A friend (wall) of God does not have to be infallible. He may not be even aware of certain truths of the religion or may not be clear about them. People are not required to believe in all that he says, and he himself should not rely on the ideas he gets in his heart unless he ascertains that they agree with the shar’.
A wall does not have to be infallible, above error or mistake. He may not be aware of some truths of the religion, or be clear about them; he may even imagine some things to be commanded by God or forbidden by Him whereas they are not commanded or forbidden. He may also consider some miracles to be a grace from God whereas they are actually the tricks which Satan plays against imperfect people. It is not necessary that he know that they are the tricks of Satan. However, this does not prove that he is not a wali, for one of the graces of God which have been bestowed on this ummah is that He will overlook the errors which its members inadvertently commit, the things they forget, or the wrongs they are compelled to do…
Since a wali may commit errors, people are not required to believe in all that he says, for that would be making him a prophet. The wali himself should not rely upon what comes into his mind unless he ascertains that it is in agreement with the shay’. This is true of all the ideas that he considers to be inspired, communicated, or spoken by God. He should test all these ideas with the touchstone of what has been given to Muhammad (pbuh). If it agrees with the latter, he may accept it; if not, he must reject it; and in case he is not clear whether it agrees or does not agree he should suspend judgment.
On this issue people are divided into three groups; two of them are on either extreme, and the third group steers a middle course between them. One group of people thinks that when they have believed a particular person to be a wali they are to accept whatever they think that person receives in inspiration from God, and justify whatever he does. The second group, when they find something a person says or does to be contradicting the shar `, rules out the possibility that he may be a wall and refuses to consider that he may be a mujtahid who has committed a error in judgment. The third group, which steers a course between these two and which is correct, says that we should not believe anyone to be infallible or innocent when he acts as a mujtahid. He is not to be followed in each and every thing he says,
nor is he to be charged with unfaith (kufr) or transgression (ftsq) if he errs or sins.
What is necessary is that one follow what God has revealed to His Messenger. If someone’s view agrees with it and another’s view does not agree, one should not plead for the view which does not agree, and should have the courage to say that it is against the shar’. It is only the prerogative of a prophet that we should believe in whatever he says of God and obey whatever he commands. As for other friends (awliya ) of God, we are not required to obey them in everything they prescribe or to believe in everything they say. Their prescriptions and statements will be examined in light of the Quran and the Sunnah, and whatever agrees with them should be accepted and what does not should be rejected even if its author is a friend (waft) of God. If he is a mujtahid he will be forgiven for his mistakes and rewarded by God for the effort that he has put in. But his view which is opposed to the Quran and Sunnah will be called error, though it will be an error which will be forgiven provided he tried his best to find out the will of God…
The points I have made here are that all the awliya’ must abide by the Quran and the Sunnah, that none of them is infallible, that neither they nor anyone else should follow whatever comes into their mind without referring it to the Quran and the Sunnah. This is agreed upon by all the awliya’ of God and whoever disagrees with it is certainly not a wali whom God would like us to follow. Either he is an infidel or he is utterly ignorant. This has been clearly endorsed by a number of great Sufis. Abu Sulayman Ad-Darani,67° for example, says, “When some idea of our people comes into my mind I do not accept it unless it is supported by two witnesses: the Quran and the Sunnah.” Abu Al-Qasim Al-Junayd671 (raa) said, “This knowledge of ours is governed by the Quran and the Sunnah. Whoever does not read the Quran or write hadith should not talk of our ideas;” or, according to another version, “should not be obeyed.” Abu `Uthman An-Nishapu-672 said, “Whoever puts his words and actions under the control of the Quran and the Sunnah speaks wisdom, and whoever puts his words and actions in the control of his desires only, speaks heresy, for God has said in His eternal speech, “If you follow it you shall be on the right path. Abu `Amr Ibn Nujayd673 said, “All ecstatic experiences which are not supported by the Quran and the Sunnah are vain.”
Author: Ibn Taymiyyah
Islamic Topic: RANKS OF THE BELIEVERS
Source: Book: [Fatawa 9:201-210] / Also mentioned in “Ibn Taymiyyah Expounds on Islam”