There is no objection in the Revealed Law to Allah having awliyāʾ who are women, for the conditions for being a walī in Islam are known, and they are mentioned in the Noble Qurʾān: “Yes, the awliyāʾ of Allah will feel no fear and know no sorrow: those who believe and have taqwā…” [Yūnus 10:62] Faith and taqwā are required of both men and women and the door of striving therein is open to everyone, men and women.
“Their Lord responds to them: 'I will not let the deeds of any doer amongst you go to waste, male or female – you are both the same in that respect.’” [Āl ʿImrān 3:195]
And in the Qurʾān we find several mentions of awliyāʾ who are women, wonders (karāmāt) happening to them that support their standing in faith and are evidence of how far they have travelled on the path to be being awliyāʾ. One of the most prominent of these is Maryam the daughter of ʿImrān, who protected her chastity and whom the angels spoke to: “When the angels said, 'Maryam, Allah gives you good news of a Word from Him. His name is al-Masīḥ, the son of Maryam, of high esteem in this world and the Next World, and one of those brought near.” [Āl ʿImrān 3:45]
And when she had given birth to the Messiah, peace be upon him, her people said, “Sister of Hārūn, your father was not an evil man nor was your mother an unchaste woman, so she pointed towards him…” [Maryam 19:28-29] And thus he spoke to them as a baby, which was a karāmah for her and absolved her of any evil. This same Maryam would have her substance come to her in the masjid: “Every time Zakariyyah visted her in the miḥrāb, he found food with her…” [Āl ʿImrān 3:37]
And there is Āsiyah, the wife of Firʿawn, and Allah mentions her in the Qurʾān as an example: “Allah has made an example of those who believe: the wife of Firʿawn when she said, ‘My Lord, build a house in Paradise for me in Your presence. Rescue me from Firʿawn and his deeds and rescue me from these wrongdoing people.’” [at-Ṭalāq 66:10]
And in our Islamic history there are many women who achieved the rank of walī, and they include Sayyidah Nafīsah, may Allah be pleased with her, who was a scholar who acted upon her knowledge. Her reputation as both a scholar and a walī is well-known. There is also Rābiʿah al-ʿAdawiyah, may Allah be pleased with her, who would fast in the day and stand in prayer at night, and who stripped her worship of being for the sake of entering Paradise or being spared the Fire. She is the one who said, in meaning, ‘O Allah, if I am worshipping You out of a desire to enter Paradise then prevent me from it. If I am worshipping You out of fear of the Fire then put me in it. But if I am worshipping you for who You are, then do not deny me the blessings of seeing You, O Most Merciful of those who show mercy.’
[Translated from Fatāwā al-Imām ʿAbdul Ḥalīm Maḥmūd (Cairo: Dār al-Maʿārif, 1979, 5th edition), v.2, p.182-3]
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