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Definition of Wali

Walī (Arabic ولي , plural Awliyā أولياء), is an Arabic word, its lexical meaning being “supporter”, “guardian” or “protector”. The word, in its different forms, appears in the Quran over 200 times. Allah says in the Quran:

Arabic: إِنَّمَا وَلِيُّكُمُ اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا الَّذِينَ يُقِيمُونَ الصَّلَاةَ وَيُؤْتُونَ الزَّكَاةَ وَهُمْ رَاكِعُونَ

Transliteration: Innama waliyyukumu Allahu warasooluhu waallatheena amanoo allatheena yuqeemoona alssalata wayu/toona alzzakata wahum rakiAAoona

Shakir: Only Allah is your Wali and His Messenger and those who believe, those who keep up prayers and pay the poor-rate while they bow.
Qur'an 5:55

Arabic: اللَّهُ وَلِيُّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا يُخْرِجُهُم مِّنَ الظُّلُمَاتِ إِلَى النُّورِ ۖ وَالَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا أَوْلِيَاؤُهُمُ الطَّاغُوتُ يُخْرِجُونَهُم مِّنَ النُّورِ إِلَى الظُّلُمَاتِ ۗ أُولَٰئِكَ أَصْحَابُ النَّارِ ۖ هُمْ فِيهَا خَالِدُونَ

Transliteration: Allahu waliyyu allatheena amanoo yukhrijuhum mina alththulumati ila alnnoori waallatheena kafaroo awliyaohumu alttaghootu yukhrijoonahum mina alnnoori ila alththulumati ola-ika as-habu alnnari hum feeha khalidoona

Shakir: Allah is the guardian (Wali) of those who believe. He brings them out of the darkness into the light; and (as to) those who disbelieve, their guardians are Shaitans who take them out of the light into the darkness; they are the inmates of the fire, in it they shall abide.
Qur'an 2:257

Who is a Wali

The word can also mean “ally” or “friend”. A Walīyu 'llāh (ولي الله) therefore denotes one who is a friend of Allah. The Shari’ah definition of a Wali is given by Allah in the following verse:

Arabic: أَلَا إِنَّ أَوْلِيَاءَ اللَّهِ لَا خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ

الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَكَانُوا يَتَّقُونَ

لَهُمُ الْبُشْرَىٰ فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا وَفِي الْآخِرَةِ ۚ لَا تَبْدِيلَ لِكَلِمَاتِ اللَّهِ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ هُوَ الْفَوْزُ الْعَظِيمُ

Transliteration: Ala inna awliyaa Allahi la khawfun AAalayhim wala hum yahzanoona

Allatheena amanoo wakanoo yattaqoona

Lahumu albushra fee alhayati alddunya wafee al-akhirati la tabdeela likalimati Allahi thalika huwa alfawzu alAAatheemu

Yusuf Ali: Behold! verily on the friends of Allah there is no fear, nor shall they grieve; Those who believe and (constantly) guard against evil (have Taqwa). For them are glad tidings, in the life of the present and in the Hereafter; no change can there be in the words of Allah. This is indeed the supreme felicity.
Qur'an 10:62-64

From this verse there are two criterion of a Wali:

  1. He has Iman (belief)
  2. He has Taqwa (piety)

A Wali is someone who occupies a very close station to Allah and is protected by Allah from major sins and repetition of sins in general, and kept in a state of obedience. It is a very special rank and position of acceptance given by Allah to His beloved servants.

Awliya in the Hadith

The famous ‘Hadith of the Wali’

Arabic: عن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه قال : قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم : ( إن الله تعالى قال : من عادى لي وليا فقد آذنته بالحرب ، وما تقرّب إليّ عبدي بشيء أحبّ إليّ مما افترضته عليه ، وما يزال عبدي يتقرّب إليّ بالنوافل حتى أُحبّه ، فإذا أحببته كنت سمعه الذي يسمع به ، وبصره الذي يبصر به ، ويده التي يبطش بها ، ورجله التي يمشي بها ، وإن سألني لأعطينّه ، ولئن استعاذني لأعيذنّه ) رواه البخاري .


Narrated by Abu Huraira Ra.gif:

Allah's Apostle ﷺ said, "Allah said, 'I will declare war against him who shows hostility to a Wali of Mine. And the most beloved things with which My slave comes nearer to Me, is what I have enjoined upon him; and My slave keeps on coming closer to Me through performing Nawafil (praying or doing extra deeds besides what is obligatory) till I love him, so I become his sense of hearing with which he hears, and his sense of sight with which he sees, and his hand with which he grips, and his leg with which he walks; and if he asks Me, I will give him, and if he asks My protection (Refuge), I will protect him; (i.e. give him My Refuge) and I do not hesitate to do anything as I hesitate to take the soul of the believer, for he hates death, and I hate to disappoint him." [1]

Sahih Bukhari 8:76:509

This is a powerful and profound Hadith Qudsi in which Allah informs and invites us to be among His friends and allies. It undoubtedly demonstrates the reality and existence and nature of these Awliya (Intimate Friends of Allah), and so no one has the right to deny their existence and special distinction after this knowledge has come to them.

It tells us:

  • Showing enmity to the friends of Allah is among the major sins.
  • Affirming that there are Awliya Allah among His slaves. This cannot be denied.
  • Affirming that Allah loves and that this is one of His attributes.
  • That pious deeds drives one closer to Allah. This is experienced by anyone who performs righteous actions.
  • When Allah loves a person He gives him spiritual and physical strength.
  • When Allah loves a person He answers his prayers.
  • Affirming that Karamat (mini miracles) are real and only pious people have the potential to experience them if Allah so wills.
  • All believers have the capacity and ability to become the Awliya Allah.

Hierarchy of Awliya

Within the level of the Awliya, Allah has established a hierarchy, above which there is no hierarchy. These servants occupy the most sublime levels of proximity to Allah, enjoying what even some of the angels do not possess. He has furthermore granted these special elect servants manifest gifts and abilities, which the common man would find difficult to understand. Allah has revealed to them the secrets of His Attributes, and the secrets of His Kingdoms, and placed in their hands the reigns of authority and control, so that they can dispense with the creation as true representatives (Khulafa) of their Master.

Starting from the top, the hierarchy is as follows:

Imam Jalaluddin as-Suyuti (ra) 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, from which we will choose a few, also adding some that he did not mention.

Proof in the Sunna

1. From Umm Salamah: “Disagreement will occur at the death of a Khalif and a man of the people of Madina will come quickly to Makka. Some of the people of Makka will come to him…and swear allegiance to him between the Corner (Rukn) and Maqam. An expeditionary force will be sent against him from Syria…when the people see that, the Abdal of Syria and the best people of Iraq will come to him and swear allegiance to him…” [3]

This hadith alone suffices as evidence of their existence to the end of times.

2. From Abu Sa’id al-Khudri: “The Abdal from my nation did not enter into Paradise with their actions, but rather through the mercy of Allah, through the unparalleled generosity of their souls, the fact that they hold no grudge or hatred against anyone and their hearts being at peace with everyone, and through mercy for the entirety of Muslims.” [4]
3. From Abu Darda’: “The Abdal have not come to be greater than the rest of the people by performing much fasting or prayers or tasbih, but rather by excellent morals, being true in their scrupulousness, their sound intentions, their hearts being at peace with all Muslims, and giving others sincere counsel for the sake of Allah.” [5]
4. Abu Darda’ said: “When Prophethood ended – and they were the supports (Awtad) of the earth – Allah substituted their places with 40 men from the nation of Muhammad (blessings and peace be upon him), who are named “Abdal” (the Substitutes). Not one of them dies except that Allah replaces him with another one to take his place, and they are now the supports of this earth. The hearts of 30 of them contain the same certainty (yaqin) which Sayyidina Ibrahim (asws) had. They did not succeed or rise above the other people with much fasting or prayer…but rather through being truthful in their scrupulousness, having noble intentions, having sound wholesome hearts, and giving all the Muslims sincere counsel, desiring by that the Pleasure of Allah, with patient forbearance, and a merciful core (of being), and humility without being meek. They do not curse anyone, or harm anyone, nor do they see themselves as being higher or nobler than anyone under them, or envy those above them. They do not fake their humility, nor fake their being dead to the world, nor are they ostentatiously impressed with themselves. They do not love the world, nor love for its sake...” [6]
5. Hudhayfa ibn Yaman said: “The Abdal in my community are in Syria, and they are 30 men on the way of Ibrahim (asws)… And the group (of righteous Awliya’) in Iraq are 40 men… 20 of them are on the way of ‘Isa (asws), and 20 of them have been given some of the instruments which the Khalifa Da’ud (asws) was given.” [7]
6. From ‘Ali: “The Abdal are in Syria, and they are 40 men. Whenever one of them dies, Allah substitutes another in his place. By means of them, Allah brings down the rain, gives victory over enemies, and diverts punishment from the people of Syria.”[8]
7. Also from Imam ‘Ali: “Do not curse the people of Syria, for the Abdal are among them, but curse their injustice.” [9]
8. Also from Imam ‘Ali: “The Abdal are from Syria, and the Nujaba’ are from Egypt, and the elite righteous servants (‘isaba) are from Iraq.” [10]
9. From Anas: “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.” [11]
10. From ‘Ubada ibn Samit: “The Abdal in this community are thirty, their hearts like the heart of Ibrahim (asws) the Intimate of the All-Merciful. Whenever one of them dies, Allah substitutes another one in his place.” [12]
11. Also from ‘Ubada: “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.” [13]
12. Abu Hurayra said: “I entered upon the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him) in the mosque, and he said to me, “O Abu Hurayra, in this hour, a man will walk through this door, who is one of the seven people of the world through whom Allah diverts punishment from the Earth’s inhabitants.” Just then a Habashi (Ethiopian) entered in through that door. He was bald and maimed, and was carrying a container of water on his head. So he said, “O Abu Hurayra, that’s him,” and then said to the man three times, “Welcome to Yasaar (other versions mention Hilal).” This man used to sweep and clean the Mosque, and he was a servant of Mughira ibn Shu’ba. [14]
13. From Abu Qilaba: “There will never cease to be in my Ummah seven, and they will never ask Allah without Him answering them. By means of them, you are given rain, victory, and protection (from enemies, harm, etc…).” [15]
14. Abdullah ibn ‘Amr narrated that the Prophet (salla allahu alayhi wa sallam) said: “In every generation of my community, there will be Sabiqun (forerunners).” [16]
15. “The land of greater-Syria (Sham) is the quintessence (safwa) of Allah’s lands on earth, and to it He draws His elect (safw) worshippers.” [17]
16. “The folk (Ahl) of the Qur’an are the folk of Allah (Ahl ul-Laah) and His elect.” [18]

The previous two hadiths support the meanings of the previous hadiths, which state that Allah has special elect servants, and that they are concentrated in Sham, among other places.

17. From Anas: Allah said, “The most beloved of My worshippers to Me are those who love each other purely for My sake, who frequent the masajid, and ask forgiveness in the predawn hours. These are the ones whom I would bring to My attention when I wish to punish My creation, and then I divert My punishment from My creation because of them.” [19]
18. From Abu Hurayra: “Verily, there are supports (Awtad) for the masajid, whose sitting companions are the angels, seeking them out. So if they are in need, they (the angels) help them; and if they fall ill, they visit them; … and when they are present (in the masajid), they say, “invoke Allah, may Allah invoke you.” [20]
19. Another hadith which supports the meaning of many of the above narrations is related on the authority of Sa’d, which states: “Indeed, Allah supports this Ummah by their weak members, through 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?” [21] Abu Hurayra and others also related that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “Were it not for servants of Allah bowing, infants feeding, and animals grazing, then Divine wrath would pour down upon you.” [22] And from Ibn ‘Umar: “Allah repels calamities from 100 households due to the presence of one righteous Muslim amongst them.” [23]
20. Finally, Ibn ‘Asakir (1:299) and Ibn Abi Khaythama narrate that Uthman ibn ‘Ata was having a conversation with his father, who told him, “The Abdal are forty Insan (humans).” So he said to his father, “Forty men?” and his father replied, “Do not say men, but rather say humans, for there could be women among them.” [24]

This indicates that this hierarchy of Awliya’ is not only occupied by men, but also by women.

Number of Awliya

Hafiz Sakhawi in his Maqasid al-Hasana (p. 10 #8) and Hafiz Suyuti in his Hawi lil Fatawi (2:250-51) state that Ibn ‘Asakir (Tarikh Dimashq 1:300) and Hafiz al-Khatib (Tarikh Baghdad 3:75-76) both relate that Abu Bakr al-Kattani said:

The Nuqaba are 300, the Nujaba are 70, the Abdal are 40, the Akhyar are 7, the ‘Umud (supports) are 4, and the Ghawth is 1. So the dwelling of the Nuqaba are in the Maghrib, the Nujaba in Egypt, the Abdal in Sham, the Akhyar travel throughout the Earth, the ‘Umud are in the corners of the Earth, and the Ghawth is in Makka. So when a need arises among the commonality, the Nuqaba plead to Allah to fulfil it, then the Nujaba, then the Abdal, then the Akhyar, then the ‘Umud, and if they are answered by Allah (it stops with them), and if not, then the Ghawth pleads, and he does not complete his request until it is answered.

Shaykh al-Yafi’i wrote in his book Kifayat al-Mu’taqid (“Sufficiency of the Believer”):

The righteous (Saliheen) are many, and they mix with the common people for the sake of their worldly and other-worldly benefit. And the Nujaba’ are fewer in number than the righteous, and the Nuqaba’ are fewer in number than the Nujaba’, and they mix with the elect servants.

And the Abdal occupy the great countries of the earth. They only occupy a country one after another, so blessed be the people of a land among whom are two Abdal. And the Awtad are 4, one in Syria, one in Yemen, one in the East, and one in the West. And Allah causes the Qutb to travel the four horizons of the Earth, just as the constellations travel their course across the sky.

And the states of the Qutb are veiled from the common and the elect, out of Allah’s jealousy for him, except that he is seen to be (at the same time) knowledgeable and ignorant, dim-witted and intelligent, taking and leaving, near and far, gentle and harsh, safe and dangerous…(meaning that he combines in himself the opposites).

And the states of the Awtad are revealed to the elect. And the states of the Abdal are revealed to the elect and the Gnostics (who are under the elect). And the states of the Nuqaba’ and the Nujaba’ are veiled from the common, but they are revealed to each other. And the states of the righteous are revealed to both the common and the elect, so that Allah’s plans may be enacted.

The number of the Nujaba’ are 300, and the number of the Nuqaba’ are 40, and the number of the Adbal is said to be 30, or 14, or 7 (and this is the most correct number), and the number of the Awtad are four. So when the Qutb dies, Allah replaces him with the best of the four Awtad. And when one of the four die, Allah replaces him with the best of the seven Abdal…and so on. And when Allah desires to start the Day of Judgment, He takes the life of all of them. Because of them and through them, Allah sends down rain from the sky and averts His punishment and tribulations from His servants… And the Qutb is the one mentioned who is upon the heart of the angel Israfil (upon him be peace), and his relation to the rest of the Awliya’ is like the centre of the circle in relation to the circumference, and thus it is through him that Allah sets right the affair of the world… the Prophet ﷺ did not mention anyone as being upon his heart, since Allah never created anyone whose heart could be comparable to his heart in its luminousness, subtlety, and nobility. So the hearts of the remaining Prophets and Angels and Awliya’ are to his heart like the light of the distant stars compared to the perfect light of the proximate Sun.

This was repeated and confirmed by Ibn Hajar al-Makki al-Haytami in his Fatawa Hadithiyya (p. 322-23), and by Ibn ‘Abidin al-Hanafi in his fatwa on the Abdal called Ijabat al-Ghawth. Hafiz Sakhawi states in his Maqasid (p. 9 #8):

…And what strengthens these hadiths (about the Abdal) and confirms them, and indicates their prevalence among the ‘Ulama is that Imam Shafi’i would sometimes comment about someone and say, “We used to count so and- so as one of the Abdal,” and Bukhari would say, “They would not doubt that so-and-so was one of the Abdal,” and other Imams and Huffaz 62 who would describe people in such a way.

This shows that it was a known and accepted truth among the Salaf that these categories of Awliya’ existed. For more examples, see Suyuti’s Hawi lil-Fatawi (2:251-55).

Finally, Ibn ‘Abidin quoted Hafiz Ibn Hajar who said in his Fatwas:

The Abdal were mentioned in numerous narrations, some of them authentic (Sahih), and others not authentic. As for the Qutb, he was mentioned in some later narrations (Athar). And as for the Ghawth – in the description given him common among the Sufis – it is not established (in any authentic narration).

Then Ibn ‘Abidin commented:

We will quote in what follows Imam Shafi’i’s explanation of the Ghawth as being the Qutb, and this proves its being established and that they refer to one and the same thing, so know this. And the intention of the Hafiz (Ibn Hajar) was that mention of the Ghawth is not found in any Sahih hadith, but the fact that it is widespread and well-known, and frequently mentioned among the people of this pure path (the Sufis), is enough to indicate its established basis.

Miracles of the Awliya

Just as it is the belief of Ahlus-Sunna that the Prophets (upon all of them be blessed peace) have miracles (mu’jizat), among which is included knowledge of the Unseen continually bestowed to them by Allah, it is also the doctrine of Ahlus-Sunna that the Awliya’ – who are the inheritors of the Prophets – have a share in these grants (karamat) from Allah, among which is “Kashf” (unveiling/perception of the unseen).

The fact that the Awliya’ have knowledge of the Unseen (and other miraculous abilities) is attested to by the Qur’an and Sunna and the experience of the righteous Muslims throughout the centuries of the history of Islam, and does not constitute, as some misguided Muslims claim, kufr or shirk.

Proof from the Quran

1. Asif bin Barkhiya

The Wali who was with Sayyidina Sulayman (as) brought him the throne of Bilqis quicker than the blink of an eye. He was characterized as "one who had knowledge of the Book," as Allah stated, "One with whom was knowledge of the Book said, 'I will bring it to you before your gaze returns to you…' (Q27:40)", and this is Asif bin Barkhiya (a non-prophet human), the scribe and relative of Prophet Sulayman (as), according to the Tafsir of Ibn ‘Abbas and the majority of commentators.

The Qur'an narration is as follows:

He said (to his own men): "Ye chiefs! which of you can bring me her throne before they come to me in submission?" [Quran 27:38]
Said an 'Ifrit, of the Jinns: "I will bring it to thee before thou rise from thy council: indeed I have full strength for the purpose, and may be trusted." [Quran 27:39]
Said one who had knowledge of the Book: "I will bring it to thee within the twinkling of an eye!" Then when (Solomon) saw it placed firmly before him, he said: "This is by the Grace of my Lord!- to test me whether I am grateful or ungrateful! and if any is grateful, truly his gratitude is (a gain) for his own soul; but if any is ungrateful, truly my Lord is Free of all Needs, Supreme in Honour!" [Quran 27:40]
He said: "Transform her throne out of all recognition by her: let us see whether she is guided (to the truth) or is one of those who receive no guidance." [Quran 27:41]
So when she arrived, she was asked, "Is this thy throne?" She said, "It was just like this; and knowledge was bestowed on us in advance of this, and we have submitted to Allah (in Islam)." [Quran 27:42]

2. Sayyidina al-Khadir (as)

Similarly, Sayyidina al-Khadir (although considered by some to be a Prophet) possessed knowledge which Sayyidina Musa (as) did not have, which came to him directly from the Presence of Allah without intermediary, as stated in Q18:65. Baghawi stated in his Tafsir of this verse: "He taught him the inward (batin) knowledge by inspiration (ilham)."

Then they found one from among Our servants whom We had granted mercy from Us and whom We had taught knowledge from Ourselves. [Quran 18:65]
Musa said to him: Shall I follow you on condition that you should teach me right knowledge of what you have been taught? [Quran 18:66]

3. Sayyida Maryam (as)

Sayyida Maryam was a Siddiqa (see Q4:69 and Q5:75), which is one of the highest categories of Ihsan, and she was granted numerous miracles, such as being provided for without intermediaries or secondary causes (Q3:37), and giving birth without human impregnation (Q3:47 and Q19:20), and super-human strength (Q19:25).

Right graciously did her Lord accept her: He made her grow in purity and beauty: To the care of Zakariya was she assigned. Every time that he entered (Her) chamber to see her, He found her supplied with sustenance. He said: "O Mary! Whence (comes) this to you?" She said: "From Allah: for Allah Provides sustenance to whom He pleases without measure." [Quran 3:37]
She said: My Lord! when shall there be a son (born) to I me, and man has not touched me? He said: Even so, Allah creates what He pleases; when He has decreed a matter, He only says to it, Be, and it is. [Quran 3:47]
And shake towards you the trunk of the palmtree, it will drop on you fresh ripe dates. [Quran 19:25]

4. Ashab al-Kahf (The people of the cave)

These servants of Allah, sometimes known as the Seven Sleepers (although the Quran does not specify an exact number), were not Prophets or Messengers but were blessed with special ranks and favours. This group of young believers resisted pressure from their people to worship others beside God and took refuge in a cave, following which they fell asleep for 300 solar years or 309 lunar years, whilst being guarded by a dog.

5. Other Examples

There are several other examples in the Qur’an of non-Prophets receiving "wahy," such as: Maryam (Q19:25), the mother of Musa and Harun (alayhim salam) (Q20:38, 28:7), and the disciples of Sayyidina ‘Isa (Q5:111). The scholars of Tafsir agree unanimously that this "wahy" refers to inspiration (ilham) and unveiling (kashf), and not revelation which only Prophets receive.

Proof from the Sunnah

1. Harith ibn Malik al-Ansari passed by the Prophet ﷺ who asked him, “How are you this morning, O Harith?” and he replied, “This morning I am a true believer in Allah.” The Prophet ﷺ said: “Take care of what you say, for everything has a proof to it, so what is the proof of your belief?” He said: “I have turned myself away from this world by keeping awake at night and staying thirsty by day; and I can almost see the Throne of my Lord in full view before me, and I can see the people of the Garden visiting each other, and the people of the Fire wailing to each other.” The Prophet ﷺ said, “O Harith! You have realized (the truth), therefore cling to it.” Some versions add, “(This is) a believer whose heart Allah has illumined.” [25]

2. “In the nations before you were people who were spoken to (muhaddathun) who were not Prophets. If there is anyone in my community, it is ‘Umar ibn Khattab.” [26]

In his narration Imam Muslim adds, “Ibn Wahb explained ‘spoken to’ to mean ‘inspired’ (mulhamun),” and this is the majority’s opinion according to Ibn Hajar in his Fath al-Bari (7:62), who adds, “spoken to” means, “by the angels.” In his explanation on Sahih Muslim, Imam Nawawi writes on this hadith: “…there is in this a confirmation of the miracles of Awliya” (Kitab Fada’il as-Sahaba, Ch. 2, #10). This hadith specifically refers to the perfection of the quality of Ilham (inspiration) in Sayyidina ‘Umar and not the fact that other Muslims lack this ability, as Hafiz Ibn Hajar explained in his commentary on this hadith.

3. Abu Sa’id al-Khudri reported that the Prophet ﷺ said: “Be wary of the spiritual vision (firasa) of the believer, for indeed he sees by the Light of Allah.” [27]

Similar to this is the hadith (reported through Anas and others) in which he ﷺ said: “Indeed, Allah has servants who know (the truth about people) through reading the signs (tawassum).”[28]


  1. This is a very famous hadith, and it is narrated through multiple narrations, each containing more or less what is mentioned here. Imam Bukhari narrated it in his Sahih (Kitab ar-Riqaq #6021) from Abu Hurayra, Ibn Majah (Kitab al-Fitan, #3979) from Umar, Imam Ahmad in his Musnad (6:256) from A’isha and his Kitab az-Zuhd (p. 61, 65), Ibn Hibban (2:58 #347), Tabarani in his Mu’jam al-Kabir (8:221 #7880; 12:145 #12719) and al-Awsat (1:192 #609; 9:139 #9352), Abdur-Razzaq (11:192-93), Quda’i (Musnad Shihab, 2:327-28 #1456-57), Ibn Abi Dunya in his Kitab al-Awliya (#1, #45) also on the authority of Anas, Abu Nu’aym in his Hilyat al-Awliya’ (1:5; 8:318), Abu Ya’la in his Musnad (12:520) from Maymuna, Bazzar (Zawa’id, 4:241-42, 248), Hakim at-Tirmidhi in his Nawadir al-Usul (Asl #75, #162, #228), Daylami in his Firdaws (3:215 #4472 and 3:216 #4475), Imam Bayhaqi in his Sunan al-Kubra (3:346) and Kitab az-Zuhd (p. 269-70 #696,99), Ibn Shahin (Targhib, #285), Imam Qushayri with his chain in the Risala (p. 292, 348), Ibn ‘Asakir in his Tarikh (7:95), Abu ‘Abdur-Rahman as-Sulami (Forty Hadiths on Tasawwuf, #36), and others. Hadith Sahih.
  2. See Hawi li-l Fatawi (2:241ff), and for more information on hadiths about the Abdal see ‘Ajluni’s Kashf (#35) and Sakhawi’s Maqasid (#8).
  3. Recorded by Abu Dawud (Kitab al-Mahdi, #3737), Imam Ahmad (6:316), Ibn Abi Shayba (8:609), Abdur- Razzaq (11:371 #20769), Tabarani (M. Awsa', 2:35 #1153, 9:176 #9459, and M. Kabir, 23:296, 389-90), Hakim (4:431), Ibn Hibban (15:158-59), Abu Ya’la (12:370 #6940 Hasan), Ishaq ibn Rahawayh, and Ibn ‘Asakir in Tarikh Dimashq (1:292 93). Mundhiri, Ibn Hibban, Hakim, Dhahabi, and Haythami (7:315) said it is Sahih.
  4. Recorded by Bayhaqi (Shu’ab al-Iman, 7:439 #10893), and similar versions by Ibn Abi Dunya (Kitab al-Awliya’ p. 28 #58), Hakim at-Tirmidhi (Nawadir, Asl #51) and others. Hadith Da’if.
  5. Recorded by Hakim at-Tirmidhi in Nawadir al-Usul (Asl #51). A hadith of similar wording was recorded by Daylami (Firdaws, 2:344) and Ibn ‘Asakir (1:292) from Anas, and Ibn Abi Dunya (K. Awliya, #8) from ‘Ali.
  6. Recorded by Hakim Tirmidhi (Asl #51), and Ibn Abi Dunya (K. Awliya, #57) from Abu-z Zinad.
  7. Recorded by Hakim at-Tirmidhi in Nawadir al-Usul (Asl. #51).
  8. Recorded by Imam Ahmad (Musnad, 1:112 #854 and Fada’il as-Sahaba, #1675), Diya’ al-Maqdisi in al- Mukhtara (2:110), Ibn ‘Asakir in Tarikh Dimashq (1:289, 296), Hakim Tirmidhi in Nawadir al-Usul (Asl #222), and Muhammad ibn Abdul-Hadi in Fada’il al-Sham (p. 43 #15). Shurayh narrated from Miqdad, who is older than ‘Ali. Munawi in his Fayd al-Qadir, Haythami (10:62 #16671), Sakhawi (Maqasid #8), and Suyuti (Jami’ as- Saghir #3035) said it is Hasan, and it has over ten routes of transmission from ‘Ali as stated by Munawi.
  9. Recorded by Hakim (4:553), who said, along with Imam Dhahabi, that it is Sahih. Also recorded by Imam Ahmad (Fada’il as-Sahaba 2:905), Abdur-Razzaq (Musannaf, 11:249 #20455), Tabarani (M. Awsat, 4:176 #3905), Ibn Abi Dunya (Kitab al-Awliya’, #70), Bayhaqi (Dala’il an-Nubuwwa, 6:449), Diya’ al-Maqdisi (Mukhtara, 2:111- 12), Ishaq ibn Rahawayh (Matalib, 3:377 – Sahih according to Busiri 10:332 #7930), Nu’aym ibn Hammad in his Fitan (#651 Sahih chain), Ibn ‘Asakir (1:296-97), and others.
  10. Recorded by Ibn ‘Asakir in Tarikh Dimashq (1:296 97, 300), al-Khallal, and ad-Dani in his Sunan al-Warida fi’l Fitan (#598). Cf. Suyuti’s Hawi lil Fatawi (2:466-67).
  11. 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), Ibn Hibban in his Tarikh from Abu Hurayra (Da’if, see Hawi 2:248 and 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.
  12. Imam Ahmad (5:322 #21689), Tabarani (M. Kabir), Ibn ‘Asakir in his Tarikh (1:292), Hakim at-Tirmidhi in his Nawadir (Asl #51), Ibn Kathir (Tafsir of Q2:251), Daylami (Firdaws, 5:232 #7714), Abu Nu’aym in his Akhbar Asbahan (1:180), and al-Khallal in his Karamat al-Awliya’. Haythami (in his Majma’ az-Zawa’id 10:62 #16672), Suyuti (Jami’ as-Saghir #3032-33), Munawi, and others said it is Sahih.
  13. 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”).
  14. Recorded by Hakim at-Tirmidhi in Nawadir (Asl #123) and Khatm al-Awliya (p. 443), Abu Nu’aym in his Hilya (2:24, 81) and Ma’rifat as-Sahaba (5:2810 #3079), Ibn ‘Asakir in his Tarikh (3:200), Ruyani in his Musnad (3:335), Abu Muhammad al-Khallal in Karamat al-Awliya’, Ibn al-Athir in his Usd al-Ghaba (5:124), and others. See also: Ibn Hajar’s Isaba fi Tamyiz as-Sahaba (6:550).
  15. Recorded by Abdur-Razzaq in his Musannaf (11:250 #20457) and Ibn Abi Dunya (K. Awliya, #69). This hadith is mursal Sahih, because Muslim recorded the exact same chain in his Sahih (#3166), and all of its narrators are of Bukhari’s Sahih (#206, 2195, 3113).
  16. Recorded by Abu Nu’aym in his Hilyat al-Awliya’ (1:8 Sahih, 8:278), Daylami (Musnad Firdaws, 3:140 #4375), and Hakim at-Tirmidhi (Asl #72, #144).
  17. Haythami in his Majma’ (10:58-59 #16647-48) and Mundhiri in his Targhib (4:60) state that it is authentic. Hakim in his Mustadrak (4:509-10), along with al-Dhahabi, also said it is Sahih. Also recorded by Ibn Hibban (16:295), Bayhaqi (Sunan al-Kubra, 9:179), Tabarani in his Mu’jam al-Kabir (18:251, and #7718, 7796) and Awsat (4:154), Imam Ahmad (#16391), Abu Dawud (#2124), Abdur-Razzaq (#20459), Ibn ‘Asakir (1:66-67), Bazzar (Zawa’id, 3:323), Daylami (Firdaws, 3:62 #3889, 5:348 #8125), Abu Nu’aym (Dala’il, p. 199), and others. For more on this hadith, see ‘Ajluni’s Kashf al-Khafa’ (#1526) and Sakhawi’s Maqasid (#583).
  18. Ibn Majah (Muqaddima, #211), Darimi (#3192), Imam Ahmad (#11831, 11844, 13053), Tayalisi (#2238), Abu Nu’aym (3:63, 9:40), Nasa’i (Sunan al-Kubra, #8031), Hakim (1:556 Sahih), Bayhaqi (Shu’ab, #2688-89), Hakim at-Tirmidhi (Nawadir, Asl #67), al-Khatib in his Tarikh (2:311, 5:357), Harith (Zawa’id, p. 229 #732), and Daylami in Firdaws (1:494 #1649). See also: Hafiz Sakhawi (Maqasid, #249), Hafiz ‘Ajluni (Kashf al-Khafa’ #16, #768, #811). It is Sahih, according to Suyuti (Jami’ Saghir, #2374) and Mundhiri (Targhib wa Tarhib, 2:354).
  19. Recorded by Bayhaqi (Shu’ab, #9052), Abdur-Razzaq (11:204 #20329), Ibn Abi Shayba (Musannaf, 8:122), Tabarani (M. Awsat, 2:85 #1328, from Abu Darda’, also 1:203 #651), Ibn Abi Dunya (K. Awliya, #76), and Daylami (Firdaws, 3:229 #4522), with different chains of transmission.
  20. Recorded by Imam Ahmad (#9056), Abdur-Razzaq (11:297 #20585), Ibn Abi Shayba (8:172), Bayhaqi (Shu’ab, #2952-53), Ibn Najjar (see Kanz al-‘Ummal, #20350), and Daylami (1:254 #784). Haythami said in Majma’ Zawa’id (2:22 #2025) that Ahmad’s chain contains Ibn Lahi’a. However, Abdur-Razzaq’s narration is from the trustworthy (thiqa) Ma’mar from the thiqa Tabi’i ‘Ata al-Khurasani from an un-named Sahabi (all of whom are thiqa anyway), which is the same chain in Muslim’s Sahih (#1623). Also, Hakim recorded this hadith from Abdullah ibn Salam in his Mustadrak (2:398), and both he and Dhahabi said it was Sahih.
  21. 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 through the weak and the pious during battle.” Hadith Sahih.
  22. 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).
  23. Recorded by Tabarani (M. Awsat, #4080 - Da’if: Haythami’s Majma’ 8:164, Suyuti’s Jami’ Saghir, #1794).
  24. Hafiz Suyuti mentioned a hadith of similar import in his Jami’ as-Saghir (#3036), which is recorded by al- Khallal (Karamat al-Awliya’) and Daylami (al-Firdaws, 1:154-55 #404) from ‘Ata from Anas: “The Abdal are 40 men and 40 women…”, and it has other chains recorded by Abu Bakr Ibn Lal in Makarim al-Akhlaq (from Hasan al-Basri from Anas) and Ibn ‘Asakir in his Tarikh (from Yazid al-Raqashi from Anas), and it is Da’if according to Sakhawi (Maqasid, #8). See also Suyuti’s Hawi lil Fatawi 2:250.
  25. Recorded by Tabarani in his Mu’jam al-Kabir (3:266 #3367), Quda’i (Musnad Shihab, 2:127 #1028), Abu Nu’aym (Hilya, 1:242), Bazzar (Zawa’id, 1:26 #32), Ibn Abi Shayba in his Musannaf (7:226-27) and his Kitab al- Iman (#114-115)
  26. Bukhari (#3210, 3413), Muslim (#4411), Nasa’i (Sunan Kubra, #8119-20), Tirmidhi (#3626), Imam Ahmad (#23150) and others.
  27. Tirmidhi (#3052, Tafsir of Q15:75), Tabarani in his Mu’jam al-Kabir (8:121 #7497) and others.
  28. Recorded by Tabarani in Mu’jam al-Awsat (3:207 #2935), Quda’i in Musnad Shihab (2:116 #1005), Hakim Tirmidhi in Nawadir (Asl #227) and others.

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