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Copyright © 2009 Joseph A Islam: Article last modified 31st March 2011



Unfortunately, many Muslims take the following verse in the Quran as a support for the concept that 'Wasilah' through intermediary individuals is permissible. This verse is then used as a conduit into Islamic secondary sources which cast this concept into stone.



"O ye who believe! Do your duty to God, seek the means of approach (Arabic: wasilata) to Him, and strive with might and main in his cause: that you may prosper"


What is conveniently omitted or overlooked is that the same word ‘Wasilatan’ is used once more in another part of the Quran where the concept of 'Wasilah' as commonly understood and very meaning that some extract from 5:35 is completely negated.



"Say: "Call on those - besides Him - whom you fancy: they have neither the power to remove your troubles from you nor to change them. Those whom they call upon do desire (for themselves) means of access (Arabic: wasilata) to their Lord, even those who are nearest: they hope for His Mercy and fear His Wrath: for the Wrath of thy Lord is something to take heed of"


Reconciling the Quranic verses, it is clear that the 'Wasilah' in 5:35 is only a reference to a means by which one come close to a thing (which is correct in its true definition and Quranic form). In this case the entity is God and any manner of possible positive ways that brings one closer to Him in worship is alluded to.  A 'Wasilah' (a means of access to a thing) is also not restricted to humans and certainly not in the manner which is negated by 17:56-7 which is sadly the way it is most commonly understood by many Muslims.




 Source: Edward Lanes Lexicon    [1]



As an example, one may make use of the beautiful Psalms of Prophet David (pbuh) to chant and listen as their means / avenue (Arabic: Wasilah) to bring them spiritually closer to the worship of God. Others may choose the study of the Quran, the TaNaKh (Jewish Old Testament) and the New Testament as their 'Wasilah' as it makes them understand purpose and God’s messages.


'Wasilah' could also constitute in depth prayer, giving charity, attempting to do the right thing in acts of righteousness or remembering the Lord by his beautiful names. In effect, it can constitute any number of things which bring one close to Him in remembrance and worship.







What is sadly ironic is that a simple Quranic verse is used out of context and is itself used as a 'Wasilah' into Islamic secondary sources to establish a doctrine which is unsupportable by the Quran.





[1] LANE. E.W, Edward Lanes Lexicon, Williams and Norgate 1863; Librairie du Liban Beirut-Lebanon 1968, Volume 8, Supplement, Page 3053

Highlights marked in red on the lexicon excerpt are my own insertions. They have no bearing on the original text other than they emphasise relevance to the topic at hand. These are merely illustrations and have solely been utilised for educational and explanatory purposes




Joseph Islam

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