Hazrat Moulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi (rahmatullahi ‘alaih) once mentioned the following:
The present era that we are experiencing is filled with fitnahs. The fitnahs are so intense that the imaan (and Deen) of people is in danger. It is for this reason that I regard it fardh-e-‘ain (obligatory) for people to remain in the company of the Buzurgaan-e-Deen (pious saints, so that they will be able to protect their Deen through benefitting from their company).
What doubt can one have that remaining in the company of the Buzurgaan-e-Deen (pious saints) in this era is fardh-e-‘ain? The reason is that when experience has proven that safeguarding one’s Deen and imaan is dependent on spending time in the company of the Buzurgaan-e-Deen, then what doubt can one have that this now is a fardh obligation (i.e. when safeguarding one’s Deen and imaan is fardh, then the means through which imaan and Deen will be safeguarded will also be fardh, and in these challenging times, this can only be achieved through remaining in the company of the pious).
(Malfoozaat Hakeemul Ummat 22/229)