There are seven grades in following Rasûlullah ‘sall Allâhu ’alaihi wa sallam’. The first one is to learn, believe and do the rules of Islam. All Muslims’, savants’, zâhids’[1] and ’âbids’[2] following Rasûlullah ‘sall-Allâhu ’alaihi wa sallam’ are in this grade. Their nafs[3] have not fully believed Allah or surrendered to Allah. Allâhu ta’âlâ, with His greatest pity, accepts the belief that is only in their hearts.

The second grade is to follow, besides performing the commandments, all the instructions and habits of Rasûlullah ‘sall- Allâhu ’alaihi wa sallam’ and to purify the heart from evil inclinations. People who walk on a path of Tasawwuf are in this grade.

The third grade involves conforming oneself to all the states, spiritual pleasures, and things that come to the heart and which occurred to Rasûlullah ‘sall-Allâhu ’alaihi wa sallam’. This grade is obtained in the rank which Tasawwuf calls wilâyat-i khâssa. Here, the nafs, too, believes and obeys and all acts of worship become real and perfect.

The fourth level consists of being real and faultless in all auspicious deeds as well as in all acts of worship. This is peculiar to the great ones who are called ’Ulamâ-i ‘râsikhîn. These savants with perfect knowledge understand the deep meanings and denotations in the Qur’ân and hadîths. Such were the Ashâb ‘radiy-Allâhu ta’âlâ ’anhum ajmâ’în’ of all Prophets. The nafs of all of them has become an obedient Believer. Blessings of this sort falls to the lot of either those who advance in a path of Tasawwuf and Wilâyat or those who obey all the sunnats and abstain from all the bid’ats. Today, bid’ats have invaded the entire world, and sunnats have been lost; so much so that it is beyond possibility to recover the sunnats and adhere to them and to save oneself from this ocean of bid’ats. However, customs cannot build up the religion or the Ahkâm-i-islâmiyya, no matter how widely they have settled and spread or how beautiful they look. Things that are harâm or cause disbelief can never be halâl or jâiz (permitted), even if they are customarily done or used. [This means that to reach this grade it is obligatory today to advance along a path of Tasawwuf. In the early centuries of Islam it was easy to follow all the sunnats. There was no specific need for Tasawwuf then.]

The fifth grade is to adapt oneself to the perfect, high qualities peculiar to Rasûlullah ‘sall-Allâhu ’alaihi wa sallam’. These qualities cannot be obtained through knowledge or by worshipping. They are attained only as a blessing from Allah. In this grade are great Prophets ‘salawâtullâhi ta’âlâ ’alaihim ajma’în’ and very few great ones of the Ummat of Rasûlullah ‘sall-Allâhu ’alaihi wa sallam’.

The sixth grade is to adapt oneself to the perfect qualities of mahbûbiyyat[4] and ma’shûqiyyat[5] in Rasûlullah ‘sall-Allâhu ’alaihi wa sallam’. This is peculiar to those whom Allâhu ta’âlâ loves very much; it cannot be obtained through blessings; muhabbat (love) is necessary.

The seventh grade involves all the motes of a man’s body adapting themselves to him. The follower is so similar to the one followed that a state of imitation no longer exists. He, too, as if like Rasûlullah, takes everything from the same source.

[1] Those people who do not set their hearts on worldly possessions.

[2] People who try to perform all kinds of worship.

[3] A malignant force in man that forces him to do what Allah prohibits and not to do what Allah commands.

[4], [5] To receive the hidden blessings that are given to the Darling himself, Rasûlullah.