Q: There are many shaykhs in my country who do the following things:
They play Duffs (tambourine-like instruments without bells) and go to graves where they slaughter sheep, camels, and cows, and they cook food there. Is this Haram (prohibited) or not?
They have also constructed a dome outside the city where they play Duffs and drums, and shout loudly: “Help us, O our Shaykh Jilany!” They also invoke the help of other shaykhs. In addition to this, they walk among the people collecting money from them, and say that it is to visit Shaykh so-and-so and for other matters. If someone falls ill, they take them to these shaykhs who recite Ayahs (Qur’anic verses) over them, and ask them to bring a ram, a bull, a camel, or other animals. People pay them large sums of money over the year and they go to them. Are these practices prohibited according to our Din (religion)?
It is not permissible to slaughter camels, cows, sheep, or anything else on graves. (Part No. 1; Page No. 156) In fact, it is an act of major Shirk (associating others with Allah in His Divinity or worship) that puts the doer beyond the pale of Islam, if by doing so they mean to draw close to those buried in the graves, hoping for their blessing. It is only Allah Who can be drawn close to in this way. Allah (Exalted be He) says (what means):
Say (O Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم): "Verily, my Salât (prayer), my sacrifice, my living, and my dying are for Allâh, the Lord of the ‘Alamîn (mankind, jinn and all that exists).
"He has no partner. And of this I have been commanded, and I am the first of the Muslims."
As for playing Duffs and Drums: men are absolutely prohibited from playing Duffs, and women are only permitted to do so to announce a marriage. Playing drums is prohibited for both men and women.
Seeking the help of the dead or absent living beings from the Jinn, angels, or humans, and supplicating to them to bring a benefit or ward off harm, are all acts of major Shirk that puts the doer beyond the pale of Islam. Allah (Exalted be He) says (what means):
"And invoke not besides Allâh, any such that will neither profit you nor harm you, but if (in case) you did so, you shall certainly be one of the Zâlimûn (polytheists and wrong-doers)."
And if Allâh touches you with harm, there is none who can remove it but He, and if He intends any good for you, there is none who can repel His Favour which He causes it to reach whomsoever of His slaves He wills.
The visiting of shaykhs of
Sufi Tariqahs (orders) to their followers to collect money, is begging and eating up money unjustly. It is necessary that one who has the ability to advise them should help them and curb their wrongdoing. They also should advise the followers not to give them any money, except on legitimate basis.
Treating a sick person by reciting the Qur’an, Adhkar (invocations and remembrances of Allah) and Du‘a’ (supplications) that are authentically reported from the Prophet (peace be upon him) is lawful. (Part No. 1; Page No. 157) However, going to the people you mentioned for them to recite Ayahs over the sick and then order the slaughtering of rams or bulls, for example, is not permissible. In fact, this type of Ruqyah (saying supplications over the sick seeking healing) is Bid‘ah (innovation in religion) and involves cheating people out of their money. Finally, it is an act of Shirk to slaughter animals for the Jinn, the dead, or others, to ward off evil or bring a benefit.
May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.