Many people not only ask for their needs of the Auliyaa, they also take vows on their names, by saying that if a certain need of theirs is fulfilled, then they will place a new chadar on the grave of the Wali, or that they will give a certain amount of money. In this regard it is necessary to familiarise yourself with a few Masaa`il.
(1). To take a vow (minnat or nazar) is an Ibaadat, and to make Ibaadat of anyone else besides Allaah Ta`ala is not permissible. It is stated in our famous Hanafi Kitaab, Durrul Mukhtaar:
“Know! The vows which are taken on the names of the deceased by many people nowadays, and the money, oil, candles, lamps, etc. which are brought to their graves as a means of gaining nearness (to the inmate of the grave), are all BAATIL and HARAAM. Many people are involved in such vain acts, especially nowadays. Allaamah Qaasim has expounded on this Mas`alah in detail in the commentary of Durrul Mukhtaar.”
Allaamah Shaami (rahmatullahi alaih) has stated the taking of such vows (minnat and nazar) to be Baatil and Haraam. The reasons being; firstly, that these vows are taken in the names of the creation, and it is not permissible to take vows in the name of any creation. Nazar is an Ibaadat and Ibaadat is not done for the creation. Secondly, the person in whose name the vow is taken is deceased and the dead do not have control or own anything. Thirdly, if the person taking the vow harbours this belief that besides Allaah Ta`ala this dead person also has control in the matters and affairs of the universe, then such a belief is kufr. [Raddul Mukhtaar, page 139]
Hadhrat Thanaaullaah Paani Pati Hanafi (rahmatullahi alaih) states:
“Ibaadat for any besides Allaah Ta`ala is impermissible. It is also not permissible to ask assistance from anyone besides Allaah Ta`ala. Hence, it is not permissible to make a nazar on the name of the Auliyaa, since nazar is an Ibaadat.” [Irshaadut Taalibeen, page 18]
In summary, this ruling is recorded in many of our notable Kitaabs that nazar is an Ibaadat and Ibaadat is not permissible to anyone besides Allaah Ta`ala. Therefore, to take minnats and nazars at the shrines and tombs of the Auliyaa and to make offerings there are HARAAM and BAATIL.
(2). If any person has taken such a vow (on the name of a dead person), then it will not be permissible to fulfil it. If one fulfils it, then he will be regarded as a sinner. This is clearly stated in Fataawa Aalimgiri, Bahrur Raa`iq, and other reputable Fataawa Kitaabs, that if a vow is taken on sin, then it is not valid and its fulfilment is not necessary. [Fataawa Aalimgiri, page 208, vol.1] In fact, it would be necessary to make Tawbah for having made such a vow in the first place. Hadhrat Thanaaullaah Paani Pati Hanafi (rahmatullahi alaih) states:
“And if anyone has made such a vow, then he should not fulfil it, because, wherever possible it is Waajib to refrain and abstain from sin.” [Irshaadut Taalibeen, page 18]
The object being that the making of such a vow is a sin and now to fulfil it would further exacerbate the sin. Hence, one should seek forgiveness for the initial sin and should not stupidly get involved in the second sin.
(3). If someone had taken such a vow and also fulfilled it, now since this offering (fulfilment of the vow) was earmarked for someone other than Allaah Ta`ala it becomes Haraam. Its usage or consumption also becomes impermissible. However, if a person had made an offering, and the offered item is still in its original condition (as it was placed), then if the person (who made the offering) repents from his sin of taking the vow, he may take back his offering. This is the ruling for that animal which was earmarked as an offering in another‟s name besides Allaah Ta`ala. That is, as long as that animal is still alive, the one who took the vow, repents from his sin and he may take back the animal. But, if the animal was slaughtered in the name of any other besides Allaah Ta`ala, even though at the time of slaughtering Bismillaah was recited, the consumption of this animal is not Halaal. Imaam Rabbaani Mujaddid Alfe Thaani writes in Maktoobaat, part 3:
“Those animals that are offered on the names of the buzrugs and they are slaughtered at the grave of the buzrug, according to the Fiqhi (jurisprudent) ruling such acts are included as being amongst shirk (polytheism). A great deal of discouragement from such acts has been recorded. Such offerings are in the same category as those which are made in the name of some jinnaat. According to the Shariah such acts are prohibited and counted as shirk.”
4). If a person has taken a vow on Allaah Ta`ala‟s Name and his intention was for the Isaal-e-Thawaab of the pious person or for the benefit of the poor people in the vicinity, then such a vow will not be regarded as being Haraam of shirk. However, the masses do not differentiate between this type of vows and the type mentioned before, hence abstinence from such acts is also necessary.
Hadhrat Imaam Rabbaani Mujaddid Alfe Thaani (rahmatullahi alaih) states after what was cited above:
“Abstinence is also very necessary from such acts which bear resemblance to shirk. There are various ways of taking vows on the name of Allaah Ta`ala. What is the need for slaughtering an animal when taking a vow? Also for combining this slaughter with that which is made in the name of some jinnaat? There is a similarity between this is and the worship of jinnaats.”
(5). If someone takes such a vow that if certain work or need of mine is fulfilled then, in the Name of Allaah Ta`ala I will distribute (X) amount of sweetmeats, or certain quantity of cloth, or grain on the poor people in the Khaanqah of Khwajah Bahaa`ul Haqq Zakariyyah Multaani, and the Thawaab thereof must be conferred to Khwajah Saheb, then such a vow is permissible. However, if his need is fulfilled, then it will not be necessary for him to distribute the said quantities of sweetmeats, cloth or grain to the people he had initially intended. It will suffice for him if he distributes the said quantities to any poor persons. The reward will be fully reaped by Hadhrat Khwajah Saheb. But, if this person is not pleased with distributing this fulfilment to any other poor persons, and he feels that it must be distributed to the poor in Hadhrat Khwajah‟s Khaanqah and nowhere else otherwise his vow will not be deemed as being fulfilled, then we establish herefrom that this person had not in reality made the vow for Allaah Ta`ala, and he actually desired making the offering to Hadhrat Khwajah. Because, if his desire was to make the vow to Allaah Ta`ala specifically, and that the Isaal-e-Thawaab be conferred to Hadhrat Khwajah Saheb, and he did not intend thereby to gain proximity to Hadhrat Khwajah Saheb, then he would be contented in fulfilling the vow in the way prescribed by the Aimmah of the Deen. Hence, his claim of having made the vow exclusively for Allaah Ta`ala‟s Pleasure will be regarded as being incorrect and false.
Conclusion: Those vows and offerings which are made at the shrines of the Auliyaa, if they are made in order to gain proximity to the buzrug or it is made with this notion that they (buzrugs) will accept this vow and complete one‟s need, or if the vow is not taken on his (burug‟s) name then he will be displeased, which will result in harm befalling one‟s wealth, family and belongings, then all such acts, as mentioned before from the text of Durrul Mukhtaar, are Baatil and Haraam. This is the unanimous view of the Aimmah. There is no doubt in such acts being classified as shirk.
But, if a vow is taken only in the Name of Allaah Ta`ala and one intends the Isaal-e-Thawaab of the fulfilment for the buzrug, and also, one does not consider the pleasure or displeasure of the buzrug as having any connection to the vow, then it will be permissible. However, experience has shown that this is not the intention of those people who make vows and offerings at the shrines of the Auliyaa. Although they claim that they are making the vow in Allaah Ta`ala‟s Name and they intend the Isaal-e-Thawaab for the buzrug, they are in actual fact fooling themselves. Imaam Rabbaani Mujaddid Alfe Thaani (rahmatullahi alaih) states in Maktoobaat 41, part 3:
“Included in such vows (which are made in the names of other than Allaah Ta`ala) are those rozas which women keep, on the names of their peers. For the Iftaar of those rozas they stipulate all special types of treats. They even specify a particular day for the roza. They combine their object and desire with the roza. Through the waseelah of these rozas they ask of their needs from the peers. When their needs are fulfilled they regard it as having been granted by the peer. There is shirk in this Ibaadat. One should clearly understand the gravity of making waseelah in the Ibaadat of anyone other than Allaah Ta`ala.
When the evil and iniquity of this heinous sin becomes manifest, then the women aver that they kept the roza for Allaah Ta`ala but they intended the Thawaab for the peer. This is a glaring falsity. If they were true to their word, then why do they specify a particular day for the roza? And why do they stipulate all sorts of special and specific food for the Iftaar?”
(6). Regarding these type of vows, there is an important Mas`alah, which is a decisive matter on this issue, and of which not only the masses are ignorant, even many learned people are unwary of. The point is, that in reality a nazar or mannat has no play in a matter when one desires a need to be fulfilled or not. Taqdeer (fate) and Divine decision does not alter because of it (nazar or minnat). It is mentioned in Saheehain:
“Do not take vows (nazar), because nazars do not affect Qadar in the least bit. Indeed, it (vows) takes out the wealth of a miser.” [Mishkaat, page 297]
Sheikh Abdul Haqq Muhaddith Dehlwi (rahmatullahi alaih) states in commentary of the above:
“Vows have been prohibited when made on this belief that one executes it on the notion that it will change fate (Taqdeer). It is the habit of people to make nazars in order for any need of theirs to be fulfilled and for any calamity to be removed. This is the trait of miserly people. It is for this reason that it has been discouraged.
Generous people spend in charity, etc. of their own accord and without desiring any need to be fulfilled therewith (i.e. their spending in Allaah Ta`ala‟s path has no ulterior motive or „strings attached‟). The taking of vows has been discouraged due to this reason and one is encouraged to make vows with pure and sincere intenti ons.”[Footnote of Mishkaat]
It is mentioned in a Hadith that Sadaqah is a defence against calamities, but in the taking of vows, there is a form of business transaction, in that one will only take out Sadaqah if the need is fulfilled otherwise not. Never theless, even if those vows taken on the Name of Allaah Ta`ala do not change Taqdeer (fate), how can those taken on the names of buzrugs ever affect fate? But, alas this evil emanates from such vows, that if one‟s needs are not fulfilled, then they draw their weapons against Taqdeer and say, “Such ill fortune that it was not destined to be.” But if the need is fulfilled, then they do not speak well of fate, rather they attribute it to the buzrug, by saying “See we took a vow on certain buzrug‟s name and [Nauthubillaah] he has fulfilled our need fully.” — this is the basis upon which people‟s Aqeedah are spoilt, and whereby shaitaan steers people away from Allaah Ta`ala into his submission.