The Sinners Of Ahlus-Sunnah Are The Friends Of Allaah Whilst The Pious Ascetics Of Ahlul-Bid’ah Are The Enemies Of Allaah
طبقات الحنابلة 1/184
Imaam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (died 241H) said:
“The graves of ahlus-Sunnah from those who were major sinners are a garden [of delight], whilst the graves of ahlul-Bid’ah from those who were the pious ascetics are a pit [of fire]. The open sinners (fussaaq) of ahlus-Sunnah are the friends of Allaah and the pious ascetics of ahlul-Bid’ah are the enemies of Allaah.”
Tabaqaat al-Hanaabilah, 1/184.
The pious ascetics are the “Zuhaad”, those who abstain from worldly pleasures, denying themselves worldly satisfaction that others aspire to. The “Awliyaa” of Allaah are the friends of Allaah, to whom He shows mercy, and gives protection. One should not be surprised by these words of Imaam Ahmad (rahimahullaah) since the person of innovation regards his evil to be an act of piety (having no basis in the Religion) for which he does not repent whilst the sinful Sunni knows that his sin is a transgression, so he is sorrowful and repentant and hopes for Allaah’s forgiveness.