There are some problems with the above text which need to be addressed. Generally speaking, I have found that any text issuing from Shaykh Abd al-Aziz Bin Baz and many of his friends on Islamic doctrine, raises more questions than it solves. It is best to cling to the majority opinion on these questions. The Prophet -- Allah bless and greet him -- said that his Community shall never agree upon error. This means that you will not see, on fundamental questions, error in the opinion of the vast majority (jumhur) of the ulamas. Those who differ from them should not be followed, and success is only from Allah.
Aside from this particular fatwa, I encountered many other strange positions during my recent Hajj. I have made a brief compilation of the answers of the people of knowledge on these issues and listed these answers in the third section of a hajj journal entitled "From the Two Holy Sanctuaries" which I intend to post on the msa-ec mailing list soon, insha Allah. To subscribe to msa-ec go to http://www.sunnah.org/subscribe.htm
I now address the fatwa of the shaykh:
... > Among other things, the Apostle-peace and blessings of Allah be unto him-after his death, never appears in a vision to a wakeful person.
In the absence of a legal proof, this is a claim to know the unseen. There is nothing in the Qur'an and Sunna that says that the Prophet -- Allah bless and greet him -- does not appear to anyone in a wakeful state.
He of the ignorant Sufis, who claims that he sees, while being vigilant, the vision of the Prophet-peace and blessings of Allah be unto him---or that the vision attends the (Mawlids) or the like, would have been guilty of the foulest error, and have been exceedingly obscured.
It is related from one of the great Sufi shaykhs who happened to be blind, whom the hadith master Ibn al-Mulaqqin mentioned in his Tabaqat al-Awliya, and concerning whom Ibn Daqiq al-`Id said: "I never saw anyone more knowledgeable of Allah," Shaykh Abu al-Hasan al-Shadhili -- may Allah have mercy upon him -- that he said: "If I ceased to see the Prophet -- Allah bless and greet him -- for one moment, I would no longer consider myself a Muslim." If this report is authentic, Shaykh Abd al-Aziz shall have to answer for his calumny of Shaykh Abu al-Hasan on the Day of Judgment.
Anyone who deliberately lies about the Prophet -- Allah bless and greet him -- is heading for the Fire, as established by the Prophet's mass-narrated hadith to that effect, whether affirming something falsely, or, also, denying it falsely. May Allah protect us from that terrible act.
As for attending Mawlid, "a vision" does not attend or do anything, but the spirits of the believers who passed away, together with the angels and the believing jinn, are certainly related to attend the gatherings of the pious all over the earth. Ibn al-Kharrat in al-`Aqiba, Ibn al-Qayyim in al-Ruh, al-Qurtubi in al-Tadhkira, Ibn Abi al-Dunya in al-Qubur, al-Suyuti in Sharh al-Sudur, and others relate from many of the Salaf that the spirits of the believers in Barzakh are free to come and go anywhere they please. This is all the more possible for our Prophet -- Allah bless and greet him -- as we celebrate Mawlid specifically to remember him and invoke blessings upon him.
May Allah make wide for us the abode where they shall place us after our death, and may Allah grant us the great honor and ability to see the Prophet -- Allah bless and greet him -- before death.
He would also have made a big mistake, and have gone against the >Quran, the Sunnah, and the consensus of scholars ; due to the fact that the >dead never rise out of their graves in this world save on the Day of >Judgement; as has been mentioned by Allah in connection with the attributes >of believers: (And then at length you will certainly die and again on the >Day of Judgement you will be raised up) [XXII: I5-I6]. ...
The Shaykh of Mecca, Sayyid Muhammad ibn Alawi -- may Allah guard him -- said in his last book Manhaj al-Salaf:
"Some of those whom Allah has forsaken come and cite the verse: "Verily you shall die and verily they will die" (39:30) together with other Qur’anic texts and Prophetic hadiths of related meaning, attempting to use them as proofs for their own corrupt designs and ill intentions. This is in order to cast aspersions on the perfections of the Prophet Muhammad -- Allah bless and greet him -- and so as to assert for him ordinary humanity as well as equality between the noblest of all Prophetic Messengers and all other human beings.... This is our answer to those who want a scientific examination of the question, without passion, partisanship, or obduracy, and who want to tread the path of the People of Truth – meaning the people of high manners, refinement, and true knowledge. Upon such it is incumbent to let discourse reflect the understanding:
1) that the Prophet’s -- Allah bless and greet him -- perfections endure and remain entirely preserved without the slightest doubt;
2) that he hears spoken words, replies to the salâm given, praises Allah for the good deeds of his Umma that are shown to him, and asks forgiveness for the evil ones;
3) that showing excellent manners with him at his maqâm upon visiting him, greeting him with our salâm at his grave, in his mosque, and in his Rawda, are all among the most stringent obligations and the most binding of duties;
4) that "his sanctity after he died is exactly as his sanctity when he was alive," as stated by the Imam of the Abode of Emigration [Imam Malik] to the Abbasid Caliph;
5) and that even though he -- Allah bless and greet him -- died and his body has undoubtedly disappeared from our sights – for none eternally remains except the One Alone, the Living, the Self-Sustaining Who never tires nor sleeps – nevertheless, he is alive with a complete isthmus-life (hayât barzakhiyya) which is greater and better and more perfect than worldly life – indeed, higher, dearer, sweeter, more perfect, and more beneficial than worldly life."
End of Shaykh Muhammad ibn Alawi's words.
> The Prophet-peace be unto him-might be seen during sleep, and he to >whom he appears in his holy figure during slumber has actually seen him, >since the Devil never finds visual expression in the shape of the >Prophet-peace and blessings of Allah be unto him-as has been stated in the >authentic holy prophetic traditions. The whole consequence, however, depends >upon the faith of the visioner, his truthfulness, honourable record, >correctness, creed, trustworthiness, and whether he saw the Prophet-peace >and blessings of Allah be unto him- in his own countenance, or not. ...
Concerning the rational proof for the possibility of one's sighting of the Prophet -- Allah bless and greet him -- while one is awake, it is established by the principle (qa`ida) that "whatever exists, can be seen" (kullu mawjudin yura). So, whoever denies the possibility of seeing the Prophet -- Allah bless and greet him -- while awake must be prepared to assert either that something can exist but is impossible to be seen -- which can only be known through knowledge of the unseen --or that he no longer exists -- we seek refuge in Allah from the slurs of the tongue. But the proofs that the Prophet -- Allah bless and greet him -- exists and is alive are in his authentic hadiths: "The Prophets are alive in their graves, praying" and "No-one greets me except that Allah has returned my soul to me so that I may greet him back" among others.
Concerning the transmitted proof for the possibility of seeing the Prophet -- Allah bless and greet him -- while one is awake, it is established by the authentic hadith narrated from him by Imam Ahmad in his Musnad and others with a chain of sound narrators as stated by al-Haythami in Majma` al-Zawa'id, that a certain man Salman al-Farisi had seen in al-Qudus was actually Isa ibn Maryam -- Allah bless and greet our Prophet and him. If `Isa can be seen after leaving this world, then the more so can our Prophet -- Allah bless and greet him.
> Considering the fact that the Apostle during his lifetime was not >to know the divine secrets, how then is he to know them after his death;
No-one knows the divine secrets except those to whom they are revealed. Revelation certainly came to the Prophet -- Allah bless and greet him-- !
>because Allah-praise be to Him-says: (Say: "I tell you not that with me are >the Treasures of Allah, nor do I know what is hidden"), and says: (Say: None >in the Heavens or on earth, except Allah knows what is hidden).
When the verses of Qur'an state different things about the same issue, then there are rules that must be followed in order to tell the general from the particular. The above are in the general category. There is another verse that addresses the particular, and states: "He discloses not His unseen to anyone, except only to such a Messenger as He is well-pleased with." (72:26) Why was not that verse quoted also?
There is also another verse that specifically states five hidden things which only Allah knows: "Lo! Allah! With Him is knowledge of the Hour. He sends down the rain and knows that which is in the wombs" (31:34) to the end of the verse. Why was not that verse stated also? That makes the unseen, in relation to the Prophet -- Allah bless and greet him -- reduced to five things only. This is confirmed by the explicit authentic hadiths: "There are five things known only to Allah" and "I have received the keys to everything (unseen) except the Five (which Allah alone knows)" among other narrations.
The above shows us that we should beware of those who quote the general in the same sense as the specific in order to forward their own views, especially when they wish to misconstrue something about our Prophet -- Allah bless and greet him.
In the >authentic Hadith, it is reported that the Prophet- peace be unto him-said: >(On the Day of Judgement, I assume the defence of some men by saying: "0 >Lord, (but they are) my companions, my companions". Then I will be told, >"Verily, you do not know what heresy they brought about after your death." >Then I will say as the virtuous man said "And I was a witness over them >whilst I dwelt amongst them; when Thou didst take me up Thou wast the >Watcher over them, and Thou art a witness to all things").
In the authentic hadith it is also stated that the Prophet -- Allah bless and greet him -- said: "[After my death] Your deeds will continue to be shown to me, whatever good I see, I shall praise Allah for it, and if I see otherwise, I shall ask forgiveness for you." As stated above, there are rules for the explanation of apparently conflicting texts, and these rules are followed by Ahl al-Sunna to reach different conclusions that those that we keep hearing from the above source, and Allah knows best.