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What is the Proper way of asking Dua / Prayer?

Q:

Dear and most respectable:

Salam Alaikum,

I have a question regarding prayer/Dua. What’s the right way of asking Dua?
1) Should we ask directly to Allah only?
2)  Is it ok to ask Maula Ali or other Imams directly? (knowing that they are Imams and not Allah. They will listen to our prayers and ask Allah on our behalf)
3) Or…We should ask Allah directly and give “waasta” of our Imams or Punjaten?

If Question#2 is correct as well, can you please explain with Quran and Sunnah?

Jazak Allah…and thank you so much.

A:

Wa Alaykumussalam

Thank you for your query.

If one calls Prophet Muhammad (S) or Imam ‘Ali (as) for help, he is, in fact, calling Allah for help through intermediary of the Prophet or the Imams, and he does that with the understanding that the Prophet or the Imams do not have any independent power, but rather what they have (which many others lack) is that they have credit in front of Allah and that Allah does not put down their requests if they pray to Allah on my behalf. Imam ‘Ali and all the martyrs are alive as Qur’an clearly testifies, though they are not on the earth. So please do not treat them as dead. Allah states in Qur’an:

Think not of those who are martyred in the way of Allah as dead. Nay! They are living, finding their sustenance in the presence of their Lord.”(Surah Aale Imran/169)

https://www.al-islam.org/shiite-encyclopedia/tawassul-resorting-intermediary

So either we ask Allah(swt) directly or ask the Imams, but when we ask the Imams we believe that all the powers they have are from Allah(swt). Those who claim Tawassul or Wasila to be shirk like the extreme wahhabis, their own actions proclaim that they are seeking help from other than God, such as when they visit the doctor they are getting help from other than Allah(swt).

 

We believe that seeking help from others is allowed as far as we believe the person we seek help from, be under Allah’s power and not next to the Allah(swt).

To make it easier to understand, if we believe that person we are getting help from to be the main power in this world, that means we say that Imams have the independent power and they haven’t gotten the power from Allah(swt), then this will be wrong. Whereas, we believe that the power and the rank of our Imams is given by Allah(swt) and whatever they do is under the authority of Allah(swt).

In this way we can ask them directly because we believe their authority to be from Allah(swt) and not independent.

In the Duas and Munajat which has reached us from our Imams, we see they have been asking Allah(swt) for help and showing themselves to be His true servant . Now when we read Duas and Munajat we are asking directly from Allah(swt) and from the other angle we are giving wasila of Prophet Muhammad(s.a.w.w) and His progeny to Allah(swt) to accept our Duas.

In Surah Maaida, verse 35 Allah(swt) clearly states:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَابْتَغُوا إِلَيْهِ الْوَسِيلَةَ وَجَاهِدُوا فِي سَبِيلِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ 

O you who believe! be careful of (your duty to) Allah and seek means of nearness to Him and strive hard in His way that you may be successful.

 

According to such prominent Imami ‘ulama’ as Shaykh al-Ta’ifah Tusi, Shaykh Amin al-Islam Tabrisi, ‘Allamah Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Tabataba’i, Sayyid Ruhullah Khumayni and others, wasilah means faith, love and reverence for the Prophet (saws) and obedience to him.

‘Allamah Tabataba’i writes in his monumental exegesis on the Holy Qur’an that the word al-wasilah or ‘approach’ as used in the Ayah “and seek an approach unto Him” confirms the reality of worship and means turning submissively and supplicating to God, with knowledge and practice serving as the requisite instrument for this connection.(Al-Mizan fi Tafsir al-Qur’an, vol. 6, p. 328-332)

Furthermore, elaborating on the narration found in the Tafsir of ‘Ali bin Ibrahim Qummi that the Ayah “and seek an approach unto Him” means seeking Allah’s proximity through the Infallible Imam (as), ‘Allamah Tabataba’i, says that this refers to obedience or adhering to the path of the Imam (as) in order to reach Allah.

 

It is evident that the Prophet (s.a.w.w) and the Infallible Imams (as) who are considered the practical models of divine law and the finest exemplars of morals and etiquette, are the wasilah, since it is through obedience to them and adherence to their path that one can attain proximity to God.

To read more about Tawassul, please visit: https://www.al-islam.org/message-thaqalayn/vol5-n4-2000/tawassul-seeking-way-unto-allah-abd-al-karim-bi-azar-shirazi/tawassul

May Allah(swt) give us Tawfiq to stay attached with the Imams to gain the proximity of Allah(swt) and succeed in this life and the Hereafter.

Wassalam,

Syed Haider