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Awliya : The friends of Almighty Allah

by Minhaj

The Arabic word Wali (pl. Awliya’) is usually translated as “Saint or Friend of Almighty Allah”

A Wali is one who :

1) occupies a very close station to Allah,

2) receives an inheritance from one or more Prophets(AS), and

3) is protected by Allah from major sins and repetition of sins in general, and kept in a state of obedience.

The Holy Qur’an explicitly mentions the Awliya and describes them as the Believers who fear Allah:

Behold! verily on the friends of Allah there is no fear, nor shall they grieve; ►[Surah Al-Yunus Chapter 10: Verse 62]

So we must all agree that there are Awliya and that they exist co-terminally, which means co-everlastingly, with the Religion.

Next, the Holy Qur’an explicitly mentions that the Believers have “levels” (darajaat)and that “He raises” (yarfa`u) some of the Believers above othersO ye who believe! When ye are told to make room in the assemblies, (spread out and) make room: (ample) room will Allah provide for you. And when ye are told to rise up, rise up. Allah will rise up, to (suitable) ranks (and degrees), those of you who believe and who have been granted (mystic) Knowledge.And Allah is well- acquainted with all ye do. ►[Surah Al-Mujadila Ch. 58:Verse 11]

and that: “above every knowledgeable one there is one more knowledgeable,” ►[Surah Yusuf Chapter 12: verse 76]

and that “those whom Allah has particularly graced” are defined as “the Prophets, the Siddiqs, the Shuhada’, and the Righteous” in that order:  [Surah An-Nisa Ch. 4: Verse 69] and that some Prophets were exalted above others.

So we must all agree that there is a hierarchy of Believers in general, and hierarchies of Awliya and Prophets in particular. As for a specific terminology for the Awliya’ the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, did use certain terms such as Abdal (substitutes), or certain qualifications of intercession such as the hadiths in which he refers to certain arch-intercessors such as our liegelords `Uthman ibn `Affan and Uways al-Qarani. Ibn `Asakir in his Tarikh (51:282) narrates with his chain that when Imam al-Shafi`i finished memorizing the Qur’an he said to himself:

“You have obtained the Qutb al-A`zam” i.e. the greatest axis or authority around which the Religion revolves.

The early scholars of hadith were very interested in the topic of the Awliya’ and they gathered not only the hadiths but even non-Prophetic accounts about their states and miraculous gifts, and even dreams. For example, Ibn Abi al-Dunya’s al-Awliya and the compilations respectively entitled al-Awliya’ and Karaamaat al-Awliya’ by the two Hanbalis al-Khallal and al-Lalika’i, as well as Abu Nu`aym’s renowned Hilyat al-Awliya.

Imam Jalaluddin as-Suyuti wrote an essay in his collection of fatwas, al-Hawi lil Fatawi, and called it:

“The narrations which demonstrate the existence of the Qutb and the Awtad and Nujaba and Abdal.”

At the beginning of it, he writes: “It has reached me that some of those who possess no knowledge deny what is famously known among the noble Awliya’, namely, that among them exist Abdal (substitutes), Nuqaba (chiefs), Nujaba (nobles), Awtad (supports, or pegs), and Aqtab (poles, or axial pivots), while there are numerous hadiths and narrations which affirm their existence and reality. So I have collected these narrations in this booklet to be of benefit. And know that the denial of the stubborn is not to be given any weight or importance… So I say, it is authentically narrated from (and then he lists 18 Companions and Followers), and those after them, innumerable reports which attest to the above.”  Then for the next 15 pages he lists over 50 narrations to demonstrate his point.

Ahadith about grades of Awliyah &  Blessings on people because of them

Some Ahadith are being presented which mention the benefits people gain because of the pious ones and the grades among the Awliya…

Hadith #1

Hazrat ‘Ubada(Radiyallahu anhu) reported: “The Abdal in my community are thirty. By them, the earth is established (bihim taqum al-Ard),

and by them you are sent rain, and by them you are granted help and victory.”

► {Recorded by Tabarani in Mu’jam Kabir, Ibn ‘Asakir (1:277, 298), Bazzar, and others. Sahih according to Suyuti and Munawi, and Haythami (10:63 #16673) said he did not know one of the narrators, but the rest are of the Sahih. A similar hadith was also recorded by Tabarani in his Kabir (18:65) and Ibn ‘Asakir (1:290) on the authority of ‘Awf ibn Malik, which is sound (Hasan) according to Munawi, and thru Ibn Mas’ud (M. Kabir 10:181 – also by Abu Nu’aym in Hilya 4:173-74). Cf. Suyuti’s Jami’ as-Saghir (#3034, “Hasan”)}

Hadith #2

Hazrat  Anas(Radiyallahu Anhu) reported: “The earth will never be empty of 40 men who are similar to the Intimate Friend of Allah (Sayyidina Ibrahim).

By them rain falls and victory is granted. Not one of them dies except that Allah replaces him with another.”

Qatada said, “We do not doubt that Hasan al-Basri is one of them.”

► { Recorded by Tabarani in Mu’jam al-Awsat (4:247 #4101) and al-Kabir (10:224 #10390 – see Suyuti’s Hawi lil Fatawi 2:247), Abu Nu’aym (Ma’rifat as-Sahaba #4013), Jami’ Saghir #7379-80), and Ibn ‘Asakir (1:298) and ad-Dinawari (in his al-Mujalasa) from Qatada. See Majma’ az-Zawa’id (10:63 #16675) of al-Haythami. Hadith Hasan}

Hadith #3

Another hadith on the authority of Sa’d, states: “Indeed, Allah supports this Ummah by their weak members, thru their prayers, supplications, and sincerity,”

and in another narration, “Is it not through the weak among the Ummah that you are granted provision and victory?”

► { Recorded by Nasai (6:45-46 #3127-28), Tirmidhi (K. Jihad, #1624 Sahih), Abu Dawud (#2227), Imam Ahmad (1:173, 5:198), Hakim (2:106, 145 Sahih),Abu Nu’aym (Hilya, 5:26, 100, 8:290), Tabarani (M. Awsat, #2249, 4148), Ibn ‘Asakir (19:253, 55:243), Bayhaqi (Sunan 3:331,345, Shu’ab #10495),Abdur-Razzaq (5:303), Ibn Hibban (#4767), and others, and Bukhari has a chapter in his Sahih (K. Jihad) entitled “On seeking help thru the weak and the pious during battle.” Hadith Sahih.}

Hadith #4

Hazrat Abu Hurayra and others also related that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: Were it not for servants of Allah bowing, infants feeding, and animals grazing, then Divine wrath would pour down upon you.”►{Recorded by Abu Ya’la (#6402, 6633), Bayhaqi (Sunan 3:345 #6482-83, Shu’ab #9820), al-Khatib in his Tarikh (6:64), Tabarani (M. Awsat, 6:327 #6539, 7:134 #7085),Ibn ‘Adiyy (Kamil, 4:1622), and others, and it is Hasan li-ghayrihi. See Suyuti’s Jami’ as-Saghir (#7523) and Sakhawi’s Maqasid (#882)}

Hadith #5

And from Ibn ‘Umar(Radiyallahu Anhu): “Allah repels calamities from 100 households due to the presence of one righteous Muslim amongst them.”

►{Recorded by Tabarani (M. Awsat, #4080 : Haythami’s Majma’ 8:164, Suyuti’s Jami’ Saghir, #1794).} 

Quotes by Imam Al- Qushayri regarding Awliya

The abundance of sound reports and stories about various types [of miracles], the awareness of their existence and of their manifestation through God’s friends has become firmly established and free from any doubt. Whoever has kept the company of the Sufis and heard their reports and stories will have not even the slightest doubt concerning this thesis. Among its proofs found in the Qurπan is the story of a companion of Solomon – peace be upon him – who said“I will bring it [the throne] to thee, before even thy glance returns to thee.” ►{Surah An Naml Chapter 27:Verse 40}

 Yet, he was not a prophet.

* This is a reference to the Qurπanic encounter between Solomon and Bilqis (the Queen of Sheba of the Biblical tradition) during which a person in Solomon’s entourage offers to miraculously transfer Bilqis’ throne to Solomon’s palace. In the later exegetical tradition, the unnamed companion was identified as Asaf b. Barakhya, a confidant and minister to King Solomon.

There is also a sound report about the Commander of the Faithful Umar b. al-Khattab – may God be pleased with him – according to which

he exclaimed, “O Sariya, [watch out for] the mountain!” during his Friday sermon and [according to which] the voice of Hazrat Umar reached Sariya,putting him on guard against the ambush of the enemy on a mountain at that same time. ► {Recorded by Abu Nu’aym and Bayhaqi in their Dala’il an-Nubuwwa and many others. See also Sakhawi’s Maqasid al-Hasana (#1331)}

Saintly miracles follow the prophetic miracles of our Prophet – may God bless and greet him – because no one who is not truthful in his religion can display a saintly miracle. Each prophet whose saintly miracle was manifested through a member of his community can count it among his prophetic miracles. For if this messenger had not been truthful [in his message], no saintly miracle would have been manifested by any of his followers. As for the rank of the friends of God, it is lower than that of the prophets – peace be upon them – according to the consensus reached [by the scholars]. When someone asked Abu Yazid al-Bistami about this issue, he answered:

“What the prophets receive is like a water-skin full of honey from which a single drop of honey has fallen. This drop is similar to what all the friends of God possess and that which remains in the container is similar to what our Prophet – may God bless and greet him – possesses.”

These saintly miracles may come in response to a prayer, such as the appearance of food at a time of need without any visible means; or the appearance of water at the time of drought; or enabling [someone] to traverse a [great] distance in a short time; or an escape from an enemy; or hearing the speech of an invisible speaker, and other kinds of things that break the established order [of things].

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