Ahlus-Sunnah (the people of the Sunnah) In Islaam are like Ahlul-Islaam amongst the religious denominations; in that all of the other nations are upon misguidance – except for the Muslims. For indeed; those that misguided them were their own Scholars; thus their Scholars are the most wicked of them.
Yet the Muslims are upon guidance, and indeed the guidance becomes clear by way of their Scholars; thus their Scholars are the best of them – as are Ahlus-Sunnah. Their Imaams are the best of the Ummah; and the Imaams of Ahlul-Bid’ah (the people of innovation) are more harmful upon the Ummah than the people of sinfulness. It is for this reason that the Prophet (Sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) ordered the killing of the Khawaarij and forbade the killing of oppressive rulers.
For they (the Khawaarij) had a burning desire for knowledge and worship, however - whisperings began presenting themselves upon them which misguided them – whilst they thought it was guidance and hence obeyed it – such as did not present itself upon other than them. So whosoever was safeguarded from that from amongst them was from the fearful/dutiful Imaams; as lamps of guidance, founts of knowledge – as Ibn Mas’ood said to his companions:
((Be as founts of knowledge; as lamps of wisdom; as lighted lamp wicks of the night; having rejuvenated hearts; being adherents of the homes; having worn out clothes – such that you are known amongst the people of the Heavens; and hidden from the people of the earth.))