Salam Dear Brother,
Thank you for your question and for contacting Ask About Islam.
Muslims believe that Allah is the creator of this universe and He is the one who controls and masters it.
Allah is all-powerful, almighty, all-hearing, and all-knowing. All humans are in need of His help and support. All humans, even the prophets, are weak in nature and always need guidance.
Islam teaches that Allah is the only deity worthy of worship. None else should be worshiped and obeyed.
At the same time, Islam teaches that Allah does not need our worship, but we do need His help and guidance.
Islam: Direct Line to God Himself
Allah’s help and guidance is to be sought directly from Him without intermediaries. Allah can be reached easily and simply.
Allah is available all the time. He is always there to answer our supplications. He is very close to us and hears our inner thoughts.
When we recite the first chapter of the Quran 17 times a day, Muslims clearly state that it is Allah whom they worship and it is Allah alone whose help they always seek.
It is You we worship and You we ask for help. (Quran 1:5)
Abu al-‘Abbas ‘Abdullah bin ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) reports:
One day I was riding (a horse/camel) behind the Prophet (peace be upon him) when he said, ‘Young man, I will teach you some words. Be mindful of God, and He will take care of you. Be mindful of Him, and you shall find Him at your side. If you ask, ask of God. If you need help, seek it from God. Know that if the whole world were to gather together in order to help you, they would not be able to help you except if God had written so. And if the whole world were to gather together in order to harm you, they would not harm you except if God had written so. The pens have been lifted, and the pages are dry.’ (At-Tirmidhi)
In this hadith, the Prophet himself answers your question. If you need help, seek it from Allah alone.
No one can help you except Allah and no one can harm you except Allah.
A Side Note
Here we have to differentiate between seeking worldly help from people and other kinds of help.
There is nothing wrong with seeking help from your friends, for example, to help you carry heavy stuff, to lend you some money, to give you a ride, to help you get closer to Allah, etc.
Other kind of help such as forgiving your sins, saving you from the Hellfire, fixing your children’s problems, etc, can only be sought from Allah alone.
The Prophet Was Only a Man
The Prophets, the companions and the righteous people are just humans. They cannot harm or benefit anyone. You can ask good Muslims to make du`aa’ (supplication) for you, nothing more.
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was told in the Qur’an:
Say [Prophet], ‘I have no control over benefit or harm, [even] to myself, except as God may please: if I had knowledge of what is hidden, I would have abundant good things and no harm could touch me. I am no more than a bearer of warning, and good news to those who believe.’ (Quran 7:188)
Therefore, there is no point in seeking help from the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) in the sense of asking him to guide us or forgive our sins.
The verse categorically says that those who seek help through the Prophet are ignorant because the Prophet has no control over benefit or harm.
In another verse, we read:
Instead of God, they call upon what can neither harm nor help them– that is straying far away– or invoke one whose harm is closer than his help: an evil master and an evil companion. (Quran 22:13)
Acceptable Forms of Seeking Help
What the companions used to do is that they beseeched Allah by means of the du`aa’ of the Prophet. This form of seeking help is allowed.
Anas ibn Malik narrated that whenever drought threatened them, `Umar bin Al-Khattab, used to ask Al-Abbas bin `Abdul Muttalib to invoke Allah for rain.
He used to say, “O Allah! We used to ask our Prophet to invoke You for rain, and You would bless us with rain, and now we ask his uncle to invoke You for rain. O Allah! Bless us with rain.” And so it would rain. (Al-Bukhari)
Allah’s help and support can be reached by being mindful of Allah, observing piety, doing making lots of du`aa’, offering extra prayers, helping the poor and the needy, avoiding prohibited things, etc. Allah says what means:
You who believe, be mindful of God, seek ways to come closer to Him and strive for His cause, so that you may prosper. (Quran 5:35)
I hope this answers your question.
Salam and please keep in touch.
(From AboutIslam’s archives)