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Sa'eed bin Jubair said, as occurs in al-Ibaanah of Ibn Battah (no. 89):
أن يصحب ابني فاسقا ، شاطرا ، سنيا ، أحب إلي من أن يصحب عابدا مبتدعا
That my son accompanies a sinful and cunning scoundrel who is a Sunni is more beloved to me than that he accompanies a devoteful and worshipful Innovator.
Imaam ash-Shaafi'ee (d. 204H) said, as reported by al-Bayhaqee in al-I'tiqaad (p.158), Tarikh Dimashq (p. 309) and al-Bidaayah wan-Nihaayah of Ibn Katheer (10/254):
لأن يلقى الله العبد بكل ذنب ما خلا الشرك خير من أن يلقاه بشيء من الهوى
That a servant meets Allaah with every sin except Shirk is better than meeting Him upon any one of the innovated beliefs.
Yunus bin Ubaid said to his son, as reported in al-Ibaanah of Ibn Battah (2/466):
أنهى عن الزنا والسرقة وشرب الخمر ولئن تلقى الله تعالى بهذا أحب من أن تلقاه برأي عمرو بن عبيد وأصحاب عمرو
I forbid [you] from fornication (zinaa), stealing and drinking wine. However that you meet Allaah with any of these sins is better to me than that you meet him with the view of Amr bin Ubaid and the associates of Amr (i.e. the Mu'tazilah).
Abu Moosaa said as reported in al-Ibaanah of Ibn Battah (2/468):
لأن أجاور يهوديا ونصرانيا وقردة وخنازير أحب إلي من أن يجاورني صاحب هوى يمرض قلبي
That I live next to a Jew or a Christian, or apes and pigs is more beloved to me than that a person of desires who makes my heart diseased (with his deviation) should live next to me.
Abu al-Jawzaa said, as occurs in al-Ibaanah of Ibn Battah (2/467):
لئن تجاورني القردة والخنازيرة في دار ، أحب إلي من أن يجاورني رجل من أهل الأهواء
That apes and pigs are are next to me in a house, is more beloved to me that a man from the people of desires (deviations, innovations) should be next to me (as a neighbour).
Imaam Ahmad said, as occurs in Tabaqaat al-Hanaabilah (1/184):
قبور أهل السنة من أهل الكبائر روضة ، وقبور أهل البدعة من الزهاد حفرة ، فساق أهل السنة أولياء الله ، وزهاد أهل البدعة أعداء الله
The graves of Ahl us-Sunnah from the people of major sins are a garden. And the graves of Ahl ul-Bid'ah from the pious abstemious ones are a pit. The sinful of Ahl us-Sunnah are the awliyaa (friends) of Allaah, and the pious, abstemious of Ahl ul-Bid'ah are the enemies of Allaah.
Imaam al-Barbahaaree said in his work "Sharh us-Sunnah" (no. 149):
إذا رأيت الرجل من أهل السنة رديء الطريق والمذهب ، فاسقا فاجرا ، صاحب معاص ، ضالا ، وهو على السنة ، فاصحبه ، واجلس معه ، فإنه ليس يضرك معصيته . وإذا رأيت الرجل مجتهدا في العبادة ، متقشفا ، محترقا بالعبادة ، صاحب هوى ، فلا تجالسه ، ولا تقعد معه ، ولا تسمع كلامه ، ولا تمشي معه في طريق ، فإني لا آمن أن تستحلي طريقته فتهلك معه
When you see man from Ahl us-Sunnah whose manner is despicable, he is wicked, sinful and oppressive, accompany him and sit with him, since his sin will not harm you. If you see a man who strives long and hard in worship, is abstemious, being continual in worship, except that he is a person of innovation, do not listen to his words and do not walk along with him, since I do not feel safe that you will not eventually come to be pleased with his way and go do destruction along with him.
And al-Barbahaaree also said, right after the above passage:
رأى يونس بن عبيد ابنه وقد خرج من عند صاحب هوى فقال يا بني من أين خرجت قال من عند عمرو بن عبيد قال يا بني لأن أراك خرجت من بيت خنثى أحب إلي من أن أراك خرجت من بيت فلان وفلان ولأن تلقى الله زانيا سارقا خائنا أحب إلي من أن تلقاه بقول أهل الأهواء . ألا ترى أن يونس بن عبيد قد علم أن الخنثى لا يضل ابنه عن دينه وأن صاحب البدعة يضله حتى يكفر
Yunus bin 'Ubaid saw his son exiting the house of a person of desires (i.e. misguidance) so he said: "O my son! From where have you just exited?" He replied: "From the company of 'Amr ibn 'Ubaid." So he said: "O my son. That I had seen you exiting the house of shameless and lewd person would have been more beloved to me than that I see you exiting the house of so-and-so! That you should meet Allaah, O my son, as a fornicator, a sinner, a thief or as a treacherous soul is more beloved to me than that you should meet him with a saying of the people of desires (i.e. misguidance)." Do you not see that Yunus ibn 'Ubaid knew that this shameless and lewd person would not misguide his son away from the Religion, whereas the person of innovation (i.e. bid'ah) would misguide him until he causes him to disbelieve."
These quotations illustrate what is established with Ahl us-Sunnah as a principle, that the Innovators are more harmful to Islam and the Muslims than the Sinners. For it is the Innovators who split and divide the Muslims by departing from the Book, the Sunnah, and the way of the Companions and they introduce deviant beliefs and methodologies and innovations in worship, all of which take the Muslims away from their Lord (while thinking themselves to be upon guidance). This erodes the religion and it erodes the attachment of the Muslims to the true and upright religion, to the Book and the Sunnah and the way of the Righteous Salaf, and when that happens, they no longer hold fast to the rope of Allaah which has grave consequences and the bitter taste of which the Muslims then have to experience for centuries after. This is because there are established laws which operate in the creation, and from them is that whenever the people remain upon the Straight Path of Allaah, in belief, speech and deed, they will have unity, honour, strength and be uppermost, and whenever they depart from that Straight Path of Allaah, they will have weakness, loss, defeat, separation and humiliation.
Unfortunately today the scales have been turned such that those who are upon the major innovations such as the Innovations of the Khawaarij, the Qadariyyah or those of the Mu'tazilah, and the Jahmiyyah are praised and lauded due to the seemingly pious character they display (whereas they are hated in the sight of Allaah for their innovation and deviation). Thus a man may propound the aqidah of the Khawarij, the Mu'tazilah, the Murji'ah and the Jahmiyyah in his works, but just because he calls for revolutions in the name of "social justice" and "upholding the Sharee'ah of Allaah", he is lauded and praised as "the Shaykh of Islam" and "the Mujtahid", and "the Mujaahid" and so on. This behaviour is nothing short of treachery to the Ummah.
Important Note: Ahl us-Sunnah distinguish between those who are leaders and callers to innovation and those who are merely the followers of innovation (without calling to it), and those who are the general folk who are upon affairs of innovation out of ignorance and out of following their leaders. And Ahl us-Sunnah deal with each of these categories in a particular and specific manner. The principles regarding this subject will be outlined in other articles inshaa'Allaah.
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