يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَابْتَغُوا إِلَيْهِ الْوَسِيلَةَ وَجَاهِدُوا فِي سَبِيلِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ
O you who have faith! Be wary of Allah, and seek the wasīlah to Him, and wage jihad in His way, so that you may be felicitous.
(Sūrah al-Mā’idah, No 5, Āyat 35)
Allah the Almighty has created man with a unique ability to move towards Him. As opposed to other creatures who will naturally traverse a certain path, man can choose the path he traverses. Does he choose servitude and thereby move closer to Allah ‘azza wajall, manifesting Divine attributes of perfection? Or does he distance himself from Allah by descending into the quagmire of sin and vice? This is the fundamental choice before all of us. Moreover, proximity to Allah is not something metaphorical or figurative. Someone who has manifested more of Allah’s perfection has, in the true sense of the word, come closer to Allah.
In the above-mentioned verse believers are encouraged to seek the necessary ‘wasīlah’ to move towards Allah. The word wasīlah refers to a means of reaching a goal. More specifically, wasīlah is a means that is coupled with a desire and a longing to reach that goal. Hence, in a general sense, the wasīlah to move towards Allah is to obey Him. It is for this reason that in sermon 110 of Nahj al-Balāghah, Imam Ali (peace be upon him) says: The best means by which seekers of nearness to Allah … seek nearness, is the belief in Him and His Prophet, fighting in His cause … the establishment of prayer … payment of zakat … fasting for the month of Ramadan … the performance of hajj of the House of Allah … regard for kinship … to give alms …
We can see in this sermon that the different examples of a wasīlah are the very pillars and branches of religion. Correct belief and obedience to the noble sharī’ah are the best means of moving towards Allah.
That said, one aspect of this correct belief is to recognize the lofty position of the intermediaries of Divine grace. A recommendation of the sharī’ah is to perform tawassul and seek Divine perfections through these intermediaries. In fact, the Arabic word tawassul also stems from the same trilateral root as the word wasīlah; to perform tawassul means to seek a wasīlah towards Allah.
In a narration from our twelfth holy Imam (may Allah hasten his appearance) he recommends us to recite a ziyārah al-Rajabiyyah every day in this holy month of Rajab. In this ziyārah, which can be recited for any of the Ahl al-Bayt (peace be upon them), he says: I ask You and hope upon you in that what has been entrusted to you … as it is only through you that the broken is mended, the sick are cured, and that which is in the womb increases or reduces.
Such is the lofty position of the Ahl al-Bayt (peace be upon them). May Allah instill in us a correct and monotheistic understanding of who the Ahl al-Bayt are and allow us to attain His proximity by their means. May Allah bless us to take advantage of the upcoming months of Sha‘bān and the holy month of Ramadan to attain His pleasure and build upon this capital.
Resources: Āyatullāh Mahmūd Tahrīrī, Sīmāy-i Mukhbitīn (A commentary on Ziyārat Amīnullāh), ‘Allāmah Tabātabā’ī, Al-Mīzān.
Sponsored by a brother from Chicago, USA for isāla-e thawāb of all Marhūmīn. Please recite al-Fātiha for the benefit of their souls.