The practice of tawassul from other than Allah (swt), and in other words, seeking aid and help from other than Allah (swt), such as the prophets and His apostles, which has been common amongst Muslims in all ages, in no way means that one believes they are partners with Allah (swt) in His actions. What is truly meant is that Allah (swt) grants our needs through and by virtue of them. In reality what the person practicing tawassul is doing is that he is actually calling Allah (swt) and asking Him, while asking those near Him (who are to be the intercessors) to ask Allah (swt) that their requests be granted. The believers have been asked to practice this method of tawassul in the Quran too: “Oh you who believe! Be wary of Allah (swt) and seek a means of nearness to Him…”
In a few words, doing tawassul and asking those who are of high ranks and near Allah (swt) (such as the prophets and apostles), is something that both Islam and the intellect accept and commend, and the behavior of the holy prophet (pbuh), imams (as) and Muslim nation regarding this issue has been such that it confirms it. Add to that the fact that the prophet (pbuh) and the imams used to encourage the people to seek tawassul through the Quran and the apostles of God.
Therefore Allah’s (swt) messengers and apostles can by His permission do some things and make certain changes in our world (the world of creation) if ever needed, and make things happen that are in contrast to what natural causes might normally necessitate. Keeping this in mind, the true meaning of the Quranic phrase “إِنِ الْحُکْمُ إِلَّا لِلَّهِ” (which at the first glance is telling us that all commands, whether they have to do with creation or with the legislation of Islamic law, solely belongs to Allah (swt) and no one else possesses any) becomes clear to us, meaning that when it comes to creating or doing anything that has to do with our world and universe, and also when it comes to legislating Islamic law, everything goes through Allah (swt) and is done with His permission [meaning that others can also do so with His permission].
Therefore, there is no contradiction between asking the imams and Allah’s (swt) apostles for something and the doctrine of tawhid, keeping in mind that if the imams do something, it is with the permission of Allah (swt). Thus it is okay to say Ya Ali Madad with such a mindset.
Also, because of the many hadiths that allow us to do so, we can ask the imams for help and a means of livelihood, making no difference between asking them during their lifetime and after, because they are the mediators of Allah’s (swt) grace and it is through them that Allah’s (swt) grace flows to the rest of His creation, and they are of great respect to Him.
For further information, you can refer to:
1- Index: Tawassul in the Quran and tradition, Question 2032 (website: ).
2- Index: The philosophy of seeking help from the Ahlul-Bayt, Question 1321 (website: ).
3- Index: Tawassul and having a direct relationship with God, Question 542 (website: ).
4- Index: Denying the Prophet (pbuh) any benefit or harm and asking him for intercession and recovery from illness, Question 84 (website: ).
5- Index: The role of mediators in getting nearer to Allah (swt), Question 286 (website: ).
6- Tafsir Nemouneh, vol.5, pg. 265 and vol.3, pp.557-559.