The greatest friends of God are those who follow the Prophet best..
Leading personalities of the religion who have a deep insight into the religion and follow sincerely its straight path, whether Sufis or non-Sufis, advise everyone engaging in austerity, devotion and pursuing gnosis and illumination to abide by the Quran and the Sunnah. Al-Junayd Ibn Muhammad674 said, “This knowledge of ours is governed by the Quran and the Sunnah. Whoever does not read the Quran or cite the hadith, should not talk of our ideas.” Abu Sulayman Ad-Darani 75 said, “When an idea of our people comes to my mind, I do not accept it unless it is supported by two witnesses,
the Quran and the Sunnah. He has also said, “One who receives inspiration to do something should not act upon it unless he has a tradition in that regard.” Abu `Uthman An-Nishapuri676 said, “Whoever gives the Quran and the Sunnah full control over his words and actions speaks wisdom, but whoever gives himself to his desires speaks only heresy (bid `ah), for God has said of His eternal speech, `If you follow it you will be on the right path”‘ (24:54). Another $ufi said, “Whoever does not examine his ideas every moment is not to be counted among the Sufis.”
When Abu Yazid Al-Bistami 77 was told that a certain Sufi was visiting the town, he went to see him. But when he saw him spitting in the direction of the qiblah, he said to his companion, “Let us go back. This man cannot be trusted in the external manners of the Shari`ah; how can he be trusted in its internal matters.” What Abu Yazid did may be supported from a hadith reported in the Sunan of Abu Dawud and other collections. There was an imam one of the mosques of the Ansar (of Madinah), and every Ansari tribe had its own mosque. One day the Prophet visited the mosque of that imam, and found that the wall towards the qiblah had some sputum on it. He asked who had spit there, and was told that it had been done by the imam. On hearing that, he asked the people not to pray behind him. When the imam came and went to lead the prayer, people stopped him and said that the Prophet had advised them not to pray behind him. He then went to the Prophet and asked about it. The Prophet said, “Yes, they are right. You annoyed God and His Messenger.”678
A number of Sufi shaykhs and `ulama’ have said, “If You see a person flying in the air or walking on water, do not be deceived. You have to ascertain whether he follows the commands of the Shari’ah. Many more sayings of the Sufi shaykhs and a’immah of the religion can be cited. In the eyes of all the greatest wali of God is the one who follows the Prophet best. That is the reason why Abu Bakr As-Siddig679 is regarded the greatest wali after the Prophet. To be sure, the sun has never seen a man greater than Abu Bakr except the prophets and the messengers of God. This is because he followed the Prophet more truly than anyone else. There is also full agreement on the point that there is no way for people to approach God except through following the Prophet, who is the link between them and God.
However, in the tariqah of these great Sufis there entered in later times many people along with their innovations, heresies and undesirable practices. To be sure, they are condemnable in the sight of God, His Messenger, and His awliya’ who are pious. They put forward the idea that the friends (awliyd’) of God have a way to God in which following the way of the Prophet is not required, that a wali may be equal to a prophet even greater than he, that someone of them may be the “seal of the saints” and greater than all the preceding awliya’, even more knowledgeable than the Seal of the Prophets. These and like ideas have been uttered by heretics who entered the fold of the Sufis. It is these mistaken Sufis who became theosophists and came up with mystical philosophies.
Author: Ibn Taymiyyah
Islamic Topic: RANKS OF THE BELIEVERS
Source: Book: [Ar-Radd `ala al-Mantigiyyin 514-516] / Also mentioned in “Ibn Taymiyyah Expounds on Islam”