In the name of Allah, Most Merciful, Most Compassionate; blessings and peace be upon Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.
"Do not spy one another,
nor let any of you backbite others..." (Hujurat 49: 12)
ONE day after buying sundry items from a shop, I went to my car and ignited the engine. It did not work. I tried a few times without success. At that time I was listening to an interesting religious talk on Radio IKIM, thus I did not bother to open the bonnet of the car to check what was wrong.
After the radio programme was over about 45 minutes later, once again I tried to start the engine. I did it a few times but failed. Suddenly I remembered why not I try ‘tawassul’ (the use of a ‘wasilah’ to obtain the favour of Allah SWT).
An ‘ustaz’ during his weekly classes at a ‘masjid’ near my house which I followed, said when a Muslim is burdened or faced difficulties he or she could do the ‘tawassul’ in his du’a (supplication) to Allah SWT. 'Tawassul' is to seek nearness to Allah SWT through performing good deeds.
The ‘ustaz’ then read and explained a ‘hadith’ regarding the subject. 'Abdullah bin 'Umar reported that Allah's Messenger (s.a.w.) said: Three persons set out on a journey. They were overtaken by rain and they had to find protection in a mountain cave where at its mouth there fell a rock of that mountain and thus blocked them altogether.
One of them said to the others: Look to your good deeds that you performed for the sake of Allah and then supplicate Allah, the Exalted, that He might rescue you (from this trouble).
One of them said: O Allah, I had my parents who were old and my wife and my small children also. I tended the flock and when I came back to them in the evening, I milked them (the sheep, goats, cows, etc.) and first served that milk to my parents. One day I was obliged to go out to a distant place in search of fodder and I could not come back before evening and found them (the parents) asleep. I milked the animals as I used to milk and brought milk to them and stood by their heads avoiding to disturb them from sleep and I did not deem it advisable to serve milk to my children before serving them. My children wept near my feet. I remained there in that very state and my parents too until it was morning. And (0 Allah) if Thou art aware that I did this in order to seek Thine pleasure, grant us riddance from this trouble.
(The rock slipped a bit) that they could see the sky.
The second one said: O Allah, I had a female cousin whom I loved more than the men love the women. I wanted to have sexual intercourse with her; she refused but on the condition of getting one hundred dinars. It was with very great difficulty that I could collect one hundred dinars and then paid them to her and when I was going to have a sexual intercourse with her, that she said: Servant of Allah, fear Allah and do not break the seal (of chastity) but by lawful means. I got up. O Allah, if Thou art aware that I did this in order to seek Thine pleasure, rid us from this trouble.
The situation was somewhat eased for them.
The third one said: Allah, I employed a workman for a measure of rice. After he had finished his work I gave him his dues (in the form of) a measure of rice, but he did not accept them. I used these rice as seeds, and that gave a bumper crop and I became rich enough to have cows and flocks (in my possession). He came to me and said: Fear Allah, and commit no cruelty upon me in regard to my dues. I said to him: Take away this flock of cows and sheep. He said: Fear Allah and do not make a fun of me. I said: I am not making a fun of you. You take the cows and the flocks. So he took them. O Allah, if Thou art aware that I did it for Thine pleasure, case the situation for us.
And Allah relieved them from the rest of the trouble. (Sahih Muslim)
Why not I try the ‘tawassul’, I said to myself. Before starting the engine, I read the Basmallah, did the supplication plus mentioning one of the good deeds that I had done previously. Then I turned on the keys of the engine. It did not work! I tried many times but it was fruitless.
After the futile attempts, I went out of the car, lift the hood of the bonnet, examined the battery; only to realize that the connection parts of the battery and wires were exposed to corrosive powder like substance. I then shook the battery, tried to move the connection part side to side and scrapped the powder off.
‘Satisfied’ with my ‘work’, I went inside the car, read the Basmallah, recite the du’a including mentioning the ‘tawassul’, and ignited the engine…and ‘brooooooooom’ the engine roared! Alhamdulillah, I was soon on my way back home…
While driving my mind reflected back to the ‘hadith’ about the three men trapped in the cave. I realized it was not mentioned at all the men tried to move the rock after making their supplications and ‘tawassul’. Perhaps they only did the du’a and their requests to Allah SWT were fulfilled …the question is need we accompany our du’a with hard work for example the men used their effort to move the rock?
I was determined to ask the ‘ustaz’ for clarification, so during his lesson, I posed him the question. I did not mentioned about ‘my car experience’ but asked him if we did the ‘tawassul’, need we accompanied it with effort or hard work?
First he noted that the ‘cave incident’ was from the time before Prophet Muhammad s.a.w., thus we must understand that their ‘syariat’ (law and practicing them) was slightly different the Prophet’s ‘ummah’ (followers).
The ‘ustaz’ said for us, du’a must be accompanied with an action plan for that will show our commitment to our request and will focus our energy in the right direction. In the Qur’an, Allah SWT says: "Verily Allah does not change men's condition unless they change their inner selves" (Quran 13: 11)
He then told his audience about the Hijra (Hegira) of the Prophet s.a.w. The Prophet's Hijra was 'an ordinary man's journey of more than 300 kilometers from his birth place of Makkah to Madinah which was then called Yathrib. The Prophet toiled and sweat; he and his best companion Abu Bakr r.a. and their non-Muslim guide, Abdullah Uraiqit only arrived at Quba' on the outskirts of Yathrib after more than two weeks.
There, with the help of the local people, they erected the first masjid - Masjid Quba' - before officially entering Yathrib and renaming it Madinat-un-Nabi, literally, the City of the Prophet after 30 days from the date they left Makkah. It was a difficult journey, why not the Prophet s.a.w. supplicated to his Lord and requested for a ‘quick like lightning journey' of Isra’ and Mi’raj?
The ‘ustaz’ said based on the Prophet's 'tough' and 'hard' journey of the Hijra, Muslims too must be ever ready to face tribulations and obstacles in life what more when one is committed to live as a practicing Muslim in all aspects of life.
Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. had showed us the way to live as a Muslim who has to strive in whatever he does, be it regarding efforts to gain benefit in this world or in the Hereafter.
As Muslims we must work hard for our benefit of both worlds as we often recite in our du'a (supplication): Rabbana aatina fiddunya hasanatan wafil akhirati hasanatan waqina adhabannaar (Our Lord, give us good in this life, and in the Hereafter, and protect us from the Hellfire).
In their determination to see Islam flourish, the Prophet s.a.w. and his companions toiled and sweated including in the hot sun often in a state of hunger, for example the Prophet s.a.w. took the lead in digging a wide and deep trench around Madinah to stop the invading Musyrikin armies during the Ahzab war. In the battle of Uhud, the Prophet s.a.w. too was injured; this showed that Muslims would be 'tried' (face tribulations) by Allah SWT but must be brave in facing the hurdles to be better Muslims by each day.
All must be worked for; there is no such thing as a 'short cut' to success in the world, what more in the Hereafter. It was asked. "Oh Messenger of Allah: Who is the most excellent of men? The Messenger of Allah said, 'The believer who strives hard in the way of Allah with his person and property."
As a conclusion; yes we can do the ‘tawassul’ in our supplications (du’a) but it must be accompanied with effort…you have to work hard for it for example by studying hard, ‘insya-Allah’ you will pass your examination with flying colours.