by Abul Layth
Who is Al-’Utbi?
He is Muhammad ibn Ubaydullah ibn ‘Amru ibn Mu’awiyah ibn ‘Amru ibn Utbah ibn Abi Sufyan Sakhr ibn Harb. He was from the most eloquent of men, a companion of narrations, and a narrator of literature. He reported from his father and from Sufyan ibn ‘Uyaynah. Taqiyud-Din As-Subki reports the narration that we are soon to go over in his Shifaa’ As-Siqaam regarding the visiting of the grave of the Nabi (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). He reports this narration with his chain. ((See Futuhaat Ar-Rabbaaniyah 5/39 ))
The narration of Al-’Utbi is probably not known to many English speaking Muslims. Let me state my purpose in producing this article. I am going to share a photocopy as well as further research regarding the narration of Al-’Utbi so that the Muslim masses will be informed of the fact that many great ‘Ulamaa’ of the past maintained that Tawassul by the Nabi Muhammad is permitted in Islam. We hope that this information will lend more credence to the fact that the greatest Jurists to have walked the earth believed in tawassul with the beloved Prophet Muhammad.
The Savant, Jurist, Shaykh-ul-Islam, Virtuous and Pious Wali of Allah ta’alaa, The Ascetic, Defender of the Sunnah, Mountain of Knowledge, Known as the Second Imam Ash-Shafi’i, the Reviver of Islam in his time, The Mujaahid, The Hafidh of Hadith, Abu Zakariya Yahya ibn Sharaf, known best as “Imam An-Nawawi” recorded in his tome, Al-Adhkaar (الاذكار) the following story from Al-’Utbi: ((Apologies for poor scan quality. We kept the dimensions and dpi low so that the pictures would download faster on slower connections and stone-age computers ))
“As I was sitting by the grave of the Prophet, a Bedouin Arab came and said: “Peace be upon you, O Messenger of Allah! I have heard Allah saying: “If they had only, when they were unjust to themselves, come unto thee and asked Allah’s forgiveness, and the Messenger had asked forgiveness for them, they would have found Allah indeed Oft-returning, Most Merciful” (4:64), so I have come to you asking forgiveness for my sin, seeking your intercession with my Lord.” Then he began to recite poetry:
O best of those whose bones are buried in the deep earth,
And from whose fragrance the depth
and the height have become sweet,
May I be the ransom for a grave which thou inhabit,
And in which are found purity, bounty and munificence!
Then he left, and I slept and saw the Nabi (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa Sallam) in my sleep. He said to me: “Yā `Utbi, run after the Bedouin and give him glad tidings that Allah has forgiven him.” [End Quote. To also read the online version click here.]
The scans are taken from the published print from Mu’asasah ‘Ulum Al-Qur’an (Beirut) and Dar Al-Qiblah Lil-Thiqafat Al-Islamiyyah, Jeddah pages 284-285, with the editing of Subay’ Hamzah Hakimi.
Imam An-Nawawi placed this narration below the chapter titled, “Chapter: Regarding Visiting the Grave of Rasulullah (‘alayhis salaam) and its Remembrances (adhkaar)”. The publisher “Dar-Al-Huda” from Riyadh, Saudia Arabia changed “Grave” to “Masjid” so as to make it seem one is not to visit the Prophet Muhammad’s grave. Furthermore, they intentionally changed the text and words of Imam An-Nawawi when he said,
فصل” في زيارة قبر رسول الله (ص) وأذكارها : اعلم أنه ينبغي لكل من حج أن يتوجه إلى زيارة رسول الله (ص ) سواء كان ذلك طريقه أو لم يكن فإن زيارته (ص ) من أهم القربات وأربح المساعي وأفضل الطلبات
Dar-Al-Huda changed these words to what is clear tahreef:
(فصل” في زيارة مسجد رسول الله (ص) اعلم أنه يستحب من أراد زيارة مسجد رسول الله (ص ) أن يكثر من الصلاة عليه (ص
This is simply one example of their distorting the Adhkar as was pointed out by Shaykh Mahmud Sa’id Mamduh in his Rafa’ Minaara.
Let us talk further regarding the narration of Al-Utbi. Some groups will say that this narration has no chain, and is thus weak. I have personally not found a chain for this narration, but for the student of knowledge, this is of no major concern. Hundreds, if not thousands, of scholars from all madh-habs have recorded this narration just as Imam An-Nawawi (radhiya Allahu Anhu) did. They used this narration as support that our righteous Muslim Sunni forefathers implemented this action of Al-’Utbi. Some examples of great scholars other than Imam An-Nawawi were:
Ibn Qudaamah Al-Maqdisi in his magnum opus Al-Mughni, the great Hanbali work. He transcribed this narration beneath his chapter, “Chapter on Visiting the Grave of the Prophet.” Click here to see the quotation yourself. Ibn Kathir in his Tafsir, in which he prefaces the narration with:
وَقَدْ ذَكَرَ جَمَاعَة مِنْهُمْ الشَّيْخ أَبُو مَنْصُور الصَّبَّاغ فِي كِتَابه الشَّامِل الْحِكَايَة الْمَشْهُورَة عَنْ الْعُتْبِيّ
“And a group [of scholars], amongst them Ash-Shaykh Abu Mansur As-Sabbaagh in his treatise “Ash-Shaamil” mentioned the well known story from Al-’Utbi…” Click here to read the tafsir yourself. Imam Al-Baaji reports this narration in his Sunan As-Saaliheen. Imam Ath-Tha’labi narrates it in his Tafsir, as well as others.
It is true that this narration is not a proof in itself. It is a supporting proof, and the ettiqutte displayed therein was used to teach the Muslim masses by the great jurists. This is the reason I have presented it for you all.
May Allah bless our beloved Nabi Muhammad, his family, companions, and those that follow him until their end. Amin!