From what has preceded, it is clear that du’aa’ can only be directed towards Allaah سبحانه و تعالى alone.
"Say (O Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم): 'I invoke only my Lord (Allah Alone), and I associate none as partners along with Him.'"(Surah Jinn, 72:20)
To make du’aa’ to other than Allaah سبحانه و تعالى is pure shirk [شرك] (associating partners with Allaah سبحانه و تعالى), which is the one sin that Allaah سبحانه و تعالى will not forgive.
This is due to the fact that the one that makes a du’aa’ to other than Allaah سبحانه و تعالى is in fact attributing to a created object characteristics and attributes that only Allaah سبحانه و تعالى has. So, the person who makes a du’aa’ to a saint, or rock, or idol, believes that that object can hear him, and has eternal life, and is capable of responding to his invocation, and has knowledge of his situation, and can see the state that he is in, and has mercy upon him, and has the power to grant him what he wishes. Yet, the perfection of all of these attributes is only with Allaah سبحانه و تعالى. It is only Allaah سبحانه و تعالى that can hear everything, in fact, Allaah سبحانه و تعالى knows our very thoughts even if we do not vocalise them. It is only Allaah سبحانه و تعالى that knows our situation perfectly, and has a Divine Mercy for us, and is All-Powerful in responding to out requests. Allaah سبحانه و تعالى describes all other objects which du’aa’ is made to in the following verse:
"If you invoke (or call upon) them, they hear not your call, and if (in case) they were to hear, they could not grant it (your request) to you. And on the Day of Resurrection, they will disown your worshipping them. And none can inform you (O Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم) like Him Who is the All-Knower (of each and everything)." (Soorah Faatir, 35:14)
So the object that is called upon besides Allaah سبحانه و تعالى, whether it is an idol or a dead saint, cannot hear such calls in the first place. They do not have the perfect Attribute that as-Samee’ (The Hearer of Everything) has, and even if they are alive and have a sense of hearing, this sense is extremely limited, for they can only hear within a very small distance, if the voice is loud enough. Can such a restricted hearing be compared in any way to the attributes of as-Samee’?
Allaah سبحانه و تعالى then states that, even if they could hear such calls, they would not be able to respond to them. Thus, because these objects simply do not have the power or capability to respond to any requests. Allaah سبحانه و تعالى describes these worshipped objects as:
"He calls besides Allah unto that which hurts him not, nor profits him. That is a straying far away. He calls unto him whose harm is nearer than his profit; certainly, an evil Maula (patron) and certainly an evil friend!"(Soorah Hajj, 22:12-13)
So the person calling an object besides Allaah سبحانه و تعالى is in reality calling something that can neither benefit him nor harm him in this world. Although these objects can, in and of themselves cause no harm, by calling them instead of Allaah سبحانه و تعالى, a person brings harm upon himself by committing shirk, so what an evil and foolish act it is. As Allaah سبحانه و تعالى says:
"And who is more astray than one who calls (invokes) besides Allah, such as will not answer him till the Day of Resurrection, and who are (even) unaware of their calls (invocations) to them?" (Sooratul Ahqaaf, 46:5)
The object that is called besides Allaah سبحانه و تعالى does not even know it is being called, and if du’aa’ were made to them until the Day of Judgement, nothing would occur!
In fact, look at the example that Allaah سبحانه و تعالى gave of the one who calls to other than Allaah سبحانه و تعالى:
"Say (O Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم): "Shall we invoke others besides Allah (false deities), that can do us neither good nor harm, and shall we turn on our heels after Allah has guided us (to true Monotheism)? - like one whom the Shayaateen (devils) have made to go astray, confused (wandering) through the earth, his companions calling him to guidance (saying): 'Come to us.' " Say: "Verily, Allah's Guidance is the only guidance, and we have been commanded to submit (ourselves) to the Lord of the 'Aalameen (mankind, jinns and all that exists);" (Sooratul An’aam, 6:71)
So from all of this it is apparent that anyone who makes a du’aa’ to other than Allaah سبحانه و تعالى has committed a form of major shirk, rather, the greatest form of shirk!
"And whoever invokes besides Allah another deity for which he has no proof - then his account is only with his Lord. Indeed, the disbelievers will not succeed." (Sooratul Mu’minoon, 23:117)
It is irrelevant what excuses, or distorted logic, those that make du’aa’ to other than Allaah سبحانه و تعالى use to try to justify this shirk, for the reality of an act is not affected by invented names given to it. So you find some of them claiming that they are only calling out to ‘holy’ people, whereas others use the concept of intercession (shafaa’ah) [شفاعة] to justify this shirk. Yet others pervert the correct understanding of tabarruk [تبرك] (seeking blessings from an object), while others use the concept of tawassul [توسل] (seeking a means of nearness to Allaah سبحانه و تعالى). No matter what means a person seeks to use, the fact should be clear to everyone that to call upon a dead person, or an angel, or a prophet, or a rock or stone, or a deity other than Allaah سبحانه و تعالى, is the essence of shirk, concerning which there is no difference of opinion amongst Muslims. This type of shirk is the worst type, for it is directing the greatest act of worship to other than Allaah سبحانه و تعالى. A person who commits this type of shirk has removed himself from the fold of Islaam, and this act of his is no different from prostrating to an idol.
Despite the clarity of this type of shirk, it is appalling to note that such acts are rampant amongst many Muslims societies and cultures. It is possible to hear a person who believes that he is Muslim, and might even be praying or fasting, call out, ‘O ‘Abdul Qaadir al-Jeelaanee! Save me!’ And here is another that makes a du’aa’, “O Badawee! O Teejaanee! O Rifaa’ee! Guide me! Help me! Give me my sustenance! Take care of my needs!’ And yet a third might say, ‘O Muhammad! Grant me a righteous child!’ So they call out to pious saints, believing that these saints have the power to respond to their du’aa’s, or that they have a right over Allaah سبحانه و تعالى that Allaah سبحانه و تعالى answer their prayers.
Another manifestation of this evil is the culture of grave-worship that is predominant in certain Muslim countries. The erecting of beautiful structures over the graves of ‘holy’ people, and travelling distances to visit these graves, is forbidden in Islaam for the very reason that such glorification leads to shirk. It is even prohibited to pray (perform Salaah) in front of a grave, even though the salaah is to Allaah سبحانه و تعالى, so what is the case of the one who actually makes a du’aa’ to the dead?
Similarly, others use the dead saints as intercessors between them and Allaah سبحانه و تعالى, thinking that, by using these people as intermediaries, their du’aa’s will have a stronger chance of being accepted by Allaah سبحانه و تعالى. This act of theirs is based on their own ignorance, for the Arabs at the time of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم would worship their idols with the exact same excuse – that they were only trying to come closer to Allaah سبحانه و تعالى – and yet, despite this excuse, Allaah سبحانه و تعالى considered them to be committing shirk. The reason for this being that the pure concept of tawheed in Islaam does not allow for any intermediaries between man and Allaah سبحانه و تعالى when it comes to the worship of Allaah سبحانه و تعالى. Worship is a right that is due only to Allaah سبحانه و تعالى, and it is shirk to divert any act of worship to other than Allaah سبحانه و تعالى.
To conclude, du’aa’ is one of the greatest acts of worship, and therefore to make a du’aa’ to other than Allaah سبحانه و تعالى is the essence of shirk. And there is no difference in making du’aa’ to a prophet, or an angel, or a pious person, or to a grave, a star, a rock, or a stone; all of these are created objects, and cannot compare in any way to Allaah سبحانه و تعالى. Likewise, there is no difference if a person makes du’aa’ to them or uses them as intermediaries between him and Allaah سبحانه و تعالى; both of these acts are manifestations of shirk.
[Dua: Weapon of the Believer]