“Sometimes when one suffers from spiritual ailments, e.g. ujub, takabbur, riya, etc., then abundance of athkaar and auraad (the type of non-Masnoon Thikr practices of the khaanqahs) worsens the diseases. The need is for mujaahadah (struggling against the nafs) so that one does not become the victim of show and pride after having rendered a good deed. Islaah (reformation) has priority over athkaar and auraad.
The Mutaqaddimeen Sufiya paid particular heed to moral reformation. However, nowadays people are not concerned with this essential requisite. Despite staying in the company of Mashaaikh and devoting time to Thikr and shaghl, moral reformation is not achieved. The spiritual diseases remain uncured. The mureed on seeing some dreams considers himself to be a wali. It should be well understood that the habit of sinning cannot coexist with wilaayat (sainthood).
In every halqah (group) when customs become overwhelming, haqaaiq (truths and realties) are overshadowed. The Maqsood of Sulook (Tasawwuf) is not auraad and ashghaal. Although these acts facilitate the obtainal of the Maqsad, the objective is self-reformation. As long as moral reformation has not been achieved, the full efficacy of auraad and ashghaal will not be attained. In fact, sometimes, on account of ujub and kibr, these (khaanqah) auraad and ashghaal constitute dangers.” – Malfoothaat
Shaykh Uthman Dan Fodio (rahimahullah) relates four levels of al-war’a (scrupulousness) with regards to Halaal and Haraam, accepted by the fuqaha and Auliya:
“As for what is permissible (halaal) and forbidden (haraam) – showing devout scrupulousness with regard to what is forbidden is apart of the deen. Devout scrupulousness (al-war`a) has four degrees:
 Devout scrupulousness which is a prerequisite for being a just person for testimony (`adaalati ‘s-shahaada). This is what takes a person from the afflictions connected to testimony (shahaada), the judiciary (qudaa) and the government (wilaaya) and it entails guarding oneself from all outward prohibited things.
 The devout scrupulousness of the righteous (war`a’s-saaliheen) which is showing piety regarding the dubious actions (as-shubuhaat) which are subject to diverse possibilities.
 The devout scrupulousness of those fearfully aware (wa`ra’l-mutaqeen) which is avoiding thegenuine permissible things (al-halaal’l-mahdi) which may lead him to commit what is forbidden. And
 the devout scrupulousness of the champions of truth (war`a ‘s-siddiqeen) which is avoiding everything which is other than Allah sub’haanahu, out of fear that even a moment will be expended from his life time which can cause him to lose any increase in nearness to Allah `azza wa jalla – this is even when he knows and is absolutely certain that it will not end up being forbidden. These have their different grades.”
How many of the present day claimants to sufism even make it past the 2nd stage?
“When Allah created Jannat, He said to Jibra-eel, ‘Go and look at it (Jannat)!’ He (Jibra-eel) went and looked at it. He returned and said, ‘O my RABB By Your Splendour, there will not be a person who hears of it but will enter it.’
Allah Ta’ala then covered it (Jannat) with hardships and said, ‘O Jibra-eel ! Go and look at it’ He went and looked at it. He returned and said, ‘O my RABB By Your Splendour, I fear that not a person will enter it (Jannat).’
And when Allah Ta’ala created the Fire, He said, ‘O Jibra-eel ! Go and look at it’ He went and looked at it. He returned and said, ‘O my RABB By Your Splendour, whoever hears of it will never enter it.’
Allah then covered it (the Fire) with desires and said, ‘O Jibra-eel ! Go and look at it’ He went and looked at it. He returned and said, ‘O my RABB By Your Splendour, and Your Greatness, I fear that not a person will remain but will enter it’”
It is reported form Abû Al-Dardâ – Allâh be pleased with him – that he said, “Three make me laugh, and three make me cry.
Those that make me laugh are a person who puts his hopes in this worldly life while death pursues him, a person who is heedless [of his Lord] while [his Lord] is not heedless of him, and a person who always laughs while he does not know whether he has pleased Allâh or angered Him.
What makes me cry is being separated from my beloved: Muhammad and his party (the Companions), the horrors of the time of death, and standing in front of Allâh ‘azza wa jall on the Day when the secrets will be revealed and I do not know will I then go to Paradise or Hell?”
Ibn Al-Mubârak, Al-Zuhd wa Al-Raqâ`iq article 250.
It is reported that Al-Ḥasan Al-Baṣrī – Allāh have mercy on him – said:
Verily, you will find the believer (muʾmin) consistent time after time, upon one way, showing the same face; [whereas] you will find the hypocrite (munāfiq) changing colors, trying to be like everyone around him, running with every wind.
Abū Bakr Al-Daynūrī, Al-Mujālasah wa Jawāhir Al-ʿIlm #1936
Junaid Baghdadi and Love for Allah
Once at the time of Hajj, there was a gathering in Mecca of some friends of Allah; the youngest among whom was Junaid Baghdadi (ra). In that gathering, there was a discussion on the subject of ‘Love for Allah’ and as to who is the lover of Allah. Many of them expressed their views on the subject, but Junaid (ra) kept quiet. He was pressed to say something.
With his head bowed down and tears in his eyes, he said,
“The lover of Allah is he who forgets his own self, remains engaged in Allah’s remembrance with due regard to all its requirements; sees Allah with the eyes of his heart, which is burnt by the heat of Allah’s fear; Allah’s remembrance affects him like a cup of wine, he speaks the word of Allah as if All-Mighty Allah speaks through his mouth; if he moves, he does so under the command of Allah; he gets peace of mind only through the obedience of Allah; and when such a stage is reached, his eating, drinking, sleeping, awakening and, in short, all his actions are for the pleasure of Allah; he neither pays heed to the worldly customs, nor does he attach any importance to unfriendly criticism by people.”