Imam Barbahaaree (may Allaah have mercy on him) said, “And if you see the man who has a corrupted way and mathab, a Faasiq, a Faajir, a companion of sin, a Thaalim, and he is from Ahul-Sunna then accompany him…”

Shaikh Fawzan (may Allaah preserve him) explained, “Your accompanying a Sunni Faasiq upon what he has with him from disobedience and committing sin and your sitting with him is better than your sitting with an innovator. Because the sinner knows that he is a sinner, and it is hoped that he will repent which is the opposite of the innovator. Then surely he (the innovator) believes that he is upon the truth and he does not repent. So the innovators do not repent, in most cases, because they see that verily they are upon the truth. And this does not mean that you sit with the sinners, but it means that sitting with the sinners from Ahulus-Sunna is better than sitting with the innovators, even if they (the innovators) are apparently upon worship and righteousness. This is the intent of the author (Imam Barbahaaree – may Allaah have mercy upon him). And there is no doubt that innovation is more evil and more beloved to Shaitaan than sin because the companion of innovation does not repent from it which is the opposite of the companion of disobedience. Surely it is hoped that he (the sinner) repents from it because he believes that surely it is sin and becomes embarrassed and does not announce it which is the opposite of the innovator.”

Source: (Sharh As-Sunna of Imam Barbahaaree with explanation by Al-Allaamah Fawzaan. Makataba Al-Hadi Al-Muhammadi, 1st edition- 2008/ Cairo, Egypt/ page. 377)

Translator: Ali ibn Nathaniel Grays