Can we call upon or supplicate to other than Allah (swt)? (A Quranic analysis)
(please note that this is a chapter from the book “Ghuluw” which can be downloaded from the “PDF Download Files” section.)
(For a better understanding, start from the first blog (Definition and condemnation….))
It is very popular and normal among the Shia masses to call upon (supplicate to) the Prophet (saww) and specially the Imams (as) without realizing how big a sin this is, and is a kind of Shirk as we shall establish through the Quran and the Narrations of Ahlulbayt (as).
Two questions to ponder upon:
Q1. If we call upon the Imams (as), irrespective of whether we consider them dependent or independent, it would imply that we believe that the Imams (as) listen to us. Now, at the same time, thousands of people in different parts of the world might be calling upon the Imams (as) too, so we believe that the Imams (as) listen to everyone at the same time. This would mean that we consider the Imams (as) “All hearing”, which is the characteristic of Allah (swt) as has been mentioned repeatedly in the Quran. Also in the supplications of Ahlulbayt (as) they address Allah (swt) in these words, Imam Ali (as) says
يَا مَنْ لا يَشْغَلُهُ سَمْعٌ عَنَ سَمْعٍ , يَا مَنْ لا يُغَلِّطُهُ السَّائِلُونَ
O the one Whose hearing of one side does not restrict Him to hear the other side and those who question Him do not put him in fallacy…….
If the Imam (as) himself has the same quality, why would he praise Allah (swt) with a quality which is not specific to Allah (swt), rather it is found in his creation too?
So the first Question to ponder upon is, do the Imams (as) even hear us? And if we believe that the do hear us, isn’t this “shirk” in the “sifaat” (Attributes) of Allah (swt)?
We challenge anyone to bring one “Sahih” (authentic) hadith or verse of Quran, which proves that Rasulallah (saww) or the Imams (as) can hear us now.
Q2. Has Allah (swt) given the Imams (as) the authority to provide us safety, help, give us children, or sustenance etc?
Again we challenge anyone to bring one “Sahih” (authentic) hadith or verse of Quran, which proves that Rasulallah (saww) or the Imams (as) have been bestowed with such authority and power by Allah (swt).
(To reply to our challenge please write to us on email@example.com)
Clear verses of the Quran about not calling upon other than Allah (swt):
Before we proceed in the discussion and quote some verses from the Quran, it will only be fair that we inform the readers that the majority of the mainstream scholars are not totally ignorant about these verses, rather they try to refute most of these verses by saying that these verse are only addressed to the mushrikeen (polytheists) of Mecca and these verses only prohibit the calling upon of Idols, therefore we cannot use these verses as a proof against calling upon the Prophet (saww) and Imams (as).
We will inshallah examine this claim, and see if the verses really talk about only the idols or they give us some general principles.
We will go in an order, starting from the first surah.
Verse 1: Surah Fatiha, 1:5
إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وَإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ
You (Alone) we worship, and you (Alone) we ask for help
a) Explaining “Taqdeem”: The meaning of this above statement could have been simply conveyed as “nabuduka wa nastaeenuk” which means “We worship you and we seek help from you”. But Allah Chose a different format: He Taught us to say “Iyyaka Nabudu wa iyyaka nastaeen”, so what you observe here is that the second person pronoun (ka) has been brought before the verb (nabudu) instead of after it. This is called “Taqdeem” in Arabic, and it signifies “Iktisaas”, i.e. exclusivity. That is to say that the verse is saying: “Only you do we worship (O Allah) and only You do we seek help from”.
b) Allah (swt) asks us to repeat this sentence at least 10 times every day in our prayer, yet we don’t ponder upon it.
c) One might say, “well, surely we seek Allah (swt)’s help, but to seek His help, we call upon the Imams (as), so they can intermediate between us and Allah (swt) to transfer our request for help to Allah (swt).”
But this statement is absurd, because just before the “asking for help” phrase, the verse also says “you (alone) we worship”, so can we now worship the Imams (as) instead of Allah (swt) and expect them to transfer our worship to Allah (swt) (like we do in our supplications)? No.
Islam teaches us to have a direct relationship with Allah (swt), and even for supplication, Allah (swt) never taught us the rule of “intermediaries” in the Quran, rather Allah (swt) says “Call upon me, and I will respond to you” (40:60). So if anyone wants Allah (swt)’s help, they should call upon Allah (swt) Himself, not anyone else.
d) As we can see, this verse has nothing to do with the idols, rather it is a general rule.
e) One might say, “does it mean we cannot seek help from the people around us either?”
Well, this is not what we mean to say. Asking each other for help in the physical world has been established by numerous examples of previous prophets (as) in the Quran and from the life of our Prophet (saww) and Imams (as) too, but what is problematic is calling upon someone across the curtain of ghayb (i.e. someone who is in a different realm of existence such as Barzakh), and that is something we have no proof for, nor did the Prophet (saww) and Imams (as) ever do it, or teach us to do it in any of their authentic narrations.
Verse 2: Surah Baqara, 2:107
أَلَمْ تَعْلَمْ أَنَّ اللَّهَ لَهُ مُلْكُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۗ وَمَا لَكُمْ مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ مِنْ وَلِيٍّ وَلَا نَصِيرٍ
Do you not know that to Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth and [that] you have not besides Allah any protector or any helper?
a) The verse clearly says that we have NO Protector or helper other than Allah (swt), and that is why the Prophet (saww) and Imams (as) themselves used to supplicate to Allah (swt) excessively for protection and help.
b) One might say, that “we also consider Allah (swt) as the ultimate helper and protector, but when we say things like “Ya Ali Madad” or “Ya Mola Abbas” etc, we call upon them considering them to be dependent on Allah (swt), and we seek their help based on the power that Allah (swt) has bestowed upon them.”
- We challenge anyone, to bring “authentic” proof that Allah (swt) has given them this power to help us, and Allah (swt) or the Imams (as) have taught us to seek help in this way.
- Even though the above point can never be proven, yet even if we assume that Allah (swt) indeed helps us through them, and they themselves don’t have the authority to help us, then it would be like calling upon the angel of death not to take our soul and prolong our life, or calling upon angels for rain, since we know that Allah (swt) has appointed angels for these tasks. But this would be absurd, since the angel of death and the angel of rain only act when Allah (swt) orders them, so praying to them would be useless for us. Would it be logical to approach the “Sabab” (cause) which is Allah (swt) or the means (who have no authority)?
Based on this understanding, we come to know that even if we consider the Prophet (saww) and Imams (as) as the means through which Allah (swt) helps us (though we have no proof for that), yet it would be illogical to ask them for help.
After this understanding if anyone still calls upon the Imams (as) for help, then he/she would be proving from his/her action that they don’t consider the Imams (as) to be dependent on Allah (swt) rather they consider them independent, and they only fool themselves and others when they claim that they consider the Imams (as) to be totally dependent on Allah (swt). And they would be like the ones being referred to in the following verse:And the Day We will gather them all together; then We will say to those who associated others with Allah, “Where are your ‘partners’ that you used to claim [with Him]?”Then there will be no [excuse upon] examination except they will say, “By Allah, our Lord, we were not those who associated.”Look! How they lie against themselves! But the (lie) which they invented will disappear from them. (6:21-24)
Verse 3: Surah Ma’eda, 5:116
وَإِذْ قَالَ اللَّهُ يَا عِيسَى ابْنَ مَرْيَمَ أَأَنْتَ قُلْتَ لِلنَّاسِ اتَّخِذُونِي وَأُمِّيَ إِلَٰهَيْنِ مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ
And when Allah will say: O Isa son of Marium! did you say to men, Take me and my mother for two gods besides Allah…
As far as the divinity of Jesus Christ is concerned, most Christians agree on it, and consider it to be part of their core beliefs. So it is understandable why Allah (swt) Is Asking Prophet Isa (as) as to whether he had any role in promoting the concept of his own divinity.
But why does Allah (swt) Include Bibi Maryam (as) in the question?
In other words, why does Allah (swt) Ask Prophet Isa (as) if he ever taught the people that they must consider his mother as a “god” besides Allah?
Did the Christians ever claim that the Virgin Mary was a “god” besides God?
Did they ever worship her in a way in which God should only be worshipped?
Even when we look back at history, we don’t find any solid or concrete evidence for the existence of Christian sect in history that openly declared that the Virgin Mary was a “god.”
Then why is Allah (SWT) implicitly Accusing the Christians of having made Mary into a “god” besides God?
This is a critical factor that has even been acknowledged by scholars of Tafseer such as Allama Tabatabaai in his Tafseerul Meezan, where he writes while commenting on 05:116:
The first noteworthy point over here is that Allah (SWT) Doesn’t Say that the Christians called Bibi Maryam (as) “god” or referred to her as a divine entity. Rather Allah (SWT) Uses the term
“Ittikhaadhul ilaah” (to take as God or to treat as God). And as Allama rightfully points out “to take someone or treat someone as “god” is different from calling someone “god” or declaring someone to be “god.””
This means that it is entirely possible for a person to take an entity as a “god” besides Allah or treat an entity as a “god” besides Allah even without calling that entity “god” openly and without even realizing that they may be doing so.
In other words, there are certain things which are only reserved for Allah. If you take those things and associate them or ascribe them to other than Allah, then you have taken that entity as a “god”, even if you openly declare that you don’t consider that entity to be “god.”
Allama Tabatabaai mentions some of those things which are exclusively reserved for Allah, and he mentions: دعاء و ثناء و استغاثة و استشفع (supplication, glorification, seeking help, and seeking intercession), – these things can only be done in front of Allah behind the curtain of Ghayb (i.e. there is no harm if human beings do these things among each other, as long as they are in the physical realm following the natural laws of cause and effect.)
An example of catholic supplication to Mary can be seen here, see how similar this supplication is to how some shia supplicate to the Imams (as).
“O Mother of Perpetual Help, thou art the dispenser of all the goods which God grants to us miserable sinners, and for this reason, has He made thee so powerful, so rich, and so bountiful, that thou mayest help us in our misery. Thou art the advocate of the most wretched and abandoned sinners who have recourse to thee; come, then, to my help, dearest Mother, for I recommend myself to thee. In thy hands, I place my eternal salvation and to thee do I entrust my soul. Count me among thy most devoted servants; take me under thy protection, and it is enough for me; for, if thou protect me, dear Mother, I fear nothing; not from my sins, because thou wilt obtain for me the pardon of them; nor from the devils, because thou art more powerful than all hell together; not even from Jesus, my Judge Himself, because, by one prayer from thee, He will be appeased. But one thing I fear; that, in the hour of temptation, I may neglect to call on thee, and thus perish miserably. Obtain for me then the pardon of my sins, love for Jesus, final perseverance, and the grace always to have recourse to thee, O Mother of
Perpetual Help.”(3 Hail Mary’s)
Read the above supplication carefully and see how the Christian consider Mary as being totally dependent on God, and believe that all the powers she has, have been granted to her by God, and only consider her as an intermediary to God.
But since they have no proof that God indeed has given her all these powers, therefore Allah (swt) considers this “Shirk”.
Similarly, since we have absolutely no authentic proof that the Imams (as) have been bestowed with these powers, therefore if we call upon them even after considering them totally dependent on Allah (swt), yet it would be “shirk” in the eyes of Allah (swt).
Verse 4: Surah An’aam, 6:63-64
قُلْ مَنْ يُنَجِّيكُمْ مِنْ ظُلُمَاتِ الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ تَدْعُونَهُ تَضَرُّعًا وَخُفْيَةً لَئِنْ أَنْجَانَا مِنْ هَٰذِهِ لَنَكُونَنَّ مِنَ الشَّاكِرِينَ
قُلِ اللَّهُ يُنَجِّيكُمْ مِنْهَا وَمِنْ كُلِّ كَرْبٍ ثُمَّ أَنْتُمْ تُشْرِكُونَ
Say, “Who rescues you from the darkness of the land and sea [when] you call upon Him imploring [aloud] and privately, ‘If He should save us from this [crisis], we will surely be among the thankful.”
Say, “It is Allah who saves you from it and from every distress; then you [still] associate others with Him.”
This verse clearly says that it is only Allah (swt) who protects us from EVERY distress (karb). Otherwise Allah (swt) should have said, “Allah (swt), His prophet and the Imams after him protect you from every distress..”, but there is no such verse in the Quran.
This verse is also a refutation of the fabricated supplication
يا كاشف الكرب عن وجه أخيه الحسين عليه السلام إكشف كربي بحق أخيك الحسين عليه السلام
O remover of distress (karb) from the face of your brother Hussain (as), remove my distress (karb) by the right of your brother Hussain (as).
Subhanallah!!!! Now Allah (swt) is out of the picture, dua is directed to Abbas (as) and wasila is of Imam Hussain (as). But people will call this “wasila” too and try to defend themselves with the argument of “dependent” and “independent”.
Anyway, the verses 6:63-64 clearly refute the claim of this supplication, as it says that the only one who can relieve you of your distress is Allah (swt) and not Hazrat Abbas (as).
Verse 5: Surah An’aam, 6:71
قُلْ أَنَدْعُو مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ مَا لَا يَنْفَعُنَا وَلَا يَضُرُّنَا وَنُرَدُّ عَلَىٰ أَعْقَابِنَا بَعْدَ إِذْ هَدَانَا اللَّهُ كَالَّذِي اسْتَهْوَتْهُ الشَّيَاطِينُ فِي الْأَرْضِ حَيْرَانَ لَهُ أَصْحَابٌ يَدْعُونَهُ إِلَى الْهُدَى ائْتِنَا ۗ قُلْ إِنَّ هُدَى اللَّهِ هُوَ الْهُدَىٰ ۖ وَأُمِرْنَا لِنُسْلِمَ لِرَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ
Say, “Shall we call upon instead of Allah that which neither benefits us nor harms us and be turned back on our heels after Allah has guided us? [We would then be] like one whom the devils enticed [to wander] upon the earth confused, [while] he has companions inviting him to guidance, [calling], ‘Come to us.’ ” Say, “Indeed, the guidance of Allah is the [only] guidance; and we have been commanded to submit to the Lord of the worlds
In reply to this verse, it is said that “these verse are clearly addressed to the mushrikeen of Mecca, and instruct them not to invoke the idols, since the verse says “”Shall we invoke instead of Allah that which neither benefits us nor harms..”
How can this be for the Prophet (saww) and the Imams (as)? How can you assume that the Prophet (saww) and Imams (as) cannot benefit or harm us?”
This argument can be easily refuted using other verses of the Quran.
قُلْ إِنِّي لَا أَمْلِكُ لَكُمْ ضَرًّا وَلَا رَشَدًا
In 72:21, Allah (swt) asks the Prophet (saww) to tell the people, Say “Indeed, I do not possess for you [the power of] harm or good.”
Not just others, the Prophet (saww) does not even have the power of benefit or harm over his own self, as can be seen in the verses of Quran.
قُلْ لَا أَمْلِكُ لِنَفْسِي نَفْعًا وَلَا ضَرًّا إِلَّا مَا شَاءَ اللَّهُ
In 7:188 and 10:49 Allah (swt) says: Say (O Muhammad SAW): “I possess no power of benefit or harm for myself except as Allah wills.”
So how can it be that the Prophet cannot benefit us or harm us? What does it mean? Once again,.. from behind the curtain of Ghayb (i.e. human beings may harm or benefit each other, as long as they are in the physical realm following the natural laws of cause and effect). The Mushrikeen prayed to Idols, not because they thought them to be “independent of God”, but because they believed they could help them, or harm them, from behind the curtain of ghayb. Of course these Idols were not doing anything physical and natural to benefit or harm them. Their assumption was that the Idols could benefit them or harm from behind the curtain of Ghayb. But even the Prophet (saww) cannot do that, as can be seen above from 72:21, 7:188 and 10:49.
So now that it’s clear that the Prophet (saww) and therefore the Imams (as) cannot benefit or harm us, therefore according to the verse “Shall we call upon instead of Allah that which neither benefits us nor harms us and be turned back on our heels after Allah has guided us?…”, we cannot call upon the Prophet (saww) and Imams (as).
Verse 6: Surah A’raf,7:37-38
فَمَنْ أَظْلَمُ مِمَّنِ افْتَرَىٰ عَلَى اللَّهِ كَذِبًا أَوْ كَذَّبَ بِآيَاتِهِ ۚ أُولَٰئِكَ يَنَالُهُمْ نَصِيبُهُمْ مِنَ الْكِتَابِ ۖ حَتَّىٰ إِذَا جَاءَتْهُمْ رُسُلُنَا يَتَوَفَّوْنَهُمْ قَالُوا أَيْنَ مَا كُنْتُمْ تَدْعُونَ مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ ۖ قَالُوا ضَلُّوا عَنَّا وَشَهِدُوا عَلَىٰ أَنْفُسِهِمْ أَنَّهُمْ كَانُوا كَافِرِينَ
And who is more unjust than one who invents about Allah a lie or denies His verses? Those will attain their portion of the decree until when Our messengers (Angels) come to them to take them in death, they will say, “Where are those you used to call upon besides Allah?” They will say, “They have departed from us,” and will bear witness against themselves that they were disbelievers.
Isn’t it better that we realize the error of our ways, before we are made to realize it in our grave? And we find out that we had been erroneous in blindly following our forefathers and top shot scholars while they won’t be able to help us or take the burden of our sins on their shoulders, because this is what the next verse seems to suggest. In the next verse the Quran says (in 7:38)
قَالَ ادْخُلُوا فِي أُمَمٍ قَدْ خَلَتْ مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ مِنَ الْجِنِّ وَالْإِنْسِ فِي النَّارِ ۖ كُلَّمَا دَخَلَتْ أُمَّةٌ لَعَنَتْ أُخْتَهَا ۖ حَتَّىٰ إِذَا ادَّارَكُوا فِيهَا جَمِيعًا قَالَتْ أُخْرَاهُمْ لِأُولَاهُمْ رَبَّنَا هَٰؤُلَاءِ أَضَلُّونَا فَآتِهِمْ عَذَابًا ضِعْفًا مِنَ النَّارِ ۖ قَالَ لِكُلٍّ ضِعْفٌ وَلَٰكِنْ لَا تَعْلَمُونَ
[ Allah ] will say, “Enter among nations which had passed on before you of jinn and mankind into the Fire.” Every time a nation enters, it will curse its sister until, when they have all overtaken one another therein, the last of them will say about the first of them “Our Lord, these had misled us, so give them a double punishment of the Fire. He will say, “For each is double, but you do not know.
It seems from this verse (and from many other verses of the Quran), that most people will enter the fire of hell because of blind following, and when they meet those they had followed blindly, they would curse each other.
Those who had followed their forefathers and scholars blindly, would ask Allah (swt) to punish them (forefathers and scholars) double the punishment, but surprisingly, Allah (swt) will give double the punishment to both the groups. The followers will be punished because they did not use their intellect and followed their misguided forefathers and scholars blindly.
Verse 7: Surah A’raf, 7:194
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ تَدْعُونَ مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ عِبَادٌ أَمْثَالُكُمْ ۖ فَادْعُوهُمْ فَلْيَسْتَجِيبُوا لَكُمْ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ صَادِقِينَ
Verily those whom you call upon besides Allah are servants like unto you: Call upon them, and let them listen to your prayer, if ye are (indeed) truthful!
No doubt that this verse are referring to the Idols of the mushrikeen, but at the same time, Allah (swt) gives us a general principle, that if those we call upon are “Servants (of Allah) like us”, then we cannot call upon them. This is very logical, because anyone who is a servant of Allah (swt) does not have the power to listen to everyone at the same time like Allah (swt), neither do they have the power to help us.
Isn’t the Prophet (saww) [and Imam (as)] servant of Allah (swt)? Yes he is, and we recite that in the Tashahud in every prayer.
Verse 8: Surah Yunus, 10:66
أَلَا إِنَّ لِلَّهِ مَنْ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَنْ فِي الْأَرْضِ ۗ وَمَا يَتَّبِعُ الَّذِينَ يَدْعُونَ مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ شُرَكَاءَ ۚ إِنْ يَتَّبِعُونَ إِلَّا الظَّنَّ وَإِنْ هُمْ إِلَّا يَخْرُصُونَ
Now, surely, whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth is Allah’s; and what do they pursue who call upon partners besides Allah?; they do not follow (anything) but conjectures, and they only make surmises (supposing something without evidence).
In many places in the Quran, “Calling upon other than Allah (swt)” and “Shirk” have been associated with “Dhann (conjecture)” and “Iftirah on Allah (lying about Allah)”. This is because if a person sincerely follows what Allah (swt) reveals in his holy scriptures, no one would ever fall into the sin of shirk.
A person would only fall into “Shrik” if he puts his conviction on “Dhann”, and gives the attributes of Allah (swt) to His other servants. Without “Dhann” and without “lying about Allah (swt)” it’s impossible to do such a thing.
Shaheed Mutahhari in his paper “Understanding the Uniqueness of the Quran” says:
“Among various sources of error mentioned by the Quran, one is that of taking conjecture (Dhann) and hypothesis for certainty and conviction. If a person were to adhere to the principle of putting conviction only in certainties and of not confusing between conjecture and certainties, he would not fall into error.”
Then he quotes the verse of the Quran :
(6:116): “If you obey the most part of those on earth, they will lead you astray from the path of God: they follow only surmise, merely conjecturing.”
(17:36): “And pursue not that you have no knowledge of…..”
Quran also says about “dhann” (conjecture, assumption etc) in:
(58:28): “…They follow nothing but “Dhann”, and indeed, “Dhann” avails not against the truth at all.
(10:36): “And most of them follow not except “Dhann”. Indeed “Dhann” avails not against the truth at all….”
From this we come to know that Allah (swt) wants us to follow only certainties, and not Dhann, and He also warns us that most people follow Dhann and therefore are misguided.
This is the mistake most ghaali shias have made, they have taken as certainties what they hear from the pulpit (mimbar) and what they read in fabricated narrations, even though it’s all “Dhann”. If we took our beliefs from the Quran and authentic narrations of Ahlulbayt (as) we would never fall into this error.
Verse 9: Surah Yunus, 10:106-107
وَلَا تَدْعُ مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ مَا لَا يَنْفَعُكَ وَلَا يَضُرُّكَ ۖ فَإِنْ فَعَلْتَ فَإِنَّكَ إِذًا مِنَ الظَّالِمِينَ
وَإِنْ يَمْسَسْكَ اللَّهُ بِضُرٍّ فَلَا كَاشِفَ لَهُ إِلَّا هُوَ ۖ وَإِنْ يُرِدْكَ بِخَيْرٍ فَلَا رَادَّ لِفَضْلِهِ ۚ يُصِيبُ بِهِ مَنْ يَشَاءُ مِنْ عِبَادِهِ ۚ وَهُوَ الْغَفُورُ الرَّحِيمُ
And do not call besides Allah on that which can neither benefit you nor harm you, for if you do then surely you will in that case be of the unjust.
And if Allah should afflict you with harm, then there is none to remove it but He; and if He intends good to you there is none to repel His grace; He brings it to whom He pleases of His servants; and He is the Forgiving, the Merciful.
Clearly this verse prohibits us from calling upon anyone other than Allah (swt), and it also gives the reason that “if Allah should afflict you with harm, then there is none to remove it but He; and if He intends good to you there is none to repel His grace; He brings it to whom He pleases of His servants”.
Doesn’t this reason apply to the Ahlulbayt (as) as well? Can the Imams (as) remove any harm if Allah (swt) intends it?
(cont…. in next post)