Seeking After The Pleasure of The People is An Unattainable Goal, So Fulfil Their Rights and Do Not Oppress Them, But Do Not Seek Their Pleasure to Displease Allaah!
In The Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy
Shaikhul Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah [rahimahullaah] said: One must know that neither is it conceivable to the intellect [i.e. the Sound intellect] nor is it [plausible] in the religion to seek the pleasure of the creation [i.e. mankind and Jinn] due to two affairs:
Firstly: Ash-Shaafi’ee [rahimahullaah] said: The people are an unattainable goal; therefore, it is obligated on you to [pursue] that which would rectify your affairs and [then] adhere to it; abandon its opposite and do not concern [yourself] with it. Secondly: Indeed, we have been commanded to [seek] the pleasure of Allaah and His Messenger, as Allaah [The Most High] said: [وَاللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ أَحَقُّ أَن يُرْضُوهُ إِن كَانُوا مُؤْمِنِينَ – but it is more fitting that they should please Allah and His Messenger (Muhammad), if they are believers (9:62)]
It is obligated on us to fear Allaah and not fear anyone except Allaah, as Allaah [The Most High] said: [فَلَا تَخَافُوهُمْ وَخَافُونِ إِن كُنتُم مُّؤْمِنِينَ – so fear them not, but fear Me, if you are (true) believers (3:175)]
[فَلَا تَخْشَوُا النَّاسَ وَاخْشَوْنِ -Therefore fear not men but fear Me (5:44)]
[فَإِيَّايَ فَارْهَبُونِ – Then, fear Me (Allaah) much [and Me (Alone), i.e. be away from all kinds of sins and evil deeds that Allah has forbidden and do all that Allah has ordained and worship none but Allah (16:51)]
[وَإِيَّايَ فَاتَّقُونِ – and fear Me and Me Alone (2:41)]
It is obligated on us to fear Allaah – fear Allaah concerning the [rights] of the people; neither harm them with our hearts [i.e. blameworthy hatred etc] nor with our limbs [i.e. physical harm]. Fulfil their rights with our hearts and limbs, but do not fear them and leave what Allaah and His Messenger commanded. The one who adheres to this path will [reach] the [praiseworthy] outcomes, just as Aa’isha [radiyallaahu-anhaa] wrote to Mu’aawiyah [radiyallaahu-anhu] and said, ‘’To proceed: Indeed, whoever seeks the pleasure of the people at the expense of Allaah’s displeasure will (earn) Allaah’s displeasure and Allah will cause the people to be displeased with him. And the praise of the people will become blame against him. And whoever seeks Allaah’s Pleasure at the expense of people’s displeasure, will (earn) Allaah’s Pleasure and Allah will cause the people to be pleased with him.”
So a person’s concern and intention should be nothing else but to [seek] the pleasure of Allaah and to avoid Allaah’s displeasure, and the [praiseworthy] outcomes will be his [or hers].
ولا حول ولا قوة إلا بالله
[An Excerpt from ‘Majmoo Al-Fataawaa 3/233’. slightly paraphrased]