Bismillah, wa sallathu wa salaamu ala rasoolillah wa ala alahi wa sahabahi ajmaeen.
I was asked as part of my assignments to refute the argument that since the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) is alive in his grave and hears our salaams, we can call on him in prayer. And Alhamdulillah it was rated very good marks with encouraging comments from the examiner.
All Praises to Allah the Lord of the entire creation, peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, his companions and those who follow their path till the last day.
Lets take the first part of the statement that Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) is alive in his grave and hear our salaams, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) is alive in his grave in the sense of the life of al-barzakh, not alive in this worldly. But the life in the grave is not like the life of this world, or the life in the Hereafter. Rather it is the life of al-barzakh which comes in between his life in this world and his life in the Hereafter.
We know that he died as other Prophets and other people before him died. Allaah says (a) “And We granted not to any human being immortality before you (O Muhammad); then if you die, would they live forever?”[al-Anbiya’ 21:34] (b)“Whatsoever is on it (the earth) will perish. And the Face of your Lord full of Majesty and Honour will remain forever”[al-Rahmaan 55:26,27] , (c)“Verily, you (O Muhammad) will die, and verily, they (too) will die”[al-Zumar 39:30]
And there are other verses which also indicate that Allaah caused him to die. Moreover, the Sahaabah (may Allaah be pleased with them) washed him, shrouded him, offered the funeral prayer for him and buried him; if he had been alive in the worldly sense, they would not have done the same as is done for others who die and many other acts indicates that there was consensus among them that he had indeed died.
The life of al-barzakh is a special life. The Prophets and the shuhada’ (martyrs) are alive in al-barzakh as the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The Prophets are alive and they pray in their graves.” (Narrated by al-Mundhiri and al-Bayhaqi who classed it as saheeh because of corroborating reports in al-Saheehayn.)
Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): “And say not of those who are killed in the way of Allaah, ‘They are dead.’ Nay, they are living, but you perceive (it) not” [al-Baqarah 2:154] This is a special life, the nature of which is known to Allaah. It is not like the life of this world in which the soul remains with the body. The basic principle concerning the dead is that they do not hear the words of the living sons of Adam, because Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): “but you cannot make hear those who are in graves” [Faatir 35:22]
Allaah confirmed that those whom he (the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)) was calling to Islam could not hear, by likening them to the dead. There is nothing in the Qur’aan or in the saheeh Sunnah to indicate that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) can hear every du’aa’ or call from human beings. Rather it is proven that the only thing that reaches him (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) is the blessings and salaams of those who send blessings and salaams upon him. This was narrated by Abu Dawood, 2041, with a hasan isnaad from Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) who said that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “There is no one who sends salaams upon me but Allaah will restore to me my soul so that I may return his salaams.” This does not mean that he hears the words of the one who sends salaams. Rather it is possible that he comes to know of those salaams when the angels convey that to him. If we assume that he hears the words of the one who sends salaams, this is an exception from the general rule, as in the case of the dead hearing the footsteps of those who carry his bier, and as in the case of the slain kuffaar in the well at Badr who heard the call of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) when he said to them: “Have you found your Lord’s promise to be true? For we have found our Lord’s promise to be true.” (See Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah, 1/313, 318, 321).
Now regarding the second part of the statement that “we can call on him in prayer”, we refute saying that whether prophet Muhammad sallallahu wa alayhi wa sallam is alive or dead, a muslim shouldn’t call on him as it’s a clear cut shirk.
Its clear from Quran where Allah commanded him to say to his followers: “I have no power to bring good or avert harm even regarding myself, except as Allah wills. If I had knowledge of the unseen, I would surely have accumulated only good and no evil would have befallen me. But I am only a warner and a bringer of glad tidings for those who believe.” (Quran 7:188) The Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was not able to do this when he was alive, so how about after his death? Moreover Allah revealed in the Quran “And your Lord said: “Invoke Me [i.e. believe in My Oneness (Islamic Monotheism) and ask Me for anything] I will respond to your (invocation)” (Ghaafir 40:60)
“And when My slaves ask you (O Muhammad) concerning Me, then (answer them), I am indeed near (to them by My Knowledge). I respond to the invocations of the supplicant when he calls on Me (without any mediator or intercessor)” (al-Baqarah 2:186)
So people should not call on anyone except Allaah; they should not seek the help of anyone except Him; they should not place their ultimate hopes in anyone except Him; they should not put their ultimate trust in anyone except Him. Allaah alone is the One in Whose hand is the sovereignty and goodness, and He is Able to do all things. Calling on Prophet Muhammad Sallahu wa alayhi wa sallam is an act of shirk in Tawheed al Ibadah and TawheedAl Asma Wa Sifaat and is not at all taught or practiced by him and his companions.
Whoever follows this act of shirk has indeed gone astray from the straight path.
Allah Knows Best
a) The Fundamentals of Tawheed – Dr. Bilal Philips