Q1: It did not rain for a very long time and the ground became dry and we were forced to buy water. We were then called to perform Salaat-ul-Istisqaa' (Prayer for rain), so people gathered and said in a low voice: Ya ilahal-'alamin, la raja'na kha'ibin, nas'aluka bil-Mustafa wal-Wasiyy Al-Husayn (O Lord of the worlds, do not send us back disappointed, we ask You by the Prophet, Al-Wasiyy and Al-Husayn (to send us rain)). What is the ruling on that? Please inform us of the correct way of performing Salaat-ul-Istisqaa'. May Allah reward you.
A1: What is Mashru' (Islamically prescribed) for Muslims if the rain is late and the ground becomes barren is to be commanded to perform Salah, fast, give Sadaqah (voluntary charity) and abandon sins and disputes because obedience to Allah brings about blessings, whereas sins bring about drought.
The Imam (one who leads congregational prayer) should set a date for people to gather and perform Salat-ul-Istisqaa'. They should be in a state of modesty and humility; beseeching and imploring Allah (Exalted be He). The Imam must then lead them in Salah by offering two Rak'ahs (units of prayer).
He should make Takbir (saying: "Allahu Akbar [Allah is the Greatest]") seven times in the first Rak'ah and five in the second one like Salat-ul-`Eid (the Festival Prayer). In the first Rak'ah, he should recite, after Al-Fatihah (opening chapter of the Qur'an), the Surah (Qur'anic chapter) of Al-A'la and in the second Rak'ah, he should recite the Surah of Al-Ghashiyah. He must recite out loud.
After making Taslim (salutation of peace ending the Prayer), he must deliver a Khutbah (sermon) including the Ayahs (Qur'anic verse) of Istighfaar (seeking forgiveness from Allah), urging people to make Istighfar, calling them to give Sadaqah and to stick to piety by obeying the commands of Allah and avoiding sins. He must also inform people that performing Salat-ul-Istisqaa' whenever needed revives the Sunnah (acts, sayings or approvals of the Prophet) of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Then, he should supplicate Allah to send them blessed rain as the Prophet (peace be upon him) did. (Part No. 7; Page No. 171)
You may refer to the ahadith mentioned in the chapter on Salat-ul-Istisqaa'.As for what was mentioned in the question about making Tawassul (seeking to draw close to Allah through unlawful means) in the name of creatures, it is prohibited because it is a Bid`ah (innovation in religion).
It is impermissible to make Tawassul to Allah except through faith in Him, His Names and Attributes and through one's righteous deeds. Allah (Exalted be He) says: And (all) the Most Beautiful Names belong to Allâh, so call on Him by them Allah (Exalted be He) says: "Our Lord! Verily, we have heard the call of one (Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم) calling to Faith: ‘Believe in your Lord,’ and we have believed. Our Lord! Forgive us our sins and expiate from us our evil deeds, and make us die (in the state of righteousness) along with Al-Abrâr (the pious believers of Islamic Monotheism).
Moreover, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: O Allah, I ask You, I bear witness that there is no deity but You, the One, The Self-Sufficient Master, Whom all creatures need, He neither eats nor drinks, He begets not, nor was He begotten and there is none co-equal or comparable unto Him.
In another hadith, he (peace be upon him) said: O Allah! I ask You that all praise is Yours. There is no true God except You, You are Al-Mannan (The Ever-Giving, the Originator of the Heavens and Earth, Possessor of Majesty and Honour... until the end of the hadith.
It was authentically reported from the Prophet (peace be upon him) that he said that three men, belonging to one of the previous nations, were forced by the rain to spend the night in a cave. A rock then rolled and blocked the entrance of the cave. (Part No. 7; Page No. 172)
They could not come out; so, they made Tawassul to Allah by virtue of their righteous deeds. One of them made Tawassul by virtue of his dutifulness to his parents, the second made Tawassul by virtue of his refraining from committing Zina (sexual intercourse outside marriage) although he had the chance; and the third made Tawassul by virtue of conveying the trust to its owner. Allah, thus, answered their supplication and removed the rock.
It is also recommended to ask Allah for rain during the Friday khutbah because the Prophet (peace be upon him) did that.
May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.
The Permanent Committee for Scholarly Research and Ifta'
Imam Sudais leads the Salaatul Istisqaa'
Masjid al-Haraam, Makkah