Sheikh `Atiyyah Saqr, former head of Al-Azhar Fatwa Committee, states: The term Wali stands for anyone who fulfils the obligations Allah has levied on him, and as such he is protected by Allah on that basis. Allah says in the Qur’an: (Lo! verily the friends of Allah are (those) on whom fear (cometh) not, nor do they grieve! Those who believe and keep their duty (to Allah). ) (Yunus: 62- 64)
In these verses, Allah Almighty describes the Wali as he who is amongst (those who believe and keep their duty (to Allah).) That means he fulfills his obligations and carries out what Allah has ordained on him. Keeping one’s duty to Allah means to comply with His commands and stay away from what He forbids in all aspects of life: Islamic rituals, manners, business dealings, etc.
The reward of that commitment to Allah is also mentioned in the verse: (On whom fear (cometh) not, nor do they grieve) meaning that they should not worry about their future, nor regret their past. Allah states elsewhere: (Theirs are good tidings in the life of the world and in the Hereafter.) (Yusus: 64) This indicates that Allah has protected them and taken care of their life and even the Hereafter (by granting them abundant reward).
Based on what Sheikh `Atiyyah Saqr said, we would say that the denomination of “Wali” (a friend of Allah) applies to anyone who believes sincerely in Allah, the Almighty, and is conscious of Him in all his actions. Whoever fails to meet this condition and claims to be a “Wali” of Allah is in fact a “Wali” of the Shaitan (Satan).
Here we should differentiate between two sects of people: those who guide to the path of Allah with knowledge and those who claim to be callers to Allah or saints, yet they are completely ignorant and they mislead the people. As for reliable scholars, they are the people who act according to the Qur’an and Sunnah and guide people to the right path, i.e. the path of Qur’an and Sunnah. They admonish the people and direct them to what benefits them in their life and in the Hereafter. They are good examples for people to follow, for such people do not preach what they don’t practice in reality. In warning us from preaching what we don’t practice, Almighty Allah says:
(O you who believe! Why do you say that which you do not do? It is most hateful to Allah that you should say that which you do not do.) (As-Saff: 2-3)
So, how could a Muslim be called a “Wali” while he does not fulfil his obligations towards his family?! How could even a “Wali” claim that he is no longer a human being and that he is talking Divine! If someone thinks that he is no longer held accountable for his deeds and that he is talking divine, he would be considered a Kafir (disbeliever) because this is one of the acts that entail apostasy from Islam.