PROPHET’S ACADEMY- ANCILLARY TEXTS
TEN OBJECTIVE SIGNS OF WILAYA (SAINTHOOD)
(AS GLEANED FROM THE QUR’AN, HADITH AND TRUE SHEIKHS)
Every serious Muslim ardently desires to come closer and closer to Allah, the Supreme Beloved. This is the same as becoming friendlier and friendlier with Him Almighty. And the Islamic term ‘wali’ (more accurately ‘waliyy’) is roughly the equivalent of ‘saint’ in English. But while the English term is based on the concept of ‘holy’ (sanctus in Latin) the Islamic ‘wali’ is based on the concept of ‘caring friendship’. As such it is less pretentious (than claiming holiness) and has both a lovelier perspective and is more practical in attitude- the friend works for his friend. Allah Himself calls Himself ‘al Waliyy’ because He is the superlatively caring friend of all His servants. He also graciously calls us His believers as ‘awliya Allah’, i.e., those who love and care about Allah. Care because they want to please Him all the time, to advance His cause which is universal good; they cannot bear to offend Him. Against this ‘saint’ is pre-occupied with self-holiness which tends to send him or her to excesses of self-denial which may backfire as self-glorification, the scourge of Christian mystics as well as some Christian-influenced second class Sufis. Unlike the himself ‘holy’ servant which ‘saint’ means, the ‘wali’ is just a caring friend and enjoys the selfless, unassuming and serviceable relationship with his or her Divine Friend only Whose holiness is possible. This attitude was the very foundation of our master and the sultan of all prophets Muhammad Mustafa (salllalahu alayhi wa sellem) whom we must emulate in that respect as well. Allah taking us as His friends is the greatest possible compliment for us and we should respond by the humble return of the favour to the best of our necessarily humble ability.
Now I am humbly setting down ten criteria which in my humble experience make a good list of checking the degree of our own success in befriending Allah. Read them in your privacy as frequently and as carefully as possible, measure and judge yourself. Do something about improving your performance but never ever discuss this exercise on yourself with anybody lest pride and hypocrisy spoils all.
ONE. The wali will not be offended by anything done or said against his person. He is only offended on behalf of his Friend Allah about Whose rights he is most sensitive. That was exactly how the Prophet sws was. He never avenged a personal hurt but only avenged offences against Allah. In other words a wali is incapable of bearing a personal grudge. He is too humble for that.
TWO. He is very much interested and caring about his blood relations and if for example he learns that he has a third cousin at the other end of the world he will be very excited and interested and will do everything possible to establish contact and send compliments, enquire about his relation’s welfare and extend help. He can never outgrow his sense of belonging to the same womb somewhere up in the past because the womb (al rahm) is a visible manifestation of ‘al Rahman’, the All-Encompassing, All-Merciful Allah.
What do we sometimes see instead? We may even see the nearer the people are related the more they hate and hurt each other! Each treats his friends to his generosity and compliments and either totally ignores or abandons his brother and even may positively victimize the brother with special venom.
No amount of hurt inflicted on a wali can totally switch him off his relative and the least he will do for that relative is sadly wishing well for him or her. What is more, the wali will jump at the slightest indication of desire by the relative to rush to embrace.
Check yourself on this as well and do as necessary. Try to mend fences with all relations to the best of your ability.
THREE. He is equally interested in his friends of any category- old neighbours, old classmates, old colleagues or hobby partners… What is more the older the friendship stronger it gets for them. Compare this with the only too common sad observation that sometimes old friends accidentally meet after many years of separation and while one is wildly elated the other is cool and cynical. The first is suitable stuff for wilaya (being a wali) and already is one to a certain extent while the second is useless. Are you like the first? Check your conscience, judge yourself leaning towards the pessimistic and do something about your any failure if you can. If you don’t feel like doing anything despite a negative judgment sit down and weep for your ill fortune and fear your fate
FOUR. The potential wali calibre person is very generous in everything lawful and what is more his generosity observes the right priorities. A man who is lavish in spending on luxuries and miserly on essentials is not generous but prodigal. A man lavishing gifts on his companions while starving his parents is not generous. He is a prodigal. The nearer somebody is to you (blood and/or spiritually) the more generous you should be able and willing towards him or her. So, a wali cannot suffer a near one of his live in poverty while himself is living better- he will help!
As an extension of this generous spirit the wali consistently responds to gifts with gifts of greater value albeit not always immediately for practical reasons. If, for example, he cannot really afford to repay a gift with more or in equal measure then he will repay with less or nothing but make up the difference with profuse thanks. Additionally and if possible he may add an alternative repayment like practical or intellectual services. Like doing a service or teaching something. Another extension of this generous spirit is not going anywhere empty-handed, like a banquet, wedding or visit, intending making a profit, like from the free meal. Such intention is the sign that a person like this is not the suitable cloth for wilaya. He can only be a detestable pretender.
Another extension of this is rewarding every good done to you, one way or another and not savour it as a free favour done by a ‘foolish fellow’. Against this do not expect a reward from people you served but you may accept it from generous people who can afford it. Those who cannot afford, refuse their gifts with thanks. Most importantly, pay the zakat (obligatory wealth tax of Islam) absolutely if you are in the category. Zakat withheld is hell!
Another vital point to consider is that a wali-type person only increases in generosity over time and not fizzle out.
Generosity in every sense is so vital for salvation that Rasulullah sws warned
“A sinner who is generous may enter the Garden. The miser will not enter the Garden however pious-looking”. Sadaqa Rasulullah sws
FIVE. Wali kind of person is careful about making promises and giving pledges but once he gives or makes one he will honour it come hell or high water- provided it remains possible. If it becomes impossible beyond his control than he will one way or another offer the next best alternative, like a compensatory act.
Those who are too easy with promises and pledges and often forget about them or not too much ashamed when reminded are not the right stuff for wilaya. They make only excellent hypocrites even when they are worshipped as teachers by millions.
SIX. Fear of Allah never departs from a wali and self-satisfaction and boasting never erupts. Thanking Allah for His spiritual gifts and explaining them is not boasting when done in context and for motivating others and one should be able to tell the difference.
The sign of boasting is taking liberties with others and visibly resenting breaches of ‘protocol’ towards him by others. “How dare you disrespect Me like that” a spiritual boaster means to say.
Wali is the person who fears Allah most, treads his path very carefully lest he offends Allah and His Law or fails in good manners towards Him Almighty
SEVEN. Wali is well-ordered, clean in habit and habitat and well-groomed and regular and punctual in everything and uniformly well-mannered. The friend of the Perfect seeks perfection in every department of his life to the best of his ability. The Prophet sws was the epitome of cleanliness and good taste in everything and was the most pleasant mannered of all people around him. Once met with a dishevelled man he asked him to groom himself better, calling his untidy hair as that of the Satan. Which means a self-styled ascetic not washing and grooming himself in the belief that he is abandoning the world for Allah’s sake would get very bad marks from the Messenger of Allah sws. All in all anybody who meets and scrutinises a supposed good friend of Allah must find him very clean and smart in his humble Islamic way radiating a natural pleasant aroma and broadcasting a clean and well-ordered image signifying great respect towards the society he lives in. A decent citizen will not present himself to others in a messy state but properly, if economically, dressed and groomed as the occasion demands. Unfortunately many aspirants to Allah’s friendship are deceived in that they confuse slovenliness with humility and asceticism. Unfortunately theirs is depression and laziness.
EIGHT. The wali type person is only too desirous not to miss an opportunity for doing some good to himself or somebody else.
To himself: Not to miss any prayers, not to neglect any obligations imposed by Allah. Not to neglect a Sunna (established practice) of the Prophet sws especially in moral and spiritual and also social matters. A mistaken aspirant satisfies his desire for practicing the Sunna in formal matters like dress and posture with enough excess to leave no room and give no care to the moral, spiritual and social ways of the Messenger of Allah sws. For example, he may dress or eat like the Prophet sws as he believes the Prophet sws had done and then turn around and treat others rudely and arrogantly or turn away a needy person without attending to his needs out of miserliness.
Overall, what is a constant and inalienable requirement from a good sevant and friend of Allah is- CHARITY in every sense and in every way possible.
Without that through and through charity of disposition and practice all other observations of the Sunna of the Messenger of Allah is- THEATRICALS. They do more harm than good because they are part of the person’s awful hypocrisy.
A truly and consistently charitable man (who cannot miss an opportunity for charity) is definitely a friend of Allah no matter in what he may disappoint some.
NINE. Let justice be your greatest concern. Let justice prevail even against yourself and those who are dear to you. Let even you enemies get justice even against you. Never be partial to your ego or to those you love and care about when it comes to justice. You are better off both in this world and the next when justice is done in a situation involving you or your loved ones. Never jump queues, never use influence, never buy power, never employ lies or exaggerations … to obtain benefits which will offend egalitarianism. Do not claim benefits you do not deserve under any existing rules and to be on the safe side do treat yourself a bit harshly. For benefiting from haram is the single greatest and most effective way in destroying your relations with Allah- full stop! Never hide your assets to shun your obligations under law but instead have them blessed by paying from them your legally defined taxes and your zakat if that apply to you. Never excuse a breach of law or morality by rationalising your evasions as legitimate self-defence or avenging of wrongs supposedly done to you.
If you can swallow this bitter medicine then pure and sheer goodnews to you. Allah will be with you and bless every department of your life so that with less you will achieve more and your many sins will be forgiven and many shortcomings mercifully covered up by Allah. You will be indefeatible because you have won the greatest victory over your ego.
TEN. Be Abdur-Rahman- the servant of the Universally Mercifully Caring Allah!
Look upon everybody as a potential wali and help as much as you can each to become one. Find ways to accommodate all one way or another so that, having won their hearts, you may persuade them by as much ‘diplomatic’ skill as you can muster, stop doing harm and start doing good in their lives. If possible, even pay people ‘bribes’ to persuade them stopping harm and starting good. For example reward your children anytime they do good and promise rewards and deliver them the rewards when they stop doing harm. The rewards need not be monetary and even material. Anything that they will appreciate can be a reward, an incentive.
Handle even total strangers in totally strange situations to see the light and stop doing harm and start doing good. This way you will be working from the Divine Name ‘al Rahman’, i.e., the Universally Mercifully Caring attribute of Allah.
Radiating this attribute and attitude may even disarm a terrorist if Allah so will.
The crucial thing to employ in persuading others to stop doing harm and start doing good is showing them all-out respect wrapped in a pack of true understanding. Do not respond in kind even to your abuser or attacker and you may well disarm and win him over. Anybody with any residue of humanity in him or her cannot help but be moved by a kind and understanding treatment. Remember, you want to be Abdur-Rahman.
Even if you cannot stop somebody doing harm and start doing good you at least deliver him a subliminal lesson which may take effect after some time- Allah knows how much time. For no effort put up for Allah’s Beautiful Face’s sake is ever wasted but must and will come to success. He Almighty says “Innallaha la yudeeu ajr al muhsineen” (Allah will not waste the reward of the well-meaning and well-disposed) (9: 120).
Work on all these, it may take time, but insha Allah you will eventually become a true friend of Allah and therefore the most successful of men. Amen.