How do we reconcile with a person or people who defend some of those who used to follow the people of desires, whilst making excuses for them and claiming they have repented from what they were upon?

Shaykh ʿAbdullāh al-Bukhārī:

Reconciliation with the one that has erred such as this, who make excuses for some of the followers.  The one who makes excuses for the people of desires is either one of two persons;

 1) He is either ignorant of what they are upon in regards to their opposition of the sunnah and them being from the people of desires. This one is to be made aware with knowledge and justice in a way that is good and correct. This is considered to be a form of reconciliation. If thereafter he becomes upright and becomes aware – then all praise is due to Allah ﷻ, this is good for him and you, and may Allah reward you. Here begins your second venture, and that is to make reconciliation of what has occurred between him and his brothers from ʼAhl al-Sunnah and that you explain and make them aware of his repentance and return, and all praises due to Allah ﷻ. Is this clear? Thus reconciling between him and them and returning the affair back to a good state.

2) He knows they are followers of desires and still with this in mind, he elevates and aids them. This one requires that the evidences are established upon him if it hasn’t been so already. However, establishing the evidence does not mean sitting in his gatherings and have companionship, pay attention! Some people hear the speech of ʼAhl al-Sunnah regarding the obligation of boycotting the people of desires they say the establishment of the evidence doesn’t take place. No, rather the evidences are established, who is it that says we have said it is not obligatory to boycott without establishing the evidences?!

Do not separate between establishing  the evidences and boycotting,

۞ فَاصْدَعْ بِمَا تُؤْمَرُ وَأَعْرِضْ عَنِ الْمُشْرِكِينَ

“Therefore proclaim openly that which you are commanded, and turn away…” (Q 15:94).

So proclaim and clarify and alongside this distance yourself from them.

Therefore establishing the evidence doesn’t necessitate there to be no boycotting, and establishing the evidences is not restricted to one method. That you sit with him, go to his house and so on. This is one way, otherwise you could bump into him on your way to the masjid and advise him one to one, and if not, then writing to him is giving advice, recording a tape and sending it to him is giving advice, sending a letter is giving advice. So the methods of giving advice are numerous, it isn’t just [restricted] to one way. And that which the scholars have warned against is sitting with the people of desires in unity and companionship, however if you sit with them to clarify the truth to them and teach them and give victory to the truth then this is not considered ‘sitting’ with the people of desires, clear?!

So we must know this, because many confuse this and perceive that any sitting  is [an evil] sitting with the people of innovations, rather the [dispraised] sitting that is mentioned by the people of knowledge for the one who wants to advise them – and he is a person suited to give advice, it is not for everyone to having these sittings, is the sitting of companionship and unity. Due to this Abū Dardah and others from the Salaf have said as is recorded by Abū Nuʿaim in al-Ḥilya“Indeed from the understanding of man is how he enters, exits, walks and sits with the people of knowledge.” 

Therefore, the dispraised sitting is that of companionship. Now, some of them go with some of the deviants, the opposer of the sunnah, some of whom even write hideous articles on the internet and rebuke ʼAhl al-Sunnah, and still, you see him walk with him to the restaurants, walks with him to dinner, eating with him, drinking with him, laughing with him, sits with him, gets up with him, stands with him and so on. He replies [the reason for this is] ‘I am advising him.’ Are these sittings of advice?! This is having a companionship, Is this clear?! May Allah ﷻ bestow blessings on you, we must differentiate.