بسم الله الر حمن الرحيم
At the outset, let us have a look at the literal meaning of Tawassul. Litterateurs have defined Tawassul as follows:
“Doing Tawassul with Allah” means “to seek the mediation of Allah through an action or medium.
Tawassul can also be defined as “(A medium) through which one person seeks nearness to another.”
From the above definitions, it is clear that Tawassul refers to “seeking proximity to someone through an act or through some individual in order to achieve a position or status before him.” It also means “to seek the resolving of one’s difficulties through the performance of an act or through the mediation of an individual.”
The World is a System of Cause & Effect
Allah has ordained this world to be a place of causes and means. Man cannot fulfill all his needs by himself. If he is thirsty, he cannot quench his thirst on his own. In order to quench his thirst, he must employ the “medium” of “water.” Allah has ordained that water shall be the intermediary through which thirst can be quenched. He has ordered man to take the help of water in order to quench his thirst. It is as clear as daylight that water is not “God.” Rather it is a creation of God. The ability to quench thirst is not a quality acquired by water itself. Rather this effect is bestowed to it by Allah. We, therefore, utilize this ability of water as a medium to quench our thirst. Same is the case in all aspects of life. Those who do not believe in God or do not have His proper recognition, seek the solution to their problems through some medium, and when their problems get solved, they express their gratitude to the intermediary while others begin to worship it. However, those who have belief in Allah and are blessed with His correct recognition, after having their problems solved through some medium, are grateful to their Creator. Thus after drinking water, they say “All praises are for Allah.”
The Holy Quran and Tawassul
Allah says in the Holy Quran:
“O you who believe! Be careful of (your duty to) Allah and seek means of nearness to Him and strive hard in His way that you may be successful.
The above verse of the Quran clearly declares that man must seek a medium in order to seek the proximity of Allah — implying that an intermediary is necessary in order to present oneself before Allah.
Mansoor Dawaneqi, the second Abbaside caliph, embarked on a journey for Hajj. On that journey, he was accompanied by Imam Malik — the leader of the Maliki sect. While they were conversing with each other in Masjidun Nabawi, Imam Malik said to Mansoor: This is the shrine of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.s.). We must speak softly as Allah has ordered — “O you who believe! Do not raise your voices above the voice of the Prophet, and do not speak loud to him as you speak loud to one another, lest your deeds became null while you do not perceive.” Just as it was obligatory to honour the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.s.) in his lifetime, it is obligatory to show respect to him after his death.
After this, Mansoor asked Imam Malik: “O Aba Abdillah! While supplicating to Allah and calling out to Him, should I face the Qiblah or should I turn towards the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.s.)?” Imam Malik replied, “Why are you turning your face away from the Prophet (s.a.w.a.s.)? Till the Day of Judgment, he will remain your intermediary and also of your father Hazrat Adam (a.s.). You turn towards him acknowledging him as your mediator and seek his intercession. He will intercede between you and Allah. Allah (s.w.t.) has said, “and if they, when they were unjust to themselves, come to you and asked forgiveness of Allah and the Apostle too asks forgiveness for them, they would have found Allah Oft-returning (to mercy), Merciful.”
If we ponder over this incident, it becomes clear that —
(a) Imam Malik advised Mansoor Dawaneqi to turn towards the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.s) at the time of supplicating Allah, implying that he should seek nearness to Allah through the medium of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.s.)
(b)The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.s.) is his intermediary and that of his father Hazrat Adam (a.s.). The reference to Hazrat Adam (a.s.) at this place indicates that the Prophet (s.a.w.a.s.) is not only the medium or ordinary mortals, but also of other Prophets (a.s). Allah the Almighty accepted the repentance of Hazrat Adam (a.s.) only for the sake of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.s.).
(C) The intercession of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.s.) for Hazrat Adam (a.s.) is not limited to his (s.a.w.a.s.) physical presence in this material world. Rather, he enjoys such a high position and status before Allah that he (s.a.w.a.s.) can be sought as an intercessor before Allah in every era.
(d) The elevated status and rank enjoyed by the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.s.) prior to his coming in this world, is also applicable to him (s.a.w.a.s.) after his death. This is because his “Life” is not Limited to this material world. On this basis, just as one sought his mediation in his lifetime, one can turn towards him to seek his intercession and mediation even after his death.
(e) The admonishment of Imam Malik to Mansoor to lower his voice in the presence of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.s.) is proof of the fact that the Prophet (s.a.w.a.s.) is alive. And the prohibition to raise one’s voice in his presence (Do not raise your voice in the presence of Holy Prophet) is even applicable today. Death of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.s.) is not a barrier on the path to receiving benefits from him.
There are several incidents recorded in history when people have sought the mediation of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.s.) in their prayers and their prayers were accepted.
The Ahle Bait (a.s.) are Intercessors
No person can deny the fact that Allah (s.w.t), despite all His Powers, has not granted everything directly to man. It is below the Eminence and Majesty that He should personally grant something to His creatures. Take the case of ‘guidance’. It is solely Allah’s responsibility and prerogative –
“Surely you cannot guide whom you love, but Allah guides whom He pleases.” Despite this, Allah (s.w.t.) sent Prophets and Messengers to guide mankind. He revealed divine books and established laws for men. Allah bestowed guidance on men through the medium of the Prophets and Messengers. He says, “and most surely you show the way to the right path”
On this basis, to seek an intercessor is the practice of Allah. Therefore if any person denies intercession, he is in fact turning away from the tradition of Allah.
With reference to the verse 35 of Surah Maaedah, Ameerul Momineen Ali (a.s.) says, “I am the medium which Allah (s.w.t.) has ordered to seek.”
In the same light, Imam (a.s.) says, “Seek nearness to Allah through the Imam.”
The recognition of the Imam is the source of nearness to Allah. Obedience to the Imam is the means of seeking proximity to Allah. The intercession of the Imam is the cause of the nearness to Allah.
 Al Munjid
 Lisanul Arab
 Surah Maaedah, verse 35
 Surah Hujurat, verse 2
 Aba Abdillah was the agnomen (Kuniyyat) of Imam Malik
 Wafaaul Wafa, voL. 4, pg. 1376
 Surah Qasas, verse 56
 Surah Shura, verse 52
 Tafseer at-Meezan, voL. 5, pg. 362. Also, Tafseer al-Burhan, voL. 2, pg. 293
 Tafseer al-Qummi, voL. 1, pg. 168