Tabarruk (Arabic:التَبَرُّک, to bless) is the religious practice of asking for blessing and a request for favor and grace from God and holy beings. The subject of tabarruk can be human beings such as prophets (a) and Imams (a) or things such as the Qur'an or places such as Ka'ba.
|Tawhid (Monotheism)||Tawhid of Essence • Tawhid in Attributes • Tawhid in Actions • Tawhid in Worship|
|Other Beliefs||Tawassul • Shafa'a • Tabarruk|
|Bada' • Amr Bayn al-Amrayn|
|Infallibility • 'Ilm al-ghayb • Mu'jiza • Integrity of the Holy Qur'an|
|Infallibility • Wilaya • 'Ilm al-ghayb • Occultation of Imam al-Mahdi (a) (Minor Occultation,Major Occultation) • Reappearance of Imam al-Mahdi (a) • Raj'a|
|End Time • Hereafter • Barzakh • Embodiment of Actions •Bodily Resurrection • Al-Sirat • Tatayur al-Kutub • Mizan • Hashr|
|Other Outstanding Beliefs|
|Ahl al-Bayt (a) • The Fourteen Infallibles • Taqiyya • Marja'iyya • Tawalli • Tabarri|
In addition to having references in the Qur'an, hadiths and the conduct of the Prophet (s) and Imams (a), tabarruk is justifiable and valid according to theological and psychological principles. According to verses of the Qur'an, tabarruk has been practiced by other prophets (a) as well.
In the terminology of religious texts, tabarruk means seeking divine blessing and grace from a person or thing God has given privilege; whether a worldly blessing such as the increase of income or a blessing for the hereafter such as the spiritual promotion.
Through seeking tabarruk, one tries to benefit from divine grace and power out of blessings. Blessings are divine gifts bestowed upon people, nature and things and consists of worldly or spiritual benefits which origin from divine mercy. This way, it can be interpreted as a transfer of a holy and efficient power emanated from the supernatural world and gives the receiver a new quality.
Some scholars believe that in the process of blessing, a favorable effect from a holy and exalted being granted upon non-holy beings and accompanies an emanation of the holiness in a merciful manner.
In this process, three things happen:
- Establishment of connection with the supernatural world
- Transfer of the holy power to another being or thing
- Existential promotion of the blessed being or thing
Connection through Tawassul [Entreaty]
Tabarruk and tawassul have many points of similarity regarding their concepts and features, especially in those cases when through tabarruk people seek to achieve a spiritual blessing.
Some scholars believe that since the reality of tabarruk is tawassul, there is no difference between them. However, these two concepts have differences in that tawassul is to ask religious nobilities to ask God for something and tabarruk is asking for a worldly or spiritual blessing which God has trusted some people or things with.
In the Qur'an and Hadiths
The word "tabarruk" is not used in the Qur'an, but other derivatives from its root are mentioned 34 times including the words, "barak-a", "barakna", "burik-a", "tabarak-a", "barakat", "barakatuh", "mubarak", "mubarak-an", and "mubaraka". In the Qur'an, The word "Mubarak" [blessed] is used to describe certain people, beings, places, and times.
- Prophet Noah (a) and his companions, "It was said, 'O Noah! Disembark in peace from Us and with [Our] blessings upon you and upon nations [to descend] from those who are with you, and nations whom We shall provide for, then a painful punishment from Us shall befall them.'"
- Prophets Abraham (a) and Isaac (a), "And We blessed him and Isaac."
- Prophet Moses (a) and Angels, "So when he came to it, he was called: 'Blessed is He who is in the fire and who is [as well] around it, …"
- Prophet Jesus (a), "He has made me blessed, wherever I may be,"
- Family of Abraham (a), "…[That is] Allah's mercy and His blessings upon you, members of the household."
- The Glorious Qur'an, "And this Book that We have sent down is a blessed one…."
- Rain Water, "And We send down from the sky salubrious water, …"
- Olive Tree, "… from a blessed olive tree, neither eastern nor western,…"
- Ka'ba and al-Masjid al-Haram, "Indeed the first house to be set up for mankind is the one at Bakkah blessed..."
- Al-Masjid al-Nabawi
- The holy land of Tur, "When he (Moses) approached it, he was called from the right bank of the valley at the blessed spot …"
- Al-Aqsa Mosque and around it, "Al-Aqsa Mosque whose environs We have blessed, …"
- Egypt and Syria [Levant], "We made the people who were abased the heirs to the east and west of the land which We had blessed, …"
- Lands between Euphrates, Palestine to al-Arish region of Egypt. This area is blessed with material blessings as well as being spiritually blessed by being the origin of most prophets, spread of religions and Divine Books, residence of prophets and graves of prophets such as prophets Abraham (a), Isaac (a), Jacob (a) and righteous people.
In the Bible
A historical background of tabarruk is given in religious scriptures:
- In the Old Testament, tabarruk is mentioned in what happened to Prophets Jacob (a) and Joseph (a).
- By reciting prayer on their food, Jews bless it and then they have it.
- In the gospel of Mark, Jesus (a) is considered blessed.
- In the gospel of Barnabas, it is mentioned that creatures were blessed by the Prophet Muhammad (s).
- Early Jews had a custom to bless themselves by applying a blessed ointment to their bodies
- It is said that the reason for calling Jesus as Christ was because he was blessed by the mentioned blessed ointment.
Permissibility of Tabarruk
According to common opinion of Muslims, from ideological and theological perspective, visiting the graves of the friends of God and seeking blessings from what is attributed to them has been a good act. Divine blessings and forgiveness bestows upon people through some means including prophets and friends of God.
In this process, the means are assigned by God and the origin of blessings is God Himself and means from which Muslims seek blessing do not have any position independent from God and thus seeking tabarruk from them does not signify polytheism.
In the views of Shi'a authorities, seeking blessings from what is holy and pure in Islam is permissible and even recommended. In their view, seeking tabarruk from the names of Imams (a) by writing them on the shroud, naming children after their names, seeking tabarruk from holy shrines and the soil of the graves of the infallible (a) for example by putting it in the grave, seeking tabarruk from the Qur'an by writing it on the shroud and touching its words and letters are recommended.
Shi'a bring evidence for permissibility of seeking tabarruk from the Qur'an and the conduct of the Prophet (s) and Muslims. Moreover, the principle of ibaha [primary intellectual judgment] and the permission for cases for which seeking tabarruk is questionable or are not definitely admissible can solve the issue of permissibility.
Sunni authorities and scholars have disagreements over recommendation or kiraha of seeking tabarruk from the Prophet's (a) grave. However, according to their wordings, their opinion suggesting dislike seems to be out of fear for approaching the grave and touching the body to it for observing manner before God.
Hanbalis and Hanafis
Ahmad b. Hanbal regards it permissible to seek tabarruk from the pulpit and the grave of the Prophet (s) and kissing them. Also, Shihab al-Din al-Khafaji who is one of the Hanafi scholars considers it permissible to touch and kiss the grave of the Prophet (s), however regard it disliked (makruh).
Some Shafi'i scholars such as al-Ramli al-Shafi'i consider it permissible to touch the graves of the Prophet (s), friends of God and Islamic scholars and also kissing the entrance gates to graves of the friends of God with the intention of seeking tabarruk. Also Muhib al-Din al-Tabari considered it permissible to touch the grave and kiss it and regarded it in agreement with the conduct of the scholars and righteous people.
Wahhabis do not consider it permissible to seek tabarruk of any kind. Accordingly, they have issued some opinions and reasons as following:
Some of them say that although at the time of the Prophet (s), Companions used to seek tabarruk from the Prophet (s) and thus it was permissible at that time, but after he (a) passed away, seeking tabarruk from him would only be possible through what has touched his body.
These people have mentioned two reasons to justify their opinion:
- Tabarruk signifies polytheism and is similar to the acts of idol-worshippers and an example of polytheism. On the other hand, there is no support for its admissibility in the tradition.
- This kind of tabarruk is making bid'a: because tabarruk is an act of worship and it is a rule that acts of worship are exclusiveness; therefore, naming an act as an act of worship, without having any background in the conduct of the companions of the Prophet (s) is regarded as bid'a [unauthentic new practice] and bid'a is haram. Therefore, touching and seeking tabarruk from the doors and walls of al-Masjid al-Nabawi, al-Masjid al-Haram, the two rukns of Ka'ba, Hajar al-Aswad, walls of Ka'ba, and Maqam Ibrahim (a) (Abraham's (a) Station), the Rock in Jerusalem, and the graves of prophets and righteous people.
Some others believe that seeking tabarruk has only been permissible about the Prophet (s) and only when he (s) was alive and thus after he (s) passed away, seeking tabarruk is not permissible even to parts of his body whatever belonged to him. These people say that companions' seeking tabarruk from the Prophet (s) has been because God assigned him as the Wali (guardian) over believers and since his guardianship is limited to when he was alive and after he (s) passed away, there was no guardianship then seeking tabarruk is not allowed anymore.
Some others believe that seeking tabarruk has only been permissible from the Prophet (s) and God has only bestowed blessings in the Prophet's (a) body, then seeking tabarruk from people other than him is not permissible at all. These people say that Sahaba and Tabi'un avoided seeking tabarruk from anyone or anything other than the Prophet (s) and his belongings, since they wanted to avoid involving in polytheism or exaggeration.
Criticism and Analysis of Wahhabis' Opinion
Discussing the First Opinion
Analyzing the first reason: there are several weak points and problems about considering tabarruk as an act of polytheism.
- Acts of worship are practices performed intended to worship God; but, when a person seeks tabarruk from what belongs to great people in religion, he never means to consider a divine position for them and has no intention of worship in seeking tabarruk; therefore, his act is not an act of worship to have disagreement with monotheism in worship or to be exaggerating. The proof for this claim is that it was practiced several times before the Prophet (s) and he neither prohibited that, nor called it polytheistic, while he did prohibit anyone who said something exaggerating or polytheistic.
- Revering prophets and friends of God and what belongs to them is an example of venerating signs of the Divine and has been admired by the Qur'an and the companions' prudence in cases of seeking tabarruk shows that they also wanted to revere that person as well; cases such as putting the soil of the Prophet's (a) grave on the eye or his hair by Ahmad b. Hanbal and also al-Shafi'i's prohibition of people riding horses on the ground of Medina which is where the Prophet (s) walked, proves the mentioned claim.
- Not only there is no prohibition ever mentioned for venerating graves of the Prophet (s) and friends of God, even there are some permissions mentioned for it. Ahmad b. Hanbal's fatwa which Ibn Taymiyya has also been aware of and the conduct of great Shi'a and Sunni scholars in permitting veneration of the Prophet's (a) grave, al-Rawdat al-Nabawi and his pulpit and seeking tabarruk form them proves the wrongness of any prohibition in that regard. Also, wills of the First and Second Caliphs for burying them beside the Prophet's (a) grave has only been out of seeking tabarruk from his grave and this is another reason for permissibility of seeking tabarruk from the Prophet's (s) grave.
Discussing the Second Reason
There have been issued some problems considering tabarruk as Bid'a for which the following answers are given:
- With several reasons mentioned for permissibility of this act, it cannot be considered as signifying an act of Bid'a.
- If this act or any certain type of it is considered a new act which has no history at the time of the Prophet (s), still not any new act is bad and forbidden while bid'a is actually a new act which is introduced in religion and we have no reason for its legitimacy. On the contrary, tabarruk cannot be considered bid'a since there are several reasons and evidences for the conduct of Muslims to support it; and even according to al-Shafi'i, it is a recommended practice.
- Also, in those cases for which there is no clearly mentioned permission for it, the principle of Ibaha can be referred to according to which whatever action for which we have no reason for its prohibition is permissible and legitimate.
Discussing the Second Opinion
It is not right since:
- The Prophet (s) has been living in barzakh (the world after this world and before the hereafter) and thus his Wilaya (guardianship) is not limited to his life in this world and has continued after his life in this world.
- Historical evidences show that seeking tabarruk has always been practiced by his companions and the followers after he (s) passed on.
Discussing the Third Opinion
This opinion is not right either since:
- Seeking tabarruk has not been practiced only about the Prophet (s) and it is permissible to be practiced about righteous people as well; some cases of which practiced about companions and followers will be mentioned later.
- That the Prophet (s) or his companions did not do an action, it is not a reason for prohibition of that.
Reasons and Evidences for Permissibility of Tabarruk
- The Glorious Qur'an has referred to tabarruk in some verses and has not mentioned it either prohibited or permissible. Moreover, some these cases are practiced either by prophets themselves or at their presence which clearly shows its permissibility.
- Prophet Jacob (a) sought tabarruk from Joseph's (a) shirt which is mentioned in the Qur'an. When Joseph (a) told his brothers to put his shirt on the eyes of their father, "Take this shirt of mine, and cast it upon my father's face; he will regain his sight…" (Qur'an 12:93) then God's mercy flew from Joseph's shirt to the eyes of Jacob (a) and he sought tabarruk from it and regained his sight.
- Another example is that people of Moses (a) sought tabarruk from ark of covenant, which held belongings of the family of Moses (a) and Aaron (a) and the holy Tablets which were descended to Moses (a) and he trusted them to Joshua b. Nun. People of Moses (a) regarded the ark of covenant very holy and carried it with themselves in wars with idol-worshippers and it was bearing tranquility for them. It is mentioned in Qur'an, "Their prophet said to them, 'Indeed the sign of his kingship shall be that the Ark will come to you, bearing tranquility from your Lord and the relics left behind by the House of Moses (a) and the House of Aaron(a), borne by the angels…" (Qur'an 2:248) and they sought tabarruk from it. Beside tabarruk, this act can also be an example of veneration which does not have any conflict with tabarruk; while actually, carrying the ark of covenant especially at the time of war could not have any purpose other than seeking tabarruk and help from it.
- Maqam Ibrahim (a) (Station of Abraham) near Ka'ba, on which footprint of Abraham (a) can be seen, has been chosen for the place people pray, "And [remember] when We made the House a place of reward for mankind and a sanctuary, [declaring], 'Take the venue of prayer from Abraham's Station.' …" (Qur'an 2:125) and people seek tabarruk from that stone because of that footprint and therefore, seeking tabarruk from the seat of the Prophet (s) and the place of his prayer are permissible. In a hadith, the place between al-Hajar al-Aswad and Abraham's (a) station has been introduced as the place many prophets have been buried and therefore it is blessed.
Conduct of the Prophet (s)
Conduct of the Prophet (s) is a support for permissibility of seeking tabarruk. Some hadiths suggest that he (s) used to encourage his companions to seek tabarruk from him. Shi'a and Sunni historical and hadith texts have mentioned many such cases.
For example, it is mentioned that he (s) told his companions to seek tabarruk from the well of the She-Camel of prophet Salih (a) and this is a permission for seeking tabarruk from whatever belongs or is attributed to prophets and righteous people even if they have passed on.
On the night of Lady Fatima's (a) marriage, the noble Prophet (s) performed wudu and sprinkled the rest of the water of his wudu on the faces of Lady Fatima (a) and 'Ali (a) and asked God to bless them and their progeny.
In another narration, it is mentioned that the Prophet (s) sprinkled the water of his wudu on a sick person and he was healed.
In the process of burying Fatima bt. Asad, Imam 'Ali's (a) mother, the Prophet (s) shrouded her with his own clothes and before burying her, he laid in her grave for some moments so that the hardships of the grave become easy for her.
In the process of the treaty of Hudaybiyya, the delegate of Quraysh narrates that the companions of the Prophet (s) did not let even one drop of the water of his wudu drops on the ground and washed their faces with them. This happened before the Prophet (s) and he (s) did not prohibited them from doing it, therefore, it can be considered as an evidence for permissibility of seeking tabarruk. Even some other times, he (s) himself would tell the companions to seek tabarruk from the water of his wudu.
Conduct of the Ahl al-Bayt (a)
- After the Prophet (s) passed on, Fatima al-Zahra (a) visited his grave and rubbed the soil of his grave on her face.
- Seeking tabarruk from the grave of the Prophet (s) was a permanent conduct of the Ahl al-Bayt (a). In hadith references, Seeking tabarruk from the grave of the Prophet (s) has been reported to be practiced by Imam al-Husayn (a), Imam al-Sadiq (a), Imam al-Rida (a), and Imam al-Jawad (a).
- Imam al-Hasan (a) made a will to be buried beside the Prophet (s) in case it does not become a point of dispute.
- Other evidences of this conduct are seeking tabarruk to the Prophet's (a) walking stick by Imam al-Sadiq (a) and also seeking tabarruk to remnants of the Prophet's (a) Hanut (camphor applied to one's corpse) by Imam 'Ali (a).
Conduct of the Companions and the Followers
Both at the time of the Prophet (s) and also after he passed on, the companions sought tabarruk from him. Studying the lives of the Prophet (s) and his companions show that early Muslims sought tabarruk from him and what belonged to him.
Seeking tabarruk from the Prophet (s) was for two reasons: both for achieving spiritual benefits from him and for showing him and his Ahl al-Bayt (a) respect and love. Since, respecting prophets and friend of God and what belong to them is an example of venerating signs of the Divine and the caution of the companions in cases of seeking tabarruk shows that as well as seeking tabarruk from the Prophet (s) himself, they also wanted to esteem and venerate those great people and show great love to them.
Muslims' seeking tabarruk from the Prophet (s) was in three ways: Seeking tabarruk from the Prophet's (a) body, from what belonged to him, and from the places related to him.
From the Prophet's (s) Body
The Prophet's (a) companions kept his hair with themselves to seek tabarruk from.
It is mentioned in historical reports and hadith references that in the process of the Treaty of Hudaybiyya, the Prophet (s) was cutting his hair, his companions gathered around him and picked every hair of the Prophet (s) which fell and kept with themselves to seek tabarruk from.
Khalid b. Walid sought tabarruk from a headband which had some hair of the Prophet (s) on it and put it on in battles to gain victory.
Seeking tabarruk from his sweat is another type of seeking tabarruk which is reported to have been practiced by his companions including Anas b. Malik and Umm Salim.
Also in a report, it is mentioned that people cut the spout of a leather bottle from which the Prophet (s) drank water and kept it for themselves to seek tabarruk from it.
In historical references, a list of twenty springs and well is mentioned which were blessed by the Prophet (s) and companions sought tabarruk from them frequently.
From the Prophet's (s) Belongings
What belonged to the Prophet (s) such as his walking stick, clothes, cloak, turban, shoes, prayer mat, handle of his sword, flag, and his bed were sought tabarruk from.
From the Places Related to the Prophet (s)
Early Muslims paid so much attention to the places which were somehow related with the Prophet (s); whether he (s) had prayed there, or sat there for a while and even passed by. A list of such places was reported by al-Fakihi in the 3rd/9th century titled as al-Mawadi' al-llati dakhalaha Rasul Allah (a).
'Abd Allah b. 'Umar was among those who paid so much attention to places related to the Prophet (s). His attention especially towards seeking tabarruk from those places which suggests that it has been a common practice in the early Islamic history has been so much that some opposers of seeking tabarruk tried to justify 'Abd Allah's attention and practice and said that it has been a result of 'Abd Allah's own personal judgment not a result of religious proofs.
However, some people refer to these hadiths and conclude that following what belonged to the Prophet (s) is recommended.
Some of such places as mentioned above which were located in Mecca are:
- The Prophet's (a) birthplace,
- Where he (s) sacrificed a camel after hajj rituals,
- The place the Bay'a [allegiance] of Ridwan took place,
- The cave where the Prophet's (s) immigration began,
- Masjid al-Ghanam which was the place where people of Mecca paid allegiance with the Prophet (s) after the Conquest of Mecca,
- Masjid al-Khif where the Prophet (s) made the sermon of Hajjat al-Wida' and 700 prophets prayed and is very much recommended to be prayed in,
- Masjid Radm al-A'la,
- Masjid al-Mukhtafi,
- House of Umm Hani,
- Masjid 'Urayd,
- House of lady Khadija (a) where lady Fatima (a) was born,
- House of Arqam b. Abi Arqam where Muslims hided from Meccan polytheists,
- Masjid al-Ghadir where the Prophet (s) made the sermon of Ghadir,
- The rock near Qubbat al-Wahy in al-Masjid al-Haram and it is said that greeted the Prophet (s),
- The rock near Mecca which is said that in return from 'Umra, the Prophet (s) took rest on,
- The stone on the corner of al-Masjid al-Haram on which the footprint of the Prophet (s) is made on it.
Holy sites in Medina including:
The Prophet's (a) pulpit and Rawdat al-Nabawi, where reciting supplications is considered among religious manners agreed by all Muslims and Muslims used to pick the soil of his grave to seek tabarruk from. This became so common among Muslims which 'Aisha ordered to build a wall against the Prophet's (a) grave.
Thawr and Hira' Caves, al-Shajara Mosque where the Prophet (s) put on Ihram, Masjid al-Ijaba where in return from 'Umra, the Prophet (s) prayed, Masjid al-Baghla and Masjid al-Fath, Quba Mosque for praying in which one receives great lot of rewards.
From People Other than the Prophet (s)
Muslims sought tabarruk from people other than the Prophet (s) as well. They did so during the Islamic history since the time of the Prophet (s) until now; for example, it is reported that the Prophet (s) sought tabarruk from the sweat on the forehead of Imam 'Ali (a).
Seeking tabarruk from the graves of other prophets and righteous people have been a common practice among Islamic scholars and Muslims.
Some other cases of seeking tabarruk from other than the Prophet (s) are:
- The Glorious Qur'an,
- al-Hajar al-Aswad,
- Flag of Imam al-Hasan (a) and Imam al-Husayn (a),
- Sword of Ja'far al-Tayyar,
- The Qur'an attributed to 'Ali b. Abi Talib (a),
- Kiswah (curtain of Ka'ba),
- Remnants of Ahl al-Bayt's (a) food,
- Mus'ab b. Zubayr seeking tabarruk from Imam al-Husayn (a),
- 'Umar b. al-Khattab seeking tabarruk from al-'Abbas b. 'Abd al-Muttalib,
- Al-'Abbas seeking tabarruk from 'Ali (a),
- Remaining of the food or water of a believer contains cure,
- Water of the Euphrates river
- Water of Zamzam,
- Soil of Medina,
- Crown of Uways al-Qarani,
- Sword of Khalid b. Walid,
- Sword of Shurahbil b. Hasana,
- House of lady Fatima (a),
- House of 'Aqil b. Abi Talib
- Great Mosque of Kufa.
From the Graves of the Friends of God and Righteous People
Seeking tabarruk from the graves has not been excluded to the grave of the Prophet (s), and Muslims used to seek tabarruk from the graves of the companions, the followers and righteous people as well.
Al-Subki believes that, according to religion and conduct of the righteous disciples of the Prophet (s), seeking tabarruk even from some righteous people who have passed on is also permissible.
Some examples of seeking tabarruk practiced by the companions are from:
- Turba [Soil of the grave] of Imam al-Husayn (a),
- Turba of Imam 'Ali b. Musa al-Rida (a),
- Turba of Imam Musa b. Ja'far (a),
- Grave of Hamza b. 'Abd al-Muttalib in Uhud Cemetery,
- Grave of Bilal al-Habashi in Syria,
- Grave of Abu Ayyub al-Ansari in Istanbul,
- Grave of Sayyida Nafisa in Egypt.
Also, there is a place in 'Asqalan called Mashhad Ra's al-Husayn which has sepulcher and mosque and it is said that the head of Imam al-Husayn (a) is buried there and thus local people seek tabarruk from it.
- Ḥammāda al-Jibrīn, Tashīl al-ʿaqīda al-Islāmīyya, vol. 1, p. 287; Al-Mawsūʿa al-fiqhīyya al-kuwaytīyya, vol. 10, p. 69; vol. 7, p. 488; Jadīʿ, al-Tabarruk, p. 43.
- The encyclopedia of religion, vol. 1, p. 182.
- See: The encyclopedia of religion, vol. 1, p. 182.
- Al-Mawsūʿa al-fiqhīyya al-kuwaytīyya, vol. 10, p. 69.
- Qurʾan, 11:48.
- Qurʾan, 37:113.
- Qurʾan, 27:8.
- Qurʾan, 19:31.
- Qurʾan, 11:73.
- Qurʾan, 6:155.
- Qurʾan, 50:9.
- Qurʾan, 24:35.
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- Qurʾān, 3:96.
- Bukhārī, Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī, vol. 3, p. 78.
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- Qurʾān, 28:30.
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- Qurʾān, 17:1.
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- The material for writing this article has been mainly taken from تبرک in Farsi WikiShia.