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Wilayat (Sainthood) is a very special rank and position of acceptance given by Allah to His beloved servants.  A Wali is a pious muslim who attains this position of wilayat.  Wilayat is deduced from the root word “Wila”, which means closeness.  Some attain this position due to their sincere devotion and worship.  Some attain this position from birth, but ultimately, it depends on Allah’s mercy and kindness.  Wilayat is a shadow of Nabuwat (Prophethood).  A Wali, no matter how great his status, cannot reach the status of a Prophet or a Sahaabi (companions of the Holy Prophet Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam).  All the Awliya Allah belong to the Ahle-Sunnah-wal-Jama’at, and anyone belonging to any other sect cannot be Awliya because they have beliefs contrary to the teachings of Rasoolallah (Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam).  The following narration explains the status of the Awliya:

Hazrat Umar Radi Allahu Anhu said:

“I heard the Prophet Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam saying that there will be certain worshippers of Allah who will not be prophets, nor martyrs, but the prophets and martyrs will envy them on the Day of Judgement.”

The Companions then asked, “O Prophet of Allah, who are these people?”

Then the Prophet Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam explained to them the qualities of the Awliya.  The Prophet Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam read to them the verse:

“Beware, verily on the friends of Allah, there is no fear, nor shall they grieve.” (Surah Yunus, Verse 62)

There are two types of Wilayat:

1)       Wilayat-e-Amma (general closeness to Allah) – This is the closeness of Allah to every believer, as Allah declares in the Holy Quran:  “We are closer to him, than his own jugular vein.” (Surah Al-Kaaf, Verse 16)

2)       Wilayat-e-Khaas (special closeness to Allah) – This closeness is exclusive to the Awliya.  This is a speciality of those who have traveled on the path of Tasawwuf, and attained nearness to Allah.  This is declared in a Hadith-e-Quddsi, where Allah says to the Holy Prophet Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam, “Among the things that bring My servant close to Me, the ones I love best, are the things that I have made fard (compulsory).  When My servant does nafil ibaadat (optional prayer), he gets very close to Me.  So much so, that I love him very much.  When I love Him, I become his hearing ear, seeing eye, holding hand, and walking foot.  I give him whatever he wishes.  When he invokes Me for help, I protect him.”

Allah’s closeness is not like material closeness that can be understood by reason, or perceived through the sense organs.  It can only be comprehended through the knowledge of Ma’rifa (gnosis) bestowed by Allah upon the Awliya.  From the Awliya of all the ummahs (of the previous Prophets), the greatest Awliya are from the ummah of Sayidina Rasoolallah (Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam).  There have been Awliya Allah in every era and there will always be Awliya Allah in every era.  However, their recognition may be difficult. 

The Quran divides those that are favoured by Allah into 4 groups:

a)       The Prophets – This cycle has ended after the appearance of Rasoolallah (Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam).

b)       The Siddiques (The Truthful) – This rank is next after the Prophets.  The greatest Siddique was Hazrat Abu Bakr (Radi Allahu Anhu).  The meaning of Siddique is Truth. Such a person recognizes truth in all its manifestations.

c)       The Shuhada (Martyrs) – One need not actually be killed in the battlefield to prove one’s self as shaheed (martyr).  One in this stage feels satisfied by sacrificing everything that he has for the Creator.

d)       The Salih (Pious) – This is the lower grade that one can attain by devotional activities.  In this stage, one cleanses himself from all spiritual impurities such as jealousy, hatred, hypocrisy etc.

From the Awliya of the ummah of Sayidina Rasoolallah (Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam), the most superior Awliya are the four Khulafa-e-Rashideen (The Righteously guided Caliphs), namely Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddique Radi Allahu Anhu, Hazrat Umar Farooq Radi Allahu Anhu, Hazrat Uthmaan Ghani Radi Allahu Anhu, and Hazrat Ali Murtaza Radi Allahu Anhu, and then all the other Sahaaba.  All the Sahaaba were Awliya, BUT all Awliya are not Sahaaba.


Amongst the Awliya are the following groups:

  • At any given time, there are 4000 Awliya living on Earth.  They are not recognized by the general public.  In fact, amongst them, one does not know the other, and they themselves are not aware of the validity of their actions and devotion.
  • 300 from this group are statesman, involved in the administration of this world.  They control all transactions that take place. They are known as the “Akhyaar”.
  • Amongst these 300, 40 are known as “Abdaal”.
  • Amongst the 40, 7 are “Abraar”.
  • Amongst this 7, 4 are “Autaad”.
  • Amongst these 4, 3 are “Noqabah”.
  • From these 3, 1 is the “Ghaus” or “Qutub”.  He is the most senior of them all, and head of the spiritual assembly.

In reference to the Abdaals, Imam At-Tabarani Radi Allahu Anhu quotes a Hadith Shareef in which the Holy Prophet (Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam) declares, “There will always exist 40 persons on the Earth, each of whom is blessed like Hazrat Ebrahim (Alaihis Salaam).  It rains because of their barakah.  Allah appoints another when one of them dies.”

In another Hadith Shareef, Abu Naeem Radi Allahu Anhu reports that the Holy Prophet (Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said, “There always exist 40 persons among my ummah.  Their hearts are like that of Hazrat Ebrahim (Alaihis Salaam).  Allah Ta’aala redeems His human servants from disasters for their sake.  They are called Abdaal.  They do not attain to that degree by performing salaah, fasting, or giving zakaah.”

Ibn Mas’ud Radi Allahu Anhu asked, “Ya Rasoolallah Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam, by what means do they attain that degree?”

“They attain it by being generous, and by advising muslims,” said the Prophet (Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam).

Do remember that although all the Awliya Allah are equal as far as Wilayah is concerned, they differ as far as status is concerned.


A supernatural act, or miracle, performed by a Wali, is known as karaamat.  One must understand that the performing of miracles, is not a necessary condition of sainthood.  There are some people, when they read or hear about the Awliya, he/she immediately looks for miracles.  They think that since they have not heard of any miracle, that person cannot be a Wali.  This is totally incorrect.  To deny the karaamat of a Wali is a sign of ignorance and misguidance, as this is proven in the Holy Qur’an.  The Holy Qur’an relates that karaamat of Hazrat Asif Radi Allahu Anhu, who was a Wali from the ummah of Hazrat Sulaiman (Alaihis Salaam).  Before a blinking of an eye, Hazrat Asif Radi Allahu Anhu presented the throne of Bilqees, which was in a very distant place, before Hazrat Sulaiman (Alaihis Salaam).  (Surah 27, Verse 10)  Another narration is when Hazrat Zakariya (Alaihis Salaam) questioned Hazrat Bibi Maryam (Radi Allahu Anhaa), the mother of Hazrat Isa (Alaihis Salaam), about the fruit which were out of season, that he saw in her place of worship.  She said that they had come from Allah.  (Surah 3, Verse 37). 

The mothers of the prophets are Waliyas.


The method of recognizing a Wali and a non-Wali is to rectify one’s heart and mind, and to adopt his company.  Thereafter if you find that his company generates the thought and love of Allah in your heart, then he is a Wali.  On the contrary, if the heart indulges in worldly thought, then he is not a Wali, because it is said, “The heart is a mirror of another heart”.

Imam Nawawi Radi Allahu Anhu, and also Ibn Maja Radi Allahu Anhu report that when Rasoolallah (Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam) was asked about the characteristics of the Awliya, he declared, “Allah is remembered when they are seen.”


In Bukhari Shareef, Hazrat Abu Huraira Radi Allahu Anhu reports the following Hadith-e-Quddsi:

The Holy Prophet (Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam) has said that Allah said, “Whoever shows enmity to a friend of mine, I shall be at war with him.”

Who has the courage to be at war with Allah?  Certainly, they will be destroyed!  Therefore, it is important that the Awliya should be respected and honoured.  Whoever disrespects, and insults the Awliya, will without a doubt, receive Allah’s wrath.

Hazrat Khwaja Gharib Nawaaz Mu’inuddin Chisti Radi Allahu Anhu narrated:

“There was a man who hated the Awliya.  When he died, and was placed in the grave, the people tried to turn his face toward the Qibla, but it would always turn away from that direction.  The people were astonished at this action.  There was a voice from nowhere announcing, ‘It would be a futile exercise to try to turn his face toward the Qibla, because he used to turn his face away at seeing the Awliya, and that he who would turn his face in disgust from My friends, I will turn My face on him.  He is a condemned soul, and on the day of judgement, such people will appear with faces of donkeys.’”


Allah revealed to Musa (Alaihis Salaam), “What actions have you done for my pleasure?”  He said, “O Allah, I have prayed to you, kept fast, and paid charity.”  Allah said, “Prayer is a clear proof for you, fast is a shield for you, and charity is your shade.  But what have you done for me?”  Hazrat Musa (Alaihis Salaam) then asked, “O Allah, show me as action which is only for you.”  Allah said, “O Musa, have you loved someone for My sake, and hated anyone for My sake?” 

(Ihya al-uloom id-deen, Vol II)

From this, we can say that although we have never seen many of the great Awliya, but we only love them, because they love Allah, and Allah loves them.  Therefore, we love them for the sake of Allah, and we should distance ourselves from those who dislike the friends of Allah, as we will be hating them for Allah’s sake.

Hazrat Baba Farid Ganje Shakar Radi Allahu Anhu) has narrated:

“A sinful young man died in Multan.  Someone asked him in a dream as to what was his condition.  He replied that Allah had pardoned him.  He explained that one day, when Khwaja Baha-ul-Haq Zakarriya Multani Radi Allahu Anhu was walking, he had kissed his hand with utmost respect.  Because of this respect, he had been pardoned.”


Allah says in the Holy Quran “Do not even think of those who are martyred in the way of Allah as dead, BUT THEY ARE ALIVE near their lord and given provision.  They are joyous of what Allah bestowed upon them of his favour and they give good news to those who have not as yet reached them.”  (Surah Al-Imraan, Verse 170).

As we have explained earlier that the Awliya are those who have attained nearness to Allah.  Attaining this nearness is not easy because there are certain obstacles.  One of the greatest obstacles is bringing one’s carnal desires (nafs-ul-ammarah) under control.  In this regard, the struggle with one’s carnal soul has been regarded as a Jihad-e-Akbar (Great battle), in contrast to Jihad-e-Asghar (Smaller Battle, which is fought on the actual battlefield).  This concept is derived from the popular Hadith of the Holy Prophet (Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam), in which he said to his companions returning from a battle:

“You have returned from a smaller battle to a greater battle.”

He was then asked by the companions, “What can be a greater battle that that we have just fought?”

He Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam answered, “The battle against one’s nafs.”

Imam Ghazzali (Radi Allahu Anhu) says in Ihya al Uloom Vol. IV:

“Death cannot destroy the soul, which is the place of Allah’s Ma’rifat, because it is something spiritual.  Death causes the change of the condition of soul, and relieves it from the prison of it’s bodily cage.  It does not end as Allah says

“Do not even think of those who are martyred in the way of Allah as dead, BUT THEY ARE ALIVE near their lord and given provision.  They are joyous of what Allah bestowed upon them of his favour and they give good news to those who have not as yet reached them.”  (Surah Al-Imraan, Verse 170).”

One should not think that this position is acquired only by those that are martyred on the battlefield, because every breath of an Arif (one who has recognized his creator) is a martyr.”

From the above quotations we can deduce that if those that fight the smaller battle are alive, then surely, without any doubt, those that fight the greater battle are ALIVE!!!

Imam Abu Naeem Radi Allahu Anhu, in his book “Hilyaat-ul-Awliya”, narrates from Hazrat Saeed Radi Allahu Anhu, that:

“By Allah, Hameed Taweel, and myself were burying Hazrat Thabit Nibhaani Radi Allahu Anhu.  As we were setting the final rocks, one rock accidentally fell into the grave.  As I peeped into the grave, I saw Hazrat Thabit Nibhaani Radi Allahu Anhu was about to perform salaah, and he was imploring to Allah in the following manner:

‘O Allah!  You have given certain of your creation the permission to perform their salaah within the grave.  Give me also this same permission.’

It was indeed beyond the mercy of Allah to refuse him.”

Hazrat Thabit Nibhaani Radi Allahu Anhu was a Taba’ee (Ones that saw the Sahaaba after the demise of the Holy Prophet (Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam)).


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