Are these attributions true ? Is there a tampering of the manuscripts involved ?
wa `alaykum salam,
It appears that Ibn Muflih/Ibn `Aqil meant the Shi`is and their practices at graves since they said: “They call them a mash-had,” a term at that time rarely used by Sunnis, and they also mention their tying of votive and petitionary ribbons which is a Shi`i practice. What is also decried is extravagance and needless expense especially in public graveyards.
As for the statement “as if addressing a living person” it is a slip, because if such address is shirk, it is shirk in life or in death, regardless of biological life or its absence; and to make mere biological human life the differentiating marker between ability and inability to benefit is patent polytheism, since in both cases it is Allah Most High alone who gives or withholds, without regard whatsoever to whether the means is living or dead. This is a very grave point which was highlighted by Dr. Samer an-Nass in his book al-Wasila ila Haqiqat al-Tawassul which we had the honor of reading in full with him in Damascus.
In any case, there are big methodological problems in quoting Ibn `Aqil — Allah have mercy on him. Among them:
(1) Ibn `Aqil himself said in his Funun (2:493) stated that a foundational principle of debate is that you have to believe that the source and proof you are quoting are themselves authentic for your conclusion to be sound; yet those Wahhabis on the one hand quote Ibn `Aqil only when he purportedly speaks against tawassul; but by default they consider him astray and a “Jahmi” (as they say!) in doctrine in imitation of Ibn Taymiyya, since Ibn `Aqil rejected the literal affirmation of certain Divine Attributes as anthropomorphism, see for example his Kitab al-Funun (2:716-718).
Furthermore, on the issue of tawassul and tabarruk Ibn al-Qayyim in Bada’i` al-Fawa’id quoted Ibn `Aqil as stating that there is consensus in Islam that the grave of the Prophet (upon him blessings and peace) is holier and more blessed than the Two Holy Sanctuaries, the Ka`ba, the seven Heavens, the Throne, the Kursi and the Eight Paradises. This is also mentioned in Burhan al-Din Ibn Muflih’s book al-Mubdi` (3:70). Do those who quote them against tawassul also accept this or not? So Wahhabis, according to Ibn `Aqil himself, are hypocrites for quoting him on Monday and then denouncing him on Tuesday and the rest of the week.
(2) Ibn `Aqil had Mu`tazili teachers and followed them on many views to such an extent that the Hanbalis in his time intended to kill him “until he repented,” as related in his biographical notices. Consequently, whatever is quoted from him has to be weighed against the consensus and against the established positions of the Hanbali School in particular and Ahl al-Sunna wal-Jama`a at large. On the matter of tawassul here he may for example be following the Mu`tazili position which consists in denying the miracles of Awliya‘ whether in life or after death. We know from Kitab al-Funun (1:375-376) that he strongly leaned to that position and defended the Mu`tazili claim that there are only (Prophetic) mu`jizat, but no (non-Prophetic) karamat. This is in fact the Wahhabi position to this day and the actual evidence that Wahhabis are Mu`tazilis when it comes to discussing wilaya and Awliya‘, except that Wahhabis went much further and tried to inflict the harm of their heresy on the very person of the Prophet Muhammad, upon him Divine blessings, peace, infinite honor and endless magnification.
Beware of those who quote in a vacuum in order to mislead Muslims and lie about the usul of an entire madhhab regarding certain issues. Trying to quote Hanbalis against tawassul is a mark of ignorance or hypocrisy since Ibn `Aqil, Ibn Muflih, al-Buhuti, Ibn al-Jawzi, Ibn al-Qayyim, and more important Hanbalis such as Imam Ahmad himself and his immediate companions all taught that tawassul is desirable in every du`a and this is very well-known in the Hanbali school as it is the one madhhab that is most vocal on recommending tawassul, ziyara and tabarruk. See the relevant sections in the chapter on Imam Ahmad in my Four Imams and Their Schools and my Arabic text in defense of Habib Ali Jifri entitled Tuhfat al-Labib bi-Nusrat al-Habib available here, particularly the following 24 chapters:
10. The Salaf Did Build Mosques Over Graves and Visiting Graves Is Licit in the Law
11. The Building of Tombs is Licit Over the Elite of the Awliya, Ulema, and Ahl al-Bayt
12. Travel to Visit Graves for Du`a and Tawassul Is a Sunnah of the Salaf and Khalaf
13. Visiting the Prophetic Grave is a Qurba by Consensus Except Ahmad ibn Taymiyya
14. Explanation of “Do not Make My Grave a `Eid” and Documentation of “Whoever Visits My Grave Has My Intercession”
15. The Hadith “They Took the Graves of Their Prophets as Mosques” Has a Sunni Interpretation and a Bid`i Interpretation
16. Touching of Kissing the Grave for Love or Tabarruk is Allowed or Rather Desirable According to Imam Ahmad
17. The Miracles of the Awliya are A Reality and Among Them is our Liege-Lord `Ali, Allah be well-pleased with him
18. The Life of Prophets in Their Graves and the Prophet’s Awareness of Our States Are All Firmly Established
19. Sayyid Muhammad ibn `Alawi al-Maliki’s Explanation of the Life of Our Prophet in Barzakh, upon him blessings and peace
20. Documentation and Grading of the Hadith “My Life is a Great Good for You and My Death…”
21. Our Going to the Prophet of Mercy, upon him peace, for the Fulfillment of Needs
22. Our Going to the Graves of Awliya for the Fulfillment of Needs
23. Al-Qari’s Paramount Benefit of Certain Acts One Should Perform at the Graves of Anbiya, Awliya and Ulema
Following are some Hanbali fatwas on the issue of seeking the baraka of the righteous at their graves:
Muwaffaq al-Din Ibn Qudama in al-Mughni (3:442) and Shams al-Din Ibn Qudama al-Maqdisi in al-Sharh al-Kabir (2:389) said: “It is desirable (mustahabb) to have burial done in the graveyard where there are many righteous (salihun) and martyrs (shuhada‘) so that their blessing reach one (li-tanalahu barakatuhum), and likewise in honored areas.” Ibn Rajab says the same in his book Ahwal al-Qubur and he narrates that in Baghdad `Abd Allah the son of Imam Ahmad even preferred to be buried next to a Prophet rather than next to his father for that very reason: to seek the greater blessing.
Ibn al-Najjar in Muntaha al-Iradat (1:166), al-Hajjawi in al-Iqna` (1:233), and Shams al-Din Ibn Muflih in al-Furu` (2:278) said that Abu Bakr and `Umar (Allah be well-pleased with them) “chose to be buried near the Prophet (upon him blessings and peace) in order to obtain honor and blessing (tasharrufan wa-tabarrukan).”
As for touching a grave for blessing (tabarrukan) it is permissible in the Hanbali Madhhab and that is a well-known fatwa of Imam Ahmad and all subsequent jurists of his school as shown in my Four Imams and the words used in Ibn Muflih, Mubdi` (2:281), Shams al-Din Ibn Muflih, Furu` (2:300), and Mar`i al-Karmi in Ghayat al-Muntaha (1:259): “There is no harm in touching a grave by hand, especially of one whose blessing is hoped for (la siyyama man turja barakatuh).” It is also desirable (mustahabb) to touch the minbar of the Prophet and wipe one’s face with one’s hand to obtain blessing as mentioned in Ibn Qudama in al-Mughni (5:467), al-Buhuti in Kashshaf al-Qina` (2:517), and al-Mardawi in al-Insaf (4:54). Shams al-Din Ibn Muflih in al-Furu` (3:523) mentions it then states: “This is based on derigving blessing through the vestiges of the Prophet (upon him blessings and peace) after his death.” Meaning: exactly what present-day Wahhabis are trying to change, hide, tamper with and prevent the Ummah from practicing.
In Siyar A`lam al-Nubala’ Imam al-Dhahabi also mentioned that Imam Ahmad allowed kissing the grave labels as “a Khawariji innovator whoever has a problem with this fatwa of Imam Ahmad,” where I believe he is alluding to his own teacher Ibn Taymiyya — Allah forgive him. And this is also what those Wahhabis are, except that the Khawarij of old were pious and feared Allah Most High.
Hajj Gibril Haddad