I really don't want to get into the whole visiting graves debate, but for the record here is what I understand about visiting graves:
- First and foremost, I don't believe that I am praying to the dead person, or that s/he has the ability to help/ harm me in any way.
- I go to graves because the Prophet PBUH said:
"Visit graves, for they are a reminder of death. I used to forbid you to visit graves, but now you should visit them. They render one able to do without the things of the world, and remind one of the Hereafter."
- It's a good thing to go to the grave of someone you know. The Prophet PBUH said:
"A dead [person] in his grave is never more comforted than when those that he loved in the world pay him a visit."
"No man visits the grave of his brother and sits by it but that he [the dead man] finds solace in this, having his spirit restored to him until the visitor departs."
- I go to graves of people I don't know because if the people were good people in their lives, then the place they are buried should be a good place to pray directly to Allah. People say that the sand of Tarim has baraka in it, so what about the land where the great people were buried?
- However, circling graves/ touching them etc is not correct—there is nothing to gain from doing so.
- If they were good people, I ask Allah to accept my du'uas for their sake (tawasol), or for His love for them. i.e. Oh Allah, because they loved you, you loved them, so please accept my du'uas based on this love. Just like you may get to a dad through his daughter, for example.
- Also, if you assume Allah loves these people (wa la nozaky 'ala Allah) then by loving them too Allah may look upon you more favorably.
- As for those who ask the dead person to make du'ua for them to Allah, it's like this:
--There is nothing mentioned in the Qur'an or sunna that says doing this is haram (divinely forbidden).
--Islam does not distinguish between those who are dead and alive; we believe that only the bodies of those that died have ceased to exist, their souls are still alive.
--So just like you can ask a pious person to make du'ua for you, you can ask the dead person to make du'ua for you.
--But the important distinguishing factor here is that you are not assuming that these people have any power to make what you want happen. Just like you take medicine, but know that ultimately it is Allah who cures you, you can ask pious people (dead or alive) to make du'ua for you, but know that Allah may or may not accept their du'uas.
So know that I've gotten that out of the way, today we went to visit the grave of Imam al-Muhajir (the migrant) Ahmed bin 'Issa, of whom of all the sayyids of Hadramot are descended from (the Ba 'Alawis/ Banu Alawis).
They're called the 'Alawis after the muhajer's grandson, who became the ancestor of all Alawi sayyids. (For more on the tariqa (spiritual path), visit this site and this one).
Al-Muhajir was a very rich men in Iraq who left everything behind and migrated to many countries and cities before ultimately ending up in al-Husaya, a place between Seiyun and Tarim. He is called "the migrant for the sake of Allah" because he moved wanting to find a place where his children could grow up properly. He died in 965 and his grave is located under a white dome up the side of a wadi (valley), at the top of a very long flight of steps carved into the rock (193 steps, to be exact).
Although the steps were shallow, I couldn't believe how unfit we all were. Someone had put a tank of cool water at the top for people to drink from, and I couldn't help thinking what a wonderful sadaqa gareya (charity) that must be.
The view from the top is gorgeous:
On our way down, we also passed to give our salams to the maternal great-grandfather of Imam Al-Hadad, Sayyid Ahmad al-Habashi who was buried at the bottom of the staircase.
We then visited Sheikha Sultana, who was an incredible woman. It is said that she was from ahl al-khata (the people of the steps), who could move great distances, so she would go to Mecca every day to do umra. She could see the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) whenever she wanted. She was such a pious woman that when Abd al-Rahman al-Saqqaf—who was a great scholar of his time—asked for her hand in marriage, she declined, telling him not in this world but in the next, because he was a descendent of the Prophet and she didn't want to taint his children's lineage because she wasn't.
Seeing the incredible reverence people here have for visiting graves makes me think of how little we have for the great people buried in Egypt: Imam Al-Shafii, Nafeesat al-'elm, and of course the grandson of the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), al-Husayn.
And of course, it makes me reflect on all the times I've visited the Prophet's grave in his mosque in Medina and simply been content with a quick salams. Now I know better.
Today's quote: Prophet Nooh (Noah) was walking one day when he came across a mutated dog. He commented "what an ugly dog." God gave the dog the ability to speak, and it said "if it was up to me, I wouldn't have created myself like this, but this is how Allah made me. Are you blaming the creation or the creator?" And Prophet Nooh cried so much that's how he got his name—nooh comes from neyah, which means uncontrollable tears. So never curse anything Allah has created. Habib Kathim.
Another one of the many many sins of the tongue. Imam al-Ghazali has mentioned 18, but the 8 main ones are: lying, breaking promises, backbiting, argumentation, praising yourself, cursing, invoking evil on people/ things, and mockery.