By Mawlana Khalil Ahmad al-SaharanpuriTranslated by Abu Muhammad Musa Sugapong
Can a supplicant in the Prophetic Masjid (al-masjid al-nabawi) face the exalted grave and ask from his honorable Protector, using the Noble Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) as an intermediary (mutawassilan bi ’l-nabi)?
The jurists have differed in this matter, as Mulla ‘Ali al-Qari (may Allah have mercy on him) has mentioned in al-Maslak al-Mutaqassit. He states:
“Realize that some of our elders such as [Imam] Abu ‘l-Layth and those who followed him such as [Imam] Kirmani and [Imam] Saruji mentioned that the one visiting [the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace)] should stand facing the qiblah.” [Imam] Hasan has narrated the same on the authority of Imam Abu Hanifah (may Allah be pleased with them).
He then states, [however] on the authority of [Imam] Ibn al-Humam that what has been transmitted from Abu ’l-Layth [should be] rejected due to the narration of [Imam] Abu Hanifah on the authority of Ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with them) that he stated:
“It is from the sunnah that you approach the grave of the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) and stand facing his grave. Then you should say, “May the peace, mercy, and blessings of Allah be upon you, O’ Prophet! (السلام عليك أيها النبي و رحمة الله و بركاته).”
He (Mulla ‘Ali al-Qari) then supported this stance with another narration transmitted by Majd al-Din al-Lughawi [al-Fayruzabadi] (may Allah be pleased with him) on the authority of Ibn al-Mubarak (may Allah be pleased with him) that he stated:
“I heard Abu Hanifah (may Allah have mercy on him) saying: ‘Once Ayyub al-Sakhtiyani (may Allah have mercy on him) came upon us when I was in Madinah. I said [to myself]: ‘I shall observe what he does.’ Thereafter, he placed his back towards the qiblah and his face towards the face of the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) and wept truly, not simply imitating the act of weeping. He held the status of a true jurist.’”
Following his transmission [of this narration], the great scholar [Mulla ‘Ali] al-Qari (may Allah have mercy on him) then stated:
“In this account lies an indication that this is the preferred position of the Imam [Abu Hanifah], after once being uncertain regarding the desirable view.”
He then states:
“Further, it is also possible to reconcile between the two narrations…”
Thus it is apparent that both matters are permissible. However, the preferred position is that during the duration of the visit, one should face his noble face (may Allah bless him and grant him peace). This is the position accepted by us, and it is our practice and the practice of our elders (mashayikh). This [act of facing the face of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace)] is also the verdict concerning supplication (du‘a) as has been narrated on the authority of Imam Malik (may Allah have mercy on him) when a caliph once asked him [about this issue]. Mawlana Ganghohi (may Allah have mercy on him) has also expressed this opinion explicitly in his treatise Zubdat al-Manasik (The Finest of the Rituals). As for the issue pertaining to supplicating to Allah through an intermediary, this has already been discussed in inquiry three and four.
[Extracted from ‘Allamah Khalil Ahmad al-Saharanpuri’s al-Muhannad ‘ala ’l-Mufannad]