Rubbing against the Prophet's belongings, grave and Minbar

Q: There is a question fired by those who excessively revere the graves of righteous people and Mubtadi`s (those who introduce innovations in religion) to whom they call people. They attack us claiming that Imam Ahmad (may Allah be merciful to him) permitted rubbing and kissing of the Minbars (pulpits) and graves of righteous people with the intention of drawing close to Allah. They cite in support the book entitled Al-Jami` Fi Al-`Ilal Wa Ma`rifat Al-Rijal, more specifically the narration of `Abdullah, Salih Al-Marrudhy and Al-Maymuny vol. 2, p. 23, no. 250 which reads: "'I asked him about the man who rubs and kisses the Minbar of the Prophet (peace be upon him) seeking his blessing and does the same at his grave, seeking to draw close to Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He).' He answered: 'There is no harm in this.'"Kindly, guide me and provide me with a satisfactory answer, for it gives rise to a strange Fitnah (sedition) among the youth who are not firm in knowledge. Can this statement be attributed to Imam Ahmad (may Allah be merciful to him)?

A: Rubbing the remaining relics of the Prophet, his grave and Minbar is not permissible, as it is a means leading to Shirk (associating others with Allah in His Divinity or worship). If this is done with the aim of seeking blessing, it will be Shirk. The Shaykh of Islam Ibn Taymiyyah said, "The scholars agreed that the visitor of the grave of the Prophet (peace be upon him) or of other prophets, righteous people, Sahabah (Companions of the Prophet), Ahl-ul-Bayt (members of the Prophet's extended Muslim family) (Part No. 1; Page No. 159) or others should not wipe or kiss any of these things. Moreover, no inanimate object is lawful to be kissed [out of reverence] except for Al-Hajar Al-Aswad (the Black Stone in a corner of the Ka`bah). It was authentically reported in the Two Sahih (authentic) Books of Hadith (i.e. Al-Bukhari and Muslim) that `Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said, when kissing Al-Hajar Al-Aswad, "By Allah I know that you are but a stone that brings no benefit and causes no harm. Had it not been that I saw the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) kissing you, I would not have kissed you." Therefore, it is not an act of Sunnah, according to the consensus of the Four Imams (Abu Hanifah, Malik, Al-Shafi`y, and Ahmad), to kiss or touch the corners of Al-Bayt (the House: another name for the Ka`bah) which are beside Al-Hajar Al-Aswad, the walls of Al-Bayt, Maqam Ibrahim (the Station of Ibrahim), the Rock near Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa or the grave of any of the prophets and righteous people. The scholars differed as to the ruling on putting the hand on the Minbar of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) when it existed. Malik held the view that it is Makruh (disliked), for it is Bid`ah (innovation in religion). It was reported that when Malik saw `Ata' doing this, he did not attend his religious circles. The narration attributed to Ahmad with regard to permissibility of this act is weak. Likewise, the narration of Ibn `Umar concerning touching the Minbar cannot be used as a proof, for it is contrary to other established proofs and contrary to what was authentically reported from Amir Al-Mu’minin (Commander of the Believers) `Umar ibn Al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him). It is not permissible to act in contradiction to the evidence, because the Prophet (peace be upon him) stated, Anyone who does an action which is not in accordance with this matter of ours (Islam) (Part No. 1; Page No. 160) will have it rejected. May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.