Muslims consider tawassul to a being other than God to be recommended as long as it is done for gaining proximity to God. In addition, resorting to the infallible (a) has been practiced by Muslims and religious scholars. Tawassul to a being other than God includes appealing to the prophets and Imams. This type of tawassul, which is done in order to get closer to God, has been emphasized in the Qur’an and hadiths.
Necessity of Having a Recourse
It is totally rational to use a means to reach a goal. In order to reach high spiritual positions, God has provided some means by which people can attain those high positions. That is why the Qur’an says, “O you who have faith! Be wary of Allah, and seek the means of recourse to Him, and wage jihād in His way, so that you may be felicitous.” (5:35)
Tawassul to Non-God in Qur’an and Hadith
“Wasila” (recourse/means) means anything that brings a person closer to God. This can be related to the person himself like knowledge, awareness, salat, hajj, and zakat; or it can be someone who would help the person in the path of gaining proximity to God, such as what has been quoted from Imam Ali (a) in the interpretation of verse 35 of surat al-Ma’ida (5), “I am His means;” or what the Infallible (a) ordered, “gain proximity to Him by the Imam.” There are also other instances of tawassul in the Qur’an in relation to other prophets. For example, tawassul of Adam to Ahl al-Bayt (2:37) and tawassul of Joseph’s brothers to their father, Jacob. When they realized that they had done wrong, they asked their father to ask God to forgive them. In return, Jacob promised them to do so: “they said, ‘Father! Plead [with Allah] for forgiveness of our sins! We have indeed been erring.’ He said, ‘I shall plead with my Lord to forgive you; indeed He is the All-forgiving, the All-merciful.’” (12:97,98)
Tawassul to the Prophet and Imams
There are cases in which Muslims made tawassul to the Prophet Muhammad (s) during his life and after his demise. People would come and ask him for help, for forgiveness, or for fulfillment of their request by God. For instance, it has been narrated that a Bedouin came to the Prophet (s) and started to compose a few verses of poetry in which he resorted to the Prophet (s) so that God sends the rain. The last verse of his poetry said, “except to you, we have nowhere to flee to, except to the prophet of God, where people might turn to.” Having heard that, the Prophet (s) climbed the pulpit and prayed for rain, and it rained heavily. In addition, resorting to the infallible (a) was and still is practiced by Muslims and religious scholars. The commemorating sessions that are held for Imam al-Husayn (a) are a clear example of this.
Tawassul to Dignified Spiritual Figures
In order to attain proximity to God, to receive God’s mercy, and to have one’s requests granted, one may have recourse to righteous people who have maintained a spiritual life in this world and have a special status and sanctity in the sight of God.
- This article is mainly taken from "توسل به غیر خداوند" on Persian Wikipasokh.