Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Taweez? or Talisman?

I was making repairs to an upstairs door that leads to the roof today. Since we live on the ground floor and are separated from the roof by tenants, we usually don’t venture upstairs unless we want some occasional fresh air. Anyway, the door was quite dusty and as the handyman was removing the borders around the door frame, I noticed a piece of paper stuffed inside and rolled up.

I took it out and saw that the paper was wrapped in a piece of cardboard about the same size. Reading the Urdu printed on it, I realized that it was simply a newspaper cutting. On the right hand side, there was the following translated text “By the miraculous blessings (barakah) of Hazrat Khawaja Gharib Nawaz”. On the other side, was a nonsensical advertisement about opening a bank account at Habib Bank.

So could this small piece of paper have been used as a talisman, then forgotten? Possible. Khawaja Nawaz Gharib was one of those highly respected sufi saints that people believed to have extraordinary powers. Apparently, the person who stuffed the paper thought that the written form of his name on the piece of paper would grant him ‘miraculous blessings’. SubhanAllah. Apparent shirk.


How is it shirk? The word Shirk can be defined as attributing what is rightfully Allah (SWT)’s to other than Allah(SWT). Tabbaruk (barakah) is only from Allah (SWT), directly. In other words, only Allah grants a person barakah, no one else, not even an intermediary such Khawaja Nawaz Baig. By asking someone else for barakah (once again, even if you attribute that source of barakah initially from Allah), you are committing Shirk, the greatest sin.
There is a hadith in Tirmidhi and Imam Ahmad’s Musnad about talismans, stating they are Shirk.
“Uqbah ibn ‘Aamir reported that when a group of ten men came to the Prophet (SAW), he only accepted the oath of allegiance from nine. They asked, “O Messenger of Allah, why did you take the covenant from nine of us and refuse this man?” The Prophet(SAW) answered, “Verily, he has a talisman on him.” The man then put his hand in his cloak, pulled out the talisman and broke it. When the Prophet (SAW) finished taking the oath from him, he turned and said, “Whoever wears a talisman has committed Shirk!”

Who was it?

Well, I know this question pops into your mind and it did in mine as well. That’s why the first person I informed about the mysterious paper was my grandmother. She said that there were some old tenants who were into this ‘Shirk +Bid’ah stuff”. Their business was down and they felt that it was because of the doings of some Jinn or Black magic. (By the way, all magic is haraam, there is no such thing as white magic.) They wanted some counter effect to the bad influence they had upon them and it was possible they tried to gain blessing from this talisman. But that’s only speculation. The only fact is that they were inclined towards supernatural things and beliefs.

My guess is that it was probably a mason or carpenter (seemingly confused in his concept of Tawheed) who stuffed the piece of paper in the door. And since it was the door to the roof, did he expect that some angel would come from the heavens into the house through it?  Besides, as you can see from the picture below and the Habib bank advertisement, that newspaper clipping is way old. Most probably stuffed inside during construction. You would have to go through lengths to take the wood out, replace pebbles with paper and then nail the wood back on again. But once again since this house was built part-by-part over a long period of time, tenants could have been present while the doorway was being built. Allahu’Alam. What really matters is that none of my family members were involved in this Shirk, Alhumdulilah.

A Ta'weez?

This would not be considered a Ta’weez, which is a special kind of talisman with the Quranic words inscribed on it. A Ta'weez is permissible in the sense that you are ascribing barakah to Allah’s words(the Quran) or calling upon Allah (SWT)’s words (the Quran). Before I give the go-signal on all Ta’weez’s, it should be remembered that many, if not most ‘supposed Ta’weez’ in fact call upon not Allah (SWT) or his words but rather on a Jinn, saint or some other of Allah’s creation. In other words, what you perceive as a blessing from Allah (SWT) can in fact be a testimonial of Shirk, a means to run away from Allah(SWT).