Imām Abd al-Raḥmān ibn Nāṣir al-Saʿdī (d. 1376 AH) mentioned:
Some of the pious predecessors said:
“If the scholars [of Islām] are not from among the awliyāʾ [close friends and allies] of Allāh, then I do not know who is.” 1
[The speaker of this statement] has spoken the truth, may Allāh have mercy on him. For, truly, close allyship with Allāh the Most High, is proportional to one’s execution of His commands. The people of knowledge have the greatest allotment of this for there exists no one who seeks knowledge to the extent that he becomes a leader [in his chosen field of speciality] except with prolonged strife and dedication. Such that his focus is on the seeking of knowledge only, completely abandoning that which the people of this dunyā busy themselves with. They spend most of their time and the most honourable, fruitful, and productive hours [of their lives] busying themselves with that which is in and of itself the greatest of all obedient acts. They are more deserving of close allyship with Allāh than anyone else!
How, then, could someone overcome with mischief ever choose to insult them? Those who spend their time spreading hearsay and gossip, having never participated with the righteous in their most precious of actions [seeking of knowledge]. [Such people] are never seen researching an issue related to their religion, nor do they seek to benefit themselves by sitting with the scholars. Rather, if such people are asked concerning the most basic of religious doctrines they are unable to emote a single word [concerning it]. Despite this, their tongues are loose when it comes to the defamation of the scholars and the people of religion, [falsely] claiming their statements are correct. Indeed, they are correct, but only in taking the path of the people of evil. For they have taken up the station of the most detestable of creatures who leave the most wholesome of nourishments for a decaying, rotting payload or its like from among the most detestable of foods. [Such is their parable] for their abandonment of goodness and embracing of evil and vileness. They have become misguided from the path of the people of goodness. It is inappropriate that such people are even mentioned with them, but they are mentioned here so that they may not affect anyone with their trickery, to save those ignorant people who may be captured in their web [of lies]. [We bring attention to this] in the hopes that they may curtail their actions, repent, and reconnect with Allāh seeking His pardon. For there exists no veil over the path to repentance, nor sin, except that it is expiated by the One True King, the Bestower, for the one repents and seeks His pardon.
1. Quote narrated from Abū Ḥanīfah. Also, narrated by Al-Bayhaqī from al-Shāfiʿī with the wording: “If the [Islamic] jurists are not from among the awliyāʾ[close friends or allies] of Allāh in the hereafter, then Allāh has not taken a walī [close friend or ally].” See ‘Kashf al-Khafāʾ1:259.
Source: Ijtimāʿ Kalimah al-Muslimīn: 38-40
Translated by: Riyāḍ al-Kanadī