SAINTS. In Muslim countries, reputed saints are very numerous. Very many religious leaders obtain a great reputation for sanctity even before their deaths, but after death it is usual for the followers of any well-known religious teacher to erect a shrine over his grave, to light it up on Thursdays, and thus establish a saintly reputation for their departed guide. Very disreputable persons are thus often reckoned to have died in the “odor of sanctity.” At Hasan Abdal in the Punjab (celebrated in the story of Lala Rookh), there is a shrine erected over a departed cook ,who for many years lived on his peculations as keeper of the staging bungalow. When he died, about ten years ago, his family erected over his remains a shrine of some pretensions, which even in the present generation is an object of devout reverence, but which, in the next, will be the scene of reputed miracles. This is but an example of many thousands of shrines and saintly reputations easily gained throughout Islam.
It is generally asserted that according to the teachings of Islam, the Prophets (ambiya’) were without sin, but there is a tradition, related by Anas, which distinctly asserts the contrary, and states that Muhammad not only admitted his own sinfulness, but also the fall of Adam, the murder committed by Moses, and the three lies told by Abraham. (See Mishkat, book xxiii. ch. xii.) But it is very remarkable that, according to this Hadis, Muhammad does not charge Jesus Christ with having committed sin. The immaculate conception and the sinlessness of Chriat are admitted doctrine of Islam. [JESUS. CHRIST.]
The terms pir and wali are common titles for those who by reputed miracles and an ascetic life, have established a reputation for sanctity, for whom in Persian the title buzurg is generally used,. The titles qutb and ghaus are very high orders of sanctity, whilst zahid and ‘abid are employed for persons who devote their lives to religious contemplation and worship.
The Sufis use the word salik,”pilgrim” or “traveller,” for one who has renounced the world for the “path” of mysticism, whilst faqir is a title of more general application to one who is poor in the sight of God. Shaik and mir, used for old men, also express a degree of reputation in the religious world: shaik (in India) being a title generally conferred on a convert from Hinduism to Islam. Saiyid or “lord,” is a. title always given to the descendants of Muhammad, mir being sometimes used for the same. Miyan, “master” or “friend,” is generally used for the descendants of celebrated saints, or as a mere title of respect.
Based on Hughes, Dictionary of Islam