Few amongst the masses use to object that to utter "Ya Shaykh Abd al Qadir Jilani" is Shirk because one is making partnership with Allah Ta’ala (committing Shirk) by asking for assistance from the creation of Allah Ta'ala. They say that one can only ask directly from Allah Ta’ala. The Ahle Sunnah Wal Jama'at believes that it is absolutely permissible to say "Ya Sheikh Abd al Qaadir Jilani" when asking for assistance from those servants of Allah Ta'ala whom He has appointed as helpers of the Ummah.
We understand from the verse
اِیَّاکَ نَعْبُدُ وَ اِیَّاکَ نَسْتَعِیۡنُ
You alone we worship and from You alone we seek help (and may we always).
which is found in Surah Fateha, that the True Helper is Allah Ta'ala. But it is Allah Ta’ala who has appointed helpers from within His servants to assist the creation with His permission.
Sayyiduna Shah Abdul Azeez Muhaddith Delhwi (Alaihir raHmah) explains the Tafseer of the verse "Iy'ya ka Na'budu Wa Iy'ya Ka Nastaeen" by writing:
"Here, it should be understood that to ask for assistance from anyone other than Allah, by putting full trust and not thinking of it as a marvel of Almighty Allah, is prohibited. But, if the attention is towards Allah and then to think of a person as the splendour of Almighty Allah and by keeping the means and wisdom of Almighty Allah before you, if one asks from anyone other than Allah, then this is not far from the Wisdom of Almighty Allah. This action is permissible and allowed in Shari’ah. To ask for help in this way is not really asking from someone but Allah, but in reality it is to ask from Allah." [Tafseer-e-Azeezi]
As long as a person bears this fact in mind that the True and Real Helper is Allah Ta'ala and no matter whom he asks from, it will be through the Mercy of Allah Ta'ala, then it is permissible to ask from such a person. This can never be termed as Shirk.
Sayyiduna Ghawth al-A’zam Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qādir Jilāni Radi ALLAHu Ta'ala Anho (d.561/1164), states:
من استغاث بي في كر بة كشفت عنه و من نادى باسمي في شدة فرجت عنه و من توسل بي الى الله عز و جل في حاجته قضيت له و من صلى ركعتين يقرء في كل ركعة بعد الفاتحة سورة الاخلاص احدى عشرة مرة ثم يصلى على رسول الله صلى الله تعالى عليه و سلم بعد السلام و يسلم عليه ثم يخطوا الى جهة العراق احدى عشرة خطوة يذكر فيها اسمي و يذكر حاجتي فانها تقضي
If a person in distress or hardships calls out to me, his hardship will be eradicated. If a person uses my name as a Wasila (medium) when he pleads to Allāh SubHanuhu wa Ta'ala, his need will be fulfilled. One should perform two Rakats of Salāh and in every Rakat one should recite the Sura Fateha eleven times, and thereafter, Sura Ikhlās eleven times. After completing the Salāh, one must recite the Durood and Salām (Salawāt or Darood Sharif) upon Sayyiduna Rasoolullah SallAllahu 'Alaihi wa Sallam. Then remembering me one should take eleven steps towards the direction of Baghdad invoking my name in every step and also one’s need and wish. In this manner, (Allāh SubHanuhu wa Ta'ala willing), his need and wish will be granted. [Bahjat al Asrar, Mustafa al-Babi (Egypt), Page 102 - Zubdat al Asraar, Page 101]
The above method has been mentioned and prescribed by eminent scholars such as,
Imām Abul Hasan Ali bin Jarir Lakh'mi Shat’noofi Radi ALLAHu Ta'ala Anho (d.713/1314),
Imām ‘Abdullah bin Asad Yafa’i Makki Radi ALLAHu Ta'ala Anho (d.750/1349),
Shaykh Mulla Ali Qāri Makki Radi ALLAHu Ta'ala Anho (d.1014/1606) author of Mirqāt Shar’h Mishkāt,
Mawlana Abul-Maāli Muhammad Salmi al-Qadiri Radi ALLAHu Ta'ala Anho and Shaykh-e-Muhaqqiq Mawlana ‘Abd al-Haqq Muhaddith Dehlawi Radi ALLAHu Ta'ala Anho (d.1052/1642).
Some of their thesis are,
Khulāsa al Mafākhir,
Toh’fa-e-Qadiri yyah and
Zubdat al-’thār, etc.
Numerous other ‘Ulama and Awliya also promote it. One should also remember that the great ‘Ulama and Saints attribute extreme authenticity to the above.
Imām ‘Allama Khayr al-Din Ramli Radi ALLAHu Ta'ala Anho, the illustrious teacher of the scholar who has written the authentic book on Islāmic Jurisprudence, “Durre Mukhtār”, states in his Fatāwa Khayriyyah:
قَولَهُم يَا شَيخ عَبدَالقَادِر نِدَاءٌ فَمَا المُوجِبُ الحُرمَةَ؟
People who proclaim, “Ya Shaykh ‘Abd al Qādir”, are merely emulating a call. What, therefore, is the reason for it not to be permissible? [Fatawa Khairiyah, Dar al-Ma'arifah (Berut - Lebanon), Vol 2, Page 182]
Sayyidi Jamāl bin ‘Abdullah bin Umar Makki Radi ALLAHu Ta'ala Anho, in his Fatāwa states:
سالت عمّن يقول في حال الشدائد يا رسول الله او يا شيخ عبدالقادر مثلا هل هو جائز شرعاً ام لا؟ اُجِبْتُ نعم! الاستغاثة بالاولياء و نداؤهم و التوسّل بهم امر مشروعٌ و شيئ مرغوبٌ الا ينكرهٌ الا مكابر و معاند و قد حرّم بركة الاولياء الكرام
I was questioned about those people who in times of difficulty proclaim “Ya Rasūlallah, Ya Ali, Ya Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qādir,” and whether these proclamations were permissible in Islām. The great scholar replied: “Yes, these proclamations are permissible. To call to them is permissible including using their names as Wasila. This is allowed in the light of the Shari’ah. Such an act is desirable and approved. Only the stubborn and arrogant would oppose or question this reality. These individuals are certainly unfortunate and deprived of the Barkāt (blessing) of the Awliya Allāh”. [Fatawa Jamāl bin ‘Abdullah bin Umar Makki]
Shah Wali-Allāh Radi ALLAHu Ta'ala Anho, records a method for achieving and fulfilling one’s wishes in his book, Al-Intibah fi al salāsil al-Awliya. He states:
بعد ازاں یک صدو یازدہ بار درود و بعدازاں یک صدو یازدہ بار کلمہ تمجید ویک صدو یازدہ بارشیئاً ﷲ یا شیخ عبدالقادر جیلانی
“One should first perform two Rakats of Nafil Salāh. After completion, he should recite the following - 111 times Darood Sharif (Salawāt), 111 times Kalima Tamjid and 111 times ‘Shay’an-Lillāh, Ya Shaykh Abd al-Qādir Jilāni’.” [Al-Intibah fi al salāsil al-Awliya Allah]
From this book, it has been proven that all the afore-mentioned great luminaries believed in the proclamation of “Shay’an Lillāh” and “Ya” as being valid and a great solution to many unsolved problems. The Shariah does not forbid to call on Ambiyā and Awliya for assistance with the Harf of Nidā (“Ya”). They also gave permission to their students and disciples to practice it without any hesitation. Sha Wali-Allāh Muhaddith Dehlawi Radi ALLAHu Ta'ala Anho spent numerous years in the company of his Shaykh and Ustāz of Hadith Sharif, Shaykh Mawlana Shaykh Abu-Tāhir al-Madani Radi ALLAHu Ta'ala Anho.