Tombs of saints – known in the Indian subcontinent as dargahs – are worship places, where dead saints are venerated and worshiped. This is not permissible as all types of worship and veneration should be for Allah alone. Allah says:
“...So whoever hopes for the Meeting with his Lord, let him work righteousness and associate none as a partner in the worship of his Lord.” (Qur’an, 18:110)
The whole Qur’an is full of verses that make worship exclusively for Allah alone. Shirk – setting up partners with Allah – came into human beings by exalting pious individuals to the level of God. This is how mankind deviated from the pure worship of Allah. For instance, Jesus (peace be upon him) is worshiped, though he was a messenger like other messengers before him, albeit with different miracles and qualities. Allah gave special qualities to every prophet and messenger.
And (remember) when Allah will say (on the Day of Resurrection): “O Jesus, son of Mary! Did you say unto men: ‘Worship me and my mother as two gods besides Allah?’ “ He will say: “Glory be to You! It was not for me to say what I had no right (to say). Had I said such a thing, You would surely have known it. You know what is in my inner self though I do not know what is in Yours, truly, You, only You, are the All Knower of all that is hidden and unseen. Never did I say to them aught except what You (Allah) did command me to say: ‘Worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord.’ … (Qur’an, 5:116-117)
Some Muslims too have fallen into a similar trap out of extreme veneration of saints. They now go to dargahs hoping the saints will answer their pleas or will at least intercede to Allah on their behalf. So they direct inner and outer acts of worship to these dead people.
Inner acts of worship are, for example, submission, extreme humility, hope, trust, and love in a manner that should be directed toward Allah alone. They have faith that dead people have miraculous power to solve their problems. One must think that when people cannot unconditionally help us when they are alive, then how could they help us after death when they are in a life of Barzakh that has nothing to do with the life of this world?
Outer acts of worship done at these places include Sajdah, Tawaf, and the many other innovated forms of rituals they do. However, only Allah deserves all types of worship, and it should be done in the manner He taught us through the Messenger. Allah says in the Qur’an:
“And the mosques are for Allah (Alone), so do not do du’a to anyone along with Allah.” (Qur’an, 72:18)
“And when My servants ask you (O Muhammad, peace be upon him) concerning Me, (then answer them), I am indeed near. I respond to the invocations of the supplicant when he calls on Me.” (Qur’an, 2:186)
Making du’a to anyone else is not only the worst possible deed (Shirk), but it is also futile – because it is not based on revelation or reason. When we know that Allah is our Creator, He is the Provider, He is the Lord, He is the Most Merciful, He has power over everything, He Hears us, and Answers us, then shouldn’t He alone be worshiped?
Just why should anyone else be worshiped? They can’t do us anything. They too are totally dependent on Allah.
We worship Allah because He alone truly deserves to be worshiped. There is no being deserving or worthy of our worship except Allah. This is the meaning of “La ilaha illAllah.”
People who leave their Lord and ask others – whether that other is a prophet or an angel or a saint or a stone or an idol – are Miskeen because instead of asking the One who is Capable of giving them what they want, they are asking those who are helpless.
“O mankind! A similitude has been coined, so listen to it (carefully): Verily, those on whom you call besides Allah, cannot create (even) a fly, even though they combine together for the purpose. And if the fly snatches away a thing from them, they will have no power to release it from the fly. So weak are (both) the seeker and the sought.” (Qur’an, 22:73)
“O mankind! it is You who stand In need of Allah, but Allah is rich (Free of All wants and needs), Worthy of All praise.” (Qur’an, 35:15)
Going to the graves of saints and directing acts of worship to them is Shirk because humans are given a divine status that rightly belongs to Allah alone. Allah says:
Say (O Muhammad, peace be upon him): “Do you order me to worship other than Allah? O you fools!” And indeed it has been revealed to you (O Muhammad, peace be upon him), as it was to those (Messengers) before you: “If you join others in worship with Allah, (then) surely, (all) your deeds will be in vain, and you will certainly be among the losers.” Nay! But worship Allah (Alone and none else), and be among the grateful.
They made not a just estimate of Allah such as is due to Him. And on the Day of Resurrection the whole of the earth will be grasped by His Hand and the heavens will be rolled up in His Right Hand. Glorified is He and Exalted is He above all that they associate as partners with Him! (Qur’an, 39:64-67)
The Prophets came to guide people when they fell into Shirk. They were an example of perfect worship to Allah. Prophet Muhammad’s life (peace be upon) is such an example. The Companions, the best generation, and those who came after them were strongly upon this belief.
They never went to the grave of the Prophet (peace be upon him) for help or to make du’a because this contradicts the fundamental message and belief that the Prophet came with. Our Salah is a direct connection with our Lord. What we say in it, if we understood it, is proof of that faith.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said near the end of his life: “May Allah curse the Jews and the Christians, for they have taken the graves of their Prophets as places of worship.” (Al-Bukhari, Book of Funerals, no. 1330; Sahih Muslim, Al-Masajid, no. 529)
He said to Ali: “Do not leave a picture except that you erase it, nor an elevated grave except that you level it.” (Sahih Muslim, no. 969)
He (pbuh) also said: “Verily, those who were before you all, used to take the graves of their Prophets and righteous people as Masjids. So, do not take the graves as Masjids, for verily I prohibit you all from that.” (Sahih Muslim, no. 532)
Umm Salamah and Umm Habibh mentioned to the Prophet a church that they saw in Ethiopia and the pictures in it. So, he said: “These are people that whenever a righteous man dies among them, they build a Masjid over his grave and make these pictures in it. These people are the worst of creation with Allah.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
It is incumbent on Muslims to realize the dangerous pit many have fallen into out of exaggeration. It is necessary upon us to educate and carry the message of Tawheed to others. – SG