Narration of Malik al Dar, evidence for Tawassul by the living & not by the Prophet after his death
Bismillah, wal-hamdulillah was-salatu was-salamu ‘ala Rasulillah.
The incident mentioned in the narration of Malik al Dar happened during the Khilafah of Umar radiyallahu anhu, during the time of drought, and so did the incident of Umar bin al Khattab’s (radiyallahu anhu) tawassul through the Prophet’s (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) uncle, Al Abbas radiyallahu anhu.
I have come across many discussions in regards to this narration, and all of them were concentrating on the “authenticity” of the narration, discussing its chain.
But I have not come across any discussions on the text of the hadith itself, the story,
except for some quotes here and there from some current shaikhs, sited in ahl alhadith forum, and those 2 or 3 points mentioned by those shaikhs led me to research the story of the hadith in classical books of past scholars, and I have found it very interesting and informative.
The things I discovered and read show a totally different understanding of the hadith, than what is understood by many Muslims today including some scholars, it only needs for one to go deep and see where the scholars of the past quoted the narration, in which chapter and what they said before quoting it to understand the real meaning of the hadith.
I will go straight to the points that I have regarding the text and story of this narration of Malik al Dar. After that I will mention some logical arguments in reply to the ones who use this narration as evidence for tawasul that is “asking the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) to make duaa to Allah for us AFTER HIS DEATH.
The text of the narration:
It is related from Malik al-Dar, `Umar’s treasurer, that the people suffered a drought during the time of `Umar (his khilafah), whereupon a man came to the grave of the Prophet and said: “O Messenger of Allah, ask for rain for your Community, for verily they have but perished,” after which the Prophet appeared to him in a dream and told him: “Go to `Umar and give him my greeting, then tell him that they will be watered. Tell him: You must be clever, you must be clever!” The man went and told `Umar. The latter said: “O my Lord, I spare no effort except in what escapes my power!””
Scholars’ understanding of this narration
Hafidh Ibn Hajar al Asqalani –rahimahu Allah– in his books “Fath al Bari” (vol 3 pg. 441):
He sites it in chapter “The people asking the Imam to do istisqa’ in times of drought,” in the chapter heading section, in which he quotes ahadith that have relevance to the chapter heading, and that connect it with hadiths that come under that chapter.
Amongst those narrations he mentions the narration of Malik al Dar, and he only quotes part of the narration, he stops at “go to Umar”. He used this as evidence that people ask the imam to do istisqa (ask for rain) for them in times of drought.
He didn’t mention the rest of the hadith because it has nothing to do with the chapter heading, he only quoted what he believed fits the chapters title, for he says at the end of the section, after mentioning this narration:
“From all of this appears the relevance of the chapter heading to the origin of this story“
so, al Hafidh Ibn Hajar rahimahu Allah understood from this hadith that the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam was directing the man to go ask the Imam, during that time (Umar radiyallahu anhu), to do istisqa’ for them.
Hafidh Ibn Kathir –rahimahu Allah-:
He sites it in his book “al Bidayah wan Nihaya ” (vol7 pg.104 ), in which he mentions some narrations, right before he mentions Malik ad Dar’s narration, which explain the meaning of the narration.
The narrations before it are by Sayf Ibn Umar, and in them is the mentioning of Umar radiyallahu anhu, after hearing about the man’s dream (who is said to be Bilal al Harith), asking the people on the minbar if they have seen anything bad from him, and then he tells them about the dream that Bilal saw, so they told him:
“Bilal has spoken the truth, so make istiqatha (seek or ask for help) to Allah, then the Muslims”. So then Umar radiyallahu anhu does istisqa’ through al Abbas radiyallahu anhu.
In the second narration, they said “he found you slow in doing istisqa’, so do istisqa’ for us “, so he did.
(Note: these 2 narrations could be weak, but the point is that al Hafidh Ibn Kathir rahimahu Allah mentioned them right before the narration of Malik, showing what it is about, which shows what he understood it to mean, same as what Ibn Hajar (r A) understood from it).
Ala’ ad Deen Ali al Mutaqi al Hindi al Burhan Furi (d. 975) in his book “Kanz al Ummal“:
He sites it in chapter of (salat al Istisqa’ – prayer for rain),
and what the man did at the grave of the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam was asking for dua, not istisqa’ prayer, and salat al Istisqa’ was done by Umar radiyallahu anhu, when he made tawassul through Al Abbas radiyallahu anhu, thus both narrations are connected to each other, as shown in the previous points.
Conclusion: That the story of Malik al Dar’s narration is connected to the hadith about Umar’s tawassul through al Abbas, all leading to doing istisqa’ through the living, and not through the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam after his death.
Narrations with an addition.
There are narrations of the same story, with an addition, if they are authentic (the authenticiy is not known to me so far), they would give very strong support to the understanding of the above scholars.
and it also shows what the scholars who sited the narrations believed the narration to mean.
Imam Ibn Abd al Bar al Maliki in his book “al Isti’ab fi ma’rifat al As-hab”:
The people suffered a drought during the time of ‘Umar (his khilafah), whereupon a man came to the grave of the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) and said:”O Messenger of Allah, ask for rain for your Community, for verily they have but perished,” after which the Prophet appeared to him in a dream and told him: “Go to ‘Umar and tell him to do istisqa’ (ask Allah for rain) for the people, and that they will be watered. And tell him: You must be clever, you must be clever!” So, the man went and told ‘Umar, and Umar cried and said “O my Lord, I spare no effort except in what escapes my power!”
Ahmad Abdullah at Tabari (d. 694 ) in his book “ar Riyadh an Nadhirah fi Manaqib al Ashara”:Anas bin Malik narrated:
The people suffered drought during Umar’s time, whereupon a man came to teh grave of the Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wa sallam), and said: “O Messenger of Allah, ask for rain for your community, for verily they have but perished,”, he said so the Messenger of Allah came to him in a dream and told him “Go to ‘Umar then tell him to do istisqa’ (ask Allah for rain) for the people, and that they will be watered. And tell him: You must be clever, you must be clever!” So, the man went and told ‘Umar, and Umar cried and said “O my Lord, I spare no effort except in what escapes my power!”. narrated by al Baghawi in al fada’il and Abu Umar.
The ones who use this hadith for this type of tawassul say that Umar radiyallahu anhu did not rebuke the man who did istisqa’ at the grave.
Reply: There is no clear evidence in the hadith indicating that the man told Umar of him going to the grave, but clearly he did tell him of the dream, telling him the message of the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam.
so to say that he told him about his istisqa’ at the grave is an assumption, and we can’t use assumptions as evidence.
It didn’t rain until after Umar radiyallahu anhu made istisqa’ by al Abbas radiyallahu anhum.
If the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam was capable or had permission to do du’aa to Allah after his death, when asked by others, then it would have rained immediately after the man asked the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam at his grave, but it didn’t until after Umar’s istisqa’ through the duaa of Al Abbas radiyallahu anhu.
This shows that the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam, was guiding the man to ask the Umar to do istisqa’ and not him, hinting to Umar by saying to him “be clever!“, and when Umar did istisqa’ by al Abbas (radiyallahu anhuma) it immediately rained..
If going to the grave of the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam to ask him to make duaa to Allah was permissable, Umar radiyallahu anhu would have done that when wanting to do istisqa’ instead of doing it through the uncle of the Messenger sallallahu alayhi wa sallam, who was alive, and Umar’s (r.a) saying “we used to make tawassul through your Prophet’s duaa, and now we do tawassul through the uncle of your Prophet…”, indicates that they don’t make tawassul through the Prophet’s (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) duaa after his death, and only when he was alive, or else why would he say “we used to”?
If what the man did (wether it was Bilal ibn al Harith radiyallahu anhu or someone else) was correct\permissable, then:
Why didn’t any of the scholars I quoted mention the narration in a chapter titled (tawassul by the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) or some title indicating that the narration is EVIDENCE for permissibility of that type of tawassul?
Instead they title the chapter in which the narration is in (salat al istisqa’- the man didn’t do salat al Istisqa’ at the grave, only did duaa, while Umar rA did salat al istisqa) , (The people asking the Imam to do istisqa’ in times of drought), wouldn’t it be more important to point out the permissibility of tawassul through the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam after his death, which is stronger than doing tawassul through the righteous and ahl al bayt?
Instead they ignored that part , showing no importance to it at all.
So if they believed that the narration indicates the permissibility of such a tawassul, why didn’t they at least hint to it by the chapter title or a comment like they did to show that it meant to do intercession through saliheen and ahl al bayt, and ask the imam to do istisqa?
What was the point of the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam telling Umar r.A “be clever“?
If the man told Umar that he went to the grave, and then told him about the dream, why would Umar do salat al istisqa’ when the man already asked the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam to do istisqa’ and he told him that they will be watered?
Isn’t the istisqa’ of the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam sufficient?
If the action of the man was correct (to ask the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam to do istisqa), and the Prophet S.A.W answered his request, then why didn’t it rain immediately after the dream, and instead came down immediately after al Abbas’s (radiyallahu anhu) duaa?
Who is higher in status, the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam or his uncle?