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Who Is A Wali In Islam?

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  • Who Is A Wali In Islam?

    As-Salaam alaikum,

    "Behold! Verily on the friends of Allah there is no fear,
    nor shall they grieve." (Surat Yunus-10:62)

    The Arabic term usually translated as Saint is Wali, which comes from a root meaning "to be close or near". The first derived meaning from this is to be a close friend, while the second meaning has an active sense of governing or taking charge. The common understanding of Saints refers to this second meaning, that of being a source of authority and assistance-- people visit shrines or holy men in order to drive benefit and help. Also, the English term ''Saint'' is etymologically related to quite different ideas, such as sanctus (holy or pure). Sanctity or Saintliness is thus often linked to a kind of other-worldly purity.

    Such a transcendent connotation is not entirely consonant with the term Wali. Some have preferred to translate this Arabic word as ''Friend of Allah'', but for Sayyadi Ibn Arabi it is the quality of closeness or proximity which is far more important. He explains that the end of the word Wali is its real meaning: li which in Arabic means ''mine''..''belonging to Me''. In other words, the Saint is one who belongs to Allah and is His possession... the Wali is simultaneously one who is close, the beloved, he who is protected, taken in charge. Indeed, as Ibn Arabi observed in Futuhat al-Makkiyya:--

    "The awliya [plural of Wali] are those of whom Allah has taken charge
    (tawalla), by aiding them in their battles against the 4 enemies: the
    passion, the ego, the world and the devil."