This narration is used by the supporters of tawassul through the prophet to prove this practice is halaal.
It is narrated from Utbi who said, ‘I was sitting at the grave of the Prophet when a Bedouin approached and said, ‘Peace be upon you, O Messenger of Allah. I have heard that Allah says (Nissa:64) (And if when they wronged themselves, they came to you and repented to Allah and the Messenger seeks their pardon they would have found Allah All-Forgiving and Most Merciful.) So I have come to you penitent for my sins seeking your intercession to my Lord.’
This hadeeth has been narrated by Ibn Kathir, Tafsir-ul-Quran al-azim Volume 004, Page No. 140, Under the Verse 4:64, Bayhaqi in Shu‘ab-ul-Imaan (3:495-6#4178), Ibn Qudamah in al-Mughni (3:557), Ibn ‘Asakir in Tahdhīb tarikh Dimashq al-kabir popularly known as Tarikh/Tahdhib Ibn ‘Asakir as quoted by Imam as-Subki in Shifa’-us-siqam fī ziyaat khayr-il-anam (pp. 46-7), Tafsir al-Bahr al-Muheet by Imam Abu Hayyan al-Andalusi (3/282, Dar al Fikr edition), Imam al-Mutaqi al-Hindi in Kanz ul Amaal (1/714 #10422) , Imam al-Nawawi again in his al-Majmu (8/202-203), Ibn Hajar Haythami in al-Jawhar-ul-munazzam (p. 51) and in Tafsir al-Qurtubi, al-Jami li Ahkam al-Quran Volume 006, Page No. 439, Under the Verse, 4:64. Each of them have slightly different wording but the meaning is the same, the wording in each report is similar to how the hadeeth is worded in this post.
This hadeeth has been reported by many scholars however not one of them have authenticated this narration.
Authenticity Of This Narration
This narration is fabricated (Mawdoo) and it has no basis. There is no known authentication of Utbi. He was a historian as is mentioned in Taareekh Baghdaad 2/324, al-Ibar 1/413 and Shadhraat adh-Dhahab (2/65) and that’s all that is known about him. None of the authors of these books mentioned any thing about his narrations.
There is another narrator in the chain, Muhamamd bin Harb al-Hilaalee, who again is unknown.
The narrators in this chain of narration up until these two narrators are all unknown.
Shaikh Muhammad bin Ahmad bin Abdul-Haadee al-Hanbali said, “This incident as some people have mentioned and have narrated from Utbi without a chain, some narrate it from Muhammad bin Harb al-Hilaalee and some from Muhammad bin Harb from Abul-Hasan Za’afaraanee and he from the bedouin arab.
Bayhaqi has transmitted it in Shu’bal Eemaan with a defective chain from Muhammad bin Rooh bin Yazeed Basree who said “mentioned to me Abu Harb al-Hilaahee” and then he mentioned the narration as above. Some liars have even raised the chain to Alee bin Abi Taalib…………The summary of this incident of the bedouin is not worthy to be deduced as a form of evidence, its chain is defective, differing and its wording is fabricated.” (as-Saarim al Munkee pg.212)
In different wordings and differing chains of this incident another narrator is Haitham bin Adiyy and he was not trustworthy and also an arch liar as stated by Imam Bukhari, Imam Yahyaa ibn Ma’een and Imam Abu Dawood. Imaam Nasaa’ee and other said, Munkar al-hadeeth, abandoned in hadeeth.
The narrators from Haitham bin Adiyy in this chain are Muhammad bin Haitham and Ahmad bin Muhammad, (the son and grandson of Haitham bin Adiyy) and their reliability is unknown.
The bedouin mentioned in the narration this condition is unknown (innovator or pious worshiper, scholar or layman, truthful or a liar). He could be a person who was ignorant of the rulings regarding tawassul or he could have been an innovator. This bedouin implement this verse from Quran how he understood it, but if he was not a scholar (which is unknown as this bedouin is unknown) his implementation of this verse can never be used as proof, regarding how to implement this verse. Because if a lay person implements a verse he may be correct or incorrect in his implementation. As a lay person does not have an in depth understanding of the tafsir and any of the other sciences of Quran connected to this verse.
This narration can not be used as an evidence for tawassul to Allah through the prophet Mohammed, as it is at best very weak (more likely to be fabricated). The reason this hadeeth is very weak at the best is because Utbi the reporter of this narration is unknown, the narrators in the chain are unknown and the incident is based around an unknown individual.
In Ibn Hajr Al-Asqalanis famous book Nukhbat Al-Fikar he puts hadeeths which include unknown narrators in the chain (like in the above narration of Utbi) under the title of ‘The rejected (hadeeth) and its Divisions’, after this he puts the unknown narrator under the subtitle of ‘Aspersion…..being unknown (jahala)’. (the 3rd (2000) edition of Nukhbas text established by Nur al-Din Itr p.178 -180)
Ibn Hajr Al-Asqalani explains the unknown narrator (mubham) is not accepted. (Nukhbat Al-Fikar the 3rd (2000) edition of Nukhbas text established by Nur al-Din Itr p.18