Tawassul (Recourse) to Holy Imams(A.S.)
Allah the Almighty has erected the order of creation through instruments and intermediary means. Rain falls by means of vapor, clouds, and wind. God talked to His Apostle through Gabriel. (See The Holy Qur'an (26:193): ((It was sent down by way of a trusted spirit.))
In the Noble Qur'an, Allah the Glorious introduces the angels as the intermediaries for His management of affairs.(The Holy Qur'an (79:5).
And even for presenting one's requests to the Lord, seeking an intermediary is worthwhile, as God Himself states: ((and seek means of nearness to Him)).(The Holy Qur'an (5:35).
What is meant by recourse (tawassul) is resorting to the special friends of Allah, the awliya, in requesting the fulfillment of one's needs from Allah the Almighty.
Imam 'Ali(A.S.) said, "We are the means of connection between the people and Allah." (Al-Mizan, Vol. 5, 362)
Hadrat Zahra(A.S.) also said, "We are the channel of connection between creatures and the Creator."(Sharh Ibn Abi al-Hadid, Vol. 16, 211).
Many ahadith have been narrated in this regard.(Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 23, 101; Vol. 24, 84; Tafsir Nur al-Thaqalayn, Vol. 1, 626).
Not only resorting to the pure, holy, and sincere special Friends (awliya) of Allah, but commemorating and honoring blessed days are also helpful. Imam Sajjad (A.S.) swore to God by the truth of the month of Ramadan.(Sahifah al-Sajjadiyyah, Du'a 44).
Imam Husayn (A.S.) swore to God by the truth of the night of 'Arafah. The Qur'an was sent down on the Grand night, the Night of Qadr, which is a blessed night considered to be even better than one thousand months). ((Surely We sent it down on a blessed night)) The Holy Qur'an (44:3); ((Surely We sent it down on the Grand night And what will make you comprehend what the Grand night is? The Grand night is better then a thousand months.)) (97:1-3).
Imam Baqir (A.S.) said, "The sins will be forgiven of one who spends the Night of Qadr awake in worship."(Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 98, 168).
We read in the Holy Qur'an:
It has been written in the Holy Quran, ((and they ask forgiveness for those on earth...)), .The Holy Qur'an (42:5)that is, the angels who are honored by Allah are to ask forgiveness for the people residing on the earth.
That which is wrong and incorrect is resorting to a stone, wood, fire, stars and so on. Without any doubt, the case of the special Friends (awliya) of Allah is different from that of inanimate, lifeless objects. We read in the Holy Qur'an that the prophet Jacob rubbed Joseph's shirt on his blind eyes and they were healed.( The Holy Qur'an (12:96).
Although the shirt was nothing but a piece of cloth, because it was connected with the pure body of Joseph for some time, it came to have a curative effect.
My companion's perfection has had an effect,
Save for that I remain the same clay with defect.
When the Noble Prophet (S.A.W.) would cut the hair of his blessed head at Mina (near Makkah) as part of the rites of hajj, his companions gathered the clippings as a blessing. ( Sahih Muslim, Vol. 4, 1812).
By no means do we consider those of religious status or stature to have any power independent of God; rather we believe that the source of the power of Allah's Freinds (awliya) is the divine essence alone. The Holy Qur'an says: ((Allah and His Apostle enriched them out of His grace)). (The Holy Qur'an, (9:74).
In this verse the name of the Apostle of Allah comes next to the name of Allah. It is clear that this power of the Prophet is a ray of Allah's power bestowed on him.
Anyway, the issue of recourse (tawassul) and its legitimacy is so clear and obvious that there is no excuse for the bias of the Wahhabis against it or for.
During his illness, Imam Hadi (A.S.) sent someone to Karbala to pray for him by the pure grave of Imam Husayn (A.S.). Being himself an Imam, Imam Hadi's request shows that Imam Husayn(A.S.) had a higher station and that his pure shrine is a place for the granting of needs.
Since Imam Hadi (A.S.) surprised the man he sent by this request, he explained, "The Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) was more excellent than the House of God (i.e., the Ka'bah) and the Black Stone; but he circumambulated the Ka'bah and touched and kissed the Black Stone. Likewise, Almighty Allah has made some tracts of land special where He likes supplications to be made and He likes to grant the requests of the supplicants there. The holy shrine of Imam Husayn (A.S.) is one such place."(Kamil al-Ziyarat, 273).
During the time of 'Umar ibn Khattab, when the Muslims were afflicted with famine, he went to 'Abbas, the Prophet's Uncle, and swore to Allah by the station of 'Abbas ibn 'Abd al-Muttalib.(Tarikh al-Khulafa', Suyuti, 147).
It has been narrated that someone said, "Imam Reza(A.S.) sent me a package as a gift. When I opened it, there was some earth in it. I asked the man who had brought the package, "What is this earth?" He replied, "This earth was taken from the grave of Imam Husayn (A.S.). Imam never sends anything, whether clothes or anything else, to anyone unless he puts some of this earth inside it and says, 'By Allah's will and permission, this earth will give protection against calamities."(Mafatih al-Jinan, 471).
It is narrated that 'Abd Allah ibn Abi Ya'fur Jafar arrived in the presence of Imam Sadiq (A.S.) and said, "Someone takes some earth from the grave of Imam Husayn (A.S.) and it becomes helpful for him; while someone else takes some of it but it does not yield the same result. Imam Sadiq (A.S.) replied, "No, by Allah! Whoever takes it and believes that it will be helpful, surely it will be helpful for him."(Mafatih al-Jinan, 471).
Aside from all this, every year millions of people have the honor of visiting Mashahid, supplicate Allah, and their needs are fulfilled. The fulfillment of the needs of the people in the honorable Mashahid is itself reason to confirm this matter. Indeed, is there anyone who has called upon Allah with a heart full of faith and humility in the Sacred Tombs, in hope of what may be left to them of the blessing of Allah, and whose prayer has not been answered?
We read in the Holy Qur'an, (When they were unjust to themselves, if they had come to you and asked forgiveness of Allah and the Apostle had asked forgiveness for them, they would have found Allah Oft-Returninig, Merciful.)(The Holy Qur'an, (4:64).
The Construction of Domes and Courts
According to the Glorious Qur'an building a mosque above the tomb of godly people is permissible.(We will certainly raise a masjid over them), (The Holy Qur'an (18:21).
A dome and court indicates that the person resting in that sacred place was committed to tawhid.
In this regard it has been written in the Sunan of Abi-Dawud: "When 'Uthman ibn Mazun passed away, his corpse was buried...... The Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) ordered a man to bring him a stone, but the man was not able to carry it. The Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) stood up, rolled up his sleeves,... brought the stone, and placed it at the head of the grave. Then he said, "I will bury any of my family who dies beside him.((Sunan of Abi-Da'ub, Vol. 3, 212).
It is clear that building sanctuaries and domes above the pure graves of the Immmaculate Ones is a way of honoring and glorfying those proofs of Allah who were martyred after a lifetime of struggle to guide and lead the people. In this way the memory of those religious leaders is kept alive.
Kissing the Doors of the Haram
The only reason we kiss the doors of the haram or the holy burial chamber or we believe they are sacred is to respect the proof of God, the Immaculate Imam. Their sanctity is due to the Imam's holiness and blessings. It is just like kissing the cover of a Qur'an. Due to the holiness of the Qur'an the paper on which the words, of the Holy Qur'an have been written or the leather that has been used as the cover of a Qur'an obtain holiness. If the same leather had been used as a shoe or clothes, it would never have gained such sanctity.
Saluting the Friends of Allah
It is first the Holy Qur'an that the friends of God were saluted. We read in the Holy Qur'an:
Peace and salutation to Noah among the nations.(The Holy Qur'an (37:79).
Peace be with Abraham.(The Holy Qur'an (37:109).
And Peace be him with Moses and Aaron.(The Holy Qur'an (37:120).
And peace be with him [Jesus] on the day he was born, and on the day he dies, and on the day he is raised to life.(The Holy Qur'an (19:15).
(And peace be with the apostles).The Holy Qur'an (37:181).
Following the Holy Qur'an, we also offer our salams to the Honorable Messenger (S.A.W.) and the Immaculate Imams. In this way we express our respect and gratitude toward them and ask Allah to grant them exceeding mercy and higher stations. Likewise it is a kind of thanking them for their struggle for the propagation of the truths of Islam due to which, today, we are Shi'ites.
Rememberring Virtues and Calamities
In the Holy Qur'an, God reminds us of the problems and troubles which the prophets and their companions faced.
And how many a prophet has fought with whom were many worshippers of the Lord; so they did not become weak-hearted on account of what befell them in Allah's way, nor did they abase themselves: and Allah loves the patient.(The Holy Qur'an (3:146).
In most of the books about how to perform ziyarah there are descriptions of the problems and hardships endured by the Imams in the way of God, and the intolerable things said to them by their enemies because of their insistence on the truth. Attention to and reflection upon the lofty meanings of such narratives, such as those found in the book, Ziyarah Jami'ah, makes one more and more conscious and aware of how persecuted and how rightful the leaders of Islam were.