Fourth: Seeking Blessings (Tabarruk) from Trees, Stones, etc.

Tabarruk, or seeking the blessings of something, usually takes one of the two following courses:

  1. Tabarruk with a known Islamic source of blessing, such as the Book of Allah. Allah says,

“This is a blessed Book, which We have revealed.” (Q, 6:92)

The blessings of the Qur’an includes the guidance it has for the human hearts, the remedy to the diseases of their chests, its reformation of their souls, and it setting aright their character, as well as other things.

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  1. Tabarruk with unlawful means, which includes seeking the blessings of trees, stones, graves, domes, shrines, as well as other things. This is nothing but an act of shirk. It has been related by Abū Wāqid al-Laythi,

“We set out to Ḥunayn [on a military expedition] with Allah’s Messenger, and we had just left disbelief. The polytheists had a tree called Dhāt Anwāṭ, on which they would hang their weapons. As we passed by one such tree, we asked Allah’s Messenger, ‘Would you make for us a Dhāt Anwāṭ similar to that of the disbelievers?’ The Prophet said, ‘Glory be to Allah, people, by He in whose Hand is my soul, you have uttered something similar to that which was uttered by the Israelites when they said, “Mūsā, make for us a god like they have gods,” he said, “You are certainly an ignorant people.” [Q, 7:138] You will certainly follow the way of those before you.’”[1]

It is obvious from this ḥadīth that the practice of those who idolize trees, graves, stones, and things of a similar nature, either by seeking their blessings, being devoted to them, or offering animal sacrifices to them, are all acts of shirk. On this basis, their request was described in the ḥadīth as replica of another request that was made in the past by the Children of Israel, who had asked their Prophet, “Make for us a god just like their gods.” These people demanded to have a tree and to seek blessing from it in the same manner as the polytheists would do, while the Children of Israel asked for a god just as others had their own gods. Both requests are in conflict with the notion of tawḥīd; seeking the blessings of a tree is a form of shirk, while choosing another god besides Allah is clear-cut shirk.

The Prophet’s words, “You will certainly follow the way of those before you,” is an indication that something of that nature will happen in his community, and he has said that to forbid such an act and to forewarn against it.

Fifth: Forbidden Acts Pertaining to the Graves

In a move to safeguard and preserve the faith at the advent of Islam, the Muslims, who not long ago were living in sheer ignorance, were barred from visiting the graves. Later, such a visit was declared permissible, though with clearly defined goals. This development came in recognition of the fact that the Muslims, by then, had become stronger in their belief, just as the Islamic faith itself had gained momentous ground among the people. Moreover, the evidence of tawḥīd had become apparent, while on the other hand, the weakness of counter fallacious arguments had also been uncovered.

Buraidah b. al-Ḥuṣayb narrated that Allah’s Messenger said,

“I used to forbid you to visit the graves, but you may now visit them.”[2]

Abū Hurayrah related that the Prophet said,

“Visit the graves, for it will remind you of death.”[3]

Abū Sa‘īd al-Khudrī narrated that the Prophet said,

“I have in the past forbidden you to visit the graves. But now you should visit them, since there is a lesson for you in doing so.”[4]

Anas b. Mālik related that Allah’s Messenger said,

“I have in the past forbidden you from visiting the graves. You should now visit them, as such a visit will soften your hearts, cause you to shed tears, and remind you of the hereafter. However, you should never say any forbidden words.”[5]

Buraydah related,

“Allah’s Messenger would teach his to say whenever they visited the graveyard, ‘Peace be upon you, inhabitants of this land, from among the believers. If Allah wills, we will surely join you. I beseech Allah to give us and you peace, forgiveness, and wellbeing.’”

It is evident from the above-mentioned ḥadīths and others that visiting the graves was initially prohibited but was later declared permissible for two major reasons. The first is to teach he people to voluntarily renounce the worldly attractions through their remembrance of the life to come, death, and human decomposition, as well as learning about that which will befall the deceased in the grave. All this would not only help increase one in faith and strengthen his conviction, but will also broaden his spiritual contact with Allah and rid him of inadvertence and turning away from the truth. The second objective for permitting such a visit is to show kindness toward the deceased, by supplicating to Allah to have mercy on them and to forgive them for their sins.

What we have mentioned in this regard is the only view supported by proofs. Thus, it is binding on whoever claims to have an opposing view to provide convincing and cogent evidence for his claim. Additionally, for the purpose of preserving the tenets of tawḥīd, the sunnah has spoken of many prohibitions in relation to either the grave or visiting them. Every Muslim needs to learn about this, so that he may save himself from falsehood and religious aberration. We shall now speak about some of these prohibited acts:

  1. Saying hujr during visits to the graveyard. It has been mentioned that Allah’s Messenger warned against saying hujr during any visit to the graveyards. Hujr is an Arabic word that refers to all things that are unlawful in Islam, the worst being associating a partner with Allah. This can occur by calling upon the dead instead of Allah for help or good health, which is an open act of shirk and evident disbelief. Allah’s Messenger has also declared clearly in many ḥadīths that such acts are unlawful, and those who engage in them are cursed.

Imām Muslim, the renowned scholar of ḥadīth, reported on the authority of Jundub b. ‘Abdullāh that Allah’s Messenger said five days prior to his death,

“Indeed, those who came before you would take the graves of their Prophets and the righteous among them as places of worship. You should. Not use the graves as places of worship. I am indeed forbidding you from that.”[6]

Thus, it is major shirk to call upon a dead person for help or offer an act of worship to him. It is also an atrocious innovation to either devote oneself to the graves, pursue answer to one’s supplication from there, or to perform prayer in a mosque that has a greave within it. ‘Ā’ishah related that the Prophet said during his final illness,

“May Allah curse the Jews and the Christians for they used the graves of their Prophets as places of worship.”[7]

  1. Slaughtering at the graveyards. This is counted as an act of major shirk, provided that the intention is to please the dead, with the hope that they come to one’s aid. Doing so for any other purpose apart from what has been mentioned also amounts to a very risky innovation that could lead to shirk. The Prophet said,

Aqr is not Islamic.”[8]

In his explanation of aqr, ‘Abd al-Razzāq al-Ṣan‘ānī, a sub-narrator, said, “They used to slaughter cows or sheep at the graveyards.”

  1. Raising the graves above the ground, plastering them, inscribing names and other things on them, constructing building over them, and sitting on them. All of these mentioned things are part of the innovation that led the Jews and the Christians astray, and were major causes of shirk. Jābir related,

“Allah’s Messenger forbade the plastering of the graves, sitting on them, erecting buildings on them, adding soil on top of their soil, and inscribing anything on them.”[9]

  1. Praying in the direction of graves or performing prayers in the graveyards. Abū Murthid al-Ghanawī related that the Prophet said,

“Do not pray in the direction of graves, and do not sit on them.”[10]

Abū Sa‘īd al-Khudhrī related that the Prophet said,

“The entire earth has been made into a mosque, except for the graveyards and the bathrooms.”[11]

  1. Building mosques over the graves. This is also an innovation inherited from the Jews and the Christians. The ḥadīth related by ‘Ā’ishah provides proof for this,

“May Allah curse the Jews and the Christians for they used the graves of their Prophets as places of worship.”[12]

  1. Frequently visiting the graves of transforming their visitation into a festival. This is another innovation against where there is clear cut prohibition, considering the gravity of its damage. Abū Hurayrah related that Allah’s Messenger said,

“Do not use my grave as a festival, and do not cause your houses to become graves [by not praying in them]. Ask for the Allah’s blessings to be upon me wherever you may be, for that will surely reach me.”[13]

  1. To set out on a journey to specially visit a grave. This is also a forbidden act, since it is a channel to shirk. Abū Hurayrah related that Allah’s Messenger said,

“No one should start out on a journey to visit a particular place save three mosques. The Sacred Mosque in Makkah, my Mosque, and the Moque of al-Aqṣa.”[14]

[1] Tirmidhī no. 2180.

[2] Muslim no. 977.

[3] Muslim no. 975.

[4] Aḥmad 3/pg. 38.

[5] al-Ḥākim, Mustadrak, 1/pg. 532.

[6] Muslim no. 532.

[7] Bukhārī no. 1330 and Muslim no. 531.

[8] Abū Dāwūd no. 3222.

[9] Muslim no. 970 and Abū Dāwūd 3225 & 3226.

[10] Muslim no. 972.

[11] Abū Dāwūd no. 492 and Tirmidhī no. 317.

[12] Bukhārī no. 1330 and Muslim no. 531.

[13] Abū Dāwūd no. 2042 and Aḥmad 2/pg. 367.

[14] Bukhārī no. 1189 and Muslim no. 1397.

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