Seeking nearness to Allah by slaughtering sheep by the graves of pious people is customary among my people. I objected to it, but they became more adamant. I said: "This is Shirk" They said: "We do worship Allah in the best manner! What is wrong with visiting Allah's Awliya and say in our supplication, "O Allah, we ask You by the right of the pious slave of Yours, so-and-so. Cure us, or relieve us from such and such misfortune." I said to them: "There is no room for intermediaries in our religion." They said: "Leave us alone." My question is, What do you think is the best remedy for those people? What can I do to them? And how do I combat this innovation?
It is known from the proofs of the Qur'an and Sunnah that seeking nearness by slaughtering to other than Allah, such as pious people, Jinn, idols, or any other creatures is Shirk and practices of pre-Islamic era and the pagans. Allah, the Exalted, says: "Say, 'My Salah, and offering, and my life, and my death are all for Allah, the Lord of the worlds. He has no partner. And so am I commanded, and I am the first of the Muslims." [Al-An'am 6:162163]
Allah, Glorious is He, clarifies in this verse that sacrificing to other than Allah is Shirk, just as performing the prayer to other than Him. Allah, the Exalted, says: "We have given you Al-Kawthar. So, pray to your Lord and offer sacrifice." [Al-Kawthar 108: 1-2]
In this Surah Allah, Glorious is He, instructed his Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) to pray to His Lord, and sacrifice to Him, contrary to the people of Shirk, who pray and slaughter to other than Allah. Allah, the Exalted says: "And your Lord has decreed that you should worship none other than Allah." [Al-Isra 17:23]
He also says: "And they are commanded only to worship Allah, being sincere to Him." [Al-Bayyinah 98: 5]
There are many verses that convey this meaning.
Since sacrifice is an act of worship, then it must be dedicated sincerely to Allah. Imam Muslim narrated in his Sahih that Ali said that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: "Allah curses him who sacrifices to other than Allah." [Muslim no. 1978]
As for those who say: "I adjure Allah by the right of His beloved believers, or by the honor of His beloved believers, or by the right of the Prophet, or by his honor." Such adjuration does not constitute Shirk, but it is innovation, according to the assembly of people of knowledge, and a means of Shirk, because the supplication is an act of worship, and the way it should be made is not subject to opinion. There is no proof related to the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) denoting legality, or permissibility of adjuration by the right or the honor of any human.
Hence, it is not permissible for the Muslims to innovate a type of Tawassul (adjuration) which Allah, the Exalted, does not legitimize. Allah, the Exalted, says: "Or do they have partners who legalize for them acts of worship which Allah does not permit." [Ash-Shura 42:21]
And the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: "He who initiates something in this matter of ours that is not from it, shall have it rejected." [Al-Bukhari no. 2697 and Muslim no. 1718] His statement 'shall have it rejected,' means that it shall not be accepted by Allah from the one who introduces it.
It is incumbent upon the Muslims to restrict themselves only to what Allah has legitimized, and to beware of what people innovate.
As for the legitimate Tawassul, it is adjuring Allah by His Names and Attributes. It can be effective by upholding the beliefs in His Oneness, doing good deeds, charitable donations and by believing in Allah and His Messengers. It is Allah who grants success.
Original article in Arabic by Sheikh Ibn Baaz