Wali

Wali

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Walī is an Arabic word meaning "custodian", "protector", "sponsor", or authority as denoted by its definition "crown". "Wali" is someone who has "Walayah
Walayah
Walayah means Guardianship.Walayah or Walaya, in the most literal form of the word, means "a person, community, or country that is under the direction and rule of another". It is an Arabic word derived from the root wly, which carries the basic meanings of “friendship, assistance”, and “authority...

" (authority or guardianship) over somebody else. For example, in Fiqh
Fiqh
Fiqh is Islamic jurisprudence. Fiqh is an expansion of the code of conduct expounded in the Quran, often supplemented by tradition and implemented by the rulings and interpretations of Islamic jurists....

 the father is wali of his children. In Islam, the phrase ولي الله walīyu 'llāh. can be used to denote one vested with the "authority of God":

بِسْمِ ٱللَّهِ ٱلرَّحْمَنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
إِنَّمَا وَلِيُّكُمُ اللّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ الَّذِينَ يُقِيمُونَ الصَّلاَةَ وَيُؤْتُونَ الزَّكَاةَ وَهُمْ رَاكِعُونَ
"Only Allah is your Wali and His Messenger and those who believe, establish worship, and pay the poor due while bowing down (in prayer)."[Quran 5:55]


In Sunni Islam, however, ولي الله walīyu 'llāhis translated to mean the "friend (صديق) of God
Allah
Allah is a word for God used in the context of Islam. In Arabic, the word means simply "God". It is used primarily by Muslims and Bahá'ís, and often, albeit not exclusively, used by Arabic-speaking Eastern Catholic Christians, Maltese Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox Christians, Mizrahi Jews and...

."

In English, wali most often means a Muslim saint or holy person. It should not be confused with the word Wāli
Wali
Walī , is an Arabic word meaning "custodian", "protector", "sponsor", or authority as denoted by its definition "crown". "Wali" is someone who has "Walayah" over somebody else. For example, in Fiqh the father is wali of his children. In Islam, the phrase ولي الله walīyu 'llāh...

 (Arabic: والي) which is an administrative title that means magistrate, and is still used today in some Muslim countries, such as the Wali of
Wāli of Swat
The Wāli of Swat was the leader of the erstwhile State of Swat. The post disappeared in 1969 when this state was incorporated into Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan.They were well known for building a lot of schools and hospitals in their state....

 Swat.

Sunni Islam


In religious uses, it is generally short for Waliullah (Arabic ولي الله) or friend of God
Allah
Allah is a word for God used in the context of Islam. In Arabic, the word means simply "God". It is used primarily by Muslims and Bahá'ís, and often, albeit not exclusively, used by Arabic-speaking Eastern Catholic Christians, Maltese Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox Christians, Mizrahi Jews and...

. Belief in the Awliya is an agreed upon article of faith in Sunni Islam having been mentioned in the earliest creeds to the most recent. Imam Tahawi mentions them in his creed:

We do not prefer any of the saintly men among the Ummah over any of the Prophets but rather we say that any one of the Prophets is better than all the awliya' put together. We believe in what we know of Karamat, the marvels of the awliya' and in authentic stories about them from trustworthy sources.


Islamic books of Aqeedah are not meant to be exhaustive of every branch of faith but rather to clarify points deviated from by non-Sunni sects. Thus Imam Tahawi clarifies some Sufis mistaken belief that the Awliya could become greater than Prophets and confirmed the majority of Sunni Muslims' belief that the Awliya can perform miracles.

Use in Tasawuf/Sufism


A hierarchy of Awliya and their functions are outlined in the books of Sufi
Sufism
Sufism or ' is defined by its adherents as the inner, mystical dimension of Islam. A practitioner of this tradition is generally known as a '...

 Masters. There is disagreement as to the terms used for each rank but there is a general agreement about the numbers and functions of each level. Starting from the top downwards:
  • One Ghawth (Helper)
  • Three Qutub (Pole)
  • Three Nuqaba (Watchmen)
  • Four Awtaad (Pegs)/Aqtab (Poles)
  • Seven Abraar (Pious)
  • Forty Abdal
    Abdal
    Abdal may refer to:* Abdal, a rank of forty Sufi saints* Dervish, or Sufi ascetic* Abdal, Azerbaijan, a village in Nagorno-Karabakh* The Äynu people of Xinjiang region, China...

     (Substitutes)
  • Three Hundred Akhyaar (Chosen)


The Ghawth is the leader of "Rijjall ul Ghaib" (the invisible men). He leads the world government.

Al Hakim al-Tirmidhi and Ibn Arabi
Ibn Arabi
Ibn ʿArabī was an Andalusian Moorish Sufi mystic and philosopher. His full name was Abū 'Abdillāh Muḥammad ibn 'Alī ibn Muḥammad ibn `Arabī .-Biography:...

 amongst others also contended that there was a Seal of the Awliya much in the same way that Muhammad is considered the Seal of the Prophets.

A useful reference appears on p154 of The People of the Secret by Ernest Scott quoting Al Hujwiri, the Afghan Sufi who died in 1063. Spellings differ, notably Abraar is rendered Akbar in Idries Shah
Idries Shah
Idries Shah , also known as Idris Shah, né Sayed Idries el-Hashimi , was an author and teacher in the Sufi tradition who wrote over three dozen critically acclaimed books on topics ranging from psychology and spirituality to travelogues and culture studies.Born in India, the descendant of a...

's Oriental Magic from which the full passage is extracted. It places the above hierarchy into a valuable context.

Shi'a term


Wali not only means “authority” to Shi’as, but is also used as a short form of Waliullah, the one vested with the "authority of God". Waliullah references the authority that was vested in the Prophet Muhammad, then succeeded by Ali ( the cousin and son-in-law of Muhammad; husband of his daughter Fatimah Zahra) as the first of twelve divinely appointed “Imams”, or male descendants of Muhammad through his daughter . According to this view, there is always an “Imam of the Age”, and the twelfth is in occultation until God will command him to establish His government on earth. For Shi’as, following this "Wali" and believing in "Walayah
Walayah
Walayah means Guardianship.Walayah or Walaya, in the most literal form of the word, means "a person, community, or country that is under the direction and rule of another". It is an Arabic word derived from the root wly, which carries the basic meanings of “friendship, assistance”, and “authority...

" (divine authority) is mandatory. The Shi’a accordingly include the third phrase “Ali-un-Wali-ul-lah” ("Ali is God’s appointed Wali”) in their kalimah.

Shi'as corroborate the revelation of the Quranic verse 5:55 with the incident widely narrated in both Sunni and Shia narrations (ahadith) where Ali gave his ring in charity to a beggar while bowing in prayer, and cite the verses use of the word إِنَّمَا to indicate that the subjects are specific, not general.

بِسْمِ ٱللَّهِ ٱلرَّحْمَنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
إِنَّمَا وَلِيُّكُمُ اللّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ الَّذِينَ يُقِيمُونَ الصَّلاَةَ وَيُؤْتُونَ الزَّكَاةَ وَهُمْ رَاكِعُونَ

"Only Allah is your Wali and His Messenger and those who believe - establish worship and pay the poor due and bow down humbly (in prayer)."[Quran 5:55]

Another disputed use of “wali” in Quran includes the verse:

بِسْمِ ٱللَّهِ ٱلرَّحْمَنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَتَّخِذُوا الْيَهُودَ وَالنَّصَارَىٰ أَوْلِيَاءَ بَعْضُهُمْ أَوْلِيَاءُ بَعْضٍ وَمَن يَتَوَلَّهُم مِّنكُمْ فَإِنَّهُ مِنْهُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الظَّالِمِينَ

"Oh you who believe! Do not take the Jews and the Christians as your Wali; they are but Wali of each other; and whoever amongst you takes them for a Wali, then surely he is one of them; surely Allah does not guide the unjust people." [Quran 5:51]

Sunnis interpret this verse to mean that a Muslim may not take a Christian or Jew as a “friend”, whereas Shi’as reject this and interpret the verse in a political sense to mean that Christians and Jews should not act as “authorities” over Muslim people.

Salafi


Salafi
Salafi
A Salafi come from Sunni Islam is a follower of an Islamic movement, Salafiyyah, that is supposed to take the Salaf who lived during the patristic period of early Islam as model examples...

s (and all Wahhabis) also quote the following verse to denounce any meaning of the word wali other than master/owner/guardian:

بِسْمِ ٱللَّهِ ٱلرَّحْمَنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
إِنَّمَا وَلِيُّكُمُ اللّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ الَّذِينَ يُقِيمُونَ الصَّلاَةَ وَيُؤْتُونَ الزَّكَاةَ وَهُمْ رَاكِعُونَ
"Only Allah is your Wali and His Messenger and those who believe, establish worship, and pay the poor due while bowing down (in prayer)."[Quran 5:55]

Kashmiri Pandit


Wali is also a common last name among Kashmiri Pandits, the (Brahmins) of Kashmir.

Marriage


In the Islamic law of marriage
Islamic marital jurisprudence
In Islamic law , marriage is a legal bond and social contract between a man and a woman. Islam commends marriage, with the age of marriage being whenever the individuals feel ready, financially and emotionally...

, the wali is a woman's closest adult male relative, who has authority and responsibility with respect to her marrying; in this context, wali can be translated as "marriage guardian".