At-Tabarruk means to seek blessings (barakah) in something. It is derived from al-Barakah, which means, or is often translated as blessing.
Al-Barakah is explained by ‘ziyadah’ (increase) and ‘namaa’ (growth).
Hence someone who performs tabarruk is seeking an increase/growth in something. The things for which growth and increase is desired are numerous: possessions, wealth, strength, offspring, success, etc.
Reason For the Talk:
Abu Waaqid al-Laythee: "We went out with the Messenger of Allaah () on the campaign to Hunain while we had just left disbelief (kufr) for Islaam. The pagans had a sidrah (lote-tree) called ‘Dhat Anwat’ where they would remain and hang their arms upon it. When we passed by it we said, ‘O Messenger of Allaah, won’t you make for us another Dhat Anwat just like their Dhat Anwat?’. The Messenger of Allaah said, ‘Allaahu Akbar! By the One in Whose Hand is my soul, verily these are the ways of the earlier nations. You have said exactly as the Banu Israil have said to Musa, "Make for us a god just as their Gods He (Musa) said, ‘Verily you are an ignorant people’ (7:138)". Certainly, you will follow the ways of those who went before you." [Tirmidhi – Sahih].
The Companions thought that the tree can bring some benefit and repel harm, which is shirk. They sought tabarruk through this tree. The last part of the hadeeth shows that this Ummah will certainly follow the ways of those nations that came before it. Hence, the need to discuss this topic.
This increase and growth (ziyadah, namaa) can exist in a number of ways:
- In Places
- In Physical Essences (Bodies) i.e. Humans
- In the Characteristics and Attributes of things
This is in terms of the linguistic aspect. As for the Sharee’ah aspect, then that will be discussed later inshaa’allaah.
- And We have placed therein Mountains on top of it and we have placed blessings (barakah) therein 41:10
- And then We made to inherit those who were weak and oppressed the eastern and western parts of the earth, in which We had placed blessing (barakah) 7:137
- We should have opened blessings (barakaat) for them from the heavens and the earth 7:96
- And say (O Nuh), "O My Lord, cause me to land at a blessed place 23:29
2. Physical Essences
- And We blessed him and Ishaaq, and from their offspring are those who do right and those who wrong themselves 37:113
- O Nuh, come down from the ship with peace from Us and blessings on you and the people who are with you (and on some of their offspring) 11:48
3. Attributes of Things
- But when you enter the houses, greet one another with the greeting from Allaah (As-Salaamu Alaikum), blessed and good 24:61
- And this is a Blessed Reminder which We have sent down. Will you then deny it? [21:50]
So from the linguistic point of view, barakah, which is increase and growth, can be found in one of the three ways mentioned above; in places, physical essences or in the attributes of things.
The Sole Owner and Distributor of Barakah is Allaah
When one reflects upon the Qur’an one finds that it indicates that barakah is from Allaah and is to be requested from Him, the Most High. It is also He alone Who places it whomever He wills from His servants and in whatever He wills from His creation.
- Blessed be Allaah, Lord of the Worlds 7:54
- Blessed be He in Whose Hand is the Dominion 67:1
- Blessed be He Who sent down the Criterion upon His Slave 25:1
- Blessed be He who has placed in the heaven big stars 25:61
- So Blessed be Allaah, the Best of all creators 23:14
- Blessed be the Name of Your Lord, the Owner of Majesty and Honour 55:78
And this is indicated by the fact that the word "tabaaraka" occurs in the Qur’an being attached only to Allaah and nothing else. And this shows that all the Barakah belongs to Allaah, that it all originates from Him and that He gives Barakah to various categories from His creation.
The General (Restricted) and Absolute (Specific) Types of Barakah
The general restricted type of barakah is found in various things. Amongst them:
1. The Rain is blessed since an increase in tillage, plants, crop and life in general is obtained by it and there is also considerable growth on account of it.
- And We sent down blessed rain from the sky and produced from it gardens and grain that are reaped 50:9
2. Whatever has been placed on the Earth, is also from His Blessings.
- And We have placed therein Mountains on top of it and we have placed blessings (barakah) therein 41:10
- …The eastern and western parts of the earth, in which We had placed blessing (barakah) 7:137
3. Blessings in whatever comes down from the heavens and what comes out of the earth
- And if the people of the towns had believed and feared Allaah (taqwaa) We certainly would have opened for them blessings from the heavens and the earth
There are other examples similar to these in which there is the general (restricted) type of barakah from by which benefit, goodness, growth and increase is obtained. However, it is not always the case that everything that comes from the heavens and earth that it always brings barakah. This is dependent upon other things, which if they are found, the barakah is given and if they are not, then the barakah will end. Hence, this is not absolute barakah and this thing does not in and of itself produce barakah. Eg. The rain might come down, but if it is not followed up by some sunshine and if the soil is not right, then the crops will not go. So this type of barakah sometimes occurs and sometimes it does not occur.
As for the absolute and specific type of barakah then that can be found in the following things:
1. The Prophets and the Messengers
- And We blessed him and Ishaaq 37:113
- O Nuh, come down from the ship with peace from Us and blessings on 11:48
- And make me blessed wherever I may be 19:31
2. The Places of Worship
- Glorified and Exalted is He Who took His Slave (Muhammad) for a journey by night from Masjid ul-Haram to Masjid ul-Aqsa, the neighbourhood of which we have blessed 17:1
- Verily the first House (of worship) appointed from Mankind was that at Bakkah (Makkah), full of blessing and guidance for the world (men and jinn) 3:96
3. Whatever Allaah has sent down of guidance and revelation
- And this is a Blessed Reminder which We have sent down. Will you then deny it? [21:50]
- And this is Blessed Book which We have sent down 6:155
- This is a Book which we have sent down to you, full of blessings, that they may ponder over its verses 38:29
Hence the Qur’an is a Blessed Reminder, and reflecting upon its verses is a blessed action. From this reflection is the various sciences of the Qur’an, and also the Sunnah explains the general meanings of the Quran. So following the Qur’an and the Sunnah is blessed. And likewise, all the various sciences which arise from reflecting upon the verses of the Qur’an and understanding the Sunnah are also blessed. So the reciter, the jurist, the muhaddith then all of them perform actions which are blessed.
The above three examples contain the specific, unrestricted barakah. In other words, these things physically and as part of their essence contain and bring about barakah.
However, one or two clarifications need to be made here:
Firstly: The specific type of barakah in the places of worship such as Masjidul-Haram and Masjid ul-Aqsaa, then the barakah which they contain is not obtained by the physical parts of the masjid, such as the walls, the floor or the pillars etc. And it is a unanimous agreement of the Muslims that no one touches the pillars or walls of the Mosque seeking barakah thereby. However, the mosques are blessed and this is understood to mean the growth and increase in a person’s eemaan and subsequently in his sustenance etc. Also the increase in goodness that a worshipper attains when visiting them.
Thus, the reward for prayer in the Masjid is 25 or 27 times more than prayer at home, or alone. Then prayer in Masjid ul-Haram is 100,000 times more than in any other mosque. The prayer in the Prophet’s mosque is 1000 times better than the prayer in other mosques. And prayer in Masjid ul-Aqsaa is 500 times better than the prayer in other mosques. And thus, what is understood from this is the actual reward and benefit that a servant gets through a Masjid, since it is a place of worship, and knowledge and teaching etc.
Secondly: The Messengers and Prophets have two types of Barakah. The barakah of ittibaa’ and righteous action is also one of the two types of blessings of the Prophets and Messengers. Hence the follower of their Sunnah, who guides himself by their guidance will obtain growth and increase in the reward for his actions on account of having followed them.
The Barakah in The Book and the Sunnah is of Two Types
After this initial introduction has been made, it should now be clear that the Barakah in the Book and the Sunnah is of two types.
The First: The Barakah of the dhaat (physical essence) and whatever remnants are left from it. This type is for the Prophets and the Messengers and no one else is included amongst them, not even the best of the Companions of Allaah’s Messenger (), such as Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Ali. They do not share in this barakah.
And no person can obtain the barakah of the Prophets, except the one who is upon what they called to (Tawheed and Obedience) and who guide themselves by their actions and who adhere to their commands and prohibitions. And an example of this is that the barakah of the presence of the Messenger () did not benefit the Companions who disobeyed his command in the Battle of Uhud. (refer to 3:152). So they were made to suffer a great deal on account of their disobedience.
This type of barakah of the physical essence was cut off after the death of the Messenger () except what remains of his physical essence after his death (eg. Hair). However, the certainty that something remains today and the truthfulness of that has diminished after the passing of time. Anyone making the claim has to provide isnaad to show that something is from the Messenger () since many make that claim.
The Second: The Barakah of Righteous Action and Following the Messenger (). And everyone whose action agrees with the Sunnah of the Prophet () attains this. Hence, every Muslim has barakah of action within him to the same extent that he follows the commands and prohibitions of Allaah, by doing the commanded things and avoiding the prohibited things. It is for this reason that there comes the hadeeth in Bukhaaree "Certainly there is within this tree a barakah like the barakah of the Muslim" concerning the date-palm tree. Therefore, every Muslim has barakah to the extent that he follows the Book and the Sunnah. However his barakah is the barakah of action and not the barakah of the physical body. This is only for the Messengers and Prophets, whose bodies are not consumed by the earth.
Likewise, the righteous servants of Allaah have the barakah of righteous action and following to the extent of what the possess of the requirements of that barakah. Hence, the Scholar of the Sunnah has the barakah of knowledge, the Hafidh of the Book of Allaah who guards its commandments has the barakah that results from that and so on. And the ones with the greatest Barakah are the greatest and most severe of them in following the Book and the Sunnah, those who adhere to all the obligatory duties and those who refrain from the prohibited matters.
So the issue here is that whoever is from the Prophets then he has both types of barakah, in the physical essence (i.e. his body) and also in his actions. And whoever is other them, then his barakah is only in his action and not in his physical body.
An example: Urwa’s father said, Aishah said, "I borrowed a necklace from Asma and it was lost. So Allaah’s Messenger sent a man to search fro it and he found it. Then the time for prayer came and there was no water. They prayed (without ablution) and informed Allaah’s Messenger about it and so the verse of tayammum was revealed. Usaid bin Hudair said to Aishah, ‘May Allaah reward you, whenever anything happened which you did not like, Allaah brought good for you and for the Muslims in that". And he also said, "…O Family of Abu Bakr! This is not the first blessing of yours". [Bukharee]. So here the barakah of tayammum was sent down, on account of Aishah. However this was not the barakah of the physical essence and Usaid bin Hudair was not seeking the barakah of the physical essence from Abu Bakr and his family such as what they used to do with the hair and other things from the Messenger ().
Likewise: When the Messenger () married Juwairiyyah, Aishah said, "I never saw a woman in whom there was a greater barakah for her people than her" [Musnad and Abu Dawud in his Sunan]. So this was in reference to the fact that many from the tribe of Juwairiyyah were released after her marriage to the Prophet. So again, this shows that the barakah was not in Juwairiyyah physically, but because she married the Prophet (), a great barakah was bestowed upon her.
Hence, to conclude this section: Barakah of both types is only for the Prophets and Messengers, but as for other than them, then whatever barakah they possess it is only on account of following the guidance. To the extent that they follow the guidance, to that extent do they possess barakah. This is the understanding of Ahl us-Sunnah.
After understanding all of this we are now ready to discuss tabarruk through the Messenger () and the righteous people.
Tabarruk through the Prophet Muhammad ()
The Prophet Muhammad () is blessed in his physical body, in his characteristics and actions, and this barakah can also be brought about by his physical body, his characteristics and his actions.
It is firmly established from the Companions that they used to seek blessings through certain things from his body which had separated from his body, such as his hair, or the water from the wudhoo’ or blood etc. These hadeeths have come in the two Saheehs and are authentic.
The Messenger () has been given the greatest rank of barakah, more than all the other Messengers and from his various parts (such as hair etc.) barakah is brought about and it is permissible to seek barakah through them. A group from the Companions used to do this.
As for seeking barakah from the places where the Messenger () went, such as a place in which he stopped and rested (on a journey) or a place in which he prayed or where he placed his foot or placed his hand etc., then there is no text or evidence that has been reported which shows that the barakah of the physical essence rubbed off onto these places such that they possessed barakah of the physical essence and that tabarruk should be made through them. And for this reason, none of the Sahaabah used to do this, neither during his life nor after his life.
Therefore, wherever the Messenger () went or stopped then it is not correct to seek tabarruk through these things, this in this there is a glorification of such things and places for which it is not permissible for us to glorify and also this is one of the avenues which leads to shirk. Never did a people follow up the tracks of their Prophets except that they went astray.
Umar forbade this practice. Ma’roor bin Suwaid al-Asadi said, "I went along with Umar (from Makkah to Madinah). When we arose in the morning, Umar saw people going in a certain direction. He said, ‘Where are they going?’ and they said, ‘They are going to a mosque in which the Prophet prayed’. Umar said, "Verily the Prophet before you were destroyed because of their veneration of the places where the Prophets prayed. They used to follow the tracks of their Prophets and made them into places of worship. So whoever manages to pray in these (other) mosques when the time for prayer comes, then let him prayer and whoever misses the prayer at its time, then let him continue (and not to deliberately pray in these places). [Ibn Waddah al-Qurtubi in al-Bida, Ibn Abi Shaibah in his Musannaf with a sahih isnad].
This Umar is the same one about whom the Messenger () said, "Verily Allaah Ajjawajall has placed the truth upon the heart and tongue of Umar" [Ahmad from Ibn Umar with sahih isnad, also in Abu Dawud, Ahmad with other chains of narration].
And there is not doubt that this statement about following the tracks of the Prophets and seeking what they touched as a means of barakah from Umar is from the truth that Allaah placed upon the tongue of Umar (ra).
Ibn Waddah al-Qurtubi (d. 270ish H) also states (p.34 al-Bida): "Malik bin Anas and others from the Scholars of Madinah would detest that people should go to those Masjids, and the following of the tracks of the Prophet (), unless it was Uhud or Quba".
He also said, "Therefore you must adhere to the Imaams of guidance, those who are well known. And one of those who has passed before us has said, "How many matters are there which are well known considered to be good today, but which were considered evil by those who have passed before us." [Refer also to the statement of Abdullah ibn al-Mubaarak d.181H].
Hence, the point here is that the Salaf used to dislike seeking tabarruk from places, and they used to dislike being attached to these places and hoping for their blessings.
There is no report to show other than this except for that of Ibn Umar (ra) about whom it is known that he used to follow the tracks of the Messenger (), such that he would pray where he would pray and so on. And there is no other truthful report about any other Companion that he used to do what Ibn Umar used to do.
So the answer to this is that Ibn Umar did not seek tabarruk from these places, since he did not hold them to contain barakah in their physical essence. However, he sought complete and perfect adherence and imitation of whatever the Messenger () did. Hence, he did not seek tabarruk from these things but the barakah of imitation and adherence. But none of the other Companions made this a habitual practice and it is not reported from any of them, and they did not agree with him in this. Rather his own father, Umar forbade from this practice, and hence his statement has greater precedence over the action of Ibn Umar and his opinion and view. Hence, the truth is with Umar and the majority of the Companions. Also from another angle, Umar when he kissed the black stone, said, "You are only a stone and I only kiss you because I saw the Messenger () kiss you." So this shows the perfect understanding of ‘Umar and with this we reconcile the action of his son Ibn Umar, that he was only seeking to imitate the Messenger () in action, not that he was seeking tabarruk from these places which the Messenger () had travelled upon or touched etc.
Tabarruk Through the Righteous
It has already preceded that the barakah of the physical essence is only for the one for whom an authentic text exists from Allaah, that He has bestowed upon some barakah, such as for the Prophets and Messengers.
As for those besides them, from the Righteous then the barakah that they contain is the barakah of righteous action.
Some examples of the barakah of the actions of the righteous: that they call the people to goodness, make supplications for them, and that they bring about benefit to the creation because they behave benevolently and well towards them with pure and good intentions. So all of this brings about barakah for the general people. And this is brought about by their actions.
Among the effects of this barakah of action of theirs is what good Allaah brings about on account of them and what harm He repels on account of them.
- And Your Lord would never destroy a township wrongfully, whilst its inhabitants are righteous 11:117
So this shows that the barakah of the righteous is in their actions and on account of their actions they bring about good for those besides them.
As for making tabarruk through them, such as seeking to kiss their hands thinking that they contain physical barakah or touching them etc. then all of this is forbidden for anyone besides the Prophets for numerous reasons:
- There is no one who is equal to the Prophet () in status so how can he reach the same level of barakah and excellence?
- There is no Sharee’ah proof to show that anyone besides the Prophet () has the same position as him with respect to seeking tabarruk from the physical parts of his body.
- What has been said by ash-Shaatibee in al-I’tisaam (2/6-7), "The Prophet () never left anyone after himself anyone more superior than Abu Bakr as-Siddiq (ra), since he was his Khalifah and no one did this through him… and nor through ‘Umar (ra) and he was the best of the Ummah after him. Then likewise, ‘Uthman (ra) and then all of the Companions, with respect to whom there is no one who is more superior. There is not established from a single one of them any authentic report that states that someone would make tabarruk from them in any of these ways or what is similar to them . Rather they restricted themselves to following and imitating the actions and statements in which they (the Companions) followed the Prophet (). This, therefore is a unanimous agreement from them for the abandonment of these things."
And likewise they never did this with al-Hasan or al-Hussain (ra) and nor Fatimah (ra). So the barakah of physical essence does not continue through progeny. I.e. it is not inherited. And this is in refutation of the extreme Shi’a, the Rafidis, may Allaah curse them who claim otherwise.
- That preventing the means (that lead to an evil itself) is one of the principles of the Sharee’ah and this is contained in the Qur’an and the Sunnah in numerous places in hundreds of places. And for this reason the barakah of the physical essence has only been mentioned with respect to the Prophets and Messengers..
- That performing this type of tabarruk with someone besides the Messenger () is a means of fitnah for him since he might be led to amazement with his own soul, pride and arrogance and showing off. And all these things are prohibited.
Tabarruk is through acting upon the Book and the Sunnah and this is the type of barakah that remains extant today. As for barakah through the remnants of the Messenger () (i.e. hair etc.) then whoever claims to be in possession of any artefact needs an isnaad to prove that it is indeed so, since this is an arena where shirk can quite easily be committed. However the certainty of proving this has diminished over time. Nevertheless, the Salaf affirm this type of tabarruk and that the Prophets and Messengers have the barakah of the physical essence and that with respect to the Final Messenger, Muhammad (), the Companions used to make tabarruk through his physical essence.
Every Muslim has barakah to the extent that he or she practises Islaam and follows the Book and the Sunnah. Also to the extent that a Muslim teaches others and brings about benefit by what he or she has learnt. And this is the way of Ahl us-Sunnah, that they learn the religion and teach it to others and they rely upon this as a means of attaining barakah, as opposed to the heretics whose way and method is other than this.