Surah Nisa Verse 64
Allah says “We sent no Messenger, but to be obeyed by Allah’s Leave. If they, when they had wronged themselves, had come to you (Mohammad) and asked Allah’s Forgiveness, and the Messenger had asked forgiveness for them: indeed, they would have found Allah All-Forgiving (one who accepts repentance), Most Merciful.”
Sufis explain this verse to prove that it is justified for Muslims to make duaa to Allah through the prophet Mohammed in when he was alive and after his death.
The Correct Tafsir Of This Verse Is:
Sufis believe the verse commands Muslim to do tawassul through the prophet when he was alive and after his death. However this verse does not contain any command for Muslims, because in this verse Allah is commanding the disbelievers and hypocrites only.
In Jami al-bayan an tawil ay al-Quran (tafsir Tabari) Tabari said this verse: The munafiqs (hypocrites) are described in these two verses.
In Al-Kashshaaf (tafsir Zamakshari) Zamakshari in says this verse refers to those who committed hypocrisy.
In Tafsir al-Kabir also called Mafatih al-Ghayb Imam Razi agrees with Zamaksharis tafsir of this verse.
In Tanwir al-Miqbas min Tafsir Ibn Abbas, Ibn Abbas says that when Allah said
“if they, when they” it means “those who built the counter mosque and Hatib” (this refers to the hypocrites in Medina who built a mosque separate from Prophet’s mosque (read tafsir Ibn Kathir Sourah Tauba: 107-110 for more info).
In Tafsir al-Jalalayn this sheikh said when Allah says ““If they, when they had wronged themselves,” (the tafsir is, they had wronged themselves) by seeking the judgement of the false idol (whoever goes to any idol for judgement is a disbeliever).”
Allah states that the hypocrites and disbelievers are to “ask forgiveness of Allah” also the prophet is to seek forgiveness for them Allah says “and the Messenger had asked forgiveness for them”, so this ayah in no way shows that Allah wanted the hypocrites to do make duaa to Allah through the Prophet Mohammed.
Allah does not tell the hypocrites in this verse to ask him (Allah) to forgive them due to there calling upon him (Allah) through the (status of the)prophet Mohammed.
In Tanwir al-Miqbas min Tafsir Ibn Abbas, Ibn Abbas says that when Allah said “and asked forgiveness of Allah” means (the hypocrites and disbelievers) repented to Allah for their actions.
Additionally Ibn Abbas said in his tafsir Allah said “and asked forgiveness of the messenger” (means) and the Messenger prayed for them (the hypocrites and disbelievers)
Furthermore look how In Tafsir al-Jalalayn he explained this part of the ayah with just a few words of his own because the ayah is so self explanatory the sheikh said (Allahs words) “If they, when they had wronged themselves, had come to you” repentant (seeking forgiveness for their sins) “and (then) asked Allahs forgiveness and (then) the Messenger had asked forgiveness for them”
Plus in Tafsir Ibn Kathir he says Allah said, “If they (hypocrites), when they had been unjust to themselves,” directs the sinners and evildoers, when they commit errors and mistakes, to come to the messenger, so that they ask Allah for forgiveness in his presence and ask him to supplicate to Allah to forgive them. If they do this, Allah will forgive them and award them His mercy and pardon.
However some Sufis claim that many of the scholars of tafsir and hadeeth have understood from this verse that a person living today can ask Allah for things through the prophet Mohammed. The reason this is said is because a number of scholars of tafsir and hadeeth bring a narration from Utbi which is used to explain this ayah upon the understanding that it is halaal to ask Allah for some think through the prophet Mohammed. But this narration is extremely weak as you will soon come to know inshallah. The narration is:
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 all of the above scholars however not one of them has 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, Mohamamd bin Harb al-Hilaalee, who again is unknown.
The narrators in this chain of narration up until these two narrators are all unknown.
Sheikh 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 Nasaaee 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 (tawassul means to seek nearness to Allah) 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 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.182
As this narration is very weak and may even be fabricated the fact that some respected scholars used it to explain this ayah can not be used as proof that this ayah proves it is halaal to ask Allah for some think through the prophet Mohammed. Because weak hadeeth can not be used to explain verses in the Quran that contain fiqh rulings therefore weak narrations can never be usedto explain such a verse.
Proof: Asking Allah for some think through the prophet Mohammed is related to duaa ul-Masalah (duaa of request) which is an act of worship, so everything to do with duaa comes under the category of fiqh like all other acts of worship.
Imam Nawawi said in the …’Adhkar’: “As for legal (fiqh) rulings such as what is permitted and what is forbidden, or the modalities of trade, marriage, divorce and other than that: one’s practice is not based upon anything other than authentic (saheeh) or good (hasan) hadeeth…..”
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah said in Majmoo’ al-Fataawa, 1/250: It is not permissible in Islam to rely on weak ahaadeeth that are neither saheeh nor hasan………… None of the imams said that it is permissible to regard something as obligatory or mustahabb (recommended) on the basis of a weak hadeeth; whoever says that is going against scholarly consensus (ijma)……
Some scholars allowed the use of weak hadeeth but only for encouraging good deeds or forbidding haraam actions (targheeb wa al-tarheeb) and for (fadail amal) good deeds and character and even when these scholars use these hadeeth there are strict conditions that they adhere to.
Ibn Hajar al-Askalani gives the conditions which all the scholars who allow weak hadeeth to be used give.
- It should not be very weak, and one should not act upon a hadeeth which was narrated only by one of the liars or those who are accused of lying, or whose mistakes are serious.
- It should mention a good deed for which there is a basis in the Shareah.
- When acting upon it one should not believe that the action is well-founded, rather he should do it on the basis of erring on the side of caution.
From what Ibn Hajar al-Askalani as said it is clear that even the scholars who accepted weak hadeeth in relation to encouraging good deeds or forbidding haraam actions (targheeb wa al-tarheeb) and for (fadail amal) good deeds and character do not accept very weak or fabricated hadeeth.
The ayah or the narration of Utbi together or alone, do not support the view that asking Allah for some think through the prophet Mohammed is halaal in our times or was halaal in the past based on this ayah or this narration.
The ayah only proves two types of tawassul (to draw close to Allah) where done which was tawassul through good deeds (the hypocrites and disbelievers duaa for Allahs forgiveness), and tawassul by asking the prophet (when he was alive, in person) to make duaa for them to Allah. As for tawassul by asking Allah for some think through the prophet Mohammed in our times, no scholar has ever said that this verse shows the permissibility of asking Allah for some think through the prophet Mohammed when he was alive or even after his death.
The narration of Utbi proves nothing as it can not be used as a proof as I discussed earlier.
This ayah refers to the hypocrites in time of the prophet however if a person claims it refers to Muslims then this ayah supports the understanding of two authentic hadeeth. The first hadeeth is the prophet said “…………If you ask, ask of Allah; if you seek help, seek help of Allah…………” Narrated by Imam Nawawi in his 40 Hadeeths as saheeh (authentic) and the second hadeeth is the messenger of Allah said: Allah the Almighty has said: “O son of Adam, so long as you call upon Me and ask of Me, I shall forgive you for what you have done, and I shall not mind………” Narrated by Imam Nawawi in his 40 Hadeeths as hasan (Good).
The reason why these two hadeeth support this ayah is because in the ayah the hypocrites asked only Allah, as Allah says in the ayah “had come to you (Mohammad) and asked Allah’s forgiveness” the first hadeeth states “If you ask, ask of Allah”.
Also Allah states in the ayah “had come to you (Mohammad) and asked Allah’s Forgiveness, and the Messenger had asked (Allahs) forgiveness for them: indeed, they would have found Allah All-Forgiving (one who accepts repentance).” In the second hadeeth above it is stated, “so long as you call upon me and ask of Me, I shall forgive you for what you have done.”
Therefore if the ayah does refer to Muslims then it is only commanding us to ask Allah alone for things directly and not through the prophet Mohammed or any one else. Plus it is commanding us to always seek Allahs forgiveness and he will forgive us as he is the All-Forgiving.
May Allah help us all to understand this ayah and narration correctly. Ameen.