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What Everyone Needs to Know About Islam What is This? A guide to a wide variety of general questions asked by those looking to learn more about Muslim culture and the Islamic world.

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Do Muslims believe in saints?

Saint in Arabic is somewhat equivalent to the Arabic word wali, which means “friend, helper, or patron.” There is no mention of saints in the Quran, which emphasizes that God alone is the wali of believers and there is no helper but Him. In fact, the Quran warns against “intercession,” seeking help from anyone but God. Therefore, some Muslims oppose the concept of sainthood as un-Islamic. They say that such beliefs and practices violate monotheism by potentially treating saints as if they are equal to God. Others, however, believe that there can be intercession with God's permission and that some receive a special favor from God allowing them to intercede for others. Certain saints are known for providing intercessions for particular causes: helping women to bear children, solving domestic problems, curing illnesses, or avoiding certain disasters.

The Christian and Islamic concepts of sainthood differ in a number of ways. Sainthood in Islam is not determined by Catholicism's method of canonization but rather by a less formal process of acclamation. The majority of popular saints are Sufi. (Sufis are the mystics of Islam; see page 61, “Who are the Sufis?”) The tombs of Sufi saints are often the object of pilgrimage and a focal point for festivals and processions celebrating a saint's birth or death. Other Sufi saints are more remembered for their wise sayings, virtues, and miracles. A significant number of popular, Sufi, and legendary saints are women.

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