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The inspiration of the Islamic saints, though verbally distinguished from that of the

prophets and inferior in degree, is of the same kind. In consequence of their intimate
relation to God, the veil shrouding the supernatural, or, as a Moslem would say, the
unseen world, from their perceptions is withdrawn at intervals, and in their fits of ecstasy
they rise to the prophetic level. Neither deep learning in divinity, nor devotion to good
works, nor asceticism, nor moral purity makes the Mohammedan a saint; he may have
allor none of these things, but the only indispensable qualification is that ecstasy and
rapture which is the outward sign of 'passing-away' from the phenomenal self. Anyone
thus enraptured (majdhub) is a wali{Waliyyat, if the saint is a woman.}, and when such
persons are recognized through their power of working miracles, they are venerated as
saints not only after death but also during their lives. Often, however, they live and die in
Hujwiri tells us that amongst the saints "there are four thousand who are concealed and
do not know one another and are not aware of the excellence of their state, being in all
circumstances hidden from themselves and from mankind."

The saints form an invisible hierarchy, on which the order of the world is thought to
depend. Its supreme head is entitled the
Qutb (Axis)
He is the most eminent Sufi of his age, and presides over the meetings regularly held by
this august parliament, whose members are not hampered in their attendance by the
inconvenient fictions of time and space, but come together from all parts of the earth in
the twinkling of an eye, traversing seas and mountains and deserts as easily as common
mortals step across a road. Below the Qutb stand various classes and grades of sanctity.
Hujwiri enumerates them, in ascending series, as follows: three hundred Akhyar (Good),
forty Abdal (Substitutes), seven Abrar (Pious), four Awtad (Supports), and three
Nuqaba (Overseers).

"All these know one another and cannot act save by mutual consent.
It is the task of the Awtad to go round the whole world every night, and if there
should be any place on which their eyes have not fallen, next day some flaw will appear
in that place, and they must then inform the Qutb in order that he may direct his attention
to the weak spot and that by his blessing the imperfection may be remedied."