Tawassul (Arabic: توسل‎) is the Islamic understanding of intercession. It is a religious practice in which a Muslim seeks nearness to Allah. 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 Allah.[1] Amongst Sufi and Sunni Muslims within Sunni Islam, as well as Twelver Shi'a Muslims, it refers to the act of supplicating to Allah through a prophet, imam or Sufi saint, whether dead or alive.[2] Many Sunni Muslims dispute the practice's usage through the dead.[1] See Opposition to Tawassul.


Some Muslims also define tawassul as "intercession" with Allah, also pointing to the Qur'an in explanation of this. Muslims also believe that intercession is only with the permission of Allah.[1]

Muslims believe that the practice 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 Holy Qur'an and Tawwasul

The Holy Qur'an says in various points, (19:87, 20:109, 21:28, 39:44, 43:86, 53:26) that Allah will give permission of intercession to those who have made a covenant with Allah, and whose words Allah is pleased with. Allah is pleased with people who devote everything to Allah, they have love for Allah, his Prophets, His Angel and the Companions of the Holy Prophet and all devoted to God.

Intercession in Sunni Islam

Sunni Muslims traditionally have believed that seeking intercession is only conditionally lawful:

  • Salafi school considers it unlawful to make Tawassul through dead people (including Prophets and saints). The Permanent Committee based in Saudi Arabia holds the view that Tawassul through dead persons, virtuous or not, leads to Shirk (polytheism).[5], although there is no evidence from the Qur'an and Sunnah that Prophet Muhammad, all the other Messengers, or Holy Persons devoted to God are unable to do so.
  • The Fatwa Committee based in Morocco considers Tawassul using collective supplications dhikr permissible and commendable.[6]
  • 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.[7].
  • Asking other living believers to pray to Allah on one's behalf is only lawful if one also prays directly to Allah.

Intercession In Shia Islam

The Shia believe it is permissible to perform Tawassul through Muhammad, his family, the Prophets, and pious believers.[8] Contemporary Shia scholar and theologian Jaafar Subhani, summarized the forms of intercession in Shia Islam as follows:

  • Intercession using the Quran: He backed this form of intercession using examples of supplications where believers ask Allah by the holiness of the Quran.[9]
  • Intercession using righteous deeds: In this form, the believers ask Allah 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 Allah 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. ^ a b c http://www.islamtomorrow.com/wasila/1.asp Sunni Hanbali Position from Islam Tomorrow
  2. ^ http://www.islamic.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/Fiqh/tawassul.htm
  3. ^ Al Rifai Al Salafi At Tawassol Ila Haqiqat al Tawassul P:158. الرفاعي المعاصر: التوصل إلى حقيقة التوسل
  4. ^ http://www.raza.co.za/Aqeeda/Aqeeda_Wasila%20of%20Holy%20Prophet.htm
  5. ^ http://www.fatwaislam.com/fis/index.cfm?scn=fd&ID=536
  6. ^ Fatwa on the ruling regarding Tawassul using collective recitation of the term Oh He from the supreme Fatwa Council of Morocco
  7. ^ http://www.sunnah.org/ibadaat/tawassul_2.htm#Shaykh Salih al-Na`man's fatwa on Tawassul
  8. ^ Shirazi, Muhammad (2008). The Shi'a and their Beliefs. London,UK: Fountain Books. pp. 37–38. 
  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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