Shaykh Saalih Aal ash-Shaykh on Asking the Dead to Intercede

In the Name of Allaah, the Most Gracious, the Ever Merciful…

This is an answer given by Shaykh Saalih Aal ash-Shaykh to the issue of requesting the supplication of the deceased. The shaykh was asked (during his explanation of al-‘Aqeedah at-Tahaawiyyah, in the printed version: 2/1029, Dar al-Mawaddah, Egypt):

من سأل النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم أن يدعو له وأن يطلب له المغفرة من الله بعد موته، هل هذا شرك؟

The one who asks the Prophet (may Allaah raise his rank and grant him peace) to supplicate for him and to ask for his forgiveness from Allaah after his (the Prophet’s) death, is this shirk (an act of polytheism)?

The shaykh’s answer:

نعم، هو شرك أكبر لأن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم لا يُدعى بعد موته، فطلب الدعاء من الميت، وطلب الدعاء بالإغاثة أو الاستسقاء؛ يعني أن يدعو الله أن يغيث، أو أن يدعو الله أن يغفر، أن يدعو الله أن يعطي ونحو ذلك، هذا كله داخل في لفظ الدعاء والله – عز وجل – قال {وَأَنَّ الْمَسَاجِدَ لِلَّهِ فَلَا تَدْعُوا مَعَ اللَّهِ أَحَدًا} [الجن:18].

Yes, it is major shirk because the Prophet (may Allaah raise his rank and grant him peace) is not to be called upon after his death. Requesting supplication from the dead  (for them to) request rescue and sending of rain, meaning, that he (the deceased) supplicates to Allaah that He grants relief or he supplicates to Allaah to forgive (the person making the request), that he supplicates to Allaah to give (to that person) and what is like this, all of it is included in the meaning of the word “du’aa” (supplication), and Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic said, “And the mosques are for Allaah, so do not invoke anyone alongside Allaah” [72:18].

 والذي يقول إنّ هذه الصورة وهي طلب الدعاء تخرج عن الطلب الذي به يكون الشرك شركًا فإنه ينقض أصل التوحيد كله في هذا الباب، فكل أنواع الطلب؛ طلب الدعاء يعني طلب الدعاء من الميت، طلب المغفرة من الميت، أو طلب الدعاء من الميت أن يدعو الله أن يغفر، أو طلب الإغاثة من الميت أو طلب الإعانة أو نحو ذلك كلها باب واحد هي طلب، والطلب دعاء فداخلة في قوله تعالى {وَمَنْ يَدْعُ مَعَ اللَّهِ إِلَهًا آخَرَ لَا بُرْهَانَ لَهُ بِهِ فَإِنَّمَا حِسَابُهُ عِنْدَ رَبِّهِ إِنَّهُ لَا يُفْلِحُ الْكَافِرُونَ} [المؤمنون:117] ، وفي قوله {وَأَنَّ الْمَسَاجِدَ لِلَّهِ فَلَا تَدْعُوا مَعَ اللَّهِ أَحَدًا} ، وفي قوله {وَالَّذِينَ تَدْعُونَ مِنْ دُونِهِ مَا يَمْلِكُونَ مِنْ قِطْمِيرٍ} [فاطر:13] ، ونحو ذلك من الآيات.

And the one who says that this form, which is to request the supplication (of the deceased) is excluded from that (type of) request which is actually shirk, then he has demolished the entire foundation of towheed in this particular topic.

For all types of request (talab), requesting supplication, meaning requesting supplication from the dead or requesting aid and what is like that, all of it is included within the same subject area, which is (making a) request (talab), and requesting is supplicating (du’aa’), so it is included within His, the Most High’s Saying, “And whoever invokes besides Allah, any other ilah (god) of whom he has no proof then his reckoning is only with his Lord. Surely, the disbelievers will not be successful.” [23:117].

It is also included within His Saying, “And the mosques are for Allaah, so do not invoke anyone alongside Allaah” [72:18], and in His saying, “And those, whom you invoke or call upon instead of Him, own not even the thin membrane over the date-stone” [35:13] and other similar Verses.

 فالتفريق مضاد للدليل، ومن فهم من كلام بعض أئمتنا التفريق أو أن هذا طلب الدعاء من الميت أنه بدعة لا يعني أنه ليس بشرك بل هو بدعة شركية, يعني ما كان أهل الجاهلية يفعلونه، وإنما كانوا يتقربون ليدعوا لهم، لكن أن يُطْلَبَ من الميت الدعاء هذا بدعة ما كانت أصلًا موجودة لا عند الجاهليين ولا عند المسلمين فحدثت فهي بدعة ولاشك، ولكنها بدعة شركية كفرية وهي معنى الشفاعة، إيش معنى الشفاعة التي من طلبها من غير الله فقد أشرك؟ الشفاعة طلب الدعاء، طلب الدعاء من الميت هو الشفاعة. 

Hence, making such a distinction clashes with the evidence. Whoever understood from some of the speech of our scholars (this) distinction or that this requesting of supplication from the dead is a bid’ah (innovation), this does not mean it is not (at the same time) shirk. In fact it is an innovated (form) of shirk, with the meaning that the people of Jaahiliyyah did not used to perform this (particular type of shirk). They used to seek nearness to (their deities) so they in turn would supplicate for them.

However, that the dead are requested to supplicate, this is a bid’ah, since it was not present originally, neither with the people of Jaahiliyyah, nor with the Muslims, then it occurred, and so it is an innovation no doubt (from this angle). However it is an innovation of shirk and kufr. And this is the (very) meaning of shafaa’ah (intercession). What is the meaning of intercession, that (intercession) which if a person seeks from other than Allaah he becomes a polytheist? intercession (means) to request supplication, requesting supplication from the dead, this is (the meaning) of intercession.

Translated by: Abu Iyaad Amjad Rafiq (may Allaah reward him well)

Republished from with permission (with a few minor formatting alterations).

24 thoughts on “Shaykh Saalih Aal ash-Shaykh on Asking the Dead to Intercede

    • Nobody would expect you to be other than confused visiting a website like that one, Shah! I strongly urge you to listen to the clarity of the correct Islamic beliefs about tawassul and intercession by carefully studying the beautiful, evidence-laden book, Kashf ash-Shubuhaat. It is a book that can help a common Muslim reject the arguments of even scholars of falsehood. Here is a nice page of resources, including a 10-part explanation of the book in clear English:

      May Allaah grant you success!

      • Jazakallaahu khayran ustaadh for such beneficial audios on the great topic of tawheed,
        as a point of clarification you had told in the first audio that anyone who call on besides Allaah we can address him/her by telling O mushrik! so can we make takfir of a grave worshiper who apparently claim to be muslim and proclaims La illaaha illallaah apparently without knowing its meaning or the ulema can do that and we have to consider them as muslims from their outward proclamation and their that very act as an act of shirk and kufr?

  1. assalamu aleykum i know it doesnt belong to the topic, but i really need answer to this question:
    Does Allah accept the dua of non muslims?

  2. Wa ‘alaykas-salaam. Likely. See Quran 8:33 and 25:77. Its not absolutely clear, but it is likely, based on some explanations offered by the scholars for these Verses, and Allaah knows best.

    As a Christian boy, I had called upon my Lord on only a few select occasions, with dedication, looking up to the sky, not thinking of a man (like Jesus), but addressing my Creator alone, not really knowing who He was. On one occasion specifically, I was shocked at a very amazing and highly unlikely thing happening, which was precisely what I had asked for. I felt sure as a child that my God (whoever He was) had answered my prayer. That event actually led me to investigate religions in my teenage years, which eventually led me to Islaam.

    • Actually, the hadeeth in al-Bukhaaree and Muslim which warns us of injustice: (( اتقوا دعوة المظلوم فإنه ليس دونها حجاب )) [“Be warned of the prayer of an oppressed person, as there is no barrier between it (and Allaah)”], actually comes with an additional wording in the Musnad of Imaam Ahmad, which should be scrutinized very heavily before accepting: (( اتقوا دعوة المظلوم وإن كان كافرا، فإنه ليس دونها حجاب )), [“even if he was a kaafir”].

      If this is authentic, then it is textual evidence to support a clear “YES” answer to your question. Even if it is not authentic, and I believe it is very possible that it is mudraj (added as an explanation and mistakenly assumed to be part of the hadeeth by some of the narrators), it shows that the early narrators of the hadeeth understood that, which still provides some support for the issue, and Allaah knows best. See as-Silsilah as-Saheehah #767.

  3. As salamu alaikum.
    Is it permissible to make this type of dua: O Allah! Make me be one of the people who earn the intercession of the Prophet salla Allahu alaihi wa Salam on the day of Resurrection.
    Is this type of dua permissible?

    • Wa ‘alaykas-salaamu wa rahmatullaah. A beautiful dua! This is the supplication of a person of towheed, calling upon Allaah alone, seeking intercession from the ONLY ONE who grants intercession to anyone on the Day of Judgment. We ask Him Alone to grant us the intercession of His Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم). And Allaah knows best.

  4. Assalaamu ‘Alaikum brother Moosaa,

    Some from the Shee’ah and Sufis say that if making Du’aa` to the dead is Shirk, then so is calling upon a mechanic via phone. Is there any evidence from the revelation that distinguishes between these two types of “calling upon.”

    • Wa ‘alaykas-salaamu wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuh. I don’t have a clue what person of intellect would say polytheism is similar to calling a mechanic. Read Quran 46:5-6

      • They try to justify their act of calling upon the dead by saying “calling upon the dead is permissible because calling upon a mechanic (via phone) is also permissible (and therefore not Shirk).”

        After they are warned that “Calling upon the dead is worshipping the dead,” they try to argue that:

        “No it’s not worship since calling upon your friend is also not worship. So calling upon the dead is also not worship.”

        • The mechanic can answer your call and assist you with his knowledge and expertise, in shaa’ Allaah. So how would that aayah (I quoted) apply to a mechanic as it applies to those who call upon the dead?!

  5. Assalaamu ‘Alaykum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh My dear Brother and Teacher Moosaa,

    I am a bit confused as to how this relates to major and minor shirk.

    If you go to the grave of a pious person and ask for them through their piety to make dua for you to Allah and the key part is believing that Allah is the one who can assist however this dead person is the means… this this is minor shirk. Minor Shirk does not expel someone from islam however they will be punished if they do not repent. Is this correct?

    If you could please solve my confusion in regards to Major and Minor shirk that would be great.

    JazakaAllahu Khayran [comment abridged by admin]

    • Wa ‘alayk as-salaamu wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuh. Calling upon the dead for their intercession (assistance) with Allaah, not asking them for anything from themselves, but rather just to gain nearness to Allaah alone, this is the MAJOR SHIRK of the polytheists who the Messenger (may Allaah raise his rank and grant him peace) called to Islam and engaged in battle because of this SHIRK.

      Allaah has described their MAJOR SHIRK:

      وَيَقُولُونَ هؤُلاءِ شُفَعاؤُنا عِنْدَ اللَّهِ
      “They would say: These are (but) our intercessors with Allaah…” [10:18]

      وَالَّذِينَ اتَّخَذُوا مِنْ دُونِهِ أَوْلِياءَ مَا نَعْبُدُهُمْ إِلاَّ لِيُقَرِّبُونا إِلَى اللَّهِ زُلْفى
      “And those who took allies other than Him (Allaah), (saying): We only worship them to draw near to Allaah…” [39:3]

      Please take the time to read the book, Kashf ash-Shubuhaat, which should dispel this grave misconception quite profoundly in shaa’ Allaah. Here are four helpful lessons from the book, a reading & study of the book in English to assist you: (remaining parts will be completely uploaded soon, in shaa’ Allaah)

      May Allaah bless you for your question and increase you in good!

      • Allahumma Ameen and may he bless you and increase you in good as well. JazakaAllahu Khayran for the prompt and very clear reply Ustaadth and Brother Moosa.

        I have not been through this book before and I shall take time out to read, study and listen to your lessons on the book Insha’Allah. Alhamdulilah for this answer as I need to retract something I stated about this a few days ago with a brother.

        PS. I believe I misunderstood this with swearing to other than Allah is this what can be categorised into major and minor shirk?

    • SubhaanAllaah! May Allaah bless you dear brother. Isn’t this the exact claim of some of the Christians? That they only worship Eesa (Jesus) – عليه السلام – as a means to closeness to Allah? Allaahul-musta’aan.

      May Allaah grant us clarity in our Deen and keep us firm.

  6. Assalaamu’alaykum

    Ustaadh I wanted to point out something to you regarding audio number 15 of the “3 fundamental principles” series on the spreaker channel of al masjid al awwal.

    You mentioned that its inappropriate in this lesson to say “seeking refuge in Allaah” Rather it is correct to say “seeking refuge with Allaah” instead. However, check 33:20 onwards..You mentioned, “seeking refuge in the Honor of Allaah and HIs capabilities.”

    Does this mean that whilst seeking refuge with Allaah’s attributes, we can use the word “in” and whilst speaking about Allaah Himself, we should not use “in” and only use “with”?

    Or was the use of the word “in” a mistake on your part?

    • Wa ‘alayk as-salaamu wa rahmatullaah. I believe that refuge “with” Allaah is better than “in” Allaah, and recently I found that my respected brother, Ustadh Maalik Abul-Hasan (may Allaah preserve and protect him), does not agree with me on this point. He views that “in” is better. Perhaps his opinion is better with Allaah and more deserving to be followed, and Allaah knows best.

      And specifically regarding your question: I believe I would have intended to use “with the Honor of Allaah” in the class you were referring to, and Allaah knows best.

  7. Assalaamu Alayk Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh My dear Brother and Teacher Moosaa,

    I hear the following terms used: Major Shirk and Minor Shirk as well as hearing these terms also used:Major Kufr and Minor Kufr.

    I was wondering are they interconnected such that Major shirk is Major Kufr and Minor Shirk is Minor Kufr and that is all the terms are used for.

    Or is there a deeper meaning for their usages wherein there is a different usage for them and all 4 are separate?

    BarakaAllahu Feek

    • Wa ‘alaykum as-salaamu wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuh. Let’s get a quick easy definition for each of the terms:

      Major shirk: What has been named “shirk” in the texts of revelation and expels one from the fold of Islam.
      Lesser shirk: What has been named “shirk” in the texts of revelation and does not expel one from the fold of Islam.
      Major kufr: What has been named “kufr” in the texts of revelation and expels one from the fold of Islam.
      Lesser kufr: What has been named “kufr” in the texts of revelation and does not expel one from the fold of Islam.

      They overlap each other often, and sometimes the terms “shirk” and “kufr” are synonymous, yet these are the specific definitions. I hope this helps. And Allaah knows best.

  8. Asalamu alaykum ustadh Moosa. I have neglected studying my religion for many years. I want to learn but I don’t know where to start or which books to read first and in which order. What is the minimum requirement I need to know about Islam? Is it bad if I just want to learn only the minimum? Is reading/memorizing the Quran obligatory or is it recommended? Can you give me a list of books I can read over and over again to implent and protect myself from the hellfire? May Allah bless you.

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