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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.[1] 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.[2] Many Sunni Muslims dispute the practice's usage through the dead.[1]


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.[1]

Muslims believe that the practise of seeking intercession began during the life of Muhammad.[3] 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.[4] The modern Sunni scholar Muhammad Nasiruddin al-Albani commented on some of the Hadith regarding the subject, considering them to be authentic.[5]

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).[6]
  • The Fatwa Commitee based in Morocco considers Tawassul using collective supplications dhikr permissible and commendable. [7]
  • 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.[8].

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. [9]
  • Intercession using righteous deeds: In this form, the believers ask God by the deeds they introduce in advance such as fasting or charity. [10]
  • 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. [11]
  • 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. [12]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Sunni Hanbali Position from Islam Tomorrow
  3. Al Rifai Al Salafi At Tawassol Ila Haqiqat al Tawassul P:158. الرفاعي المعاصر: التوصل إلى حقيقة التوسل
  5. Al Tawassul, its kinds and its rules pages 75 to 77. التوسل أنواعه وأحكامه للألباني ص75 ـ 76
  7. Fatwa on the ruling regarding Tawassul using collective recitation of the term Oh He from the supreme Fatwa Council of Morocco
  8. Salih al-Na`man's fatwa on Tawassul
  9. Jaafar Subhani: Al Tawassul, Meaning, Classifications and rulings. AR. Page 26.
  10. Jaafar Subhani: Al Tawassul, Meaning, Classifications and rulings. AR. Page 28.
  11. Jaafar Subhani: Al Tawassul, Meaning, Classifications and rulings. AR. Page 34.
  12. Jaafar Subhani: Al Tawassul, Meaning, Classifications and rulings. AR. Page 40.

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