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Wilaya: The Goal of Believers


To believe in the tenets of faith makes one a believer. But the believers have another goal too: wilaya. Wilaya is a personal relationship with Allah that develops throughout one’s struggles against the four enemies: ego, whimsical impulses, shaytan, and dunya. It is said that the wali is the one given tawfeeq (Divinely aided success) in conquering these four enemies.

What are the signs of these four enemies? The sign of the ego is that it is one’s constant bad habit that he or she has a hard time getting rid of. The sign of shaytan’s work is that he gets you to do a one-off thing that you never did before and don’t really know why you did at all. The whimsical impulse (hawa) is a sudden urge to do something harmful to one’s deen or dunya. Impulses are built in within us. Some people are more impulsive than others. But the Prophet peace be upon him gave us the way out: “None of you truly believe (fully) until your whim is in accordance to what I have brought” (Tabarani). So the person might still by impulsive, but his impulse demands him something good, as Allah and His Messenger peace be upon him define goodness. Lastly the dunya is any desires of the ego that conflicts with goodness as defined by Allah and His Messenger peace be upon him. Dunya is not ‘stuff.’ If it’s just a habit of life that you have nice clothes since you were a child such that it would be unbecoming for you to dress otherwise, that’s not dunya. But if it’s any desire that leads you to sin or distracts you from worship, then it’s dunya.

Wilaya is a special rank Allah bestows upon those who exerted themselves above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to worship. “He continues drawing near to Me with extra deeds until I love him.” This love comes with an official pronouncement in a heavenly ceremony led by the Angel Jibreel. “When Allah loves a person, He tells Jibreel ‘I love so and so, so love him.’ Then Jibreel loves him and then announces to those in the heavens: ‘Verily Allah loves so-and-so, so love him.’ Then they love him. Then acceptance (in the hearts of the believers) spreads for him on the earth (Bukhari).”

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The wali has more rights and rewards with Allah than the normal believer. The wali is rewarded with Divine inspiration: “I become his hearing with which he hears, his seeing with which he sees, his foot with which he walks, his hand with which he strikes…” (Bukhari). This means that when the wali does something, unique results come about because it’s inspired with Divine gifts. How many times has someone said a normal statement that you heard many times before, but it’s impact was so heavy that it changed you.

The wali has the right of protection: “If he seeks My aid, I will protect him,” and “Whoever aggresses against My wali, I announce war against him” (Bukhari).

As a result of this protection, you never have to worry about a wali: “Do not fear for them” (10:62 Yunus).

The wali will never be left sad as Allah says clearly and simply: “They will never be left sad” (ibid). This is good news for those close to a wali, since he or she will be sad if they are not in Paradise with them, so that it can be hoped that the wali will be allowed to intercede for them.

So…how is wilaya achieved? Simple: keep their company and imitate them, then hopefully we’ll be resurrected in their company. “Be with the truthful ones” (9:119 Tawba). But how do we know who is a wali? We are not required to delve into that, but Allah has given us a number of signs to look for:

1 The wali is a person of knowledge. His statement, “He draws near to Me with recommended acts” indicates that the wali knows the difference between obligations and recommendations.

2 The wali fears doing the haram. “His awliya are the people of taqwa” (10:62 Yunus). Taqwa is doing what you have to do in religion and avoiding what we must avoid, in matters of beliefs, actions, and inner states (for example, the direct creation of Adam and Hawa is an obligatory belief; universal validity of religions is a prohibited belief; envy is a prohibited inward state; love of the Ahl al-Bayt and Companions is an obligatory inward state, and so on). This also requires knowledge, which is another indication that the wali is a person of knowledge.

3 The wali exerts him or herself in worship. “He continues drawing near to me with extra deeds.” Laziness regarding spiritual work, like dhikr, tahajjud, and fasting, is not the attribute of a wali.

These are the signs of the awliya. If we see these signs in someone, we should keep their company. And if we don’t find any, then we should read about the past ones in the biographies of the awliya.

May Allah make us amongst them and resurrect us with them. We ask Allah to put the awliya in our path and inspire us to love them and honor them, and make them love us and help us on our journey. Ameen.

Dr. Shadee Elmasry is the Director of Religious Education at the New Brunswick Islamic Center in New Jersey, and is also the founder of Safina Society, which offers courses on the eight subjects of the Sharia for all ages.

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Dr Shadee Elmasry was born and raised in New Jersey and studied in the Muslim world in Fez, Hadramawt, Cairo, Makka, and Madina. He completed a Masters from The George Washington University in comparative religion, then a PhD from the University of London, SOAS on “Da’wa in the Works of Imam al-Haddad.”



  1. Sarah Aslam

    July 19, 2016 at 5:13 PM

    Jazakallahu khairun

    A very beautiful and beneficial piece.

    • Orlando Rosario

      July 19, 2016 at 10:04 PM

      Jazakallahu khair Sheikh Shadee

  2. Aziz

    July 19, 2016 at 6:43 PM

    MashaAllah a very well written article. Brings comfort and peace inside. Finding a Wali and asking him to do dua for us is very beneficial. Read blossomsmag for inspiring stories about the Aulia and the power of duas.

  3. Mobeen

    July 19, 2016 at 9:22 PM

    Barak Allah feek Shaykh Shadee for the beautiful reminder. May Allah grant us the company of the awliya’ and allow us to be counted from amongst them in the akhirah.

    • shadee

      July 24, 2016 at 11:39 PM

      Ameen ya rabb! And may Allah bring us awliya in our off-spring until the Day of Judgement.

  4. Muslima Habeeb-Allah

    July 20, 2016 at 8:05 PM

    Alhamdullah! Alhamdullah!
    Only via the grace of Allah, (Glory to Allah), that I found Dr. Shadee Elmasry online looking for Kuthbahs to listen to, and after listening to a couple of Imans and then I click on his and I cried , and cried because for nearly 40 years being a Muslim sister, I had long to hear and understand more and these great Kuthbahs unfolded over and over , about Allah, and his Messengers , and the Sahabahs , the Companions and the Scholars. I felt so blessed and so grateful. Yes, the article is beautiful and I know something about it only because I listen to him online, and now when I read the Quran, I finally after all these years , I am just now begining to understand not much , But I know a little bit about some of the people in the Quran. I was not getting it before, You must have a teacher to guide you and an Iman in your Mosque, and the community must want it or you will …
    not get it. May Allah (Glory to Allah) , bless you and your family , and your community and anyone that cross your path know , You love Allah and Prophet Muhammad .

    • shadee

      July 24, 2016 at 11:38 PM

      Allah bless you and your family! Thank you for your kind words.

  5. Ahmed

    July 21, 2016 at 7:15 PM

    JazakAllah khair for this insightful article. I do have a question. Allah says, in Surah Baqarah:

    Allah is the Wali (Protector or Guardian) of those who believe. He brings them out from darkness into light. But as for those who disbelieve, their Auliya (supporters and helpers) are Taghut [false deities and false leaders], they bring them out from light into darkness. Those are the dwellers of the Fire, and they will abide therein forever. [2:257]

    If Allah is the Wali of those who believe, is the above characterization of a wali (the person who is under Allah’s Wilayah) in the article above limiting who all are covered under Allah’s Wilayah? Does Allah’s Wilayah extend for all believers but at different levels based on the person’s imaan/righteousness/taqwa? Or am I confusing two separate concepts?

    • shadee

      July 24, 2016 at 11:37 PM

      Walaykum salam brother, Yes, this refers to the general wilaya of protection and nearness for all believers. And then there is the specific wilaya of love, granting duas and inspiration for those who exert themselves in extra worship.

  6. Mohammad

    July 22, 2016 at 12:48 PM

    Subhan Allah. What an amazing read.

  7. Zain

    July 29, 2016 at 3:11 AM

    JazakAllah!! Very Well written. .Great Post
    Online Quran Reading

  8. Abdus Salam

    July 31, 2016 at 10:14 PM

    Alhamdulillah. Jazak Allahu Khairan. Amin.

  9. Danish

    August 5, 2016 at 11:10 AM

    Masha Allah, for islamic events in pakistan visit

  10. noble peace

    August 9, 2016 at 1:54 AM

    Sallam alaikom br. Dr shadee,

    Jezak Allah kul khair for the article. great inspiration. May Allah increase you in abundance in all good here and here-after. And al-hamdullah for the likes of yourself and the others.

    You mentioned about Hawa/desires/urges..etc, being opposite of what is good for us in dunya and deen. Just to try and get into a wali’s mind, for instance, if and when THEY TRY TO emulate the Beloved in asking Allah in everything, i.e. little and great, even to the extent of such, tying of a shoe lace (I once heard or read). In making decisions, obviously al-istikhara, but how does one differentiate between angelic and satanic whisperings and suggestions? and is that applicable in the given question/situation?…..and is there a litmus test, lets say for an example, me writing this or any body else writing or doing an action. How would we personally know what streak of thought we are following?

    barak Allah feekom


    • shadee

      December 21, 2018 at 10:31 AM

      Walaykum salam Noble Peace. Not rude at all. …We can differentiate between wiswas and good thoughts from angels and from Allah Himself by measuring those thoughts against the Sacred Law and also istishara, which is asking people who know. Taking counsel. If something is very vague then we see what the scholars of our times do about it. Or we see if it is viewed as good or bad by the Muslims who regularly pray in the masajid. For this, the Prophet ﷺ said, “What the Muslims find good, is with Allah good.” It’s for these vague, subjective matters.

  11. noble peace

    August 9, 2016 at 1:55 AM

    apologies that was rude…..

    peace unto you

  12. Robert

    March 20, 2018 at 5:10 PM

    Assalamu3laykum wa Rahmatullah

    May Allah open the eyes of everyone so we aspire to such heights, and as the Shaykh said search out these Awlia. What you mention about keeping company with them is rare I find. It is not something often found, especially since the advent of aeroplanes. However some are blessed with that presence, the ones who are chosen by the Wali.

    P.S Dr Shadee on safina society podcast can you please go through the stories of Awlia you have encountered in the past? Or even a discussion with shayookh who have seen them, I have to say the discussion with Shaykh Rami you had on the pod was awesome. I find it insightful and helpful hearing about them, and they motivate me more in that showing “Yes it can be done” and the road to Allah does have fruition and one can arrive with the grace of Allah Jala wa Ala.

    BarakAllahu feekum

    Keep up the good work!

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