The ‘Harf-e-Nidaa’ means – to use the pronoun for addressing the second person – who is present (ie. using the word ‘YA’ which means ‘OH !’, when addressing the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) eg. ‘Ya Nabi !, Ya Rasool !’)
The words ‘Ya’ and ‘Ayyu’ are for addressing. The one who is addressing is called Munadee and the addressee is called Munadaa. If the Munadaa has the quality of hearing then the addressing would be ‘Real’, like calling a person who is present: Ya Zaid !, and if the Munadaa cannot hear then the addressing will be metaphorical, like : Oh sky! Oh earth! Oh mountain!
In the book Sharh Jami, which is a set book for the Maulvi Degree, it is written : Munadaa means to address or call the attention for real, like: Oh Zaid! or metaphorically, like Oh Sky! Oh Earth! Because the person or the thing is established which can be addressed then the word of address is affixed to it. By this general law of Arabic grammar is known that it is not necessary for the addressed to hear, to permit the addresser to use the word ‘Ya’.
So it is seen that we are allowed to address even inanimate things. Rasoolullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) on the other hand, is alive, and hears the Salaam and so it is obvious that he can be addressed using the Nida’.
Some individuals say that it is Shirk (attributing partners to Allahu Ta’aala) to use words like Ya Nabi ! and Ya Rasool! They say this because they believe that the Prophet (sallallu ‘alaihi wasallam) cannot hear and is not present so one should not call to him as if he can hear and is present. (This is answered in this chapter and next) Others, say that it is permissible to say so only out of love for the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) but not with the belief in mind that he can hear you.
If the ‘Harf-e-Nidaa’ was not permissible then why is it present in the Salaah that we read five times a day, when every worshipper salutes the Holy Prophet (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam), “Ayyuhannabiyyu” (Oh Prophet !) ?
Some individuals state that, one does not have the intention of calling to the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam) in the “Attahiyaat”, rather one is merely repeating the story of M’iraj. This opinion is without basis. The religion of Islam has never commanded us to recite any Dhikr, without pondering on its meaning. Therefore, when we are reciting the “Attahiyaat”, we should not possess this belief, rather we should believe that we are directly addressing the Holy Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam) and sending Salaams to him, upon oneself and upon all the pious of the Ummat.
Moreover, in the famous book of Jurisprudence, Durr ul-Mukhtar, Volume 1, Page 228, is explained:
“The ‘Tashahud’ (Du’a read in the sitting position of Namaaz) must be read in the present and not as the repetition of an event such as took place during the Mi’raj when the ‘Tashahud’ was revealed. In fact, one must know and read ‘Tashahud’ and recite Allah’s Praises then make present (haazir) the Prophet (peace be upon him) and say ‘Assalamu alaika ayyahannabiyu …’, then the Salaam upon the present congregation and the pious peoples, and then the testament of the Oneness of Allah and the Messengership of the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam). This then constitutes the ‘Tashahud’.”
Words of similar effect are also found in the books of Jurisprudence, Fatawa Alamgeeri (also see Chapter on Haazir and Naazir for testimonies of the ‘Ulama regarding the Attahiyyaat).
Allah Ta’aala orders us not to call upon the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) in the same way as we call upon each other : “Make not the summoning of the Messenger among yourselves, like one calls the other among you.” (Surah al-Furqan, Verse 63)
i.e. When we call upon the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) it must be with utmost respect and not like how we call each other. This Ayat is sufficient evidence, because besides making it permissible, Allah Ta’aala also shows us the etiquette when calling Rasoolullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam).
Imam Bukhari (radi allahu ‘anhu) in his Kitaabul Adaabul Mufrad, Imam Ibnus Sinni and Imam ibn Bashkool (radi allahu ‘anhuma) have recorded that, Hadhrat Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar (radi allahu ‘anhu) once suffered from a cramp. Someone advised him to remember the person whom he loved the most. The great companion then proclaimed loudly, “YA MUHAMMADAH”. It is recorded that he was immediately relieved.
Imaam Nawawi (rahmat allahi ‘alaih) in his commentary of the Sahih Muslim, including in his book, Kitaabul Azkaar, records that some individuals were sitting in the company of Hadhrat Abdullah ibn Abbas (radi allahu ‘anhu), when suddenly one of them suffered from cramps. The great companion advised the man to remember the person whom he loved the most. The man proclaimed, “YA MUHAMMADAH”. He was immediately cured. There are in fact many Ashaab who narrate incidents of similar import.
Substantiating this, Allama Shahaab Khafaaji Misri (radi allahu ‘anhu) states in his Naseem-ur Riyaaz, a commentary of the Shifa by Imaam Qadhi ‘Iyad (radi allahu ‘anhu), that it is indeed an established practice of the people of Madina Shareef to proclaim, “YA MUHAMMADAH” in times of difficulty and anxiety.
A blind man came to the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) and said: “Invoke Allah for me that he help me.” He replied: “If you wish I will delay this, and it would be better for you, and if you wish I will invoke Allah the Exalted (for you).” He said: “Then invoke Him.” The Prophet said to him: idhhab fa tawadda’, wa salli rak`atayn thumma qul — “Go and make an ablution, pray two rak`at, then say: “O Allah, I am asking you (as’aluka) and turning to you (atawajjahu ilayka) with your Prophet Muhammad (bi nabiyyika Muhammad), the Prophet of mercy; O MUHAMMAD (YA MUHAMMAD), I am turning with you to my Lord regarding my present need / I am asking my Lord with your intercession concerning the return of my sight (inni atawajjahu bika ila rabbi fi hajati hadhih — another version has: inni astashfi`u bika `ala rabbi fi raddi basari) so that He will fulfill my need; O Allah, allow him to intercede (with You) for me (allahumma shaffi`hu fiyya).”
It is related by Ahmad (4:138 #17246-17247), Tirmidhi (hasan sahih gharib — Da`awat Ch. 119), Ibn Majah (Book of Iqamat al-salat wa al-sunnat, Ch. on Salat al-hajat #1385), Nasa’i (`Amal al-yawm wa al-laylat p. 417-418 #658-660), al-Hakim (1:313, 1:526), Tabarani in al-Kabir, and rigorously authenticated as sound (sahih) by nearly fifteen Hadith masters including Ibn Hajar, Dhahabi and Shawkani. Even the non-conformist, Ibn Taymiyya relates it.
  1. The Prophet’s (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) order, here as elsewhere, carries legislative force for all Muslims and is not limited to a particular person, place or time; it is valid for all generations until the end of time unless proven otherwise by a subsequent indication from the Prophet himself, peace be upon him.
  2. The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) was not physically present at the assigned time of the invocation, since he said to the blind man: “Go and make ablution,” without adding: “and then come back in front of me.” With regard to physical absence, the living and the dead are exactly alike, namely: absent.
  3. Despite the Prophet’s (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) physical absence, the wording (sigha) for calling upon his intercession is direct address: “O MUHAMMAD.” Such a wording — “O So-and-So” — is only used with someone present and able to hear. It should also be noted that Allah forbade the Companions from being forward or calling out to the Prophet in the ordinary manner used with one another (49:1-2). The only way, therefore, that the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, could both be absent and at the same time be addressed as if he is present is that it should be understood that he is absent in the physical sense but present in the spiritual sense.


The above invocation was also used after the Prophet’s (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) lifetime, as is proven by the sound (sahih) Hadith authenticated by Bayhaqi, Abu Nu`aym in the Ma`rifa, Mundhiri (Targhib 1:473-474), Haythami, and Tabarani in the Kabir (9:17-18) and the Saghir (1:184/201-202) on the authority of `Uthman ibn Hunayf’s nephew Abu Imama ibn Sahl ibn Hunayf: A man would come to `Uthman ibn `Affan for a certain need, but the latter would not pay him any attention nor look into his need, upon which he complained of his condition to `Uthman ibn Hunayf who told him: “Go and make ablution, then go to the mosque and pray two rak`at, then say (this Du’a),” and he mentioned the invocation of the blind man, “then go (to `Uthman again).” The man went, did as he was told, then came to `Uthman’s door, upon which the door-attendant came, took him by the hand, and brought him to `Uthman who sat him with him on top of the carpet, and said: “Tell me what your need is.” After this the man went out, met `Uthman ibn Hunayf again, and said to him: “May Allah reward you! Previously he would not look into my need nor pay any attention to me, until you spoke to him.” He replied: “I did not speak to him, but I saw the Prophet when a blind man came to him complaining of his failing eyesight,” and he mentioned to him the substance of the previous narration.
It is written in the book Hisn-ul-Hasin, Rasoolullah (sallallhu ‘alaihi wasallam) declared, “Any person who has lost his animal should say, ‘O Allah’s slaves ! Help me ! And may Allah Ta’ala help you !’”
Shah Wali-Allah Muhaddith Dahlawi (rahmat allahi ‘alaih) in Atyabun Naghm Fi Madahi Sayyidil Arab wal Ajam, Page 22 addresses the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) as “O, the best of all creations, the blessing of Allah be on you,…”
It was the practise of the Shah Wali-Allah (rahmat allahi ‘alaih) to emulate and remember daily, the practises of Shaikh Muhammad Ghawth Gawalyary (rahmat allahi ‘alaih) after seeking permission from his teachers Mawlana Abu Taahir Madani and Shaikh Muhammad Sa’eed Lahori (rahmat allahi ‘alaih). In this (practise) is recorded the following : “Call on Ali whose life is an open miracle. When you invoke him, he will help dispense all your difficulties.” (Al Intibah Fi Salaasil Awliya Allah, Page 138)
Hadhrat Mawlana Shah Abd al-Azeez Muhaddith Dahlawi (rahmat allahi ‘alaih) says that if one knows that although all help comes from Allah, to call upon another for help is allowed. He says that Awliya and Prophets also sought help in this way. Thus if one asks for help from another, he is infact, asking for help from Allah. (Tafseer Azeezi, Page 10)
Imam Allama Khairudeen Ramli (rahmat allaih ‘alaih) states in Fatawa Khayria, “People who proclaim, Ya Abdul Qaadir (are merely emulating) a call. What therefore, is the reason for it not to be permissible”.
It is recorded in the Fatawa of Hadhrat Shahaab Ramli Ansari (rahmat allahi ‘alaih), whether it was permissible for the people to invoke the names of Prophets, Saints and ‘Ulama in times of difficulty as they normally did. The great scholar replied, “Undoubtedly, it is permissible to seek the assistance of great Prophets, Saints and ‘Ulama. They do, in fact, assist after they have departed from this world.”
Ibn Khateer (rahmat allahi ‘alaih) in his book Al bidayah wa al-Nihaaya states that during the Yamama expedition the call of the Muslims was “Ya Muhammada”. Hadhrat Hajee Imdaadullah Muhaajir (rahmat allahi ‘alaih) says, “O Muhammad Mustapha (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam)! I have a complaint,…..”(Naala-Imdaa Ghareeb, Page 26)
What the ‘Ulama of Deoband have to say
Moulvi Qaasim Nanotwi, founder of Darul Uloom Deoband, says, “Help me! Oh kindness of Ahmed, for besides thee, There is none helper for Qasim, the helpless!” (Qasaid Qasimi Deobandi, Page 8) Moulvi Ashraf ‘Ali Thanawi in an Arabic quartet says, “O intercessor of the servants (of Allah)! help me, you (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) are my last hope. Besides you there is none to listen to my complaints, O my Master, listen to my complaints, I am encompassed by difficulties …” (Nasharut Teeb, Page 232)
In Munaajaat-e-Maqbool Qurbat indallahi wa Salawaatir Rasool, Page 230, he again says, “O Messenger of Allah help me, for I am in great loss, …”