The hadith of the blind man and the man in need are two narrations that are often quoted by grave-worshippers (Quburis) who misuse and abuse these narrations in order to justify their textbook and Catholic-Esque polytheism and paganism of saint worship (the invocation of the saints in supplication).
This article will prove that their proofs are nothing but spoofs and that there is no need to fall into other extreme i.e. the outright rejection of Islamic concepts such as Tawassul, Tashaffu’, etc. in order to debunk the extremists from amongst the Quburis.
The Hadith Of The Blind Man And Its Misapplication
عَنْ عُثْمَانَ بْنِ حُنَيْفٍ أَنَّ رَجُلًا ضَرِيرَ الْبَصَرِ أَتَى النَّبِيَّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَقَالَ ادْعُ اللَّهَ أَنْ يُعَافِيَنِي قَالَ إِنْ شِئْتَ دَعَوْتُ وَإِنْ شِئْتَ صَبَرْتَ فَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لَكَ قَالَ فَادْعُهْ قَالَ فَأَمَرَهُ أَنْ يَتَوَضَّأَ فَيُحْسِنَ وُضُوءَهُ وَيَدْعُوَ بِهَذَا الدُّعَاءِ اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَسْأَلُكَ وَأَتَوَجَّهُ إِلَيْكَ بِنَبِيِّكَ مُحَمَّدٍ نَبِيِّ الرَّحْمَةِ إِنِّي تَوَجَّهْتُ بِكَ إِلَى رَبِّي فِي حَاجَتِي هَذِهِ لِتُقْضَى لِيَ اللَّهُمَّ فَشَفِّعْهُ فِيَّ
3578 سنن الترمذي كتاب الدعوات باب
3578 المحدث الألباني خلاصة حكم المحدث صحيح في صحيح الترمذي
Uthman ibn Hunayf reported: A man with damaged eyesight came to the Prophet (ﷺ) and he said, “Supplicate for Allah to heal me.” The Prophet said, “I will supplicate for you if you wish, or it is better for you to be patient if you wish.” The man said, “Supplicate for me.” The Prophet ordered him to perform ablution in the best manner and to supplicate with these words, “O Allah, I ask you and turn to you by your Prophet, Muhammad the Prophet of Mercy. I turn by you to my Lord to fulfill this need of mine. O Allah, accept his intercession for me.”
Source: Sunan al-Tirmidhī 3578
Grade: Sahih (authentic) according to al-Albani
قال ابن تيمية فقد علمنا أن عمر وأكابر الصحابة لم يروا هذا مشروعاً بعد مماته صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ كما كان يشرع في حياته بل كانوا في الاستسقاء في حياته يتوسلون به فلما مات لم يتوسلوا
1/228 قاعدة جليلة في التوسل والوسيلة
Ibn Taymiyyah said, “We know that Umar and the senior companions did not consider this to be legislated after the death of the Prophet (ṣ) as it was during his life. Rather, they used to ask him to supplicate for rain and use him as a means, but after he died they no longer used him as a means.”
Source: Qāʻidah Jalīlah fī al-Tawassul wal-Wasīlah 1/228
Indeed, many scholars have authenticated this narration and considered and undoubtedly it is from types of permissible Tawassul. However, the narration does not in any shape or form support the textbook polytheism of the extreme grave worshippers who literally invoke their buried and tombed demigods directly for all their needs, at any place and any time.
The blind man invoked Allah alone in the presence of the Prophet (ﷺ). The Prophet (ﷺ) even advised him that its better to have patience instead of the Prophet (ﷺ) praying for him, that was when the Prophet (ﷺ) was literally alive, next to the man! What would the same Prophet (ﷺ) say about those who claim that one can invoke and beseech his cousin, daughter, and a whole set of saints (like as if Islam is some form of Catholicism that comes with saint invocation!)?!
Notice how the man started with Allah, prayed to Allah alone, asked only for intercession (in the presence of the Prophet and even after his demise next to his grave, considering that narration to be authentic as that’s another narration that is misused) and ended his Du’a by asking Allah alone and directly!
This is what the Qubooris such as the Rafidah and their likes deceptively try to sell as ‘tawassul’. This is what they conflate with their clear-cut shirk where they directly invoke their Imams in du’a for all their needs, often not even mentioning Allah (Ya Ali madad/help)!
The very matn (text) of the narration opposes what the Qubooris claim about tawassul:
1. The text itself states that the blind man was informed that having patience is better than the Prophet (S) praying for him! This is in heavy contrast to the belief of the Qubooris/Grave-venerators who believe that one’s Du’a is more likely to be accepted if one asks through a mediator.
So the narration proves that praying directly to Allah and not relying on anyone’s (including the Prophets) Du’a is the best form of Du’a, this is why there are numerous statements from the Salaf that although it is permissible to ask any living person to pray for one, one should refrain from this practice and ask everything – including the most trivial things – from Allah alone!
2. This hadith has been quoted as being one of the miracles of the Prophet (ﷺ) and one of his supplications to ALLAH that were answered.
The scholars who authenticated this narration never understood it as the Grave-worshippers and Imam-worshippers do. Take for instance Imam Al-Tirmidhi, he mentioned this hadith under the following chapter:
“Book on Supplications of Prophet peace be upon him”
3. The saying of “Ya Muhammad inne atawajjahu bika” (not “Ya Muhammad madad” i.e. help me!), is similar to the saying of “as-salamu ‘alaika ayyuhan-nabiyyu” in Tashahudd which is witnessing the Prophet in one’s heart and saying to it and praying FOR him and not asking anything FROM him except Shafa’ah.
4. The Prophet (ﷺ) teaches him to call on Allah alone, and then say ‘Ya Muhammed” and effectively you ask Allah by his intercession (a form of Tawassul allowed by many later scholars). Allah is not an afterthought, it occurs at the very beginning and it is the central aspect of that Du’a. The man didn’t go around yelling “Ya Muhammad madad” (let alone calling on his cousin or other Imams) from afar.
This misinterpretation of this hadith has been answered by many of the scholars, who explained that it does not constitute evidence for any of those who believe in heretical kinds of tawassul, whether that is by virtue of the Prophet’s person or by virtue of his status, let alone tawassul by virtue of the dead and calling upon them instead of Allah.
One of the best precise and academic responses concerning this issue is that which was written by the great scholar Shaykh Muhammad Naasir al-Din al-Albani in his book at-Tawassul Anwaa‘uhu wa Ahkaamuhu (available in English under the title Tawassul: Its Types and Its Rulings). Among the comments that he made on this hadith is the following:
As for us, we believe that this hadith does not constitute evidence for them to support seeking to draw closer to Allah (tawassul) by virtue of the Prophet’s person; rather it constitutes further evidence for the third type of lawful tawassul – which is tawassul through the du‘a (supplication) of a righteous man – because the tawassul of the blind man was only by means of the du‘a of the Prophet (ﷺ) and not by virtue of his person. The evidence for what we say is to be found in the hadith itself, in abundance. The most important points are as follows:
The blind man only came to the Prophet (ﷺ) to ask him to pray for him; that was when he said: Pray to Allah to heal me. This is seeking to draw closer to Allah (tawassul) by virtue of his du‘a, because he knew that the du‘a of the Prophet (ﷺ) was more likely to be accepted by Allah, unlike the du‘a of anyone else. If the blind man’s intention was to draw close to Allah by virtue of the Prophet’s person or his status, there would have been no need for him to come to the Prophet (ﷺ) and ask him to offer du‘aa’ for him; rather he could have stayed at home and called upon his Lord by saying, for example: O Allah, I ask You by virtue of Your Prophet and His status before You to heal me and give me my sight. But he did not do that.
The Prophet (ﷺ) promised to offer supplication (du‘a) for him whilst advising him of that which would be better for him, which is when he said: “If you wish, I shall pray for you; and if you wish, you can be patient and that will be better for you.”
The blind man insisted that he offer supplication for him, as he said: Pray for me (now). This implies that the Messenger (ﷺ) did offer supplication for him, because he (ﷺ) was the best one in fulfilling promises, and he had promised him that he would offer supplication for him if he wanted, as stated above. So there is no doubt that he (ﷺ) offered supplication for him. Thus what the blind man wanted was done. After that, the Prophet (ﷺ) turned towards the blind man out of compassion towards him and out of keenness that Allah answer his supplications for this man. So he turned to him and advised him of the second type of lawful tawassul, which is tawassul by virtue of righteous deeds, so as to combine all kinds of good and righteous deeds (to ensure that his need would be met). So he instructed him to do wudoo’ and to pray two rak‘ahs, then to offer supplication for himself. These are all acts of obedience towards Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, that came before the supplication of the Prophet (ﷺ) for him, and these are included in the words of the verse in which Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): “Seek the means of approach to Him” [al-Maa’idah 5:35], as stated above.
Based on this, the entire incident revolves around the supplication (du‘aa’) – as is clear – and there is no mention at all of what they claim.
In the supplication that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) taught him it says: “O Allah, accept his intercession concerning me.” It is impossible to interpret this as referring to tawassul by virtue of the person or status of the Prophet (ﷺ), because what is meant is: O Allah, accept his (the Prophet’s) intercession for me; in other words, Accept his supplication for my vision to be restored to me. The Arabic word shafaa‘ah (translated here as intercession) means supplication. It says in Lisaan al-‘Arab (8/184): Shafaa‘ah (intercession) is the words of the shafee‘ (intercessor) to the king asking him to meet the need of someone else, or the one who asks for something for someone else and intercedes for him to get what he is seeking… End quote.
Thus it is proven that the tawassul of the blind man was only by virtue of the du‘aa’ of the Prophet (ﷺ), not by virtue of his person.
Among the things that the Prophet (ﷺ) taught the blind man to say was: “and accept my intercession concerning him”. What is meant is: accept my intercession, that is my supplication, that his intercession, that is his supplication that my sight be restored, be accepted. This is the only way in which this sentence can be interpreted; there is no other way of interpreting it.
Hence you see those among later generations who hold different views ignoring this last phrase and not referring to it at all, because it utterly demolishes their interpretation of the hadith.
This hadith is cited by the scholars as being one of the miracles of the Prophet (ﷺ) and one of his supplications that were answered, and an example of what Allah manifested through the blessing of his supplication of extraordinary events and healing from sickness. By virtue of the Prophet’s supplication for this blind man, Allah restored his sight. Hence the scholars of hadith, such as al-Bayhaqi and others, narrated it among the signs of Prophethood (dalaa’il an-nubuwwah). This indicates that the reason for the healing of the blind man was the supplication of the Prophet (ﷺ).
If the reason for the healing of the blind man was that he sought tawassul by virtue of the Prophet’s status, as it was understood by many later scholars, that would imply that this healing should also have happened for other blind people who sought tawassul by virtue of his status and sometimes added to it the status of all the Prophets and Messengers, and all the close friends of Allah, the martyrs and the righteous, and the status of anyone who has status with Allah among the angels, mankind and the jinn! But we do not know, and we do not think that anyone knows, of any such incident that was fulfilled throughout the many centuries from the death of the Prophet (ﷺ) until the present day.
From this explanation it becomes clear that what is meant by the words of the blind man in his du‘aa’, “O Allah, I ask You and I seek to draw close to You by virtue of Your Prophet Muhammad”, is: I seek to draw close to You by virtue of the supplication of Your Prophet. The text of the hadith does not mention the supplication, but it is implied. This is something that occurs commonly in Arabic, as in the verse in which Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): “And ask (the people of) the town where we have been, and the caravan in which we returned, and indeed we are telling the truth” [Yoosuf 12:82]; in the original text the word “people” is not mentioned but it is implied.
However, I would say: Even if we assume that the blind man did seek to draw close to Allah by virtue of the Prophet’s person, that would be a ruling that applied only to him (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) and not to any other Prophet or righteous person, and applying it to them too is something that would not be acceptable to sound reasoning, because the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) is their leader and the best of them all. It is possible that this is something that Allah bestowed exclusively upon him and not them, like many other qualities that were given only to the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him), according to saheeh reports. When it comes to that which was given exclusively to him, there is no room for applying it to others by analogy. If anyone thinks that the tawassul of the blind man was by virtue of the Prophet’s person, then he has to apply it to him only and not to anyone else. This view was narrated from Imam Ahmad and Shaykh al-‘Izz ibn ‘Abd as-Salaam (may Allah have mercy on them) and it is the only conclusion that can be reached by fair-minded academic research. And Allah is the One Who guides to what is correct.
End quote from at-Tawassul, p. 75
The Hadith Of The Man In Need And Its Misapplication
‘What about the scholars who use the hadith of the man in need and other narrations for Tawassul through the Prophet (ﷺ) even after his demise?’
As for the narration:
‘It was narrated from ‘Uthman ibn Hunayf that a man would come to ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan due to a need he had, but ‘Uthman did not turn to him nor consider his need. The man then met ‘Uthman ibn Hunyaf and complained of this to him. ‘Uthman ibn Hunayf said to him “Go to the basin and perform ablution, then go to the mosque, pray therein two rak’ats and then say: ‘O Allah! Indeed I ask You and turn to You through Your Prophet the Prophet of Mercy…’” [Al-Haythami mentioned it in Majma’ al-Zawa’id and said: “Al-Tabrani said at the end of it: ‘the hadith is authentic.’”]
What the scholars mean with Tawasssul through/by the Prophet (ﷺ) is not what the grave worshippers from amongst the Rawafid and Ghulat of the Sufis practice i.e. directly praying to their saints (they often don’t even mention Allah like in ‘Ya Ali/Jilani madad).
Tawassul through the Prophet (ﷺ) is to invoke Allah alone by mentioning the Prophet (ﷺ) or any other beloved pious person. E.g. ‘O Allah, grant my wishes for my love for You, Your Messenger, his Ahlul-Bayt, and his Sahabah’.
Some scholars permitted making tawassul by asking Allah by means of those in the grave, especially the Prophet (ﷺ), but they should not directly ask the one in the grave for help. This is a key point because, in this form of tawassul, the scholars require that the worshiper knows it is Allah Almighty who is asked by means of the person.
This form of tawassul is most commonly associated with the Prophet (ṣ) in discussions about visiting his grave. For instance, Al-Nawawi writes about what the scholars of his school permitted:
ثُمَّ يَرْجِعُ إلَى مَوْقِفِهِ الْأَوَّلِ قُبَالَةَ وَجْهِ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ وَيَتَوَسَّلُ بِهِ فِي حَقِّ نَفْسِهِ وَيَسْتَشْفِعُ بِهِ إلَى رَبِّهِ سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى وَمِنْ أَحْسَنِ مَا يَقُولُ مَا حَكَاهُ الْمَاوَرْدِيُّ وَالْقَاضِي أَبُو الطَّيِّبِ وَسَائِرُ أَصْحَابِنَا عَنْ الْعُتْبِيِّ مُسْتَحْسِنِينَ لَهُ قَالَ
كُنْت جَالِسًا عِنْدَ قَبْرِ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَجَاءَ أَعْرَابِيٌّ فَقَالَ السَّلَامُ عَلَيْك يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ سَمِعْت اللَّهَ يَقُولُ وَلَوْ أَنَّهُمْ إِذْ ظَلَمُوا أَنْفُسَهُمْ جَاءُوكَ فَاسْتَغْفَرُوا اللَّهَ وَاسْتَغْفَرَ لهم الرسول لوجدوا الله توابا رحيما وَقَدْ جِئْتُك مُسْتَغْفِرًا مِنْ ذَنْبِي مُسْتَشْفِعًا بِك إلَى رَبِّي
Then, the pilgrim returns to his place in front of the Messenger of Allah (ṣ) and he uses him as a means by his right and he seeks intercession with his Lord Almighty by him. Among the best of what to say is related by Al-Mawardi, Al-Qadi Abu al-Tayyib, and the rest of our scholars from Al-‘Utbi. He said:
I was sitting at the grave of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) and a bedouin came and said: Peace be upon you, O Messenger of Allah. I heard Allah say, ‘If they had come to you when they wronged themselves and sought forgiveness from Allah and the Messenger sought forgiveness for them, they would have found Allah to be relenting and merciful,’ (4:64). I have come seeking forgiveness for my sin and seeking intercession with my Lord by you.
Source: al-Majmū’ Sharḥ al-Muhadhab 8/274
Imam Nawawi later says that the pilgrim should face Makkah (i.e. the Qiblah) when making supplication, indicating that the supplication is for Allah and not to the Prophet (ﷺ) himself.
Scholars like Al-Nawawi permitted such tawassul using specific formulas that were free of idolatry, although other scholars considered this tawassul to be discouraged or prohibited
Imam Ahmad b. Hanbal wrote a letter to his student Abu Bakr al-Marrudi detailing the rulings of Hajj, where he said:
“You should do Tawassul through the Prophet (ﷺ) in your supplication.” [al-Insaf: 2/456]
Ibn al-Imad writes in his Sharh of Ghayat al-Muntaha:
“Tawassul done through a righteous person is to say, for example, “O Allah, I ask you through the Prophet (ﷺ).”
This is different from Istighathah, which is to say: Oh so-and-so, cure my sick or return my child to me, al-madad (help) and so on. That is literally praying to the saint which is major Shirk and impermissible by consensus as mentioned by Ibn al-Haj in al-Madkhal. [Bughyat Uli al-Nuha: 3/254].
Imam Abu Hanifa, may Allah be pleased with him, said:
لَا يَنْبَغِي لِأَحَدٍ أَنْ يَدْعُوَ اللَّهَ إلَّا بِهِ
No one should call upon Allah except by Him.
Source: al-Durr al-Mukhtār 6/396
And Ibn Abi al-‘Izz commented on al-Aqidah al-Tahawiyyah, writing:
وَإِنْ كَانَ يعنى الْحَلِف بِغَيْر اللَّهِ مُرَادُهُ الْإِقْسَامَ عَلَى اللَّهِ فَذَلِكَ مَحْذُورٌ أَيْضًا لِأَنَّ الْإِقْسَامَ بِالْمَخْلُوقِ عَلَى الْمَخْلُوقِ لَا يَجُوزُ فَكَيْفَ عَلَى الْخَالِقِ … وَلِهَذَا قَالَ أَبُو حَنِيفَةَ وَصَاحِبَاهُ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُمْ يُكْرَهُ أَنْ يَقُولَ الدَّاعِي أَسْأَلُكَ بِحَقِّ فُلَانٍ أَوْ بِحَقِّ أَنْبِيَائِكَ وَرُسُلِكَ وَبِحَقِّ الْبَيْتِ الْحَرَامِ
If one’s swearing by other than Allah is intended to adjure Allah, that is also forbidden, as stating an oath by a created being for a created being is not permissible, so how can it be for the Creator? … For this reason, Abu Hanifa and his companions, may Allah be pleased with him, disapproved of a supplicant saying: I ask You by the right of so-and-so, or by the right of Your prophets and messengers, or by the right of the sacred house.
Source: Sharḥ al-‘Aqīdah al-Ṭaḥāwịyah 1/297
And Ibn Taymiyyah writes:
وَهَذَا هُوَ الَّذِي قَالَ أَبُو حَنِيفَةَ وَأَصْحَابُهُ إنَّهُ لَا يَجُوزُ وَنَهَوْا عَنْهُ حَيْثُ قَالُوا لَا يُسْأَلُ بِمَخْلُوقِ وَلَا يَقُولُ أَحَدٌ أَسْأَلُك بِحَقِّ أَنْبِيَائِك
This is what was said by Abu Hanifa and his companions. It is not permissible and they prohibited it, such that they said Allah is not asked by created beings, nor does one say: I ask You by the right of Your prophets.
Source: Majmū’ al-Fatāwá 1/202
And Ibn Mawdud writes:
وَيُكْرَهُ أَنْ يَدْعُوَ اللَّهَ إِلَّا بِهِ فَلَا يَقُولُ أَسْأَلُكَ بِفُلَانٍ أَوْ بِمَلَائِكَتِكَ أَوْ بِأَنْبِيَائِكَ وَنَحْوِ ذَلِكَ لِأَنَّهُ لَا حَقَّ لِلْمَخْلُوقِ عَلَى الْخَالِقِ
It is disapproved to call upon Allah unless by Him. Thus, one does not say: I ask You by such person, or by Your angels, or by Your prophets, and so on, as created beings have no such right over the Creator.
Source: al-Ikhtiyār li-Ta’līl al-Mukhtār 4/164
Neither the hadith of the blind man nor the hadith of the man in need constitutes evidence for any of those who believe in innovated kinds of tawassul, especially not in the form of calling upon the Awliya in du’a instead of Allah.
The meaning of the narrations are nothing besides seeking a means to Allah Most High through/by one’s love for the Prophet (ﷺ). No person, let alone a Sahabi, beseeched and implored the Prophet (ﷺ) – let alone other than him – for madad in their du’a as the Quburis do.
What the Quburis practice is in fact a form of pseudo-Tawassul (which is actually Istighathah, however, some scholars like al-Subki use terms like Tawassul, Tashaffu’, Istighathah, etc. interchangeably) where they invoke their favourite saints directly for their needs, often even bypassing Allah completely.
The grave worshippers decorate their shirk with fancy Islamic terminology in order to confuse the naive, gullible, and uninformed masse.
It can also be very dangerous for lay Muslims who are not aware of the specific limits that these scholars placed upon this practice. Indulging and exaggerating in this controversial tawassul at the graves eventually leads to supplication to the righteous themselves, seeking their help, and a cult of grave-worshiping centered upon various spiritual personalities. Indeed, some Muslims have formed entire movements around not simply asking Allah by means of his Prophet (ṣ), but of asking the Prophet (ﷺ) or their perceived saints directly for their help.
When it is apparent the beliefs of the laity are corrupt, and they begin to intend by tawassul meanings that contain shirk or what comes close to it, then avoiding it is better even if it is [done] with a correct meaning, especially since this kind of tawassul has not been established except in a few incidents in the time of the Companions, and most of their supplications were devoid of it. There is no doubt that adherence to the transmitted supplications is more deserving and more hopeful of being accepted.