بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Supplication as it relates to the Messenger -sallahu alayhi wa salaam- has varying forms (or manners) and they are as follows:
The First: It is to direct supplication towards the Messenger -sallahu alayhi wa salaam- like supplication to Allah. So the supplicant says "O Allah's Messenger forgive me!" "O Allah's Messenger be merciful to me!" "O Messenger of Allah do this for me!" This is major polytheism (Shirk) that exits one from the religion. In doing so you without doubt ask the Messenger -sallahu alayhi wa salaam- directly that which no one is able to do except Allah. Thus this act is major polytheism that exits one from the religion, due to you directing your supplication to other than Allah, and this is associating a partner in worship with Allah.
The Second: It is to ask Allah by way of or utilization of the Prophet's -sallahu alayhi wa salaam- honor (rank or prestige). This is not major polytheism that exits one from the religion, however it is prohibited and deemed innovation. So it is not permissible and it is in opposition to what the Messenger -sallahu alayhi wa salaam- was sent with. The following narration refutes the claimant of this, "Whoever does an action that is not in accordance with our command then it's rejected."
The Third: It is to ask Allah by way of the Messenger's -sallahu alayhi wa salaam- supplication and this (is only) during his lifetime, just as Umar ibnul Khattab would do. Anas ibn Malik narrated that whenever they were stricken with drought Umar ibnul Khattab would ask Al-Abbas ibn Abdil Muttalib to supplicate to Allah for rain. He use to say, "O Allah! We used to ask our Prophet to invoke You for rain, and You would bless us with rain, and now we ask his uncle to invoke You for rain. O Allah ! Bless us with rain." And as a result it would rain.
So they would pray for rain by (aid of) the Prophet's -sallahu alayhi wa salaam- invocation during his lifetime, then by (aid of) Al-Abbas' invocation while he was living.
Therefore invocation as it relates to the Messenger -sallahu alayhi wa salaam- is of three types:
- Polytheism: Its invoking the Messenger -sallahu alayhi wa salaam-. So he directs his supplication to him and not to Allah. This is major polytheism that expels one from the religion.
- An innovated invocation by aid and or utilization of the Messenger -sallahu alayhi wa salaam-. It is to ask Allah by way (aid) of the Prophet's honor -sallahu alayhi wa salaam- and this is a prohibited innovation.
- Invoking Allah by way of the Prophet's supplication -sallahu alayhi wa salaam- while he was living. This was permissible during his life, however after his death it is something that is impossible (to accomplish), hence it is not permissible legislatively. Thus if one were (to attempt) to ask the Messenger -sallahu alayhi wa salaam- (in present day to supplicate to Allah) he would go from this type to the first type mentioned and that is to ask Allah by way of the Prophet himself -sallahu alayhi wa salaam.
There is a fourth type and it is from the legislated means of being brought close to Allah. It is to ask Allah by way of love for the Messenger -sallahu alayhi wa salaam.
The scholars have acknowledged the legislative means of getting close to Allah through supplication as having three types:
- Beseeching Allah by way of His names and attributes. (Meaning to call on Him using His names and attributes.)
- Beseeching Allah by way of righteous deeds like the story of the people of the cave.
- Beseeching Allah by way of the righteous' supplications. (Meaning asking a righteous person to pray for you.)
These are the three legislated types of being brought close to Allah in supplication. If you supplicate to Allah by way of your love for the Messenger -sallahu alayhi wa salaam- and your conformity to him, then this is legislated as it is beseeching Allah by way of righteous deeds like in the story of the people of the cave. Love for the Messenger -sallahu alayhi wa salaam- is from the best of righteous actions if it is legislative love.
قل إن كنتم تحبون الله فاتبعوني يحببكم الله و يغفر لكم ذنوبكم و الله غفورٌ رحيمٌ
"Say (O Muhammad!): "If you really love Allah then follow me, then Allah will love you and forgive your sins and Allah is Oft Forgiving, and Merciful." [Ali-Imran: 31]
Legislative love is to love and follow him -sallahu alayhi wa salaam- without transgressing set limits with regards to him similar to the excessiveness of the Jews and Christians. Indeed he is only Allah's servant and Messenger.
قل إنما أنا بشرٌ مثلكم يوحى إلىَّ
"Say (O Muhammad!): I am only a man like you, it has been revealed to me"
The difference between me and you is that it has been revealed to me.
إنما إلاهكم إلاهٌ واحدٌ فمن كان يرجو لقاء ربه فليعمل عملاً صالحاً و لا يشرك بعبادة ربه أحداً
"..your deity is only one deity. So whoever hopes to meet his Lord, let him do righteous deeds and not associate a partner in worship with his Lord" [Al-Kahf: 110]
Source: شرح توحيدالعبادة
Translated by Najeeb Al Anjelesi