The sensitive issue of whether or not Muslims can call upon the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) by proclaiming the words `Ya Rasulullah` needs to be clarified effectively, since this issue divides the Muslim community and causes untold pain and friction among the Muslim communities throughout the world.
There are basically two schools of thought, one that says that calling upon the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) is `shirk` and that any Muslim proclaiming `Ya Rasulullah` in fact goes outside the pale of Islam and becomes a mushrik. Thus, such a person needs to take the `shahadah` again in order to became a Muslim or he remains a `mushrik`.
The following statements make clear the beliefs and ideology of this school of thought:
1. "Most people call out to the spiritual guides, the Prophets, the Imams, the martyrs, the angels, the devils and the fairies in times of distress and ask them to redress their needs. They also give them offerings for this purpose. Thus they indulge in polytheism. (Taqwiyat-ul-Imaan,P5-6, by Ismail Dehelvi)
2. "How can anyone be the redresser of needs, the solver of difficulties and holder of one`s hand? People holding such beliefs are out and out polytheist. They cannot even be allowed to get married to Muslims. And those people who are informed about their evil thoughts and even then do not call them `apostates and polytheist` are polytheists themselves in the same degree. (Jawaahir-ul-Quraan, P147, by Ghulam Khan, Rawalpindi)
3. "He who seeks help from anyone except Allah is, in fact, a thorough polytheist. There is none in the world as bad as he. Curse be upon such a person from all (creatures) in the world." "To ask for fulfillment of ones needs and invoke them (i.e. Prophets Saints) is the way of the polytheist". (Tazkeer-ul-Akhwaan,P83 P343, by Ismail Dehelvi).
The above statements belong to the Wahhabi/ Deobandi/ Tabligh Jamaat scholars according to whom it is a great sin to proclaim `Ya Rasulullah` with the intention that the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) can hear such a call for help. Also seeking the `waseela` (intercession) of the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) is deemed as polytheism by this school of thought.
Let us now examine the beliefs of the other school of thought, namely the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat, who believe it is permissible to proclaim `Ya Rasulullah` according to Islamic Law.
The following proofs have been forwarded by this school of thought in their support:
1. Imam Bukhari (RadiAllah Anhu) in his Kitaabu Adaabul Mufrad has written that Hazrat Adullah ibn Omar (RadiAllah Anhu) once suffered from cramp. Someone advised him to remember the person whom he loved most. The great Companion then proclaimed loudly: "Ya Muhammad", it is recorded that he was immediately relieved of the cramps.
2. Imam Tabraani (RadiAllah Anhu) in his Muh`jam records the following incident: "A person in dire need once visited Ameerul Mu`mineen Hazrat Uthman Ghani (RadiAllah Anhu). The Caliph though, due to other work, did not pay much heed to this man. The person thereafter went to Hazrat Uthman bin Hanif (RadiAllah Anhu) and complained about the matter.
Hazrat Uthman bin Hanif (RadiAllah Anhu) ordered the man to perform Wudhu, enter the Masjid and offer two rakaats of Nafil Salaah, he was then to recite the following Du`a:
"O Allah, I beg of you and I seek your Assistance, with the Waseela of Your Beloved Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) who is the Prophet of Mercy. O Muhammad!, I turn to Allah with your Waseela so that my needs be fulfilled!. "
The man was then told to mention his need. After completion he and Hazrat Uthman bin Hanif (RadiAllah Anhu) both visited the august court of the Caliph. The man was successful in his encounter with the Caliph and thanked Hazrat Uthman bin Hanif (RadiAllah Anhu) for mentioning him to the Caliph. But Hazrat Uthman bin Hanif (RadiAllah Anhu) replied that he had not approached the Caliph at all, he then stated:
"By Allah, I saw the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) teaching the very same Du`a to a blind man. Miraculously the blind man then approached us before we could even complete our conversation, and he appeared as if he had never been blind".
3. Imam-e-Mujtahid Sayyidi Abdur Rahman Masoodi (RadiAllah Anhu) was the grandson of Hazrat Abdullah ibn Masood(RadiAllah Anhu). He was also a very great Jurist and a Taabieen of high rank. It is said he used to wear a long hat on which were inscribed the words "Muhammad, Ya Mansoor".Substantiating this, Imam Hasheem bin Jameel Az Zaaki (RadiAllah Anhu) who was among the great Ulema and Muhaddatheen of the time states: "I saw him (i.e. Hazrat Abdur Rahman Masoodi) place a long hat on his head, on it were inscribed the words "Muhammad, Ya Mansoor".
4. Sayyidi Jamal bin Abdullah bin Omar Makki (RadiAllah Anhu), in his Fatawa states that he was questioned about those people who proclaim in times of difficulty: "Ya Rasulullah, Ya Ali, Ya Shaikh Abdul Qadir" as to these proclamations being permissible in Islam. The great Scholar replied "Yes, these proclamations are permissible, to call upon them is permissible including using their names as Waseelas (intercessions). This is permissible in the light of shari`ah. Such an act is desirable and approved. Only those individuals who are stubborn and arrogant would oppose or question this reality, and they verily are unfortunate and deprived of the Barakaat of the Awliya Allah".
5. Imam Allama Chairmen Ramble (RadiAllah Anhu), the illustrious teacher of Islamic scholars and the writer of one of the most authentic book on Islamic Jurisprudence "DourMukhtar" states in his Fatawa Khayria: "People who proclaim, Ya Abdul Qadir are merely emulating a call, what therefore is the reason for it not to be permissible?"
There are numerous occasions when the great and ordinary people have called upon the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) and received help, we have but quoted a few instances. The following great personalities deem it permissible to proclaim "Ya Rasulullah" whether in the life time of the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) or after, in Medina or in Deoband!
1. Hazrat Uthman bin Hanif (RadiAllah Anhu)
2. Hazrat Abdullah ibn Abbas (RadiAllah Anhu)
3. Imam Bukhari (RadiAllah Anhu)
4. Imam Muslim (RadiAllah Anhu)
5. Imam Tabraani (RadiAllah Anhu)
6. Imam Khayrudeen Ramli (RadiAllah Anhu)
7. Sayyidi Jamal Makki (RadiAllah Anhu)
8. Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilaani (RadiAllah Anhu)
9. Imam Ghazali (RadiAllah Anhu)
In fact the list is endless, and with such great personalities, that even the opponents of the proclamation of "Ya Rasulullah" can ill afford to ignore. Having forwarded both points of view, we shall now quote an independent source dating some 600 years before the advent of the Holy Prophet Muhammad Mustafa(Peace Be Upon Him) on this Earth.
A crowd of more then 5,000 were addressed by Isa (Alaihis Salaam) who told them about the coming of the great Prophet Muhammad(Peace Be Upon Him), on hearing his words the crowd reacted as follows: "Then the crowd lifted their voices saying: `O` God, send us thy messenger. `O`(Ya) Muhammad, come quickly for the salvation of the world." (Gospel of Barnabas, Chapter 97).
Now Isa (Alaihis Salaam), who is one of the great Prophets of Allah, did not reprimand his followers for saying "Ya Muhammad". Nor did he brand his followers as `mushriks`. Then who are these Wahabi/Deobandi/Tableeghi mullahs to brand Muslims, who proclaim `Ya Muhammad`, as mushriks. Perhaps these mullahs consider themselves greater in knowledge then Isa (Alaihis Salaam).