As dutiful slaves, Allah does manifest His magnanimity to us in different ways. One of such is At-Tawassul. To the common mind, it is just one of those ‘stuffs’ Islam preaches. Hence, he is barely enthused to explore its unseen beauty. To the wise and mindful, it is more than just a phenomenon. It is a true and amazing experience which brings relief that is usually indescribable. It is, to them, the only hope during the most critical and difficult periods in any human life.
This concept would become utterly vague and blurry without a mention of a renowned Hadith reported by the most authentic books of Sunnah. It is the story of three friends on a journey who sought shelter from a heavy rain in a mountain’s cave. Just when they were about to have their rest, a big rock rolled down the mountain and sealed the cave. They became entombed. They did try to move it but, the rock remained unperturbed. Exhausted, they knew there was no way help could come from anywhere. They were miles away from home and they knew it was just a matter of days before they die; one after the other. Their families would forever lie in wait at the door for them because their disappearance would remain mysterious. They had hoped to journey safely; now, they have a date with death. They knew the only One to call upon was He Whom the mountain itself magnifies and praises daily.
“Verily, We made the mountains to glorify Our Praises with him (Dawud) after the mid-day till sunset, and after the sunrise till mid-day”. Q38:18
The first of the three men began his supplication in a very unusual way. Rather than reciting a set of prayers, he described to Allah how kind and dutiful he has been to his parents. Then, he had old and feeble parents who had a flock of sheep. This young man would visit his parents every day to graze their sheep no matter how demanding his schedule was. He had made it obligatory upon himself to serve them and show them all the kindness he could give. And each time he returned, he would milk the sheep and serve it to both parents with his own hands. The parents would then pray for him in appreciation; and whatever that is left of the milk would be served to his own children. This he did consistently for some time. But, one day, he had a delay while grazing and came home late. It was already dark and his old and feeble parents had gone to bed, stomach-empty. He was pretty sad. He knew they could not have eaten anything. He went ahead to milk the sheep as usual and went into house. He had developed the culture of not interrupting their sleep, so he waited patiently with the bowl of milk in his hands. He must have thought that the empty stomach would interpose their sleep. But he was wrong; both did not wake up until dawn. When they woke up from their sleep, they found their son waiting on them with the bowl of milk in his hands. They filled their stomach and prayed for him, as usual. After recounting this incidence to Allah, he said:
“O Allah! If You are aware that I did this in order to seek Your pleasure, grant us riddance from this trouble”. Bukhari
There and then, the rock shifted. Now, they could see the sky, but the opening was not large enough to let anyone out. It was the turn of the second of these three men to make his supplication. As done by the first man, he searched his depository of deeds if he could find anything strong enough to move the rock. Luckily, he found one. He remembered how he almost took advantage of a cousin of his in a year famine struck the land. Then, only the wealthy could afford to feed themselves and their families. Long before that drought, he had made an attempt to have sexual dealings with this same cousin, but she declined. However, when life became unreservedly unbearable during that year of famine, this lady thought it was wise to seek help from her cousin who had more than enough to eat and spend. When she approached him for help, he offered her a huge sum of money on the condition that she would allow him fulfil his lust. In between her legs, when he was about to unleash himself on her, she warned him to be fearful of Allah. And just at the mention of Allah’s Name, he regained his consciousness; got up from her and dressed himself up straightaway. His sensuous desire had gotten a better part of him, but the fear he had for Allah came to his rescue. He apologised to the lady and told her to still keep all the money. Narrating this incidence to Allah while his colleagues listened, he then said:
“O Allah! If I did that for Your Sake only, please relieve us from the present calamity”.Bukhari
Again, the rock moved, but still not enough to let anyone out. Their survival now rests on the third man who, fortunately, was a good man; a rare gem. He described loudly to Allah how he employed a few labourers for some work and how one of them left just when they were about to be paid their wages. He did make enquiries about the man but none of his fellow labourers knew his whereabouts. He then invested his wages in livestock. After some years, the labourer returned asking for his wages. He was shown a herd of sheep, cattle, and camel and some slaves. He then drove the entire herd away, leaving not a single calf with the custodian. Then, he said:
“O Allah! If I did that for Your Sake only, please relieve us from the present suffering”. Bukhari
There and then, the rock moved away completely, and once again, they got the chance to live. Their deeds had saved their lives. This is the precise definition of At-Tawassul; a fervent and sincere ‘plea’ by a Slave to Allah in times of exceptional difficulties, which is followed by an ‘immediate’ response from Allah. And as perceived from the hitherto mentioned Hadith, this plea is always convoyed with a good deed, a righteous one. The exercise would simply be incomplete without a righteous deed. But, regrettably, most of us are spiritually bankrupt. It is almost impossible to find a righteous deed in our bank of deeds. If some deeds are found at all, they would be some prudently observed Solat, Zakat, Fast or Hajj and a host of sinful deeds. Apparently, this is consequent upon our misconception that obligatory acts make righteousness, whereas, they do not.
On the other hand, these mandatory acts could make righteousness only if they are practically expressed in our individual and communal lives. To begin with, recall that a man may observe his Solat at their appointed times in congregation from cradle to grave, and yet remain the farthest from his Creator if he fails to objectify the essence of Solat. Solat, as described by Allah in the Qur’an, ought to transform and elevate a man’s status, character and spirit from their stumpy, crude and tainted forms into lofty, fine and pure ones.
“Verily, the Solat prevents from Al-Fahshâ’ (i.e. great sins of every kind) and Al-Munkar (i.e. disbelief, polytheism, and every kind of evil wicked deed)” Q29:45
…..to be continued