Tawassul (Arabic: توسل) is an Islamic religious practice in which a Muslim seeks nearness to God. A rough translation would be: "To draw near to what one seeks after and to approach that which one desires." The exact definition and method of tawassul is a matter of some dispute within the Muslim community.
Muslims who practice tawassul point to the Qur'an, Islam's holy book, as the origin of the practice. Many Muslims believe it is a commandment upon them to "draw near" to God. Amongst Sufi and Barelwi Muslims within Sunni Islam, as well as Twelver Shi'a Muslims, it refers to the act of supplicating to God through a prophet, imam or Sufi saint, whether dead or alive. Many Sunni Muslims dispute the practice's usage through the dead.
Some Muslims also define tawassul as "intercession" with God, also pointing to the Qur'an in explanation of this. Muslims also believe that intercession is only with the permission of God.
Muslims believe that the practise of seeking intercession began during the life of Muhammad. An oft-cited Hadith in support of this is one narrated from Uthman ibn Hunaif regarding a blind man who Muslims believe was healed through the process. The modern Sunni scholar Muhammad Nasiruddin al-Albani commented on some of the Hadith regarding the subject, considering them to be authentic.
Intercession in Sunni Islam
Sunni Muslims traditionally have believed that seeking intercession is totally lawful, however there are varying views on the subject:
- The Permanent Committee based in Saudi Arabia holds the view that Tawassul through dead persons, virtuous or not, leads to Shirk (polytheism).
- The Fatwa Commitee based in Morocco considers Tawassul using collective supplications dhikr permissible and commendable. 
- Syrian Islamic scholars Salih al-Na`man, Abu Sulayman Suhayl al-Zabibi, and Mustafa ibn Ahmad al-Hasan al-Shatti al-Hanbali al-Athari al-Dimashqi have similarly released Fatwas in support of the practice..
Intercession In Shia Islam
Contemporary Shia scholar and theologian Jaafar Subhani, summarized the forms of intersession in Shia Islam as follows:
- Intercession using the Quran: He backed this form of intercession using examples of supplications where believers ask God by the holiness of the Quran. 
- Intercession using righteous deeds: In this form, the believers ask God by the deeds they introduce in advance such as fasting or charity. 
- Intercession using the term "Oh Muhammad": That means believers address directly to the prophet by calling on his name so the prophet asks God on their behalf. 
- Intercession using the supplication of other believers: This is the most common form in which a believer may ask any other believer saying: please pray for me. 
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 http://www.islamtomorrow.com/wasila/1.asp Sunni Hanbali Position from Islam Tomorrow
- ↑ http://www.islamic.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/Fiqh/tawassul.htm
- ↑ Al Rifai Al Salafi At Tawassol Ila Haqiqat al Tawassul P:158. الرفاعي المعاصر: التوصل إلى حقيقة التوسل
- ↑ http://www.raza.co.za/Aqeeda/Aqeeda_Wasila%20of%20Holy%20Prophet.htm
- ↑ Al Tawassul, its kinds and its rules pages 75 to 77. التوسل أنواعه وأحكامه للألباني ص75 ـ 76
- ↑ http://www.fatwaislam.com/fis/index.cfm?scn=fd&ID=536
- ↑ Fatwa on the ruling regarding Tawassul using collective recitation of the term Oh He from the supreme Fatwa Council of Morocco
- ↑ http://www.sunnah.org/ibadaat/tawassul_2.htm#Shaykh Salih al-Na`man's fatwa on Tawassul
- ↑ Jaafar Subhani: Al Tawassul, Meaning, Classifications and rulings. AR. Page 26.
- ↑ Jaafar Subhani: Al Tawassul, Meaning, Classifications and rulings. AR. Page 28.
- ↑ Jaafar Subhani: Al Tawassul, Meaning, Classifications and rulings. AR. Page 34.
- ↑ Jaafar Subhani: Al Tawassul, Meaning, Classifications and rulings. AR. Page 40.