The Qualities a Shaykh Should Have
Shaykh Abdul Qadir al-Jilani said: It is not proper for a shaykh to sit in the post of mashikhat and khilafat until he acquires the following 12 qualities:
Allah: 1) To cover up 2) To forgive
Muhammad (Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam) 1) To intercede 2) To give company
Abu Bakr (RA) 1) To be truthful 2) To be benevolent
‘Umar (RA) 1) To enjoin good 2) To forbid evil
‘Uthman (RA) 1) To feed the poor 2) To pray when others sleep
‘Ali (RA) 1) To possess knowledge 2) To be brave
If these qualities are not possessed by the shaykh, he is unworthy of the submission of the murid. When he does possess them, follow under his banner. When he does not, shaytan has made him his friend, and he will neither benefit in this life or the next.
(Commentary of the Awariful-Ma`arif: pg. 162)
After reading the above, the biggest mistake everyone will naturally make is to attempt to apply this to their own shaykh. Consequently, they will realize their own shaykh does not fit the bill. As a result, some foolish mureeds will conclude that their shaykh does not deserve to be followed because their shaykh will not be able to benefit them in any capacity.
The correct attitude to adopt is to see which of the above mentioned qualities we are lacking in and then try to develop them within ourselves. Also, just because one may have each of these qualities, it does not automatically qualify one to be a shaykh. One should never consider their own shaykh to be deficient in any of these qualities. It is not the job of the mureed to rectify the shaykh, rather it is the other way around. Those people who are mashaaikh and those who have been given khilafat should always be concerned about their own reformation by their own shaykh. The point of the above post was to make us concerned with our own islah (reformation) and not that of others.
May Allah allow us to see the best in others and to fix the faults within ourselves. Aameen.