa Council of Morocco
- Salih al-Na`man's fatwa on Tawassul
- Tawassul in Quran - Shia Website
- Tawassul in the Sunnah - Shia Website
- The Intermediary of Shirk by Sayyid Muhammad Alawi al-Maliki - Shia Website
- Tawassul: Is it permissible?. - Shia Website
- A Critical look at the Isnad of the Ahadith concerning the 'Blind Man' and others.
- Position of Tawassul and Waseela in Islam
- Tawassul through Ahle Bait (a.s.) - Shia Website