Allah (SWT) calls Sufi Shaikhs as His friends and praises them in Quran - "Behold the friends of Allah -SWT! On them shall come no fear, nor shall they grieve. These are they, who have believed in Allah-SWT and are mindful of Him (the feeling of closeness of Allah-SWT) and (have consequently abstained from everything evil). To them tidings come (from Allah -SWT) of a happy life both in this world and in Hereafter. The word of Allah -SWT is never revoked. This in itself is a great felicity (Younus - 62-64).
The entire Muslim Ummah unitedly accept Sufi Shaikhs as Awliya Allah.
All Muslim sects are also united (ijma) that real Sufi Shaikhs are pious Muslims.
The above irrefutable and conclusive facts confirm that Sufi Shaikhs are indeed on the right path of Islam. And as per Hadith (Tirmizi) of 73 Sects, they are the people who will insha-Allah get salvation and great rewards on the Day of Judgment.
The rest of the Muslims will also get salvation provided they learn Correct Islamic Faith in the Company of these pious Shaikhs and walk on the straight path of Islam.
What is the straight path of Islam?
It is in Quran - " (O'our Lord) Lead us to the Straight Path of Islam. The path of those who are bestowed with your grace (whom you have favored) and not of those who have gone astray. (Fateha - 6-7).
These Quranic verses confirm that the path of Awliya Allah or Sufi Shaikhs is the only right path. Other than that, all path lead to Hell Fire. This is also reconfirmed by Sahih Ahadith.
How do we find real Sufi Shaikhs / Awliya Allah to learn Islam?
Some people claim that there are no Awliya Allah or real Sufi Shaikhs in the world today. This kind of claims constitute direct denial of Quranic verses and Sahih Ahadith. And remember, denial of Quranic verses and Ahadith is Kufr.
It is in Hadith, "(Prophet -SAWS said) After me, a scholar will appear every hundred years. He will strengthen my religion." Their appearances may probably end on Hazrat Imam Mahdi (Alaihis Salam) who will appear as a last Imam before Qiyamah. In addition to these great Imams, there will, insha-Allah be many many Awliya Allah spread over the entire globe. When there is no Wali Allah on this planet, Allah (SWT) will call it a day and Youmul Qiyama (the end of this world) will happen. The world is there and we are living here, it shows that Awliya Allah / the real Sufis are there in the world, though their numbers may be less as compared to earlier times.
Real Sufi Shaikhs are pious and knowledgeable. They help in purification of minds of the people (tazkia nafs), correct people’s notions, educate them in inner values and significance of Islam and draw people’s attention towards Divine signs and secrets in the cosmos. They follow Prophet Mohammad’s (SAWS) foot steps in propagation of Islamic teachings.
It is very difficult to identify them among masses because they keep themselves away from the crowd and hide their good deeds from people. If we find them, we should try to associate with them and learn Islamic teachings and practices in their company.
It is in Quran – ‘ O’ you who believe, Be afraid of Allah (SWT) and be with those who are truthful (Muslims) (At-Tauba – 119).
It is in Quran - And whosoever obeys Allah (SWT) and the Messenger (Mohammad -SAWS ), then they will be in the company of those on whom Allah (SWT) has bestowed His Grace; like Prophets, the Siddiqun ( like Abu Bakr Siddique -RU ), the martyrs, and the righteous. And how excellent these companions are.’ (An-Nisa – 69).
The best way to find these human gems is to judge them by their Correct Islamic Faith and exceptional Islamic character.
There is a famous saying - 'a man is known by the company he keeps'. Therefore, if you be in the company of a truthful Shaikh, you will also walk on the right path of Islam.
As has been described above, it is indeed difficult to find them among masses. Therefore, you should pray Allah (SWT) to find one such teacher for you.
For this purpose, sit quite for 10 minutes during the day or night after one of your Salah, closing your eyes, leaving all your inhibitions and apprehensions and concentrate towards Allah (SWT). Consider,you are sitting in front of Him and He is looking at you and listening to whatever you are saying.
Pray with all sincerity, seeking His beneficence to guide you to right path of Islam and to find you a good teacher, a Shaikh of Ihsan, in whose company you can learn truthful Islam.
Continue this practice until you find this teacher. Insha-Allah you will find him soon. When you find him, your heart will testify that this is the teacher you were looking for.
Do not fall victim to the preachers of Muslim sects; do not get overwhelmed with their outward religious appearances, fluency of tongue, use of multimedia; their memorization techniques, polemic skills, oratory and their money power and dominance in Muslim society as they will instill faithlessness in your hearts that will lead you to go astray. Save yourself from these people because Prophet Mohammad (SAWS) have warned us about them.
It is in Hadith - Hazrat Abu Sa'eed Khudri (RU) and Hazrat Anas (RU) report that the Prophet (SAWS) stated: ‘My Ummah is destined to differ and be divided. So a group will rise whose talks will sound very good but their character will be misleading. They will read the Quran but it will not descend below their throats (meaning they will not understand its meanings). They will leave Deen just as an arrow pierces and goes right through the prey. They will not return to Islam. They are the worst of creation because of their nature and constitution. They will call the people towards the Quran and Deen whilst in reality they will have nothing to do with Islam. Whoever will confront them, he will be the most beloved servant of Allah. The Sahaba inquired: "Ya Rasoolullah, (SAWS) what is their sign?" He replied: "Sitting in Halqa (circles). (Mishkat, p. 308).
O’ Allah (SWT), kindly reveal the facts of things, as they are, and keep us Muslim while dying and unite us with the group of righteous people for the sake of the happiness of your beloved Prophet (SAWS). Ameen.