Some people related to the Salafi movement claim that all the relics related to the Prophet (pbuh) are lost. They claim that the relics existent today are falsely attributed to him and do not have any basis. Is this true?
The authenticity of the Prophet's relics are established in Islam
Denying the authenticity of the Prophet's relics is the practice of the groups who efface the true religion of Islam by their persistent endeavors to deny the texts and traditions which contradict their own whims. At times, they even tend to obliterate history. These groups falsely claim that venerating such places and relics is prohibited and may lead to shirk [polytheism]. For them, venerating the Prophet’s relics is a means towards shirk because it will lead the public to believe in tabbaruk [seeking blessings through them].
Venerating other than Allah is allowed in the Shari'ah, but with restrictions
The opinion adopted by these groups is erroneous. Generally, the Shari'ah does not prohibit the veneration of other than Allah. It is only prohibited if it reaches the degree of associating partners with Allah such as was the practice in the pre-Islamic era. The people back then used to worship false deities, taking them as gods. They believed that they had the power to benefit and inflict harm. However, it is permissible to venerate things that are worthy of respect and veneration even if they are inanimate such as buildings and the like.
It was reported that upon seeing the Ka'aba, the Prophet (pbuh) used to raise his hands and say, "O Allah! Increase this House (Ka'aba) in honor, greatness, nobility and majesty" [Recorded by al-Baihaqi].
'Ikrimah Ibn Abu Jahl (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (pbuh) used to press the Mus-haf (copy of the Qur`an) to his face and say, "The book of my Lord, the Book of my Lord."
Therefore, venerating what Allah venerates is tantamount to veneration through Allah, which is in itself veneration of Allah as per His words, "And whoever honors the symbols of Allah - indeed, it is from the piety of hearts" [Al-Hajj: 32].
Likewise, obeying the commands of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) is tantamount to obeying the commands of Allah. Allah says, "He who obeys the Messenger has obeyed Allah" (An-Nisaa`: 80). The loyalty to the Messenger is tantamount to loyalty Allah: "Indeed, those who pledge allegiance to you, [O Muhammad] - they are actually pledging allegiance to Allah" [Al-Fat-h: 10].
Venerating the relics of the Prophet is not shirk
Claiming that venerating the Prophet's relics leads to shirk is erroneous and is based on an erroneous understanding of shirk. Shirk means associating partners with Allah or venerating others, to His exclusion.
Therefore, the angels’ prostration to Prophet Adam (peace be upon him) was an act of faith and monotheism, while the idolaters’ prostration to their idols was an act of disbelief and shirk, even though the prostration in both cases was to created beings. However, the angles’ prostration to Adam was to venerate a Prophet whom Allah honored and came in response to Allah’s command, thus it is deemed a rewardable and lawful act. However, the idolaters’ prostration was an act of associating partners with Allah, and thus it was repugnant and entailed punishment.
Baraka (blessings) exists by the will of Allah
The belief in the existence of baraka or seeking it through a certain creature or item has nothing to do with shirk in any way, let alone being a means that leads to it, unless one believes that it brings baraka in and of itself [without the will of Allah]. A Muslim is to believe that Allah is the Creator of baraka, and that baraka is sought through such things and not from them. This is because Allah is the Omnipotent—this belief is the essence of monotheism because it is by way of tawheed al-af’al (unity of action).
There are numerous proofs on the existence of baraka in Allah's creatures The Companions sought baraka through the Prophet's person.
It is recorded in the books of Sunnah that the Companions (may Allah be pleased with them) sought baraka through the person of the Prophet (pbuh) during his lifetime and from his belongings after his death. They also sought baraka through the places the Prophet (pbuh) frequented; these are known and mentioned in the books of hadith and Sunnah.
Is-haq Ibn Abdullah Ibn Abu Talha reported through Anas (may Allah be pleased with him) and said, "Um Sulaim used to spread a leather sheet for the Prophet (pbuh) in her house where he would sometimes take a midday nap." Anas added, "When the Prophet would sleep, she would collect some of his sweat and hair in a bottle and then mix it with Suk (a kind of perfume)." When the death of Anas ibn Malik approached, he instructed that some of that Suk be mixed with his Hanut (perfume for embalming the dead body), and so it was” [Recorded by Bukhari].
Ibn Sirin said, “I said to Ubayda, "I have a few of the Prophet’s hairs which I got from Anas or from his family". Ubayda responded, "No doubt, if I had a single hair of him, it would be dearer to me than the whole world and all that is in it" [Recorded by Bukhari].
Ibn as-Sakan reported from Thabit al-Banani who said, “Anas ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) told me, 'This is one of the Prophet’s hair, put it under my tongue." I put it under his tongue and he was buried with it under his tongue. [Al-Hafiz ibn Hajar, Al-Isaba fi Tamayyuz Al-Sahabah (p.1, vol.276).
In his Musannaf, Ibn Abu Shaybah mentioned that Yazeed ibn Abd al-Malak Ibn Qusayt said, “I saw some of the Prophet's Companions who, when they would be alone in the masjid, would wipe their hands on the pommel of the handrail of the pulpit [where the Prophet used to place his hand]and supplicate Allah.” He said, “I saw Yazeed do the same.”
In his Al-Awsat, Al-Tabarani reported that the Prophet (pbuh) himself sought blessings from Muslims. Ibn 'Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) used to drink the water Muslims used in their ablution, seeking blessings through them.
The Prophet (pbuh) also sought baraka through rain water. Anas (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated, “Once when we were with the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) it rained. So He removed part of his garments to expose his body to the rain. We asked, ‘Why did you this, O Messenger Allah!?’ He replied, "Because this water has just come down from its Lord, the Exalted" [Muslim, Sahih].
It is the practice of the sane people in all nations to respect the relics of their predecessors. It was likewise the practice of the Companions, Tabi'een [generations who followed them], scholars, and the imams of the Muslim community including its jurists, hadith scholars and historians to venerate these religious places and relics. They considered this as venerating the Shari'ah itself. Both the Salaf and Khalaf followed this opinion and no scholar considered it shirk or an act that leads to it.