Walī (Arabic ولي, plural Awliyā' أولياء), is an Arabic word meaning Friend," "client," "kinsman," "patron"; it generally denotes "friend of God" in the phrase ولي الله walīyu 'llāh1. In English, wali most often means a Muslim saint or holy person. It should not be confused with the word Wāli (Arabic: والي) which is an 2 administrative title that was used in the Muslim Caliphate, and still today in some Muslim countries as in Wali of Swat (princely state).
In religious uses, it is generally short for Waliullah (Arabic ولي الله) or friend of God. Belief in the Awliya is an agreed upon article of faith in Sunni Islam having been mentioned in the earliest creeds to the most recent. Imam Tahawi mentions them in his creed.