Let me share this interview with my readers.Here is the link.It is a long article but worth every second reading it.. Here is the last few paragraphs:-
And where do you place yourself in all of it?
I’m simply an academic of Cambridge and I try my best to be involved in various projects on the local as well as the international level but it would surprise me that many Muslims in the UK have ever heard of me. I guess they know my brother a lot better since he’s a famous sports journalist.
Quite a modest answer, considering your standing among the international ulama. Your position might even surprise certain people since you’re an English convert who places himself within the Sufi tradition. Yet you’re not the first highly respected scholar I spoke to whose teachers have been Sufis so, by now, I came to the conclusion that Sufism isn’t at all such a ‘marginalized’ aspect of Islam as people often claim.
That’s true. If you look at the Ottoman Empire, for example, nobody ever was ‘against’ Sufism. This concept of Islam being anti-Sufi is there because of Saudi puritanism. But that’s a very recent evolution. And even Saudi Arabia is full of Sufis.
But it's above all important to remember that it’s not so much about Sufism itself. Sufism is just a name. The ultimate proof of the religion is the saints. They are the miraculous expressions of divine love. As such, the saint in Islam is the one who shows you the greatness of the prophet because his life meticulously conforms to the last detail of the sunna out of total love and surrender. The self is gone and only the prophetic form remains. The dignity, the ancient wisdom, the selflessness, the love for others… you see it in the prophet and you see it in the saint.
So the saints remind us that religion is about consciousness and remembrance now and in every moment. They remind us that it’s about constantly being in God.
When you see them, you discover what love is really all about. Our culture sings about love endlessly because it actually doesn’t have any of it. It became the basis of our society but it’s a kind of coitus interruptus: the slogan of ‘love is all you need’ is everywhere on the covers of magazines, in music and soap-opera’s but it’s not really there. People need it, they have the yearning, but nothing is giving it to them so they're sort of endlessly trying new things.
A saint is beyond that sort of narrow minded egocentrism and shows us what real divine love is about.
Could I conclude then that the true spiritual authorities in Islam, according to you, are in fact the saints?
Like I often say: “If you have not seen the saint, you have not seen the sunna.”