Hakim al Umma Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī (Allah have mercy on him) said,
“The [following] form of tawassul (intercession) through pious people, that O Allah, have mercy upon us because of such a saint, its reality is: O Allah, according to me, such a person is an accepted [servant] of yours, and for [the action of] loving the accepted people, there is promise of mercy in [the ḥadīth] ‘The person is with who he loves’. I ask from you this mercy. Thus, in tawwssul (intercession), the person expresses his love for the friends of Allah and thereby asks for mercy and reward because of this love. And love for the friends of Allah necessitates mercy and reward as mentioned in the nuṣūṣ (texts). Thus, there are many ḥadīths regarding those who love for the sake of Allah.
Now there is a question, what effect does the piety and blessing of the saint have on [the divine] mercy? The effect is that loving this saint is part of loving for the sake of Allah, and there is promise of reward for loving for the sake of Allah. After this explanation, I say acting upon [the verse 93:11] ‘But as for the favour of your Lord, then report [it]’, that if Ibn Taymiyah heard this explanation he would never have denied the permissibility of tawassul [via pious people] because all its preliminaries are sound. It is my good assumption of ʿAllāmah Ibn Taymiyah that he prohibited the tawassul of the ignorant people of his time, the reality of which was istiʿānah and istighāthah (seeking assistance).” (Ashraf al-Jawāb, p.152).
[Tr. Note: For detailed reading, refer to Bawādir al-Nawādir (p.709) and Fatāwā Rashīdiyyah (p.134). Shaykh Fakhr al-Dīn Murādābādī (d. 1392/1972) suggest in Īḍāḥ al-Bukhārī (5:319) that Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (d. 728/1328) permits intercession through good deeds, which includes love of the pious people, and therefore the difference is merely in expression, otherwise there is no real difference between his position and the position of the majority of scholars, in the manner that it has been expressed by Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī. Shaykh al-Islām Mufti Muḥammad Taqī ʿUthmānī (b. 1362/1943) appears to be inclined to this position to a certain extent (Takmilah Fatḥ al-Mulhim, 5:317; Maqālāt al-ʿUthmānī, 1:41).]
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