Protector, master. Also mawlau. From Arabic waliya, “to be close to,” “to have power over.” Has entered a number of languages as a loan word (e.g., Persian mullah). Can have reciprocal meanings depending on whether it is in the active or passive voice: master or slave, patron or client, and friend. In Sufism and Shiism, a spiritual protector or saint. Spelled mawlay, moulay, or mulay in the Maghreb and Andalusia. In Morocco, refers to descendants of Muhammad.