Mediation with Allah
God and Monotheism
Question asked by .
Answered by Dr. Shehzad Saleem

What is your answer to the permissibility of Wasīlah (seeking a means) in Islam? Is there anything from the Qur’ān that supports it? In particular, 5:35 mentions the word Wasīlah.


There is no concept of Wasīlah in Islam. The Qur’ān tells the believers to ask directly from the Almighty:

When my servants ask you [O Prophet!] concerning Me; I am indeed close to them. I listen to the prayer of every supplicant when he calls on Me. (2:186)

The Qur’ān does not accept the existence of any intermediary between a person and his Allah. In fact, in several sūrahs, it has severely reprimanded the idolaters of Makkah who used to regard the angels as the daughters of Allah and held that these angels would mediate and intercede for them on the Day of Judgement. For example, consider these verses of Sūrah Najm:

Have you ever pondered over the reality of this Lāt and this ‘Uzzā and this third Manāt, which is next in rank below them? [You consider them as the daughters of Allah, whereas it is not befitting to ascribe either sons or daughters to Him. But just reflect on your own foolishness:] For your own selves you like sons and for Him daughters! This indeed is a division unjust! [Nay, they have no basis]. They are but names which you and your fathers have invented in whose favour the Almighty has revealed no warrant. [Woe be to their foolishness.] They follow vain conjectures and the whims of their own souls, even though there has already come to them a manifest guidance from their Lord

[Let them desire what they want], but will man attain all that he desires? [No, certainly not! The Almighty shall not alter his law for anyone] Therefore, they should remember that this world and the Hereafter are under the control of Allah. And [not to mention these deities], how many angels are there in the heavens whose intercession shall avail nothing until the Almighty gives permission to whom He wants and for whom He chooses. Those who do not believe in the Hereafter call the angels by the names of females. Yet of this they have no knowledge; They follow merely conjecture and conjecture can never take the place of truth. Therefore, [O Prophet!] turn away from those who turn away from Our Reminder [the Qur’ān] and seek only the life of this world. This is the farthest limit of their knowledge. [O Prophet ! leave them to themselves. They shall soon be nabbed and summoned]. Your Lord best knows those who have strayed from His path and those who are rightly guided. (53:19-30)

As far as the 5:35 is concerned, you are right that it does mention the word Wasīlah. However, whenever one interprets a Qur’ānic verse, one must not forget that it is set in the most eloquent Arabic idiom, which must be understood keeping in view some universal principles of linguistics. All meanings which betray the denotions and connotations of the word they are attributed to are redundant and have no place in the world of interpretation. It is no less than injustice to the Qur’ān to attribute to its words those meanings which have no basis in the Arabic language at all. The word Wasīlah in Arabic has a different meaning from the one in Urdu. Some people translate it while keeping in mind the Urdu meaning. In Arabic it means ‘nearness’. The correct translation of 5:35, keeping in view this explanation, is:

O you who believe, seek  the nearness of Allah only and strive in his way that you may attain salvation. (5:35)

The context of the verse shows that Muslims have been directed to leave aside all other supports and depend only on Allah -- the best way for this being to follow the Sharī‘ah revealed by Him.

So you must remember that the same in word in two languages can have different meanings. In fact, it is by not being aware of this fact that some people ascribe the Urdu meaning of a word to its counterpart in Arabic, and in this way end up wrongly interpreting a word. For example, the word Jannah in Urdu means ‘paradise’. However, in Arabic, as an indefinite noun, it means an ‘orchard’. Similarly, the word ‘Makr’ in Arabic means ‘a secret plan’, while in Urdu it means ‘an evil scheme’. So one must be careful in this matter.

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