3. Wilaya: Becoming a Friend of Allah (Waliullah)

So far, we learned WHO Allah is and we also learned WHAT is required of us when we understand this – i.e. worship Him exclusively. Now we’re going to learn HOW to worship Him. And worship Him in a way that He loves you.

I cite Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him), who said: “The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, ‘Verily, Allah, the Most High, has said: ‘Whosoever shows enmity to a wali (friend) of Mine, then I have declared war against him. And My servant does not draw near to Me with anything more beloved to Me than the religious duties I have obligated upon him. And My servant continues to draw near to me with supererogatory deeds until I love him. When I Love him, I am his hearing with which he hears, and his sight with which he sees, and his hand with which he strikes, and his foot with which he walks. Were he to ask [something] of Me, I would surely give it to him; and were he to seek refuge with Me, I would surely grant him refuge.’’” [Sahih Al-Bukhari]

There’s a lot to unpack in this hadith but we will only focus on the sentences in bold today.

1. Your priorities as a Muslim

This hadith states the priorities of a Muslim in worshiping Allah:

  • First, perfect the obligatory acts of worship. (This includes renouncing sin.)
  • Second, gradually increase your observance of voluntary acts of worship. (This includes renouncing the blameworthy.)

There are priorities in acts of worship. This applies to both the obligatory and voluntary deeds. Some obligatory deeds are more virtuous than others. Some voluntary deeds are more virtuous than others. For example, the testimony of faith is the foremost obligation in Islam. Therefore, every single Muslim is close to Allah just by his being Muslim. How close we are will vary according to our religiosity, obviously.

Another example is that renouncing sin would take precedence over performing voluntary deeds. Another example is that religious knowledge – learning about the obligations and prohibitions in Islam, how to perform necessary acts of worship etc. – is one of the foremost obligations in-and-of itself.

2. 80/20 your Islam

I like to think of it as the 80/20 rule applied to worship. The analogy fits quite well if you think about it. Just don’t take it literally. The obligatory deeds are fewer in number than the voluntary deeds. If we assume that obligatory deeds make up 20% of all acts of worship and voluntary deeds make up the rest, fulfilling all the obligatory deeds could get us 80% of the way to gaining Allah’s love.

The hadith I quoted gives you the blueprint for becoming a Waliullah (one of Allah’s beloved friends.) There’s no secret formula. No secret club you have to join. Just submission to Allah’s commandments. And a lot of hard work. I wish I had known about this hadith when I became an observant Muslim. I wouldn’t have made as many mistakes as I did. I’m going to give you a couple of examples so that you can understand the practical application of the hadith.

Example 1: beard vs. parents

About 6 months into my finding religion, I finally decided to grow out my beard and wear my trouser hems above my ankles. At the time, I believed that these were obligatory acts. My parents weren’t happy with this new development and wanted me to stop doing either. They didn’t mind the beard so much and would have been ok with me keeping a full beard. Just not a fist-length beard. And I let mine grow out to two fist-lengths. Haha. The trouser length, they didn’t get at all.

In my newfound religious zeal, I dug my heels in and refused to compromise. On top of disobeying my parents, I got into arguments with them about it. Most of you will (or should) know that this is a big no-no. It wasn’t until many years later, when I had actually studied some law (fiqh) with a qualified teacher, that I understood that:

These things weren’t obligatory. Thus, my obligation to obey my parents took priority.

Even if I took the position that they were obligatory, my obligation to obey my parents and respect their feelings would have required that I compromise to keep the peace.

Example 2: too many Islamic Studies classes

I enjoy studying Islam in my spare time. When I first started taking an interest, I use to take any and every class that was available. It took up most of my time. This would have been OK if I didn’t have any other responsibilities, but I work and have a family. Their rights over my time and attention take precedence over most of the classes I was taking.

It took me some time to realize this wasn’t sustainable and that I needed to prioritize. Learning there’s an established hierarchy when studying Islam helped too. Now, I focus on memorizing Quran and studying Arabic and Law (Fiqh.) It’s made my life a lot easier.

Example 3: make-up prayers and fasts

This applies more to those of you who, like me, returned to Islam after a long period of non-observance. I owe many (many) years of obligatory prayers and fasts. Making them all up takes precedence over all voluntary deeds. Technically, I’m supposed to spend every free moment doing make-up prayers. And fasting every day until none remain. This is very difficult to do if you have as many years to make up as I do. The key is to make yourself a schedule and stick to it.

These examples should show different aspects of the above hadith in practice. I hope I selected the right ones.

So, to recap today’s lesson:

  • Understand your priorities when it comes to worshiping Allah
  • Everyone can become a Waliullah (Beloved Friend of Allah) with hard work and dedication

All you have to do is get after it. But we’ve been talking exclusively about spiritual matters so far.

What about our conduct in daily life?

How does that work? That’s what we’ll cover in lesson four.

Start Lesson Four 👉

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