Grades In Following Rasulullah (Sall Allahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) (Part I)

There are seven grades in following Rasulullah (sall Allahu 'alaihi wa sallam). The first one is to learn, believe and do the rules of Islam. All Muslims, savants, zahids [1] and, abids [2] following Rasulullah (sall Allahu 'alaihi wa sallam) are in this grade. Their nafs [1] haven't fully believed or surrendered to Allah. Allahu ta'ala, with His great pity, accepts only the belief in their hearts.

The second grade, together with doing the commands, is to follow all the instructions and habits of Rasulullah (sall Allahu 'alaihi wa sallam) and to purify the heart from evil inclinations. Those who walk on the path of tasawwuf [1] are in this grade.

The third grade involves conforming oneself to all the states, spiritual pleasures, and things that come to the heart which occurred to Rasulullah (sall Allahu 'alaihi wa sallam). This grade is obtained in the rank which tasawwuf calls wilayat-i hassa. Here, the nafs, too, believes and obeys and all worships become real and perfect.

[1] zahid: a man of zuhd; ascetic.
[2] abid: one who performs much 'ibada.
[3] nafs: a force in man which wants him to harm himself religiously; an-nafs al-ammara. A negative force within man prompting him to do evil. (Nafs-i ammara). Nafs is ammara by creation, that is, it always wishes evil and harmful deeds to be done. It is reluctant to obey the Shari'at. The nafs of a man who obeys the Shari'at and makes progress in the way of tasawwuf becomes mutmainna. It wishes to obey the Shari'at.
[4] tasawwuf: (Islamic sufism as defined by Islam) knowledge and (after adapting oneself to fiqh) practice of the manners of the Prophet ('alaihi 's-salam) which strengthens iman, makes the practice of fiqh easy and provides one to attain ma'rifa; 'ilm at-tasawwuf. [See the book Maktubat by Ahmad al-Faruqi as-Sirhindi (rahmatullahi ta'ala 'alaih)].
[5] wilayat: the grade reached by a Muslim who has managed the very hard job of adapting his every word, every action and every thought to the Shari'at. Such a person is called a Wali.