Meaning of “Allaahu Musta’aan”
He (Muhammad (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam)) said:
“My Lord! Judge You in truth! Our Lord is the Most Gracious, Whose Help is to be sought against that which you attribute!” [Soorah Al-Anbiyaa(21):112]
When you say Allaahu musta’aan as a Muslim, it has a great meaning – Allaah is the One whose help is sought. Because it includes that you are saying that I am seeking the help of Allaah. When you say Allaah is the One whose help is sought, you are saying by necessary understanding – I seek refuge with Him. And that is understood from the words of our Prophets and is mentioned in the Qur’aan in the Book of Allaah (Azzawajall).
There you have a number of ayaat and ahadeeth about the importance of al-Isti’aanah, the place of isti’aanah – seeking the help of Allaah in a general way.
Now if you know that then al-Isti’aanah is an act of worship. And that it is to be done for Allaah only.
Seeking someone’s help other than Allaah is shirk in certain circumstances; and in certain circumstances it’s not shirk. That needs to be explained a little bit so that we can use that as a foundation to understand other issues of specific kinds of isti’aanah.
So if you seek help, then seek help from Allaah. If you ask, then ask Allaah. If you seek help, then seek the help of Allaah alone. This has two basic meanings are very important for every Muslim to understand.
THE FIRST MEANING - in issues that are the sole right of Allaah to be asked about then, if you ask then only ask Allaah. Asking other than Allaah is shirk akbar. If you seek help in those affairs then seek the help of Allaah alone in those issues. Then seeking the help of other than Him is shirk. What do I mean by saying those things that are specific to Allaah alone? Like for example, seeking provisions, seeking blessings, seeking ease in your affairs. All of those things are for Allaah ta’alaa alone. He is the only One that we ask for those things. He is the only One we seek help from regarding those things. So we seek the help of Allaah getting to Jannah, getting to Paradise. Worshipping Him, remaining constant, remaining firm upon His religion. We seek His help alone. We make isti’aanah of Him alone. That is regarding the things that are specific to Him alone. If you seek assistance then only seek it from Allaah. That’s the first meaning.
THE SECOND MEANING - those things that can be sought from Allaah’s creation with conditions. Those things are assistance in worldly matters and in religious matters as well.
And co-operate all of you together upon piety and righteousness. Help you one another in Al-Birr and At-Taqwa (virtue, righteousness and piety); but do not help one another in sin and transgression. And fear Allaah. Verily, Allaah is Severe in punishment. [Soorah Al-Maa’idah(5):2]
So seek help from each other and seek cooperation with each other with Tawheed. Now what does that mean? If you need to ask someone for something, like – to help you find a lost item or to assist you in something that you cannot do by yourself that you are incapable of doing totally, then you ask Allaah first. Firstly you turn to Allaah, O Allaah make this easy for me. O Allaah help me complete this task; turn to Allaah. If you seek help in a permissible matter that you may seek from other than Allaah, then first turn to Allaah and seek the help of Allaah first, before you turn to the creation of Allaah. Then if you turn to the creation of Allaah in seeking help in a permissible matter, then it is from someone who has three attributes.
ONE : he’s alive – hayyun
TWO : he’s present – haathir.
THREE : he’s capable of doing what you ask – khaadir
So firstly, he must be alive. Seeking the help of the dead is shirk. The dead cannot help you, they cannot help their ownselves. They are in the need of the help of Allaah ta’alaa. They can not hear you, they cannot assist you, they cannot benefit you or harm you. Seeking their help is shirk with Allaah. So the first condition to be fulfill for the permissibility of seeking other than Allaah’s help is that the one who you are seeking help from, after you have asked Allaah for help in the issue, is that the one you are seeking help from is alive.
Second condition, he has to be present or having the ruling of being present. What that means is you cannot call on your shaykh to help you if he’s not in your presence, and you don’t have a phone and he’s on the other end of the line. You cannot call on him as if to say he can hear your call no matter where you are all around the world, as some of the deviant soofees do. Calling on their shaykh who is alive today, and they say he hears me from Cyprus. They say he hears my call, he knows what I want. So whenever I call him day or night, Allaah sends angels or whatever to convey what I’m saying to him. They give him a status that is above the status of the Prophets. Because the Prophets did not hear the isti’aanah of the people. The Prophets would not hear the calls of help from the people who were not in the range of their hearing. So they’ve given their soofee masters, their shaykhs positions higher than the positions of the Prophets. They have given them attributes that are the right of Allaah alone. Allaah is as-Sami – Allaah is the All-Hearing. His Hearing encompasses all things. When you say I can call on someone and he’s on the other side of the world, I don’t mean with a phone or through the internet, I mean just I am going to call on him for help. Saying please help me, please answer my question, please give me some advice. When you call on him and you believe he can hear you from anywhere, then you have given him an attribute of Allaah ta’alaa, that he has unlimited hearing and unrestricted hearing. And that is for Allaah ta’alaa alone. That is why calling on someone who is not in your presence is a form of shirk. Or not having the ruling of being in your presence, like being on the other end of a piece of technology that conveys voices like the phone or the internet and so on.
The third condition for you to seek the help of other than Allaah is that the person must be khaadir – he must be capable of doing what you are asking. Meaning, not that you have to know that he is capable. Maybe you ask him to send you a book, and he is not able to go to the post office. In that case it is not shirk. Rather in that case you were finding out whether he can help you or not. What I mean is not being able here is like saying, I’m asking assistance from my shaykh who’s sitting in front of me, he’s alive. We have the first two conditions fulfilled. He’s khaathir and he’s hayy – alive and present in front of me. So I say, O my shaykh please put me in Jannah – please put me in Paradise. Then you realise here to ask someone for entrance to Paradise is the right of Allaah alone to be asked. And he is not capable of putting you into Paradise, or saving you from the torture of the grave, or the punishment of the Hellfire. He himself is in need of asking Allaah alone. So you asking him for things that he is incapable of doing, that are the right of Allaah alone to be asked; that is an act of shirk. Even if he is alive, even if he is in front of you.
So all three conditions must be fulfilled for you to ask other than Allaah for something.
Then further, if someone is alive, in front of you or on the other end of a phone line and he’s khaadir – he’s able to do that; you asking him for help is something that a believer with complete eemaan would avoid. Do you remember our lessons? Do you remember why? There’s some issue that we discussed previously about asking people for things, about asking for help. It was about the 70 000 people who would go to Paradise with no punishment and no reckoning. Recall that we said that they don’t seek the ruqeeyah from other people. We mentioned some of the statements of the Scholars, about the meaning of that is because a believer with complete eemaan doesn’t ask people for things. In the hadeeth the Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) mentioned one of the ways to go to Paradise is that you don’t ask the people for anything.
You abandon what is in the hands of the people, you abandon seeking their help, and seeking things from them; and you turn to Allaah in totality. Everything you request, you request it from Allaah ta’alaa. So that is the best situation for the believer. That even with the permissibility of seeking help and seeking assistance from other than Allaah with those three conditions fulfilled, it’s better that he applies the hadeeth of Abdullaah Ibn Abbass literally and seeks the very best thing for his religion. If you seek assistance, then only seek it from Allaah, don’t ask the people for anything. That is the literal interpretation of that hadeeth and that is an actual application that is supported by other texts, along with our belief in the permissibility of asking people for things with the conditions mentioned. It’s not an act of shirk, nor is it a deficiency in a person’s religion. Rather it’s just that a person who’s on the very best practice of Islaam is above that, is higher than that station.
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