Q. How can you say that asking the Imams (as) to pray for us is wrong, when our Imams (as) have taught us Dua Tawassul which is very popular, and in this Dua we call upon the Imams (as) to pray for us and to intercede for us on the Day of Judgment?
Dua Tawassul cannot be used as a proof, since it is not proven to be from the Imam (as). Also in this Dua we call upon the Imams (as), which means that we consider the Imams (as) to be “all hearing” which is a sifat of Allah (swt).
Now let’s briefly explain why this Dua is not even authentic.
This Dua does not have a “Sanad” (chain of narrators).
This Dua was for the first time mentioned in Bihar al Anwar of Allama Majlisi, (around 700 years after the Ghayba).
When mentioning this Dua, Allama Majlisi writes:
“I say: I found in an old manuscript of the books by some of our companions, may Allah be pleased with them, the following wording, “this du`a is narrated by Muhammad b. Babawayh, may Allah have mercy on him, from the Imams, and he said, “I never performed Tawassul for any matter except that I found the effect of the response quickly.”
al-Majlisi, Bihaar Al-Anwaar, vol. 99, ch. 10, pg. 247
1.) al-Majlisi (d. 1111 AH) is reporting it on the authority of al-Saduq (d. 381 AH), but there is an approximately 700 year gap between the two scholars. (The scholars of Rijaal stipulate that in order for you to credibly narrate a Riwaayah from someone, you should hear it directly from the person concerned.) Majlisi has not provided a Tareeq (chain of people) connecting him to Sheikh Sadooq for this particular narration.
2.) It has also been claimed that no one else recorded this du`a until al-Majlisi (d. 1111 AH), not al-Tusi in his Misbaah, not Ibn Tawus in his many du`a books, not even al- Kaf`ami in his du`a books. How did this dua remain hidden for so many centuries from the sight of great Shia scholars and Muhadditheen, only to resurface in the time of al-Majlisi?
Well, as it is known, many Ghaali practices (such as the third Shahaadah in Adhan) were not endorsed/approved by Shia scholars for centuries, until the Safavid period started, thereafter many formerly Ghaali beliefs, practices and Riwaayaat were welcomed into mainstream Shiaism. Dua Tawassul definitely seems to be one of them.
3.) How was al-Majlisi able to ascertain that the manuscript was indeed al-Saduq’s? Because his name was written? On the basis of his handwriting? Back in the day, there was no way to 100% ascertain the date of authorship of the manuscripts, other than the date written on the manuscript itself. Today, we are able to scientifically date the manuscripts to their time periods.
4.) Even if we were to assume that this manuscript was indeed al-Saduq’s, how certain are we that its text had not been tempered with, and no one came after al-Saduq and added or deleted certain words, phrases, etc.
If people could add Ahadith to the books of the 5th and 6th Imam (as is clear from the statements of Imam Ridha (as)), then where does Sheikh Sadooq stand?
5.) We do not have a chain for Dua-e-Tawassul connecting Sheikh Sadooq to an Imam, which is why it is not even known for certain which Imam taught Dua-e-Tawassul.
No serious scholar of Rijaal worth his salt would entertain a Riwaayah that has such serious problems and flaws in its transmission. And we can especially not rely on chain-less Riwaayaat in such controversial and risky matters, as that would be very imprudent and unwise.
So any argument based on Dua-e-Tawassul carries no weight.