Wahab Ibn Munbih reported that the disciples asked Jesus, son of Mary, upon both of whom be peace: “It is said that God’s deputies are not subject to fear nor shall they grieve; tell us something about them, who are they?” Jesus, replied: “They are those who look deep into the earth when others look at the surface. They observe what is hidden when others are attracted to the passing pleasures, and they focus on the consequences of this world, when others seek its immediate profits. They let die in them what may shame them, and they renounce what will ultimately leave them.
They are satisfied with little and the bare necessities from this world, and they do not even waste their time in discussing what is ephemeral. What they receive from this world becomes a burden and a cause of their sorrow, and they are adamant in refusing to look at other attractions therein. What comes to them as lawful they renounce, and the success that may cross their path they turn down. When their dwellings fall apart, they do not rebuild them, and when their desire for this world dies in their hearts, they do not renew it. They use their determination and will to sustain their true comfort in the abode of the hereafter instead. They have sold the pleasure and comfort of this world for the price of their comfort in the hereafter. They sold what is ephemeral, and for such a meager price, they bought what is eternal, and subsequently, they became the truly happy ones.
They look at the people who love this world and see them as dead and toiling in-between one calamity after another. They recall death and renounce the idea of occupying themselves with this life. They truly love Almighty Allah. They love to speak of Him, and to constantly invoke His remembrance. They walk by His light, and they invite and allow others to walk by it as well. In fact, they are a true wonder, and they know the True Wonder. Allah’s glorious Book is proclaimed through them, they establish it, and live by it. The magnificent revealed Book speaks through them, and with it they speak. Through them the glorious Book becomes known and they will live by it. They consider their trials as a vehicle for advancement despite the extreme sufferings they may endure. They find no peace except in what they seek, and they fear nothing except what should concern them most.” Such are the true believers, and such are God’s deputies (awliya/saints). They are protected from looking at this abject world with arrogance, and they observe the work of their Beloved with contemplation and heedfulness.
–Excerpt from The Beauty of the Righteous and Ranks of the Elite (Hilyatul awliya wa tabaqat al-asfiya) by Abu Naim al-Isfahani