Questioner: It is reported from Imaam Ahmad that he used to permit intercession [tawassul] through the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم, what is the authenticity of that [report]? And what is your opinion [concerning this]?
Al-Albaani: As for the authenticity of that according to the method employed when checking hadith, [then] we are not able to establish it, and it is not possible for us to establish [the authenticity] of every statement relayed about an Imaam of the Muslims according to the method of the scholars of hadith.
But we cannot but rely on the scholars who have preceded us in time and knowledge, and we can only but rely on them in the statements and narrations they relay to us–until a mistake in their reporting that becomes clear to us … [about] Imaam Ahmad, may Allaah have mercy on him, permitting intercession through the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم.
I remember reading that a long time ago in the Shaikh of Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah’s book, ‘At-Tawassul wal-Wasilah,’ he narrates that [statement] as being one of Imaam Ahmad’s, and his authority in that was the hadith of the blind man.
And as I just said: as long as Ibn Taymiyyah is narrating that, and he is someone who is trusted and relied upon in that which he narrates, then we maintain that which he narrated until the weakness of what he is narrating is established with us, this is regarding the answer to the question.
But I want to mention something important, in my view, concerning statements such as this: it does not harm us whether or not this statement is confirmed from Imaam Ahmad, both matters are equal before us–that is because we are not ‘Ahmadees’ [i.e., blind followers of Imaam Ahmad, may Allaah have mercy on him], but rather as I just said: we cherish these Imaams and hold them in high esteem and benefit from their knowledge and methodology, but we do not surrender the command of our aqidah or our pillars to them except those to whom it becomes clear to us have the truth with them.
Thus, if the report from Ibn Taymiyyah about Imaam Ahmad allowing that … and that his proof in that was the hadith of the blind man, and then upon studying the hadith of the blind man it becomes obvious that it does not denote seeking the intercession of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم after his death, because the blind man was only seeking intercession through the supplication [du’aa] of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم as is well-noted in that same book of Ibn Taymiyyah’s [we] just mentioned, and as I further clarified in my book [entitled], ‘At-Tawassul Anwaa’uhu wa Ahkaamuhu,’ … and the hadith of the blind man all centres around seeking intercession with the rank of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم, so it is not permissible for us to say that it is permissible to seek intercession through the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم now, because we cannot inform him what it is we need him to supplicate to his Lord for us is, and, for example, when he supplicates while in the state of barzakh we cannot know that he has [actually] supplicated, so the issue in the hadith of the blind man is connected to when he was alive عليه السلام and it has no connection to [after] his death.
Al-Fataawa al-Kuwaitiyyah, pp. 45-47.