Posted by: Submitter | February 12, 2008

Saying ‘Ya Rasoolallah”

The sensitive issue of whether or not Muslims can say the words ‘Ya Rasool Allah’ or ‘Ya Muhammad!’ [May Allah bless him and grant him peace] needs to be clarified, since this issue divides the Muslim community and causes a great deal of friction among the Muslims throughout the world. Basically, there appears to be what we could label as two “schools of thought”. One insists that saying that stating “Ya Rasul Allah is ‘shirk’ and that any Muslim proclaiming it in fact goes outside the pale of Islam. Now the other School believes that it is indeed permissible to say so – based on evidences from the Salaf, and the tafsirs of later day scholars. However, they do not insist that one must proclaim this – or that it is even a fard to do so, rather, it is permissible to do so. This is, and always has been, the stance of the Ahl al-Sunna.

Those who believe that it is impermissible to say Ya Muhammad! [May Allah bless him and grant him peace] not only say that there are no evidences to support the permissibility, but also believe that the prefix of Ya, can only be used when that person [who is being called upon] is present, as opposed to being absent. The proclamation of Ya Muhammad, or Ya Rasul Allah [May Allah bless him and grant him peace] is not an innovation [bid’a] that crept in after the first three generations, but contrary to modern misconceptions, was initiated and practiced within these generations, as we shall see, Allah willing. Also, the fact that the later generations did proclaim Ya Muhammad! [May Allah bless him and grant him peace] the death of the Prophet [May Allah bless him and grant him peace], did not prevent them in doing so, even though there were great distances between them and Madina.

As we shall aim to demonstrate to the readers in this chapter, Insha’ Allah, that if it is wrong today [or even Kufr and shirk as some of our brothers declare], to proclaim Ya Muhammad! [May Allah bless him and grant him peace] why then, did the Sahaba, Tab’ee in and the later generations of Muslims do so? Would those brothers who oppose the Muslims of saying Ya Muhammad! [May Allah bless him and grant him peace] apply the same criteria to the first generations of this Umma as they do for the believers of today?

The permissibility of saying Ya! For someone who is not physically present.

One of the main arguments used against the believers on this issue, is the one of the impermisibility of using the prefix Ya [Oh!] to someone who is not physically present.

Innovation in the Language

This understanding of the Arabic language [that of not being able to use Ya! For an absent person] is an innovation [bid’a] in Arabic grammar. To the minority holding this view, it appears that this is the only way of accusing the majority of Muslims to be constantly committing an impermissible deed, or even shirk and kufr as others may profess.

We first would like to invite those who hold the above view, to examine one of the most respected classical dictionaries of the Arabic language, the Lasan al Arab of Ibn Manzur (d. 711 hijri). Ibn Manzur states that Ya! can be applied for either a person who is near, or far from the caller. [Ibn Manzur al-Afriqi, Lasan al-Arab under the word ‘Ya’]

Since those Muslims who often claim that saying Ya Muhammad! [May Allah bless him and grant him peace] is shirk, I now propose to examine the views of Ibn Taymiyya on this issue. Why? Well, it is mainly because these very brothers have given Ibn Taymiyya the noble title of Shaykh al Islam, and such, use him as an authority, if not, the foremost, in their attempts to practice Islam as the Salaf [pious predecessors] did. Ibn Taymiyya writes:

When someone calls upon someone else, saying Ya! it may be used in one of two ways – physically or by the knowledge of that person. An example of this is when the Messenger of Allah [May Allah bless him and grant him peace] warned the people at the time of Dajjal: “Yaa ‘ibaadillaahi Fathbutu…” (Oh servants of Allah! Keep your feet steadfast…) The Prophet, Allah bless him and grant him peace, said this to the people who would be present at the time of Dajjal, and who were not yet born.

Another example, is when Sayyidna ‘Ali, may Allah be pleased with Him, was walking through the plain of Karbalah, he said ‘Ya Abu ‘Abd Allah Hussayn, Fasbir! [Oh, (my son) Abu ‘Abd Allah Hussayn! Be patient (when facing the enemy in this place]’ This was because ‘Ali, may Allah be pleased with Him, was informed by the Messenger of Allah, (May Allah bless him and grant him peace), that his son, Hussayn [May Allah be pleased with Him], would be martyred at Karbalah. Sayyidna ‘Ali, may Allah be pleased with Him, called Hussayn despite the fact that he was not present with him, and even though Hussayn could not hear his Father ‘Ali, may Allah be pleased with Him, but remained in his thoughts. [Ibn Taymiyya, Minhaj-as-sunna, chapter Aswad-al-Qadeem]

The above example demonstrates, as provided by Ibn Taymiyya, that at least in one way, Ya can be used in the Arabic language to call someone who is not physically present, but who is present in the thoughts of the caller, as when Sayyidna ‘Ali, may Allah be pleased with Him, remembered his son and called to him.

Evidence to support the permissibility of saying Ya Muhammad! [May Allah bless him and grant him peace]

Hafidhh ibn al Qayyim writes that the Prophet of Allah, (May Allah bless him and grant him peace) said:
Send salutations on me, but send more salutations on Friday. When you recite the salutation, your voice will reach me wherever you are. Some companions asked, “ even after your death?” The Prophet, (May Allah bless him and grant him peace) replied, “Allah has made it unlawful for the earth to decompose my body”.
[Hafidhh Ibn-al-Qayyim, Jala-ul-Afhaan page 145]

Imam Nasa’i narrates that there are specific angels who visit the earth and whose sole duties are to go to the persons who sends salutations upon the Prophet Muhammad, (May Allah bless him and grant him peace), and then to take those salutations to the Prophet Muhammad, (May Allah bless him and grant him peace).
[Mishkat chapter on Salaah al Nabi]

The above mentioned Ahadith, indicate that if anyone were to send salutations to the Prophet, (May Allah bless him and grant him peace), he himself would either hear the salutations, or an angel will convey them to him. In both cases, salutations will reach the Prophet, (May Allah bless him and grant him peace).

The Salaf used to say Ya Muhammad![May Allah bless him and grant him peace]

Imam Bukhari, Hafidhh Ibn Taymiyya and Qadi Shawkani all posed the same question, that if a person’s foot becomes numb, what should he do? Their recommendations were the same, and included with their answer, the following hadith:

Some time after Rasul Allah, (May Allah bless him and grant him peace), had passed away, ‘Abd Allah Ibn ‘Umar [May Allah be pleased with Him] was in Najd where one day his foot became numb. As a remedy to alleviate the pain, a person said to him. “Remember the one whom you love the most!” Upon hearing this Ibn ‘Umar [May Allah be pleased with Him] said “Ya Muhammad! [May Allah bless him and grant him peace]” and his foot made an immediate recovery from numbness.
[Imam Bukhari, Adab al Mufrad al Kalim al Tayyab; Hafidhh Ibn Taymiyya and Qadi Shawkani, Tuhfah al Dakireen chapter on Khadirat Rijluhu, and also Imam Nawawi’s Kitab al Adkar]

Hafidhh Ibn Taymiyya writes,

In the same way as ‘Abd Allah ibn Umar’s foot became numb and he remembered the one he loves the most, ‘Abd Allah Ibn Abbas’s foot also became numb. Someone also said to him to remember the one who he loves the most, whereupon ‘Abd Allah Ibn Abbas said Ya! Muhammad [May Allah bless him and grant him peace] and his foot immediately recovered from numbness.
[Hafidhh ibn Taymiyya, Al Kalim al Tayyib chapter on Khadirat Rijluhu]

Qadi Shawkani writes:

If one is in trouble or is in distress, he should perform two nawafil rakats and then make a supplication. They should say ‘‘Ya Muhammad!’’ [May Allah bless him and grant him peace] and Allah most High will grant them what they requested and their problems and troubles should be resolved. The scholars of hadith say that this hadith is authentic and Tirmidhi, Hakim, Nasa’i, Ibn Majah and at-Tabarani record it.
[Qadi Shawkani, Tofah al Dhakireen chapter on Salaah al Hajah]

Hafidhh Ibn Kathir, Imam Tabari and Imam Ibn Athir all wrote [that]:

During the Khilafa of Abu Bakr as- Siddique, may Allah be pleased with Him, there was a battle against the false prophet Musaylima [of Najd]. When the battle commenced, the Muslims lost their footing at which point Khalid bin Walid, may Allah be pleased with Him, and the rest of the companions called out “Ya Muhammad!” [May Allah bless him and grant him peace] and proceeded to win the battle.
[Tarikh at Tabari, Tarikh Ibn Kathir and Tarikh Qamil by Imam Tabari, Hafidhh Ibn Kathir and Imam Ibn Athir and Ibn Jarir in Chapter Musaylima Kadhaab]

Hafidhh Ibn Kathir and Imam Tabari both write:

During the Khilafah of ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with Him, there was a famine outside the city of Madinah. A companion called Bilal bin Harith al Muzni, may Allah be pleased with Him, said to his people “The famine is very severe, [let us] sacrifice a goat”. Apart from a red bone nothing came from the goat [the goat was very thin due to famine and as such, there was no meat on the bones]. Bilal bin Harith, may Allah be pleased with Him, called out “Ya Muhammad!” [May Allah bless him and grant him peace]. The Messenger of Allah, (May Allah bless him and grant him peace), then appeared in the dream of Bilal bin Harith and informed him that there will be rain.
[Tarikh Ibn Kathir and Ibn Jarir chapter of khilafah of ‘Umar (May Allah be pleased with Him]

Hafidhh Ibn Kathir and Imam Tabari both write that

After the occasion of Karbala, Sayyida Zaynab, May Allah be well pleased with her, [the sister of Hussayn, may Allah be pleased with Him] and her company were taken as prisoners to Syria. When she passed the dead bodies she proclaimed: “Ya Muhammad!” [May Allah bless him and grant him peace] Your Hussayn is drenched in blood without a shroud or a grave, and Ya Muhammad! [May Allah bless him and grant him peace], your daughters are taken prisoners and your children have been killed
[Ibn Jarir and Tarikh Ibn Kathir in Chapter of Karbala*]

*For those of us, who have forgotten, Karbala took place in Iraq in 60AH. At that time Zaynab may Allah be well pleased with her, said ‘Ya Muhammad! [May Allah bless him and grant him peace]

Imam Waqdi writes:

During the khilafah of Abu Bakr Siddiq [may Allah be pleased with Him], there was a battle at Halb. Ka’ab. Abu Bakr [may Allah be pleased with Him] said “Ya Muhammad! Ya! Muhammad, [May Allah bless him and grant him peace] and shouted, “Oh Companions! Stay firm footed!”. [‘Allama Waqdi, Futoohusham, in the chapter on the Battle of Halb]

Imam Ibn Sa’ad writes:

After the Messenger of Allah, (May Allah bless him and grant him peace), had passed away, Arwa bint ‘Abd al Muttalib, May Allah be well pleased with her, recited the: “Ya Rasul Allah! [May Allah bless him and grant him peace]. You were our place of hope.”
[Imam Ibn Sa’ad, Tabaqat Ibn Sa’ad, chapter on the Death of the Prophet]

Hafidhh Ibn al Qayyim writes:

Muhammad bin ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with Him, relates: ‘I was sitting in the company of Abu Bakr bin Mujahid in Baghdad when Shaykh Shibli came before them. Whereupon Abu Bakr bin Mujahid stood up and hugged Shaykh Shibli, kissed his forehead and sat him by his side.’ Muhammad bin ‘Umar [May Allah be pleased with Him] enquired: “You are the Shaykh [Abu Bakr bin Mujahid] whilst the whole of Baghdad regards Shibli as Majnun [Mad] – why have you treated him with so much respect?” To this, Abu Bakr bin Mujahid replied “I have done nothing strange, I have treated him exactly as I have seen the Messenger of Allah, (May Allah bless him and grant him peace), treat him. In my dream I saw the Messenger of Allah, (May Allah bless him and grant him peace), kiss Shibli between his two eyes. I asked the Prophet, (May Allah bless him and grant him peace), “Why did you treat Shibli in this way?” to which he, (May Allah bless him and grant him peace), replied “I love him because after every Salaah he recites the last verse of Surah Tauba after which he recites Sallal la ho ‘alayka Ya Muhammad! [Peace and blessings from Allah be upon you Oh Muhammad!) Three times.
[Hafidhh Ibn-al-Qayyim, Jala-al-Afham., page 80]

The above mentioned Ahadith clearly illustrate that the Companions and others of the Salaf used to say Ya Muhammad or Ya Rasul Allah! [May Allah bless him and grant him peace] when they experienced difficulty, and that the Prophet, (May Allah bless him and grant him peace) did help us either by making supplication for their success or appearing in their dreams to comfort them. Those Companions who were ill and said Ya Rasul Allah [May Allah bless him and grant him peace] found that they would get better; and if they were in a battle which they were losing – they would soon win; and if they were facing a famine – they would soon have rain.

The last quotation from Hafidhh Ibn al-Qayyim shows that the Messenger of Allah, (May Allah bless him and grant him peace), loves the one who pronounces ‘Ya Muhammad!’ [May Allah bless him and grant him peace] to a considerable high degree. All these occurances took place many years after the Messenger of Allah, (May Allah bless him and grant him peace), passed away. So if it was kufr to say ‘Ya Muhammad!’ [May Allah bless him and grant him peace] today and after the lifetime of the Prophet, (May Allah bless him and grant him peace), the Prophet, (May Allah bless him and grant him peace), would not have expressed any love for Shibli. Also, if this is an unreliable narration, why did Ibn al-Qayyim choose to quote it? Was he someone who supported shirk or kufr?

What has been said above supports the fact that it is not kufr or shirk to call out Ya Muhammad, (May Allah bless him and grant him peace).

However, still people will insist, despite of all the above, that to say Ya Muhammad (May Allah bless him and grant him peace) is shirk, and will deduce to the fact that this is a form of worshipping someone besides Allah. They often put forward the following ayat of the Qur’an:

And the mosques are only for Allah, so worship none with Allah.
[Surah al Jinn verse 18]

This is just a doubt and a misunderstanding of the grammatical use of the words Tad`u/Yad`u in the Arabic language – since Tad’u and Yad’u have been used in two different contexts in the Qur’an: in the context of worship and also in the context of calling.

In the above verse it has been used in the context of worship and we agree that anyone who worships something besides Allah is a kafir and a mushrik. However, when a Muslim says Ya Rasul Allah! [May Allah bless him and grant him peace] he is not worshipping the Messenger of Allah, but merely calling him, as Ibrahim, peace be upon him, called all the people to Hajj [Tafsir Ibn Kathir under Surah Hajj] and as ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with Him, called Sariah. This type of calling is not worship, of which an example is provided in the Qur’an when Allah commanded Ibrahim, peace be upon him, to call the dead birds [Surah Al- Baqara, verse 260]

This should demonstrate that the word ‘call’ is not always used in the context of worship. Whoever says Ya Muhammad! [May Allah bless him and grant him peace] cannot be called either a kafir or mushrik because he is calling with the love of the Prophet Muhammad, (May Allah bless him and grant him peace), as was the case when the salaf called upon the Messenger of Allah, (May Allah bless him and grant him peace). His intention is not the intention to worship him.

The pious can hear from afar

1) The Prophet Sulaiman, peace be upon him, heard the conversation of the ants from a distance. [Al- Qur’an Surah al Namal verse 19]

2) The Messenger of Allah, (May Allah bless him and grant him peace), heard the footsteps of Bilal,may Allah be pleased with Him, in Paradise. [Bukhari and Muslim Kitab-al-Manaqib., Muslim., fazail Bilal]

3) Hafidhh Ibn al Qayyim writes:

The Messenger of Allah, (May Allah bless him and grant him peace), stated: ‘I hear the voice of every person who sends salams (peace and blessings) upon me, wherever he may be’. [Hafidhh Ibn-al-Qayyim Jala-al-Afham page 145]

4) When women quarrel with their husbands who are righteous (and who go to paradise) the Hoors (fair Maidens of Paradise) listen to their arguing from Paradise whilst they are still on the earth. [Mishkat-al-Masabih in Chapter of Mu’ashirat-an-Nisa]

To conclude this chapter, we would like to state that:

From the above statements it is proved that the pious can hear from a far distance, by the grace of Allah most High.

Secondly, it is not shirk to call them using the word Ya! We would like to clarify that to call upon the pious using Ya! is simply permissible: being neither fardh, nor wajib, nor sunna.

Thirdly, as proven, the Salaf did proclaim Ya Muahammed! [May Allah bless him and grant him peace] at times of distress – and this difficulty was alleviated.

The reason for writing this article is only to clarify, to those people who shout ‘kafir’ and ‘mushrik’, to those Muslims who call using the word Ya! – that we can use the word Ya!

We also say that help should only be asked from Allah most High. We should only present the Waseela of the pious, when asking from Allah.

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