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This article is about the "pillar of Islam", for the historical view, see Imamah (Shi'a Ismaili doctrine)

Walayah (Arabic: ولاية‎) means "guardianship".

Walayah or Walaya, is a word which empower gives authority/guardianship to a person, community, or country that is under the direction and rule on behalf of another. "Wali" is someone who has "Walayah" (authority or guardianship) over somebody else. For example, in fiqh, a father is wali of his children. The word Wali holds a special importance in Islamic spiritual life and it is used with various meanings, which relate to its different functions, which include: “next of kin, ally, friend, helper, guardian, patron, and saint”. In Islam, the phrase ولي الله walīyu l-Lāh[1] can be used to denote one vested with the "authority of God":

بِسْمِ ٱللَّهِ ٱلرَّحْمَنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ إِنَّمَا وَلِيُّكُمُ اللّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ الَّذِينَ يُقِيمُونَ الصَّلاَةَ وَيُؤْتُونَ الزَّكَاةَ وَهُمْ رَاكِعُونَ
"In the name of God the Merciful, the Compassionate: Only God is your wali and his messenger and those who believe, establish worship, and pay the poor due while bowing down (in prayer)."[Quran 5:55]

The Concept of Walayah[edit]

Main articles: Awliyaa and Wali

Two verbal noun are derived from the Arabic root of the word w-l-y: Walayah and Wilayah which means to be near to something, to be a friend of someone and to have power.[2] Mulla Sadra states that the genealogical descendents of Muhammad and his spiritual heirs are Awliya.[3] Walayah is an spiritual inheritance, esoteric knowledge, that Imams inherit from the prophets.[4] In Shia tradition Walayah is not only one of the pillars of Islam, but it is the religion itself.[5] The prophetic reality has two dimensions: exoteric and esoteric. The Walayah is the esoteric dimension of the prophecy.[6] The Walayah is the foundation of the prophet (Nabi) and the messenger (Rasul).[7] Wali in the most literal form of the word, means "a person, community, or country that is under the direction and rule of another". It is an Arabic word derived from the root wly ولي , which carries the basic meanings of “friendship, assistance”, and “authority or power”.[8] from The word holds a special importance in Islamic spiritual life and it is used with various meanings, which relate to its different functions, which include: “next of kin, ally, friend, helper, guardian, patron, and saint”.[8] The eternal prophetic reality has two aspects: extoric and esoteric. Abu al-Hasan Sharif Isfahani, a student of Muhammad Baqir Majlisi, represents many hadith that "the walayah is the inner, esoteric meaning (batin) of the Qur'anic Revelation.".[9] Walayah expresses the spiritual and political authority of ahl al-Bayt.[10]

In its connotation of sainthood, the word describes an innate sense of selflessness and separation from one’s own wants in favor of awareness of being “under the dominion of the all-living, self-subsistent one and of the need to acquire nearness to the necessarily existent being – which is God.”.[11]

Individuals that have attained this level are believed to be both favored and live in a state of nearness with God. The first step in sainthood is indicated in the Qu'ran verse (2:257):

God is He Who loves, guards and directs those who believe; He has led them out of all kinds of darkness into the light, and keeps them firm therein.

and also in (10:62):

Know well that the confidants (saintly servants) of God-there will be no reason for them to fear (both in this world and the next, for they shall always find My help and support with them), nor shall they grieve.[11]

One who has been favored with sainthood is called a wali or Waliullah, meaning a saint.[11] Waliullah may also be translated as a word used to describe a certain group of people selected by God from among millions of others to be “His friends” because of their closeness to God. And thus, a saint, or a friend to God, is thought to have favor in the eyes of the Lord.[11]

For an individual to achieve walaya, or sainthood, a person must first become, and remain, a pristine example of a truly religious person, an example for all other Muslims to look up to. Upon these individuals, the peace and blessing of God have been placed.[11] In the Qur'an, walaya is expressed in the fable of the rich but immoral owner of two gardens and his poor but pious companion. The rich man ends up a loser despite his prosperity and power, for ultimately, the walayah belongs to God, the Truth (18:44).[12]

It is said that “Saints, as exemplary Muslims, represent the highest virtues and religious commitment worthy of emulation."[this quote needs a citation] These individuals who have reached such statuses in the Muslim religion are thought to bridge the gap between followers and their God and the common folk. Waliyy, or saints can be both men and women.

The Importance of Walayah[edit]

Shia believe that an intention of love is required for the acceptance of every religious act. Many hadith by Imams narrate that "the first thing about which a man is questioned after his death is his love for ahl al-Bayt. If he has professed this love (walayah) and died professing it, then his deeds are acceptable to Allah. If he has not professed this love, then none of his works will be capable of being accepted by Allah." Muhammad Baqir Majlisi states that all Imamis agree that deeds without love to Imams are empty formality and Allah's approval is conditioned to Imam.[9] Hasan ibn Ali narrates that after the declaration to the Unique (tawhid) and the declaration to the mission of the prophets, nothing is more important than the declaration to the Walayah of Imams.[13] Ja'far al-Sadiq told that Imam separates the people of the Heaven from the Hell, without any judgement, because their love for the Imam is their Heaven or Hell respectively.[14] The prophet tells Ali that he heard Allah say to him: "I wrote thy name and his name on My Throne before creating the creatures because of my love of you both. Whoever loves you and takes you as friends numbers among those drawn-nigh to Me. Whoever rejects your walayah and separates himself from you numbers among the impious transgressors against Me."."[15] Al-Baqir states that "...There was never a prophet nor an angel who did not profess the religion of our love."[16] A hadith narrates "He who knows himself knows his Lord",[17] but without theophanic form (Mazhar) and the Face of Allah, through whom Allah displays Himself, even to speak of Allah is impossible. Without the knowledge of Allah and Divine revelation, man will be trapped in ta'til and tashbih.[18] The ulu l-azm got this title by accepting the Walayah of the prophet and the Imams and Mahdi.[19]

Kinds of Wila[edit]

  • Wila of love or nearness which implies that the household of the prophet are his near relatives and the believers should love them.[20]
  • Wila of leadership or authority over religious matters, such a position needs Ismah and his speech and deed is an example for others as is regarded in verses 33:21, 3:31.[21] and whatever he says is a divine proof.[22]
  • wila of socio-political leadership
  • Spiritual Wila which concerns of changing the potentials to the action and making the people to get to the divine nearness, therefore the age is not without a Proof .[23] The Wali has a kind of creative power over the world and the men.[24]

By Shia the end of the prophecy was the beginning of Walayah which is its complementary. Walayah reflects the esoteric dimension of prophecy. Awliya Allah means the friends of Allah or the beloved of Allah. Walayah embraces both the idea of knowledge (Ma'rifah) and the idea of love (Mahabbah). While prophecy is the exoteric (zahir) of religion, Walayah is its esoteric (batin) dimension; they are simultaneous.[25]


By Quran[edit]

By verse 42:23 and hadith of Ghadir, the prophet called the Muslims to love his pure, sinless family. Al-Tabari, Az-Zamakhshari and Fakhru'd-Din ar-Razi state that verse 5:55 is revealed about Ali.[26] The verse implies that a person like Allah and His prophet is the Wali and the holders of the authority of the Muslims and the believers must accept his Wila.[27] This bond of love further causes that the Muslims join to their speeches, deeds, behaviors. In Quran, the term walayah is used in conjunction with nusrah and it is not only used in relation to God but also is used for those who have perfect devotion to God.[28] Some traditions state that the verse 7:172 deals with the primordial pact (mithaq) that God has taken for His Lordship and the Walayah to the prophet and the ahl al-Bayt.[29] In the Quran, the term showes a link between faithfulness to God and devotion to the members of the community.[30]

By Hadith[edit]

ar-Razi quotes from az-Zamakhshari that the Prophet said: "Who so ever died in the love of the Household of Muhammad has died a martyr; Whosoever died in the love of the Household of Muhammad has died in forgiveness; Whosoever died in the love of the Household of Muhammad has died a believer and in the perfection of his faith. Whosoever dies in enmity to the family of Muhammad, dies an nbeliever. Whosoever dies in enmity of the family of Muhammad,will not smell the scent of Paradise."[31] A hadith al-Baqir narrates that "Islam is built upon five: prayer, alms-giving, fasting, pilgrimageand walayah; and not one of them was proclaimed, the way walayah was proclaimed.[32][33]

By Theology[edit]

The prophet established the religion and Imams are to preserve the religion and to lead the people. Imams inherited the divine guidance (Walayah) through the prophet.[34] Shia argue that the salvation is in the practice of the Walayah to the ahl al-Bayt.[35]

The History of the Concept of Walayah[edit]

The concept of Walayah is present at the early Shia history which indicates the legitimacy of Alids and an allegiance to ahl al-Bayt. The term derives from an statement from the Prophet at Ghadir Khumm, in which he reportedly designated Ali as the Mawla or Wali of the believers.[36] During the Imamate of al-Baqir and al-Sadiq, the concept of Walayah, as a prerequisite for membership in the Shiite community, becomes a fundamental concept in the Shia discourse and is reinterpreted.[37] It implies an state of full devotion to ahl al-Bayt and a recognition of their exclusive right to legitimate leadership of the community.[38] Shia argues that the perfection of the religion depends on the practice of Walayah.[39] Walayah as one of the fundamentals of Islam, deriven from Ghadir Khum traditions by al-Baqir, originates at his time.[40] and it is presented as the essence of the religion in this period.[41] At the Time of al-Sadiq, the focus on the term Walayah changed to Imamah.[42] In this age, the word iman and Walayah is tied.[43] Later on Walayah is replaced by iman.[44] By the First Civil War, It is used side by side with the word enmity (adawah) reflecting the loyalty to the Shiite community.[45]

Ismaili and Druze pillar[edit]

Walayah or Walayat is a pillar of Shia Islam specifically in Ismaili and Druze denoting:

"love and devotion for God, the Prophets, the Imam and the dai.".

One should have Walayat (guardianship of the faith) on the wali. If someone has been made Wali of yours than have full walayat (guardianship of faith) of him. Dawoodi Bohras believe Walayah to be the most important of the seven pillars of Islam. It is the acceptance of guardian ship of Allah, through their Dai, Imam, Wasi (Wali) Ali and Nabi Muhammad. To accept that Ali is Wali of Allah is doing "Walayat" of Ali. For Shia "Walayat' of Ali ( and his further representative) is a must. There is an incident famous amongst Bohra which confirm how they mean and weigh ‘walayat’ principle. There was order from 19th Dai Syedna Idris to Wali-ul-Hind (6th) Moulai Adam that he has to follow a person named by "Sakka" (a water carrier by profession). Moulai Adam along with his associate willingly performed prayer under "Sakka" . This shows that adam has full walayat of his master Dai Syedna Idris and he has willingly accepted his guardianship and followed his instruction as the order of God( accepting Dai as true wali of god without any second thought).[46]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ "Walī (a., pl. awliyā;)"
  2. ^ Dakake 2007, p. 16
  3. ^ Dakake 2007, p. 27
  4. ^ Dakake 2007, p. 26,27
  5. ^ Dakake 2007, pp. 119
  6. ^ Corbin 1993, p. 41
  7. ^ Corbin 1993, p. 44
  8. ^ a b "Walyah". BookRags. 
  9. ^ a b Nasr, Dabashi & Nasr 1988, p. 169
  10. ^ Dakake 2007, p. 49
  11. ^ a b c d e "Walaya sainthood". 
  12. ^ "WALAYAH, WALI, WILAYAH". BookRags. 
  13. ^ Nasr, Dabashi & Nasr 1988, p. 171
  14. ^ Nasr, Dabashi & Nasr 1988, p. 172
  15. ^ Nasr, Dabashi & Nasr 1988, p. 173
  16. ^ Nasr, Dabashi & Nasr 1988, p. 174
  17. ^ Nasr, Dabashi & Nasr 1988, p. 168
  18. ^ Nasr, Dabashi & Nasr 1988, p. 170,171
  19. ^ Dakake 2007, p. 146
  20. ^ Motahhari 1982, p. 50
  21. ^ Motahhari 1982, p. 63
  22. ^ Motahhari 1982, p. 66
  23. ^ Motahhari 1982, p. 76
  24. ^ Motahhari 1982, p. 79
  25. ^ Corbin, p. 26,27
  26. ^ Motahhari 1982, p. 42,43
  27. ^ Motahhari 1982, p. 47,61
  28. ^ Dakake 2007, pp. 18,19
  29. ^ Dakake 2007, pp. 147
  30. ^ Dakake 2007, pp. 23
  31. ^ Motahhari 1982, p. 54,55,58
  32. ^ Motahhari 1982, p. 129
  33. ^ Dakake 2007, p. 114
  34. ^ Nasr, Dabashi & Nasr 1988, p. 155
  35. ^ Dakake 2007, pp. 133
  36. ^ Dakake 2007, pp. 33
  37. ^ Dakake 2007, pp. 103
  38. ^ Dakake 2007, pp. 104
  39. ^ Dakake 2007, pp. 105
  40. ^ Dakake 2007, pp. 117
  41. ^ Dakake 2007, pp. 119
  42. ^ Dakake 2007, pp. 118
  43. ^ Dakake 2007, pp. 191
  44. ^ Dakake 2007, pp. 192
  45. ^ Dakake 2007, pp. 63
  46. ^ 'Vali-e-Hind Maulai Adam bin Suleman [a.q.] By- Mu. Saifuddin Surka NKD' http://malumaat.com/archives/articles/moulaiadam.html


  • Bloom, J.; Blair, S. (2002). Islam, A Thousand Years of Faith and Power. New Haven: Yale University Press. 
  • Corbin, Henry (1993). History of Islamic philosophy (Reprinted. ed.). London: Kegan Paul International. ISBN 9780710304162. 
  • Dakake, Maria Massi (2007). The charismatic community : shi'ite identity in early islam. Albany (N. Y.): SUNY Press. ISBN 978-0-7914-7033-6. 
  • Nasr, Seyyed Hossein; Dabashi, Hamid; Nasr, Seyyed Vali Reza (1988). Shiʻism : doctrines, thought, and spirituality. Albany: State University of New York Press. ISBN 9780887066894. 
  • Motahhari, Morteza (1982). Wilāyah : the station of the master. Tehran: Wofis.