Aulia: A status or a title

Q49 :I have read in a book published in India that God may give some of his special servants a position which enables them to give any order for anything and their orders will be immediately implemented. This has happened with so many people in the past. In commenting on this, a leading authority is quoted to have said that those highly honored servants of God would prefer nevertheless not to use this power and to limit themselves instead to saying, "In God's name". Thus, they emphasize that things happen by God's will, not theirs. Please comment.

A49 : Let me first of all remind my readers that whatever claim is made concerning the religion of Islam must be supported by proper evidence from the Qur'an or the Hadith. Otherwise, it simply cannot be accepted. We simply cannot take the word of any person, no matter what position or honor he commands, unless it is supported by such authentic and clear evidence. This is only logical because God has not left it to human beings to develop their concepts of faith, nor has He stopped at giving them broad guidelines so that they can formulate their essential beliefs. He has sent them a messenger with a clear message, contained in a book that God Himself has guaranteed to preserve intact. Everything in that book is of absolute clarity and further supported by explanations made by God's messenger who was known even in his youth as "The Trustworthy". The messenger had called on people to believe in the faith as it is laid down in the Qur'an. The central point in that passage is the Oneness of God and that He admits no partnership with others, be they human beings, angels or other creatures. Moreover, the requirement to accept the faith and implement it in one's life is the same to all beings, men and women alike. This means that God has made the same requirement of us all, and made us equally susceptible to accepting the faith preached by His messenger. People may vary in their degree of faith, but this difference is largely of their own making. Some excel in their willingness to do their duties and strive to earn more reward through doing what is recommended, or, to use the Islamic terminology, Sunnah. Such people are certainly given rich rewards by God. The reward is preserved mainly for the life to come, but some of its aspects may be granted in this life. This could be in the form of being honored by other people. You always find that those who are dedicated believers are loved by those who come in contact with them. But we must be clear in our minds that this comes as a natural process. A person who is dedicated to obeying Allah does not make this dedication public. He simply goes about the fulfillment of his duties and adding what is recommended to him without any publicity. However, this dedication reflects on him and his behavior, making him a likable person. The more you know of him the better you like him. Such a person with strong faith and determined dedication to God's cause is known as "Wali" with a plural as "Aulia", which means a friend or ally of God. This is a status, not a title. We do not confer such a title on any person at all. It is a status which God recognizes. It is a status normally associated with readiness to sacrifice what is precious to serve God's cause. Therefore, a Wali could be a scholar, but he could also be an ordinary person, probably with limited knowledge, but with a strong faith and confirmed dedication. This applies to men and women alike. We may recognize such a Wali and may not. He himself may not recognize it. Indeed, he is hardly likely to ever think of himself as such, because he realizes that this is a position of honor conferred by God. It is true that he aspires to achieve such a status, but a good believer normally thinks himself unlikely to merit such a status. As I say, such people are honored by God. The honor may take the form of bringing about something miraculous to benefit a particular person or a community. This is what is known as "karamah", or an act of honor granted to such a wali. But this takes place by God's will, not by that person's desire. It takes place when he does not expect it, although he may pray hard for it. His prayer would be in general terms, such as praying for a group of people to be rescued from danger. How the rescue will come about, he cannot tell. God may respond and rescue those people without any intervening action on their part. The rescue takes place by God's will and in the way He determines. To do something miraculous or supernatural is easy for God. When He wills something to happen, He needs only to say to it, "Be", and it is there. Now the extract from the book you have sent me claims that such Aulia are given the authority to will anything to be and it happens. I tell you in the most unequivocal of terms that this is absurd. It is an assumption that those people are given an authority which belongs solely to Allah Himself. There is simply no evidence from the Qur'an or the Sunnah to support this claim. Nor can there be any logical argument to support it. Moreover, Islamic history shows clearly that those who had the greatest status as dedicated believers were not given such a power. We have not heard of anyone of the Prophet's companions, or those who succeeded them, having been given such a power. Nor indeed was this granted to any of the great servants of Islam, whether scholars, fighters, etc. It is claimed that those who are given such an authority do not use it, as a gesture of deference to God's authority. But this is ridiculous, because a believer who is given some sort of authority or power should use it for the benefit of the Muslim community. Besides, is it possible that such a privilege is given to a single person in the Muslim world and he decides not to use it to relieve the plight of Muslims in such places as Somalia, Bosnia, Kashmir, Philippines or Palestine? Why not? Is it a privilege he uses for his own benefit? That would bring him down in status to the position of a selfish person. Moreover, how would we know that a person has been granted such a privilege? The book tells us that those who are given the privilege do not use it. From where, then, do we derive the knowledge that they have it. We have nothing mentioned in the Qur'an or Hadith about any person being given such a privilege. If he keeps quiet about it and does not use it, then where does the information come from? Do you not see that there is something suspicious about the whole claim? Let me tell you that if any person, regardless of his position, makes the claim that God has given him such a privilege, then he is a liar. As I have explained, when God grants someone or a group of people an honor causing something miraculous to happen to them or to others through them, the event will have all the mark of being an accomplishment of God's will. It comes in a way which is least expected by us. If it happens and someone claims that it is an honor granted to him, then he is a liar. If other people claim it for him, then he should stop them. If he does not then he is allowing his ego to express itself. That is not the attitude of a wali, or a friend of God. Besides, how would any person attain such a privilege? By strenuous worship? Definitely not. By fighting for God's cause? How, when we know that the Muslims lost many battles and countless martyrs? I tell you clearly that this claim is no more than an illusion. Whoever makes such a claim for himself is a liar. We doubt whether he actually believes in God. If it is claimed for other people, then the claimant simply betrays his ignorance.

Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )