Distinction Between The Path of Believers and That of The Criminals In Detail- [By Imaam Ibnul Qayyim]
In The Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy
Imaam Ibnul Qayyim [rahimahullaah] said: Allaah [The Most High] said:
[وَكَذَٰلِكَ نُفَصِّلُ الْآيَاتِ وَلِتَسْتَبِينَ سَبِيلُ الْمُجْرِمِينَ – ‘And thus do We explain the Ayaat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) in detail, that the way of the Mujrimoon (criminals, polytheists, sinners), may become manifest.’ 6:55]
And Allaah [Glorified be He] said:
وَمَن يُشَاقِقِ الرَّسُولَ مِن بَعْدِ مَا تَبَيَّنَ لَهُ الْهُدَىٰ وَيَتَّبِعْ غَيْرَ سَبِيلِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ نُوَلِّهِ مَا تَوَلَّىٰ وَنُصْلِهِ جَهَنَّمَ ۖ وَسَاءَتْ مَصِيرًا
And whoever contradicts and opposes the Messenger (Muhammad) after the right path has been shown clearly to him, and follows other than the believers’ way. We shall keep him in the path he has chosen’ [4:115]
Indeed Allaah [Glorified be He]- in His Book- has clarified the path of the believers in detail and that of the criminals in detail. He has (clarified) the abode of the (believers) in detail and that of the (criminals) in detail. He has (clarified) the deeds of the believers in detail and that of the (criminals) in detail. He has made known the allies of the (believers) in detail and that of the (criminals) in detail. He has (clarified in detail how He) has forsaken the (criminals) and His bestowal of success upon the (believers) in detail. He has (clarified) the reasons behind the success of the (believers) in detail and the reasons behind the failure of the (criminals) in detail. He [Glorified be He] has placed great importance on these two affairs in His Book, and has manifested, illustrated and clarified both of them with an utmost clarification- to the extent that both (affairs) become clearly visible in the same way as light and darkness are visible to the eyesight.
Those who know Allaah, His Book and His Religion are acquainted with the path of the believers and that of the criminals in detail. The two paths are clearly visible to them, just as a path leading to its destination and the path leading to destruction are made clearly visible. They are the most knowledgeable amongst the creation; the ones who benefit [the people] the most, the ones with the most useful advice for [the people].
That is why the Sahaabah excel all those to come after them until the Day of Judgment; for they were brought up upon the path of misguidance, shirk and paths leading to destruction, and they knew those paths in detail. Then the Messenger [sallal-laahu-alayhi-wasallam] came to them and took them away from darkness and entered them into complete light; took them away from shirk and entered them into Tawheed; took them away from ignorance and entered them into knowledge; took them away from misguidance and entered them into guidance; took them away from oppression and entered them into justice; and took them away from confusion and blindness and entered them into guidance and clear sightedness.
They (Sahaabah) knew the worth of that which they received and became victorious by way of it. They knew the worth of that which was contained in what they (received), since what is in opposition to the [truth and right guidance] reveals the goodness of what it opposes. So they (Sahaabah) increased in their desire and love of that which they embraced, and they disliked and hated that which they had turned away from (i.e. misguidance). And of all the people, they had the most love for Tawheed, Imaan and Islaam, and the most hatred for that which was in opposition to it. They were the most knowledgeable of the path (of guidance) in detail.
As for those who came after the Sahaabah, amongst them is that one who was brought up in Islaam but knows not what is in opposition to it. Therefore, some of the details of the path of the believers and that of the criminals became confusing to him, for indeed confusion occurs due to weakness of one’s knowledge regarding both paths or one of them, as Umar Ibnul Khattaab (radiyallaahu-anhu) said: ”The ties of Islaam will be demolished one after the other when a people brought up in Islaam know not what Jaahiliyyah (Pre-Islamic Ignorance) is.” This (statement shows) the excellence of Umar’s (radiyallaahu-anhu) knowledge.
And there is that one who is neither acquainted with the path of the criminals nor has it been made clear to him, or he has doubts and thus thinks that some of their ways are from the ways of the believers. This has occurred in this Ummah in many affairs related to Aqeedah, Knowledge and Action, which are from the path of the criminals, the disbelievers and the enemies of the Messengers and were introduced into the path of the believers by those who do not know the (detailed distinction between) the path of believers and the path of the criminals; so they call to (this path of the criminals); excommunicate the one who oppose them and declare lawful that which Allaah and His Messenger made unlawful, just as what has occurred with many of the people of bidah, such as the Jahmiyyah, the Qadariyyah, the Khawaarij, the Rawaafid and their likes – those who initiated an innovation, called to it and excommunicated those who opposed it.
The people are four categories in relation to this subject matter [i.e. regarding their knowledge of the path of the believers and that of the criminals]
The First Group: They are those who know the path of the believers and that of the criminals in detail- in both knowledge and action. They are the most knowledgeable amongst the creation.
The Second Group: They are those to whom both paths are invisible and as a result they are like animals; so when the path of the criminals is presented to them they follow it.
The Third Group: They are those who concern themselves with [seeking] knowledge of the path of the believers and not its opposite; they only know [the path of the criminals] by way of its opposition to the [path of the believers] and in a general manner. They know that whatever is in opposition to the path of the believers is falsehood; even though their knowledge of such an affair is not detailed.
The Fourth Group: They know the path of evil, Bidah and Kufr in detail, but their knowledge of the path of the believers is general. This is the situation of many of those who concern themselves with the statements of the previous nations and that of the people of bidah- they are acquainted with [these affairs] in detail, but not the details of that which the Messenger [sallal-laahu-alayhi-wasallam] came with; rather they are acquainted with it in a general manner even though they may know some of its affairs in detail. Whoever examines their books will see that.
The aim or intent behind all this speech is that Allaah [The Most High] loves that a person should know the path of Allaah’s enemies in order avoid and hate it, just as Allaah loves that path of Allaah’s allies in order to love and follow it. [Source: Al-Fawaa’id pages 167-170…abridged and slightly paraphrased]
Finally: Shaikh Abdullaah Al-Bukhaari has a beautiful and beneficial lecture related to this topic. See link: