Waseelah means “means” and in Quranic terms it means seeking closeness to Allah. We all wish to seek Waseelah to Allah. Obviously, if we are closer to Allah, we will enjoy numerous benefits in this life and the hereafter. If Allah is happy with us, our Duas can be responded to faster, He will protect us from the challenges of this life, and in general, we can enjoy a better life.
This article summarizes the concept of ‘waseela’ and how others may have misinterpreted the message of Quran related to this concept.
What is ‘Waseela’ (according to the Quran)?
First, consider this verse of Surah Al-Maeda (Chapter 5):
O you who believe! Do your duty to Allah and fear Him. And seek the Waseela (means of approach to Him), and strive hard in His Cause (as much as you can), so that you may be successful. (Quran, 5:35)
In the above verse, “seek the Wasilah to Him”, pertains to drawing close to Allah by adhering to the pillars of Faith, the laws of Islam and acts of Ihsan (excellence in the religion).
The Mistaken Concept of ‘Waseela’
This topic is important because many mistakenly believe in seeking Wasilah to Allah through other people and illegal means. The tenets of Tawheed make it clear without a doubt that seeking the means of approach to Allah by mentioning the grade and status of people or any of His creation is an innovation that can lead to shirk and Kufr. Let’s remind ourselves that Arabs during the prophet’s time although believed in Allah but mistakenly used idols to provide them that “access” to Allah and for them to “get closer to Him.” Therefore, such a practice is considered shirk in the eyes of mainstream sunni scholars that puts one person out of the fold of Islam.
One example of the above is trying to draw close to Allah by calling on the dead or people who are absent, asking them for help, and so on. This is a form of major shirk (shirk akbar), which goes against Tawheed and means that a person is no longer considered to be a Muslim. Calling upon Allah, whether it is for a purpose such as asking Him to grant some benefit or to ward off some harm, or as an act of worship to express humility and submission before Him, can only be addressed directly to Allah. If Dua or prayers are addressed to anything or anyone else, this is shirk. 
Allah says in the Quran:
“And whoever invokes (or worships) besides Allah, any other god, of whom he has no proof, then his reckoning is only with his Lord. Surely, al-kaafiroon (the disbelievers in Allah and in the Oneness of Allah) will not be successful.” [Quran (Surah Al Muminoon, Verse 117)]
Another misguided practice is to ask Allah through the name of Allah’s prophets. That, too, in Islam is prohibited. The prophet (s) brought Allah’s message to mankind but that fact doesn’t sanction the practice of using the prophet’s name (or anyone else’s) to seek closeness to Allah unless there was something specific that the prophet (s) instructed to us in his teachings. Instead, we ought to follow the prophet’s teachings to seek closeness to Allah (not use his name to seek closeness to Allah.) Let’s remember that the prophet (s) was only a human and if we are to ask Allah, we are to ask Him directly. Ibn Taymiyyah stated the following on this topic:
The waseelah, the means which God has asked us to take in order to approach Him, only means that we should perform obligatory and supererogatory works. It means nothing else. Furthermore, what obligatory duties and what supererogatory works we should engage in has been defined by the Prophet. Hence, to take the wasilah means nothing but to follow what the Prophet has taught. As for approaching God through the Prophet (tawassul bi al-nabi), it is, first of all, through belief in him and obedience to his commands. Next, it is through his prayers and his intercessions, the former in this life and the latter on the Day of Judgment. Both are perfectly right, and completely agreed upon among the Muslims. But if it is taken to mean adjuring God in the name of the Prophet or beseeching Him in his name, none of his Companions ever did that in his life or after his death.
Ibn Taymiyyah further states the following:
This means that the waseelah which God has asked us to seek, and which He has advised His angels and prophets to seek is the performance of obligatory and supererogatory works. Everything which is obligatory or desirable is included in the waseelah, and what does not fall into these two categories is not part of wasilah, that is, things that are forbidden, undesirable or permissible. Moreover, the obligatory and the desirable are defined by the Prophet and enjoined as duty or commended by him. All this follows from faith in the Prophet. In short, the waseelah which God has asked us to seek is to approach Him through submission to what the Prophet has taught; there is no way to God other than that.
Seeking to approach Allah, therefore, by virtue of the status and virtues of some created being, such as saying, “O Allah, I ask You by virtue of Your Prophet” and so on. This is allowed by some of the ‘ulama’, but this opinion is da’eef (weak). The correct view is that it is definitely haraam, because there can be no tawassul in dua except by virtue of the Names and Attributes of Allah.  (About loving Allah)
Allah says in the Quran:
The meaning and interpretation of the above is:
56. Say (O Muhammad SAW): “Call unto those besides Him whom you pretend (to be gods like angels, Iesa (Jesus), Uzair (Ezra), etc.). They have neither the power to remove the adversity from you nor even to shift it from you to another person.”
57. Those whom they call upon (like Iesa (Jesus) son of Maryam (Mary), Uzair (Ezra), angel, etc.) desire (for themselves) means of access to their Lord (Allah), as to which of them should be the nearest and they (Isa (Jesus), Uzair (Ezra), angels, etc.) hope for His Mercy and fear His Torment. Verily, the Torment of your Lord is something to be afraid of!
Quran – Surah Isra, Verses 56-57
Again, seeking closeness to Allah comes through following the teachings of the prophet (s). One, for example, can seek closeness to Allah through actions such as the following:
- Invoke Allah by His names and attributes
- Recognize Allah’s favors and bounties
- Avoid what Allah has disallowed
- Be dutiful to parents and keep your relations
- Be kind to His creation
- Trust in Allah for all your matters
- Dhikr and Forgiveness
- Love your prophet
- Be kind to the orphans
- Clean your heart
- Abandon the evil inner self commands
- Develop perfect sincerity in your actions
- and so on.
How to get close to Allah?
Finally, let’s review this hadith by the prophet where he tells us about what Allah mentions about us getting closer to Him:
Narrated by Abu Huraira: Allah’s Apostle (Peace be Upon Him) Said,
Allah SWT Said,
I will declare war against him who shows hostility to a pious worshiper of mine. and the most beloved things with which my slave comes nearer to Me, is what I have enjoined upon him;
And my slave keeps on coming closer to me through performing Nawafil (Prayer or Doing extra deeds besides what is obligatory) until I love him, so I become his sense of hearing with which he hears, and his sense of sight with which he sees, and his hand with which he grips, and his leg with which he walks;
And if he asks Me, I will give him, and if he asks my protection, I will protect him; and I do not hesitate to do anything as I hesitate to take the soul of the believer, for he hates death, and I hate to disappoint him.” [Bukhari Sharif Volume 8, Book 76, Number 509]
 Source: Based on the sermon by Shaikh Abdul Rahman Al-Saadi mentioned in Fawakih Ash-Shahiyyah (p. 36).
 Source: [Fatawa Ibn Taymiyyah 1:199-203.222-3] / Also mentioned in “Ibn Taymiyyah Expounds on Islam”
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