Published online by Cambridge University Press: 11 December 2007
The tawassul is a ritual invocation popularly used in West Java at grave visits and in other Islamic observances. In simple terms, it consists of two acts; the naming of figures who are considered as mediators (wasilah) between a supplicant and Allah, and the making of an offering for the benefit of the mediator. Participants in tawassul hold contrasting understandings of what is achieved by performing it. Furthermore, the invocation is easily adapted for diverse settings while retaining its basic syntax. This multivocality and flexibility provide keys to understanding the popularity of the tawassul as a religious observance for Sundanese Muslims.